A little of this. And a little of that.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted … and it’s definitely a “no news is good new” situation. ¬†Or, sometimes, I am just too lazy. ¬†But, I assure you if I am in need or in trouble, I will post … I’ve learned how valuable your prayers are and how sweet your encouragement is. ¬†I’m pretty much spoiled when it comes to prayers and care and concern so I assure you we won’t attempt to walk through a dark valley or season alone.

In the last couple of¬†weeks, I’ve had a really fun girls trip to Florida (gotta love being the beneficiary of a generous husband sending his wife away with her friends!), some not-so-fun bouts of nausea/headaches, and started new meds (palbociclib). ¬†As mentioned in previous posts, these meds, combined with the anti-hormone therapy I’ve been on for awhile (Letrozole), are an interim solution. Hopefully, I can be admitted on the trial in the next few weeks. ¬†The current plan (with palbociclib) is a viable option and I had some positive results previously (when I was on the other trial) but Dr. Osborne likes the options of the trial even better. ¬†You may not remember but when I was on this drug before (combined with 2 other drugs), I had very positive internal results (liver and lungs and lymph nodes around stomach decreased) but simultaneously developed a recurrence of inflammatory breast cancer … so, needless to say, this was very confusing. ¬†Likewise, in my most recent scan, even in the same organ (liver) we see positive and negative responses – the big tumors got smaller but then new tumors appeared. ¬†How shall we say¬†it?! ¬†… WEIRD! ¬†Dr. Osborne agrees. It has made me wonder (in my very ignorant non-medical mind …) if I could possibly have 2 different primary cancers? ¬†She validated the question and reminded me she has tested for that possibility (and even mentioned wishing she could take multiple samples of liver for the same reason but wouldn’t be prudent for my health even though would be fascinating!) but also reminded me/us that cancer is tricky and crafty and, especially mine, seems to have some wildcards but its also known that, over time, as the cells multiply they can be rather heterogenous even from the same primary cancer. ¬†Did I lose some of you?!

With the new meds I had hoped that maybe the hair loss would subside but no such luck (side note: I actually edited today and just found that I had originally typed ‘suck luck’ inadvertently – or maybe subconsciously?!ūüėú Made me laugh – had to share). ¬†My hair was still coming out in fistfuls with every brush or shampoo and getting thinner and thinner. ¬†Yesterday, during church, I ‘surrendered’ and decided to cut it off. ¬†My sweet friend, Becky Carswell, cuts hair and offered to do it for me right away – so within a few hours of making my decision I had short hair! ¬†I was thankful because once I decided, I was READY. So, I now have really short hair again:)¬†

Last Thursday, I went in for some bloodwork and to get my monthly bone-strengthening infusion and while I was there, Dr. Osborne called me (I was going to lab and infusion center but not seeing her …) and expressed concern about the nausea and headaches. ¬†There doesn’t seem to be a rhthym or pattern and I’ve never experienced migraines (thankfully, these headaches aren’t like that but she was confirming that I don’t have a history of headaches). So, in her typical amazing-thorough-thoughtful-no-leaf-unturned-Dr.-Osborne-way, she requested an MRI. ¬†The MRI folks called just a little bit ago and scheduled it … for tonight! How about that for fast service? If I recall correctly, the MRI results come back relatively quickly (1-3 days) so I will get back to y’all as soon as I know.

in the meantime, thanks for caring and praying and loving us all.

Win some. Lose some. And wait a lot.

In my last post I energetically reported on a trial that Dr O was pretty excited about. And she still is! But, for me, not yet…

The other patient has been waiting for 6-7 weeks and we found out she was technically ahead of me so I didn’t ‘make the cut.’ With this call/news, I had some tears. They were unexpected. I am sad because I had in mind ‘that was the plan…’ (and you can ask Scott or any of my friends or any of the counsellors I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to but, for better and worse, this girl likes a plan and order and not waiting…) and I had to redirect and rewire my mind. Things change real quickly in this crazy cancer world so it shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does.  I think I’m still ‘recovering’ from realizing that we are already changing the plan (again) after 2-3 months or so of this chemo and it seems to me like we are burning through the handful of available treatments a little faster than I expected once she doesn’t think they are still effective for me. Also, Dr O is so hopeful and excited about these trials that it’s contagious. I also cried because there was a sweet moment where the Lord whispered in my heart that He loves me and He loves her (whoever her is…) and that maybe she needs the trial more than I do?! So, I surrendered. Through tears of sweetness knowing that He is good and trustworthy, I surrendered.

And then I went to my happy place. A massage. And even happier, it was free. Used my little punch card and took my ‘free tenth’ massage and the ghetto-fabulous greatness of Sole Therapy. Then, I got back in my car and almost immediately got a text from one of my ‘breasties’ Sterling about one of the girls I met in October of 2013 at a Stars game honoring breast cancer. She had just been diagnosed and she had just had a baby. And, now, she has died. At age 30. With 2 little boys. Though I’ve known that if I make friends with other breast cancer girls and even join friends to start a ‘pink not grey’ support group for young patients (average age for diagnosis is 62) then I can expect that we will have to watch some of our friends die. But Ashleigh was the first. I haven’t seen her since that hockey game but we’ve texted (we connected over my inflammatory because that’s what she had too) and her ‘breastie’ (seems like God pairs many of us up with someone walking a similar road at the same time) is another girl named Shari who I know better and comes to our meetings (and she is the one who had broken back which Lord used to prompt/prepare me to not ignore my back pain). So, long winded way of telling you that when I got back in car and had learned only hour earlier that I didn’t make the trial, the news that Ashleigh had died while I was on vacation came with a crushing weight. She knew and loved Jesus and spoke boldly of his grace but wow…

And if you just need a good cry or want to clean our your tear ducts or make sure you are human with a beating heart, you can read some of their story and her grace at myjourneywithibc.blogspot.com. But grab some tissues before you get settled to read.

And on top of all of that somebody in FL stole my credit card number and went to town online at Macy’s and at Champs and hooked themselves up (literally?) with $364 at Comcast. Nobody. I mean nobody has time for that.

So let’s just say it wasn’t really my happiest week. 

But, in encouraging news, Dr O has already gone to bat for me with the drug company who hosts the trial and initially declined me for participation (based on disease and past treatments). In some fine print technical reading she challenged their conclusions and they came back to her and gave me initial approval for the trial and I am first in line for the next accepted group of patients – she expects 6-8 weeks. And, again, she called me after hours to talk through options and has a plan to put me on 2 drugs that work similarly to the trial I was on (but it had 3 drugs – one in a lower dosage which she didn’t like) and can give me greater dosages. And these drugs have a relatively fast ‘wash out period’ so as soon as there is an opening I can stop these, said the requisite amount of time for them to clear my system, and start the trial. And, in the meantime, maybe my hair can start growing back! It comes out in fistfuls with ever ywashing or brushing (which makes me limit both) and let me tell you what isn’t super attractive … Super thin hair that isn’t super clean or brushed! Now, maybe my hair will get a break and these drugs can beat up on another part of my body for awhile (most likely my energy).

I appreciate the prayers for me to get on the trial and now you can pray that we will continue to patiently wait and graciously surrender. I also would love for you to pray for Ashleigh’s family. And, like hers, when my day comes (whether that’s next year or the next decade) I ask you in advance to pray for Scott and Lincoln and my mom(s) and grandmother and family and friends. Death is never good. Gods plan was always for life and that was/is painfully interrupted by sin and death. For me, death won’t be permanent – merely a gateway to enter the presence of my Savior and live with Him there. But until Scott and Linc and family and friends join me, it will be permanent for them. They will need much prayer for supernatural strength and peace and joy. I thank you in advance for your care and prayers for them.

Scan and Next Steps

Dr. Osborne called tonight (after a house call … How amazing is that in 2015?!) and gave a general overview of the CT results:

– 2 larger lesions in liver are smaller

– 4-6 new lesions in liver

– small mass in lungs (slightly bigger than previously seen on scan)

– neck nodes don’t appear to be cancer but confusing/different when compared to other side

Between the neck and the differing results in liver, we are in the realm of the bizarre. She wishes she could get tissue (via liver biopsy) from both the new lesions and bigger ones but, in her words, ‘don’t want to make you a pin cushion.’ So, though we had a liver biopsy scheduled for Thursday, we are going to skip that. She is debating a PET scan (I vote yes…) to get another look at the neck and see if anything else shows up. 

She was most encouraged by the reality that things are, overall, not advancing quickly and, as she said, ‘we seem to have gained the benefit desired from this recent chemo…’ She seems to approach this in a ‘whack a mole’ fashion where she uses one tactic until she has another/better idea and then she ‘pounces’ with a new drug. One of the anti-hormone drugs I haven’t yet been on is called Fasladex and the Houson Dr. Osborne thought it was a bit superior to Letrozole and Anastrazole (I’ve had both) but, to date, in conjunction with the other meds I’ve needed and the trials, Fasladex wasn’t an option. Now, our Dallas Dr. Osborne told us there is a Phase 1 trial just opened at Baylor that has a component that, at least in mice (did I just type that?), works similarly to Fasladex but with even better results (at least in those poor mice).  And this new drug is one of the few drugs that has shown to penetrate the blood/brain barrier that could help with my brain metastasis. She also likes this trial because, in contrast to the previous trial I was on, she can increase the dosage if I show ‘stable disease’ (doesn’t have to shrink but just can’t get worse) and don’t have ‘toxicity’ issues (their way of describing my bodies ability to tolerate it without terrible side effects). So … She has requested that I get the one open slot right now (and there are other doctors hustling for it). There are some outstanding questions about my eligibility but she has already started those conversations and hopes to get me slotted by end of the week. I would likely have a ‘detox’ period based on last dosage of anti hormone drugs and last chemo. But as long as I have signed papers and Dr. Osborne has signed them we would be considered ‘on the trial’ – even though I may have a couple of weeks before I can actually have the medicine. It is a pill and not IV chemo so that’s a plus. Though we know that pill taking isn’t one of my strengths. And the research coordinator is the same rock star and beloved nurse I had before on the last trial. She’s probably not as excited about having me as I am about having her! But that is for sure a bonus. 

Dr. Osborne said I could text her back by Thursday if she hasnt yet reached out to us regarding the additional information she requested from the trial people. Hopefully, we will have some clarity by the end of the week. As a friend said today, ‘none of this extends beyond the Providence of the Lord’. Amen. I know nothing can thwart His plans and purposes (Job 42:1) and He is the One that puts me in the trial or not and He is the One that is able to make the medicine work or not and He is the One who has already numbered my days (right, Doug/Jeannie?ūüėČ) … So we wait. And, thankfully, we can rest. Our God is good.

‚ÄúThose who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.‚ÄĚ ‚Ä≠‚Ä≠Psalms‚Ĩ ‚Ä≠91:1-4‚Ĩ ‚Ä≠NLT‚Ĩ

YoungLife, you bless me…

We ended our tour de Colorado with more camping. In the car. At a rest stop. At 230am. Yep. I just thought tent-sleeping was an adventure. The party really started when we left YoungLife camp at 830p on Saturday bound for Trinidad (approximately 4 hours) but after major wreck and running the numbers we realized we would be really late getting into Trinidad so rather than Scott’s usual ‘roll into town and see what you find…’ (and trust me we have ‘found some winners’ but that doesn’t discourage him…) we decided to try to look ahead and actually make reservations (a very foreign concept to the man who considers a dinner date with Ungareans on 8.28 ‘long range strategic planning…’). I wish that I had taken a screenshot of every ‘rejection’ we got from every single city between Denver and Trinidad. Scott was like ‘surely not everything in Colorado Springs is sold out…’ so I showed him that there were four pages of hotels but all said ‘no booking available’. Except for one. The Valustay Inn (they can’t even correctly spell ‘Value’?) which had a rating of ‘poor’. But beggars are in fact poor and not choosy. And yet even the Valustay rejected me in a voicemail loop into nothingness. ‘If you know parties extension dial it now. If you need reservations please press zero…’ I press zero. And wait. And then hear ‘if you know your parties extension ….’ Same song. 14th verse. I was desperate and hopeful whoever was supposed to be answering the phone would wake up and answer the phone! No such luck. Thankfully Linc fell asleep before we hardly got off YoungLife property and missed the 13 miles of wreck (not exaggerating) and the hotel search o madness. Rather than scream or fume at Mr. No Pulse (opposites attract right?), I went to sleep. And woke up at 230a to see him pulling into a rest stop. With not a cringe or any lack of confidence. I asked if it was safe and read aloud the sign that said ‘no overnight parking’ … As he was commenting that he was just hoping for a parking spot. It was packed! I reiterated my concerns about safety and Mr Chill pointed out fact that we were surrounded by cars and other ‘overnight parkers.’ He got Lincoln out of his car seat and laid him in backseat and as he woke up he was excited to find out ‘this is just like camping again…’ All smiles. For reals. I. Am. Totally. Outnumbered. We covered him with a towel, Scott got me a blanket, we all had our camping pillows and Scott got into his sleeping bag behind the wheel. I woke up 4 hours later to an amazing sunrise and Scott looking at me with a smile, a gleam in his eye, and a fist coming out of his sleeping bag … I got a fist pump and he said ‘Don’t lie … You are excited you saved $100 on hotel and just slept in the car…’ What is wrong with this man?! And the worst part … He’s totally right! Many miles down the road I told him the biggest problem with the whole incident is that I was secretly thinking this was a ‘win’ (not that I keep score or anything…) for me and that he would learn once and for all that planning is helpful and maybe you can’t always wing it … But that I feared he was secretly calling it a win for himself because, as he says, ‘see it always works out…’ And both of us are right! And, needless to say, this will be the first my mom is hearing about her child and grandson sleeping on the side of the road…

But, if we had it to do all over again we still would have left at that crazy late hour from camp because we spent the last hour we were there hearing over 100 kids profess their trust in Christ. Amazing. And, a special gift to me, was that the Lord allowed me to befriend several kids at camp and all came to know Him as Savior over the week. One was this perky cheerleader Noelle at the pool. Another was a group of grumpy girls at ‘club’ (YoungLife ‘speak’ for ‘the talks’ each night) that weren’t respecting their leader and were rolling their eyes wanting to leave so I just scooted closer and put my arm around one of them. And, my very favorites, a group of special needs friends from Austin. During leaders meetings most of the kiddos are on their own but these friends needed a little more attention so Scott and I and some others hung out with them in the gym while their leaders went to the leaders’ meetings. And melt my heart! Linc especially loved Ty who we later learned already knew Christ but the rest of these kiddos all came to know Jesus’ love for them during the week…

 
Ty is the one by Lincoln and my other new friends (left to right), Marisa, Alex, and Song. I felt especially close to Marisa and she sweetly shared on Th night that she wasn’t ready to trust Him though she didn’t know why. That night I shared my story with her and Ty and we took this picture. 

 Lincoln, who regularly says ‘I don’t like pictures’, voluntarily took this picture and voluntarily put his arm around Ty. They were the sweetest blessing of the week and my trip! 

Marisa obliged me with one more photo after she shared with me and everyone that she had trusted Christ as her Savior. I love this girl! 

And these were the ‘grumpy girls’ (who later laughed and danced and made me smile so big!) and the one with the single bun next to me, Shaylah, trusted Christ. 
 
We loved loved loved being with the Manos’ and celebrating Nick’s gifts of loving kiddos and bringing the Gospel to life. 

 

And for all my friends and people who have volunteered with YoungLife or have kids in YoungLife or give financially to YoungLife … Well done! Wow. They. Love. Kids! And it blessed my heart. Big time!

One last little tidbit. As noted in the last post, cancer doesn’t take a vacation and ‘the real world’ was all too real today. We were back at Baylor within first 24 hours of being home … Blood work, quick chat with Dr. Osborne to feel my neck and then scans. She confirmed my concern regarding the ‘English pea’ I felt but also even more concerned with a ‘lumpy area’ (my term not hers) in the same vicinity. So, from there we were off to CT scan of chest and she added a scan of the neck. 

Christina, our nurse, called at the end of the day and said the neck part of the scan hadn’t been finalized yet (should hear more in the morning) but there were ‘mixed results’ from the chest. Appears that the 2 bigger lesions/masses in my liver are a bit smaller. However, new lesions have appeared. And the small spot in my lungs seems to be a tiny bit bigger. Those results combined with the spot on my brain and possibly in my neck (lymph nodes) has Dr Osborne unsure what to do next. We may continue the chemo regimen or consider a trial or another combination of medicines. She has a hard job! Christina said Dr O wanted  to go down to radiology to look at the scans and compare them to previous scans herself. Did I mention I think she has a hard job? After I texted my mom and Scott with Christina’s preliminary report , my mom replied that ‘I am stopping now to pray for wisdom for her’ and  Scott commented that she has hard and weighty decisions and needs our prayers. So, I texted Dr O and Christina and told them that I knew my friends and family (that’s you guys…ūüėČ) would be praying for wisdom for her. Christina replied immediately and said to quit making her cry and right thereafter Dr Osborne said: Hugs and prayers to all of you and thank you for those prayers directed my way, very appreciated.

So, needless to say, it would bless me if you would pray for her wisdom and insight and for her to be able to rest with us in knowing the Lord is good and sovereign and doesn’t make mistakes and can always be trusted. 

She has me. And yall have me. But, more importantly, He has me! And Scott. And Lincoln. And Shayla and Noelle and Marisa and Alex and Song. His children can rest in good and capable hands.

Camping, Cancer, and Crooked Creek…

I’ve loved all the inquiries about how I survived camping. And I love that most of you know me well enough to know that ‘outdoorsy’ isn’t on the top of list of adjectives for me. I’m not the girliest of girls but I am not exactly one to ‘rough it’ either. I hearken back to a trip in college with dearest friends and others from our Breakaway days (shout out to Breakaway and A&M and G-Matte and the peeps that redirected my walk with the Lord … Despite the camping!) and I had the same challenges in 1994. As captured perfectly by Mel in Nobody’s Cuter Than You …  

I didn’t pack satin pajamas (in part because I don’t own any!) but I did laugh that things haven’t changed much because I packed my monogrammed WHITE (not optimal for camping) robe. And, similar to my college days, all went quite well until it was time to go to bed in this…

 
Whoever said this was a 2.5 man tent clearly envisioned 4 year olds in the woods alone together. What?! Not even enough room for 2 blowup mattresses (nevermind that there are 3 of us…) but not to fear we let Linc sleep between us without a mattress or sleeping bag. We sacrifice like that for our son. But don’t you worry … He loved it. As we loaded to leave and I was patting myself on the back for my 2 nights victory he was shouting ‘bad mommy’ and ‘bad daddy’ from the backseat because he was so mad we were leaving. Clearly his fathers son. The days were great and weather amazing and views other-worldly and the best nap of the summer was had here…  

… Until I was awakened wet because my adorable cuddle buddy peed on himself and my new hammock and ME. And did I mention we were camping and couldn’t exactly go take a shower?!

But the tiny tent and nasty nap were more than made up for by these views and memories…   

  And s’mores…  

During my big fat nap Scott and Linc went fishing and when they returned Lincoln was so pleased to tell me about the 5 fish he caught and Scott was less pleased to show me where he had hooked himself in the back of the head. And then wanted ME to get the hook out. Don’t get me wrong, there are many days that my ugly sinful rotten self has wanted to inflict pain on him BUT this has never been how. ‘No really, you can do it, just locate the fly and then locate the hook … Oh and can you see if the barb is in my head or out … Yeah then just grab the hook with the hemostats and pull real hard opposite the direction of the hook and get the needle out…’ Really?! I channeled my inner Dr Quinn Medicine woman and gave it my best shot but all I saw was myself pulling his hair and skin a good inch away from his skull and that hook didn’t budge! But the Neales had gone for a hike so he was left with just me or Linc. And what does every avid fisherman do while waiting to get the hook out of his head?! Head back to the river! Once we were all back at camp and had our foil packed dinners cooking on the fire, Kurt went to work…  

And after 2 really good twists and pulls, out came a hook. 

Despite the tiny tent and the hammock o’ pee and the hook o’ flesh, we really had a good time and it’s a good story and a good memory for our family.

We loaded up our dirty bodies and dirty clothes and headed out of camp on Monday morning and headed right to the showers and laundromat. This is when I am glad that Scott is another kindred clean soul because he was as happy to do laundry and re organize the car as I was. And then we made the over the mountains and through the hills drive through Breckenridge to Winter Park where we are adults guests as YoungLife’s Crooked Creek camp. Our dear friend, Nick Manos, is the speaker this week. He is really Scott’s friend from his YoungLife days and was in our wedding but I love him and Melissa so much and am glad that Scott brought them into our marriage:) 

 Our hearts are full as we meet kids and hear the Gospel and celebrate Gods redeeming work. For us, there has been incredible joy as  we watch these volunteers love kids where they are without expecting them to ‘get it together’ before they meet Jesus. Some of my favorite kiddos we’ve met are the kids that are here from YoungLife’s Capernaum ministry to kids with special needs.   

But then again don’t we all have ‘special needs’? Mine just maybe aren’t as obvious:)

We had a sweet time with the leaders this morning. Nick asked me to share my story and what I am learning and it was a blessing to me. Several of their staff have lost loved ones to cancer recently so those are tearful connections and then they prayed over us and it was a precious gift.

Since I wrote last, I’ve learned with some change of plans for doctors visits when we get home. Instead of chemo on Monday and a scan on Wednesday they want the scan and a biopsy before deciding if we will continue with this chemo (if things appear stable) or start a new regimen. They will either biopsy my liver again or the spot on my neck. So, it’s going to be good that we have had a restful and sweet couple of weeks in Colorado because cancer doesn’t seem to take a vacation.

Thanks for the love and prayers and sharing in our journey – both to Colorado and through cancer!

 

On the Rockies road again…

We rolled out of family camp at Horn Creek this morning and are on the road again. I think Scott likes my family camp idea (my idea 5 years ago because my childhood best friend, Jamie, has been going as long as I can remember…) just because it’s a good reason to drive. I also think he takes advantage of my complete-geographical-ignorance-and-confusion despite being in Colorado dozens of times. He always picks the scenic route I am pretty sure sometimes we go out of the way so he can burn more gas and get more views and feed his wanderlust. It used to annoy me (and truthfully on any given day that’s still possible…) but there’s something about the wide open spaces and big mountains and fresh air and blue skies that breathe life into my man’s soul. And, for that, I am grateful. We sometimes bicker because he can’t stand for me to read or text because he wants me to share in every new view and gets fussy if I miss one and I just want him to quit interrupting because ‘hello, can’t a girl just read a book?!’ Apparently not…

Family camp was super fun and restful and good times with our family (including my mom this year…), our friends from home (Jamie’s big family and the Dawkins and the Mattlages) plus our Horn Creek ‘family’ from Kansas and Missouri and lots of other places. Really special people and a really special week and every year we are more sad to leave. I asked Lincoln what his favorite part of the week was and he said ‘everything…’ I thought that was lame so I tried again, ‘what was most special about the week…?’ And he replied with ‘being with my friends.’ Everything is better together! Love him. Some of the ‘everything’ was trying to trap chipmunks, building forts, playing in the creek, fishing, hiking, tennis baseball, rock climbing, train ride through the gorge, volleyball (he thinks he ‘played’ because we congratulated his ‘dig’ every time he threw his full body into the sand face first…) and lots of early mornings and late nights with constant companions of all ages.

Here are some pics with the people that, as Lincoln said, made everything special…

… family pic after hiking at Garden of the gods

  

…Building a fort with friends


… hiking with tired (and heavy!) little people

 
 

…Mama and me

  

…water slides with Hunter

  

…hangin’ with my peeps at Kraus cabin

  

… great views and great friends

  

…sweaty and tired and happy after tennis baseball

  

…precious and fun friends

  

…our menfolk

  

…train ride with ‘my big friends’

  

…playing in the stream

  

…whip cream and chocolate and pancakes and friends

  

…we love Norm and Beth!

  

… rock climbing w my ‘bestest girl’ EmmyKate

 
Thanks for letting me spam you with photos! Pretty cute huh? Everyone looks better and happier in Colorado with people they love.

One night during our standing spades challenges, I found a lump in my neck. It’s nice to have doctors for friends and Trevor confirmed what I expected – we both think it’s an enlarged lymph node. I texted Dr Osborne and we’ve now added the neck to our nex CT scan that they have scheduled for Aug 5. Have I mentioned that I love my doctor? On Friday, she was also emailing our very respected (and unrelated) Dr. Osborne in Houston with all the scan info and treatment responses the last few months so that they could review my case together and decide the next course of treatment. Also so thankful for Dr. Osborne and his team and their interest and help!

Our next stop: camping! Like real camping with tents and campfires and a 4 year old.  I vascillate between nervous and excited for the adventure. Definitely not my idea. But Scott has deferred to me the last few years and we’ve visited our camping friends but never spent the night … Until tonight! I can do anything for 48 hours right?! And I am a little torn because if it goes really well Scott will want to do it again but I don’t really want to have a miserable 48 hours to convince him otherwise!

In middle of that last sentence Scott spotted a fox in a field. Love it. We also saw a ring tailed cat earlier this week and of course lots of deer. Still holding out for a bear! But maybe not while we are camping….?

Thanks for the prayers for refreshment and rest for our family. I haven’t had as much alone time with the Lord as I would enjoy but sure have enjoyed the good gifts of His creation and His people – they are precious reminders to our souls that He is big and capable and in control and takes cares of us and loves us!

O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you. When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers‚ÄĒ the moon and the stars you set in place‚ÄĒ what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority‚ÄĒ the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! (‚Ä≠Psalms‚Ĩ ‚Ä≠8‚Ĩ:‚Ä≠1-9‚Ĩ NLT)

A little ditty about Jen and chemo…

Far less interesting than Jack and Diane but it will definitely be ‘little’ because I don’t feel so great tonight. I’m learning the pattern of these drugs…

Days 1-2: feel pretty good thanks to anti nausea and steroid IV drugs

Day 2-3: bones ache and tired girl (slept until 10:30 today and really thankful that little man was worn out from fun friends and play dates so he was curled up beside me sound asleep too…)

Day 3-4: little headache and little nausea and torn between wishing for throw up to put me out of my misery and totally hoping it never comes…

Right now I am on the couch headed to bed and hoping I don’t leave another throw up trail on the gorgeous rug in the backhouse (if you’ve been over to our new digs I know you just cringed!)

I only got one of the 2 drugs I normally get (gemzar and carboplatin) because of a concern about carboplatin so soon after the brain procedure. I am hoping that this means a little reprieve in side effects?

Also, in our doctors appointment on Monday, we learned that we are changing treatment courses again. She’s not liking the brain lesion and referred to my cancer as ‘clever’ in its ability to get around our intended roadblocks. She’s plotting and planning and partnering with Dr. Osborne in Houston to decide the next action steps. We leave for Colorado (our 5th year with friends and precious folks at Horn Creek and a second week at YoungLife camp at Crooked Creek with our dear friends the Manos’) and will be home on Aug 2nd for another round of this ‘cocktail’ on Aug 3rd plus another CT scan that week. So, we should have more information after Colorado. And between now and then I hope to send lots of smiling faces of our family enjoying each other, the mountains, and the beauty of our God.

Thanks for the ways you pray for us, love our little man with play dates and gifts, encourage us and walk alongside us.

Also, a sweet week finishing our Heaven study and to you ladies that joined us please know (again!) what a precious 7 weeks that was for me … My heart and head and soul are well prepared for many more years with you all or “being absent from the body and present with the Father” as Paul wrote. And if you’re a guy who couldn’t come or out of town or just curious, you can click here to listen to the discussions thanks to my dear friend Eraina!

Love!

Short…and sweet

Hi guys Рthis is Jamie again.  Jen asked me to update all of you who have been so kind to text, call and pray about her radio surgery which took place today.  The good news is that the procedure literally took about 8 minutes (SHORT) and she came out of the operating room looking like a rock star.  That is, if a rock star wears a mask like this.

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Seriously. ¬†Don’t we love our Jen? ¬†And even though we keep tossing around that it’s ‘only 8 minutes’, let’s be clear that 8 minutes might not feel so short if you are relegated to this position.

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And in this room.

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And even though Baylor has valet parking (so I heard), don’t let that fool you. ¬†It’s still a hospital. And whether you are there for 8 minutes or 8 days, you usually don’t let the door hit you on the way out so to speak.

For those of you who like the short version (i.e. all the guys), all you need to know is the surgery was ‘uneventful’ and Jen will have a follow up MRI in 3 months to make sure the lesion hasn’t grown (best case scenario is that it has shrunk or even disappeared).

For those of you who like the longer version, let’s get to it. ¬†(The teachers at FBA who taught Jen and me would confirm that neither of us is short on words, so this blog serves as the perfect outlet. ¬†You can decide if that’s fortunate or unfortunate).

Jen’s posse arrived at Baylor close to 2:15 today (SWEET) and quickly moved outside the intended waiting room due to all of the stares from the other patients. ¬†(It’s clear that Jen approaches cancer differently than most others and may be known to cackle loudly or smile excessively.) ¬†Even (especially) prior to brain surgery.

We quickly discovered that our landing area had amazing light and we all started taking pictures with Jen.  (No wonder she owns that rock star persona).

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Jen & Sheila

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Jen & JuJu

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Jen & Jen

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Angela, me, Jen & Amy (the chemo crew)

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Jen & Scott

(Several other sweet friends were in attendance but showed up after the impromptu photography shoot. ¬†Let’s just say I bet now they are glad they did.)

I was deathly afraid to look back into the original waiting room (just on the other side of us through the FULL GLASS PANES) to see how many patients were now staring at us for other reasons.

After about an hour and 45 minutes, they finally came out to get Jen for her procedure.  Sweet Ramona made sure to brief the obnoxious crowd group on what was about to happen.

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And poor Ramona didn’t know that she was about to fall victim to a good lighting scenario.

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Jen went back for surgery, where she just happened to meet the physicists who worked on the formula for her brain radiation. ¬†I’d say these were pretty important people, and apparently Jen thought so too, so – shocker – she got her picture with them as well.

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Jen & Andre

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Jen & Dana

Unfortunately the basement doesn’t provide ideal lighting, but we are so grateful for these geniuses that we will overlook that.

Once the surgery was finished, Jen walked out with a huge smile on her face and a grateful heart (I didn’t actually confirm this, but I know her well enough to know this is probably the case). ¬† ¬†We all prayed in a circle and thanked God for no complications and for the love of friends & family. ¬†With each step on this path, gratitude is ever present.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and encouragement.  I know they are felt and appreciated by Jen, Scott & little Linc.

In closing, I will leave you with a verse that continues to come to mind throughout this journey.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Much love to you all,

Jamie (“B”)

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Surgery Schmurgery.

Yall. This may be brain surgery but let me assure that to the peeps involved (Dr Barnett and Dr Cheek and apparently some brainiac physicists who calculate laser beam ratios) it is Easy Street. It is so non invasive and non complicated that my mom asked (no lie…) if she could ‘push the button.’ The neurosurgeon, Dr. Barnett, maybe shouldn’t have mentioned that there was an ‘easy button’ and that’s pretty much the extent of their involvement on the day of the surgery?!? Before the big day, the doctors (neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist) put their smart heads together to decide what to do (angles and dosage) and then some big brained physicists do calculations to¬†tell the equipment what to do and all that gets loaded into computer, double checked by Dr. Cheek (radiation oncologist) and then they ‘push the button’ which fires some stereotactic laser into my temple for about EIGHT MINUTES. Yes, all of this talk of “brain surgery” boils down to 8 minutes. ¬†The equipment and technology and brains involved in this stuff is so cool. And our medical team is even cooler. After our appointment with Dr. Cheek yesterday¬†(who also did the radiation to breast and neck in 2012) my mom sent me this text:

“Really thought of today’s appt with Dr. Cheek as another encouraging visit. It seems like the neurologist-radiologist-physicist team involved in the radio surgery piece of this are top notch, even if they do keep the physicists in the basement and we didn’t get to meet with him (or maybe it’s the her). :)¬†And how TOTALLY AMAZING is it that sweet Dr. Osborne would call Dr. Cheek while she is on vacation to pave the way for quick treatment for you, and that Dr. Barnett and Dr. Cheek were on the phone together after hours last night about your treatment. Absolutely awesome.”

To say the least, we are thankful. And admire the heck out of all 3 of these doctors and some mysterious physicists in the basement named Dana and Andre.

Today I went in to be fit for the uber tight mask that will hold my head in place to make sure they get the right spot. I also got a CT of the brain that they will overlay on the MRI to even more precisely calculate location and look for any more areas of concern. These people be smart.

The procedure (kind of hard to call it surgery when it’s so easy breezy) is at 230 next¬†Thursday. Of course there are some risks (internal bleeding, swelling, headache or damage to that area which controls speech … That could be bad news bears for this talker!) but none of the doctors expect¬†any¬†complications. And though the tumor is not immediately eradicated it will slowly die, Lord willing, over following¬†weeks and I will get a follow up MRI in 3 months (and the rest of my life). But while we expect this will work, Dr Cheek also told me to expect to have more lesions – but to be encouraged that we can¬†expect to be able to treat them the same way. If for some reason this is ineffective in the targeted area (less than 10% chance I think) then we will do traditional surgery but the lesion is near my skull and in temple area so should he relatively accessible for surgery if needed. It’s tempting¬†to try to ‘milk’ the ‘brain surgery’ for a week’s rest and vacation and doing nothing but the truth is that Dr Cheek said ‘we will have you in and out in an hour or so and should be great for dinner or even a glass of wine that night…’ For reals? ¬†Unfortunately, Jamie has decided she is my personal liver guardian and any reference to alcohol has her coughing and awkwardly saying ‘tumors in the liver’ under her breath. She makes a good Baptist:)

I for sure covet your continued prayers and even though the procedure is simple and doctors are genius we know that the Lord governs all and we trust Him above all. And we trust Him to work through all of the doctors and technology according to His will.

As Job said, ‘shall we accept good from the hand of the Lord and not the bad? … The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’

We trust the One who numbered my days even before I was born, the One who loves me even more than the Mama who wanted to check the GPA and credentials of the physicists, the One who is not subject to statistics and the only One who is the Greatest Physician.