Prayer Warriors Thank You

We prayed for a miracle and God heard us. I went in Thursday for my heart cath. For some reason, when I originally heard about going through this procedure, I became very uncomfortable. I think it was because there was so much that was unknown. My doctor had prepared me for what he thought it was. Blockage(s) to the lower left side of my heart. My wonderfully made Godly sister had our family over for dinner the night before. After dinner, everyone encircled me and began to pray. God was truly with us. Peace fell upon us. When I went to bed that night, I knew there was no food or liquids for me until after the procedure. The item I miss the most in these cases is coffee. I truly enjoy my morning coffee. I do worry about the caffeine headaches that accompany the absence of my morning java. I should have known from that point on, God had a miracle planned for me. The day just began to unfold with one answered prayer after the other. When I woke up I didn’t even think about coffee, food or water. I knew I was on a mission. When I checked into the hospital, there was virtually no wait. They took me and began the preparation. I found out I wasn’t being put to sleep for the procedure. I was going to receive some “happy” juice, as they put it, to relax me. Apparently I needed to be awake because there are some tasks I needed to perform throughout the procedure. Who knew? I wouldn’t receive the happy juice until I was in the operating room. Normally finding something like this out would have made me nervous. I know my prayer warriors were hard at work because I felt total peace. I prayed with such earnestness as they wheeled me into the operating room. In my mind, I began claiming God’s word by quoting one scripture after the other. Throughout the whole procedure, I was fully alert and remember every minute. It was amazing how God was right there with me. Letting me know all was going to be all right. After there was total peace. When my cardiologist reached my heart with the catheter, my heart skipped a beat. After scoping my arteries, he said I was totally clear. No blockages and no build up on my arteries at all. I was clean as a whistle. My heart was strong. He had no answers for how I failed every test, yet my heart and arteries were perfect. We all know the answer. God heard everyone’s prayers and answered. I just started crying. Not a sobbing cry but a tear drop cry. I am so blessed and so thankful. God has honored me. When Larry got the call to come back, he was nervous because it went so quickly. He thought either it was very good news or it was total blockages and I had to have open heart surgery. He kept having me repeat to him that my arteries were clean. He sent a message to my family. A shout of joy went up. I cannot thank God and all my prayer warriors enough.

This week I will meet with my cardiologist. He’s wants to relook at all my tests. I’m sure he’s trying to figure it all out. No matter how we want to explain this miracle off medically, the fact is blockages were there and now they’re not. God intervened, answered and performed a miracle.

My prayer warriors have been my rock throughout this journey. I appreciate all of you.

The verse below is worth repeating because this is what God provided for me and He can provide for everyone.

“May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way, The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16a Thank you God for being my Lord and Savior. Thank you for walking me through this journey and never letting me feel alone. From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.

It Continues to be a long Climb

So much has happened since I last wrote. It’s been an emotional roller coaster since I completed my last surgery. From the struggles of being told I developed diabetes to osteoporosis to sleep apnea to skin cancer to a B12 deficiency, my morale has weakened. Fortunately the skin cancer ended up being the internal stitches trying to come out. Because of this, my outer skin, near the surgical site, was refusing to heal. The wound stayed open for about two and a half months. The surgical assistant ended up going in the wound and cutting out the stiches. Emotionally, after battling cancer for the last two years, all of these things began to break me down. I could tell my emotional state was weakening. Then the big news came that shocked me so much. I still haven’t recovered. I went for yet another doctor appointment to get some test results. As is the normal thing when visiting the doctor, my blood pressure, heart rate and temperature were taken. I had started back to work and felt pretty good, so the next news I got was totally unexpected. My doctor walked in and asked if I’d been having chest pains. My answer was, “not really”. I have had quite a few muscle spasms around the surgical area but I just chalked that up to having a muscle moved from my back to aid in the rebuilding of my breast. Apparently my heart rate was way too high. The doctor continued to take my heart rate over the course of the next hour and sent me on for some tests. I was advised after the test to go home immediately to bed rest. If I felt any chest pains at all, take two aspirins and go to the emergency room. Of course, I was nervous to say the least. The next day I was back to see the doctor to get my test results. The EKG results were abnormal. The lower left side of my heart had no activity. They call it “flat lining”. I was then sent to a cardiologist. Because the concern for me having a heart attack was somewhat high, the process and tests were streamlined. I went through an echo gram, a 24 hour heart monitor and a stress test. It was actually a series of six tests but I can’t remember all the names. I suspected some things were not peachy when I was stopped quickly while taking the stress test. I had heard the process of the previous patient and knew the pattern I followed was not the same. These tests were given to me over the course of a week and a half. Monday I went to meet with my cardiologist to get the results. Because I felt good, I fully expected positive results. Well, as I’m sure you are realizing now, the results weren’t so positive. I failed all the tests. All I know for now is that it appears there is either a blockage or blockages going to the left side of my heart. Tomorrow (Thursday), I will be going into the hospital for a heart cath. Depending on the extent of the blockages, the treatment will either be medication, stints or hopefully not open heart surgery. Larry asked the question if it was possible that all the chemo and radiation that I received could have caused this. The doctor said that the chemo and radiation will weaken the heart but not cause the blockages. He won’t know how much damage the chemo and radiation has done to my heart until he goes in. I am nervous about tomorrow. I ask for all of your prayers. I cannot begin to tell you how much I need all of you. I get so embarrassed sometimes about all my health issues. I’m not the type that likes all this attention but quite honestly I need all my prayer warriors. Pray for peace and a safe outcome. Pray that the stints work. Pray for my family. I’ve put them through so much. My parents arrived yesterday to be right there with me. I can only imagine what I’ve put my husband, my sons, my parents, my sister and brother and all my family through. I realize now I’ll never be who I was. Each day is a gift. I recognize my health will always be a question mark.

Please continue to pray and love me. Thank you for walking beside me in this journey.

“May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way, The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16a Thank you God for being my Lord and Savior. Thank you for walking me through this journey and never letting me feel alone. From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.

Recovery Going Well

It’s been a little over three weeks since my surgery and things seem to be going well.  Once I arrived at the hospital, things moved quickly.  As the nurse told me, they had been waiting on me.  Those that have had surgery know how it is.  One person after another comes in and asks you the same questions the previous person asked.  I’m sure there is a purpose.  I don’t believe there was one minute wasted in preparing me for the procedure.  Because my back muscle was being used to create the pocket for my implant, the nurse said she needed a bigger vein to put the IV in.  I just handed her my arm.  I was of little help.  In the meantime, the anesthesiologist came in to give me my spinal block.  So here I was…..one arm was getting an IV, I was flipped over sitting on the edge of the bed getting the spinal block, another nurse was asking me a lot of questions while I was getting Q tips pushed up my nose with some sort of something to help fight MRSA.  If I could have seen myself, I think I would have broken out in roaring laughter.

The surgery went well.  The only concern was my sugar level.  It was 160 and should be under 100.  The surgeon referred me back to my primary care physician.  I could have stayed overnight, which the surgeon and nurses expected, but I chose to leave and come home to recover.  I felt pretty good.  I had two drains to deal with but I fully expected to have those removed within a week.  The joke was on me.  Over three weeks later, I’m still sitting here with one of the drains.  I keep hoping to get it removed but unfortunately the healing in my back is progressing slower than expected.  I’ve been shocked with the pain on my left side.  The muscle is so tight.  I was surprised to find out that I have to do daily exercises to move the implants within the pockets.  The doctor does not want any scar tissue to form around or attach to the implants.  How long do I have to do this, you may wonder?  Apparently every day for the rest of my life.  Who knew?

It is so nice to be on this side of everything.  I’ve had about 10 doctor appointments between the rebuild surgeon, primary care physician, breast cancer surgeon, gynecologist, geneticists, radiologist, etc. in the last two weeks.  The good news is at least one I will not have to go back to unless a problem pops up.  I found out that 90% of all cancer is by chance.  10% is actually inherited.  My cancer falls in the “by chance” category.  I learned quite a bit meeting with the geneticist.  I also found out, I do not need a hysterectomy which sometimes follows with breast cancer.  Yeah!  I completed the 3 month A1C bloodwork and my glucose came back great.  I went from 160 at surgery time to 83.  My bloodwork did show some cholesterol challenges.  My cholesterol is 254 with my LDL (bad cholesterol) being 170.  This is my next challenge I will have to deal with.  It’s like I want to get through this cancer stuff, then I’ll deal with the other stuff.

Once I get this last drain out, I expect my recovery to move forward quickly.  My family is fully recovered from the virus that took them all out of commission for 3+ weeks.  It was really bad.  I’ve had two heartbreaking tragedies occur since my surgery.  A dear family member lost her husband this week.  Although both are from Jacksonville, he was in the Coast Guard and stationed in Hawaii.  She will return home with their four young children later this week.  My heart grieves for this young family on the loss of her husband and their father.

The second one was after almost 17 years, my dear dog Sonic had to be put to sleep.  He had cancer and a brain tumor.  It was heartbreaking for all of us.  Sonic always waited for me to come home, peering anxiously at the window until I arrived.  Larry and I still grieve over the loss of Sonic.

I am so thankful for everyone’s prayers.  I feel your love deep within my soul.  Thank you for taking this journey with me.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  Psalm 18:2 Thank you God for being my Lord and Savior.  Thank you for walking me through this journey and never letting me feel alone.   From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.

Prayers Needed

I am sitting here waiting until the clock tolls 8 am.  That is the time I’ll pack up and make my way to the hospital for what I hope will be my last surgery.  The surgeon has told me over and over again to plan for more surgeries but hope for one.  I’m sticking to hoping for one.  I am in the rebuilding stage.  I have gone through all the skin stretching, rehab and have just been waiting for this day.  I feel after today, I can begin planning ahead.  The last two years has been going to one doctor appointment, treatment, test or procedure after another.  My life, for almost two years, has been fighting this disease.  I am so thrilled to be on this side of it.

It’s been really crazy since I started preparing for this surgery.  Eight family members went down with a “super power” virus.  It really took them out of the game.  Needless to say the hospital waiting room will seem empty compared to my last surgery.  Although Larry and I were with all of them when they got sick, God protected us.  We were the only two that did not get the virus.  It truly was a miracle.  Again I ask for all your prayers for our family and for my surgery today.  I sure will miss my mom being here.  She’s the work horse and always the unspoken hero.  I know it hurts her not being here but it’s too risky with her having the virus.  Hopefully all will get better soon and I can see my family again.

I’m more nervous about this surgery because I know more.  The things they surprised me with before, I know will happen now.  I’m not looking forward to it.  Especially the Q-tips they stick up my nose and scratch my brain for 20 seconds on each side, then they repeat it a second time.  I still have a throbbing pain at the base of my forehead from last time.  To be honest, I don’t think they scratched my brain, but that’s what it feels like.  The surgery should take two hours and is being done as an outpatient.  I already feel the foot in my back pushing me out of the hospital.  It’s amazing.

Yesterday I spent the day sterilizing everything.  I was given a list of stuff I had to do.  Replacing shower heads and shower curtains, washing everything, sterilizing light switches, door knobs, cabinets, and shampooing carpet.  The list goes on and on.  My sister, Cleve-her husband and Katie, although they only live a couple hundred yards from me, face timed me.  All three have the virus so I can’t come into contact with them.  They had pray with me over my iPad.  It was just as powerful as in person.

I’m asking all my prayer warriors to start praying for my surgery.  I have to be at the hospital at 9 am and my surgery is scheduled for 11 am.  The surgery will take about two hours.  Please lift a prayer up for me during that time.  I appreciate all your love and all of your prayers.  Thank you for your encouragement.  I could not have made it through this journey without God walking right beside me.  I know He will be with me throughout my surgery and recovery.  Thank you Lord for providing me with my family and friends whose support is priceless.

Romans 5:8  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!  Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.”  Thank you God for being my Lord and Savior.  Thank you for walking me through this journey and never letting me feel alone.   From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.

Getting Closer

It’s hard to believe I’m writing to you a year after my treatment journey began. Last year this time, there was such an overwhelming path ahead of me. Now I look back and think, thank God for my prayer warriors. Your prayers gave me strength to keep moving forward on this journey. It’s been a journey where I found my true strength in God. By myself, I am a very weak vessel. Only through Him, am I able to write this one year later and still have my joy.

I have completed my six weeks of radiation. As my radiologist told me, the two weeks after radiation are the worse. Your body continues to think it is being radiated. I got the deep dark burns and blisters. Saying I was uncomfortable, would be an understatement. The good news is that it did heal and I’m doing great.

After much thought and prayer, I returned back to work. I felt like the new girl in school. I was both excited and nervous to return. There had been a reorganization, so upon my return, I had a new leader. I am very fortunate. I was greeted warmly. I am part of a great team. My biggest challenge is the neuropathy. Walking was a big challenge but let me tell you how God worked this out. It truly was a miracle. At my workplace, the dress code has been in place for many years. The style of shoes that had to be worn caused such pain to my feet. Well leave it to God to work it out. The dress code changed. I am now able to wear shoes that do not cause me pain. Can you believe it? As big as the company I work for is, God began working this challenge out long before I began this journey. Now I could wear comfortable shoes to work. How perfectly timed was that? Come Tuesday morning, this girl had a pair of sandals on happily driving to work. Trust me when I say, it was a miracle the dress code changed in this way.

I’ve been in contact with many of my friends. One friend in particular touched my heart “big time”. You know how you meet people and you instantly have a special connection? Well that’s how this friend is. She recently lost her husband. She told me prior to her husband passing, she asked her husband “When you see God’s face, would you ask Him to heal Debbie.” He promised he would. When she shared this with me, tears began flowing down my face. God has definitely healed me.

Although this year has been a tough one, I would not replace it. The enveloping of love and prayers that have been shared by all my prayer warriors will never be forgotten. My heart will never be the same. I am so appreciative of all of you.

I must also mention my husband, my sons, my parents, my brother, my sister and all our family and friends who have walked this journey day in and day out with me. It’s difficult to watch someone you love suffer and go through so much. They truly are the heroes. I often have said, it’s much harder on them then on me. Thank you for holding me up when I’ve wanted to fall. Thank you for your unending love and your courage. I know it’s been hard. You are my angels here on earth. You are my heart and I love you all.

As my journey continues, I have a couple more surgeries. I consider these surgeries minor compared to the last year. Prayerfully if all goes well, I should be completely cleared by Christmas. Not only will it be a time of celebrating Christ birth but of a completion of a journey.

Continue to pray all goes well.

Isaiah 40:29 “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” God is the great provider. Thank you God for being my Lord and Savior. Thank you for walking me through this journey and never letting me feel alone. From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.

The Journey Continues

So much has happened since I last wrote. At this time I’ve completed 15 days of radiation, four additional procedures-that proved to be the most painful of all and started taking my life long medication. I recovered from surgery nicely but within a week after surgery, I had a procedure that set me back a little. Over the next three weeks, I had a procedure done each week. I normally have a high tolerance for pain, but wow, I was in some serious “hurt”. I think I surprised my family. I was moaning and groaning constantly. The radiologist/oncologist wanted to start the radiation as quick as possible. My treatment would be quite aggressive. Some things I didn’t realize about the radiation was that there would be some damage to my lungs, one rib and my clavicle. This is permanent. I was advised they would take great care to protect my heart. I was thankful to hear that. Almost one half of my upper body is being radiated. A girl that had breast cancer also and is two weeks ahead of me in the radiation regiment, shared with me her story. Hers is so different than my own. Her surgery was different, chemo was different and her radiation is different. Her radiation is more direct whereas mine is a combination of expansive and direct. However, the longevity of the process of fighting this disease is the same.

While going through the procedures, I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to attend my son’s wedding. I actually stopped the procedures and said no more. I needed a week to gather strength. As would be expected it was a busy week. Family came in to share Gary’s special occasion. Gary and Jessica were married on the beautiful Disney Dream. There were about 45 of us. This was the most Christ centered wedding that I’ve ever witnessed. The love these two share for their God, their family and each other was evident throughout the ceremony. I don’t believe there was a dry eye on the ship. The ceremony was in the atrium and many cruisers stopped and watched this special exchange of love. Praise God, I was able to be there. It meant so much to me. God has blessed me with another wonderful daughter in law. Within a few hours after the ceremony, I was sick again. For the next two weeks, it became such a battle. For over six days, my temperature ranged between 101-102 degrees. The fever wouldn’t break. Considering I don’t ever remember having a fever before, this shocked me. My radiologist/oncologist gave me a z-pack. My first time having one of those. Within a few days, I began returning back to normal. Within that time period, I started my radiation. As sick as I was, I didn’t think they would start the radiation but lucky me, they did.

I’m working to get my strength back. Because of all this cancer stuff, I haven’t been able to spend time with my grandchildren like I want. Last week I was very blessed when my first grandchild Emma came to visit with me and help Noni. It meant so much to me. I tried to spend some quality time with her and show her as much love as I could. It was a sad day when she went home. I hope to have some time with all my grandchildren as I get stronger.

Aloe has become a dear friend. After each radiation session, I have to put aloe on to offset the “burns”. I am so thankful to my brother in law Cleve, who filets the aloe leaves each week for me so I have enough to treat my skin. Since such a large part of my body is being radiated, I use a lot of aloe.

Please pray for my dear friend Susan who had back surgery last week. Susan is my second sister and her mom Linda is like a second mom. I am so thankful to my family and my friends for their constant show of love. Susan’s son Robbie is a special teenager. He came to visit me and shared his heart about what my journey has meant to him. The love he showed in his words was so powerful. I love that guy.

My Aunt Lyne and Uncle Floyd are part of my loving team. They have been with me every step of the way from the time I was a little girl until now. Thank you for your never ending love and support.

I know as a person, I have so much growing to go. I’m so thankful I have God’s word to guide me through my growth. I could never have gotten through all of this without my Savior’s love. I will always be thankful for the day God called my sister and me down the aisle to become a part of His family. The night we trusted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, changed our paths. Because of what Christ did for me on the cross, my sins are forgiven. Throughout this whole journey, I had a peace that if anything were to happen to me, I would be with God in paradise. Praise God for providing me with that peace. A peace that I have no doubt came from God.

A special shout out to my husband. Not only has this been a journey for me, it’s been a long road for him too. He hasn’t skipped a beat. Thanks so much Babe!

Luke 15:3-7 “So Jesus told them this parable: What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous persons who needs no repentance.”   I am so thankful I was one of those found sheep. From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.

It’s Time to Dig in and Fight

Boy has this week been an emotional roller coaster.  Recovering from the double mastectomy was minor compared to my doctor’s appointment with one of my surgeons.  Although I knew all went well with the surgery, I was anxious to hear “We got it all”.  You know how you wake up one morning and know that something is different?  I wrote it off to nerves.  As my husband, sister and I waited in the doctor’s office for the surgeon to come in, we talked about anything that came to mind.  We heard a knock on the door and the office manager poked her head in to let me know the surgeon was running a little late and would be in to see me shortly.  As she closed the door, total silence engulfed the room.  Because it was so unusual for the Office Manager to come into the room, it caused me to speculate.  I had this sinking feeling that the real purpose of her short visit was to ensure I was not alone.  Before long, the surgeon entered into the room.  As she opened her mouth to speak, she started just as she started the first time she told me I had cancer.  “Well the good news is in your right breast we got it all and the pathology tests came back clean.  On your left breast, I was able to get clean margins around the whole mass; however in two of your lymph nodes, there was cancer.”  My heart sunk.  From my limited knowledge of cancer, the one thing I knew was you didn’t want it to get into your lymph nodes.  The surgeon continued to talk, but quite honestly nothing sunk in.  All three of us were in shock.  I heard the surgeon talk to me about the treatment moving forward, setting up appointments with a radiologist and my oncologist and how great my recovery has been from the surgery.  I walked out of the visit with a sick feeling in my stomach.  Again I had to call on God for peace and guidance. 

Larry began setting up my appointments.  When he called the oncologist, the first appointment available wasn’t until the beginning of May.  He knew there was no way we could wait until then.  We needed to talk to him.  We wanted more details and additional information.  Fortunately we were able to meet with him yesterday.  Dr. C has a very calming manner.  He sat us down and went through so much.  He took us back to the first time I came in.  What we never knew was that the cancer was in my lymph nodes then.  The team of doctor’s always knew that was part of the battle.  I have found the doctors only release information as needed.  The importance of a positive attitude and optimism is vital to beating this disease.  The key things he said during this hour long appointment was 1)  He expects me to be a survivor  2)  the chemo reduced the presence of the cancer remarkably  3) the surgery cleaned the cancer out  of my breasts  4)  the cancer in the lymph nodes dissipated greatly  5)  part of the radiation will be focused on the lymph nodes and will locally attack the cancer and 6)  the pill I will start taking (probably for the rest of my life) will create an environment in my body that any lose cancer cells will not be able to develop.

We walked out of this doctor visit “giddy”.  We felt so much hope and encouragement.  Praise God.  Monday I will meet with a new doctor who will be my radiologist/oncologist.  Once I start radiation, I will go every day for six weeks.  I understand, I still have a fight on my hands, but I’m ready to dig in and conquer this.

My immediate focus however is my son’s wedding.  He will be getting married on May 2nd.  I am so excited and thrilled.  They were getting married this past December but moved the wedding so I would be able to attend.  I am so thankful to be here for this joyous event.  God is so good and I feel so blessed.

I was able to spend some time with my Aunt Karen and Uncle Jerry (my mom’s brother) this week.  I am so excited and very optimistic about returning to Hawaii for a visit in 2015 and spending time with them.  A few days ago, I couldn’t even think about doing this. 

Thank you to all who continue to follow my journey.  It’s not always easy however each of you give me unexplainable strength and peace.  I appreciate all of you so much.

Continue to pray as I go on a new road in this journey.  Pray for no side effects from the radiation and the “chemo” pill.  Pray for Jessica and Gary as they embark on their marriage journey.  A wedding only takes minutes but a marriage is for a lifetime.

Colossians 3:16 “Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.”   From my heart to yours, with total love…Debbie.