Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Gratitude...and an update

Hello, my friends. It's been a while since my last post bearing news about my breast cancer diagnosis. So much has happened since then. It's been rough -- still is -- but I can say so many good things have happened too...things I am thankful and grateful for. Because when I found myself in a truly dark place, I held on to the belief that I'd eventually see light and happiness again. And that when I was faced with my mortality, I learned to give up all control and be completely dependent on Jesus, the only one I truly believe can heal me. Every day continues to be a struggle but in the weeks after my diagnosis, I have been waking up thankful to God that I am alive and given another chance to be in the moment with my children and my husband, to make memories with them.

The photo collage of my girls and me...we took those photos last June 24, on the fourth day after my third chemotherapy. They took me out on a walk down our long driveway...we call our walks "mommy and daughters time". My oncologist put me on a dose-dense chemo treatment -- every 2 weeks beginning May 23. My hair started falling off on day 12 and I just went ahead and shaved it all off on a few days later. I didn't tolerate the first two chemo treatments well. I was fine the first two days and then I was pretty much useless starting on the third day. I had severe nausea, was barely able to get up and function and take care of my children, and I mainly subsisted on water and fruit juice. I barely ate that between my first chemo and third chemo, I had lost over 20 pounds. Then on my third chemo treatment last June 21, my oncologist lowered my dose by 20% (without reducing the efficacy of the drugs) to see if it would help manage the side effects and it seemed to do the trick. I have been able to eat full meals, spend more time with my girls, and go out on more walks with them like in the photos. I have gained a bit of weight as well. My fourth chemo will be on July 5 (on my birthday), followed by a mastectomy within 6-8 weeks, followed by 12 more weekly chemo treatments, and then hormone therapy for the long term.

My breast cancer was initially staged at Stage IIB, but a PET scan indicated it metastasized to my right pelvis. And so my cancer was upstaged to Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I had a bone biopsy done but it was inconclusive and my oncologist thinks another bone biopsy will simply yield the same result and so even without definitive result, he is continuing to treat my cancer as Stage 4...unless somewhere down the line we are able to determine if the lesion in my pelvis is not cancer. My treatment plan is palliative at this point -- the goal is to slow down the cancer's growth and keep it from spreading so I can focus on my quality of life.

And so it looks like things are not going to be back to normal around here for a while. I do wish to keep the store open, and continue to be part of the crafting community, no matter how small a part that is -- so I can still feel some sense of normalcy. The store is a source of income for my family; the bills don't stop coming just because I have cancer, and any kind of sale, no matter how small, helps.

The last couple of months we have been blessed so much with family, friends, and church family coming together to help us -- whether it's taking me to my appointments, watching and taking care of my girls for a few hours, bringing us food, donating gift cards and/or money to help ease our financial burdens, and so on. My family and I are not able to weather this time without the kindness and generosity of others.

Thank you to those of you who prayed, continue to pray, sent words of encouragements, mailed cards, and continued to support STAMPlorations up until the time I temporarily closed the store for orders. I have partially re-opened it, albeit it's set up in a way that orders can go out within a reasonable length of time and so that my husband can take over shipping when I'm unable to. If you have the time, please do check out our store. There are a few things in there that are available on sale, and I'll keep adding as I have the energy to do so. Please know that however way you support us -- through prayers, by helping spread the word about our small company, through our Meal Train page, by placing an order, or by donating directly I am eternally grateful for your help and generosity.

Faith has sustained me, and I continue to hope that the Lord will see me and my family through our cancer journey.

Thank you so much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

With love,