Friday, March 17, 2023

Hey there! Some bit of good news :o)

Exactly a year ago today, I wrote this post. Within a month of that, I received my official diagnosis. What followed was a blur for me really...but back then, I just about shut down this blog and the store, believing the worst. With God's grace, things started happening quickly. The next few months saw us receiving all kinds of help from people from our community, online, and around the world -- help came in the form of money, gift cards, gas cards, hot meals, shop orders, emotional support, babysitting, cards and letters, care packages and gifts for my children, spiritual support and prayers. I have never been so humbled and blessed at the same time. I found myself having conversations with God, mostly thanking Him for giving me time and bringing me the help my family and I desperately needed to get us through a truly dark time.

Three weeks ago, I saw my oncologist. After 8 months, I was finished with active treatments and about to start on the long-term endocrine/hormone therapy. I also was there to find out the results of my last PET/CT scan done two weeks prior. As he read the results, my heart rejoiced and I held on to my husband's hand tight. I heard words like "clear", "no FDG uptake", and "unremarkable", and then finally, my oncologist said, "in remission." I couldn't believe it. Actually, I could -- because we have an awesome God who makes all things possible!

Nine and a half months ago, I sat in the same room with him telling me that the treatment he was putting me on is mainly to give me quality of life and make me comfortable for however long I have. I didn't believe I was going to live to see my daughters' birthdays (in August and December) and I started either throwing away, selling, or packing up my things; I didn't want to burden my husband with all the stuff I've accumulated. But Jesus is good and He is faithful, and His plan is always good.

My husband thinks my oncologist didn't mean to say that I'm in remission; that he probably meant to say "resolution" because he was reading the results for my bones -- where there are no lesions at all in my pelvis or other areas. And when you are a Stage IV or have metastatic breast cancer (MBC), there's no such thing as remission; instead it's NEAD -- no evidence of active disease. But it's all semantics, right? At the moment, there is no evidence of cancer in my body -- not in my bones and not in my tumor markers! If there is cancer, it's at a level that no test can detect.

The last 3 weeks have been the best weeks of my life (see photo collage), and it makes me so happy to give my little girls some semblance of normal life after nearly a year of disrupting their routine. While the active treatments (first chemo, surgery, second chemo, and radiation) I received have a host of side effects that I continue to experience and make it a challenge for me to get back to normal, I'm so filled with gratitude and hope for the future. In the last 3 weeks: we have gone out twice to eat; we have taken the girls on Wednesdays for Adventurers Club (our church's version of boy/girl scouts); I started painting again, something I thought I would not do again after I packed up my brushes and art supplies last year; I started helping out my husband more on homeschooling the girls; I took the girls to Hobby Lobby; and we were able to accept a social invite for the girls to play with baby goats! After a long time, we didn't have to plan our day around my treatment schedule.

My/our family's journey is not over. This time, the goal is to keep my NEAD status for as long as possible. It involves continued consults with my oncologist, taking my endocrine/hormone therapy medications, having monthly injections, and going for regular labs, tests, and procedures that doctors in my care team order. To those of you who have been following my journey and been praying for me/my family, I am asking that you continue to lift us up in prayer.

As for this blog and store -- the plan is to re-open in May...honestly, I have not thought too much or in detail about this because I have been focusing on making up for lost time and opportunities with my girls and husband -- time and opportunities I thought I wouldn't have a year ago. The store continues to be partially open, and purchases there continue to help us financially.

I meant to write a short post, but here ya go...some bit of good news from the Russ family :o) From my family to yours, we pray that you are well and blessed! Thank you for following our journey and supporting us through the years -- most especially in the last year!

With love,