Monday, September 12, 2022

An Update...and the Future

Hey there, STAMPfriends. Since my last post back in June, a lot has happened. Some of you have been able to follow my journey these last few months because we're friends on Facebook. However, I've also been sharing updates on this page for those who don't do social media.

After I finished my chemo on July 5, I was on my way to Colorado 3 1/2 weeks later. Thanks to my church family, I was able to spend 2 weeks at the Eden Valley Institute of Wellness and participate in a lifestyle program that was tailored for me as a cancer patient. There I learned natural ways to address my cancer, as well as received lifestyle natural treatments including fever baths, hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, massage and hydrotherapy, sauna baths, herbal remedies, juice fasting, and more. For two whole weeks, I was able to eat healthy and exercise, and attend science-based health lectures, all with a focus on God. 

I documented my experience via photos and videos that I shared on Facebook and here. I am thankful for those 2 weeks -- even though I missed my husband and two girls very much. It's reassuring to me that they did alright without me for two weeks :o)

(The photo of me on the right was taken when we were harvesting onions.)

A week after I got back from Colorado, I underwent a mastectomy. My right breast and much of the lymph nodes on my right side were removed. I'm now 3 weeks post-op and things have gotten so much better. Next week I am seeing my oncologist, as the next step is another round of chemo -- this time it's 12 weekly treatments of Taxol (Paclitaxel). My surgeon has recommended radiation therapy as well, so that will follow when I am done with the chemo. Yep, my treatments are going to continue well into the new year...

...which means this blog will continue to be on a break, and the store will continue to be partially open with product bundles available as opposed to individual products for sale. I am hoping, however, to have some inspirational project posts published, albeit irregularly, as well as new products added to the store as I'm able. I'm a planner by nature but over the last 5 months, I've learned to let go of the reins, take things one day at a time, let Jesus be in control, and trust in His plan for me.

So many of you have been praying, and continue to pray, for me and my family. I continue to receive encouraging cards from you, and last July, there was even an Instagram hop dedicated to me, led by the awesome Sadia Ashraf. She and 33 incredibly amazing and kind crafters got together and shared their beautiful cards and encouraging words for me on their respective Instagram accounts. I was humbled and I went through the hop with tears of joy, gratitude, and hope. I am also so very grateful to those who donated directly and through our Meal Train page to help us out financially. I am ever so grateful that Jesus put each and every one of you in my path. Please know that you are in my nightly prayers!

Wishing you all good health.

With love,

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,

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Goodbye...for now.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Hello, STAMPfriends. Many of you are aware of my current circumstance (per my post here) and I wish I had better news. My biopsy 2 weeks ago confirms I have breast cancer (Stage IIB) and treatment starts this month.

In light of my diagnosis, I am temporarily suspending all activities here on the blog. The store will remain open until I know when my treatment starts (and I'm not able to work). Without going into too much detail (don't want to bore/depress you all!), my treatment plan starts with chemotherapy to shrink the tumors, followed by surgery, then radiation therapy, and finally hormone therapy. (Once I'm not able to fulfill orders for tangible products anymore, the store will remain open but only for digital products, as fulfilling those require no intervention from me and any income from digital sales will help us greatly.)

I wish I can write more, but at this point, I'm simply plain wiped out and all cried out. I will, however, update this post as I'm able, and share some of my breast cancer journey. Yes, I believe I will recover from this, because I trust that the Lord is giving me the best doctors and medical team. 

There is still one more post I hope to publish after this -- the winners post -- but once again, please bear with me...there's still a lot for me to plan and do on the home front, all to hopefully minimize the hardship/stress my family will soon go through when my treatments start.

Many of you have been following our blog and even playing in our challenges for many years...some since we started in 2013. I cannot thank you enough for being such loyal readers, followers, and players. I have "met" so many wonderful, kind, and encouraging women here and I am forever grateful for friendships formed in spite of the physical distance. I am so looking forward to reviving this blog.

For now, may I ask you to include my family in your prayers?

With love,

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

{Inspiration Project Post #366}

Hello, STAMPlorations Friends! The Inspiration girls are back with a helping of projects showcasing stamps, dies, stickers and ephemera of their choice.

We'll still randomly draw a winner from all the comments left on our Inspiration posts, have a look and leave a comment for your entry to win a $15 prize code to the STAMPlorations store in our monthly prize draw.


You can check out all of our current promotions, giveaway and freebies here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

{Inspiration Project Post #365}

Hello, STAMPlorations Friends! The Inspiration girls are back with a helping of projects showcasing stamps, dies and stencils of their choice.

We'll still randomly draw a winner from all the comments left on our Inspiration posts, have a look and leave a comment for your entry to win a $15 prize code to the STAMPlorations store in our monthly prize draw.


You can check out all of our current promotions, giveaway and freebies here.