She Fought the Good Fight

Amy was diagnosed several years ago with breast cancer. She passed away today after a valiant struggle with this disease. She left behind a husband and four young children. She taught us all about facing and fighting the biggest of obstacles with courage and faith. Please pray for her family. Rest in peace, Amy, you have fought the good fight. We miss you already.

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Amy and the Pink Trailer

If you haven’t checked out the PINK TRAILER that is being raffled on February 14, please log on to this website: http://pinktrailer.blogspot.com

The proceeds from this raffle will be used to help Amy and her family meet the financial challenges that accompany cancer treatment.  It is a great trailer and a great cause.  The tickets for the drawing are only $5.00.  As I mentioned in previous posts, I seldom personally endorse fund raising efforts unless I personally know the people involved and are sure they are trustworthy.

Amy is preparing physically, emotionally, and spiritually for her first surgery.  She shares in her journal her fears, her concerns, her hopes, and her faith.  Amy has been a Mary Kay director and has well learned some of the life  lessons presented to us as we learn ‘how to sell lipstick’. One of the many aspects of being part of Mary Kay is learning how to set goals and understanding what we need to to do to reach them. This lesson has not been lost on Amy.

She is very focused on what she personally needs to do in order to reach her goal of living to see her children grow up and being a part of their lives as they do so.  She knows that she must endure very difficult chemo treatments and a series of surgeries and then more chemo.  She understands that she must focus on doing whatever it takes to get well.  She is doing just that.

I am so very proud of you Amy.  I know that Mary Kay would be proud of you as well.

Setting Boundries

Amy is a minister’s wife and up until she received her cancer diagnosis, was a Mary Kay director.  Because of her ‘people’ personality, she has many friends who know and love her.  She has always been easily accessible by phone and has always welcomed people into her home.

However, when she received her cancer diagnosis, I witnessed a change in her accessibility which I initially respected, but have come to admire.  Amy decided that she could not repeatedly talk to everyone who called about her cancer.  She could not welcome every guest who wanted to drop by to express their concern.   She knew that her number one priority was to beat cancer and conserving her physical and emotional strength is a necessary part of her recovery.

Therefore she seldom answers the phone or doorbell.  She answers emails when she feels like it, and she keeps a journal on caringbridge.com.  If a church member wanted to support Amy and Brent with food, they coordinated it with one person rather that just dropping it by the house.

Let me be clear here. It is not that Amy is shutting people out of her life.  She does talk to people, but she does it on her own terms, i.e., when she has the strength, or when it is convenient.   She keeps people up to date on how she is feeling and how her treatment is going by way of  journal entries.  Amy is still just as much a people person as before, and she totally appreciates all the cards, emails, comments left on Caringbridge, and so many other ways support and love is shown to her.

I appreciate  Amy setting this type of example for us.  We do not have to be a ‘slave’ to the telephone and doorbell.  We do not have to let it drain our emotional and physical strength.  We can choose to walk down the path of cancer or serious illness at least to some extent on our own terms.  We can choose to do what is best for us.

You go, Amy!

American Cancer Society-The Answers Can Begin Here

When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I did not even know enough to know what questions I needed to ask. I did know, however, that the American Cancer Society was a place to start looking for information.  I remember calling and talking to whomever would listen.

The American Cancer Society website is easy to navigate and contains a great deal of information.  I am not going to give a lot of specifics about how A.C.S. can help you in your particular situation, but I do suggest that you log on explore the contents of this organization’s website.

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp

Time has blurred my memory somewhat, but it seems to me that the American Cancer Society paid for, or at least supplimented the hotel costs when we took Mother to MD Anderson in Houston.

I have a friend whose husband had pancreatic cancer, and the American Cancer Society provided him with home health equipment including a hospital bed.

In my opinion, the American Cancer Society is a wonderful organization which endeavors to support cancer patients and their caretakers in many areas.  There is the support of providing knowledge and answering questions about the disease itself.  They give emotional support by listening and empathizing with patients and families.  They provide support with equipment helping to keep patients in their home as long as possible.  They can sometimes provide financial support as they did with us in helping to pay for our hotel rooms.

I know there are many many more areas of help the American Cancer Society provides that I have not mentioned, but by checking out their website and contacting them directly, you will at least find a beginning place to find the answers to your questions.

Don, Jo Ann, and Non Hodgkins Lymphoma

Don and Jo Ann are precious dear friends.  They are members of my Sunday School Class, and have been examples of strength, courage, and faith as they once again journey down the cancer path.

Several years ago, I remember that JoAnn had breast cancer.  It was found early.  She had a lumpectomy and was treated with medication to prevent its return.  Her cancer has been in remission since then.  In fact, she may be classified as cured.

Don and Jo Ann watched a grandson, Sage, fight and lose his battle with rhabdomyosarcoma, a fast growing cancer in children.  At the age of 12, Sage was told, after enduring cancer treatment, that nothing more could be done.  During his remaining two or three weeks of life, Sage showed strength, faith, and grace that could only have come from God.   Yes, Sage may have lost his battle with cancer, but he was victorious in the way he faced death, inspiring everyone who knew him.

Don has battled Non Hodgkins Lymphoma three times.  This form of cancer is treatable, but not curable.  Don has been a patient at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, and the two of them have made countless trips there.

Lymphoma first appeared in 1997,  in a testicle. It was small, the size of a BB. In 2003 it returned in the form of a volleyball sized mass around Don’s right kidney.  After four chemo treatments, this cancer when into remission.  Don was placed in a stem cell transplant clinical study.  His blood was enriched with neuprogin injections and then his own stem cells were harvested.  After another procedure in which they ‘burned him out’, he was reinjected with his own stem cells.

Don’s remission this time lasted only 3 1/2 years, and returned in Nov, 2007,  in his lower abdomen.   Once again the cancer has been put in remission by chemo treatments, and there is a possibility that he could have another stem cell treatment.  This time, however, the cells would come from Don’s brother who is a perfect match.  Don may decide to wait on the stem cell treatment, because hopefully this cancer treatment will keep the lymphoma in remission for a long time, and there is always a danger of rejection with stem cells even from a perfect match.

Don has one more chemo treatment to take which is basically an ‘insurance’ treatment, just in case the scans missed some malignant cells.

The challenge for Don with this recurrance is that his body is not recovering from the chemo treatments as quickly as it once did.  His blood counts and platelet counts have been very low, and they have been very slow to come up.  Normal platelet counts are from 140,000 to 440,000.  Don’s counts have been as low as 4,000.  He has had a total of 29 transfusions of blood and platelets since Dec, 2007.  In fact, his last treatment is being delayed due to low platelet counts.

It is so amazing to watch the faith and courage they both display to all of us. Even when blood tests don’t come back with the news they hoped for and prayed for, they know that God has all things in His hands, and they rest in His Peace and Comfort.  Oh, yes.  They have had a wonderful sense of humor about all of this also.  I know that has helped.

Please pray for Don.  Pray that his current state of remission will last, that his cancer will not return.  Pray that his blood counts and platelet counts will come up so that he can have his last chemo treatment.

Pray for Jo Ann. She is truly an amazing person and I consider it an honor to know her.  I know that she has times of exhaustion, frustration, and fear, but she is so very in tune with God that His Strength and His Grace meets her needs day by day.  Those of you who have been caregivers know what she needs and you know how to pray for her.  Please do so.