I Miss My Grandma

GrandmaIt seems almost unreal to think that one year ago today my Grandma joined God in heaven. So much has happened in my life since one year ago. As you all know that follow my blog I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer on October 17, 2008 just 3 months after my Grandma passed away from a very unfair battle with Mesothelioma cancer and less than a year after Tyler’s Uncle Bob passed away from a long battle with cancer caused by war in Vietnam where he was fighting for our freedoms. It’s scary to be 26, have a 2 year old daughter, 2 very close family members die from cancer and then be diagnosed with cancer all within 1 year.

The most amazing thing through all that was the love and support from my family, friends and strangers. The past year has been the hardest and most rewarding year of my life. I can truly say without a doubt in my mind that my Grandma is proud of me. She would tell me that all the time and that she loved me but I KNOW that she would be proud of the person I am and that I fought and beat cancer. Not everyone can (and I hope they never will) say that. I can. I had cancer, Cancer did not have me. I, with the help and support of my amazing LifeGroup ladies and husband, shaved my head to take that power away from cancer and it felt amazing. I won’t lie it was hard with every clump that hit the floor and fell past my face but once we were done it felt amazing. I knew then Grandma was smiling ear to ear and telling Jesus she was proud of me. shaving my hair offI don’t know how I would have handled cancer without my family and friends and truly don’t know how people go through it alone. It is hard, God is the ultimate Healer though. He provides.

I know that she was there when my newest niece Lydia Dawn James was born on February 16th. She was smiling, beaming, as she told Jesus how excited and proud of my middle brother Kevin and my sister-in-law Desiree she was.

Lydia Dawn James

I know she was there when my little brother graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in May. She wanted so badly to be there and she might not have been there physically but she was watching smiling again saying ow proud she was of him to Jesus.

Brian's Graduation

She has a front row seat now to all of our successes and failures cheering us on.

I know she was there fighting for me in heaven as I  laughed, cried, or both through my treatments, tests, surgeries, scans, procedures, and ER visits. As I was sick and fought for energy and fought to keep food down and struggled with being so tired I couldn’t play with my amazing little girl. She was fighting for me in heaven, cheering me on, and telling Jesus how proud she was of me. That I was strong and could do anything.

That was who my Grandma was. Not many people are as blessed as I am. God gave me an amazing Grandma and I am so thankful for that. I only wish that Rachel and Lydia would be able to know her.

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Four GenerationsHere are a bunch of pictures of my family with my Grandma.

Silly Rachel

Little Miss Rachel

 

This has to be one of my favorite pictures of Rachel. We were at the park with friends and she climbed up the toy on the playground. I was underneath it taking a picture of one of the other kids when she happened to look through a couple of the steps and yell “BOO Mommy!” It was so funny. 

Rachel is a little over two years old now and so much fun! Thanks to her Papa Phil she is real into saying “Mine!” or “My turn!” so we have learned how to use this to our advantage at times when she is not in the most cooperative mood. If we want her to pick up her toys and she doesn’t want to I can say “It’s Mommy’s turn to pick up toys” and in turn she will say “Noooo my turn!” and start picking them up. It doesn’t always work and may not be the best way to get her to do something but when you are desperate it works! 

Rachel can also count to 10, sing several songs (Row, Row, Row your Boat, Wheels on the Bus, Ring Around the Rosie, and the most of the ABC song) and she know most of her colors. She also has a slight obsession with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and by slight obsession I mean it ranks above her love of Mom and Dad most days! She can sing the theme song to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and screams all of the characters names when she sees them. 

I am going to attempt potty training with her next week once I have completed my last round of chemo. But, because of her current love of Mickey she doesn’t want to part with her diapers because they have Mickey Mouse on them. So last week I searched online and went to 4 stores to find Minnie Mouse panties for potty training. This is something I can say I never thought I would do! Go on such a hunt for toddler panties. It’s amazing what you will do to try to get a toddler to do what you want!

GOOD NEWS!

After lots of prayer, talking with Tyler, and the doctors I have come to the decision not to do radiation. Which means that my treatment for the cancer will be done on April 8th! I am so excited! After talking with the radiation oncologist yesterday we decided that the possible long term side effects do not out weigh the benefits of the radiation. The doctor said that my case is a “very grey area” because of multiple factors and that she still wants to present my case to the tumor board at the hospital and get the input of the other oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, and basically all the other cancer doctors but that as of now her opinion is to not do radiation based on many different factors. Which Tyler and I completely agree with. 

So once my chemo treatments are over it will take about a month for the chemicals to be flushed from my body, then I will have surgery to remove my problematic port. I am excited to have it removed because it has caused more problems than anything else throughout my treatment.

My oncologist said that I should be able to return to work at the beginning of June! It is so nice to know that life will be able to return to normal soon! With the exception of scans, blood tests, and exams every 3 months for the first year.

Praise God my cancer is GONE!!!

Need I really say anymore??? My cancer is GONE!!!!! 

“I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayer.” Psalm 120:1

In the nurses words there are no indications of lymphoma left in my body!! I still have to complete my chemo which is 4 more treatments and then do my radiation which I don’t have any idea how long it will be but the most important thing is that I am cancer free!!!!

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me  and helping my family. I could never express in words my gratitude to all of you. From day one I have prayed that God would heal me in His timing and He has done just that. I don’t feel that I would have been healed this soon had it not been for so many of you praying for me every day and for that I could never be more thankful. I am at a loss for words really…I am just so thankful that God provided me with such an amazing husband, daughter, family, friends, co-workers, and especially for my amazing oncologist. I have trusted God to take care of me and provide the resources I would need through this entire process and He has done just that.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! ” 2 Corinthians 4:17

PET Scan TODAY!!

Well I completed my 8th chemo treatment of 12 on Wednesday which means it’s time for my PET Scan to check the progress of my treatment. It’s weird to think that I have been having chemo for 4 months already. It has been hard but it has gone by pretty fast for the most part.

Tomorrow I will find out the results of my PET Scan and I will also be meeting with my neurologist to find out the results of all of my brain testing and spinal tap.

So today please pray that my PET Scan will be clear and that the cancer is GONE!!!!

Thank you for all of the prayers!!!!! Tomorrow afternoon or evening I will post to let everyone know what I find out!

Spinal Tap… no fun

I had my lumbar puncture (spinal tap) done last week and it went well. Or at least as well as I am used to 🙂 No medical procedure I have done ever seems to go too smoothly but I have just chopped it up to I am in that 1% that if it goes wrong it will go wrong with me. Which according to the nurse with me on Tuesday it seems that there are a few people that deal with lots of medical issues and every time they have a ‘procedure ‘ done there is a fluke. I have seemed to fall into that category. Oh well what can you do but laugh about it.

The procedure itself went smooth it was all of the PRE procedure stuff that did not go smoothly. The nurse I had at the beginning was new to the department. NOT new just new to that department. First she said that I didn’t have to have blood drawn for the procedure even though I knew i had to because my neurologist said that I would because of one of the tests. So I got back to the room and the nurse said yes you do need to have blood drawn so she called my original nurse to come and do it. She came and I told her I have a port and that would be easiest because my veins are little and bad from chemo. She didn’t bring the stuff necessary with her to the room to use my port so she said she draw the blood from my arm. Let’s just say it didn’t work… like I warned her it wouldn’t. After her first attempt I told her I wanted her to use my port. She left and got the stuff to use my port. Before leaving she asked if I wanted freeze spray. I said yes. Basically what freeze spray does is exactly what it sounds like. You spray it on the skin where the port is located and it freezes or numbs or the area so that the the one inch needle they have to use doesn’t hurt as bad. I can have it accessed without the freeze spray but why be in any more pain than necessary with everything I have gone through in the past 4 months. So the nurse comes back and says “I couldn’t find the freeze spray, is that okay?” So I said fine. Well that’s when the newbie attempted to access my port the first time and FAILED. She couldn’t even get it to flush which even if you access it wrong you can usually flush saline in and she couldn’t. So she took the needle out and had to go find another. When she came back she miraculously found the freeze spray. UGH! I had been stuck twice and my procedure hadn’t even started yet!! On her second attempt she finally accessed it and got the blood. I asked her again if she could draw extra blood for my weekly chemo labs and she said she couldn’t because it wasn’t allowed. (this I know is not true because someone has done it in the past for me) so I didn’t push it. 

Now we are on to the actual reason I was there… for the spinal tap. This was nothing like you see on TV. THANK YOU LORD!!! I was so nervous about the procedure because my only knowledge of what to expect is what I have seen on ER, Grey’s Anatomy, or House. And we know just how accurate these shows are to real life.  For the actual procedure they numb up the area which stings like crazy for about 10 to 15 seconds then they add more numbing stuff deeper when the first stuff takes affect. Once you are completely numb they put insert the needle used to get the spinal fluid and you can’t feel pain at that point just pressure when it is inserted and pressure when they take it out. So the actual procedure isn’t that bad. Your nerves are the worst part to keep calm.

After the procedure they said that I basically needed to lay flat for the rest of the day, all day the next day, and then take it easy the following day. That is what I did until Friday. Everything was going well until I went to meet some girlfriends for lunch that’s when I got the worst headache of my life… no exaggeration! I left lunch early and started my 40 minute drive home. Before I even made it home I had to pull over on the side of the highway and throw up. Two miles later I was throwing up again in the middle of intersection. Again, not fun and a first for me. Once I made it home I laid on the couch and instantly my headache went from a 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 to a 2. So that basically meant that I got the spinal tap headache they warned me about. I called my neurologist and they said that I needed to go to the ER and get a blood patch done. Again, not fun! By this time it was already after 6:00 pm so on the advise of the doctor I decided to just keep lying flat and go to the ER the next morning. She said that if I went to the ER on a Friday night that I would not be a priority so I would likely be there all night. So Tyler and I went on Saturday to the ER. There goes our date day! 😦 Nothing like spending 6 hours in the ER on a Saturday instead of going to lunch and a movie. Oh well what can you do? To add to the fun Rachel was getting her last two molars and was running a fever most of the weekend so Gran had to take care of her.

So treatment for my spinal tap headache was a caffeine drip IV. Yes I did say a caffeine drip. The treatment plan for me was to hook me up to an IV of caffeine for about 4 hours. If that didn’t work then they would do the blood patch which I won’t explain because it is not pleasant and I didn’t have to do it. After a very long nap and a lot of caffeine my headache went away and they sent me home.

By the next day I was fine and very… awake.

Prayer Tuesday

Tomorrow morning I have a lumbar puncture (or spinal tap) that I have to do for some more testing for the neurologist. I have been putting the test off since November and I can’t put it off anymore. I am not thrilled about doing it because I am, to put it bluntly, sick of being poked and prodded. I am also nervous because it can cause you to have a severe migraine headache so the thought of that is not appealing either. So please pray that tomorrow goes well and that I will be calm because I can’t seem to get my nerves to settle.

Again thanks for all of your prayer support it means more than I can ever express.

It’s been a while

It’s been a while since I posted. I have sort of hit a no computer wall lately. For some reason the last thing I want to do is be on the computer and it’s not like I am exactly hurting for free time. I just haven’t wanted to be on the computer at all so I check my email from my phone and if it something important I will reply from there or maybe crack the computer. I think I am past the wall though!

I am half way done with my chemo! I have my seventh of twelve chemo treatments tomorrow. The last treatment actually went well. My port is working fine and so it looks like I won’t need to have another surgery to fix it. I am doing really well with my treatments. The day I have chemo and for about 3 days after I feel really bad and unimaginably tired. Once I have hit about the 4th day after chemo I feel much better and a little more energetic. The worst part about all of this is how tired I am all the time. If I nap during the day for even 15 minutes then I am up almost all night but I don’t nap then I am dead on my feet by 8:00. So being extremely tired is my main complaint.

Thank you again for all of the prayer support!

I never stop being amazed

I never stop being amazed at the love and support that my friends, family, and colleagues show me. Two of my colleagues at ASU are honoring me along with her mother in a ‘Sail for the Cure’ here in Phoenix. I am truly honored that they are including me. I am including the link to their page. Their goal is raise $1500 for race and they are already at $560. If you would like to donate you can use the link below.

http://www.active.com/donate/leukemiacupdms/artemisia-saralouise

I don’t know that I could ever repay or say thank you enough to everyone who has helped me and my family. I am truly humbled.

Thank you.

Chemo Round 5

It’s been a little while since my last post – sorry about that! I have done more between round 4 and 5 of chemo than I have since I was diagnosed. On the same day of chemo treatment number 4 Tyler and I  flew to Missouri for five days Tyler’s best friends wedding. (click here to see pictures from wedding) Then Christmas (Christmas pictures) was 3 days later. It was pretty mellow. We had our neighbors from across the street come over for a late breakfast and the kiddos got to play with Rachel’s many, many new toys. Then the following Sunday night we decided last minute to go on Monday morning up to Strawberry, AZ to take Rachel sledding (sledding pictures). That was a so much fun! It was Tyler, me, Rachel, Cindie (Tyler’s mom), and Austin (Tyler’s brother). We rented a cabin and went sledding on Monday and Tuesday. Then yesterday I had chemo. Which was…crappy (sorry that is the nicest way I can think to describe yesterday’s chemo. I had an early appointment and figured I would be out of the doctor’s office by 1:00 at the latest and boy was I wrong! My appointment with Dr. Polowy went fine but then when I went to the chemo room I ran into a problem. The nurse was accessing my port or t least trying to and that’s when the problems began. She tried once and couln’t get it so she tried again and the next thing I know I have saline spraying out of the tiny hole in my surgery incision that hasn’t healed yet. It literally sprayed the guy in the recliner next to me!! You should have seen the nurses face! It scared the crap out of her (her words). So the nurse called over another nurse and that one said that she thought my port flipped over. I never knew it could flip over!! It thought it was attached to muscle or skin or something but apparently it just floats around in my chest and since I am well endowed it makes it easier for it to flip over. After trying to access my port four times the nurses sent me for a chest x-ray to determine if was for sure flipped over. An hour and a half later we found out that the radiologist couldn’t determine from the x-ray if it was flipped or not so my chemo nurses sent me back to radiology to have them access it under fluoroscopy. Well the radiology nurse accessed it her first time but could not get a blood flash. A blood flash it when they try to suck out a little blood with a syringe to make sure that the port is functioning properly. Since she couldn’t get a blood flash they took me back for a dye test. For the dye test the radiology tech inserts dye into my port and watches on a monitor to ensure that it is functioning properly. Then the test is looked over by the radiologist. Since they determined that the port was functioning properly they sent me back down for my chemo. Finally. The nurses hooked me up to me up for my chemo and had my nausea meds in, one of my push chemo meds, and had started on my second push med (the red devil) when another nurse came in and said “Stop her chemo now! There is a problem with her port.” Here came my tears for the second or maybe third time that day. I guess the radiologist had called and said that the tube leading from my port into the vein appeared to be coming out of the vein and there is a kink in the tube. None of this is good news. Before trying to start an IV in my arm to finish the chemo Dr. Polowy talked with the radiologist and determined that it would be okay to finish todays chemo using my port but that my surgeon needed to review the tests and basically fix my port. My chemo resumed and they completed the red devil drug, then completed the first IV drug, after starting my last chemo drug (which takes an hour to go in) I looked up about 20 minutes into it running and noticed the small saline bag looked like it was about to explode. The nurse had started the pump and forgot to take the clamp off the line and all the meds were backing up into the saline bag! This made the hour long drug now take almost 2 hours!  So needless to say I had a very long day at the hospital. I thought I would be done at 1:00 the latest and we walked out of the office at 5:00! Ugh!

So now I am looking at another surgery. Something I am definitely not looking forward to. I will be honest and say that I really, really do not want to have another surgery. I knew that at some point once the cancer was gone that I would have my port removed which would require surgery but I didn’t expect to have to have another surgery during chemo. It is bad enough that I have to have a spinal tap done this month and now I probably need another surgery. I am ready to fast forward to the end of my cancer that is for sure. Because there is a kink in the tube of my port and it appears to be slowing working it’s way out of my vein there is a very likely chance that it will have to be replaced completely. Again this is something I am not looking forward to.

Yesterday was a unique day to say the least. Nothing seemed to go right but I guess it was one way to make the last day of 2008 memorable. Oh! to top it off I was going to bed last night as Tyler was at our neighbors house when I noticed our ceiling fan was on high and hanging only by the wires not the poll. So I called Tyler and he, Austin, and our neighbor Gilbert came rushing over and spent the next 20 or 30 minutes fixing it that is what the picture below is! 

Never a dull moment with the Eeds family! I hope you all had a great holiday and the year is starting off right for you!

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