Monthly Archives: December 2016

Day 224: The Close of 2016

This post is gunna be pretty scattered – as today my feelings and thoughts are pretty scattered.

A great thing that just happened to align with today is that I finished my 6th round of chemo last night. 6 of 18, so I’m 1/3 done. What a great gift 🎁 for the Opening of 2017. It’s a little thing, but it feels good.

Today is day 224, December 31st, the last day of the year 2016 – a year I can easily call the worst of my life. I am so happy to be closing it; although I’m scared about it ending too. I’m a bit anxious that 2017 will end up the same as 2016 – health issues, my life feeling halted; a lack of purpose and an overwhelming empty feeling. I wish I could say I’m coming off this year stronger and better.

However, throughout the past 224 days of this grueling fight, I’ve been learning, and there are some great things to be thankful for that only this year could give me; I finally graduated from undergraduate – a feat that took me longer than any other feat in my life so far. That accomplishment gives me more evidence of my own ability to endure and persevere than any other thing in my life; I married my true love, a man who loves me in a such a selfless and unconditional way, that he wouldn’t leave me when I tried to force him (when we found out about the cancer); I found understanding and mercy and comfort from God and I don’t think I wouldve ever found this relationship if this horrible situation hadn’t happened. So as much as I wish and hope for it to constantly be taken away or forgotten I have to remember that this is something that brought me closer to the best of my life. The true and absolute purpose of existence. I’ve been forced to look at life differently and role with the punches – which I really hate. I’ve been pushed to grow up and really stare death in the face and try to make some sort of sense of it. Let me make this clear – there is no sense to be made, at least as far as I can tell. There are too many little things that come along with thinking your life might be ending so much sooner than you ever imagined. You really end up having to live in small moments – that’s my latest struggle. I like to plan for the future but with all this situation I feel like I’m tempting fate, God, the universe, whatever, when I try to plan further than a few months. So assembling something that feels fulfilling and accomplishing is a major goal for me in 2017.

Some other goals include:

 – reaching my goal weight / size

 – getting my extensions put in so I look and feel more like myself

 – work on and finish my year reading challenge

 – maintaining my relationship with God even when things are going well; not just when I feel like it’s all going down.

 – get my plastic surgery

 – put 1500.00$ in my CD by December 27th, 2017

 – get a home with Brandon and have a really nice house warming party

 – get my dogs into obedience school 

 – last but not least – really kick cancer.

Day 220: The Fall

Good afternoon…

I had a bit of a scare this morning, twice. I fell once while trying to weigh myself (I fell onto a green storage bin, used for Christmas storage). And then again about 30 minutes later I got up off the sofa to get some Marie Calendar’s turtle pie :))) and while standing my ears started ringing really loudly and everything got fuzzy and I must’ve passed out because I went down and woke up 10 seconds later covered in water (because I fell into the dog water bowl). Mom started screaming, dad was helping me up and I’ve never seen Brandon move so quickly in my life. Nathanael cleaned up all the water. And of course hardy slept through it all. 😂 

My left ear Is pretty banged up, so mom and dad have decided I’m going to sleep with a helmet on for a few days….

So mom immediately jumped on the phone and was trying to get an ambulance – unnecessary. We had her stop that (I hate ambulance rides). And dad and Brandon took me to the hospital. 

Now we’re at the hospital and they’re monitoring my blood pressure. I am having issues with orthostatic hypotension— when I go to stand up, my blood pressure drops really low. So I’m laying in the bed typing this out with my left hand that has this nasty IV sticking out of it. And I keep having to pee… gah! Dr. Monga put me back on dexamethasone for my symptoms from the recurrence (edema on my brain) and dex tends to dry you out- it makes you have to go pee like crazy. I’ve already gone four times since we’ve been here. 

I want to go home and be with my brothers. I want nathanael. 
They’re giving me a L of fluids and then will re-test my orthostatics and then hopefully send me home. 

So physically we’re getting it back on track; mentally emotionally I’m struggling. I’m really scared and I want this all to be done. I’m really worried about my parents, my family and Brandon.


Day 219: The Day After Christmas

Good Afternoon, all! I hope you and yours had a blessed and very merry Christmas! 🎄🎁 

Christmas Eve is my family’s big night, Christmas Day is a bit more laid back. We had a big meal – prime rib, baked potatoes, corn, drippings, sparkling cider, turtle pie – it truly was a feast. I nearly ate myself sick. 

Nathanael distributed the gifts 🎁 and we opened them each. I got a beautiful necklace and bracelet, some candles and giftcards from mom and dad. Brandon and I got dad a blu-ray player and we got mom the Big Bang complete series on blu-ray. They both seemed very happy. I hope they truly like their gifts. 

I sneakily was able to get a little surprise gift for Brandon (you married people know how difficult it can be to keep purchases surprising!) but somehow I managed it and got him a Calvin & Hobbes comics book. They are very sentimental to him and he’s mentioned it to me before, so I thought it would be a special gift – i was right! It was:)

Brandon and I put some money towards Nathanael’s computer monitor that he got back at his birthday so Brandon just got a little box and stuck a note in it to remind him that that was what he had asked us for – we didn’t want him to think we forgot or skipped out on him. Same thing with hardy. We got hardy some Minnetonka Moccassins. But when they came in they were a bit large on him. So we sent them back to get a size smaller, so that’s what we’re currently waiting on. 

On Christmas Eve, after presents and the feast, the boys hustled upstairs for video games (but of course) and my parents, Brandon and myself, watched A Christmas Story (Ralphie!!!) my favorite Christmas movie. I really enjoyed it.

For Christmas Day, we went to church, came home and blitzed the house and finished cooking before our little group came over. It was Teresa, Brian, Zech, Chris, and Grandma, plus the boys, my parents, and Brandon and myself. So not a huge group, but a merry little gathering. It was beautiful and fun. And as great as it was, I’m glad for it to be over – all the hub-bub is calming down! 

Lol last night after every one left and the house had calmed, my parents and I watched The Nativity Story. A great movie to watch this season, but especially at the beginning…. I missed watching it at the beginning this year, but I’m going to make it a point next year. It really helps to hit home what the main reason for the season is. 

This morning, the Monday after Christmas Madness, Brandon and I woke up early and trekked to Target to get clearance Christmas items – ornaments and such. The day after Christmas Target has huge sales on all the Holiday Decor. So we went there and then stopped by Walmart to check out sales and headed on home. 

Today is just a rest day for me. I got my thing done (target ornaments) early today and took the doggies on a walk with dad. The dogs could always use a walk and Lord knows I can too. I’m trying to work my steps back up. I plan to pick up our little basement apartment area downstairs today while Brandon is out with my dad and Hardy doing some car stuff. I’m not exactly sure what they’re doing. 

So I’m just gunna rest and do some light picking up. I start my 6th round of Chemotherapy pills tonight, 6/18 so after this week, I’ll be a third done !:) yay!

New Year’s Eve we’re having a little get together here at our house (you’re more than welcome to come over) with finger foods, snackies, and board games (scatter gories!!!) Then New Year’s Day, we have a big meal again and the family comes over.

Brandon and I were supposed to go to Arkansas for a wedding this weekend, but with the new round of chemo and the recurrence, both my parents and my doctors would rather me not be traveling during such a hectic time of year. So we’ll stay put and celebrate the wedding here in Illinois. lol congratulations Daniel & Tori!!!

In closing, I’d like to give a big thank you to God for his son – the purest best gift anyone has ever received m, for all the work my parents and family put into presents, parties, and food, in the past couple weeks, and my husband for schlepping me around everywhere and loving and supporting me through this whole health ordeal. I’m incredibly blessed. 

I’m going to boldly continue to ask for your prayers for myself and for my family as we are still in the middle of this cancer battle. The holidays may be coming to a close, but this fight is ramping up, and I’m going to beat this thing with my husband, my family, my friends, and most importantly, my God. It’s not even a question at this point anymore. 

From mine to yours, a very Merry 12 days of Christmas! 

Day 215: December 22nd

Good evening!

Just updating everyone that we heard back from Dr. Krisht earlier today. My dad spoke with him, so nothing I’m saying is coming directly from Krisht, it’s third hand information. 

Dr. Krisht said he’s not sure that the spots are anything – they might just be cysts or benign growths (gross) from radiation. Because he is not convinced of anything, he would like a spectroscopy to be done. This is a series of images that are taken by the same machine as an MRI. So it’s not invasive. 

Magnetic Resonance (MR) spectroscopy is a noninvasive diagnostic test for measuring biochemical changes in the brain, especially the presence of tumors. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) identifies the anatomical location of a tumor, MR spectroscopy compares the chemical composition of normal brain tissue with abnormal tumor tissue.

So currently the plan is for me to call University of Iowa tomorrow and get an appointment set up to have the spectroscopy done. After that the MRS will be sent to Arkansas, Dr. Krisht. It will also be evaluated by my doctors here (Dr. Monga, Dr. Smith, and the Tumor Board).

From there we will see what the next step will be. Until then it’s just a waiting game. Bleh. So we’re hoping to have the scope done next week so we can plan the next step. However, Brandon’s and my honeymoon is January 20th-28th and we really want to be able to go enjoy that time together. Brandon and I discussed with Dr. Monga last week, if we should just postpone the honeymoon, but he assured us that even if I have surgery, I should for sure be able to fly. So please pray that Brandon and I can have this special time away from all this craziness and health junk – we both need it. 

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet (like in my last post or something) but I feel a sense of relief knowing that this, these abnormal spots are responsible for my regression in physical therapy, my struggling more with coordination.

That prompts me to say, I’ve been seeing a psychologist / therapist, Dr. Ricketts. She is who I saw during high school. She is a cancer survivor (not brain cancer) and can empathize with a lot of my worries and fears. I definitely feel better emotionally now that im seeing her again. I’m just very happy and blessed to have yet another person on my support team. 

In other news, I turned 23 last Friday, and then I graduated last Saturday! Plus, we had the Doyle Family Christmas at my grandma’s house this past Sunday! So many big and wonderful things this past week.

While the bad news we received last Thursday is disappointing and daunting, I’m glad we seem to have caught it early and I am trying my best to not let it drag me down (easy to say; difficult to do) 

Before this recurrence, I had been organizing and starting my applications to graduate schools, but with this new development in my health, I feel like I need to put it on hold. I feel that the more I try to make plans for the future, or take steps forward in my life plans, that I’m tempting fate, Satan, the universe (whatever you want call it). 

I’m really just unsure about everything right now.

Please pray for all those who are in need right now. And if you know of anyone who needs somewhere to go for Christmas, send them my way. Additionally, please pray for a girl nathanael goes to school with, Tessa. She also brain cancer and she’s a freshman in high school… next, please continue to pray for Fern during her treatments and that she heal completely and for myself while trying to manage all these familiar worries about death and surgery. And lastly, let’s end with a prayer of thanksgiving to a Heavenly Father who sent a precious baby to save us all. That is the whole reason for this season. Thank you thank you Lord for your mercy and salvation – there is such comfort in knowing that even if I’m not healed here on earth, that I will be healed eternally in heaven with you. Thank you for loving me so.

Day 209: The Recurrence

Hey y’all! It’s been a loooooong day. 

Let me start by saying, this update doesn’t have a super uplifting end. Lol so you might want someone else to read it and just give you bullet points – that’s what Brandon does for me on lots of things. #MyHero

So! I had an MRI today at 1pm that took what felt like forever. Instead of just injecting MRI contrast directly into the vein (which is what most places do) they hooked up an IV and then pumped contrast in… 

y’all, I hate needles. I hate IVs. I HATE IVs. It’s not that they hurt or anything (knock on wood*) it’s just the mere idea of a foreign object being in my body for a prolonged (long than a minute) period of time.

Then, after the MRI, I went to see Dr. Monga. We reviewed the MRI and my blood labs. Labs were all good, but there is some new tumor growth 😿

^^^ sad illustration of MRI image. The  bigger white circle area is where the original tumor was. The red spots are the new growths. And the weird tiny little white spot is where I messed up the image – it’s not anything.^^^

What that means

**I will most likely be having surgery at some point in the next 4 weeks

**i see Dr. Monga and Dr. Greenley (Dr. Monga’s go-to neurosurgeon) on January 4th for a surgery consultation and for another MRI to see if this new tumor growth is still growing or if it’s stable

**the tumor will not shrink. That is not a possibility. It will either have grown or will just be stable. 

**stronger chemo is one possible way to stabilize the tumor

**a ‘better’ option is for me to under go another surgery (resection) to get rid of all the tumor growth. 

**this is a better option because we can get our hands on the tumor to study it, we can get it out without loading me down with chemicals, I should be able to tolerate surgery very well as I’m a healthy candidate for surgery (young and very healthy besides being chubby lol).

So, I’ve updated you. Yes, I’m upset. No, I’m not ok. Brandon is upset. My parents are upset. We’re all upset and not okay. And that’s ok. That’s part of dealing with this process. 

There’s nothing anyone can do except pray. But thank you. And I mean it. I appreciate every offer to help, every thought, every prayer. That being said, please don’t blow up the house phone or my cell phone – use Facebook lol. I don’t want to talk to anyone on the phone; everything makes me cry. I don’t mean that rudely at all. 

In other news, TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY!:) and Saturday I graduate from undergrad!!! (Finally.) 

^^^brandon at Olive Garden for my birthday dinner!!!^^^

So please pray for myself, my family, and my doctors.