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.

Day 182: November 18th

Good afternoon readers:) I hope you’re all having a great Friday!!! Who else is super excited for thanksgiving next week?!


So, I thought it was about time to update you on everything… so you remember about our big scare with Nathanael? And how he has pneumonia… his birthday is on the 20th and for his birthday mom and dad got him all the components to build a really cool gaming computer (don’t ask me the difference between a gaming computer and a regular computer-i have no clue). For his birthday / Christmas present, Brandon and I got him the monitor for his new computer. So Nathanael, although he’s really sick, and constantly sounds like he’s coughing up a lung, is a pretty happy camper. 


Yesterday, the 17th, was my dad’s birthday. So if you can, send him a text, or call him, or email him and wish him a happy birthday (no Facebook because he never checks it). He was gone at his job in Dixon yesterday so we couldn’t celebrate with him. But he gets home this evening and we’ll have a nice dinner and sing to him. Brandon, mom, and I are all working to get the house in order and looking nice. Brandon and I got dad a really nice pair of winter boots for his birthday (he really needed some) and I’m really excited to see him try them on. I hope he likes them! 


So since Nathanael’s sick and dad’s been gone at work, we’re gunna celebrate and have a cake, etc. with all the family during Thanksgiving at our house next Thursday. I can’t wait! Mom is gunna make a huge thing of gravy, which will be the perfect chance for me to break out my new gravy boat from my cousin and her husband. To me, gravy boats represent everything about domestic life.


Brandon and I both had a doctors appointment with our PCP on Wednesday. It was just a routine checkup and it went well. The only thing different was that he prescribed me an antibiotic since he knows Nathanael has pneumonia. He started me on the antibiotic in hopes of preventing me from getting it because, ya know, my immune system sucks lol. So other than having a nasty cold, I’m feeling just fine – no pneumonia for me, Lord willing.


I see Dr. Monga this coming Monday, to check in, and if everything (bloodwork) looks good, then I believe I start my next round of chemo. (Wooooo just in time for my wedding 😑)


It’s about two weeks until the wedding, so we’re in the final stretch here! Everything is becoming hectic, or should I say more hectic. Please pray that everything comes together and mom and I don’t lose our cool lol.


Other than that, I can’t think of much more to update y’all on… hmm… so if you have any questions, feel free to ask me! Please continue to pray for moms pain and healing. Also, please pray for Nathanael to heal quickly and get feeling better. Additionally, please continue to pray for me, to feel less nauseated and to kick cancer in the keister lol. Lastly, please pray for Fern as she continues her treatments. Lastly lastly, pray for all those traveling for Thanksgiving. 


Love you all 🙂 thanks for reading and praying! 

Day 177: November 13th, Sunday

Well hello there 🙂

It would seem that I’m due for an update, hmm? Where to start… did I tell y’all about Georgia? Yes? So I still need to tell you about Arkansas. It’s a state in the union that’s presided over by Trump (there’s my Republican dig lol) But in all seriousness, the appointment went really well; all good news. I was so incredibly nervous between the MRI and seeing Krisht for the results that I had to take a Xanax, and then I was super doped up lol. I had sincerely convinced myself that all the tumor had come back and that I was going to have to be re-admitted to the hospital. I told Krisht this, and he said, “no 🙂 but well readmit you because we like you so much!” lol I politely declined. And he said I was looking really well. He tested my balance and walking and those were all good as well. We got to stay the first night there with our good friends Taylor and Tyler, the next night at Brandon’s grandparent’s house, ate a lot of good food and visited with his uncle Bruce, his cousin Wade and his wife Sydney and their daughter Addison, who is our flower girl. We also visited with wades younger brother, Noah, and Brandon’s parents. Then we went to the appointment on Monday, had lunch with Brandon’s other set of grandparents, and stayed with our friends Randi and Kyle. We played Cards Against Humanity and had loads of fun. We flew back the next morning which made everything a lot less stressful. Thank goodness for safe flights, good friends, and good family. Brandon and I are so blessed to have people who take care of us so well. And I’m so lucky to have a husband who cares for me so well. And such a loving Lord. I can’t forget to give all glory to God – he gives me all the blessings anyways.

 

Physical therapy is going very well so is occupational therapy. Everything is just trucking along nicely. My hand and tremors continue to improve as I taper down the steroid. 


Yesterday I was thrown the most beautiful bridal shower by my aunts and female cousins and my one of my bridesmaids. It was so much fun and i really enjoyed getting to visit with everyone. Brandon and I received so many wonderful gifts and we couldn’t be more thankful. Truly, I loved it. I wouldn’t trade yesterday for anything. 

Tomorrow I am to get my blood drawn again to check on the usuals – I’ll catch you up when I get the results. 

The doggies are shedding their summer coats and getting their winter coats, which means an excess of dog hair on everything. Daddy’s and Nathanael’s birthdays are next week and then thanksgiving!!!:))))

This past Friday, I had my hair and makeup trial. It really made me feel pretty again and was such a welcome change. I am looking forward to the wedding even more now. That same day, I went to see a doctor for acupuncture. Let me make this incredibly clear – I do not enjoy acupuncture. If you know me at all, you know one of my biggest fears is anything involving needles. I had needles in my toes, in my feet, my shins, my arms, hands, ears, cheeks, eyebrows, forehead, and top of my head. Surprisingly, nothing hurt except one needle in my right foot. 


I’ve felt pretty cruddy all day, I had to lie down in the back during church, but I’m feeling a little better now. Nathanael is sick today, so please pray for him to get feeling better. Mom seems to be managing her pain a lot better. Yay! Thank you Lord for her relief and thank you readers and prayer warriors for all your prayers. An update on fern: she seems to be handling her chemo well and was at my shower yesterday. Please pray that she has lots of peace and endurance. Also, Judy passed away this past week. Please pray for all of us dealing with her loss, especially her family. 
In all the goings on, the joy, sadness, and confusion of this life, thank you God for your blessing of salvation through your perfect Son. 


Day 158: October 25th

Good evening, friends!

 Here’s another little update: I got my blood checked today and my white blood cell count is good (I don’t have any infection) and my platelets are 109,000 which is a big improvement from last weeks 41,000. It’s still not ideal, we’d like for them to be closer to 125,000 or higher, but over 100,000 means I can start my 4th round of chemo tonight. Woo! Praise God for this blessing! Thank you Lord!
So if this is the battle God has given me, I’m going to fight hard for him. I can’t be sure I’ll always have a good attitude, if fact I’m sure I won’t, but I’m taking one day at a time, trying to be thankful for my blessings and not worry or try to control what God has in His hands. I can’t understand what he’s doing, but it’s kind of a relief to know that I don’t have to understand or worry about it. In fact, he wants me NOT to worry. I just have to have faith and trust in him. I’m going to just keep at it one day at a time


Additionally, I’m scheduled to have an MRI and see Dr. Krisht on November 7th. I’m really not looking forward to that, because dad can’t go with (he can’t miss so much work). I understand why he can’t, but that doesn’t mean I like it lol. Anyways, Brandon and I will probably fly for that appointment instead of driving because that last driving trip was really exhausting.


Next, people keep messaging me asking me about the registeries so I thought I’d provide the links again here:

Dillard’s, you click the link and you search by either my first and last name, or Brandon’s. https://www.dillards.com/registry/RegistryNames.do

Bed Bath & Beyond,  you click the link and you search by either my first and last name, or Brandon’s and if it asks for event state, it’s Illinois. https://m.bedbathandbeyond.com/m/giftRegistry?registryId=543186579#FINEDININGGIFTWARE_is

Lastly, yesterday, the 24th, was my parents 24th anniversary so please join me in wishing them a happy anniversary and in praying that they have at least another 24! Thank you Lord for such a wonderful example of marriage and such great parents. Go ahead and send them a card, an email, drop them a line, or message them on Facebook! 


That’s it for now, but let’s please keep praying for healing, improved platelets, toleration of my round of chemo I’m starting tonight, and good, no great, MRI and appointment results with Krisht on the 7th. Additionally, please keep praying for mom with her pain and add that she’s struggling with quitting pop (she’s been cheating! Lol). Please keep praying for Fern (I don’t have an update on her, but I’ll try to get one for next week) And I’m going to add one last prayer request: for Judy G. She is a longtime family friend and a Christian sister. She is battling cancer all over her body and is suffering a lot, physically and emotionally (the kind of chemo she is on really messes with one’s mind and can be very upsetting). She is a great example of a strong and Godly woman, we could all stand to be a little more like Judy. 

Day 152: October 19th

Happy Fall Ya’ll! I’m so glad it’s finally getting cooler outside…. the colors are changing, candles are burning, apple smells everywhere, and I can finally wear Uggs! Praise the Lord! Typically I’d have to wait until next month or after thanksgiving to begin my Ugg Season due to me go to school in the South — it just doesn’t get chilly enough before thanksgiving. Anyhow, I’m pretty happy about being able to wear them now! 



Update on Chemotherapy: I had my blood tested last Wednesday and again yesterday. Preface: A typical, healthy person has anywhere between 150,000-450,000 p/mcL depending on their diet, exercise and lifestyle. For a patient on chemotherapy medications, platelets are expected to drop to between 110,000 – 149,000. Last Wednesday my platelets came back at 67,000 p/mcL. Not good. Yesterday my platelets were reported at 41,000 p/mcL. Worse. Because of this, I cannot start my chemo tonight as scheduled. I have to be at at least 100,000 p/mcL. Note: platelet levels of 20,000 and lower can result in random bleeding, internal hemoragging, and shock. Wonderful 😑 due to this unfortunate turn of events, I will be getting my blood drawn again next Tuesday to re-test. 


Please join me in praying for my platelets to increase. I’m very discouraged by this and am very worried, but I’m confident and have faith in my God. He has control and whatever happens, I’m in His hands. That is my only comfort.



Next, my aunts and female cousins are graciously planning a bridal shower for me, to take place on November 12th. I’m looking forward to it a lot! I’ll get to wear Uggs to the party! Additionally, a lady at church this past Sunday asked me if I was registered. I thought she was going to urge me to go vote. Silly me, she was asking if I was registered anywhere for the shower. So to generally answer that question, yes. Brandon and I are registered at Bed, Bath, & Beyond as well as Dillard’s. I don’t have a separate shower registry, just those two wedding registeries. In fact, if you need the link or would like to look at it, here are the links: 

https://m.bedbathandbeyond.com/m/giftRegistry?registryId=543186579#FINEDININGGIFTWARE_is

&

https://www.dillards.com/registry/RegistryNames.do


Now that that is clarified, on the BB&B registry there is a big shiny silver turkey platter. It is literally a serving platter shaped like a turkey. It is awesome. It is ridiculously expensive. I did not intend for anyone to purchase this, but for me to use discount coupons for. Let me explain: when there are items left on your registry – items that haven’t been purchased – many stores give the new couple discounts and coupons to ‘complete their registry’ (purchase the remaining items). I intend to use this opportunity to get my beautiful turkey dish. 


Last thing due for now is an update on mom! Yesterday we went to see the podiatrist. It was all generally good stable news – nothing terrible or urgent. I feel incredibly justified and vindicated because the doctor told her to absolutely not drink pop or any carbonated beverage. She is now allowed 1/month which is going to be quite a decrease from her normal 5 – 6/day! Soda, because of its generally high sodium content causes high fluid retention this is very unhealthy for diabetics. Additionally, any carbonated beverage causes non-specific inflammation. I have been telling mom this, hyperbolically, forever. After yesterday, She has finally accepted that I was right!!!


I’ll go ahead and end the post here. I’m tired and my thumb is worn out from all this texting/typing lol. 

In closing, please, please, please, pray for my health, specifically my platelets. And let’s give thanks to God for the good, stable news for mom from the podiatrist and for the enormous blessing of this doctor. She’s really pretty, knowledgeable, genuine, and really really friendly. Pray for my mother for relief from pain, and her continued healing. Additionally, please continue praying for Fern with her cancer treatments. I could make an entire post out of prayer requests and thanks but I doubt many people would read it and it would take forever to assemble lol. So I’ll leave my requests as is. Thanks to each of my readers and to our Big God! 

Day 144: October 11th, 2016

Hey there! Long time, no talk! I guess I’ve kinda fallen out of touch, but really this is kind of a good thing – the Ritalin gives me energy so I actually do stuff and  don’t just sit around depressed and complaining all day. 

So I had an MRI last Wednesday, October 5th, and then Brandon and I made the trek to Iowa city the next day, Thursday, October 6th, to see my doctors for the MRI interpretation and for a routine check-up. Just to clue you all in, unless something bad happens, I will be getting my blood drawn routinely every 4 weeks as well as getting an MRI every 8 weeks for the foreseeable future.


When we got to IC (Iowa city) I first got my labs drawn (so doctor Monga can monitor how chemo is affecting my blood and such), then I went downstairs to see Dr. Smith (my radiation doctor) for a routine check up since I’m done with radiation. He just asks how I’m feeling (just fine), if I’ve had any headaches (I haven’t), check on my scalp to see if I have any sores or post-radiation burns (I don’t). And then we look over the MRI scans and discuss it. Very little of what we discuss makes sense to me, it’s all very confusing, but the gist of it is that there is no progression. There is still a little spot, but it is stable. So if you’re wondering what to pray about, pray that there is no brain swelling and that the spot shrinks and shrinks. 


After seeing Dr. Smith I was pretty encouraged, because he seemed very happy with the results and my progress. After that, I went back upstairs to see Dr. Monga. He asks the same questions, gives me the results of my labs, and gives his interpretation of the scans. Dr. Monga is always less encouraging than Dr. Smith, but Brandon says it’s because Monga just finished his residency whereas Smith is a professor and has been in this a lot longer and has that confidence that comes with experience and time. I choose to believe Brandon on that because otherwise I get scared and discouraged. 


So to clarify, there is a small spot next to the spot where the tumor was removed that on the scans appears half white, half black. The white is solid, the black is fluid. This could be scar tissue, a small tumor, or pseudo-progression. This spot appears to be stable but raises some concern in Dr. Monga. Dr. Monga is presenting my MRI scans today, Tuesday October 11th, to the tumor board at IC. (The tumor board is a bunch of doctors who specialize in this and have a lot of experience with tumors.)

The results we got were all in all, pretty good. They said everything was stable and I am obviously gaining my strength back and losing weight – all good things. To celebrate, Brandon took me out to Olive Garden which was a special treat!


I am continuing to slowly taper my steroid – I go down 1/2 a pill each Tuesday. So I am tapering at a snails pace, but that’s because my adrenal glands are literally having to regrow. 

I continue to go to therapies, try to eat healthily, and try to maintain a peace and happiness in Jesus. I don’t want to sound fake, but I’ve learned and am still learning that I can only achieve true peace and happiness through Him and not through other means – I’ve tried.

  

I get my blood drawn tomorrow, October 12th, and then again on the 18th. Dr. Monga checks my blood work and makes sure I’m ok to start chemo, so really, I’m not sure when I start round 4 but it should be coming up soon. Let’s pray that it goes as smoothly as it has been.

The last weekend in October Brandon and I are going to Georgia to visit Brandon’s parents, sister and her wife, and our niece, Emma. We’re also going to a Packers game! Go Pack Go!

Mom went to the hospital this past Sunday because she was in so much pain; she goes to see her doctors tomorrow and Friday. Also, there is a woman at our church, Fern, who also has cancer, I’m not sure what type, and she starts her chemo soon. Please pray for Fern and her treatments, for my mom and her pain, and for me and that I be healed and can live a long life with my family, serving God.


 If you have any questions for me (because this post is kind of confusing), feel free to ask!