Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Little Naive... and a Week in Review

Tomorrow will be one week since my first treatment.  Up until yesterday, I thought this wasn't going to be too bad.  I guess I was being a little naive for thinking I was going to escape without any major side effects.   I was anticipating being "sick" over the weekend and so when I made it through that, I felt like I was home free.  I was wrong.  Out of the blue it hit me.  I think one of the worse side effects for me is the bone pain.  I had felt a little uncomfortable for a few days, but nothing a good ol Lortab wouldn't take care of.  Then the pain was instantly unbearable, and just bearable with a Lortab.  I felt like my legs and hips were going to shatter.  Then came the nausea.  Not a great combination.  Today, after a good nap and some meds, I am feeling much better.  The nurse called to see how I was feeling and she recommended keeping a journal since chemotherapy kind of follows a pattern.  This way I will be able to anticipate certain symptons and be able to get the meds in sooner.  So here is the last week:
Thursday - 1st treatment.  Came home and slept most of the day because of all of the Benedryl.
Friday - Flushed and a little dizzy.  Went in for my Neulasta shot.
Saturday - Feeling pretty good.  A little achey
Sunday - Feeling pretty good.  A little achey
Monday - Woke up with a sore, swollen throat.  Felt like I had the flu.
Tuesday - Throat felt a little better.  A little achey.  By Tuesday late afternoon I could barely walk.  Extreme pain in my back, legs and hips.  Felt like electrical shocks going throughout my body.  Lortab did not help that much.  Tried to sleep it off and took a Claritin which I think helped my bones.  I know that makes no sense, but the nurses said sometimes it helps and I think it did.  During the night, around 3:00 am got really nauseous.  Yuck!  Went and took an anti-nausea pill and it helped get me through the rest of the night.
Wednesday - Felt much better as far as my bones, just weak and a lack of appetite.  We'll see what tonight brings.

Tomorrow I go in for my one week check.  This is where they will do blood tests and make sure all of my counts are good.    I (think) I should start feeling better now until my next treatment. 

Lila made this for me and stuck it under my door.  Notice the breast cancer yogurt lid taped to it.  So sweet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow... Part One

I thought it would be a good idea to go and get my hair chopped off for an easier transition into being El Natural... aka BALD.    I have had some doozey hair cuts in my day, but this one was a biggy!  I hit the local Great Clips - I figured why pay a fortune for a haircut that will be gone in a week?  The good news is that I was able to donate 13 inches of my own hair to Locks of Love.  It might as well go to a good cause.  Normally, I would have bawled coming out of the salon, but in a strange way I felt somewhat liberated.  Like I was taking charge of the situation.   Actually, when I look at the picture of my long hair, it looks so heavy and burdensome.   It has been nice to have a change and not worry about how it looks.    Now, I am just waiting for the signs that it is going and then I will shave it.   Wow, wonder what that will feel like?! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

1st Chemo Treatment

Thursday, September 23, 2010, was my first Chemo treatment.  It wasn't THAT bad.  My nurse was amazing and I felt like I was in good hands.  I was thrilled that she thought my veins were "a treat".  It only took her once to get the IV in.  I was so happy!  When I was in the hospital having Emma, it took the nurses 5 tries to get the IV in and then they had to get the phlebotomist!  Anyway, that was a good way to get started.  She hooked me up and started the meds.  First she gave me Aloxi which is an anti-nausea medication, then the Cytoxan and then Taxotere.  I felt "normal" until the Taxotere and then all of the sudden I had an allergic reaction.   Tight chest, flushed red and a paralyzing pain in my back, hips and legs.   This is not un-common.  The nurse loaded me up with Benedryl and some other meds and soon the symptons were gone.  Then she started the treatment back up again and I did fine.  I'm SO THANKFUL that I only have to do this 3 more times!  After each treatment, I have to go in the next day to receive an injection of Neulasta.  This helps stimulate the production of white blood cells which will help to fight infection.  It causes some bone pain.  Nothing a good Lortab can't handle :)
And so it's began...  Over the weekend I actually felt pretty good.  Today (Monday) is a little different.  I woke up with a sore, swollen throat.  I'm hoping it goes away soon.  Also, poor little Emma hasn't been herself today.  She threw up twice today and just doesn't seem to be able to get comfortable.  Finally, tonight she is resting and I am praying for a good night and a better day tomorrow.  Poor little girl.
We'll get through this. 
I have to say a special "thank you" to my mom who has been slaving away all day with the kids, laundry, errands, preparing food for the future etc.  I couldn't have gotten through today without her and good friends who have helped with Caleb and a delicious dinner.  We feel so loved and taken care of.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!


Friday, September 24, 2010

For Me...

I know I need to post about my first Chemo treatment, and I will, but I couldn't let this experience be forgotten.  I almost didn't post about it because of it's personal nature, but then I remembered this is my record of all that is and has happened.  And this experience was too tender for me to not write it down.

The day after I had Emma, my doctor put me on a medication to help dry up my milk since I would not be able to nurse her.  With just having a lumpectomy,  my surgeon was worried that I would get an abscess or something that would cause complications at the surgery site.  Also, with chemo in the future, breast feeding was just not going to work out.  I was sad.  I had a little mourning session and then accepted it for what it was.  It would be alright.  And it really was.  However, the Lord once again was merciful to me.  About 5 days or so after I finished with that prescription, I started to have milk let-downs.  I was really surprised.  This was about 3 weeks after I had given birth AND been on medication.  After about two days of this, I decided and felt like it was happening for some reason and so I decided to try to nurse Emma - 3 weeks after she was born!  It worked and together we had a very tender, loving moment.  I was touched and recognized this as a tender mercy from the Lord.  I got to have a small nursing moment with my daughter  It was one of the most beautiful experiences that I will always cherish.   And then my milk stopped... all on it's own. 
The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.   Psalm 145:9

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chemo 101

I have always wanted to go back to school, but this is not exactly what I had in mind...
Last night I went to "Chemotherapy Class" with Talmage and my Mom.  They are my "advocates".  They come with me to help me remember everything I am told and to make sure I am getting what I need.  I guess I will be getting "chemotherapy brain"  which is a little scary considering I am just trying to recover from "pregnancy brain"  haha.
Anyway,  our "room" was the lobby and when I walked in, there were a lot of gloomy faces.  I understood.  They were scared.  Scared of cancer, scared of their diagnosis, scared of their prognosis, scared of not knowing, scared of chemotherapy, scared of side effects, scared of dying.  With all my heart, I understood, but I did NOT want to be another gloomy face in that room.  I tried to smile and talk about "normal" things, like: "Honey, how was your day?" etc.  Plus, it is just nearly impossible to be sad when Emma is around.  She is such a cheer up.
They gave us each a large folder ... kind of like your Chemo Syllabus.  The nurse went through all of the side effects and talked about each of the drugs that we will be getting.  We watched a question and answer video and then went to see the "treatment room".  It was a whole bunch of cubbies that will soon become a very familiar place to be - starting tomorrow.
One lady, when asked what chemo was said, "poison".  You could tell the nurse had heard this answer before and was prepared for a proper response.  She said, "Well, yes.  It is like a poison because it will kill the bad cells in your body."   I am trying to remember that although the chemo is going to take my hair, make me tired and who knows what else, it is NOT the ENEMY.  It is helping me to make sure I did everything I could and everything medically possible to make sure the cancer is GONE!  And I believe it IS!  Then, I pray and turn it over to God.  It will be alright.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Appointment with the Oncologist

Yesterday, Talmage and I met with my Oncologist.  That sentence is still strange for me to say... MY ONCOLOGIST.   I now belong to a group that I really had no desire to be apart of, but here I am.
She was very nice and apologized first for me having to be there.  As a breast cancer survivor herself, she was very empathetic and seemed to be very knowledgeable and competent.  We felt good talking to her.  I had mixed emotions about being there, though.   I was anxious to get started and at the same time I dreaded it.  I think that was probably a pretty normal way to feel, but it was harder than I thought it would be.  It seems like since the surgery and having the baby that it was all over.  I feel so normal and good!  So to volunteer for chemotherapy is a little hard to swallow, but I know it is the right thing to do.  My treatments will start next Thursday (September 23, 2010) and I will go every 3 weeks for 4 cycles.  Not too bad.  The good news is that I will be done with it the first part of December and can enjoy Christmas!  AND, the best news is she thought I wouldn't lose my eyelashes and eyebrows.  I can't tell you how happy that made me.  My hair is going for sure, but that is A okay!  Luckily, it will be cold outside and I will just get some stylish hats.. or something.   Now that yesterday is over and facing the reality of it all, I feel better.  It will be alright. 
I am just so grateful for the gospel.  I know that I am being strengthened and supported by a loving Heavenly Father and by all of you.  Thank you.

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation"  2 Nephi 22:2

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Almost There

Over the weekend the reality of chemo started to set in.  And so did the fear.  The fear of being really sick, the fear of going bald, the fear of not being able to take care of my family, the fear of how we are going to get through the next few months.  For an afternoon I was overwhlemed and probably a little depressed.  Then I got an email from my dear friend that told me to "stay strong" and to "keep my faith in Jesus Christ".  It was perfect timing as I was about to have a serious pity party for myself.  And then I looked at my new born baby and all my children and my husband and a fire lit up inside of me that said, I CAN DO THIS!  IT WILL BE ALRIGHT!  IT WILL BE HARD, BUT IT WILL BE ALRIGHT AND IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

We have had a steady flow of people coming and offering to help, share their concern, bring food and thoughtful gifts for the baby.  It has been so humbling to be on this side of the fence, however, we have been so grateful for everybody's love.  We can't thank you all enough.  You have blessed our family more than you will ever know.  Thank you.

Today I tried on some beautiful scarves that my Aunt sent to me.  They are colorful and bright.  It took me a minute to figure out how to best tie them.  Lila helped me.  I let the ends hang down like it was my hair.  Then I walked into the kitchen and Collin said that I looked very pretty.  It melted my heart. 

Tomorrow I go to the Oncologist.  I am very anxious to know what my treatment plan will be.  It seems like it has taken a long time to get to this point (even though it has only been 2 1/2 weeks since it all started)  but now it's nearly here and I am as ready as I will ever be.  We are almost there... almost done.  One last big haul.  It has been a step by step process and I am looking forward to having this last step done.  It will be alright. 

The other night, while Talmage and I were talking, I opened up his scriptures randomly.  He was worried I was about to read something about "trials", but instead it read,"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give."  Matthew 10:8    It was perfect.  I know miracles happen today and they have happened to me.  I know I have "received freely" and oh how I hope to "freely give"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Appointment with the Oncologist

I finally have an appointment with the Oncologist.  It is for next Wednesday at 2:00 pm.  We are anxious to meet with her (Dr. Anna C. Beck) and find out what my treatment plan will be.  I am ready (mostly) to get started and get it over with.  It is a strange reality only because I feel well.  It will be alright.

Miracles - Things I don't want to forget

I started this blog about a week after I was diagnosed and so there are a few things missing that need to be written down about that week.

Friday -  Found out I had breast cancer because Talmage made all of the appointments for me to have an ultra sound and a biopsy.  If it hadn't have been for him 6 months from now could have been a totally different story.  I am thankful for a good, inspired husband.  He quite literally saved my life.  We were able to get an appointment with the surgeon for Monday.  I was so thankful that we could get in so quickly.
That day was a rollar coaster of emotions and we got very little sleep, but exchanged a lot of tender hugs.

Saturday - We went boating with the family for Collin and all the family August birthdays.  I tried to put on a happy face.  It was hard.  I think it was just as hard for Talmage. Again, lots of tender hugs.  There came an opportunity to share this information with one of my sister-in-laws.  It was actually a relief to talk about it.  I kept staring at the mountains.  I realized that God made those magestic, beautiful mountains and if He could do that, if it was right, he could heal me.  I believed he would.
Late that night we pulled the kids together and told them. Talmage first asked them what they knew of cancer and then explained more about it.  He told them that Mommy has a small cancer.  I think they were afraid.  "Cancer" is such a scary word.   We prayed together, started a fast together and had a good cry together.  It was actually beautiful.  I felt like we were all so united and we would get through this together.

Sunday - We got up and went to church.  I nearly cried all through Sacrament meeting.  Sometimes I felt really strong and then other times there was nothing I could do to hold back my emotions.  A member of the Relief Society Presidency talked to me afterwards and I told her about it.  I think "shock" is the only way to describe it.  By now, I had composed myself again.
During primary, my son got up to say the monthly theme and then say a prayer.  When he said the theme, I had such a sweet, warm feeling come across me.  He said, "Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He is a God of Miracles".  It was a very profound moment to me and one that I will cherish. 
Well, the word got out and we have received an outpouring of love, support and prayers from so many people ever since.
That night we went to my parents house to celebrate my dad's birthday.  Later, my dad and Talmage gave me a Priesthood blessing.  Again, I felt peace.

Monday - Talmage and I went to meet with the Surgeon.  Before we met, Talmage had another Tech do a quick ultrasound on me to see if we could see any other tumors up in the axillary area.  I think of everything, this was what I was most nervous about.  We prayed fervently that the cancer was contained and had not spread.  Thankfully, nothing apparent showed up.  While meeting with the surgeon we scheduled an operating time.  That very Wednesday - just two days later.  I was SO happy to get in so soon.  Especially as I was 8 months pregnant. 
For the first couple of days I completely ignored my left breast.  I loathed it!  I didn't want to give it any more energy than what I already had.  Then something hit me.  I had a very strong impression that instead of resenting it, I needed to love and accept it.  I forgave the situation and my heart felt better.

Tuesday - I began to notice simple pleasures.  A butterfly on a flower, the sun coming through the windows, my children laughing, a Sunflower reaching up to the light.  This inspired me and I felt closer to Heavenly Father.  It was mine and Talmage's 16th anniversary.  We went to the temple to do sealings.  It was just what we both needed.  I thought I would be an emotional wreck through all of it, but not one tear fell.  I was happy and felt such strength from both sides of the veil.  This is a moment that I will always cherish as well.

Wednesday - The day of surgery.  My sister-in-law came to stay with our children.  It was such an answer to our prayers.  I didn't worry for a second that they weren't being loved.  She also had just recently had a lumpectomy and so she was able to comfort and explain about the surgery.  The kids had a great day and even got all their homework done! :)
The greatest news of the surgery is that the cancer had NOT spread.  I was SOOO thankful!

Thursday - Rested and toughed it through contractions that had started since the surgery.  Prayed a lot.

Friday - For our anniversary, before all of this came up, we had planned on going to Park City to celebrate.  We decided to still go and just relax and sleep since we knew our baby would be on her way shortly.  It was quite and peaceful.  Thanks to Grandma for staying with the kids ... especially since we are trying to potty train ;)

Saturday - LOTS of contrations.  I decided that although I had a month left, I needed to pack my bags.  Thankfully I listened to that prompting because that night .... actually Sunday morning at 3:00 am. my water broke.  We were going to have a baby!  Here is the post from my personal blog about the birth:

Wow! What an intense couple of weeks it has been. After learning that I had breast cancer, I was scheduled for surgery immediately. I still had a month before the baby was due, but right after the surgery, my braxton hicks turned into real contractions. Surgery was on a Wednesday and by Saturday, I was miserable. The contractions were strong, but too spread apart to justify going to the hospital. I kept praying that either they would stop or get close together so that I could go to the hospital. At the same time, in the back of my mind, I knew that this was early for the baby and I wanted to make sure she would be alright.

Around 3:00 am Sunday morning, during a hefty contraction, my water broke ... or exploded would be more accurate. Aaaahhhh. We were going to have a baby. I was nervous and relieved all at once.
We got to the hospital, checked in, and then I labored for about an hour while we waited for the Anesthesiologist - who happened to be our neighbor. The epidural was perfect and FINALLY I could sleep. I felt like it had been months since I had gotten any real rest. It was wonderful!
(I just don't know how the pioneers did it!)
Because I was so early, they had to treat me with Penicillin for 4 hours before they could turn on the Pitosin. Once all of the penicillin was in, they turned up the Pit and at 8:01 am, our sweet little Emma Jane was born. She is perfect and a true miracle in everyway possible. She weighed 7 lbs. and was 19 1/2" long. We were astonished at her size for being 4 weeks early. We truly feel that Heavenly Father prepared her so that she would be ready to come early because of all that is going on. We are so grateful that everything went so beautifully.

Emma Jane Shill

Born August 29, 2010

7 lbs.

19 1/2" long

Our little Emma is a miracle. We are so relieved that she got here safely.  My family is my greatest motivation for fighting this disease. 

I can't thank everybody enough for all the prayers, fasting, support and love that you have sent our way.  We have been truly blessed and I pray that the Lord will bless each of you for your kindness.

My three motos that I am learning through this process:

1. Faith not Fear
2. Enjoy the Journey
3. Patience

Sunday, September 5, 2010

To Chemo or Not to Chemo? That Was the Question.

Last Tuesday, while I was still in the hospital from having Emma,  our surgeon called on my cell phone.  She asked if I had heard of the results of the pathology report from my surgery.  I hadn't.  My heart stopped for just a moment... I thought we had all the news.  Thankfully, it was good news.  The invasive part of the tumor was only 4mm and the non-invasive part of the tumor was 7 mm.  She told me there was a chance that I would NOT have to go through chemo.  I have to admit, I was hopeful at that prospect, but did not count on it.  I figured I would rather be surprised on that outcome than count on it.  Well, the tumor board met together on Thursday to go over my case.  There were 5 medical Oncologist.  After reviewing everything, it was unanimous 5 - 0 that I should go on chemo.  Again, because of my age and the type of cancer it is - or WAS.  I had a moment of tears.  It is just really strange to me only because I feel well.  I don't feel sick or tired and so to face chemo in the next few weeks is just really strange.  I understand it, but it is just strange - mentally.  I am over the tears and have come to terms with it and I am okay!  It will be okay!  Talmage and I were praying that whether I went on chemo or not would be difinitive ... and it was, so we feel at peace that we are doing everything we can to make sure the cancer is gone.  I think we are both even grateful that I am going on chemo, so that we don't have to always wonder if we did everything we could.  It is worth it.  I would way rather be a mom and a wife than have long hair. 
Now, we are waiting to make an appointment with the Oncologist to discuss exactly what the treatment plan will be.  Hopefully we can do this very soon so we have time to figure out how to schedule help when needed.  I am hoping to not have too many sick days.  We'll see.   We have had an amazing outpouring of love, prayers and support from SO many people.  We are all so grateful. 
We love you!
Danae, Talmage and Family

D&C 68:6
"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am and that I am to come."