This blog has been quiet!  During the “bad weeks” I simply did not have the energy to post.  During the “good days” I play hard with my little ones all day (and try not to be on my phone or computer too much) and at the end of the day just crash!   The last several weeks have been had ups and downs…. most recently more ups than downs, which I am very thankful for.

But I want to recount the “downs” too.  I’ve always wanted to approach this journey with transparency and not gloss over the hard.  The hard has been very hard, but I have been seeking God’s treasures and glimpses of grace during those hard days!  God’s grace is always there, and many times I need a friend to remind me of that and help me to see His grace on the darkest of days.

A huge glimmer of grace in my life is the support system that the Lord has blessed me with.  Literally EVERY SINGLE DAY I receive cards in the mail, some with generous gifts and gift cards, but always with exactly the words I need to hear that day.   I have already filled up one box with cards and I am filling up another.  My husband and children are seeing the love and support and we will never forget this time.   All of you who take the time to send me a card, reach out to me via text, make us a meal, write a Facebook message, donate via goFundme or the t-shirt campaign…my “thank you” could never be adequate to express how much gratitude I have for each one of you.

I had my third chemo treatment on Wednesday June 24th.  The day after each “big chemo” I go back to the infusion clinic to get a shot of Neulasta.  This shot helps counter act the drop in my white blood cell count.  This is very important to keep my immunity as strong as possible! For cycle 3 they decided to also give me a bag of fluids and anti-nausea medicine to help boost me up a little and hopefully ease the side effects some.

That definitely helped on that Thursday the 25th! I even went to the pool that Thursday afternoon with some friends and I was feeling SO encouraged!  Friday I seemed to feel a bit better than the Friday in previous cycles.

Then the weekend came.  The chemo side effects hit in full force.  I had heard that often the side effects are cumulative and get worse each time, usually plateauing after the 3rd or 4th cycle.  I definitely experienced this accumulation effect, as this 3rd round was by far the worst!   Nothing helped my nausea and vomiting other than lying perfectly still in bed or on the couch.  Any bit of motion set it off.  So I found myself lying in bed or on the couch trying to be as still as possible.    I couldn’t eat – my appetite was nonexistent, but when I did often my stomach wouldn’t tolerate it, and that made me even more afraid to eat.   Throwing up is no fun.

On the two Wednesdays in between my “big chemos” I go into the infusion clinic for herceptin infusions. (This means that every Wednesday I find myself at Lexington Oncology).   During these “shorter chemo” days they also do labwork and take my vitals.   The Wednesday after the 3rd chemo I was pretty bad off.  Justin had to wheel me into the clinic in a wheelchair.  When they took my vitals my resting heart rate was 155 beats per minute!  I knew something wasn’t right.  I got sick in front of all the other patients, which had happened before but is pretty miserable.  Because I was so bad off the glimmer of grace was that I got my own private room to get my infusion that day!

Blood work revealed my potassium and magnesium were dangerously low (which could have been why my heart was racing), and after they gave me the herceptin I also received an infusion of those nutrients and fluids and anti-nausea medicine.  My hemoglobin and red blood cell count has also been low.  I felt much better after that, but unfortunately the nausea came back the next day.

It was a very very hard couple of weeks.

But by God’s grace, since about July 9th I’ve been feeling GREAT.  I’ve actually felt better than I’ve felt since I started treatment! I believe it is God’s grace to remind me what it feels like to not feel sick and I am so thankful.

We have been soaking up family time, I had an overnight date night with Justin in Charlotte, and I went on a short road trip to Wilmington with my girls and my mom while Samuel hung out with Justin and Pop (my dad).  We’ve made sweet memories.  I never realized how much I took my health for granted until I got sick!  I pray I never take my health for granted again.

And here I am, looking at the 4th chemo the day after tomorrow – Thursday, July 16.   Praise the Lord I was able to move my chemo from Wednesday to Thursday this cycle because there is a Women’s Ministry event at NEPC tomorrow that I really wanted to attend, and I’m so excited to be there!   I’m happy to say I’m halfway finished with chemo, which I believe will be be the most difficult part of this journey.  Praise the Lord who has walked with me during the ups and the downs of this journey so far.

As I look ahead to chemo #4, here’s how you can thank God with me and pray for me:

~Praise God for a week of feeling really great, with plenty of energy and appetite and the sweet memories we have shared as a family

~Praise God that I can attend our Summer Sisterhood Women’s Ministry event tomorrow evening!

~Pray against nausea after this next treatment.  Pray I will be able to eat, and that my potassium, magnesium, and hemoglobin would stay at healthy levels.

~Pray that I would see glimmers of grace each day, especially the difficult days!

Psalm 37:23-24

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.”