Pathology Report

So it’s been a bit of a foggy week thanks to Percacet, muscle relaxers, and lots of sleep. I so appreciate all the emails, texts, phone messages, visits, and love from you all checking in on me.
How am I? I am okay. I’ve been sleeping okay and have not been in too much discomfort and pain until today. I decided (probably too early) to not take the pain med (Percacet) today. No I’m not trying to be a hero by not taking pain meds – people the constipation the pain meds cause is ‘for reelz’ and so I chose what I thought was the lesser evil today. Anyway – I’m back on Percacet as of 12:30 this afternoon. As you may have seen on social media I was able to go to church to worship with my family for Easter a few days after surgery. It felt great to get out of the house and what better place for my first outing than church, right? I won’t be able to lift/hold Garrett for a few more weeks so mom and dad have been with us helping these first few weeks, then Joan will stay with us (my MIL), then Katie & Justin (my sister & BIL), they will take Garrett back to TX with them to stay with my parents again, then mom and dad will come back. So we have our ‘live-in’ care covered and y’all have filled up the next month of meals for us which is incredible. We feel so loved and cared for.
So doctor appointment results:
Yesterday I had my follow-up with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Mackay. I was not able to have either of the drains (I have two) removed, but he removed some of the dressing from the surgery sites. Said that everything is looking good and hopes to remove one of the drains next week and the last drain hopefully by the following. We have to wait for their combined output to be less than 20.
Today I met with my oncologist, Dr. Zelnak. She is fantastic and I am so happy with her as my doctor. (That’s half the battle sometimes, right?).
Results:
  • The size of the tumor was a little bigger than originally thought 2.3 cm instead of 1.8 cm.
  • They were able to get all of it and showed clean edges on everything removed.
  • 10 lymph nodes were removed and ONLY 2 showed cancer cells.
  • None of the lymph nodes showed growth or invasion abnormalities.
Dr. Zelnak was very encouraged by these results and feels strongly that I will only need the short-term chemotherapy option. <Insert happy dance and tears of joy here> (1 treatment every 3 weeks for 12 weeks = 4 treatments). She ordered the onco test today which takes 2 weeks to get results back. This will show how susceptible my tumor would be to chemotherapy. She is pretty sure it will come back as low to moderate. We want it to not be high to support the short-term chemo treatment. (I could go into more explanation of this – but it’s pretty confusing, but if you want to read about it in your spare time click here.)
So what’s next? Well we wait for my drains to be out and for the onco test results – both will take 2-3 weeks. Right now I’m scheduled for my chemo to begin the first week of May and hopefully be complete early July. (I would actually like to start late-April to be done before July – we will discuss this timing and scheduling when she calls with the onco results).
Another encouraging thing she told us today is she doesn’t think I need to have a port put in. The treatments will be spread out and few in number so I can get the chemo via IV at each appointment. <insert more happy dancing and grinning here.>
She is still considering some post-chemo radiation therapy, but she is going to bring my case before some doctors Monday to get other opinions. The pathology report did not think it was needed. So pray no radiation will be needed. That come 4th of July not only will we be celebrating the good ol’ U. S. of A’s birthday, but that I am D.O.N.E. DONE with cancer!!
And while you are praying Hamilton will be at Kanakuk Kamp July 1-14 – I want to be feeling ok and strong enough to picking him up for Parents Day so no reason you can’t start praying for that now, right?
Thank you for all the prayers and support. During one of my personal journaling times I was writing that I just felt that during all of this God just wants to commune with me. All the ‘spiritual disciplines’ I don’t need to worry about – the years of doing all of those practices have built the foundation that I am able to live off of during this time. (spiritual disciplines/practices = reading my Bible, praying, attending church, leading in the church, small groups & Bible studies, etc.) He just wants me to experience a relationship and dependency on him right now. I’ve never really done that before. Your prayers are giving me strength and peace and then personally throughout every doctor’s appointment and every day I just feel his presence. It’s pretty cool actually.
Your prayers are working and helping so keep ’em comin’.
Love,
AJ

Morning!

Morning:
Thank you so much for praying specifically for Ashley and Mark to sleep last night. They both got some much needed rest! Praise the Lord!
I’m meant to include this picture last night in my update but forgot. It’s the sunset from Ashley’s hospital room last night. Isn’t God’s creation majestic? (Photo attached)
Here are some specific things you can pray for today:
  1. Ashley’s pain to be under control with meds.
  2. A smooth discharge process.
  3. Hamilton, Luke, and Garrett – it’s hard being away from daddy and mommy!
  4. The transition home – prayers that Ashley will be able to get comfortable today at home.
Here are some friendly reminders:
  1.  We will be selling necklaces in honor of Ashley soon. If you are interested in purchasing one, please click here to enter your information. When it’s time to order, we will contact you for next steps.
  2. Team AJ Health Costs is almost fully funded. But there is still a small gap. Here’s a link if you feel called to give.
  3. Thank you to everyone who has already signed up to bring them a meal or groceries. April is completely full. Ashley’s chemo will start towards the end of April. If you are willing, please sign up for the dates in the summer as well. In order to do this, you will need to log in to the care site (click here). Once logged in, you will click on the calendar icon at the top. Then just scroll the calendar over to May, June, July, etc.
Ok – I know that was a lot of information! Thank you again for all the support and love for Ashley (and Mark)!
In His mighty grip,
Rachael

Last Update For Today

Hi again:
I wanted to take a moment to send one last update for day. I’ve spent some time with Ashley tonight. She is doing really great. She is feeling pretty good. She’s definitely sore but on pain meds which is helping.
Please pray that she (and Mark) sleep well even though the hospital staff will be coming in every 2 hrs through the night.
Also, Ashley should be discharged by early afternoon tomorrow. Once I know what time, I will send another update.
Thank you for continuing to pray,
Rachael

Surgery Is Complete!

Hi all:
Great news – Ashley is completely out of surgery! The plastic surgery (Dr. Mackay) portion went according to plan. She is awake and in recovery now. After an hour or so, Mark will be able to see her. Please continue to pray for her recovery as well as the determination of how many chemo treatments she will have.
We serve a mighty God! Thank you for praying without ceasing this morning for Ashley and her family. I will continue to update you as the day goes on.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
-Rachael

Cancer Is Removed!

Hi everyone:
I wanted to let you know that Dr. Steinhaus has completed her part of the surgery. This means the cancer has been removed! The lymph-nodes that were cancerous have been taken out as well as the ones surrounding it. Ashley and Mark will get results on 3/31 to tell them how many chemo treatments she will need. Please keep praying for the least amount possible!
As of now, plastic surgery is taking place. Ashley has about an hour and half left of surgery.
Thank you all for continuing to pray!
In His grip,
Rachael

Surgery Has Begun

UPDATE: As of 7:45am, surgery has started. Join us as we pray for the least amount or miraculously no cancer in the lymph-nodes.
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭MSG
Thank you for praying!
-Rachael

Updates From Rachael

Good morning! I will be posting updates through the day today on here as well as the facebook page. Thank you for praying for Ashley’s surgery today!
The Lord gave me this verse at 4:30am today and I think it just perfect for today. Join in on praying for Ashley in the name of the Lord!
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬
UPDATE: As of 5:30am, Mark and Ashley have arrived at the hospital. Please pray for the check in process as well as pre-op to go smoothly. To start the day, we can pray this verse over Ashley – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
In His mighty grip,
Rachael