An Update & A Thank You

Hello,
I will say I had this written and then some how it erased – off into cyber space somewhere. Frustrating, but it will probably end up being shorter so I guess that’s good for you.
I wanted to give you an update on some more results, upcoming doctor appointments, and what the future may hold.
As you know I tested negative for BRCA 1 & 2. After these results they sent my DNA to be tested in a separate gene panel and in my phone consult this morning with the genetic counselor I found out that the second panel was also negative. So that is all very good news and makes my diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of 36 completely random. Well random to scientists, but not random to the Great Physician.
I do not have any upcoming doctor appointments or tests. I will not see any of my doctor’s until my surgery on 3/24. This is a wonderful reprieve but at the same time does cause a little bit of anxiety. Until now I have had little milestones to meet whether it be a doctor consult, a test, a blood draw, but now the only thing left is the (as my dad says) ‘John Wayne’ event. The big deal is all we are waiting for.
So what happens after surgery? I have received this question quite a bit. Well we will have to wait for the pathology report to know the results of the tumor as well as how many lymph nodes have cancer. Right now my MRI results see two enlarged and my PET scan only showed one. Dr. Steinhaus will take probably 4-6 out. If 3 or less show positive for cancer then I will start a 12 week cycle with 4 chemo treatments. If 4 or more show positive for cancer then I will start a 20 week cycle with 16 chemo treatments. After this 20 week cycle I would have radiation. Obviously, we want you to be praying that it is in 3 or less lymph nodes. Let’s just pray big and pray that no lymph nodes are involved at all.
After treatment is complete then I will go in for my follow-up plastic surgery where they will do the implant transfer and complete my reconstruction. After both my initial and follow-up surgeries I am unable to lift anything over 10 lbs (read: Garrett) for at least 8 weeks. We will have mom, my mother-in-law, sister, and friends living with us off and on to help take care of me as well as G-man.
I have received many emails, FB tags, phone calls, and had conversations regarding alternate treatment options. We received some great advice (from Bill) and he told Mark: You be the researcher and you always need to know more than she does. (And I have stayed off WebMD and all google searches by the way). As much as I know that this is all out of love and care Mark and I are trusting his research, our doctors, our second opinion, and what we feel at peace in doing. So this will be our treatment path going forward.
The second part of this post I wanted to say Thank You. We are overwhelmed and humbled by all of your love and support. The prayer schedule that Rachael set-up is just amazing and I love to look at it and pray for you at the same time you are praying for me. If you haven’t had a chance to look at it you can click here. We cannot believe the GoFundMe page that Jeni set up for us. If you haven’t had a chance to look at it you can click here. All the friends (Kelli, Jeni, Rachael, Katey, Catherine, Sarah Ashley, Kimberly, and I’m sure more I’m forgetting) and my Mother-in-law who has picked up, brought home, kept for a play date, or came over to babysit one or more of our boys to allow me to go to all these doctor’s appointments and have these tests run is just amazing. We could not have done it without you. We have had boxes and packing materials delivered to our house. We have had meals brought over starting the night of my diagnosis up through, well forever more I’m told. My friend Jeni flew with Garrett to Texas to drop him off with my parents so that we could be toddler-free and get packing done. We found favor with our sellers and they are allowing us to bring things over to the basement and garage before we close. Mark brought over the first load last night and we had 6 guys (new neighbors that we do not even know) show up to help him unload. Our new neighborhood is just amazing already and showing us such love and support – we can’t wait to get to know all of them. We have had all sorts of cards and gifts mailed to us which has been such an encouragement. The spear-head so-to-speak to a lot of these things has been my bestie Rachael Walkup. She is who set up this website, is in the process of setting up a meal calendar and care calendar, scheduled a surprise Girls Night Out for me at my favorite Tex-Mex place, has carpool for the rest of the school year for my boys all set-up and based on some questions she has asked me recently I think she may have more up her sleeve as well. It’s just amazing to see the foundation of your friendships during your time of need and witness the body of Christ at work.
Now I can’t do thank you’s without mentioning Mark. (cue rolled eyes and romantic music now). I told him recently that he has been such an amazing example of how Christ loves and serves the church. That’s the purpose and goal of marriage and he has embodied that for me. I see it everyday. He is relying on the peace-maker and peace-giver throughout all of this. He is carrying a lot. He makes the phone calls to the insurance company, the hospitals, the doctors, etc. He still handles his roles as employee, father, and husband (and friend by the way – he has continued to be an amazing friend to others – calling them to check on them). He’s coaching Luke’s soccer team. Oh and by the way did I mention we are packing and moving? But my guy is a champ. He’s handling it all with the utmost grace and I’m so proud to call him mine!
I want to close this book of an update (that I’ve already written twice) with one last point. As you know we have a toddler toddling around our house. And with a toddler it’s pretty hard to keep windows clean. There are always little fingerprints on them. Keeping that in mind I wrote this in my journal last week: “But what makes the craziness not chaotic is that You are so involved.  Your hands and fingerprints are all over everything.  It’s like when I look out the back door window and it’s clear the hand prints all over it scream “Garrett has been here”.  Some are smudged.  Some are full on hand prints.  Some are just finger tips.  But it’s obvious.  That’s how this whole adventure has been.  Screaming “God has been here”.  “Holy Spirit involved”.  “Jesus has made his mark known.”
So be encouraged members of Team AJ. He’s got this. He’s not surprised. He is very much involved. And the next time you look out a window and see a hand print (before you wipe it clean) remember that He has his hand print on your life too. You can look out the window and take in the big picture and the hand print not really distract or bother you – what you are looking at is clear and the hand print gets lost in your gaze. But if you change your focus and concentrate on the hand print itself you can see all the finger lines and smudges and the big picture is what gets a little blurry and out of focus. This is the picture of God’s hand print. If you focus on the big picture, it can become overwhelming and God’s hand print gets lost in the gaze. But if you change your focus and look at the details of His hand print on your life you can be at peace, there is no fear, and you can be thankful and encouraged for where you are. You can see Him working and stay focused on Him.
I am at peace. I have no fear. I am thankful and encouraged for where I am. I see him working daily. And I’m choosing to stay focused on Him.
Love to you all,
Ashley

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