Last Chemo Day

This past week has been really wonderful. I’ve felt great. My heart and soul were nourished with the best of friends. My college roommates flew in from Texas to see me and it was fantastic. It had been 4 years since we had all been together – way too long. All we did was eat junk food and sit on the sofa and talk. It was amazing and refreshing.
Today I end a part of this journey. My last chemo. Six months ago this day seemed a really long ways away, but today it’s six hours away. God has sustained me. Your prayers have supported me. My friends and family have up held me. And without all of that I am confident I wouldn’t be where I am today – encouraged, excited, hopeful for my future because His plans are good and He works everything out for good.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭AMP‬‬
Today I claim victory! Yes there are many more legs of this journey ahead but when I see how far He has carried me (through the body of Christ’s prayers, through my family and friends serving me with meals and childcare and house cleaning and so much more, through cards, words, visits, etc.). I can be encouraged whatever lay ahead over the next couple months or even future years that I don’t got this. Yep I don’t, because HE DOES!!
Amen and amen.
Love
AJ

Three Down; One To Go

So chemo went much smoother this go around – no pokes, pricks, or needles. It also went much faster (only 5 hours instead of 8). Two of my dearest friends joined me this time around. Ashley Franks, which many of you know due to following her own battle with breast cancer two years ago. I went to one of her chemo treatments so it was quite surreal for her to be sitting with me two years later. You never know just how God will cross your paths and orchestrate precious relationships. Kimberly McLeod also joined me. I met Kimberly soon after I moved to GA 15 years ago and she has been one of my most faithful friends – if I need prayer or council she is my girl.
The down side of the actual day of chemo going better than before is that it seems the aftermath has been harder. The previous two treatments chemo was on Wednesday and I felt fine until Saturday and Sunday then I was gaining energy by Monday. This time around I started feeling pretty bad by Thursday and am still not gaining much strength back.
A friend texted me and asked what she could pray for specifically and my response was, “That the semi truck would roll off of me”. That’s sorta what it has felt like – low energy, chest pains, labored breathing, extreme fatigue – and it just won’t pass. BUT! The title of this post…only ONE MORE LEFT!!
I was able to go to church tonight which felt good to at least get vertical for the first time in 4 days. I have the older boys in a VBS this week at a local church so luckily they will have something fun to occupy their time and me and G-man can chill watching Thomas the Train at home.
i so appreciate your continued prayers and ask that you keep them coming.
I heard this song on the way home from church today and it reminded me of the verse in Matthew I’ve referenced in a previous post, “Thy will be done!”. Here is the link to the words and song: CLICK HERE.
Love,
AJ

PICC is in!

I had my PICC put in this afternoon. The whole procedure itself took all of maybe 10 minutes. But I had to be there at noon. Procedure was scheduled for 1:00. I didn’t go back until about 1:30 and was back out at 2:15. The waiting and prep time was the worst. I wasn’t expecting to have to put a hospital gown on and do that whole bit. The process of just getting prepped was crazy. I kept saying “If you are about to poke a needle in me I need to hold someone’s hand” and he would say, “the doctor isn’t in here so I won’t be sticking you with anything”. Next time I requested a hand he said, “still no doctor”. Ha! He just kept messing with my arm strapping this, wrapping that, saying this will be cold, this will be tight, doing a sonogram, the whole thing. I was breathing hard needless to say.
They told me the numbing shot would feel like a bee sting. But it was nothing. (Remember I’ve had so many biopsies on much more sensitive areas – I know bee sting and that was no bee sting). It felt a little strange when they were putting the line in. I learned you don’t have nerve endings on veins – thought that was interesting. The doctor was a little strange. Told me, “Your arm and veins are tiny – I’ll give it a shot”. Umm – that did not give me confidence. Then he asked if I was going on vacation anytime soon and I told him about our trip to T&C. He said, “Oh, I have a funny story about going there. I was snorkling and came up on an eight foot shark.” Dude! Just shut up! My heart rate is going up and my anxiety rising with every word you say.
I am prayerful that the PICC will make tomorrow’s chemo infusion (which is at 9:45 in the morning) much shorter in time and much less painful. Won’t need to get poked at all tomorrow!! They can even do my blood-work through the PICC so that’s wonderful! Please join me in praying that tomorrow will go much smoother because of today’s procedure.
We are officially over the hump (HA! I just thought of those ‘Geico Hump Day’ commercials. If you have no idea what I’m talking about click here! Ha! That made me laugh. And can I just say a disclaimer – in no way am I supporting Geico – my dad is still the best State Farm agent in the world!) OK…Back on track….we are officially over the hump of chemo. After tomorrow we only have one chemo left! (I say “we” because I feel very much not alone in all of this and know that ‘Team AJ’ is with me!)
If all you wanted to read was an update on me, then you can stop reading, but if you are interested in a few more of my thoughts – feel free to keep reading or come back and read later…
There were a couple things I wanted to mention and while I’m feeling good I thought I would just…well…mention them.
1. I have received a lot questions regarding my ‘prayer requests’ in my updates. Whether it be, “I didn’t know you could pray so specifically” to “How do you pray?” or “How should I pray?”. First, let me say I am no master at prayer. I’m actually reading a book on prayer currently called Fervent by: Priscilla Shiver. (I linked the book title to Amazon – there is also a version not specific for women called The Battle Plan for Prayer.) If you saw the movie War Room awhile back – she was the main actress. Anyway, I have loved her book and really like her ‘methods’ if you will. But I personally like the acronym she gives in her book with PRAY:
  • P=Praise: Showing gratitude and being thankful for who God is and what he’s already done in your life.
  • R=Repentance: Allowing space for Him to claim your heart and hearts of those you love. Asking for the courage to trust, and turn, and walk His way.
  • A=Ask: Making your requests be known.
  • Y=Yes: This one may not make sense at first glance. 1 Corinthians 1:20 says, “All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!'” So accentuate your prayers with His own words from Scripture, His promises to you that correspond to your need. She gives lots of options in her book, but you could even go back and pray some of the verses I have mentioned in my posts. (i.e. Proverbs 16:9, 1 Timothy 1:12, Psalm 66:12, Psalm 55:22, Isaiah 41:10, 2 Timothy 1:7-8).
Also, just to note regarding praying specifically, look at Phillipians 4:6 in the AMP version, “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.” I think He wants us to be specific and personal. If you have ever heard me pray out loud there isn’t much formality to my prayers – I’ll greet him like my friend because, well, He is. I usually don’t say ‘Dear Heavenly Father’. I’ll say “Hey God”, or “What up Jesus”, or “Spirit I need some help here”. Just my thoughts.
2. I have received some questions regarding how to read your Bible. Again I am no expert and try to read my Bible consistently (outside of church or my CBS Bible study), but I miss days, even weeks. I’m not perfect with it. But I have found different Bibles have helped me in different seasons of my life. The Life Application Study Bible I loved in high school and college and even reference some of it’s study guides today. The KeyWord Study Bible I used a lot in college when I was wanting to know more of the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words. I like jumping to different Bible versions to read the same verse and get more meaning. (I’ve thought about getting a Parallel Bible where there are different versions next to each other on the page.) You will notice I’ve done that in times I’ve referenced verses in my posts. I find the Amplified Version (AMP) or the New Living Translation (NLT) and sometimes even The Message (MSG) help bring new meaning to some verses I’m reading. But if I’m reading just to read I usually stick to the New International Version (NIV) which is probably most popular. Although the Bible I’m using right now is the NLT Study Bible.
As far as what to read or where to start reading. I would start in a gospel book: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John because you will be reading about the life of Jesus. Typically people (whoever ‘people’ are) say to start with John. Reading a chapter in Proverbs a day (there are 31 chapters) and just repeating that every month you would gain incredible wisdom. Or you could read a Psalm a day and you would read through the book twice in a year. But really, you could read in John, reading the commentary and notes to gain insight and background context from start to finish. What I do is read until something hits me. When I think “I don’t want to keep reading because I want to think about what that verse is saying” then sometimes I’ll pray about it. Sometimes I’ll highlight it on the Bible app on my phone (which you have to download if you don’t have – it’s amazing) and then just read it different times throughout the day. Sometimes, I’ll write the verse in my journal. Or I’ll look it up in different versions and see what words are different and what else it could mean. Then I’ll start where I left off the next day. Another practice that lots of my friends do is just rewriting the Bible. That sounds daunting when I say it that way. There is a blog my friends and I found that we have started over the last month: Click Here. She comes out with a new Scripture Writing plan each month. She offers a women, Spanish, and men version and they are on different topics each month and a few verses (no more than 10 min. of time) each day. This month is on Forgiveness.
So there are some ideas for you. As always, whether it is about my cancer journey, prayer, the Bible, or anything else feel free to leave a comment or just respond to this email.
Hope you are enjoying your first week of June!
Love Always,
AJ