Fall Fashion

I know you will all be jealous of my latest fall fashion statement piece. 


I go back to see the doctor in three weeks where I hope I will be given the all clear. We are headed to Texas for Thanksgiving so I’d like to not have to travel in a boot. 

Recovery from surgery is going well. I’m off of Percocet and just on Tylenol. I’m bruised and sore (feels like bad PMS cramps), but getting around ok. 

I was able to drive today which was nice but still not feeling quite back to normal. Not sleeping great. It’s been such a huge help to have my mom in town to help so I can just rest and take it easy. 

We are going to (finally) celebrate Garrett’s second birthday this weekend as well as Halloween on Monday. I hope you all have a fun and enjoyable weekend. Who is believing that November is next week!?!

Thank you for continuing to pray for me and for reaching out to check on me. I have such an amazing support system. THANK YOU!!

Surgery Update


So if you follow my Team AJ page on Facebook you saw this picture already. That would be my leg Thursday night after visiting the ER. (Thank you Katey for pulling strings to get me in quickly – I got there at 7:00 and was in the car leaving at 9:00. The place was packed so for me to have been seen, have X-rays, and be done in two hours was nothing but a miracle!)

Thursday after dinner we went outside to play with the boys and enjoy the beautiful weather. Honestly, I just wanted to have some fun with the boys before I was going to be cooped up and recovering for the next week. Somehow, while running after Hamilton, I turned/stepped funny. I didn’t feel anything or hear anything pop – but my next step I just buckled and went down. 

Luckily Joan was already here and so she took the boys inside to start baths. Mark stayed with me as I started taking my shoes off to see if I could see what happened or a difference between my feet. He tried to help me stand up, and with a scream of some few choice words, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. We then knew we needed to go to the ER. Mark carried me to the car – me crying the whole way (the foot dangling and bouncing was excruciating). 


At first they thought I broke my right metatarsal bone above my pinky toe. However, Xrays showed no fractures. After feeling around my foot she felt like it must be a strained, pulled, or torn tendon in the same area. She gave me a recommendation for an orthopedist, wrapped my foot up like a football, gave me some Percocet and sent me on my way with crutches. Due to my surgery she also wrote me a Rx for a walker. Having surgery with 3 incisions along your stomach isn’t great for crutches. 

So I had my surgery Friday morning. All went well and was pretty quick. We got there at 6:30. They knocked me out about 7:30 and we were back on the road by 9:00. We stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my new mode of transportation (the walker) and some aspirin. I’m supposed to be walking around every hour to help prevent blood clots as well as get the gas pockets to absorb. But I can’t really do that so the aspirin is supposed to help. 

I feel pretty good if I keep up with the Percocet regimen. I’m supposed to follow up with Dr. Howard (my GYN who did the surgery) in a month. I have an appointment for my foot in a couple weeks. 

At first I was just so mad. It was like – seriously God – why is this happening? This is the last thing I need. But, on the way to the ER, Mark prayed over me and we talked about how this will be a part of my story. And I literally was praising his name that it happened after our vacation, and that I was already going to be recovering from surgery so it’s not putting me out, and that Joan and my mom already had plans to be here to help. God was not surprised and already had the details taken care of for me!


And…


That last graphic is 1 Peter 5:7. 

Once again I was reminded that God is a personal God and he cares for me. The hits keep on coming but as my sweet friend told me, “Nothing will keep you down.”  Throwing all my cares on Him allows Him the opportunity to sustain me. 

I appreciate your continued prayers. I will continue to keep you updated. 

AJ

Surgery Friday

I just wanted to give you an update regarding my surgery Friday.  I had my pre-op appointment this morning so I was able to get more details and information.

First, the reason for the surgery is because I am not responding as well as they had hoped to the ovary-suppression shots.  Dr. Zelnak wants my estrogen levels below 30 and I was in the mid-100s.

Surgery details:

  • I check-in at 6:30a for a 7:30a surgery Friday morning.
  • Surgery should last about 30 minutes and if all goes well then I should be discharged late morning/early afternoon time frame.
  • They are removing both ovaries and tubes (originally we thought just ovaries).
  • My mother-in-love is staying with the boys on Friday and helping through the weekend.  My mom arrives on Sunday afternoon and will stay through next week to help.  Thank you for all the offers for meals, etc. – we are taken care of.

Ways you can pray:

  • Anxiousness regarding side effects to menopause.  I currently am in chemo-induced menopause, but taking the ovaries out will obviously put me in deep menopause within an hour.  The side effects can begin within days or weeks – everyone responds differently.  My desire is for my side effects to remain minimal.
  • Once again, I am unable to lift Garrett for about 7-10 days.  Prayers for continued resilience on his part.
  • This be my last surgery EVER!
  • Overall encouragement and joy for my soul.  The last two weeks have been very hard for one reason or the other (no need to go into details).  I have been downtrodden and discouraged.

I will have someone (probably Mark) update this site and the FB page with updates regarding the surgery.  If you have not followed the Team AJ FB page you can do so here:  CLICK HERE.

Love,

AJ

Amazing!


Our trip was absolutely amazing.  I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful and wonderful it was.  And to answer the question I know you have been wondering – Hurricane Matthew completely missed us.  God was so gracious to us with the weather.  We had some strong winds one night and a couple cloudy/overcast days, but considering what Haiti, the Bahamas, and the eastern coast of the U.S. got – we were completely spared.  Turks and Caicos Islands are less than 200 miles directly north of Haiti.  We were getting a littler nervous after the resort delivered a letter and some lanterns (in case we lost power) to our room stating the warning we were in and to let us know the airport had been closed.  So we tracked the radar and followed the storm.  In the picture below on the left side is the radar (we are the blue dot) and the right side is the picture at the exact same time off our balcony.  Truly no explanation, but just a vivid picture of God’s graciousness.


Our favorite place (that we drove across the island to visit three different days) was Taylor Bay.  Back when I first got diagnosed in February, Mark researched and planned this trip.  He had it booked before my surgery at the end of March.  He would periodically send me pictures of the resort or islands as an encouragement stating things like “this will be us” or “this will be over soon”.  The following picture I made my screen saver on my phone so I saw it everyday, multiple times a day, whenever I looked at my phone.


That is Taylor Bay.

And this is us in Taylor Bay.


It was surreal to literally be IN the picture I had been staring at for the last six months.  Every chemo.  Every surgery recovery.  Ever really sick day.  Or just discouraging day.  I would look at that first picture and pray.  I would find hope in the future.  And when we got there and I saw it – well it was sorta emotional.  We had made it.  God had brought us through.  And so we sat under a tree and prayed and talked about our future hopes and dreams – because God had chosen to assure us a future we could talk about.  This story is not yet over.  Cancer will not get the last word.  And yes, I don’t know what that future holds.  I don’t know if cancer has left for good or will be written again in a future chapter of the novel of my life, but I know for now it is gone and it was worth celebrating all we had survived and God had accomplished!


#takethatcancer
(In no way am I wanting to come across as insensitive regarding the true tragedy that has taking place in those areas impacted by Hurricane Matthew. We prayed then and continue to pray and support aide in those areas. It is not lost on me that I was spared for a vacation and not 200 miles away many people lost lives and homes.)

Reentry

I realize that there has been quite the lack of posts lately and I apologize for those of you wondering how I’m doing and feeling and what the latest is with my health.

After seven months of being provided at least three meals a week, my meal calendar stopped.  I can’t thank you enough for providing food for my family during this time.  It prevented them from going hungry and kept us out of Chick-fil-A every night.  It truly was amazing how you literally were the hands of Jesus by you preparing dinners for us.

So it was a bit of a perfect storm.  The same week the meals ended (which I asked for them to) was the same week we got Garrett back from Texas, the same week Garrett started school (he’s going two days a week to preschool), and the same week that CBS started back.  (I know I’ve mentioned CBS many times on here.  I don’t know if I have mentioned that I’m the Class Coordinator which means the start up process is one of the busiest times for me.)  I also thought it would be a good time to ween Garrett from his paci, start back Hamilton’s piano lessons, start Luke’s first season of TBall, and plan two birthday parties.  (Ever have one of those moments where you could pause life, hit yourself on the head, and say “What was I thinking?”).

I think I was so excited for life to be ‘normal’ again I jumped in on the deep end of the pool rather than slowly reentering on the zero-entry end.  Whew!  Today is the first day I have felt like I could take a deep breath and just float.  Thus, the reason why you are able to read a post from me.

I received my last ovary-suppression shot Tuesday.  I won’t have another one since I’m getting my ovaries out at the end of October.  I’m still going to physical therapy once a week.  My cording has come back with a vengeance – much worse than it was the first time.  They said it would take time for it to completely go away – so for now I continue with PT and my at-home exercises.  They also gave me a compression sleeve and glove to wear to try to release some of the tightness. Please pray the cording will release!

We are celebrating Luke’s 5th birthday this weekend.  Next week is Fall Break for my boys so we will be taking it easy.  We have family pictures scheduled and then Mark and I leave for our ‘Cancer Free Celebration’ trip a week from today!  I can’t believe it is finally here.  Mark surprised me and booked this trip soon after my diagnosis (8 months ago – amazing it’s been that long).  He would send me pictures periodically as encouragement and something to look forward to once all of this was over and behind us.  I hate I still have a surgery after we get back, but there is still much to celebrate!  Much to look back over and ponder on how far we have come in this journey.

I will make sure to post some pictures upon our return.  For now, I appreciate you reading and keeping up with me.  I am so blown away by your consistent care and concern.

Sincerely,

AJ

P.S.  I’ve been hat-free for a few weeks now.  It’s much darker than I thought it would be.  Here is a picture of Mark and me on our way to his 20th high school reunion last weekend.

I’ve Got My Baby Back…

…and all is right in our world again.

Here is the video of our reunion.


Thank you Jenny for bringing him back to us.  We loved having you with us – it’s been a long time since the two of us have had a slumber party.  Jenny and I have been pretty much inseparable for 21 years (crazy it’s been that long!) – she is a dear, special friend.


I also wanted to update you that my surgery has been scheduled for the afternoon of October 21.  I will have my ovaries taken out which will eliminate the need for the monthly shot.  I am okay and at peace with this decision and think it will be best long-term.

I am looking forward to starting back physical therapy tomorrow.  I am so thankful for Turning Point and absolutely love my therapists there.

I hope y’all enjoy your Labor Day weekend.  We will be celebrating Mark’s birthday.  Garrett’s birthday is also this weekend, but since he’s been gone the last 3 weeks we decided to celebrate him at the end of the month.  Didn’t want to miss his last weeks of being a toddler so we are pretending it’s not his birthday.  (Call me sentimental).

Love,

AJ

It’s My Birthday…

…And I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to.  You would cry to if it happened to you.

Are you humming this song from the 60s now?  I’m so thankful I had parents that played the oldies radio station growing up and I can have songs like this in my memory bank.  I need to play that station for my boys – I’m failing them in the history of good music.  (by the way the picture of my parents from the previous post was taken by none other than my almost 5 year old son Luke – we thought he did a pretty good job).

Ok – back to the crying during my birthday song.  (And yes I know the words are It’s My Party, but she does say in the verse “Oh what a birthday surprise” so I took liberty with the words for the sake of this post.)  I spent the last hours of last night and the first few hours of today crying.  Just could not dry it up people – the tears kept coming and the sweet birthday texts and facebook posts kept dinging on my phone.

Here’s the deal people the last 24 hours have been rough.  I told Mark last night I wish my birthday was next week, maybe I’ll be in a better place to celebrate.  But right now…ugh!  Just ugh!  It’s just a lot and it’s heavy.

The month of July was like a big ol’ torment.  I got the taste of my life being normal.  But now I’m back sleeping in my chair because it’s more comfortable than the bed.  It hurts to walk.  It hurts to sit up.  My bruises are purple and green.  The scars are big and messy.  (I thought I mentioned this, but maybe I didn’t, they used fat grafting on my sides so the bruises go around each of the sides of my waists in addition to my chest).  I never wanted plastic surgery.  Some people consider this a ‘bonus’ when it comes to breast cancer.  I don’t honestly.  I never would have gone to a plastic surgeon on my own.  I had to face time with my baby for my birthday – he even kissed the phone.  Oh my word the preciousness – and he’s so happy.  But that’s not normal people.  I have no hair and I’m just tired of it.  I’m tired of touching my bald head.  Yes it’s growing back, but I’m tired of having to match hats to outfits every day.  That’s not normal.  You are supposed to get dressed and fix your hair – not have to make your head match or coordinate with whatever you want to wear.  And as much as I wanted today to be about celebrating life, I just couldn’t get there.  I kept thinking about six months ago today.  I thought that this time, six months later, would feel better.  Would feel further.  And it just didn’t.

Didn’t – past tense.  Not doesn’t – present tense.

I decided to tell Satan to stick his pity party up his *** and that I was done with him stealing my joy.  And so I sat down and just started journaling, writing, crying like a baby and begging God to help me, to show up, to comfort me.  And here is what I wrote:

Lord I need your comfort and your help.  I need you to lift me up on wings of eagles right now.  So high out of this shadow; out of this pit.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of climbing when falling is just easier, but if I could climb onto your back fly out under the shadow of your wings instead.  Please Father.  Sweet Abba Father help me.

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.” New Living Translation

 “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” Amplified Version

Lord I needed this verse.  I needed it to refocus on the new life I have.  The new hair that is growing.  The new boobs that took place of the sick ones.  Celebrate new days as a survivor.  This being my first birthday after cancer.

Psalm 55:22 was my verse from the very beginning – still thinking of that Veggie Tales song.  “He will take care of you”.

Amplified Version “Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).

1 Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” New Living Translation

Amplified “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He care for you affectionately and care about you watchfully.”

Whew Lord.  Deep breath.  Hold my hand.  Help me take one step at a time.  I’m leaning on you Lord for support.

So there you have it.  Straight from my journal.  And I knew I had to share it with you.  I wanted his encouragement to reach out to you as well.  I feel lighter, not necessarily better.  All of those things are still my reality, but I’m not carrying them anymore.  He is.

___________

On another note I feel very strongly that the Lord is asking me to get off social media for a year.  One whole year…AAKK!  I will post occasionally on my Team AJ page, but my personal Facebook and Instagram page I will be going dark.  Birthday to Birthday.

I will continue posting updates on this public, easily accessible website since the care calendar time came to a close.  Please sign up to receive these updates to your inbox, I will slowly start migrating my health updates and posts to this site.  You can do this by clicking at the top right corner and putting your email in the blank under ‘Follow blog via email’ (if you are viewing this on your phone you have to scroll to the bottom).

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Love,

AJ

Recovering

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am doing well. I got my drain out Monday morning. I go tomorrow afternoon for a post-op appointment where Dr. Mackay will change my dressings and check my incisions and healing process.
Right now I am sore and pretty bruised. I’m hoping that Barbie is on the other side of this healing process ;).
I said good-bye to Mom, Dad, and Garrett today. They should be landing in Dallas about now. The first time Garrett was in Texas was over Mother’s Day and this time it’s over my birthday. I know it’s only three weeks, but the Mama tears are real and I will miss him and will miss being his caregiver. Appreciate your prayers all around that situation.
My parents have been wonderful these last 6 months. (Six months tomorrow that I got the call that changed my life). I know what it feels like to receive that call, but I don’t know what it feels like to have your child receive that call. And as much as this has been a journey for me and my family of five i know it has also been a journey for them. Their support and sacrifices have gotten us through this time. Thanks mom and dad – I’ll never be able to say thank you enough. I love you! Take care of my sweet G-man!
I’ll write again soon.
Love,
Me
P.S. Many of you may have joined this website more recently and not read all of my updates – you can always go back and read previous ones through the website. If you ever want to reach out to me you can just reply to this email.