Monday, May 31, 2010

In Gratitude, we Remember...

Today we remember, that our freedom wasn't free.  So many sacrificed so much... and we will be FOREVER grateful!

Friday, May 28, 2010

What LOVE feels like...

I was snuggling in my bed and talking with my daughters this week and one thing I asked them was what LOVE felt like. 
One of the answers that I adored was that it felt like being warm and snuggling into a comfy pillow.  Another...was that it feels like your heart is warm and everything will be okay.  You guys have show me what love feels like in SO many ways....THANK YOU!!!

My body feels pretty beat up right now...but my heart feels so much LOVE.  Peace has been whispered to my mind...and my fears are calmed for now...
and I feel like everything will be OKAY!
I am not going to worry right now...After wednesday I will know my chemo fate again to know if I might be human this summer or if I will continue in this poison induced zombie mode...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feeling the weight of HEAVY Decisions

I have had a hard time blogging lately.  One reason is because typing hurts my hands (as strange as that sounds!) This round I have had quite a bit more of muscular and nerve problems and my hands have even started to freeze and not work for several minutes at a time.  Yet again... the Drs. are unsure what is causing this and tell me that none of their other patients have this response.  I have been slightly terrified, because functioning hands are a crucial part of my daily life!  I hope this is something that will go away...(SOON!)

I also have struggled finishing a blog post because I haven't been sure what to say.  I want so badly to be able to say, "things are improving..." and be able to show you through my words the immense HOPE that I have in my heart.  But the truth is, the day after I wrote the last post...things got pretty rough.  All of the symptoms worsened and have threatened everything.  I have been in bed, unable to move, eat much, or drink...almost all week.  I have gone in each day for IV fluids to try to stay hydrated, but keep getting more and more sick with each day.  I have met with the best doctors in the area and they are trying but genuinely DON'T know what to do.  Thursday night I spent the night in complete misery, pain, exhaustion, and tears...and the doctor called from out of town the next morning.  She said that she was just worried about me and felt like she should call.  When I explained more of what is going on...she asked me to quit taking the oral chemo that I still had 5 more doses of for this round.  They just aren't comfortable with how my body is reacting and there are NO medicines left we haven't tried.

So I find myself at a FORK in the road... Do I force the doctors to continue my chemo so that I know I have done everything...or do I relax and know that I am fighting this battle the best my body can?  It is HARD having such a huge decision that could change the course of EVERYTHING for my little family.  It is weighing VERY heavy on my mind...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It all started with...

My daughter Addie running as fast as she could into my room to put her arms around my neck to tell me something the second she woke up in the morning...She said, "MOM, I dont know how you love ME so BIG when I don't eat my food and I don't always listen."  That might not sound like much to you, but I had one of my most cherished conversations and watched my 3 year old start to grasp my unconditional LOVE for her.  She is a deep thinker...and I love her morning ephiphanies!

Then I went to chemo.  I was there from 9-5:45 for my infusion, appt, etc.  I got all of my needed drugs and a new one Avastin (which they couldn't give sooner because it would cause complications being so close to recent surgeries.)  I am doing the drug that made me so sick as an oral form this round...instead of through infusion to see if I can tolerate it better.  So far, I think I am.

Right now, my hands are on feel like the pins and needles your foot falls asleep, but worse.  It is constant, but putting pressure on my fingers (like typing, etc.) makes it MUCH worse.  I have to wear gloves because of an extreme cold sensitivity on my hands and feet.  I keep getting muscle spasms all over my body...and quite a few on my face. My cheek went crazy all morning and made me look pretty ridiculous. :)  I can't eat or drink anything that is not warm or it feels miserable in my throat (even room temperature is too cold!)  I am starting to get sores in my mouth...And I have the typical chemo symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea.  I don't say that to complain, but many of you want to know what it is that is my experience today.  Most of those are annoying...but tolerable.  I am able to hold down food and liquid this time, so that is a HUGE improvement over the last round.  I hope it continues! 

Our prayers are being heard...and I WILL beat this cancer.  Thank you for ALL of your support!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

RELAY FOR LIFE...Braithwaite Brigade/Team Shanda is formed!!!

I am so excited and grateful for WEST PASCO FAMILY DENTAL, where they have decided to close down the office (June 11th)  and have the ENTIRE staff participate in the RELAY FOR LIFE...where they will be walking in support of everyone we know whose lives have been touched by cancer...and in support of ME.  (my eyes are watery just thinking of it!)  The staff is making shirts...gathering donations...camping for the 24 hour relay...and will be walking for such an AMAZING cause!  All of the money goes to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure...

If you want to make a donation to our team...I will be posting a link to our team page this week.  I am excited for this and PASSIONATE about the cause. 

...I am nervous!

Tomorrow I get a FULL infusion with all of my chemo drugs as well as a new one that they couldn't add until now, since I have been healing from all of my surgeries.  I am trying to hold on to hope that it will go well and I won't respond like last time.  Chemo is not fun, but it is usually well tolerated with "controlled" side effects.  My experience has been much different, so the doctors have been VERY concerned.  We have decided to carry on no matter what...because of the advanced state of my cancer.  Tomorrow is the beginning of that new plan.  Please keep me in your prayers, specifically that my body will tolerate the chemo and that it will do it's job to eradicate the cancer!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cancer brings blessings...

There have been more than a MILLION, but days like today remind me and make me want to share.  We are being tried...but are very blessed by the kindess of others.  It is AMAZING!!!  Just today: A friend came over this morning and helped me make some cards, as being creative and making crafts with friends is something I have missed.  Then another delivered my medicines from the pharmacy and came over to help me learn to make the adorable blankets.  Another friend had made us dinner.  Then our neighbors and their sons came to mow our lawn.  Another friend brought a big bag of movies to distract me. And just now a neighbor who I just met brought over some surprises for my girls because she had heard the news and wanted to bring them some "cheer." 

My days have been filled with more kindness, thoughfulness, and compassion than I ever knew makes me cry tears of pure joy!  Thank you...everyone!!!


I haven't had much to write lately, because nothing has really changed....except for yesterday.  I had a great ENTIRE great day.  I woke up to a clean house...Larry had the day off...I went shopping for a couple of hours by myself... and I went for a walk with a friend around the neighborhood.  This might not sound like much to some of you...but this is the MOST I have done in months...and it was WONDERFUL!   I was completely exhausted and SORE from all the movement...but it was worth it!! I am trying to do as much as I can before my chemo infusion on Monday, because they add 2 more drugs this round and one is the culprit for making me SO sick the last month.  It felt nice to be a little bit like my old gave me hope that life can return to normal when this is all done.  I hope to have more of these days...  I NEEDED IT!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Random Facts:

Did you know that that the beautiful, amazing Audrey Hepburn also had appendiceal cancer?  She was diagnosed in 1992, but they didn't have the surgery or treatment at the time that I have tried.   She lost her battle with this cancer in 1993 after a hemicolectomy and chemo (which I have had.)  I FEEL SO BLESSED to live in a time where more treatments have been developed and I pray that will make a critical difference in my life.  Maybe the HIPEC surgery and heated chemo could have saved her life as well...

Friday, May 7, 2010


Last week, I went to another specialist who perscribed a new medicine to try and control some of my symptoms.  It was supposed to have been 3 home injections per day.  They worked pretty well for some symptoms, but made me very nauseous, weak, and really caused problems with my eyes...blurring my vision badly.  They have given me so many medicines...and now I am taking medicines to control the side effects from the medicines...and more to control their side effects...and so on.  It is almost ridiculous!  Previous to this, I only took a multivitamin.   The specialists and my oncologists are still unable to figure out why my symptoms (ok...lets just say what it is....diarrhea) has been so severe.  I have struggled eating, drinking, and staying hydrated since my first infusion which was over a month ago.  The injections slowed it enough that they tried a partial infusion on Tuesday, but they left out the drug that they think made me so ill.  I tolerated that chemo well with just regular side effects.   The problem, is that it is the MOST critical part of my chemo...and I can't afford to leave that out...because it will greatly decrease the effectivenes of the chemo.  We can't reduce the dose...or it will also reduce the effectiveness.  Basically, they took it out for this one round to allow a bit more time for my bowels to heal, but next round, we have to return...full force.  My next round will be on the 17th...and I am VERY nervous that it will start this cycle that has been so miserable this last month.  I have decided that NO matter what...we are just going to carry on.  If I end up in the hospital on IV nutrition and fluids for part of the time...than I have to do that.  I NEED this chemo...and just need to make it though six months.  I also want to get it going so that I can be done by Christmas.  The delays are already pushing treatments into November...

On the BRIGHT side...I can tell you that I had 3 days where I felt the best that I have in months.  I am NOT sure what caused them, but all I can think is that they were a direct result of all of our prayers. (and I needed them!)  They allowed me to feel somewhat normal...spend some quality time with my familly...and they gave me some strength and hope that I will be myself again one day again.  Today I am back to being pretty miserable...but my resolve is even stronger now, and I just want to get this over with!

Your continued support, messages, cards, visits, and packages are the brightest parts of my thank you, thank you, thank YOU!!!!  You will never know how much those things mean to my family and I!