Friday, December 19, 2008

11 down...

one more to go!

So many things have been running around my head lately. Fighting off fear again as my treatments finish up. The month of waiting will begin after the last treatment, waiting to see if my bodies is still clear of cancer. So I'm fighting off the fear with my favorite scripture verses and a little holiday cheer.

I haven't written for a while because my second to last "good days" were spent being sick and this last week of good days I was super busy getting ready to take the kids down to my parents for Christmas. We leave Sat. am. Dave will stay here for work and then join us on Christmas Eve.

I've had a few revelations, but haven't gotten to the computer in time to think them through and write them down. One in particular I remember concerned cleaning the shower. I don't know about your shower, but the glass doors on our shower quickly get covered with soap scum and the floor of the shower is dingy the day after being scrubbed. My sister found a great product that simply sprays on the mold, dinginess and scum then let it sit for a few hours, scrub a little, spray clean and wola! I have some of that product in my bathroom and its my go to cleaner. This is a great product when It's been a while since I've gotten to the shower, but it's pretty harsh. it has a lot of strong chemicals and I have to keep the fan running all day when I use it.

I also have some everyday shower cleaner whose trigger hangs on the interior bar on our shower door. I used to use this everyday. And I never ran into the scum, mold, dingy problems. Somehow, I got out of the the habit. My bad. It's such a better way to go. I don't spend week, dreading the cleaning of the shower.

So of course I thought about this in relationship to my faith. At different times in my life I used daily cleaner and kept on top of my spiritual life. I examined my conscience daily and asked for the grace and forgiveness God promised to overcome my sinful habits. I memorize scripture verses, pray regularly and read inspiring books. Other times, I go along, complaining about the bad habits I've developed or mistakes I've made but done little to overcome them or ask God for help. I neglect my prayer and save my spiritual reading for when I have more time.(Something I discover we never have but have to make)

How long I wait doesn't change God's effectiveness to eradicate my sin, God's mercy and grace are always enough for us, but how long I wait does effect me. Staying on top of my spiritual life helps me experience more of God's grace. Memorizing verses gives me more ammo when the thoughts of anxiety and fear take hold of me. Spending time in prayer strengthens my relationship with Jesus and his mystical body. And well my daily examination of conscience helps me overcome those really bad habits that bog me down with regret and guilt.

So I think I will start using the daily shower cleaner again, once I get the mold off of it, and I think I will recommit myself to reaching out to God everyday too. You know it's really just easier that way.

God bless you as you prepare to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. Merry Christmas to you all. IN hope and joy, Teresa ( I hope this all makes sense; I'm writing with chemo brain.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

thanks for the prayers

Hi everyone, I'm doing a little better. I'm still fighting this head cold/virus, but my fever was gone today so I was able to get my treatment. Everything went well and I'm hoping the chemo kills off the virus and the steroids I got will help my swollen throat, nose and ear membranes. A few hours post chemo my cold is a little bit better. I have a feeling this last month of treatment may be more of a challenge for us then in the past. That's okay with your help and God's grace we will get through. Wow, I'm really looking forward to 2009 and I've never liked odd numbers!

Please keep my friend Jennifer Lucey in your prayers, she was recently diagnosed with neurological lymes disease. It went untreated for many months, so although she is now in treatment, the effects have been devastating to her and her young family.

I'm so happy to part of this mystical body of Christ! In love and hope, Tree

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Your prays please

Hey, Tree has come down with a virus, and is running and fever. Her white counts are still in the normal range, she does not have to go to the hospital yet. We really need your prayers that this does not last, and that we do not pass it back and forth. Other than that things are going ok. We are looking forward to the end of the month, Tree only has 3 treatments left. Thanks again Dave

Saturday, November 22, 2008

9 down 3 2 go!

Helllo, hello. Sorry we haven't blogged in a while. Been busy recovering from the last treatment and just living life. Dave and I were able to go on a date last weekend. That was nice it had been a while. We just went to a little Tex-mex dinner and some Christmas shopping at Target. I was having fun, but Dave pooped out at 8:30pm. Alright, I'll give him a break, we took the kids to family day at the American Indian museum in DC. I got to rest while he drove.

I'm getting the rest of my chemo just 5 minutes from our house at Fauquier Hospital. The nurses there are great and the day is so much easier for me. The only downer is that I had to get another Doc to oversee my care. He's okay, has a different approach, a little more cautious. So we'll see how it goes. I don't think it's going to make a difference in the long run. I'll still see Dr. Hess in Charlottesville for my final scan, check-up and to have my port removed.

My white blood counts were low this time, so I'm taking a few nupagen shots. So far I've been able to avoid getting sick while my counts are low. I attribute it to all your prayers; keep them coming. John started antibiotics for a sore throat and Peter got drops for red eye today. So we need the prayers more than ever.

Thanks for all the love, support, and prayers. We are so truly blessed. Tree

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hope

Hi everyone, I'm actually sitting in the Infusion Center at Fauquier Hospital getting my Chemotherapy. We've been doing well. We had a great time with Halloween and All Saints Day this year. Check out the photos. We also welcomed a new member to our extended family. My brother Tom's wife delivered their first child yesterday. He was born at 12:22pm on November 5th. His name is Jonas Benjamin. Check out the praying baby photo, they were saying the rosary together and Jonas decided to join in.

I've been thinking alot about hope lately. After today I only have 4 more treatments. I'm starting to get excited. For about two days in between each chemo, I actually feel pretty normal. I'm excited about the prospect of feeling that way for weeks on end!

When I was struggling to be a joyful Christian, I knew that I should be joyful in the promise of heaven. But in all truth, I had a hard time being excited about heaven when my kids had just covered the newly finished basement bathroom with an inch of water. Now I finally understand that feeling. I have it now. Even though my energy level is fleeting and my body aches most days, I know that it will be over in less then 2 months. I have hope and joy at the end of the journey.

Here's a verse from the scriptures for today: "But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified Body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself."

We are citizens of heaven and as Fr. Cozzi reminded us this morning at Mass, we are pilgrims, foreigners in a foreign land on our journey home to heaven.

So let us hope today, hope in heaven. Let us rejoice today, rejoice in all these passing trials we experience daily. For each trial only prepares us for our final destination, eternal life with the creator of the universe. All of the troubles in this life are passing, eternal life is ours for the asking. Being a good person is great, but its an end unto itself. Let us reach out to God and let him love us, and let us be a good person for his sake, in thanksgiving for his love and for his promise of heaven. Hope, hope, hope... and REJOICE!

In hope and joy, Tree

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Brooms

To everyone, thank you for all you have done for and continue to do for me and my family. We are so very blessed. I have received so many words of encouragement and love. Many people also tell us how beautifully we have been handling everything. So although, for the most part this is true, I feel I must in all honesty let you know we are definitely not Mary and Joseph.

A few months ago, after my post-treatment week was over, my mother had gone home and my ever helpful husband went back to work after the weekend. I was left alone to care for my own children. I had to reestablish my authority after being in the background for a while. Some weeks this is easier than others.

This particular Monday, I wasn't doing a very good job. While I was sweeping the floor, I tried to get Lily and Peter to help me tidy up the house. They were trying to play. So I did what most American mothers do nag. I nagged and nagged from the kitchen while they rolled over each other in the foyer instead of organizing the shoes. I kept asking them in increasing decibels and they continued to ignore me. Finally, broom in hand, I screamed in my possessed crazy lady voice, "ORGANIZE THE SHOES NOW!" I whacked the broom repeatedly on the hard wood floor to emphasize my frustration and immaturity. The broom busted at the base of the handle. Oops. I took the broom out to the industrial trashcan outside and picked up my composure and the old broom from the corner of the garage.

After that, I had to use that wimpy little broom which made my sweeping chore twice as long and tedious. I figured it was my penance for my losing my temper. So I used the little broom faithfully doing my penance for weeks until...

I was out running an errand early one Sat. morning while Dave got the kids up and took them out to run some errands on their own. When I cam home the house the was empty so I took the time to tidy up again. While putting away the Legos and building cards in the "building" room which used to be our dining room, I noticed a small whole in the wall. Curious, I finished my task and did what anyone else would so in my situation, I went upstairs and took a nap.

Upon wandering back downstairs after a restorative sleep, the kids, a crestfallen Dave and a new broom all greeted me. "Why did you get a new broom?" I asked Dave. He never knew that I busted the old broom or that the junkie old broom had been serving my penance and reformation.

He explained that while trying to get the kids ready to go in the morning, he lost his temper and hit the broom against the wall, leaving a the brush of the broom on the floor, a hole in the wall and himself defeated after only one hour into the weekend.

I shared my broom story and we laughed about how perfectly matched we are and how we could both do better.

You see, the stresses of the world around us, the economy and my illness do get to both of us now and then. Even though sometimes we want to give up, we never stop trying to be better parents, spouses, neighbors and friends. We know that with God all things are possible. So, please, whether you are struggling with your faith, your health, your family, your marriage, or your job, please don't give up. Please let God's grace help you.

We are planning on living in God's grace and keeping our new broom for a long, long time. In hope and joy, Teresa

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

halfway there!

For those of you who have met my mother, you know what a special person she is. For those of you who haven't met her let me just tell you little bit about what a great woman she has been through all of this. My Mom, Jackie, comes every Sunday before my treatment and stays until Friday, taking care of the children, doing the laundry, making sure I'm eating and sleeping enough and taking my medicine. She also is very encouraging and hopeful which helps Dave and I a lot. For dinner last night after my 6th treatment, the halfway mark for my chemo treatments, she decided to celebrate with a halfway dinner. Only half of the table was set, so we were all scrunched onto one side and all of the glasses were half=full. Such fun, such love, thank you Mom for all of it and all of you! I am truly blessed with such a loving mother.

So we are halfway there. Rejoice!

My neighbor hollered across the street to Dave the other day, "Why isn't your wife bald yet?" So in case you were wondering... although my hair is still falling out, it's mostly thinning. I told Dave once you can see my scalp he can shave it all. So he's been carrying the clippers in his back pocket and circling my head looking closely with no luck. So far, so good. I posted some newer pictures of me with my short haircuts. I really like them and think I'll keep it short even after chemo's done. We'll see...

Please continue to pray for some other friends that are fighting cancer, Mary-Lynn Flook, and Ron Baron. Also pray for the Kulp and Coleman families who lost their beautiful wife, mother, daughter and sister, Laura Kulp, last week to breast cancer. Pray for the repose of Laura's soul; although I think she experienced her purgatory here on earth in all her suffering these past few months, prayers never hurt.

In joy and hope Teresa

Saturday, October 11, 2008

10-11-08

Hi everyone, I know you wonder what goes on in between treatments, while we're away. So I thought I could fill you in a little. The chemo is taking longer to recover from these last two times, so that's a little frustrating, but minor in the scheme of getting well and staying well. I just got a note from a childhood friend who told me his mother had Hodgkins when we were all little and has been in remission ever since. So I can deal with aches and pains. My white blood cells continue to deplete around day 9 or ten, so I am wiped out on those days. But now we have their number now and I get two booster shots on Friday and Saturday,s o I can be ready for chemo on Monday. Dave needs the computer now, so I finish later. In joy and hope, Tree

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Great, fantastic, amazingly beautiful news!

I"m cancer-free! at least as seen with the naked eye. My scans came out great yesterday. Everything looked normal. The only down side is that I still have to complete all 12 chemo treatments. The Docs have learned that with Hodgkins, the little naughty cancer cells like to hide out in random places. So we continue with the chemo to make sure nothing comes back. Fine with me. I only want to do this once, so as the Supremes say, "Sock it to me, sock it to me...."

Thank you for all of your prayers. They have helped us so much and God has answered them in a most delightful way. Please keep them coming until we get the all clear in late February. We will keep you updated with my treatments and thoughts. The last chemo should be in early January, hopefully before my birthday, wouldn't it be nice...

Yesterday, as we sat in the waiting room from the scan a 12 year old girl waited with her parents for her tests. She had to bring some sort of "juice," about which she was not too excited. She was a lovely girl, but unable to speak. She could only hum or groan or scream. There were probably some other disabilities going on too. Regardless, she knew she didn't want to finish that juice or cooperate with the tests. I was truly struck by her shear will.
When I taught 6th grade religion, we always covered the creation story. I really enjoyed telling the kids that God created everything good, that people were the highlight of all of his creation because we were made in God's image. I loved sharing with them that God breathed in us the breath of life giving us, unlike the other creatures a soul and our own will. Yesterday the lesson came alive. The power of the human will. This little girl probably couldn't solve a complex math problem or read a novel on her own. But let me tell you she could express her will!
How strong is our human will? VERY! It was given to us by the creator of the universe. Why not use it more? How often have I let procrastination or laziness keep me from doing what needs to be done? Whether its finally getting to that bike ride I promised Lily two weeks ago or the switching out the boys summer and winter clothes. Next time, I plan on following in that little girl's footsteps and exercising my powerful God-given will.

We love you all. Thank you for everything you have helped us with. Please coninue to pray for our friends, Laura, and Mary Lynn who have advanced cancer.

We loved the CD, Reagan-it kept us hoping through all the waiting yesterday. It think I'll share the joy and play the Rocky theme for the gang in infusion next time.

in joy and hope, Tree

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

9-23-08

HI everyone, I have a few rare minutes before John gets home from school while all the kids are napping to write to you. The crumbs on the kitchen floor can stay on there a little longer. So how am I feeling? Not bad. I've just been a lot achier during this "good" week. I'm not sure if its the residual effects of the nupregen shots or not. I know they can cause joint pain that lasts about two weeks. I started taking some nuprin and that's helping a little. But mostly just ignoring it and busying myself helps the most!
So over the weekend we met some friends who were doing some overnight camping with their kids. We joined them for dinner and a campfire complete with s'mores and ghost stories. Then headed home down the mountains to sleep in our own beds.
Then on Sunday the little school-aged boys in our neighborhood (that's K-2nd) helped one of our neighbors put in a new flower bed. It was delightful to see the boys load up the bags of mulch from Dave's truck put it on their skate boards and scooters and push them up the sidewalk and across the street. Then they dug out the existing grass, dug holes for the flowers and spread the mulch. A few of the grown ups helped with the bigger stuff, but those young boys worked hard. I was really proud of John, Lily, Peter and their friends.
Getting out of the house and doing stuff is great and distracting, but I still need to take rest during the day and by afternoon, I'm pretty spent. I'm perfecting my simple dinners and crock pot recipes. When I'm really bad off, great friends and sometimes strangers from around town have been bringing us meals. Thanks you ALL!
My next treatment is Monday the 29th of Sept. I'll spending a long day at UVA beginning with my CTPET SCan to see if the cancer is responding to the chemo. We expect good stuff! Then I get little break, a visit with the Dr. and then my chemo.
I've been enjoying all the wonderful notes and gifts family and friends have been sending. I can feel your prayers lifting me up every day. The lobster hat was a big hit with the entire family!
My spirits are good. A friend recently dropped off a book for me about a surgeon who began an exceptional cancer patient group. It is a really inspiring book teaching me all about being an active, aggressive and hopeful cancer patient. So here's to life! I plan on being in it for a long time to come! In joy and hope of God, Tree

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday went well. We left the house at about 8 am and we were back at about 1:30 pm. I know that being that close to home was not only easy on Tree and Me, but also on the whole family. The infusion center at Fauquier is not as busy and much more open than down at UVA. Thank you again for all the help and prays, they all make everything a lot easier for all of us. On other news John had one of his first good days at school on Tuesday, there was no crying. We are all so happy for him and hope that this will keep going. Lily started her second year of pre school on Tuesday and did very well, she will be going to day no. 2 today, and will be taking Pete along for the drop off and pick up so he can get ready for His first Day on Thursday. The littlest one, Sam, is really moving about now, last night he and John were chasing each other around the house. I hope all is well with you and your family. Keep those beads going strong, we all still need them. Dave

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well #4 did not happen on Friday. Tree's WBC was to low. (.15) the doctors would like it up at .5. So we went home with no treatment. She got a shot to boost her WBC and will get another one today at 2pm. In hopes that on Tuesday she will be able to get an infusion. She is going to get it at Fauquier Hospital, so that will make it a much easier trip. (5 min.) Thanks for all the prayers and help, it all works wonders for Tree and the family. Keep those beads going. Dave

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

9-10-08

Hi all, sorry there wasn't any blogging for a while. I guess what happens is I get a treatment, fell like junk for a while-too pooped to write, and then I feel better and want to pretend that I don't have cancer. Works for me! Although I will try to keep everyone updated so not to make you think I've become incapacitated.

I've had a much better experience after this treatment. No arm pain!!! Whoopee! The hair so far is just thinning. I still have to shave my legs, so I may never really lose enough hair to notice. We'll see. I am only 3 treatments in. I have numero cuatro this Friday, Sept. 12. It'll be another all day affair. I meet with the nurse, hopefully the nutritionist and get my chemo. We're bringing the kids with us, which should be interesting. We just want them to see where we go all the time. Then my mom is taking them home with her for the weekend. Lily will be spending a night with the Morgan cousins, two girls! We're swapping cars and Dave and I will return to an empty house, aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

We watched the Stand up to Cancer show last Friday. I can't say it was very inspirational for cancer patients, but I guess that wasn't their point. They were trying to wake everyone up to the threat that cancer is to their families, friends and themselves. It scared me a little too. I went to bed fighting back tears facing the fact I so often try to forget that this disease can kill me. I really don't think it will, but yes it can. I wonder what the percentage is for people who have hodgkins who actually die compared to the percentage of people who drive daily who die from a car wreck? If anyone finds out only tell me if it swings in my favor. I like living in my little illusions. I went to look online, to see if the organization was worthy of donations and couldn't find any info on whether they promote embryonic stem cell research, so I refrained from donating at this time. If want a good place to contribute to research, I would suggest St. Jude's Children's hospital.

The rest of life is really just getting back to normal. The kids still have their good and bad days and so do I. I've still been saying my daily rosary, but not always making time to read scripture. This needs to change. I was really empowered and protected from fear and my own weaknesses through the proclaimation of certain scripture verses. I would read them aloud everyday. I noticed their power, when I had been lazy about teh practice and went in for my port surgery and was waiting on THE table and started panicking about all the things that can go wrong during the surgery so close to a major artery. Thank goodness I had memorized a few verses and I could recall them and calm myself and rest in our good God!

Speaking of my port. It's still sore some of the time. I guess that's normal, but it's really annoying. Not quite as annoying as the shooting arm pain, so I probably shouldn't complain. I'll ask the nurse about it on Friday. I guess having a foreign body just under your skin is going to be a little annoying. I'm just a little nervous about the kids knocking it out of place. Like when I'm holding Sam and he throws his head back in an fit of temper and whacks me in the chest. So far, I've anticipated and held him away from me and out of range. It's also kind of funny, because it really hurts if i get hugged really hard. We crashed an after wedding party last Saturday night and I received three really strong bear hugs from some big guys. Dave and I got in the truck and I told Dave, AAUGH! He said I wondered why you let them hug you? I said, what could I do it was the guys wedding day! Love ya Chris! the pain only lasted ten minutes or so and then I was good to go!

Dave is still hanging in there joined a Sunday night soccer pick up game. Taking care of all of us, and keeping a smile on his face.

Big thanks to everyone who continues to flood heaven with your prayers for me and my family, those who have been making us meals and cleaning our house. We love you all and are so blessed to be members of this beautiful body of Christ. In joy and Hope, Tree

Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 30, 2008

I hope you enjoy the pictures, I was getting a little tired of looking at myself everytime I wanted to blog. So enjoy! These are mostly from the spring; I'll try to get some more recent ones up later.

We'll it's started- the hair lose or possible thinning, but I think I'll end up shaving head in the next couple weeks. That's why I decided to update the photos. In case you're not local, I cut my hair pretty short a couple weeks ago. It's a real cute and sassy cut and has been fun. But now, whenever I wash it, put gel in it or brush it, hair just come off in my hand an covers it. YUCK! Oh well. Perspective and priorities: having a full head of hair is not one of mine. Being cured and enjoying the good days, now those are some real concerns.

Today was a very humbling day. My regular house cleaner help, my dear friend Mary Pitts was down with the flu this week, so I asked my friend Cindy to see if she coud pull together a few people to thoroughly clean our house. Especially with my low blood counts I thought that would be helpful. Cindy found 4 lovely women to help. As they were busy downstairs, mopping, scrubbing, vacuuming and dusting, I lay in bed resting and feeling very humble. How amazing that this group of women who didn't even know each other before today came together to do something so generous for our family. Some know us well, some just a little. I realized that laying there, each important part of our family's life was represented. A women from St. John's MOMS group helped, also an Edgemont neighbor, a parent from St. John's Catholic School and a friend from my old RE days at St John's. SO thank you April, Dori, Vicky and Sue. My family and I really appreciate your help and sacrifice on this holiday weekend. Today was truly a holy day for me. God bless you all.

Of course I can't fail to mention all the great gals that have been bring us meals too. You also are a blessing. So from this week-thank you Dione, Shannon and Anita-we ate it all!!!

We love it all! in hope and joy, Teresa

Friday, August 29, 2008

8-29-08

So here I sit getting my chemo. Dave is out running a few errands and getting lunch. I have one and a half hours to go. This is my first transfusion with a port. Very nice. The worst part was the introduction of the needle into the port. But like almost everything, is passes.
I met a nice lady from the Ukraine in the waiting area. Her husband has been fighting prostate and colon cancer that has spread to some other places too. In Russia they gave him a month to live. He has been getting treatment for 3 years now and is looking pretty good. They became citizens recently and no longer receive completely free treatment, so they're trying to figure out how to pay for treatment. How strange is that? I wonder what strange law it is that uses our tax dollars to pay for the health care of non-citizens and not give much assistance to our own. Not that I would begrudge anyone from receiving treatment, but if we are going to cover the cost of some in need, shouldn't we do it for all in need? Especially our own citizens? Okay, I'm stepping off my soap box now.

Wait, I'm back on, How exciting is McCain's running mate?

by the way, thank you all of you for your prayers through everything so far. We were able to speak to a very good Dr. about my white blood count and got that figured out, here's praying we don't have to do that again. In joy and hope, Tree

Thursday, August 28, 2008

8-28-08

Hello, we are heading back down to UVA tomorrow, Friday morning to tr the chemo again. Hopefully all will go well. I am trying to see a different Dr. because my doctor and his nurse practitioner are on vacation, so we are really on a ship without a captain. It's not a big deal when everything is going smoothly, but I'm having some issues with the white blood counts, so we want to make sure that the decision being offered to us are sound and explained.

I have few specific prayer you could lift up for us. Please pray that we get some solid counsel and guidance from a doctor tomorrow. Also pray for our kidos they are really trying our patience lately, or maybe we just have less patience. No matter- we need prayers for our family to be filled with love and joy. thanks everyone! Here's hoping I come home all chemoed up! In joy and joy, tree

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I hope everyone is well. Today did not go just as planned. We went down to the hospital to get the port put in and have the 3rd infusion. The port went in great and then we went over to the infusion center to get the chemo, and Tree's white blood cell count was way to low. They could not administer the drugs. It was a let down when you get all pumped up to deal with the upcoming events. We don't know if Tree will have the session rescheduled for next week or just wait till the following week, we are waiting to hear from the Dr. Thank you all for all the prayers and all the help. Just a little more waiting. Keep those beads going. Dave

Saturday, August 23, 2008

8-23-08

Hi everyone, we have had such a great week! Enjoying life in so many ways. I just wanted to share some of the graces that have come through my illness. However, all of the kids just woke up from their naps so I'll try to catch you up another time. Don't forget prayers for my port surgery and next chemo treatment this Tuesday. Also pray for my friends Peggy, Bernie, Mary Lynn and Laura. They are all fighting their own diseases which are much more aggressive than mine. In joy and hope, Tree

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

oops

The draft I finally posted is a few post back. If you want to check it out it's under 8-7-08. T

8-19-08

As you can tell the last post sat in the draft box for a while. Dave told me just to send some stuff out not to worry about the composition or meaning. Thank you, Dave for the encouragement. Sometimes, us English majors place too much pressure on ourselves. Things are getting back to normal, except the arm pain is back. The Doctor and nurses aren't any help. I've realized it is related to my chemo as other Hodgkins patients in online forums have experienced it too. I could take some prescription pain killers for it, but I'd rather be awake to be with the kids. So I'll just grin and deal. I think the port I'll get next week will prevent this from happening again. Thank goodness! And thank all of you for everything, the phone calls, the emails, the masses offered, and the help given. Start praying now that my port surgery will go well. T

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I know I am only supposed to update everyone on the "goings ons" of the treatment, but this morning I just can't help but tell everyone how thankful I am that you are in our lives. We have been completely surrounded by prays, grace, love, and JOY. You are all a very big part of this. It is nice to be able to see you all in Warrenton, at church or around town. To those who do not live close you are still such an important part of this journey. A few days ago was the feast day of St. Clare, what a powerful woman. She completely turned her life over to God, and not just in a easy way, she went in with both feet, all or nothing. My kind of Lady. An order of sisters was started by St. Clare, the Poor Clares. These wonderful women spend there whole day in a state of prayer. Everyone that is far away or unable to visit with us, you are our Poor Clares. Thank you so much. For those who are with us at work, at home, or church we love you too, you are very much out Mother Teresa. In the trenches with us every day. Thanks for everything. Keep those beads going. Dave

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2 of 12

Good Morning, Another long day. We are starting to see a running theme in the way chemotherapy goes. The day was relatively stress free. Tree went to church with Lily May in the morning, and I was able to ride bikes with the boys. What a gift. Tree and I got on the road at 10 AM and got to the waiting room by 11:30. At 1PM she was called back to start the infusion, then we sat in the infusion room for about an hour waiting for blood work and her meds to be filled. I have learned that there is a lot of waiting, but if this is all we have to do to have Tree around for a lot longer then I LOVE TO WAIT! Tree's first meds went in easy, the second not so good, so they changed arms and then they all went in well. Because the one arm did not work, the staff said she should get a port put in, this will make the infusion go a lot smoother. She finished up at about 6PM and it was back to Warrenton. If you have never driven down to UVA from Warrenton I highly recommend it, it is a beautiful drive. Even when you are going down for Chemo. Tree is home with the Kids and her Mom resting (Ha Ha resting with 4 kids.) Well 2 down 10 to go. Keep those beads going. Dave

Thursday, August 7, 2008

8-7-08

HI everyone. I'm so happy to be writing you again. I know it's been a while. We've been busy recovering from my first chemo treatment and just enjoying life. As Dave said the first treatment went well. We weren't sure what to expect. I had the heart test in the morning which was surprisingly very enjoyable. I got to lay around for a half an hour praising God and praying for all of the intentions you have passed onto me, while a big machine took pictures of my heart functioning from three different angles. Then we had lunch and headed to the Infusion Center.

The weekend before my first treatment we were down at my parents house. The kids kept themselves busy with all of the toys they hadn't seen for a while, Dave helped my Dad put in a fence and I spent a lot of time resting and napping. I tried not to think about the chemo and just enjoyed being with my family. I did a pretty good job. Sunday night was a different story. I began to worry a little bit thinking of the possible side effects and wondering how it would all play out. I don't think I slept very well.

I'm so glad I asked you all for specific prayers that weekend, for no fear, for an easy IV...I was so filled with peace and very relaxed even when they didn't have my orders ready for the nurse, even when the drips took longer than anticipated. Dave and I just really enjoyed meeting the people down there and being with each other. We played a few hands of rummy and got some reading done too. I even took a nap during the two hour chemo drip!

My first reactions this first go around were relatively mild. I was definitely tired the first three days maybe more from the anti-nausea drugs than the chemo. After that I had some soreness in my mouth that moved from the front to the middle and into my throat over the next three days, but by Sunday I was feeling like myself again. Not bad. With a lot of help from my mom and some friends making meals, cleaning the house and playing with the kids. I was able to rest and recoperate without much disruption to our family. I know even as symptoms from the chemo get worse, you've all got me covered.

The most unusual part of the last two weeks has been some pain I've been dealing with in my arm. Totally unrelated to any of my known health issues, Dave and I have given it up to tension in my shoulder pinching a nerve. This pain was the most bothersome of all. I couldn't make it go away with pain killers. I finally just accepted it as a friend and that disarmed the sting and it's been a little better the last few days.

However this arm pain has really taught me a lot about suffering. Mother Teresa told one of her sisters how was leaving to do some work with a saddened face, "Jesus told you to pick up your cross and follow him, not to lead the way." I just read that quote the other day. Dave gave me a book about her letters for my birthday last year. I never could have anticipated how the book would help me in this journey. I doubt Dave couldn't have either.

8-11-08
I had to go last time and didn't finish my thoughts; so I'm just starting over. Right now Dave and I are sitting in the infusion center down at UVA. My appointment was at 12 noon. Right now it's 2:20pm. I have my IV and have eaten the sandwich they've given me, but I have yet to start my chemo. We waited in the reception room for an hour, then had my IV put in and my blood drawn. My white blood cell count was low, so we're waiting to hear from the doctor whether he wants to give me a shot of the stuff that makes my bone marrow produce more white blood cells. After that we should be able to get the drips and pushes started.

While we wait, I can fill you in on the last two weeks. As I said earlier, I made it through the first treatment without too many side effects. By the following Sunday I was feeling like myself again. We had dinner guest and enjoyed forgetting about cancer for a while. John turned 6 on Tuesday, the 5th, Peter turned 3 on Friday the 8th. We went to Bush Gardens on Saturday to celebrate. We had great weather and lots of fun. We made it back by 7:30 pm and caught the 7:30 mass followed by pancake breakfast. So who can complain about that.

Since my diagnosis, I have found out that another good friend from church has cancer and will be undergoing surgery on the 18th, please keep Mary Lynn in your prayers. I am amazed at the power of your prayers and the great providence that God has over us. He cares so much for all of us.

I've already seen how God is using my cancer to draw others toward him, including me. Glory be!

I wanted to share with all of you a reflection I made during the healing mass a while ago. I was waiting to go to confession and caught sight of a stained glass window of Jesus' agony in the garden. I've always loved that mystery, that humanity of Jesus. I remembered that Jesus asked for the cup to pass by him, and then for God's will to be done. In the same way I am asking God to heal me completely, and for his will to be done. I feel you Jesus!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1 0f 12

The first one is done, it was a very long day. We left the house at 8 am and got back at 8 pm, I don't think the rest will be as long. The infusion went well, Tree's veins held up great and the Meds went in easily but very slowly. We will be headed down on the 11th for round no. 2. Tree seemed to be doing well this morning, and with the help of her Mom and Niece the day should fly by. Thanks for all the support, keep those beads going.
Dave

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hi everyone, I called the doctor yesterday to see if he had a chance to look at the film from the scans and he had. He told me that there was some disease in my chest as he expected but that was all. So the cancer is catagorized as stage 2. Great news! Dave and I had prepared ourselves for the possibility of the cancer being in a later stage. So we were making high fives when he got home from work. Thank you for your ongoing prayers, they are defintely helping our spirits and healing my body.
We've had quite a busy week here. On Monday, I went to a healing mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. I didn't know quite what to expect. I had been to a diocesan healing mass before for my infertility issues back before John was born. Yes, we once had difficulty conceiving children! The healing part of that mass was a small group of people who prayed with their hands on you for the healing you desired. I had forgotten all about that experience until a few weeks before my diagnosis. At our MOMS group Bible study on the Acts of the Apostles, we read about St. Peter's first experience healing someone through the name of Jesus. In response to a question about modern day healing I remembered that mass and realized that those prayers most defintely assisted in restoring my fertility.

The healing Mass last Monday was going to be a little different. A priest named, Fr. Fernando Suarez, from the Philipines is known for the gift of healing. (check out the link)He first recognized this gift as a teenager and decided to ignore it as long as he could. Now, he travels the world healing the sick in body, mind and spirit. I believed in power of God to heal, but I wasn't sure about how God would chose to heal me.

After going to Confession, hearing God's word and a beautiful celebration of the Eucharist during the Mass, Father invited all those in wheelchairs to come up to the front. When the praying began, the healing began. As the healing priest traveled from person to person, his assistant, Fr. Jeff assisted some people in sharing their witness of healing. I listened paritally but was more intent on preparing myself: asking forgiveness for my sins, inviting God to heal me and naming other friends and family who need healing. Soon my group was invited to stand shoulder to shoulder around the bottom step in front of the altar. I continued to pray as I waited for my turn. We had been instructed that Fr. would ask what we need healing for and we were to give him a one or two word answer and then he would lay hands on us and pray. All of the sudden, Fr. Suarez was praying over the person next to me when he reached out a hand briefly placing it on my shoulder and then walked by me to the next person. The next thing I knew the "catchers" who were stationed behind us, had a death grip on my shoulders/arms and was laying me down on the ground.
I knew being slain in the Holy Spirit was a possibility, but I didn't feel so overcome by God's power, as I felt pulled down. In fact I didn't feel much except jilted, robbed, and disappointed. That's not what they said would happen, that's not what they said they would do. Alas, I got up off the floor and headed out the back of the church to meet my friends at their van. We were all emotional and confused.
I took a long time to write about this experience because I needed alot of time to process it. I knew that God had healed me, but I wasn't sure just what kind of healing. That's where the faith kicks in. I believe that God did heal me and I thank him for whatever way that healing took place. Over the course of this week and trying to process everything, I realized that I was not disappointed because there wasn't any healing in me that took place (I am only in stage 2 after all!) but I was disappointed because my expectations weren't fulfilled. I started thinking about the guy in the old testament that needed healing from an awful illness, and God directed a prophet to give simple instructions to the man to be healed. Unfortunatley, the man did not think such simple acts were powerful enough to heal him. He became progressively more ill until he finally did as he was told and was healed. (anyone rememeber where that is in the Bible?)
In the same way, I had my own expectations for how God would heal me. I had to stop asking, how come some people got two of Father's hands layed on them and I only got one in passing? How come, I didn't get to say, Hodgkins Lymphoma? I needed to let GOd be God the way he wants to be.

So many times in so many ways, I try to push God into the mold I want him fit into, but alas, he is God who always was, who always is, and who always will be. Who can even begin to concieve what that is, how overreaching his power, how merciful his love, how infinitive his knowledge of us. By trying so hard to understand God, to put him in my terms and understanding I have limited him, limited his love, his forgiveness, his power. So for now, I will bask in all of God that I do not understand and I will thank him for my healing and my life and you my dear friends whose prayers continue to bless me and my family and I hope your own life as well.

My first chemo treatment is Monday. A few specific prayers: that my veins will cooperate with the IV, that God will relieve me of any fear I may have, and that my reaction to the treatment will be minimal would be most helpful. Keep those Rosaries coming! Also continue to let me know how I can pray for you while I lay there for my treatment. I was able to lift up many of your needs during my PET Scan. That really helped the time fly by!


In hope and joy, Teresa

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scans

Everything went well down at UVA yesterday, the people that work there are all very nice. We still do not know anything new, and as long as we stay busy that should not be a problem. The next event is Monday with the heart scan and the first round of Chemo. Pray for a peaceful weekend for Tree, I am sure everyone will be a little nervous. Keep those beads going.
Dave

Thursday, July 17, 2008

7-17-08

After my appointment on Monday, I was really out of touch. I had almost convinced myself that I wasn't really sick in comparison to everyone else and that the next sixth months would fly by uneventfully. Those thoughts were gradually whittled away by a blog from another Hodgkin's lymphoma patient I read and the half an hour I spent on the phone with the nurse yesterday learning about all the cumulative effects of the four components (ABVD) of the the chemo I'll be getting: lung disease, heart inflammation, and of course hair thinning or lose. I am sick. I have cancer.



That admitted and said, don't worry I'm not without joy or hope. I'm just reminded to keep strengthening myself. Keep proclaiming God's promise of comfort and healing, running three times a week while I can, going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, spending quality time with my family. This evening I got to ride bikes with the boys, dance with Lily and Pete around the coffee table with the balloons my sister sent me, roll around the floor with Sam, and compete in an individual medley race around the track of our house: in the kitchen-hopping, dining/piano room-galloping, foyer-running, and back in the kitchen-crawling to the finish line.



I'm also going to be trying to get my house a little more organized, cleaning out closets, cleaning up the office and organizing the files. A clean house makes a clean mind, and I have other things to think about other than where's this or where's that.



Today we had a picnic lunch in the shadow of out little maple tree in the front yard per Lily's request. After my mom and I had finally given up on the kids finishing their lunches we all huddled in the shady area and talked about what I should do with a bald head if my hair falls out. I voted for hats and scarves. John really wanted a wig. I finally promised him a funny wig, he laughed, imaging me in a rainbow clown wig.

The kids are doing great. John gets a little antsy in the afternoon, wanting to get out of our house to play with friends. I'm not sure if that's his summer time blues or a response to what's happening with me. So I'm making sure I spend a little special time with him everyday.

I took him out on a date last night to see All Saints Upper Room Production's The Music Man. It was a late night but fantastic. We got there early and had a rousing game of I spy while we waited for the show to start. We talked on the whole way home too, even though it was 10:30 when we left. I don't know which was better the dear time with my oldest son or the actually play. OF course, I know-it was the special time with John. However, if you get a chance to see the show, please go. It's playing through the weekend.



The nurse also told me that the actual infusion of the chemotherapy is almost an hour of sitting. I thought I could make the most of that time praying for your intentions and needs. So please if you have a special prayer request, send me an email-you should have my address or leave a comment here. I will write up a prayer list and remember your needs during my treatments.

Here's a little verse I think I'll be memorizing next: "Heal me, O Lord,and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." Jeremiah 17:14

That's all for now, in hope and joy, Tree

Scan Dates

Just a note to update every one. Tree goes in for her CT and PET scan on Wednesday the 23rd of July, and her Heart and lung scan on the 28th of July. Also on the 28th she will get her first round of Chemo, and then every other week for 12 sessions. Keep those beads going.
Dave

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

07-15-08

Yesterday was a surreal experience. I went with trepidation having read two pages too far in the lymphoma book that Dave got me. It told me all about what to expect at the first appointment: bloodwork, a complete physical, a possible bone marrow extraction. I had no trouble donning a hospital gown and being poked and investigated, but I must admit the bone marrow test frightened me a little. I memorized my first Bible verse in years, that night after I sat in fear of that miserable test. "Fear not, I am with you, do not dismay, I am your God. I will help you and strengthen you, I will hold you up with my right hand of justice." The verse really helped in the battle against fear and despair.

Still while making lunch for the children yesterday, I was chatting with my mom about how much I didn't want to have a bone marrow test. Once everyone was seated at the table, Lily asked me "Mama, what's a bow and arrow test?" Well, I laughed and laughed, and John wanted to know what that was too. I explained it in very little detail and was suddenly no longer afraid of the test. I knew if I needed it, I would just remember to call it the bow and arrow test, and that would easily disarm the grip it had on me.

Dave parked the car while I signed in and waited to register in the center. AS I sat there alone, the fear started to creep back in. I prayer, repeated my verse and looked around. The room was actually a center point of many hallways. Very sick elderly people were seated while others were trying their best to get around. A nurse who was overweight limped by me. I suddenly felt very healthy indeed.

I realized that most of us are living with some type of threat to our lives. Some of us don't take care of a condition we know about, some of us don't provide our bodies with proper nutrition and exercise. In reality, my cancer is known and treatable. I eat somewhat healthily and aren't' excessive in any of my vices (SUGAR) In one year's time or sooner I should be better than my old self. While many of my friends and family will keep living with conditions and choices that effect their health on a daily basis. So please, if I've learned anything from the first week of this experience, it's be ready. You never know what lies ahead. I"m not saying that healthy living prevents you from getting disease, obviously that isn't true; however healthy living makes life so much more enjoyable now and prepares you for the fight if you are ever faced with a serious disease or lifelong condition. Your body is your carriage of life. It provides you with the ability to love and care for your family, it enables you to hug others, laugh, tuck in your kids, see all of God's creation, chase your kids out of the street, push them on a swing, comfort your spouse...

So please, take a look at your lifestyle today, see what you can do to become a stronger healthier person. Don't wait for a shocker to wake you up to the precious gift of life. Start now. Be healthier, be stronger and enjoy life more!

Of course, this wouldn't be my blog without a little faith thrown into the mix. Everything I just said goes for our spiritual lives too. How many of us wait for a crisis to renew or begin a relationship with God? Just like with our physical health, spiritual health doesn't prevent us from hardships or trials, but I can tell you from personal experience, my relationship with God and his Church makes getting through the trials a whole lot easier. So whatever your hang-ups are: bad experience in the past, a hypocritical preacher, a rebellious spirit, an unforgiving heart ... call out to God in prayer and ask Him to help you get through it or get over it, ask him to show himself to you and then give him a chance to love you, to forgive you. Pick-up the dusty Bible on the top shelf, go to church, keep praying. If you are going to a church but just going through the motions, make a commitment this year to grow in your faith someway; join a Bible study or prayer group. If you're looking for a place to start, St. John's is a great parish. We have wonderful priests there and lots of family support. If you want to go to mass with our family anytime, just say the word.

I love you all so much, my daily prayer will be that in one year's time or sooner we will all be better than our old selves

Monday, July 14, 2008

7-14-08

I finally was able to finish reading all of the wonderful emails you have all sent me over the past few days. I am so sorry that I haven't been able to respond to all of them yet. I will in time, but for now please know that the words of comfort, confidence, and promises of prayer have encouraged me beyond measure.

As you might recall, I had my first appointment with the oncologist today down in UVA. We met with Dr. Hess this afternoon and was surprised how simple and routine the apointment was. He confirmed that after looking at my pathology slide that I do indeed have Hodgkins lymphoma. He said that by the end of the week we should have completed the CT and PET scans. (No bone marrow test -woopee! ) These are through-the-tube scans that detect the location of any other cancerous cells in my body. He said that we could also start my first round of chemotherapy that same day. The planned treatment is for me to receive chemotherapy every two weeks for a total of 12 sessions. Dave caluculated that I'd be doing chemo until early January. Hey, I can stand on my head for that long, right Patty?

We were surprised that he would start the chemo without knowing the extend or stage of the cancer, but he said his recommended treatment would be the same regardless of the stage. So why not get started right away. How can you argue with that?

As far as side-effects go... he said that any nausea people experienced in the past is pretty much in the past, if that's a problem they have remedies. After a few months I should lose my hair. Dave is super excited, he thinks a bald wife is sexy! Aren't I the lucky one! Then there's the fatigue. HE said that just depends on how your body reacts. Some people continue working fulltime while receiving chemotherapy. So we'll just have to see.

We have had so many offers of help, we will let you know after the first two weeks what we may need help with. My mother is here now, so we are covered.

Stay-tuned for the insights I gleaned from my experiences today, they are in my heart bursting forth, but I'm just plum worn out and will catch up with you in the morning. In love and hope, Tree

Sunday, July 13, 2008

7-13-08

Cool, here I am in the 21st century officially writing my first blog. I must admit it seems kind of wierd and arrogant to me to be writing something with the expectation that everyone wants to read it. You want to read it right, your out there? Suddenly the English teach in me just kicked in. Wait, whose your audience? I don't know....panic! I guess I'll just tell myself the common good, that will be my audience.



So let's get started. First, I'd like to thank the love of my life, Dave, for setting up this blog. It's great and will make communication with everyone we love a lot easier. Thanks to the Stockards for showing him how.



It's another early morning for me. 6am. Dave and I watched a movie last night staying up until 11pm. Something we rarely do, but we both needed a little distraction. Afterwards, we realized we hadn't siad our rosary yet so we sat on the couch and began. I just started crying. Dave had to say the first half for both of us. I think I had forgotten about the cancer for a few hours (minus a character whose told us his wife died from cancer,) but you know, after the movie it all slammed right back into my head. It was still there waiting to tempt me to worry, despair, etc.. Every now and then it just knocks me off of my feet.



IT reminds me of when Dave and I first got married. We would lay in bed together in disbelief that we were married to each other. Not because we weren't happy about it, but because we never anticipated it, never expected it, never would've guessed it.



In case you didn't know Dave and I met in college. I was a junior; he a freshmen. We were fast friends, but that's it. He dressed funny and had experimental hairdos. I was a model of leadership and scholarship -hee-hee. He was life another little brother to me. We didn't start dating until 6 years after we met!



So the reality that we are married, still blows our minds. Just last month, I told him, "Can you believe that we are married to each other and have four beautiful children together?"



This cancer is just another blessing in disguise, something I never would've anticipated, expected, or guessed. I look forward to next year at this time when I can sit back and say, "can you believe that I had cancer..."



Thanks for listening. I thought this would be a pretty depressing entry, but alas, God has shown me the hope yet again. Go Jesus!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Teresa's first doctors appointment is on Monday the 14th. Again don't forget those beads.
Dave

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well Here We Go.

If you have not heard already, our family has some news. I am not going to say it is good news, just news. On Monday July 7, 2008 Teresa was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. That is a form of Cancer that attacks to Lymph system. (If you want to know more about the Lymph system there is a ton of info on line.) It has been 67 hours since we found out this "news", and it seems that as time goes by we are able to deal with this "news" much better. We are waiting to get the first doctors appointment now and it seems that no one is in as big of a hurry as I would like. We are trying to set up the appointment with the Doctors down at UVA. So at this point we do not know anything more that that she had a bump in her neck that was taken out and diagnosed as Hodgkins Lymphoma. (funny thing is about 3 days ago I could not even spell Lymphoma) When I find out more I will most definitely fill everyone in. The one thing I am asking everyone to do to help is to start a daily Rosary. If you do not know how to pray the Rosary I am sure if you Google "How to pray the Rosary" there will be a bunch of stuff. Just a little something from Teresa, instead of saying "Why me?" Her response was "Why not me, I can handle this." With your prayers and knowing that we are doing the Lords will, I know that We can not only get through this, but do it with Grace and Dignity.
Dave