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