Catch up time…

Hello everyone.  Please accept my deepest apologies for not updating in almost 2 months!  I’ve had a rough go of it, i’ll explain.  But I have gotten all of your thoughts and prayers sent through family members and friends, and I cherish every single one!

April – My last treatment was 4 rounds, 1 day every 3 weeks.  I think the last update was after round 2.  Things began to decline.  My energy level was bottoming out, I received two days of fluids before round 3, and I just did not feel like doing much of anything.  I was drained.  
Round 3 went ok at administration, but after 2 days I began running a fever.  It would come and go depending on the day.  Some days it was just in the evening and others it was all day long.  This went on for about a week and a half.  I received more fluids and even 2 blood transfusions in the next 2 weeks.  
Easter Saturday, I woke up feeling really good for once, but was struck by an awful pain in my side and along with that I had a fever.  To the ER we went.  I spent the next 5 days in the hospital.  Yes, over Easter.   During this stay they determined the pain and fever were due to my tumor growing slightly, just enough to cause problems.  So…  next step head to Pittsburgh.  There was no need to continue the current treatment.  It took about 2 weeks to schedule but we finally had an appointment for Monday, May 12.  
Pittsburgh, I was ready for the next step, lets get something scheduled so we can kick this cancer. We did discuss treatment options with the doctor, and he was sending me for blood work to see which way we wanted to go.  Before the blood work though I discussed with him my fatigue and sluggishness, fevers, and other issues I was concerned about.  These concerned him too, so he added some tests to the list.  
What I did not want to hear – “We need to admit you, your tests don’t look good.”  I was in Pittsburgh for what was supposed to be a day trip, so many things were happening in the upcoming week, Mike had to go home, we couldn’t both stay.  This was not in my plans.  But I stayed, and he left.  They ran more tests and found a blockage in my liver, which was, thankfully, corrected with a simple procedure done on Wednesday.  My constant question to the doc, ‘when can I go home?’  I’d explained some of the family issues that were occurring and he knows how far away we are, so he was very sympathetic, but looking out for, because someone has to!    I finally got the ok to come home on Friday!  I truly did feel like a different person and was so excited to be going home. 
My next round of treatments has been decided, still working on scheduling and kids, but we’ll take it one day at a time.  More to come on this…
Do you know how much prayer time is available when you are laid up?  I could not even pick up a book at times, I was so weak.  And for those of you who know me, that is a big deal.  I can’t read, TV almost gets blurred, can’t be up moving to much, might fall over.  What can I do?  The only thing left for me, pray.  I talked with God, I shared, ranted, praised, begged, and then I listened.  He wants to hear it all, our fears, sorrows, love, but He also wants us to listen.  He’s working in our lives everyday we just need to look, listen and follow.  
Personally I’ve been learning a lot.  I’m still working on the giving up control, my plans, my wants.  But He is with me each step of the way.  I am so blessed with my children, my husband, our families, our friends and our church family.  My faith has not wavered, but I have moments of fear for my family, fear for the amount of pain I may have, I’m human.  The secret is in those times of fear and pain that I turn to the One who has it all under control, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord” Jer 29:11
Well, this was a long one.  Once things are ironed out for the next steps I’ll let you know.  Thank you again for all of your prayers and thoughts.  

Comfy Chair…

Hello!  My second treatment of four was this past Tuesday, the 18th.  I will tell you, I had a rough week, but not as a result of the treatment that went well.  Let me explain… 

Where is your comfy chair?  Is it an old recliner?  Maybe a certain spot on the couch?  How about a rocker or maybe even one of the kitchen table chairs?  We all have our favorite spot to sit and chill, even though we may not get to do it as often as we like.    Well as you can probably imagine, I have experienced a lot of time in my comfy chair over the last year.  I read, watch movies with the family, write to you here on my blog, and of course I nap.  Well on Sunday, I took a nap in my comfy chair.  It is beginning to show its age and wear and my nap was not the most comfortable.  I woke up with quite the ache in my back.
The ache grew to pain Sunday night into Monday, Advil became my best friend.  On Tuesday when I went for my treatment I ask my doctor for something stronger.  (And for those of you that know me, you know I hate medicine and avoid it at all costs.  I not only ask for the high powered stuff I gladly gagged them down.)  Treatment went well and I was happy to have some happy pills.  The drugs helped my pain, but then things started going downhill.  Wednesday I was feeling a little sick and not able to eat or drink much.  My initial thought was treatment.  However the more I thought about it, I knew it was the drugs, so I stopped taking them.  Thursday I could barely function, eating and drinking were overrated in my book and I slept most of the day.  Thankfully Mike was home on Friday and his wonderful nursing abilities all week began to turn the tides.  He made me drink. He made me eat.  I am finally on the upswing although not at full strength.
Learned a few things, I did!  Drugs aren’t really all they’re cracked up to be!  They did help my pain, but I’m not sure that relief was worth the side effects, this time.  I also began to think about how our life can become a “comfy chair”.  How often do we get comfortable in our day to day routine?  We get up, spend a little time with God, get the kids to school, go to work, make dinner, hang out with the family or go to a sporting practice or event, or watch TV.  Then we go to bed, get up and do it all over again.  Routine can be good, “comfy”, we like comfy, we like routine.  Then something puts a kink in that routine and now its chaos.  Injury or sickness, a promotion, a child, or a family member needing a place to stay.  When things change they can be painful, they can be exciting, they can be a little scary.  Whatever the emotion, change can throw us for a loop.  
I’ve become a semi-expert on this change thing.  Routines are nice, comfy, but sometimes we need to  pick a different chair or change the comfy chair to fit the next step.  This past week, I couldn’t take care of things like I want to, but Mike stepped in and took care of things.  I had a ride to treatment, and family was able to help out with the kids and even a meal or two.  I had a discussion with my youngest this week about wants and needs.  We’ve all heard it before, but it went right along with my experience.  She wanted to have her way and thought that getting mad and yelling at me was the way to get it.  Sometimes I feel like yelling too, because I want my way.  But as I shared with her, God promises to provides all of our needs, but not all our wants.  Therefore, even though she wanted her way, it does not mean she will get it, and yelling at me was not the way to get there.  The difference between moms with growing children and God, is we moms are trying to teach our children respect so yelling at a grownup will most definitely not get you what you want, in fact, you will most likely see consequences for it!  
But with God it is a little different.  When I feel like yelling at Him, He listens.  He lets me rant and rave, tell Him how unfair life is.  Children should not suffer, parents should not mourn, I don’t want to be in pain, i just want to be a mom and on and on I go.  When I am finally done, and expelled my anger, my energy, I turn my praise to Him.  Yes, I Praise my God!  These injustices were not caused by Him, but the sinful, human world that we live in.  He has been gracious to accept me, a sinful human, into His open arms as His child.  I am His.  He loves me.  He knows, and He weeps with us in times of sorrow, He celebrates with us in times of joy!  He gives us strength to go on, He gives us courage to face another day.  How awesome is it to know that He is with us always!
So that comfy chair needs some upkeep now and then.  Maybe a little extra Bible reading time or family payer time.  Invite a friend or someone who is new to the church over for dinner.  Its okay to keep the comfy chair, just don’t forget to allow room for God to work in your life.  
…My comfy chair has now been adjusted to not cause back aches
…My daughter went to bed early that night.
May you seek and find God’s blessing in your life!

First Treatment Complete

Hello.  Well… things didn’t go as planned… ha ha.  However, I met with my local oncologist last Wednesday and had my first treatment on Tuesday of this week.  There are many possible side effects from the drug, but at this point I have been blessed with not one of them.  The first treatment took a little over 2 and a half hours.  Future treatments should be about 1 and a half to 2 hours.  I received treatment at my local doctor’s office and was home by lunch.  My next treatment is in 3 weeks.  I continue to pray for no side effects each day.  

Currently I am enjoying spending time with family and friends.  I’m doing a bit more around the house and hope to keep up or increase that energy level.  I’m always up for a visit or a call if you have a free moment and want to chat.  I am still feeling good, a little tired, but that what naps are for!  
Have a wonderful week and I will be in touch soon!
God Bless!

The next step in my journey…

Well the news from Pittsburgh on Friday was not what we had hoped for.  My liver tumor is growing and as we know because of my leg, the cancer is also spreading.  Not what we wanted to hear, but we move forward.  I have an appointment with my local oncologist this Friday to schedule my next round of treatment.  We will nip this in the bud.

The blessings…
- This round of treatment can be done locally, but still monitored by my Pittsburgh team.
- The treatments are once every 3 weeks and do not involve a hospital stay.  
- Even though it is growing, my liver function is still normal.  I have no symptoms that the tumor is even in there.  This is a great thing!
- My treatments are only an hour and a half long, so they can be done while the kids are in school.
- The doctor still has a positive outlook, we try this treatment, pray that it works and if it doesn’t work we move on to the next.
- The most important blessing… I have a wonderful team of pray warriors!
No, this news was not what I  wanted.  I feel fine.  I’m beginning to get my strength back from being on the heavy meds before radiation.  But what I want is not always what I get.  And that’s okay.  Because no matter the news, I have a strong and comforting God carrying me through.  His promise “to never leave me or forsake me” rings through my heart each moment of the day.  This news will not cripple me or my family.  I have cancer, it does not have me, and I celebrate each day the Lord gives me with my loving family and friends.  
Please don’t be sad for me, please don’t pity me.  I truly am fine.  I want to live each day to its fullest, being a mom, being a wife.  What I need is prayers.  Once we figure out when the treatments will be scheduled I may need rides, I’ll let you know.  Once I know the possible side effects from the treatments, I’ll let you know if I need anything else.  Thank you so much for continuing to be my prayer warriors and the support our family truly needs!
On a side note, have you seen how beautiful it is outside?  I know it is horrible to drive in, school is cancelled once again, shoveling and snow-blowing are in the near future.   But have you seen God’s beauty?!  Take just a moment, close your eyes, and then open your eyes to see God’s intricate beauty as it lays on the trees, or watch a flake fall, or how it covers the old gray snow from yesterday.  I love snow!  I know I am in the minority there, but I do.  To me, this is one of the best days of the year!
I pray you have a safe and blessed day!

Did you know…?

As I received results, Friday, in Pittsburgh the following thoughts are what comforted me, made me cry and made me feel cherished.  I will warn you, some of the following is a little graphic.  You’ll understand…  read on.

Did you know that Christ suffered and died for us?  He suffered so that we wouldn’t, He died so that we could live forever.  God sacrificed His only Son for us.  Many of us know these words, have heard them or even say them often.  But have you ever thought what they mean?  When He suffered, we know He was beaten and hung on a cross.  He died and then He rose.  It is so simple said that way, and we’re grateful.
He suffered…
Jesus was betrayed.  A man He called “brother”, a man He taught and traveled with for three years.  This man was in His ‘inner circle’, they shared meals, shared laughs, shared sorrow.  And Judas betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus was beaten by teachers of the law and elders of the town.  He was punched, kicked, falsely accused, ridiculed.
Jesus was flogged by the guards.  This isn’t just a beating with a club or a whip.  This beating involved clubs and whips with spikes.  His flesh was ripped off. All the while, the guards mocked Him.
Jesus carried His own cross.  After the beatings, the blood loss, He was given his own cross to carry to Golgotha.  This cross was not the lightweight piece of wood we see hanging in our sanctuaries, this was a tree tall enough to hang Him on that they needed a ladder to get Him down.  It was not just a walk across the street or around the corner.  He had to walk through town and then outside town, and then up a hill.  The guards continued to whip Him, like a mule, as he walked.  The crowds shouted “crucify him” and cheered for His death as He walked by.  When He fell they pulled a man from the crowd to help with the burden, but even then He needed to continue the walk.
Jesus was hung on the cross.  Not with rope or twine, He was nailed.  Nails through His hands, nails through His feet.  
Jesus died.  But in that death, He descended to Hell. Under Satan’s power and rule for a time.
He suffered, just doesn’t sound the  same anymore.  It is so much worse.  Why would He do this?  Why would He do this for me?  I don’t deserve it.  I sin, daily.  Envy, greed, worry, lies and so many more.  I’m not proud of this, nor am I perfect.  I don’t deserve His sacrifice, His suffering.  I can never repay the debt that He paid.  But I don’t have to.  And I don’t deserve it, I never will.  That is the great love the He has for me.  That is the great love that He has for you.
I guess you’re wondering why I may have gone here with my thinking when getting results of my tests.  Its simple.  No matter my diagnosis, no matter the treatment, no matter the side effects, no matter the pain, I will never suffer like Jesus did.  Although I deserve to.  I will never be separated from God because Jesus suffered for me.  I may go through some tough battles on this earth, but the end game is a win.  Because He suffered for me, died for me, and rose from the grave, I have a promise of everlasting life.  I may struggle here on earth, but I have peace knowing I won’t suffer for eternity.
So many people are baffled by my attitude towards my disease.  They don’t understand why I am the way I am, I should be sad, angry, anything.  It’s because of Jesus.  It’s because He suffered for me.  But He didn’t just do it for me.  He did for each of you.  
I couldn’t sleep this morning, because this was on my heart.  God has a way of doing that sometimes.  I don’t know why, I just know I had to share this with all of you.  Sometimes God just wants me to learn something and writing things down helps me remember.  Sometimes He has a greater purpose, only He knows.  If you struggle with the things I wrote, please let me know.  I want to answer any questions you may have.  If you have realized through this message that Jesus died for you, please let me know.  I want to pray for you, I want to celebrate with you.  I want you to know it truly is as easy as believing and accepting His sacrifice and love.  
I pray you have a blessed day!

Radiation Complete!

Good morning!  It may be cold, but the sun is shining and what a wonderful day it is!  Well as the post title explains, my radiation treatments are now complete.  What a blessing to have them shortened and I know they have been working.  I took 1 pain pill after my first treatment and then no more!  Praise God!  I was thankful for the medication, but for someone who needs a nap after taking tylenol, I couldn’t function much on it.  I am now trying to regain my strength after being completely idle for a month.  What is cool is I have been working out with my son and my husband depending on time of day.  So a little extra family time is awesome!  

Thank you to all who were willing and able to transport me to my radiation treatments!  I was able to drive short distances but the half-hour one way drive was a bit much for me, so I was blessed to have a driver each day.  I was truly blessed to be able to do my treatments locally and have a follow-up in six weeks just to make sure.  
Tomorrow, Friday the 31st, Mike and I head to Pittsburgh for another round of tests.  Head to toe scan and an MRI.  I will then meet with the doctors in the afternoon for results.  I pray for a continued Stable report and the lesions on my leg to be completely gone.  We will let you know!
Thank you again for all the prayers and support!
I pray you feel blessed today!  I know I do!

Change in Plans… again…

So last week I met with the doctor to discuss treatment for the lesions in my leg bone marrow.  It was decided that I would only need a minimum of 10 treatments (2 weeks) of radiation and then I would be done.  I should notice pain relief after the first treatment or two.  Excellent!  I made phone calls and lined up drivers to the many friends and family who have offered.  I was set to go, first treatment to start on Tuesday.  

Then I got a call on Monday.  One of many… it was a crazy phone morning.  Its the Radiology office saying the doctor has reviewed my reports and decided to change my treatment.  Really Lord!  I already lined up my rides, I called Pittsburgh to have them schedule my tests, I had a plan!  The thing is, God had a better plan.  Because my treatments got changed from 10 to 5 and instead of every day, it was every other day.  I started on Wednesday and had my second treatment today and my last 3 treatments will be MWF next week.  And Pittsburgh tests were not affected.  So once again, my plans aren’t always the best plans.
So the leg pain is decreasing and I have started to come down off some of my pain meds.  That is a blessing in and of itself.  I look forward to not being as tired and getting back to a more active life again.  I head to Pittsburgh on Friday, January 31st for my next round of tests.  Praying for continued stable results.  I will let you know as soon as I do!
Thanks again for all of your continued prayers.  I am truly blessed to have so many praying for me!

Another “Leg” in my journey…

I know I wrote that I was to go to Pittsburgh for more testing in December, however that was pushed back to January.  They originally scheduled it for 2 months because that was the time frame when I was getting treatments.  Now that that round of treatments is completed, I only need tests every 3 months, therefore, tests will be in mid to late January.  When I know, you will know!

On Thursday, the day after Christmas, I woke up with some pain in my right leg.  I thought maybe I just overdid it on Christmas, so I rested.  By that evening, the pain had gotten worse and my personal nurse (my lovely sister-in-law), recommended seeing the Doctor on Friday if pain was not relieved or lessened.  Friday morning the pain was worse and we made a trip to Urgent care.  After tests, they sent me home with some meds to help relieve what we thought was just muscle pain.
By Friday afternoon, the pain had intensified to the point that a trip to the Emergency room was necessary.  I was in over the weekend and had many tests run to try to figure out what was going on.  By Monday morning the verdict was in.  Lesions were found in my bone marrow, yep the cancer is causing a little more trouble.  Radiation is the recommended treatment and I will be doing those treatments locally.  Appointments are scheduled for next week, so I will keep you posted on this latest part of my journey!
I’ll be honest, I was not surprised by the results and was ready to deal with them.  When I was in so much pain on Thursday, my prayers and tears were many, but I was comforted by a peace that washed over me.  I don’t like doctors, or hospitals, who does really.  I am very quick to push others to go, but very slow in following my own advice.  This time that push came from a Higher source, but it came with His strong arms carrying me through.  
As my patience wore thin on Monday, I wanted to be home, they could tell me the treatment path later.  My kids were home, my husband was home, i wanted to be there, too.  But you see, God has a plan, even when i think I know better.  He used me on Monday.  One of my nurse aids came in and sat down just to see how I was doing.  Of course she knew why I was there, the pain, but not the cancer.  I got to share my entire story with her, from my eye diagnosis, to liver, to now.  I don’t know if she is a believer, but God used me that day.  I told her of His love and strength how that has gotten me through some really tough times.  
As a human, I was ready to go home, I was actually quite persistent about it.  But as God’s child, I was used to share His word.  So when your patience is being pushed to its limits, look around, if God isn’t teaching you something, He may be trying to use you!

Christmas

How wonderful!  We are truly blessed as a family!  The Christmas season was extra special this year as we had two extra little blondes to enjoy it with.  It was so exciting to include them in all of our family traditions from decorating, to family gatherings, to birthday cake on Christmas day!  It was also extra special as Brian, Mike, and I celebrated with more extended family as well.  Christmas was truly magical for the Shradley family, I pray yours was as well!

I’m Thankful…

I can honestly look back on 2013
and say it was a good year.  Don’t get me
wrong, there were some valleys, but there were so many more high points.  I went back to the work world, after 10 years
and was blessed to find a job where a majority of my coworkers were
Christians.  The job was exactly what I
was looking for, it allowed me to work hard at my job, but when the day was
over, I left it all behind and could be a mom. 
Both sets of our parents willingly got up early to get Brian to school.  Mike was able to change his hours to match
mine and we could commute together which allowed for some extra couple time for
us. We were able to be home when Brian got off the bus, do homework and have
more family time in the evenings. 

In February, we were honored and
blessed to welcome 2 beautiful girls into our home.  Our dream of foster/adoption did not happen
in our planned time 3 years ago, but in God’s time.  We were so thankful!  We couldn’t even imagine the joy and love
these two would bring into our home.  Brian
has turned out to be a terrific big brother, continually asking if they were
here forever.  The girls are safe and
loved, our hearts are overflowing.  We
have gained an extended family of grandmas, pop-pops, aunts and uncles.  Our parents were willing to take care of, now
three children, in the mornings.  Our
church family supported us through prayers, small gifts for the girls, and bags
and bags of clothes.  The next few months
rushed by with all of the added blessings in our lives. Things were going great
and it looked as though things were going to be permanent. 

The third week in May brought news
that rocked our picturesque little family in more ways than one.  I was diagnosed with cancer, I would lose my
job as a result, and the girls’ biological dad wanted to come back into their
lives.  The valley was deep.  The only way we knew we could get through it,
was with God’s strength, our family and church family.  The blessings we have received and continue
to receive are so numerous I don’t have time to list them all, but I will
gladly share a few.

The girls… continue to grow and
just be the little girls they were meant to be. 
They now have a biological parent that wants to spend time with them,
whom they have reconnected with and loves them. 
We are not sure what will happen down the road, but we are cherishing
each and every day we have with them. 

Our family… continued to watch the
kids for us as we had numerous appointments in Pittsburgh
to determine course of treatment.  They
spent the night at the house with the kids so Mike could be with me my first
week of treatment and the kids could sleep in their own beds.  They cleaned, cooked and did laundry.  Our parents did lots of cool, fun stuff with
the kids to keep them busy.  When I was
home, but not able to do much with the kids, the parents continued to be
available for them.  The love and support
of our family has truly been a God-send.  During the Summer weeks that I was not getting
treatment and feeling good, I got to spend time with the kids.  Now that treatment is over and the kids are
in school again, I get to reconnect with my parents.  We go to breakfast or lunch, or sometimes
just hang out and talk.  These blessings
would not have occurred if I was still working.

Our church family and friends… I
think happily overwhelmed best explains it. 
From the moment you knew, you prayed. 
And you still do.  Thank you.  Countless offers of food, rides, kid-sitters,
shoulders to lean on and it hasn’t ended. 
From the moment I got home from my first week of treatment to the week
after my last treatment, I didn’t need to cook one meal.  I did here and there, but the fact is, I
didn’t need to.  Your generosity didn’t
stop there.  Personal contributions and
fundraisers paid our EZ-Pass and gas for our many trips to Pittsburgh.  They continue to help pay for medical
expenses, some we were aware of, some not. 
Two very special people took time out of their busy schedules and
traveled with me to Pittsburgh for
multiple weeks.  Their families helped by
taking care of pets and the house, and sacrificing their loved one to me for a
week.  What a blessing for me to get to
know these ladies even better.  I knew
how giving and just plain terrific this church family was, but to experience it
from the receiving side, I’m speechless. 
Thank you for being like Jesus.

God blesses our family daily.  He is walking with me in good times and
carrying me in trying times.  What has
brought me to tears the most over the past year is the love that God has for
me.  He shows me daily, I just need to
look for it.