Sunday, April 26, 2009

Praise & Adios

Giving HUGE praises to God for bringing all the awesome people into our lives over the past few weeks that have really touched our hearts and kept us going:

  • Our Mamas-we couldn't have gotten this far without either of you (and your wonderful dish washing, laundry folding, baby feeding, Bella entertaining, all around awesome Mom-ness!!!)
  • Our Family-thank you for surrounding us with your love, support and prayers!!! We are SOOOOO blessed!!!
  • The Aunts-Stacy & Jessafern for the awesome Cancer Warrior Goodies (I'm wearing my shirt on Tuesday!), Annette, Bessie & Betty for making the trip up here to be with the monkeys on surgery day, and Carolyn & Joyce for all the fun I know we'll have in the aftermath (ok so I might be a drugged up bed sloth but at least I'll know that my kiddos are getting all kinds of love)
  • Fellowship Elders-for rallying the troops and all of your amazing blessings-especially being anointed and prayed over (THAT was overwhelmingly awesome!!!)
  • Kelly B-for being God's beautiful servant and performing miracles (90 meals in 24 hours-the chica has God in her pocket!!!), and for all your sweet emails
  • For everyone that has brought DELICIOUS meals to our family-we have gone to bed every night with tummies full of scrumptious meals and gotten to meet some really great people!!
  • For Ms. Kathy, all her love and wisdom, and bringing us together to share this journey that we never imagined we'd be on-love ya beautiful lady and I KNOW we're gonna do some MAJOR cancer conquering this week!!
  • For all the complete strangers that have wrapped us up in some BIG BIG BIG love and prayers-I hope one day we can have a big BBQ and all our families can meet and rejoice:)
  • For giving me the absolutely, top notch, no one else could ever even attempt to come close, wonderful husband!!! Thank you for being my rock and keeping this fort going!! Thanks for being YOU
  • To my sweet babies, I'm gonna miss ya like crazy this week but Mama will be back on that floor playing and chasing you outside before ya know it:) I can't wait!!!!

I get to have a fun day in the bathroom tomorrow so I'm guessing I won't be on again before surgery. I've got an email for Ben to send out to everyone after my surgery is done to let you know that everything went just PERFECT:) If you haven't received emails from me before (I think everyone on the email list previously received the "PET Scan Results" email) and would like to be included in that email, please send me an email to before Monday afternoon and I'll get ya squeezed in there:) Thank you everybody that reads this and keeps me going-I'm glad I'm getting to share this journey with you even if its not nearly over.

Surgery is scheduled for 7:30am (CT) on Tuesday at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. We get to arrive at 5am (not sure if I'll even attempt to sleep Monday night). Surgery is expected to last 3-4 hours. Everyone will be on the 2nd floor if you would like to visit with Ben or our family (kiddos will be at home). I'm guessing I won't be able to have visitors til later that afternoon or evening-just check with the nurses on the 2nd floor and they should be able to tell you. I'm hoping to escape on Thursday:) (My drill sergeant mom will be there having me walk the halls before the anesthesia even wears off so I'm pumped to get back in my own bed with my little people ASAP!!)

Love ya and adios for now!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

PET Scan Results

Shows "no evidence of metastatic growth"-it hasn't spread!!! WOOOOOOO Your prayers are working!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

He Provides

My Facebook status from a few days ago read, "God never promised we would be exempt from pain, but he did promise we would never have to walk through the pain of this life alone." I got this from one the books I bought at Skia on our last date day (the day after "D Day"). It's "I Need Your Strength, Lord" by Emilie Barnes. DEFINITELY on the recommend list:)
Five years ago, I would have been SOOOO angry at God-a God that I didn't really even have any type of relationship with. I was a believer... believed there was a God, that Heaven exists, and would even pray for others (and somehow even gave thanksgiving for the blessings in my life). But I definitely hadn't started any type of walk with him. The concept of having a relationship with God was foreign to me-actually, non-existent since I had no clue that concept even existed. I just knew Jesus loves me because thats what the song said. But if I had been diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago, I would have blamed God and asked, "What kind of God can do this?!?!" In fact, those were my exact thoughts when I walked out of the alley where I was raped. Thank the Lord that he loves us regardless of how many times we reject him or point the finger at him. It was because of him that I walked away from that alive and I know that one day I'll be able to use my story of survival to touch others' lives. If I hadn't survived, I never would have moved back "home" (which became NW Arkansas while I was in college in WI), and I never would have met Ben. I'm so thankful for all the curveballs that God has thrown to get me where I am today!!
My relationship with Jesus started right as my grma (see the geese story) was dying. She had been my rock- for those that watch Grey's Anatomy, she was my person. She was the epitomy of what a Nana is suppose to be. I LOVED spending the night at her house, waking up to her French toast (no one can even come close!), her back scratches, and as I grew older, the person that helped make me who I am today, the person I ran to when it was ugly and when it was pretty, the person that constantly reminded me that I am beautiful inside and out. She demonstrated along with my Papa what a marriage is suppose to look like. We talked on the phone at least 3 times a day every day. She lived 1.3 miles from me in Bella Vista, and was at every single OBGYN appt with me when I was pregnant with Bella. She had been sick for a long time and in immense pain. I remember praying on that last Monday, "Lord, please just hold your arms wide open and let her know the pain can finally end." God had put me in a bible study at Fellowship with some amazing women that came along beside me during that unimaginable grief (just plain physically HURT) and let me know how beautiful a relationship with God is, and it just opened my heart to him and lit that desire to know him.

Fastforward a few months to April 2008, I was on birth control-had been since I gave birth to Bella. OUR plan was to start trying for numero dos in the fall. Thankfully God's plan is powerful!!! We became pregnant with Hunter totally unexpected but we took it as a "Nana & God thing". Her favorite holiday was always Christmas-it seemed like she spent the entire month of December baking and decorating and man did she make it awesome every single year. My due date.... Christmas Day. Definitely a touch of Nana in that one!!! And now we know, God most definitely had this as part of this huge plan for us... walking us in everything we've been thru up to today, preparing us for what we are facing.

God blessed us with a beautiful baby boy on December 12.

He entered the world in quite the dramatic fashion including the OB on call having to be paged "stat" because Hunter was in distress and needed to be delivered immediately. I even got the pleasure of riding down the hallways of NWMC on a gurney on all fours-how many people can say that?!? LOL God knew what lied ahead for our family and he laid in our arms a baby that is so insanely laid back (doesn't mind at all when Princessa Bella demands more attention-he just chills and waits patiently), so incredibly happy (at 1 week old, he started what the "sleepy grin" where he would have a grin that took up his entire face as soon as he doze off, and now cracks up laughing all day long-God's greatest medicine!!),

and totally outside of what I had planned-would rather eat from a bottle than Mama (definitely God's hand in that one-Bella nursed for 15 months and refused bottles).

God knew exactly what we needed before we even knew what we'd be facing. He made the most amazing, loving, understanding, affectionate, supportive husband just for me-one that would be a rock from the very beginning (how many guys do you know that would stick with it when he knew I was a rape survivor AND suffered a grand mal seizure and couldn't drive myself for 6 months?!?! most would run the opposite direction faster than pronto)

and has grown into what every mom can ever dream of having as the father of their children (I could seriously write a novel of all the ways he has just totally stepped up and been the man that God created him to be).

He provided us with a home and jobs in NW Arkansas so we could have our families (both sides!) close to us. He led us back to Fellowship so we could re-ignite our relationship with God, have him become the 3rd person in our marriage, and surround us with the most loving and supportive people ever. He gave us 2 gorgeous children that we both absolutely adore and they just light up the lives of everyone they come in contact with. He gave us these children before the ability to have anymore would be taken away.

I've been to so many doctor appts, scans, tests, pre-op visits over the past few weeks, and every single time I hear, "You are so young and this is just horrible. How can you not be terrified?" My response, "I have absolutely nothing to fear. God is already healing me and has completely wrapped his arms around me and my family. God is using what would typically be considered a horrific situation to show us his love and all the awesome ways he has already worked in our lives, and opening an incredible amount of doors for us to use this as a way to touch other peoples' lives. And even if its part of his plan that his purpose for me here on earth has been completed, then I get to go to Heaven and meet him face to face-how awesome is that!!! Even the worst case scenario is totally beautiful so there is nothing to fear." I'll probably never see any of them ever again so I'll never know if what I say brings them to Christ but I know it touches their hearts and they will remember it.

On Monday night, I had the awesome opportunity to meet with the Elders of our church. They anointed me with oil and prayed over me-it was truly just the most awesome thing I've ever experience that I can't even describe it. Later that evening after Ben got home we were sitting in bed talking about it and we both had the exact same story. We both felt an immediate peace after the prayers were said. We both silently prayed, "Please Lord just heal, just take this cancer away and amaze the doctors." We both were greeted with the Holy Spirit telling us, "Why are you praying this still? ITS ALREADY DONE." We were in separate cars, going different places when this happened and had no clue until we shared later that evening. THAT has given us both so much peace going into next week's surgery.

We're also stoked about going to "The Well" on Sunday night at Fellowship so we can just get completely filled to the brim with the Spirit and God's love and just worship him and remind ourselves that he gets all the glory through all of this. I'm excited to just get totally pumped going into next week-thanks God for awesome timing:)
PS-I'll update tomorrow after I hear the results of the PET scan!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hunter's Scare

Hunter sustained a mild head injury this morning while we were having lunch at McDonald's. He was in his carrier when a kid ran by and bumped it hard enough to send him flying and he landed on his head. I went into mama bear freak out mode and got both kids in the car and to the ER at NW (made it from McD's on Walnut to NW in less than 10 minutes-gotta love the center turn lane in Arkansas!!!). He checked out ok with the doctors, was responsive but kept going back and forth between screaming at the top of his lungs to being super asleep which kind of scared me but the doctor reassured us that he was fine and that we needed to keep a very close eye on him for the next few days. UGH scary!!! I think my heart is still beating fast.

We will be going to the Elders' Meeting at church tonight where they will pray over us and anoint me with oil-very excited about this!!! Please pray that God's plan does not include any more stress for the remainder of this week.... they might just have to pull out the straight jacket for me:)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Have you seen my Nana lately?

On January 14, 2008, my Nana became pain-free for eternity. My mom, aunt and myself were able to spend the entire day with her and it was so beautiful. I wasn't able to be there when she took her last breaths and after I gave her a last hug, I kind of lost it. I went into the waiting area and bawled my eyes out. Then I heard her say, "It's ok. I AM OK. I'm not hurting anymore. Its ok, you'll be ok, Sweetie. I love you." The tears stopped, I got up and went to be with my family. I felt so at peace knowing she was in Heaven, never to feel pain ever again. My mom threw a bit of a hissy fit because everyone else had been getting "signs" that Nana was ok. I kept telling her she wasn't looking hard enough or it would come, just wait. I was able to convince her to come with me to Grief Share at Fellowship. It was the night to share our stories of our loved ones and my mom was not too thrilled. As the first person started their story, a flock of geese flew over the building-a LOUD flock of geese, as in we could barely even hear the lady speaking!! My mom burst into tears and whispered to me, "That's my Mama!!" Nana LOVED geese! Ever since then, anytime we see geese, we say, "Hi, Nana! I love you!" I know, silly but its our thing and makes our hearts smile.

Since my diagnosis, I have been a magnet for geese! Seriously... the afternoon of my diagnosis, as we were pulling out of the parking lot at NW, the geese were waddling to the pond across the street. The Sunday after my diagnosis, Ben and I were pretty weepy on the way to church. I gasped as I saw 2 geese in the median of 540 in Bentonville-WHEN has that ever happened?!?! In Bella Vista, yes... but in B'ville in the median of the interstate?!?! Two geese nearly dive-bombed my van as I was driving away from my CT scan on Tuesday.

I've had some bad pity party moments where all I want is my Nana to hold me and tell me everything is going to be ok. I AM amazingly blessed with an awesome support system-my family, my friends, my church family, complete strangers that visit my blog (I LOVE your comments and prayers!!!), but some days I just want my Nana. She was the person that would tell me how beautiful I am when I was feeling unloveable. She would call me every day to tell me what I great mom I am when I doubted myself the most. She would sit next to me and just hold my hand so I would never doubt for a second that she loved me and would always be there. So on my cruddy days when I'm just darn sick of having cancer invade my body, it is nice when geese show themselves to me in their funny little ways. Thank you God for creating geese, especially the loud ones, and allowing them to be seen on the days I need them most!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interesting Fact re: Pap & Cervical Cancer

It is known that about 10% of women with an obvious cancer of the cervix will have a Pap test that is essentially normal. This is because there is so much inflammation and dead cell debris that it masks the cancer cells.


Hrmmm so maybe I am "normal" after all... LOL

PET scan rescheduled

PET scan has been rescheduled to Tuesday (21st) because "the machine is not working". Oh well... now I can eat:)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CT Scan Results

Chest x-ray came back perfect-YAY!!! Thank you, God:)

CT scan shows a 7mm on my liver. They are unsure if it is "suspicious" and will have to wait until the surgeon is able to view it during surgery. They said 7mm is considered very small and might not even be anything (IMO-I have cancer, ANY spot, no matter how big or small NEEDS to be investigated and EVICTED faster than pronto!!!!). Dr. Hightower's office called and said, "We can just repeat the CT in 3 months." UMMM NO!!! Taking the whole "wait and see" approach is what got me in this mess in the first place. Ain't happening with this body anymore! Dr. Smith's office said that Dr. Hightower will be able to look at it closer during surgery and hopefully biopsy it to determine if its a problem spot and then we can zap it with radiation.

I had a moment today on the phone with my brother after hearing the results where I just said, "I'm SO ready for this junk to be OUT of my body!!! I'm sick of it being in there and growing and being places it doesn't need to be. I want it out NOW!!" I'm just trying to be thankful that my chest x-ray was clean, especially since my lungs are already not all that great with my asthma.

I have my PET scan tomorrow in Fayetteville at 3:30 (can't eat or drink anything other than plain water after 930am). Please pray I don't go bonkers from starving (gonna eat a nice big breakfast!!!) and that it comes back clear!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4/14 Update

Today was a LOOOONG one but good:) I had my chest x-ray and CT scan this morning... nothing too exciting and I survived!! The CT scan makes you feel like you are peeing your pants when the contrast is injected LOL I should be able to call the oncologist's nurse tomorrow morning and get the results from those. Pray for clear and pretty:)

Then I had the fun experience of going to DHS and got a run around regarding Medicaid eligibility under the new Arkansas law that covers women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer regardless of income (basically picks up the part that isn't covered by insurance). They told me that I had to go to the Health Dept-sounded crazy to me but they refused to talk to me so I went. Health Dept of course laughed and said, "WHY do they keep sending ya'll here?!?!" but luckily they were nice enough to give me the number to Breast Care which is the program that covers breast and cervical cancer. I should hear back in 3-5 days if I get approved. Just thought I'd throw that out there as an FYI to anyone who may have breast or cervical cancer.

I had my 2nd opinion appt with Dr. Smith at Highlands Oncology and I'm SOOOO glad I went!!! He reassured me that Dr. Hightower is DEFINITELY the guy that needs to do my surgery and that if it were his wife in my shoes, he'd send her to Dr. Hightower. He said I could forgo surgery and just do radiation and chemo but also said he completely understands my desire to just get it all out to avoid future problems, and agrees with Dr. Hightower's gameplan. He said it would probably be best to go ahead and have some radiation after the surgery as it decreases the chance of recurrence in half!! I'm there-sign me up! I want this junk out and I am not letting it back in!!! He said it would most likely be 5 days a week for 5 weeks but that they would determine all of that after they see what is found in my surgery.

The only point he disagreed with Dr. Hightower on was the hormone replacement therapy. He agreed with me that there is a need for it and no reason to be miserable when there is something out there that can help ease the menopause symptoms that I'll immediately face after surgery. He said especially at my age when my body would normally be producing hormones on its own. So I have an appt with the GYN LPN that originally found my cancer on the 21st to discuss the various options on that. In regards to HRT increasing the chances of breast cancer, its less than 2% and pretty much if you are going to get breast cancer, you'll get it regardless of whether you do HRT or not. High five to him on that one!!

He gave us a more detailed explanation as to why Dr. Hightower would want to stop surgery if he were to find that the cancer had spread further than my cervix once he opens me up. He said that they need as big of a target to pinpoint for radiation so leaving everything in there gives them a nice, big area to hit and then they can go in after radiation and do the hysterectomy-kinda seems counter-productive but in the end it works the best and they have the best results. Hearing it from two experts made me feel better about it so I'm game on that.

He did say that I DEFINITELY need to have a PET scan. Basically a CT scan highlights any tumors, while a PET scan will highlight actual cancer cells so while the cancer cells might not have grown a tumor yet, they will still show up. He said he always likes to have that information before treatment so he knows exactly what he is dealing with-which is what I've wondered all along-why wait til you have me opened up to determine where all the cancer is?!?! So he ordered a PET scan and his office will be calling in the next day or so to schedule it. That will be done at their Fayetteville office. He said if nothing else, it will give everyone a peace of mind before heading into surgery.

I REALLLLLLY liked him!! He stayed in the room until we were absolutely positive we had no more questions (asked like 10 times before he left-YAY). He explained the whole radiation process and what treatments they do for cervical cancer, which I can have done in the Bentonville office. And he answered every single question we had. He is really confident that the cancer will be confined to my cervix and it'll be gone with surgery and a little radiation. I'm definitely feeling more confident about the surgery and Dr. Hightower after today.


Tomorrow (15th)-call Highlands Oncology to get x-ray and CT results. Have a beautiful class at Fellowship and then get chica's hair cut (she is looking pretty ragged!!!).

Hopefully have PET scan on Thursday or Friday.

Tuesday (21st) is my GYN LPN appt re: HRT and then my pre-op appt at WRMC.

Wednesday (22nd)-bible study

Thursday (23rd)-Bella's doctor appts (ENT post-op follow up and new allergy doc)

FUN FUN FUN FUN weekend-pray for awesome kite flying weather!!! I'm determined to take my chica to fly a kite before my surgery:) She is soooo enthralled with kites lately yet never actually flown one.

Monday (27th)-the troops start arriving and I get to do "Bowel Prep".... yep should be ooodles of fun!!!
Tuesday (28th)-surgery, have to be at WRMC at 5am (EEEEEEK) and surgery is at 7:30am, approx 3 hours
Wednesday (29th)-hospital, my bestest friend in the whole world arrives to kick my booty outta that bed!!!

Hunter had his 4mo check up today. Daddy got his first experience of baby shots:( He did awesome though (Daddy... baby just cried a bit). Hunter is 13lbs 4oz (25%) and 24.5 inches (40%). YAY for Chubs!!!! She said he is doing great... gotta do some more tummy time but otherwise looks awesome:)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Care Calendar

God has blessed us with an amazing family, terrific friends, a beautiful community group, and the absolutely awesomestestestest church family!!! I have gotten to know (though not yet personally meet) so many great people over the past week through the many prayers at Fellowship. God is definitely using my cancer to bring together people that probably might not have ever gotten the chance to meet-it will NOT be wasted!!!

One of God's awesome angels is Kelly. She managed to organize over 90 meals to be delivered to my family in less than 24 hours!!! Only an awesome woman with God behind her could manage that kind of miracle:) AND I get to meet her for the first time EVER this evening-and two of her beautiful girls!! (I had been secretly hoping to meet her girls but didn't want to be greedy since she had already gone WAY above and beyond anything that anyone could ever imagine-I know Bella is going to fall in love with them and I'm sure Mr. Man will shower them with his flirty smile and hilarious old man chuckle!!!) I promise to try and remember to pull out my camera and at least get some shots of the kiddos.

One of the great things Kelly has done is create a Care Calendar-my kinda chica, VERY organized:) This allows her to post the days that are up for grabs to have meals delivered, as well as any other needs (childcare, errands, transportation, etc.) while we are focusing on conquering my cancer. Its been awesome so far because I can put in there the dates of my surgery, when we'll have extra mouths to feed at the house while we have family here to help out, etc. SOOOO for everyone that has asked HOW they can help and for some crazy reason want to do more than pray (which means the world and has totally lifted our family up and kept us encouraged over the past week), here is the place to go:
Calendar ID is 14895
Security Code is 7022

I've also posted the link and codes at the top right corner of the blog in case you want to check back later. The calendar goes through the end of August but hopefully I will get a perfect bill of health at my post-op appointment in May and can say "STOP!!!" :) Never thought I would pray to be able to scream "STOP" at the top of my lungs towards people helping my family-but I'll be thankful for the day when we have totally conquered this disease and can take our turns at helping someone else.

HUGE HUGS, PRAYERS, PRAISE TO GOD, and THANKS to EVERYONE who has already become a "Helper" and to everyone who is praying!!! Your love, support and faith is overwhelming and is exactly what will get us all through this:) I'll never be able to thank you each enough or give God enough praise, but I WILL so much look forward to the opportunity to serve when its our turn.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beautiful Week

All in all, despite all the craziness, we really had a beautiful week. It was a LOOOOONG one-seemed like Thursday would never get here, and I didn't get to do HALF the stuff I had planned to do with Bella and Hunter for Easter (no bunny pics!!!) but we survived and are going strong!

My Aunt Stacy and cousin Jessica (aka Jessafern) came down for spring break and brought all kinds of awesome cervical cancer awareness goodies, as well as some AWESOME shirts...

Stacy's shirt says, "This is not my niece who has cancer. This is my niece Danielle, the Cancer Warrior"

My cancer warrior hat and shirt, and cervical cancer awareness angel pin

Jessafern's shirt says, "This is not my cousin Danielle who has cancer. This is my cousin Danielle, the Cancer Warrior"
We all wore our cancer getup (along with Ben in his "Cancer Sucks" shirt) to Maria's for dinner!

k so my pictures are out of order.... Saturday we had Easter at my mom's....
Bella hunting with her frilly princess basket from Nana

Gotta be fast-those eggs might get away from ya!!!

Playing with her Go Fishing game from Nana (I had one of those when IIIII was little LOL)

Hunter with his Easter bunny

Checking out her goodies with Trace
Thursday morning we decided to go for a FUN morning (and comic relief) at the Wild Wilderness Drive Thru Safari in Gentry. It was an awesome morning-pouring down rain when we left the house, sprinkling as we drove thru the safari and then completely stopped raining and beautiful skies when it was time for the petting zoo part. God DOES answer prayers (even if they are "God, please give us a beautiful morning so my baby can have fun with goats chasing her around" LOL)

She fell in love with one particular baby goat and chased it all over

Hunter checking out the crazy birds

Crazy bird attacking my window!!!


Beautiful peacock
I'll post all the pictures from Easter and Safari on the family blog

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moving Along

YAY Oncologist's nurse called today and she already had all my testing and pre-op appts made!! I was very excited because she said she probably wouldn't get to it until Monday afternoon:)

CT & Xray scheduled for Tuesday morning @ NWMC
Pre-Op @ WRMC scheduled for April 21st

I also got a 2nd opinion appt scheduled with Dr. Smith at Highlands Oncology for Tuesday afternoon. (Amy-he did his residency at Texas-MUST be good!!!)

I'm ready to kick this thing to the curb!! I've been having ALOT of really bad lower back pain. I'll lay down and take a nap and feel ok when I wake up but the minute I sit up it returns. The exhaustion is getting kinda old too-its an exhaustion like I've never felt before, sleeping doesn't make it any better. This afternoon I've also been having a lot of pain in my lower left abdomen/pelvic area. I don't like this part of actually FEELING sick-I didn't FEEL sick for so long. Trying to remember to be thankful that its only stage 1B1 and keep a positive mindset. Please pray for a pain free Easter weekend so I can have a blast watching my baby chase eggs tomorrow and enjoy a beautiful service on Sunday.

Hope everyone has a beautiful Easter~He was born so He could die for us.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oncologist Appt Update

AWESOME news-greatest news we could have possibly gotten other than "oh its not cancer" LOL

It is stage 1B1!!!! This means the cancer can be seen without a microscope and is not larger than 4 centimeters, and is found in the cervix ONLY!!!! This is only preliminary as we have not yet done the CT Scan, chest Xray or any other diagnostic testing (waiting to be scheduled by the nurse). But upon looking at the area on my cervix and feeling around just about EVERYWHERE between my belly button and my knees, the oncologist feels pretty confident that its stage 1B1-just have to make sure it hasn't spread anywhere internally that he wasn't able to observe today. The 5-year survival rate for 1B1 is 90%!!!!!

SOOOO his plan of action is a radical hysterectomy which has been scheduled for April 28. We won't know until after the surgery if I will need radiation-depends on whether it has affected any of the lymph nodes, but we are hoping and praying that the surgery will get it all. We won't know that until about a week after the surgery when they get the path reports from surgery back.

I liked the doctor-he seemed very knowledgeable. Ben and I both agreed he seemed a bit lackadazical (sp?) about it all which is both good and bad-good in the sense that he DOES do this everyday so its "normal" to him, kinda bad in the sense that this is NOT normal to us and we need that sensitivity. But he seems very well qualified. I am going to get 2nd and 3rd opinions-from MD Anderson and CARTI, so we can be absolutely sure that this is the best route. I'm not messing around-I want it 100% gone!!!

He did not want to remove my ovaries or tubes and we all (me, Ben and my mom) disagreed with him and opted to have them removed as well. I have a history of severe ovarian cysts (his response was, "everyone has cysts"-mine put me in the ER and require surgery, sorry but if I can avoid that I'm gonna!!!), as well as my mom having fibroid tumors and dysplasia on her ovaries. Our family is complete-they are just wasting space and possibly just more stuff to grow cancer. Hormone replacement therapy is so advanced now that I'm not worried about that aspect of it. I plan to make an appt with my family physician to discuss the various options in that regard so we can already have that set up.

So at the end of the day, I'll be having the uterus, cervix, top part of the vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, lymph nodes, lymph channels, and tissue in the pelvic cavity that surrounds the cervix removed. I'm also going to consult with MD Anderson and CARTI regarding the type of incision he is wanting to make-I had 2 CSections which were both done with a horizontal incision (almost right on top of one another so that it looks like just one scar) but he is wanting to do a vertical incision through most of my abdomen. If this is the best option, then that is totally fine with me, just want to make sure:)

We are waiting for the nurse to schedule all the diagnostic testing-luckily I can do it at NW so we don't have to drive down to Fayetteville. The surgery is approx 3 hours, and the stay in the hospital is 3-5 days. I won't be able to drive for 2 weeks and can't lift or bend for 4 wks (gotta love that when ya have a newborn and a toddler LOL). Luckily we already have TONS of family that has volunteered to be here during that time so I might not be able to pick the kiddos up but at least someone will be able to bring them to me and we can still snuggle (seriously my biggest fear during this whole thing was not being able to snuggle with my babies). I'll have to have staples (YUK haven't had those with either of my CSections) which will be removed 1wk post-op and then go back to the oncologist one month out for a follow-up and hopefully receive 100% clear!!!

LOTS to digest-hopefully I didn't leave anything out. I'll steal my mom's notes from her tomorrow to make sure I didn't miss anything:) Just SOOOO thrilled to report stage 1!!!! Please pray for clean scans that show no metastasis and that it only requires surgery, that the surgery has no complications and they don't have to go back in my body ever again-I think 3 times is good enough for one lifetime!!!!

Thank you ALL for the awesome emails, phone calls, prayers, gifts, visits, hugs, and support!! Thank you, Ben, for making me go to the doctor-you literally saved my life and I'm so excited to spend the rest of mine with you!!! Thank you, God, for a BEAUTIFUL morning-yes it rained at first while we drove thru the safari but he gave us clear skies and a bright sunshine so Bella could see the kangaroos, scream at the goats and chase the baby birds (seriously all kinds of neat animals around and the child is awwed by the common baby bird LOL-love my chica!!!), and even got to play outside for a bit with Jessafern this afternoon. We had an awesome day!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Facts

Yes, I battle things with knowledge so I get on the internet and research:) I'm trying to balance that with the time I spend with Ben in the evenings-the one show that he watches every Tuesday is on right now so I have a free ticket to be glued to the computer LOL

A good document for anyone wanting facts re: cervical cancer

AWESOME Blessings!!!

Just gotta give a shout to God for all these awesome blessings:

  • meals being delivered to my family M-F through the end of August!!! 91 meals coordinated in under 24 hours~ Thank you God for working beautiful miracles through your amazing Kelly!!
  • there is not a single piece of dirty laundry in my house other than the clothes on our backs-and even more amazing it has all been put up (my poor lil laundry baskets aren't sure what to do with themselves!!), every dish has been washed and put away, and my babies have been fed and are taking an afternoon nap~ my mama ROCKS!!!
  • every single time I check my email, there is a new one letting me know that someone is praying for us-I work from home so I check my email constantly so thats alot of loving!!!
  • my bestest friend for contacting her experts and giving me great advice, and OMG I cannot wait for you to be here-soooo excited!!!
  • everyone that is sending me verses that have truly touched my heart and made me strong~ thank you!!! (I'm working on a project for Ben that will include all of those verses-thanks for making my job a lil easier!!)
  • the awesome people at Fellowship that have just wrapped us up in love and support since the moment we found out I have cancer~ together we will beat this and become even more beautiful and stronger because of it!!!
  • the Elders at Fellowship have invited us to the Elders meeting on April 20th so they can pray over us-I'm soooo incredibly honored and excited!!
  • Ben's aunts-oh wow, where do I begin!! I've always loved these ladies so much but WOW!! Bella just slept through an UPS delivery (but I left the package on the doorstep so she can still find it and be all excited and jump around like a silly girl) from Aunt 'Net-can't wait to see what my lil princess gets to wear to church on Easter Sunday:) Aunt Bessie has been my oncology guru (she works at CARTI so I've got it MADE in that corner!!)-she has answered my questions and is sending us a goodie box full of stuff for us to read and ways to help Bella. Aunt Carolyn and Joyce have said they will be here whenever and for however long we need them.
  • the awesome outpouring of love, support and prayers from EVERYONE- my mama chicas (oh how I love you ladies SOOOO much-I seriously will not be able to do this without ya, so thank you for loving me just the way I am and for being in my corner!!!), people I went to school with, Facebook friends, bible study ladies, people I have never even met before and honestly didn't even know existed (LOVE those emails-seriously gives me goosebumps and puts a huge grin on my heart)
  • the amazing fact that Hunter was NOT planned-we were wanting to start TTC again soon but he was a surprise, something we considered a "Nana blessing" since we got pregnant less than 3months after my Nana passed away. Christmas was always her favorite holiday and my due date was Christmas Day!!! We figured Nana had a nice lil chat with God and Hunter came to be:) Now we know it was even bigger and greater than that-a Nana blessing with a big huge dose of God behind it.
  • my babies and my husband-they keep me going, they get me out of bed everyday, they remind me why I'm fighting this, they remind me to thank God even in the midst of everything, and they always always always remind me to smile and then laugh til I nearly pee my pants- I love you with every ounce of my being!! Dangit NOW I'm crying!!!

k gonna go love on my sweet mama since she has been busting her bum all over my house and taking care of my babies so I can get work done before I go on hiatus

Monday, April 6, 2009


I am feeling overwhelming blessed by the outpouring of prayers, emails, Facebook love and comments on this blog. I'll never be able to say thank you enough or let you each know how much it truly means to me and my family. Everytime I opened another email today I literally felt a little stronger-definitely lifted me up!!! After reading the article re: not letting cancer go to waste-I know that one day I'll be able to repay all the wonderful love and blessings we are receiving from everyone by serving someone else that finds themselves in our shoes (darnit my babies are gonna find the cure for cancer tho!!!).

Everyone is asking how I am doing. Honestly I really don't feel "sick". I am getting tired alot more easily (I had been chalking that up to having a newborn but the lil wonderboy sleeps all night!!), am having mild cramping and some really uncomfortable lower back pain that has gotten a bit worse as the day has gone on. I am having increased urination (think 2nd trimester pregnancy potty trips) which is part of it. I am trying to drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated and mentally it helps-makes me think I'm flushing out all the UCK as Bella calls nasty stuff LOL

I'm pooped so I will work on some more personal shout outs to the awesome people we have walking with us. HUGE hugs to my mama for being here today and putting up with me and my energetic children (and my mounds of dirty laundry)!!!

Oncologist Appt Scheduled

YAY!!! Got the oncologist appt scheduled for this Thursday @ 2:15pm. I will be seeing Randall Hightower (, a gynecological oncologist at the Jonelle Hunt Women's Center affiliated with Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

Random Facts

There are two main types of cancer of the cervix; each one develops from different tissue types. The most common (about 80 percent to 90 percent) are squamous cell carcinomas. The other 10 percent to 20 percent are adenocarcinomas.
Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the lining of the cervix.
Treatment options are the same regardless if a cervical cancer is squamous or adenocarcinoma.

Cystoscopy and Proctoscopy
If advanced cancer is diagnosed and your doctor suspects the cancer may have spread beyond the cervix, a cytoscopy or proctoscopy may be done using a lighted tube to view the inside of the bladder (cystoscopy) or the anus, rectum, and lower colon (proctoscopy).

To learn more about the extent of disease and suggest a course of treatment, the doctor may order some of the following imaging tests:
Chest X-ray: This is a picture of the chest that shows your heart, lungs, airway, blood vessels and lymph nodes. A chest X-ray can often show whether cancer has spread to the lungs.
Computed tomography (CT) scan: This diagnostic test uses an X-ray machine and a computer to create detailed pictures of the body, including 3-D images. It is used to detect disease outside the cervix or abnormal organ structure. CT scans also can be used to guide a needle into a mass if a biopsy is needed.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This diagnostic test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create computerized pictures of the pelvis and abdomen. You may have to be placed in a tube, which can feel confining to people who have a fear of enclosed spaces.

Treatment for Cervical Cancer
Treatment of cervical cancer will depend on a number of factors, including:
The stage of the cancer
The size of the tumor
The patient's desire to have children
The patient's age and overall health

Surgery for Large, Cervical Cancer Lesion
The following surgical procedures may be used for larger cervical cancer lesions (usually up to 4 to 5 centimeters in width), but only if the cancer is all within the cervical tissue. If the cancer has spread beyond the cervix, doctors will usually recommend chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy.
Trachealectomy: This procedure removes the cervix and surrounding tissue but not the uterus. It is used for women who have a larger cancerous area but wish to preserve the ability to have children. The procedure may include removal of lymph nodes. Typically patients considered for this procedure have to have tumors less than 2 centimeters in size.
Radical hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina and the tissues surrounding the cervix called the parametria. At the same time, the surgeon also removes nearby lymph nodes. Depending on a woman's age and the size of the tumor, she may also have a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes).

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is used for cancers that have spread beyond the cervix (II, III, or IV) or very large lesions (larger than 4 centimeters).Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink the tumor. Radiation therapy is used instead of surgery in most cases. However, it is sometimes necessary after surgery if it is discovered that the cancer has spread outside the cervix, or to reduce the risk that a cancer will come back after surgery.There are two types of radiation therapy: external and internal.
External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cervical cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a small amount of radioactive material that is delivered directly to the tumor using implants.Internal radiation therapy implants are inserted through the vagina into the cervix, where they are placed next to the tumor while the patient is under anesthesia. The implants stay in place for a few days.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy can be given by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle. In most cases, it is given to a patient through a vein during an outpatient visit using systemic chemotherapy. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body.
Regional chemotherapy is chemotherapy is placed directly into an organ or a body cavity, such as the abdomen. Almost all cervical cancer patients in good medical condition and receiving radiation for stage IIA or higher will be offered chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy.

Women with endometrial, cervical and ovarian cancers have the option of treating their disease with laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure with advantages over traditional surgery, experts say.
“Laparoscopic surgery offers patients the benefit of faster recovery, less pain medication and quicker return to daily activities without compromising outcome and prognosis," says Pedro Ramirez, M.D., an assistant professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Gynecologic Oncology and director of Minimally Invasive Surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery is currently performed in the treatment of gynecologic cancers in just a few of the country’s cancer centers. “It provides patient safety that is comparable with traditional “open” surgery,” Ramirez says. Laparoscopy’s role in treating cancer has grown by leaps and bounds as more surgeons have become experienced at performing the procedure.
The laparoscope is a long, slender tube with a tiny camera on the end. An incision about an inch in length is made to insert the laparoscope, which gives surgeons a view of the treatment area. Other incisions, tiny enough to be covered with a Band-Aid, are made to insert miniature surgical instruments that can remove a cancerous tumor or an entire diseased organ, in some cases.
M. D. Anderson performs laparoscopic surgeries for:
Cervical cancer – Cervical cancer patients have the option of laparoscopic radical hysterectomy and staging. (Staging involves tests and procedures that determine the extent of the cancer.) Patients can be discharged from the hospital, potentially, the first day after surgery. Ramirez says that the “length of stay for a traditional abdominal radical hysterectomy usually is four to five days, and the recovery period is usually four to six weeks.”
Laparoscopy also can be used to evaluate spread of locally advanced cervical cancers to the lymph nodes. Besides removing malignant lymph nodes, the procedure allows radiation oncologists to determine the treatment field for radiation therapy with higher accuracy, which may ultimately reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

When cervical cancer is detected early it is one of the most successfully treatable cancers. The five-year relative survival rate of localized cervical cancer is 92%, according to the American Cancer Society.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Don't Waste Your Cancer

I was sent the link to this article and its amazing...

Illness can sharpen your awareness of how thoroughly God has already and always been at work in every detail of your life.
WOW-see my previous post and you will definitely see evidence of this already in my life.

You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about
cancer and not enough time reading about God.

Definitely agreeing with this one!! Yes knowledge most definitely gives me one up on the cancer but God gives me so much strength!

My Attitude

If you would have told me just a week ago that I would have cancer and asked me how I thought I'd be dealing-I would have told you that I'd be a basketcase and would never leave bed. But I can honestly say that from the moment I was diagnosed, God has just wrapped me in a blanket of blessings making me constantly aware of the fact that I CAN be joyous even in the rottenest of situations. Yeah I'm not HAPPY that I have cancer-it downright sucks and pisses me off BUT I'm surrounded by enormous blessings:

  • God blessed us with two amazing, beautiful, smart, hilarious, awesome kids before we were handed this diagnosis. I will have to undergo a radical hysterectomy-basically a lifetime guaranteed birth control. I originally wanted my tubes tied but my OB "forgot" (YES I have changed doctors!!!)
  • God got us back in church. He did it through not so great circumstances (Ben's parent's divorce) but it forced us to see that there was something missing in our marriage and in our family and that was God. I started my relationship with God in January 2008-ironically the same month that my Nana went to Heaven. God knew I would need my greatest friend of all during that month, that year and now more than ever.
  • God has blessed us with the most amazingly supportive family ever!!! When Ben was medically discharged from the Air Force we were stationed in Italy. When we got back to the States we considered moving to different places but ultimately decided to stay in NWA so we could be near our families (thank you, God!!). My mom, a fellow cancer butt kicker, is less than 5 minutes away, as is my Papa and Ben's mom. My mom is taking off work this week just to be at the house for anything we need-take care of the kids when all the last minute appts and testing get scheduled, do stuff around the house, change a diaper when I'm in the middle of a breakdown, etc. Ben's Aunt Joyce and Aunt Carolyn have already said they will be here whenever we need them for however long we need them (waiting to get the gameplan set but I'm thinking it would be best whenever I come home from the hospital-we'll see). My bestest friend in the whole wide world is finally gonna prove to my husband that she is NOT an imaginary friend and come up to be with us (again waiting on the gameplan but I'm thinking it'd be nice to have her here during my hospital stay so that Ben and my mom can have breaks, and her sense of humor and beautiful Christian soul will keep me going!!!). My aunt and cousin are coming this week and we have all kinds of fun stuff planned-my cousin is closer to me than any sister could ever be!!
  • God has blessed us with an awesome church family. Fellowship scared me at first like it does alot of people because its HUGE. But I've learned that hugeness is just like Texas-just means everything is bigger and better!! We have had an outpouring of love and support and sooooo many prayers. We love our community group!!!
  • God has blessed me with the most awesome guardian angel, my Nana. I can tell you right now without a shadow of a doubt that she has been all up in God's face since Friday wiggling her finger and telling him just how its gonna work!!! I'm incredibly blessed to have her in my corner and while there have been many moments when dangit I just want a Nana hug or her sweet little hands to be holding mine-I know having her fight my case in Heaven is exactly what I need:)
  • God has blessed me with the absolutely hands down greatest husband EVER!!!! I would not want to go thru this with anyone else by my side. He is my rock, my best friend, my shoulder, and the boy knows how to spoon!!! He lays in bed and finds Bible verses for me to draw strength from, makes me laugh when I need it most and just holds me and listens when I finally let my walls down.

I am human, I DO have my moments when I let my walls down and just bawl my eyes out-did it in church this morning and I think I freaked the lady out next to me LOL I try not to let my mind be overcome with fear-I REFUSE to even fathom the possible "d" word outcome. It ain't happening, its not an option and no, I'm NOT in denial, I just refuse to go out that way.

In case you didn't get my loverly SHOCK of an email, here is what I've asked people to promise:

-you will not treat me like an invalid

-you will not walk on eggshells when you are around me

-you will not stop talking when I walk in the room

-you will not avoid the subject around me

-you will not make me your "friend who has cancer" or my husband "that guy whose wife has cancer".... I'm Danielle and I just happen to have cancer-

if you or anyone you know want the gory details, I promise to post them in all their beauty on this blog ... please understand there will be days when everyone gets an express ticket to voicemail, please don't take it personally-I love you all so very very very much but some days I'm just not gonna be a nice person to talk to

-that no matter what it takes, no matter how long I am in the hospital or stuck in bed, my babies get to see me EVERY single day and get to have a mama hug and kiss

-you won't have a look of pity in your eyes and you won't come up to me and say, "I'm sorry" (Please feel free to say, "This just really sucks" LOL)

A sweet friend of mine gave me the reality check I needed-you are each going to be affected by this differently, so you will each react differently and each have your own way of dealing with it. I cannot tell you not to cry or not to be angry at God or not to do whatever it is that YOU need to do to be ok with this. As a sexual assault survivor and child of divorce, I know everyone deals with things differently, in their own unique ways, on their own timeline, that no one else can dictate. We have to do whatever it is to survive, so I PROMISE to not be critical of how you deal (ok if you are mean to me or my family I might have to hurt you but otherwise you are good to go LOL). I just want to be surrounded my positive thoughts, positive attitudes, positive spirits. Its ok to cry in front of me or be pissed-BE 100% YOU!! But please please please, if you are having a down day, a day full of fear, please leave the pity party at the door. I hate hearing people's voices on the phone and can hear that its just full of "oh this is the horriblest thing ever, wo is me, sad sad sad sad". Don't be fake but don't think you have to be sad or miserable on my part-I'm sure as heck not gonna be!!! yeah it sucks, yeah I wouldn't wish it on anyone in this world, and yeah its gonna be the stinkingest hardest battle ever and I sure as heck am not looking forward to it but that doesn't mean I have to live like I'm dying (PS-cuz I'm NOT) or wallow (for Jan... waller LOL) in bed and mope. I know myself-I know that I put up my walls and push people away... well thats not gonna make anything better so I'm gonna try my dangedest (holy canoly my southern roots are shining thru when I get fiesty!!) to not default to that kind of defense mechanism. I promise I won't put on a happy face or mask my way thru this either. I AM trying to not cry in front of Bella mainly because she is going thru this funky dramatic stage where she is uber empathetic (she sees a cartoon character cry and she screams, "OH SAD!!" and fake cries, or when a little animal is lost from its mama on Diego she gets all dramatic and sad and mopey) but otherwise I'm just gonna be me-it probably isn't gonna be pretty at times but its all I can give:)

k time to get ready for community group-CIAO!

My Babies

If anyone has any resources, ideas, tips, websites, books, etc. on how to handle Bella through this journey it would be GREATLY appreciated!!! Another God blessing-I was on bedrest for most of my third trimester with Hunter so Bella has already seen me in and out of the hospital a few times and has had to deal with the fact that sometimes Mama can't pick her up or can't wrestle, play, get out of bed (though I do NOT plan on laying around in bed unless I'm instructed to by my doctors), etc. We plan on telling her that Mama has a "boo-boo" and that the doctors are going to give me lots of good medicine and band-aids and then Mama will be better-basically language and concepts she can relate to. She just had an adenoidectomy and tubes put in her ears so she isn't exactly fond of doctors or medicine at the moment LOL When my mom had thyroid cancer when I was young, we weren't allowed to visit her in the hospital (not by her choice so don't go bashing my mama or I'll poke you), so it has been my vow since the moment I got diagnosed that no matter what, above all else, my children will see me every single day and get a mama hug and kiss. I want them to know that yeah mama is sick but she is still here, she is gonna be ok and their ornery lil selves are stuck with me! And yet another God blessing-Hunter isn't too fond of breastfeeding. Bella REFUSED to take a bottle so I was her human pacifier for 15 months. Hunter is too dang busy checking everything out around him that it is VERY hard to get him to breastfeed, so he is now down to 1-2 times per day and that is only if I get him when he first wakes up and is super hungry-when he'll actually sacrifice a few minutes of being uber observant to eat. So one less stressor-don't have to worry about weaning him.

I'm literally thanking God nearly every moment that he blessed us with two beautiful children before my diagnosis since I have been handed a lifetime guaranteed birth control:)

Background Story

In 2000, before I had even graduated high school, I had an abnormal pap smear that showed dysplasia. A colposcopy was performed to remove the abnormal cells and everything came back "normal". Fastforward 8 years (8 years of normal pap smears), I'm 18 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child and I'm bleeding (the scary heavy bright red blood that you call the doctor on). My OB found polyp on my cervix but said it was nothing to worry about and that I could expect some bleeding throughout the pregnancy and it would eventually go away on its own. I did continue having bleeding off and on. Our awesome son, Hunter, was born 13 days before Christmas. At my 6 week post-partum appointment in February 2009 my OB did not make any notice of the polyp and my pap smear came back normal. I continued to have post-partum bleeding which would range from really light brown to huge red clots. I chalked it up to the fact that Hunter wasn't breastfeeding as much as Bella had so my hormones were out of whack. When I was still bleeding on Hunter's 3 month birthday I decided to make an appointment with a different GYN (for numerous reasons which I'm sure I'll rant about at some point in my journal). She found the polyp right off the bat during the exam and said it was definitely the culprit for my bleeding. She removed a large piece of it to send off to pathology and put some silver nitrate on my cervix to stop the bleeding. I made an appt to follow up in 2wks so she could give me the path results and check on the bleeding-put me on the mini-pill in case it was hormone related. The two days following that appointment I bled very heavily and had increased pain. I finally called on Friday to ask if this was to be expected or if I needed to come back in. She didn't have the path results back so she said she would call me back after lunch. She called after lunch to see if I was still bleeding-yes-come in so we can try something else to get it to stop. I got there at 4:30. The lab faxed over the report at 4:37. I knew when she walked in with the head GYN that it was cancer. I have squamous cell cervical carcinoma, moderately to poorly differentiated. Squamous cells make up 90% of all cervical cancers. Poorly differentiated is Grade 3-Grade 3 cancers grow and spread very quickly. They are considered "aggressive." We don't know what stage yet or if it has spread. Luckily there is a gynecological oncologist in Fayetteville and they will be calling him first thing on Monday morning to get me in ASAP. At this point all we know is that I will be having a radical hysterectomy (we are totally at peace with this since we have been blessed with two amazing children!!).