Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cancer + Adoption

A little of today's research. When this whole dream began sprouting, the fact that I HAD cancer never really played a factor in my mind. Even when I was kicking cancer's butt, I didn't see myself as "sick", and still struggle to get it into my mind that I had cancer and beat it (and had a few close brushes with NOT beating it). So I guess that makes it hard for me to imagine being turned away for adoption. But after only a tiny bit of research, I've discovered that MANY countries do not allow cancer survivors to adopt. And even with the countries that do allow cancer survivors to adopt, you have to be picky with the agency. And then, they may require that I be cancer free for several years (in April I will just be one year out from diagnosis).

Most adoption agencies report that they do not rule out cancer survivors as potential parents, especially with documentation from a doctor stating that lifespan and quality of life are expected to be good. However, some agencies do require a certain amount of time to pass before allowing a survivor to be eligible (e.g. 5 years).

Countries from which cancer survivors have adopted children include: Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, South Korea (5 years), Ukraine, United States of America and Vietnam.

AWAA is out of the picture:
Prospective parents must be free of cancer or other life-threatening diseases for at least three (3) years before applying to AWAA. At least we don't have to worry about this part (LOL): Families who are in the process of adopting from China who become pregnant must withdraw from the adoption process until their birth child is one year old. Families who are in the process of adopting from other countries who become pregnant must withdraw from the adoption process until their birth child is 6 months old. A family whose adoption has been withdrawn should inform us if their pregnancy does not come to term.

Did find some hope: (Ethiopia) (domestic adoption)

Keep on praying!! Gonna go dig some more while Bean naps (sounds like she is napping at least, haven't heard her reading over the monitor in a few-LOVE listening to her sweet voice).

Just ready this on Gladney:
Q: My wife was diagnosed with colon cancer a few months ago. We are curious if we would still be able to adopt a child.
A: Gladney requires that prospective parents be cancer free for at least one full year before starting the adoption process. As long as the prospective parent is currently healthy and can provide a letter from their physician stating so, there shouldn't be any problems.

The Beginning

As far back as I can remember, my heart was already growing a special place for adoption. Even as a young girl growing up in a small town in north Texas, I was passionately intrigued by stories of adoption, and not just the novelty of it, but actually having an intense desire for it to be a part of my life.

Before I met Ben, MY plan was to have 3 boys (no thought ever really went into HOW these 3 children were going to come to be), stay single, live in an awesome cottage with TONS of land in the country with a short commute to a big city-yep, basically your everyday Angelina. Thankfully God had so much more amazing things in store for us! I met Ben and quickly threw away any single-mom-of-3-in-big-city notions out the window. (oh you are an awesome mighty God!)

Even in the beginning we randomly threw around the idea of adoption but both agreed we wanted to at least try to have children of our own. Again, God blessed us-in ways we didn't even realize at first. Isabella Grace was born in July 2006-we fell instantly in love and she has had us wrapped around her adorable (yet, at times, wiggly bossy) finger from the moment we laid eyes on the first of at least 10 positive pregnancy tests. Less than 2 years later, Ben was welcomed home by a little surprise:
Hunter Thomas was born December 2008 (thankfully NOT on his due date!!) and we became the May Quad. Flash forward 4 months, I hear the words, "It is cancer". Totally unexpected and unimaginably life changing. I was growing cancer at the same time I was growing our sweet baby boy. God is an all knowing God, and if Mr. Hunter is not proof of that, I'm not sure what is.

April 28, 2009 I had a radical hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy and removal of 12 lymph nodes in the pelvic-abdominal region. In layman's terms, basically every internal female organ I once had was no more. I would never again grow a baby in my womb. At first, this thought did not phase me-I was in warrior mode just trying to literally live each day and defeat this disease. So what if I was missing a few parts... I was alive! After 28 treatments (every weekday for 6 weeks) of external radiation and a blood transfusion (aka my vampire treatment) and my first post-op, post-radiation CAT scan, I was declared cancer free!!! I never knew such sweet words!

Life sloooowly began to creep back to normal-or more like our "new normal". This new normal consists of us having to tenderly broach the subject of "Mama is going to the doctor" with Bella anytime my check-ups come around (every 3 months) because her precious heart cannot let go of that raw fear of that one time Mama "went to the doctor" and didn't come home for almost a week and how much it changed her sweet, innocent life. This new normal is me being thankful every day that Hunter was only 4 months old and will likely not have any fear-filled memories of his mama's cancer conquering days-even though I still weep over the days I missed holding him in my arms, bonding through feeding him my milk, and having to hear his giggles seep through the walls as I lay in bed struggling to overcome fatigue. This new normal is me, finally crossing over to "the other side" where I AM cancer free but have lost the ability to ever again surprise my husband with a pregnancy test. This new normal is me feeling my heart well up and overflow with the thought of the ability to once again bring home a baby for my family to surround with love, acceptance, awe, and a yearning to show God's love. Can you "hear" the celebration in my voice?

The seed really got planted when my sweet Mrs. Kathy (part of my Cancer Posse-diagnosed at the same time and our radiation appts were back to back so I was immensely blessed by her hugs and sweet notes each afternoon-she kept me going!) showed me a picture of her newest grandbaby, Sosi. If you don't fall in love with that sweet face, you need to get your heart checked out!!! I followed the Rusch Family's story as they experienced their "Gotcha Day" and brought beautiful Sosna Elle home-and every time (even AGAIN today) I watch the story unfold through their pictures, I end up bawling (poor Ben keeps thinking I forgot to change my hormone patch LOL). It has awoken something in my heart that I had long forgotten (or maybe just pushed aside for a bit til God knew it was His time to gently remind me). And God has worked through me to gently re-awaken the same in Ben (ok, so a bit of a slower process there but we gotta tread lightly with the old folks LOL). This is still very very very much a tiny work in process (though my heart is saying, "Hello, this is HUGE!!!") and only in the very beginning stages of even thinking of possibly considering, but I have a feeling it is something that will not leave my heart or mind or prayers for a very long time.

Please just pray that if this IS indeed God's will, that He will prepare our family (emotionally, spiritually, physically in health, financially, etc), that He will bring forth the child that he has already designed specifically for our family (and us for this child) and that He will pave the way to bring us together. I named this blog "Chiduben" or "guided by God" in the African language of Igbo. I just pray that this whole process will truly be guided by God.

Off for now to do my normal Danielle thing-research:)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Cancer Aftermath

When I was in the midst of my cancer battle, I longed for the days when I could finally say those 2 sweet words "cancer free". I am thankful to God, my awesome healer, for getting me to that point. I just never imagined the ongoing aftermath of cancer. Sometimes it is frustrating and discouraging to have one thing after another pop up and in the end all point back to either my cancer, my surgery, my radiation or my blood counts being so low they were classified as "life threatening". In my head I know, and am continually working to accept, the fact that every little twinge, pain or "off" thing is going to send me into a spiral of worrying whether the cancer is back or if a new cancer has started to take over my body. I'm trying to look at things positively and remind myself that at least by the time I get to the age where a normal person would actually be having all these procedures (mammogram, colonoscopy, breast biopsy) that I'll have already gone through it and be an old pro and have no worries:) I just pray to God for peace, discernment, wisdom, and the strength and desire to make that leap from surviving to thriving-my new goal for 2010!!

So the latest... had a colonoscopy this morning. It honestly was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be-I was totally zonked out so I didn't even know when it started or when it was happening, and all the nurses were so awesome and kind. The worst part, as you can easily imagine, was the prep-not even gonna go into those pretty details LOL Really wasn't fun when you are attempting to help your spouse get 2 little people to bed, and pathetically even the "food" on Cafe World (Facebook) was looking soooo scrumptious!

I had the colonoscopy because I've had alot of lingering symptoms since my last radiation treatment-some of it started during radiation, some stopped when radiation stopped, some continued and some new ones started. So my oncologist wanted to make sure it was related to damage from radiation and nothing else was going on.

YAY good news (or I guess best that it can be in this case)-I have radiation proctitis (no cancer, no polyps, no biopsy necessary, so basically as "normal" as could be in my case). Apparently 75% of cancer patients who receive radiation to the pelvis/abdomen end up with radiation proctitis. We are hoping mine is mild enough that it can be treated with medication.

First attempt will be an anti-inflammatory enema, once nightly for one month (oh yeah, gonna be fun evenings in our house BLAH). The surgeon also mentioned trying an anti-spasm medication which I think would do wonders because I had to take something similar when I had bladder issues during radiation and it helped alot-so I'll discuss going ahead with that when I see him next month. If neither of those work, we'll look into other meds and as a last resort, surgery. Gonna definitely do my research and find any and every med tried so I can avoid surgery!!

So the near future holds- breast biopsy follow up with Dr. Friesen on Friday, colonoscopy follow up with Dr. Rogers early next month, routine oncologist appt in April, and then follow up mammogram this summer. I soooo long to be 5 years out, officially in "remission" and prayerfully done with all this JUNK!! But I know I just need to rest and be thankful that I AM cancer free, I'm not in the middle of that battle, and I am ALIVE-here with my husband, my babies, my family and friends, and am able to get out of bed every day and not only just function but live a pretty darn awesome life:)

Thanks for all the sweet and encouraging emails and cards-love you and thank you for the prayers!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cancer Free!!!

WOOOO awesome report-the path results from my biopsy show NO CANCER!!! When the nurse called to tell me on Monday, I screamed, "AWESOME!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU" and then hung up on her:) LOL oops!! I was just too excited and didn't even think to ask questions. Thankfully I have a follow up appt next week. I was able to take off the binding on Wednesday (never thought I'd be so thankful for a normal bra LOL) and only have bruising now (not swollen or sore anymore-YAY). We have done so much rejoicing this week-thank you SOOOO much for all of your prayers!!!

On to the next medical adventure.... I seriously cried all the way home on Wednesday just being sick of medical junk always looming in the distance attempting to consume my thoughts-kinda let it take over for a bit that afternoon. I have been diagnosed with radiation colitis. Unfortunately when you have radiation, it not only kills the nasty cancer cells but the good healthy ones too (did you see Grey's Anatomy this week and the "smart" radiation that only kills the cancer cells-AWESOME!!!). So my radiation was to my pelvis and abdomen and apparently it did quite a bit of damage to the organs in my abdomen and that is why I'm still having alot of the radiation after effects, still this far out from my last treatment. So lucky me, I get to have a colonoscopy on Jan. 27th. I'm trying to be positive and look at it as once I do get old to the age where it is actually normal to have these kind of lovely procedures, I won't have to have any fear cuz I'll already know what to expect-HA, gotta find the silver lining and that is what I came up with! So if you can say a little prayer that the procedure goes off without a hitch and everything comes back just peachy:) I'm ready for a year when I'm no longer a never-ending prayer request LOL But am eternally greatful for all of your prayers!!!

PS-Chubs is walking!!! Gonna try to get it on video this weekend and post it on the family blog:)

Monday, January 11, 2010


Threw myself a big ol pity party tonight-felt kinda good to just let go of the tough girl facade and have a nice lil meltdown:) Gonna pray lots tonight cuz I think Satan is really trying to creep in and plant lots of anxiety, doubt, worry and TONS of anger.

I know cancer will always be a part of my life. I know every ache, pain, weird "off" thing will cause me to think, "Is it back?" But dangit I do NOT want to go through this again! I do NOT want my family to have to be dragged through it. I hate even thinking about my life possibly having to revolve around cancer all over again.

I've been positive since I found out I was gonna have surgery. Just gonna get in there, get this junk out and it'll be nothing. Not sure what the heck my problem is today but it ain't fun! I guess just the fear of yet another surgery, dreading the wait over the weekend, and knowing anytime my phone rings on Monday or Tuesday I will want to throw it. I'm gonna tell the surgeon that if it is bad news, they need to call me and tell me to come in. Don't tell me over the phone. I want my family with me this time. Finding out last time all alone when I went in thinking they were just gonna stop the bleeding again was not fun (granted they didn't get the path report til after I was already there so there was no way to avoid it). If its good news, then they can call and just tell me over the phone and I'll jump around squeeling like a goofball:) Oh I hope I get to jump!!!

Last week, one night when I was having a doubtful moment, I just said to God, "Ok, seriously if this is what you need to be able to use me in awesome ways, I'll take one for the team. Use me use me use me but it better be all for your glory God!!!" Yeah that sacrificing moment didn't last too long-went right back to praying for no cancer! But seriously, the last time around, God used me in so many awesome ways and still is, just touching people and being there, being able to use that whole experience for his glory has been life changing. Then I said, "Ok, but really God, could we just skip a 2nd dose of it? Is it REALLY necessary?" I dunno-just a crazy back and forth dialogue I've got going with him-somehow keeps me sane:)

Hunter's 1st Bday, Christmas & Snow

Yep-behind again!! Instead of playing catch up, I'll just post the most recent pics:) Hunter turned 1 in December-still cannot believe my baby is letting go of furniture and walking, eating real food, and having a blast with his big sissy!!! We had a white Christmas-and LOTS of snow days!! It was definitely a holiday full of thanks and blessings-so happy to be healthy and able to spend every day with my family.

My silly guys

My name is Bella and I have OCD-seriously she had to take breaks while opening gifts so she could gather up the bags and trash LOL

Snuggling with Uncle Popeye

Smart guy figuring out puzzles (seriously, he amazes me!)

Answered prayers~they LOVE to play together!!!


Dr. May

Playing with Nana

Wasn't too sure what to think of the cupcake (definitely my texture yuk kiddo)

EWWWW get this junk off my fingers NOW!!!!

Ahhh much better with a spoon:)

YUM crumbs

Sissy on the otherhand just digs right in

Cheeser in her dress from Aunt 'Net (THANK YOU!!!)

LOVE my lil lady in her snow angel princessy dress ($5 @ Target WOOO)

Love my Cheeser Bean

Merry Christmas!!!

Santa visit (you can see Bella's reaction LOL)

We took a ride on the carousel after seeing Santa

Daddy's girls

Christmas Eve Service @ Fellowship-lil glowstick elves

Christmas Eve at Papa's (Bella decorated the tree)

Chubs showing Uncle Buddah how to work his new camera

His general reaction to Christmas this year LOL

Babies checking out the white stuff

Playing in the ball pit-they both had a blast!

My sweet Santa baby growing up

Lil Snow bunny

Being silly on Christmas at Papa's

Our Southern Blizzard

My People-loves you!!

My guys


Missy's hair when she wakes up in the morning-seriously have to tame that mess every morning!!!

Mr. Man decided to climb up and sit like a big boy with Sissy (eating crackers with the Doras). Bella said, "Mama! Look, brother is a big boy now!! I'm so proud!" LOL

His favorite sneaky spot under the end table

Best buds

Gamers chilling with old school NES (one of our snow days-we had a karoake dance fest and old school NES Duck Hunt)

True Gamer-has a device for each hand LOL