Thursday, August 25, 2016

Surgery Update

Surgery went well. Stephanie will be in the hospital until tomorrow. Thanks for all of the prayers and support.

- Mike

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Surgery Day is Almost Here!

It's been a while since I've updated the blog. We've spent the last 4 weeks enjoying the closest thing to normal we've seen in the last 5 months. Wow. 5 months. How does it seem like a second ago and a lifetime ago that all of this began?

When chemo finished up I had the obligatory 2 weeks of "I feel lousy", but then I started to see the symptoms subside and the fog begin to lift. Yippee! I had days where I didn't take a nap; I was cracking jokes that actually made sense. Sure, I had days where I didn't feel so great, or where I could tell that the kinks we're definitely not worked out of the system just yet, but I was moving in the right direction.

But after 4 weeks of quiet and a little bit of normalcy, the pre-party festivities leading up to surgery began last week:
-phone calls from the doctors' offices asking if I have any last minute questions,
-phone calls from the doctors' offices going over the schedule for the next week,
-phone calls from the doctors' offices going over the schedule AND asking if I have any questions (this isn't a typo, folks).

Needless to say, I've got all the prefixes to the Community Health Network phones memorized.

Toss in a few calls from the financial folks and the insurance folks, a Physical Therapy appointment, and lab work, and you've got a sense of my last week. 

Did I mention that we started school last Monday?

So just about the time I thought I was really starting to feel like myself again,  the 1-2 punch of school and surgery showed up. How was I doing by the end of the week?

Folks, I left my cell phone in the grocery store freezer Sunday night.
Not in the freezer section. 
In the freezer.
The only reason why I found it is because the grocery list was on the phone...and because my husband called my phone and the freezer rang.

It would be completely discouraging if it wasn't so completely hilarious!!

So, prayers for my sanity would definitely be appreciated. :)

The real "party" kicks off Thursday morning. Someone must have gotten the memo that I'm a morning person, because I have to be at the hospital at 6 a.m., and surgery begins at 7. Apparently there is such a thing as tag-team surgery, and I'm about to experience it. The first two hours of surgery will be the mastectomy with the breast surgeon, followed by 2 1/2 hours of reconstruction with the plastic surgeon. Technically, the surgery will be considered outpatient, which means that as long as I am responding well after surgery I will spend no more than 23 hours in the hospital.

Lots of you fabulous people have asked how you can help out. We'd certainly appreciate your prayers that 1) surgery would be successful, and 2) recovery would be uneventful. Practically speaking, meals would be a great help. Mike and all 3 kids are in the thick of cross country season - the kids' first meet is this Saturday! Cross country = late evenings multiple nights a week = Mike doesn't get home until after 8:30 pm and the last thing he wants to do is cook. :) The link to meal signup is:

If for some reason this does not take you to my page, the login @ is:

Username: Estes
Password: romans828

We will keep you posted if there are other things that come up along the way. Thank you in advance to all of you who will be helping with meals, teaching my kiddos, hauling my kiddos around, babysitting me so that I behave myself :), etc.

On surgery day Mike will do his best to get an update posted here to the blog. We know not everybody is connected in the social media world, and we want to make sure everybody gets the message about how things went. Once I'm weaned off enough pain meds that I can string some sentences together, I'll send out a message to the masses.

We are so thankful for each and every one of you! We feel your love and support, and are so thankful we aren't walking this journey alone!

Stephanie and the gang

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A long overdue update

Hey everybody,

I feel like I always start this thing with a "sorry", but I really am sorry there's been such a delay since my last post. I have thought about posting many times - finding the physical and intellectual energy to get it done is another story.

Here's the latest:

I've made it through 7 treatments, which means only 1 more to go! The last three treatments have been with a new chemo drug, which means getting used to a whole new set of side effects both at treatment and after treatment. The struggles have come down to two things:

1. At treatment, I have struggled with having an allergic reaction to the medicine as they give it to me. Everyone says this isn't uncommon, but it's a little disconcerting to know that the drug they are giving you to make you better can also throw you into anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, my reaction hasn't been that severe yet - some tightness in my throat and chest and instantaneous back pain. Unfortunately, the reaction has gotten worse each time. Want to see three nurses come running? Hit the call light after two previous reactions. This past Wednesday they didn't even bother to close the door to my room. They just all went out to the station (about 10 feet from my room) and stared at the door until I hit the light. These ladies are taking SUCH good care of me. They had my pumped full of drugs in no time, and I was feeling better in just a couple minutes. I am really thankful we only have to do this one more time...

2. Once treatment is done, my big struggle has been pain. Pain everywhere. Some call it muscle pain, others call it bone pain - I call it pain. This seems to kick in around day 3, and not let up until day 6 or 7 following treatment. I've tried a little of everything to help get rid of it - walking, spending lots of time stretching and using a foam roller to massage sore muscles, and drugs - from the over the counter stuff all the way up to narcotics.

What the doc has found to be the solution to both problems is steroids. At treatment, I received 2 doses of IV steroids. At home, I take oral steroids the day before treatment, and for the next 4-5 days after treatment. The upside is they do their job - really well. Any allergic reaction I have at treatment is almost immediately gone, and the pain in the days following treatment is kept to a minimum. The downside is I really struggle to sleep - I mean really. The night before treatment #6 I saw every hour on the clock. I got a couple nice 30-minute naps, but that was about it. The upside/downside (I'm not sure which one to consider it) is it gives me a good bit of artificial energy. I cleaned my house like a wild woman after the last treatment, and then called other people and asked if I could come over and clean their houses too! I went for a really fast walk with Mike, and he told me I might have a future on the Russian Olympic team. :) It gave me energy to enjoy the weekend with my sister-in-law, Jenny, who was visiting from California a couple weekends ago. But when I stopped taking the steroids on Monday, the crash-and-burn set in. Apparently once your body gets those steroids, it's not too happy about giving them up. So, the next 5-7 days have been filled with fatigue, body aches, and lots of naps and "couch time".

If you're doing the math there, this all adds up to about 2 weeks. I've finally gotten to the point where there doesn't seem to be much a of a reprieve between treatments. So, I'm being even more guarded about my time, saving my energy for the important stuff, and taking it easy the rest of the time. The 20-minute power naps have been traded in for 2 hour naps in the afternoon. The emotional and intellectual fatigue are growing too. I'm thinking about making a sign that I can hold up anytime someone asks me a question. It would read something like this: "I don't know/I don't care - and that's not because I don't really know or don't truly care, or don't love you bunches, it's because the idea of thinking hard enough to come up with an answer makes me want to a) cry, or b) take a nap.  You are welcome to make any and all decisions for me, and if I argue with you about this later, please refer me back to this sign." What do you think??? In all seriousness, it has been tough transition for all of us at times. Mommy's multitasking days are on hold, and sometimes one task is pretty overwhelming, which doesn't always make sense to three kids who are used to seeing you talk on the phone, make dinner, and break up fights all at the same time. I have always been the "steady Eddie" in our household, but these days I am much more emotional - and from my perspective, it feels like I never know what emotion I'm going to get - they just show up and take over. The whole experience feels a little "out of body" at times - I know that how I'm feeling is temporary and not really "me", but I don't seem to have much control over it.

So while the journey is far from over, I am looking forward to this chemo portion of the journey being finished. Everyone is forewarning me that it's going to take awhile for the drugs to get out of my system, but any movement back in the "normal" direction sounds great to me!

We've also got a date set for surgery: Thursday, August 25th at 7 am. This will technically be outpatient surgery, but it is very likely that I will spend the night and be released very early the next morning (as long as you stay in the hospital under 23 hours it is still considered an outpatient surgery). So, that means I will have a 5-week break between the end of chemo and surgery day. I'm so thankful for the timing of this break: we are hoping that I will have some energy so that we can get away as a family for a long weekend "mini-vacation", and it will also give me a couple weeks of "normalcy" as we start up the school year in mid-August.

So, the traveling these days feels slower, quieter...tougher. But we're hanging in. We are super thankful that even though we may not be walking this road perfectly, we have seen God be consistent and faithful to us again and again. We have been blessed by the kind words of so many - people we know, and plenty we don't - who are praying for us. We have been overwhelmed by so many who have provided meals, helped with the kids, taken care of things around the house. So for now, we keep on journeying.

Stephanie and the gang

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thank-You Songs

Hi all,

Disclaimer: I got a little long-winded this time around. :) If you don't have time to read through the whole update, read the next 3 paragraphs and the last 3. Look for the big bolded sentence in the second to last paragraph. For the rest of you who are all in, don't skip to the end first. :) 

Sorry for the delay since the last post. A whole lot has been going on since I last updated. Some days there's been a whole lot of something going on, but many days it's been a whole lot of nothing. The slowdown is real - and slow.

I've now made it through 4 treatments, and with each additional treatment, recovering my energy has taken longer. After treatment #4, it took about 10 days for me to get to a place where I could get up, get ready, leave the house to do a thing or two, and not pay for it later. It turns out that the head cold I got after treatment #3 wasn't really a head cold - it's just allergies that have come and not gone. They, along with all of my symptoms, seem to ebb and flow, but they seem to be here to stay. I wish I was one of those pretty girls who blew her nose all dainty-like, or had a sweet little cough, but that's just not me. So, everywhere I go, I'm blowing my nose like a freight train and coughing so hard that in moments I think others are worried that I'm gonna throw up on their shoes. Lovely. :)

All this extra downtime has given me time to think, mostly because I don't feel like doing much else. Ten days of thinking all about yourself and how you're feeling is really not a passtime that I can recommend. All that thinking leads you to all kinds of emotions - many of which aren't so fun or healthy. I feel sad because I see life going on around me, and not only can I not physically participate, I don't want to participate because I feel so lousy. I feel frustrated because it's taking longer and longer to feel better each time. I feel guilty because my "slow down" doesn't just affect me - it affects the whole family. The kids mention vacation or camping or Holiday World, and I know that for now that's just something we can't do - because of me. And best of all, there's the internal argument swirling in my head, "You need to stop having a pity party for yourself. You know there's lots to be thankful for. You know these negative attitudes aren't helping!" 


So this summer our small group at church has been taking a little time to read through some of the Psalms. Lots of the Psalms are written by David - the same guy who killed the giant Goliath with a slingshot and went on to become the King of all of Israel. One morning, the kids and I read Psalm 63. But before they read it, I gave them a little back story to what was going on in David's life when he wrote it. When David was a boy, a prophet named Samuel showed up at his house one day and told David that God wanted to make him King of Israel. This would have been great, except Saul was already the King. So, David took that info, stuck it in his back pocket, and went on with life. But pretty quickly David and Saul's paths crossed. First, David came and did a a little harp playing for Saul to help him calm down when the evil spirit tormented him (Saul got a little loco in his later days). Then, David saved Saul and all of Israel when he killed their enemy Goliath (which made all the rest of their enemies run away in fear). Now, you'd think that Saul would be David's #1 fan, but since he was a little crazy, all this "help" had the opposite effect on Saul. He was jealous of David because he thought everybody liked David more than him; he was scared of David because he knew God was on David's side, not his. So, Saul sent David away with some of his army. And, no big shocker, David and the army had tons of success wherever they went. This did not do much for the whole jealous/scared thing. What came next was what many historians believe was 8 to 10 years of Saul chasing David all over the place, trying to kill him. 

Sorry for the long Bible/history lesson there, but here's where all of that comes into play. Psalm 63 was written while David was hiding out in the desert (think: "world's worst hiding spot"). Here's a few verses of what David had to say:

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Let's review: David is being chased by a lunatic King, forced to run and hide on and off for 10 years, even though all he's ever done is be a help to the King. And this is David's response to God - he knows God is his God and is desperate to call out to Him for help; not only that, he is thanking God for the life He's given him; he sees that God is being his help, and he's singing "thank-you songs" to Him. 

The kids and I talked about this a lot. We're not real sure that if it had been us in those circumstances we would have been singing "thank-you songs" to God. We think our songs would have taken a more whiny-angry-defeated tone. 

And that's when it hit me - that's exactly what I was doing. I'm not being chased by a lunatic, but I am being pursued by a pretty crazy disease. And my response: "Oh woe is me!" And the really honest question I had to ask myself was this: "How's that working out for ya?" The answer: not so good. So, I spent a little more time thinking and having my own little talk with God, But this time, I spent time focusing on different things. I thought about who I believe God to be: 
He is my God - He cares about about me specifically, and isn't just this guy in the sky who isn't concerned about the details of my life; 
He loves me- and He loves me with a love that is perfect. It isn't necessarily a love that means that everything will always be all-good-all-of-the-time, but He loves me enough to walk me through this tough season to teach me new things and change me into a better person.
He is my help - even though it may not feel like He's helping me right now, there are so many ways (plenty of them I probably don't even know about) in which He is protecting my life and caring for me and our family. 

And when you think about things that way, it does make you want to sing "thank-you songs". 

So, fast-forward to Monday. Monday was my follow up meeting with the surgeon now that I am halfway through chemo. If he found that the tumors were not shrinking, that would mean that chemo would stop and surgery would happen ASAP. The night before the appointment, Mike and I were talking about how we were feeling heading into the appointment. We both agreed that we would definitely like to "see" that the chemo is causing the tumors to shrink, but we also agreed that if they hadn't, that would be ok too. We know God's got us on a journey here - obviously we hope that at the end of the journey we will be celebrating that the cancer is gone, but what the journey looks like from here to there is an unknown, and maybe what we think is the "best path" might not be what God has in mind. 

Fortunately, Dr. Nate was able to do an ultrasound right there in his office, which meant there would be no waiting for the results. So, after a brief chat, we got to the ultrasound and learned that THE BREAST TUMOR HAS SHRUNK IN HALF! Yippee!! I think the doctor was so pleased with the result he forgot to check the lymph node. He started to put things up and let me clean all the ultrasound goo off of me, so I looked at him and said, "Would you mind checking the lymph node too?" He looked at me quizzically for half a second and said, "Sure. That's a great idea," and with a little smile on his face said, "I was just so pleased with the other result that I got distracted!" The lymph node is measured differently than the breast tumor, but after looking at it he said the lymph node looks, "much more like normal." Yippee again!! 

So the plan moving forward will fall out in three steps:
1. I will finish the last 4 chemo treatments over the next month and a half. Tomorrow will be treatment #5. My last treatment will be in late July.

2. After a month to rest, I will have surgery in late August. 

3. After another month to rest, I will start 6-8 weeks of radiation in late September. This was a bit of unexpected news, but the doctor explained that because of the lymph node involvement, this is a means of making sure that we kill off any cancer cells that might be left behind following surgery. As I explained it to the kids, we are gonna kill the cancer dead with the chemo and surgery, and then use radiation to stomp on it one more time to make sure it's good and dead. 

So, hard stuff and good stuff, quiet days and crazy days - but isn't that what all of our journeys through life really are? As always, we are so thankful that you are journeying with us. We love you all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Being Brave

Hi all,

I wanted to send a quick update following treatment #3.

1. "Chemo brain" or "chemo fog" is a real thing - and it's really annoying.
         Today is Day 7 in this third cycle, and honestly, it's the first day that I've felt like "the lights are on - and someone's finally home". I don't know how to explain it other than everything in my head feels slower. Gone are the quick decisions, the multi-tasking, even the logical reasoning at points. The frustrating thing about it is that I can totally tell it's going on, but I can't do much about it. I just have to kick back and wait for the fog to lift...

2. Chemo + Head Cold = I don't feel so good.

        It's springtime in Indiana, which means the trees, flowers, and my allergies are all in full bloom. So I guess that I shouldn't be surprised that the day after treatment a big ol' head cold showed up. Normally I'd be able to kick it pretty quick, but this time, not so much. With ears full of fluid, I feel like I spend my days doing my impersonation of an 80-year old version of myself - "Huh? What? What'd you say? Speak UP!!" This, coupled with a ridiculous amount of snot, (I'm pretty sure I am going to single-handedly help Kleenex make budget this quarter), the fatigue, and the return of "nothing-sounds-good-to-eat", the past week has been a rough one. I'm praying that I will be able to kick this cold before the next round so that I don't have to go into it already down.

3. Life feels like one big puzzle - and I'm not going to get to place that many pieces.

        At treatment last week, we talked with my oncologist about my upcoming Chemo Response appointment with the surgeon. After my fourth treatment, I will return to Dr. Nate who will complete some tests to determine whether or not the chemo is indeed shrinking the tumors. What I didn't know was that if they have not shrunk, the doctors will want me to pause chemo and have surgery instead. While on one hand that makes complete, logical sense, the thought of changing the "plan" really threw me for a loop because I had this all "planned" out: chemo would be done by late July, I'd get a month or so off, which would be great timing because I'd be feeling better as we started back into school, and then in September I'd have surgery. Great plan...or not.
         As much as I'd like to think that I have some kind of control in these circumstances, I really don't. I can't control how I feel. I can't control when I'm going to feel better. I can't control how this is all going to play out. When we first met Dr. Parshad, the oncologist, she made the comment about being sorry that chemo was the road that we needed to take. My response to her at the time was, "That's ok. If I were choosing what I was doing right now, I would choose to not even know you! But since that's not the case, we've got to choose whatever's going to work to get me better."

        I read a quote by author Ann Voskamp last week: "Do not pray for the hard things to go away - but pray for a bravery to come that is bigger than the hard thing." And that's what I've got to keep coming back to in these darker, quieter days. I could wish that I get my way, that all of this just magically goes away tomorrow, and that life would go back to "normal" again. But, I don't think that's what God has in mind for this season of life. So instead, I'll use these words from Psalm 138 and ask for a little bravery as we keep walking the road:

"When I called, You answered me. You made me bold and stouthearted."

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Law of Conservation of Energy

Hi All,

I apologize that I haven't written sooner. I know so many of you have been praying and thinking about us. I don't know how to explain it other than we can feel it - really. So many days I wonder how we are surviving as well as we are, but I know it's because of the thoughts and prayers of so many. So, thank you.

Round 2 of chemo has come and gone, and I'm thrilled to report that the second round was much less eventful than the first!. It seems that much of the stomach issues I suffered with after the first round may have had more to do with the after-effects of the anesthesia combined with the chemo. This time I did not suffer with the stomach upset and dehydration that I had last time. There were no "pregnancy" symptoms this time around, either. For the most part, food sounded and tasted good.

The fatigue is the one symptom that I don't think I will be able to avoid. I have been warned by many that there will be a cumulative effect of the fatigue with subsequent treatments, and already I can see what they mean. I am just tired. Every day. It doesn't matter if I do lots or little - I am tired. This year I have been teaching a couple of high school Physics classes. One of the many things I've taught the kids about is the Law of Conservation of Energy. The law says that energy can't be created or destroyed - it remains constant. Instead of there being "more" or "less" energy at any given point, it just changes form. I would like to argue a bit with my ancient physicists friends - it definitely feels like there is "less" energy in my "system" these days, but the reality is that it has just changed "forms" for this season. Instead of there being a plethora of "mom", "wife",  and "teacher" energy, it has drastically shifted to a new form - "get better" energy.

I am doing my best to combat with healthy eating, taking naps each day, and saying "no" to more than I want to. But I'm not gonna lie - this change in "energies" is tough. It's easy to become discouraged by what I can't do. It is a continual effort to choose to be thankful for what I can do. But when I choose to be thankful, I am so thankful - thankful for snuggles on the couch with Sophie while we watch a silly movie; thankful be able to stand at the fence and shout splits at Sam while he races - and see him smile back at me when he hears his crazy mom shouting at him; thankful to see Josh, my normally quiet kid, act brilliantly in the school play; thankful to watch Mike in action as a track coach, loving on kids and spreading his love of running and competition with so many. Super - now I'm sitting at the computer crying. :) But I think I'm crying now, and a lot more recently, because I'm choosing to be thankful. I know it probably sounds cliche, but I ain't lying folks; this change in energies has given me the opportunity to see and be thankful for things in a way that I never have before. I'm telling ya, folks - I know how to fill a schedule. Until a month ago, I could operate and a pretty frantic pace - teaching the kids; teaching other kids; taking care of the house; loving on my hubby; chauffeuring to track practices, violin lessons, basketball games; and a million other things. And I was thankful to be a part of all of those things - I really was. But I completely took for granted that there was the energy there to be a part of all of those things. Nothing like a sudden change in forms of "energy" to put that all into perspective real quick.

By a week after treatment I was feeling much better - so much so that I was able to travel with Mike and the kids to Nashville, TN to see the kiddos compete in the Music City Homeschool Track & Field Championships. It was a gorgeous day to sit and watch a meet, but at 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, the weather was a bit of a change for our runners who were used to an entire season of 60 degrees and rain.
But most importantly - it was a weekend full of things to be thankful for.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


It's been one week since my first treatment, and a whole lot has happened along the way. For those of you looking ahead to ALL of those words and are dying for a one-sentence summary, here it is: I'm doing great. If all the "extra" words are enticing to you, read on...

A few days before chemo, we went to the Community North Cancer Center for "orientation". The vast majority of our time was spent on "here's the drug you will take, and here are the millions of side effects that COULD come with it." Last Wednesday at treatment was no different: "We are giving you this - don't be surprised if it does that," and named another list of side effects, or, "if this happens, then you need to call us right away." On one hand, it's very reassuring - knowing there's a solution for just about every kind of symptom you could experience. On the other hand, it kinda makes you want to plug your ears and go, "LA, LA, LA!" as loud as you can to drown out the endless "possibilities".

So, after treatment we headed home, waiting for the "possibilities" to rear their ugly heads.

Thursday was pretty uneventful. The day after each treatment I will have to return to the hospital to get a shot that helps to boost my blood cell production so that my body can tolerate the chemo every two weeks. So, Dad, Sam and I loaded up and headed back to the Cancer Center for the shot and the obligatory "sit here for 30 minutes so we make sure this doesn't do something crazy to you" wait out. In that 30 minutes Dad and Sam determined that they had volunteered for the right gig, what with the free coffee, hot chocolate and cookies awaiting them in the lobby. After the wait out, I was feeling pretty good, so we ran a couple errands and headed home. By the time I was back I was tired, but nothing major. A nap fixed that problem. That night we got together with our small group, and it was at that point I noticed the "change" start to come on. As we ate dinner and hung out together, I found myself getting quiet - fatigue and a fuzzy brain were setting in. I made it through the night, went home, and crashed.

Then began what I can best describe as the Pregnancy phase. I woke up Friday morning, and my stomach felt pretty lousy. I forced myself to eat something that didn't sound good and sure enough, I felt better. But every couple hours that feeling would creep back in, so I'd head to the kitchen to play a round of our favorite game of the week, which went something like this:

Concerned family member: "Does _______ sound good?"
Me: "No."
CFM: "How about ________?"
Me: "Ugh, no, and get it away from me. The smell makes me want to wretch!"
CFM: "What about _______? You need to eat something!"
Me: "Fine. Just give it to me."

Couple this with a LOT more fatigue, and you now have a clear picture of my weekend.

By Sunday morning it seemed as though my energy levels were coming around, so I decided to venture out to church. On the "you should really try to avoid this" list is being out in places with large groups of people. Church feels like a natural solution then, right? I decided I was gonna trust God on this one and venture out, rather than lose my sanity being shut up at home. It was a great morning, and I felt pretty good afterwards. I came home, visited with a friend, tried to work on a few school things, and took it easy.

And then came the next phase - the Goodbye Stomach phase.

For those of you who I've texted back and forth with during this days, I came up with every euphemism I could in order to spare you the exact details of what was going on in my body. With a medical background of my own, my gross-out factor is SUPER high, but I try to remember that not everyone enjoys all the gory details. Needless to say, my issue was not vomiting, but more south-of-the-border.

Sunday night I didn't feel so hot, but hoped it was a one time thing. I woke up with the kids on Monday morning, felt better-ish, and thought I'd try to head to co-op for the morning. EPIC MISTAKE. I made it about an hour and a half and was in the car and back home asap. I paid for my jaunt Monday afternoon and evening, and by Tuesday morning I felt like I'd been run over by a truck. But, I assured myself, I have to be rounding the corner today - this is Day 7 - the day everything "should" get better. However, my body had a different agenda. Midmorning I was standing at the sink and nearly passed out. Sophie came to the rescue with a bowl of cereal. Afterwards, I explained to her how I felt, and what she needed to do in case I did faint. Fortunately, fainting is nothing new for Sophie - it's a new trick she's picked up in the last year or so. Her triggers are blood/broken bones. When I explained what she needed to do if I fainted, my compassionate nurse said, "Stay on the couch. Do NOT get up. And put a pillow behind your head!" Ha! Unfortunately, not much later I needed to get off the couch and head to the bathroom. But by this time my head was throbbing, I was getting chills, and my temperature climbed about 2 degrees in 10 minutes.

Back at orientation I was given a "chemo bible" of sorts. On the front page is the list of, "If you do any of these things, call us right away." I took a quick glance at the list, saw I was busted, and made the phone call. After a brief chat, the nurse told me I needed to come in to receive some IV fluids because I was likely dehydrated. So, mom and I headed to the hospital for a little mother-daughter bonding time while Mike took the kids to a track meet. Divide and conquer, I always say...

Folks, I'm not sure what's actually in that IV - they say it's saline, but I think they're lying. Maybe it's elixir from the Fountain of Youth or something. All I know is EVERYONE should get IV's  - the are absolutely lovely. Over the next couple hours I could feel the headache, the heaviness, all of it - leaving me. By the end I was whooped - I missed my daily nap for all this fun - but overall felt better. I headed home, crashed on the couch, and slept like a baby. And then when I woke up yesterday morning...


I felt great yesterday! I got up with the kids, had breakfast with them, got some of them out the door, did laundry, did dishes, took a shower, made soup for lunch - and still felt ok! Woot woot!! After lunch I sat down to read to Sophie for a few minutes, and it all came crashing in, but a quick 30 minute snooze and I felt good enough to head out the door with everyone to Sam and Sophie's track meet. Over the course of the day I was able to eat more and more normally as well.

Today seems to be starting in much the same way, which leaves me hopeful that we've weathered the first round unscathed.

Apparently Virgil (think Ancient Roman poet) said, "The greatest wealth is health." Now, I don't know if I'd go quite that far, but I'd definitely agree that you quickly learn to appreciate your good health when it's suddenly snatched out from under you. Mike has made the comment a number of times that it is so odd to think that I am somehow "sick" because I seem perfectly healthy. And then to throw in something like chemo, which makes you sick to make you better, and it all just seems a bit surreal. But despite the ups and downs of the week, I really am thankful - thankful I wasn't more sick; thankful that I have the ability to slow life down and take the time I need to feel better; thankful for all texts and cards of encouragement; thankful for the yummy food brought to our home when the last thing I wanted to do was cook a meal;  thankful that we can enjoy a few days of reprieve before we head back in for the next round; and ultimately, thankful to a God who has been GOOD to us, and whose love is going to endure this and everything else that come our way.

Love to you all,

Stephanie and the gang