Monday, December 28, 2015

The Calm

It's the after-Christmas Calm. As much as I love Christmas, I was very ready to pack up the decor and trash the tree this year. More than in the past. It may be because I'm counting the days until my radiation is complete (January 19th!). Or maybe because we are very much looking forward to the cruise we are going on in February, as a family, with Meran's dance company! Whatever the reason, I know 2016 is going to be another year of God working and showing himself faithful through our journey we call life. 

This year Christmas was different. Because of my newest niece's arrival a week before Christmas and both the radiation schedules of my in laws and my own, we weren't able to be with family, as usual, on Christmas. We did have a fun visit the weekend before from Eric, Christina & the girls, my parents came down Christmas Day and we will celebrate with the rest of the Neese family in a few weeks. Different than the norm, but still so much fun!

As for radiation, I've completed the first set of 5 deep bone radiation therapies on my t12 with no other side effects then some fatigue, but honestly, who wasn't tired leading up to the week of Christmas...with gift preparations, parties and programs. All so fun, but kind of exhausting. That is why I love the week after so much, spending time together, relaxing in cozies, hanging out at home as a family.
Each morning I have radiation, but fortunately I get it out of the way, first thing. This current radiation is done more on the surface and I can already, after 2, see my skin changing a bit. But, I'm using my trusty essential oils;). Head down, barreling through this! Let's get-her done...and onto 2016!

Introducing my newest niece...Harper Joy Lozano

             Wishing you Joy and Focus of God's unfailing love and grace to you in 2016.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Giving Thanks Week

We hit up both our families for thanksgiving. I loving having the kids out of school for the entire gives us enough time to slow down and take in all that we are truly thankful for, from SoCal to the Central Valley❤️.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Appointment Update

Jason and I met with Dr Helsten today. The shock and disappointment from last week's scan results have lost its sharpness and become our new reality. That's how it goes...we get comfortable where we are at (danger zone!) and then "new and different" barges in, uninvited, and slaps us in the face when we are just going about our business. 
But, this reminds me that my ways are not His ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
Just because I hear that my cancer is growing in 3 spots doesn't need to mean I lose hope. It's just a new "new and different". Only God knows the number of my days...secretly (but not now I guess) I'm glad I don't know how long I have. This will keep me on my toes!
So, together we talked about different treatments. There are 2 different targeted therapies that both tested positive for possibly working on "part" of my cancer's DNA (one FDA approved/one still in a trial period). Each of these drugs have to be paired with another drug, each for different reasons. And while this might seem promising, after hearing all the side effects, I think I'll put them off for as long as I can. 
The reason being, my Dr said once I stop chemo, or any other drug, it's off the table, and you don't go back to it. I asked her a billion questions. She gave a billion answers. 
Quality of life is so important(why I'm not doing iv chemo), and this is something both of us agree on. Who wants to have x amount of crappy years of always feeling tired, always needing to rest, not being able to be apart of my family's world, day in and day out? (*this is my opinion and I'm not knocking anyone who is undergoing iv chemo...cancer, unfortunately, if different for each person, requiring different treatments)
I choose to keep fighting through a balance of both holistic therapies and traditional medicine. I'll currently stay on the oral chemo and radiate the 3 spots that show activity...detoxing all the while;).  If I'm able to, I may kick up hyperbaric therapy also. Uppercut, uppercut...take that crappy cancer! 
So, that's where we are. And still, there is so so so much to be thankful for. 
~no new spots showed up on the scan
~the fluid near my lung hasn't returned 
~still feeling pretty good (though I currently have whatever is going around)
~I'm sooooo supported & encouraged through all of this by my cheer squad aka you;) (Truly thank you ALL for the messages, prayers, helped me a lot this past week or two)
~God is still God, unchanging in character and loving me through it all
~that the chemo would kill the cancer cells, having new potency in me
~that radiation would be short & effective
~for my kids to not worry
~that God would be glorified

Monday, November 9, 2015

Scan Update

The grey sky outside depicts exactly how I'm feeling right now. I finally got my scan results and it looks like there has been progression in my disease. This threw me for a loop since I've been feeling so good...but should I expect anything less from crappy cancer? In a few weeks I will be following up with my natural MD, to see how the treatment from Greece worked, but I'm completely convinced it did nothing, except maybe grow the cancer, from these scan results. Very frustrating. 
I'll meet with my oncologist Monday and will have a better understanding of exactly where it's growing, but from what I read and think I understand, it's spread from one of my ribs to another bone, a few lymph nodes, as well as the pelvic area, which they said is unchanged from last scan, but we (us and my DR.) didn't even know about.
No doubt treatment will change.
Prayers appreciated because I do not have the strength or words to pray for myself right now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Scan, Take Two

Last Friday my oncologist let me know that while "everything looked very good" on my scan, she also saw 2 existing spots that looked like they had new activity and "she didn't like the way they looked". 
Huh?!!!? That news seemed to contract itself but I'm following up with a scan with contrast today, to look into this further. If it is growing in these 2 spots we'll address them immediately with new treatment perhaps, but, my prayer is that the activity showing is the SOT taking action and KILLING....what they do best;)!
Hopefully these questions will be answered by tomorrow, with the results. I'm still feeling pretty good, except for some pinched nerve in my neck/shoulders that is annoying, but that's nothing new;). 
Thank you for the prayers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Visalia Weekend and Appointment Update

Meran and I got to run up to Visalia for a few days this weekend to love on my mother-in-law, who had surgery last week. She is doing great and recovering well(although I didn't take a picture to prove it;). As always, the trip was too quick and very these peeps!

As for my health update, I have a scan Thursday-to peek inside and hopefully see hardly any cancer;). I'm feeling great and what I would consider "normal". So, so grateful for my gift of feeling healthy! On November 17, I will return to the Natural MD in OC and have a test done to see the results of the SOT. I am excited and hopeful, trusting that it has done its job. But no matter what the outcome, I will praise the Lord, who has been 100% faithful, 100% of the time!

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber not sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
Psalm 121:2-5

Monday, October 12, 2015

Panning for Gold

Is it just me, or do you keep track of the year no longer by a traditional calendar (January-December)? But, rather by the anniversary of the most recent life altering event in your life? Maybe it's that of a loss...person, job, marriage, or perhaps a relocation, job change or new diagnosis. For the past 4 years that is how I mark time. Not negatively mind you, but rather a time to look back and reflect what God has done in my life throughout the past year. It's so crazy and fun to see the surprising twists and turns that only He knew about and how He guided me through it. It's similar to panning for gold, is it not? You scoop up all this dirt, sand etc in your pan and sift slowly and purposely through that. It's challenging work sometimes, and hard for our untrained eyes to see at times...but it's always there. God's goodness, those flecks of gold that re-enforces the truth that "this is not our home". Giving us a teeny-tiny peek of those streets of gold that await those who trust and love Him with this earthly life. Reminding us that He brings beauty out of ashes. 
One year ago from last week, I was recovering from surgery that had removed my cancerous ovaries and also had received the hard news that there was yet more cancer found during the surgery....which hadn't shown up on previous scans. It was then I made the decision to go on the oral chemo and do radiation. I wasn't feeling that hot. But even in all that dirt I had scooped up I was seeing a plethora of gold flecks gleaming through! God's provision and grace and peace and mercy have continued to show up this year with every corner I round. 
And now with both of my sweet in laws battling similar challenges, I see God's provision covering our family still. Only strengthening what the evil one wants to destroy. We will continue to trust in God and believe His promises of Jeremiah 29... (Very loose paraphrase)That He has a plan for our lives, to give us a hope and future...and we will call on Him and find Him when we seek Him with all our heart.
I'm so so so (times infinite) thankful for this time I have been given and my current steady health & energy level, considering it all. It's so true, I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1am Personal Therapy Session

It's those hours between Tuesday and Wednesday. The house is oddly still and quiet, the kind that hurts your ears. I'm so tired but can't sleep. My heart is so full with burden...for, the one who lost her husband to cancer, the one addicted to drugs, the family of the sweet friend who just couldn't see the light through the dark tunnel she was lost in, the one recovering, the ones fighting for their lives. The list goes on and truly, the more God puts on my heart and the longer the "prayer list" gets, the more I realize how important it is to petition God for each other. It can seem so trite almost to tell one another that we will pray for them, kind of like the saying, " my thoughts are with you." (Huh? What does that mean). But truly, to carry one another's burdens before the throne, in prayer, is what we are called to do-really pray, not just say. We ALL have a story, a burden, a thorn in our side. One is not more important or tragic than the other in God's eyes. So, while I feel so heavy hearted for so many, I'll turn it over to God. Who loves and cares and knows exactly what each is going through. 
God thank you for hearing what only our heart can say when our words aren't sufficient.
I love you. You know, because you are GOD.

Disclaimer: please know this is just me, writing to myself as therapy;)...and putting it out in public.

O send our Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy; yes, with the lyre will I praise You, O God, my God! Psalm 43:3-4

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Homecoming happenings

This week was Homecoming Week at The Rock Academy. Some say it seems early for that, but we have been in school since mid-August!!
Each day had a dress-up theme and everyone from jr kinder-high school joined in with school spirit! We ended the week on Friday, with an all school pep rally & chili dog feast and then the BIG football game. Even though the stadium lights shut off before the game was over, our team hung in there and prevailed once the lights came back on! It was a fun night. Our school may be small, but it's mighty with school spirit!
    Yes, Sutton looks thrilled here;)

    Got his football signed by the team

    That's our "flyer" in the middle!
    Grandpa came to cheer her on
    Go Warriors!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Bubbling over"

Last week, one of the daily scriptures on my Bible App was Romans 15:13 (amp version)
May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing (through the experience of your faith) that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.

As time goes on, the world gets worldlier and more of those I love face struggles I want to shield them from (both physical and spiritual), it seems that hope could easily be lost. We can get lost in fear, the sadness of "bad" news, the uncertainty of the world our children will grow up in, the busy-ness of life. But, (Thankful from the tip of my toes to the top of my head that there is a but!) God knew we'd feel this way, and He gave us His word in the power of the Holy Spirit (we) may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope!
So thankful that it's not on our own strength that we have hope (I can think of 1,000+ times I have failed in the having hope area). We all have experienced what seems like a hopeless situation. There is hope through the Holy Spirit. God is our hope! He is bigger than the tragedy, the unfair situation, the struggle in the relationship, the disease that could be fatal. Thank you Jesus that you bring Hope! It's so appropriate that "overflowing" can be translated into "bubbling over", isn't it?  As His Hope quenches our parched souls, when the evil one would just love to keep us in a "dying of thirst" place. So, drink from the Hope God wants to pour into your thirsty soul!

My soul was filled with joy, peace and hope this week because God has answered another prayer regarding my health tumor marker has gone down 1.7 points! (Yippee!!!) While that number may seem small, it had been creeping up a point each time the past few months. I'm believing this to mean that the SOT is at work in my body, killing those nasty cancer cells! I'll have a test in November after the treatment has been given its full 16-18 weeks it needs to, stay tuned;).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Truth North

It's a bit ironic that I keep a blog because I am not eloquent at all. Both my brothers got that gene (if there is one). One is a Lawyer and the other has his Phd and is both an author & professor. I like to joke that I got the "common sense" (haha bros;). 
Often I have ideas or lessons I've learned floating around up there, but don't get them out the same way they appear in my head.
For example, last year I was going to be prayed for by Pastor Miles and the Rock staff at a staff meeting. When Pastor Miles asked me to give an update about my health, I stated that this had been the richest past few months because of all the lessons I'd learned and the sweet time of being drawn so close to God during the hardness of learning that I had cancer throughout my body. He asked if I wanted to be prayed for, for healing. I hesitated and said, "I do but..." 
I couldn't adequately explain why, while Part of me did want to be cancer-free, I also felt this never before feeling and knowledge of God and his mercies and goodness, even in the midst of the discomfort, surgery, continual findings of cancer and the uncertainty of what could be done for me.
I just couldn't eloquate it.

This morning, while listening to (Pastor) Tommy teach I took mad notes because he was explaining how I was a way I couldn't formulate on my own. (Thanks Tommy!)
Among other passages, He spoke out of James 1:2,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

He talked about how we are to study God's word so that we are informed by His teaching so we are prepared for the storms. Perhaps these years of cancer are preparing me for something else coming, or perhaps He has been preparing me for this storm of cancer, or maybe both!
But what he said next hit my thought-nail on the head!!

We might hate (it) in the beginning but start to love (it) if it's your true north.

That's what I was trying to communicate last year to Pastor Miles and the staff. I hated, hated, hated receiving that diagnosis last summer. I spent more time then I ever had on my knees and prostrate-making my bedroom rug wet with tears. I begged God to let it not be cancer. We all have those moments, don't we? When we wish sooooo bad God would give us what we want. But it's in those times of surrendering our will over to Him that we find our true strength. It's so not what the world says strength is, but as we can see, that way isn't working too well, is it? 
Strength in Surrender. 
And so, I began to love where I am. I don't love cancer, but I love where He has brought me while having cancer. Seriously, I couldn't be more blessed. To have the struggles of cancer while still being able to be the mom, wife, friend that I desire to be. My cup overflows.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

And They're Off...

...Out the starting gates to 1st, 4th & 8th grade! Feels like we were just doing this a few months ago, though it's been a year since our last first day of school. And, because next year Bellen will join the uniformed crew, entering kindergarten, and because Meran will enter high school, I know, no doubt, that this year will fly by at mighty speeds! Go Warriors!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Summer Wind Down

Sadly, our summer is coming to a close and school starts on Monday. We love our school and the kids are ready to get back with their friends...but, wouldn't you agree that there is something fabulous about the carefree-ness and non-structure of summer?? Even though I feel like we could use a few more weeks, Monday will come regardless of my feelings, so we have packed in the fun (hence my lack of blogging).

Celebrated this handsome, best friend of a husband & fab father turning the big 4-0!

FCA baseball camp for these two baseball fans

College Roomie Annual Get Together (minus our blonde part:(-we missed you Candace!)

    Padres Game...whoop-whoop
  Finally Tried the Aquatica WaterPark!

Fresh Haircuts and Ice Cream!

One last trip to the beach on " summer time "

Later Summer...

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