It’s that time again…

The last few weeks have been a bit quiet on the blogging front…partly because we’ve had guests…partly because my brain has felt like a pile of mush…but mostly because this cycle has been rough and I just didn’t feel like it. And I decided that that’s OK. 🙂

But I thought it was worth mentioning that I have my 3rd infusion tomorrow. This marks the 1/2 way point in my chemo journey…crazy. I celebrated my last day of feeling “normal” for the next couple weeks by:

– eating a giant bowl of guacamole – yum! It’s nice to have taste buds again.

– running 6k

– hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

– cleaning a bit

– reading a bit

– praying a bit

– prepping my “infusion” food…this time spinach tortellini

Please pray the next cycle will be a bit more gentle…and like always the IV going in on the first try. 🙂



I will remember

Well I survived receiving another chemo infusion. They got the IV started on the first time again…yippee! I’m going to keep asking for that because it is a tangible answered prayer for me. And I decided that I was going to skip the dry Dutch bread and cheese that they give you for lunch here and bring my own fabulous baked sweet potato fries. It was entertaining to watch people try to figure out what I was eating, because of course I had a little ketchup with them being an American. And once someone finally had enough curiosity to ask they just couldn’t get their minds around it for a few reasons…it wasn’t a sandwich for lunch…there wasn’t mayo for the fries…and who eats ketchup? I had a quick conversation with them about how sweet potatoes are SO much better for you than normal white potatoes and they seemed interested but who knows if it stuck. All I know is that I was very happy with my lunch and that’s all that really matters. Today I feel pretty good, no nausea, and I’m now in the balance of trying to never get too hungry or too full…and hydrate! At any given moment I have no less than 5 cups scattered around the house with various levels of water, juice, tea, and coffee.

My spirit was down going into this round because we received some extremely bad news that is probably worse than hearing you have cancer. The details of this are not for public blogging but it’s enough to say we’ve got some other stuff to deal with. So I must have a great excavator in my life that just doubled the pit I am now sitting in but here’s hoping we have hit bedrock.

In the midst of all of this I have been slowly reading through a book given to me by my new pastor and his wife at Vineyard Groningen, The Blessing Book by Linda Dillow. The 2nd chapter of this book has been especially relevant to me. The one I want to share with you today is called “I will remember” and it’s based around Psalm 77.

Psalm 77
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion? ”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.

11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

At this particular moment I feel like I am living in the first half of this psalm (vs 1-10). Where my spirit is grieving and weary. It is difficult to be comforted or to find the strength to carry on. Sleep is hard to come by and it is impossible to know what to do. Except remember. I will choose to remember the ways God has worked in my life and the power/miracles he has displayed throughout time. This is not overly spiritualized my heart is still heavy…but I know my God. I know he is the giver of life and redemption. I know he can move mountains and pray fervently for transformation and provision.  And with this remembrance comes the peace of knowing it will not always be this way.

Psalm 77 by Kristin Serafini



Giddy-up…Ready for Chemo #2

It’s hard to believe that 3 weeks has passed already and that I am set for my next chemo infusion tomorrow. My hair is falling out in patches so my kick ass crew cut has turned into something that more closely resembles a style from a concentration camp.  And while I’ve tried to hurry the hair loss process along with some duct tape it remains very patchy and unattractive.  My spirit has been down these past two days and I have a lot of anxiety for this next round. But, I must face it and will take the side effects as they come. One day at a time. I’ve been drinking water these last 3 weeks like I am about to face a drought and it has really helped my veins. Each blood draw has been a piece of cake…apparently I’ve lived these last few years in a constant state of dehydration. 🙂 This is a pretty quick update. I’ll let you know how it goes when I’m up to it.

Specific prayer requests:

–       Again, that they would get the IV on the first try. I’m getting spoiled now.

–       That I my anxiety would ease in remembering God’s provision and faithfulness.



Update Chemo round #1

Welp, I survived the first round of chemo with fairly minimal side effects…so far. 2 HUGE ANSWERED PRAYERS:

  1. The fact that I was able to start treatment. I had a 101F/38.2C fever the day before and if it stayed that high my treatment day was going to slip. I got a good night’s sleep that evening and woke up feeling much better and got the green light to start.
  2. Got the IV on the first go in my hand. Awesome! I was drinking a ton of liquids beforehand and they put a hot pack on my arm which I’m sure helped a lot. Plus I think I made the nurse more focused because of my slippery veins. 🙂

But that was just the first part of the long, boring day. It was in my right hand so I couldn’t do any journaling or crocheting but I got a lot of reading done while the chemicals drip, drip, dripped into my system. I wore my cozy pink bunny socks (with the wide angle lens makes my feet look like pink skis) and wrapped myself in the beautiful quilt my mom and sister gave me to have some love from home. I had no problems with my veins burning or any other discomfort. Poor Jonathan was by my side for the the whole 5 hours in a super uncomfortable chair but he was a trooper.

I am on the strongest dose of anti-nausea medicine and that also seems to have done the trick so far. I am still drinking a ton of liquids and eating small meals but outside of an occasionally queasy stomach it hasn’t been so bad. I understand that the effects are accumulative and this is the first dose but I’m taking my blessings when I get them…one day at a time. I have my “chemo physical therapy” tomorrow to help keep my strength and fitness at a good level during treatment and I am actually excited to go.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and positive vibes during this…they help a lot.



Reluctantly Pink

I don’t really like pink. In fact, I might even say I dislike it.  There is no real reason why its just never been my color. Maybe it has something to do with being a hardcore engineer 🙂 or maybe because I was born in the 80’s and saw so many different horrible shades that I developed an aversion to it.  I can’t ever remember liking it…except for Barbie’s pink corvette. She always seemed to have a way of pulling it off. In general I’m OK with disliking it and have normally left the pink wearing in our family to my rock star sister-in-law Sarah and her fabulous daughter Jadrianne.

But, after I found out I had Breast Cancer it seemed like I saw pink everywhere and even opened myself up to purchasing a few things. Gasp! People have told me that I don’t HAVE to like pink now…I know, and I still don’t really. But the color reminds me of all the women who have gone before me in this fight. It is comforting and sometimes feels like armor against the anxiety of the unknown. I don’t know how my body will react to chemo. There are a ton of scary potential side effects…I had to go to the dentist last week to make sure my teeth won’t fall out. I don’t know a single person who is excited for chemo and says that is fun. So, I am certain it will be rough and am bracing myself for some tough days. But I am not the first and draw strength knowing that there are many people in the same position I am. I can and will do this one day at a time.

That being said I got the call this morning for my first of six chemo appointments. It will be this Thursday at 10:30 am Amsterdam time. I have been told it will take 4-5 hours because they give me quite a cocktail of different drugs. For you medical folks out there I am on the TAC regimen (DoceTaxel, Adriamycine, Cyclofosfamide). And will now receive an IV dose every 3 weeks.

This is when things will get heavier and we appreciate your prayers. Please pray specifically for:

  • A good night’s sleep on Wednesday…no anxiety
  • Getting the IV started on the first try. I have extremely difficult veins and can now only use my right arm for blood draws and IVs. After the IVF and other blood tests my right arm is extremely sore from getting poked so many times. (Most people need a couple tries to get it)
  • Minimal side effects

And the results are in…

Jonathan and I just got back from receiving the rest of my test results and the verdict is…the cancer has not spread…it has been contained within the breast region…and in the words of my surgeon “I can be cured”.  Wooohooo!! Excellent news!

He did also mention that after the multi-disciplinary meeting last week they are recommending a prophylactic radiation treatment after the 6 rounds of chemo. I am not very excited about that but I have a few months to do more research and the decision is ultimately up to me.

It is a beautiful day in the Netherlands and we are going to go out and enjoy the last moments we have with Tim and Leah here.



What a difference a month makes

It has almost been 1 month to the day since we received the breast cancer diagnosis. The focus of your life changes so completely that it is difficult for me to remember what was normal before. The Martini Ziekenhuis is now familiar and walking the route to the Breast Cancer clinic is almost automatic.  As we were waiting for our appointment to hear the pathology results I noticed another young couple across the room.  They were us 1 month ago. He was sitting there on his blackberry scrolling through e-mails while she was called out of the room every 20 minutes for another test.  I remember the anxiety of that waiting.  I tried to keep myself distracted but until you know the outcome it’s impossible.

On to my results from today. After you get the initial awful news…everything after that becomes relative. We got some relatively good news today.  My cancer has been diagnosed as stage 2b grade 2. In other words the tumor in the breast was 5 cm and had spread to 3 out of 11 of the axillary lymph nodes under my arm. It is also classified as a grade 2 with a grade 3 being the most aggressive. It was removed with a good margin so the surgeon is confident that we got it all.  There are a lot of other medical details about it but that doesn’t need to go up on the blog.  The normal treatment path is 6 rounds of chemo therapy. OK…that sucks but we were expecting some chemo. I will be going in for a few more tests next week to make sure it hasn’t spread further but we have good reason to be happy because the news today could have been worse. The one note our surgeon mentioned is that there was some metastasis into the blood vessels around the tumor and he was going to bring it up in a multi-disciplinary meeting this week to discuss whether prophylactic radiation may be necessary.  But that will be after the chemo…and in my brain nothing I need to think about immediately. On our current radar screen is trying to fit an IVF cycle in before the chemo gets going. Small steps. 🙂

As we were leaving the hospital the couple from the waiting room was walking slowly down the hall.  He looked like a bomb just went off and she was sobbing into his shoulder. Ugh…we’ve been there too.  Everything in us wanted to give them a hug and say that we were sorry but we decided that probably was creepy. Instead we said a prayer for them and walked to the car. What a difference a month makes.