Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 172- Last Chemo: My Fairytale Life

     I feel overwhelmed, as I sit here soaked in my emotions. I feel as If I'm in a fairytale disney movie, and all of this will just be a dream when I wake up. PINCH ME! This is so real, and yet doesn't feel like a blessing so big could be given to me. My name Is Brittany George, and I'm a cancer survivor. I'M A CANCER SURVIVOR! The first thought that came to my head after that statement was how much I miss you Mrs.Crebs. She passed due to breast cancer, and I wish she was here to see how God has touched my life In ways I never knew existed; Until cancer. "When the doctor walked in to give me the results, and asked me to bring my husband back, I knew exactly in that moment what was going on. I was then diagnosed with cancer." I wrote that a little over 6 months ago; the day after I was diagnosed. Going back and reading that brings me back to that exact moment, which I'll never forget. When we were told, I just cried and cried. I couldn't talk to anyone, and was in such shock. You never think It could happen to you, and I will NEVER think that way again. I'll pray that If It's Gods will, that It happens to me, and my husband & I will follow God to the ends of the earth doing whatever He calls us to do. 

     After experiencing the ups, downs(quite a few of those), and enjoying this wonderful disease through Gods eyes, It has been unbelievable. God allowed me to get sick, and then spun it beautifully for His glory. I ended up far more blessed than I would've been without it. Oh my gosh! Seriously? Six months ago people began telling me I was so strong. Me, strong? God definitely came in and took control of everything. To feel 100% at peace when you feel like you're dying and are fighting for your life, has God written ALL over it. I wouldn't be sitting here in my home writing all of this If God hadn't held my hand, loved on me, and CURED me! I'm sorry for the scattered comments, but I can't contain this joy, and love for Christ! Though It has been a blessing I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, It has also been nearly unbearably emotional and very rough. Towards the end of Chemo, the pain was so awful that I would cry myself to sleep and tell my husband I was so scared I wouldn't wake up in the morning. The aggravation of folding laundry and feeling immediately winded became frustrating. I've basically been exhausted for 6 months. Imagine having 6 full months, and every single day getting only a few short hours of sleep each night. No breaks from the exhaustion or the pain. Of course the stomach pain would ease up a bit a few days before chemo, but It never went away. 

     I grew exhausted of telling people I was doing great, when my body was yelling, "NO I'M NOT!", but no one needed to worry when God was already saving me slowly, but surely. He changed my perspective on everything, and in doing that, showed me how to live the way I wasted my life not living the past 19 years of my life. It was also such a fight to feel pretty. The devil tried so hard to get a hold of me and to make me doubt Gods creation being beautiful. I felt ugly sometimes, but always knew that God made me beautiful, and no matter how people see me, I AM beautiful. I'm not vain in any way, shape, or form, but I am not going to look down on Gods creation and tell him he messed up. How gross does It sound to even think that? Imagine having cancer, and just walking around feeling ugly. It's normal, truly.. but that's not the way God intended you to feel. You should stand tall and look up at the faces staring at you, while they're constantly whispering, looking, and pointing since you look "different." No one matters but Jesus. I found myself praying in my head when I was walking through the mall with friends. I would just pray to feel beautiful, and to be reminded that I'm made in God's image, which is nothing less than beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Clearly, that Is the word of the day! Haha. :) 

     Sometimes I'd be walking around without my hat, and look up at the people staring at me, standing tall, and tears would be running down my face. It was so difficult to be proud of my bare head, but by the time I was done praying, the pain of not looking normal was gone. Not even kidding, on the rough days, I'd find myself praying silently the entire time I was in the grocery store. I'd be picking out body wash or mac&cheese, and find myself asking God which brands I should get. Haha! I would thank him for every Item I picked up, and just talk to him constantly. I advise you to do this OFTEN! It sounds so silly, but God is so wonderful to talk to. People shape God as this God that can't be spoken to unless you're eating dinner, going to bed, or need something. How wrong Is that perspective? Though I never really had that perspective, that's still what I used to do. I'm never going back to that.. No thank you! I miss God constantly. I crave time with Him, and can't wait to tell him about my day. He is REAL, and wants a relationship with you.. A REAL relationship like you have with your best friend or your significant other, where you tell him EVERYTHING. He knows everything, obviously, but loves that time with you! Put down that iphone when you're in the grocery store, take your time, or go into your closet, relax, and enjoy your creator and savior. Jesus saved you from a fiery death, so why not spend time thanking and loving him?

     "There's a new wind blowing like I've never known. I'm breathing deeper than I've ever done. And it sure feels good to finally feel the way I do." (Keith Urban lyrics) I've never felt so alive! I feel like my life has an even greater purpose, and I'm just now seeing bits and pieces of what God has in store for Jake & I. Before cancer I went through the motions of work, school, church, etc. I've never lived with purpose(though even then I had purpose). God has blessed me so greatly through a deadly disease. Cancer, a word that saddens and scares people, has been the sickness that has saved my life! I'm now finally living my life! I can't wait to sit in the sun, which I haven't done in 6 months. I want to just spin in circles forever in the rain, sun, or overcast weather. I have so much life to catch up on, and I don't even remember what It's like to lay out on the beach, or to go running without passing out. I want to travel the world, and speak in churches and schools about Gods love and grace in a situation that could've gone very differently. It wasn't my time to go, so I'll spend the rest of my life, however long that may be, living every moment for Christ. You can't walk away from such a huge miracle unchanged. Every moment should be Gods, and out of everything I've learned these past 6 months, the biggest thing I'm walking away with Is a passion to go where God wants me, and to never take my life and live it as my own. I was created for a greater purpose. 

     Lets do this guys! Bring Itttt. Always one day at a time, and I will never again take the ability to work, clean, enjoy the sun, or have good health for granted ever again. Life is too short to complain about this or that. Wouldn't you rather enjoy every second, praising God for your education, clean water, a roof over your head, good or bad health, a job, or for just being ALIVE? I'll stumble, fall constantly, hurt, sin often, and be frustrated, but I will never give up on God. I'll always get back up again; You always have the choice to get back up. Until you breath your last breathe, you will always have the choice give up, or to let God take control. Trust him, love him, and just try again. Always get up again, because with God you can do ANYTHING! There are no limits.. No doctor can tell you that you won't make it. No matter what the outcome, just live in the moment and fight with everything you have.. and just never give up. Whether you have perfect health, or the worst health imaginable, just live for God. He will use you in unreal ways, and you can do something awesome for God through the smallest thing. Maybe your smile can forever impact someone. Who knows? It really is that simple. :) Now that I've let God have the control, I'm ready for anything! I've lost my hair, nearly lost my life, had a bone marrow biopsy, and have fallen deeply in love with Christ! My name is Brittany Mae, and I fought for my life, shed millions of tears, laughed, loved, endured extreme pains, smiled, and beat cancer. I am a cancer survivor. What's next God? You name It! :)

John 16:33
James 1:2-4
Matthew 5:16

"I will take the steps to change my life,
And I won't be coming back to here again,
I need Your loving hand to guide me,
Through the maze of all the things inside me,
Then I'll know that I'm alright."

With Love,
    Brittany Mae :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 103

    Normally I'd sit here and write about my every move; Each activity day in and day out. I write about this to jog my memory someday when my own memories have too many holes and I can't remember who was there for me and what I did each day. I've been writing in detail in my phone so I can journal it in later, and decided that this entry would be different. Much has happened since I last blogged about 40 days ago. I'd like to focus more on the major events and share with you some person stories that, before yesterday, I wouldn't have even considered doing. This is all so personal already, haha, but after praying about it, I feel that God really wants me to open up even more and let you all into my life to a greater extent. About a month ago I had another bad reaction to my Chemo. I was itchy all over and they thought I was allergic to a specific drugs. After taking me off of one of my chemo bags, I still had reactions. Even now we don't know why I get blotchy red in certain areas, but It's contained to small spots, so I'm sure It's nothing to worry about. :) The following day I had a PET scan, which Is something I'm VERY eager to tell you all about! I wasn't necessarily nervous about my PET scan, but I was definitely anxious to know the results. I prayed basically all day, every day, for the entire week before the scan. I cried and cried, as I prayed that If It was Gods plan, that the cancer would be exactly how he wanted it. I prayed that God would allow me to stay calm and give me immense strength If the cancer had spread, or worst case scenario, was terminal. I was 2 months into chemo, and for all we knew, my body could've been rejecting chemo because of the allergic reactions I'd been seeing. After finding a peace with whatever the results were, during fluids the next day I was called into Dr.Reynolds Office. I couldn't stop fidgeting. He walked in and sat down with a big smile on his face. Only moments later I was given news of a miracle. After looking at the PET scan, my Doctor told me that the cancer was completely gone. After only 2 months of Chemo, every bit of the cancer had vanished! He was just shocked, and told me that he didn't want to throw the word, "remission" out there, because to a patient, that word holds beautiful meaning. He did tell me though, that I'm basically in remission. :) From what they can tell right now, I should only have 3 more months of Chemotherapy, which is only to make sure that the cancer is all wiped out. I've always known how great my God is, but WOW! To be in this beautiful situation, and to see him work such a miracle.. I've never experienced God in such a personal way before. Cancer is kind of a big deal, but God is kind of a MUCH bigger deal, and a sweet healer. I'm half way there! I've been on Chemotherapy for 3 months now, and I only have a short 3 months left! After examining my condition, I was originally told that I might not be done until January of next year, and I had accepted the challenge. I'm now being told that I'll be done about 4 months earlier than planned. It's just mind blowing and a blessing, though calling it a blessing is without a doubt an understatement. I waited a month to tell all of you this incredible news because I kept having bad allergic reactions, and didn't want to tell everyone of this beautiful miracle, and then find out that due to me being allergic to who knows what, that the timeline has changed. I was told by my doctor that he sees no reason why I'd need to be put through more than 3 more months of these drugs, so I then decided It was time to tell everyone. :)

    Now that I've told you that I'm well on my way to being a cancer survivor, I have a few stories I'd like to share. I'm praying that someone reads these stories, because God is so present in each situation, even when It doesn't feel that way sometimes. When you think your life is crumbling, God has such beautiful plans for you. He has journeys you can't possibly embark on without his perfect love and guidance. Never give up hope, because we would be foolish to do so. Jesus was nailed to a cross for our awful sins. He bared more than I could ever willingly throw myself into like He did. I didn't willingly give myself cancer, but I have the choice to willingly give my battle, troubles, fears, hopes, dreams, heart and life to Christ. Life is a much easier journey when you have God leading your every step. Nothing will ever be perfect, there will be tragic events in your life, and you will endure such rough obstacles, but If you chose to allow God to come into your life, and hold your hand along the way, you can enjoy the hard times and give him praise in every storm.

    Now, on to a few stories I'd like to share. They may seem silly to some of you, or maybe they will change your outlook on both small & big things. I hope these personal events mean something to someone like they do to me:

    A few hair stories- About a month ago Jake and I decided to go out for a date night. For the first time I felt brave about going out to a restaurant without my hat. I felt invincible, and the bravest I've ever felt. I've never been ashamed of my hair, or lack of, but the reactions you get from people can be cruel and hurtful. My hair is growing back slowly, but It looks like chemo hair. It's all patchy now, and long in some spots, short in others, and is growing rapidly in the back(It's about an inch now in the back), but slower and VERY thin in the front. Well I just felt brave and asked my husband what he thought about me going out on our date without my hat. He told me to just bring the hat. My heart broke, but I didn't let him know that what he said hurt me deeply. Once we pulled into the restaurants parking lot, I couldn't hold it in any longer and just lost it. I cried for about 45 minutes, and then finally explained to him the hurt I felt. To me, the act of bravery in that area was a huge step for me, and when he told me to bring my hat, I thought he didn't believe in me, or that he was embarrassed by how I looked without it. My poor husband felt awful and only told me to bring my hat because he thought It would be a good idea just in case I felt uncomfortable. His intentions were right, but It was perceived wrong. What can I say? I'm an emotional Chemo patient. About a week ago I was outside with my husband Jake and he picked up his head not knowing I was leaning over, and our heads hit pretty hard. I ran inside a mess, and locked myself in the bathroom. Though Jake would never judge me, I've always hated crying in front of people. Even now, when I do cry(which is about every few days), If I'm with Jake, I turn my head of try to keep quiet and calm so he doesn't know. 3/4 of the time he has no idea. I don't like him to worry about me more than he has to. Let me tell you something about me really quick. Before cancer, I never cried. I didn't cry at my wedding, I only shed 2 tears when Jake proposed, and I hadn't truly shed more than a tear or two since my parents divorced about a year ago. I'm just not a crier, and I'm most definitely not emotional. Little did I know that I'd be the MOST emotional I've ever been once I was diagnosed. I cried for the first time in about a year on march 7th when I was told I had cancer, and since then all it takes is seeing an old married couple walking hand in hand, someone else crying, or a sad movie, and I'm a total mess, haha. Having that said, I sat in the bathroom for at least 30 minutes just crying. I knew that the impact of his head hitting mine hurt so badly because I didn't have any hair. Hair is like a cushion, and once you don't have it, everything you hit your head on hurts 10x's worse. After praying and having the strength to tell Jake what I was feeling, I felt much better. Even in what I feel are silliest situations, God doesn't find them silly. He is still there in every moment, and the biggest comfort you can imagine.

    Yesterday I was sitting there during Chemo, and a sweet older gentleman walked up and said hi once he was done with his chemo. I had talked to him briefly that day, but just a comment or two here and there. I introduced myself and shook his hand. He asked how old I was, and I smiled and said 19. All of a sudden he just lost it. He began to weep, and I just stared not knowing what was wrong. He walked away because he was crying so hard, and my nurse Roxy asked him what was wrong. He just looked at me with sweet tears in his eyes and told her that It just isn't fair, and that I shouldn't be there. He said I'm too young to be there, and he just looked so heart broken. As he was walking by, I told him I'd be okay, and that I was getting better really quickly! He just cried harder and left. My heart broke for him. My heart breaks for older men and women who have to go through this. Being young is of course difficult, but In my opinion he shouldn't have been there either. I'm no different than him, and that sweet, selfless man deserves a life full of healing. I'm going to be praying for him continually, and ask that If you feel it's on your heart, that you will too, please? It's hard moments like these where God gives me strength. To watch him be touched by my smile within a matter of 10 seconds, just broke my heart. He was such a sweet man, and deserves hope. I'm praying I touch more people with Gods love, and just want everyone to know there is hope. Even in the smallest of situations, with God, there is always hope. I never just say words, everything I blog is from my heart.

    Please know that the strength I have to get up each day with a smile ONLY comes from God. I'm nothing without Him, and I'm so incredibly thankful for this disease! I just might be sad to see it go. :) I know that God has plans to use this entire experience for great things, and I pray I hear his every will, and complete everything He has planned for me, without selfishness or pride! I pray to be humble and kind, and live a life that Glorifies him greatly. It's a big task, but I serve and big God, who will do amazing things through this beautiful cancer! I'll soon be a cancer survivor! Ah, the feeling is refreshingly wonderful. I am blessed and could not be happier with the life I have. Two days ago I was at the dollar theater with my husband watching, "Soul Surfer," and I advise you all to see it! There is some bad acting here and there, but the message is powerful, and Is based on a true story. They actually did a great job sticking to what really happened to Bethany Hamilton, and that made the message even more powerful and personal to me. After the movie had ended, I got up and hugged my husband, and cried for a long time. I felt such a strong sense of God in that moment. I was crying because I'm just so happy. They were tears of happiness, which I've shed very few of in my lifetime, since like I said, I'm not a crier. This girls story of her faith in God, strength, and perseverance was so inspiring. There were so many times during that movie where I could relate to how she felt. Though she's in a very different and permanent situation, I could relate to almost her entire story.. From not being able to do the same things I used to do, to losing a piece of you. Hers was her arm, while mine was my hair. (Like I said, hers is permanent and completely different) I could just relate to the pain she felt when others didn't reach out, and the feelings she had for those who did. The way she knew that others didn't understand, but thought they did, and realization of what life is really about when she went on a missions trip, which I have done to mexico multiple times in the past. This Journey Is so different from the others I will face, and I'm thankful for this one probably more than any of the others thus far. It has made me learn what It's like to be selfless, has taught me to ask for help(which I just don't ever do.. until now), has led me so much close to Christ than I'd thought possible, given me a heart for cancer patients, drawn my husband and I closer than we've ever been, has strengthened our marriage in permanent ways that we're so blessed with, taught me to love and have compassion, and the wonderful thing is that our journey has just begun! I can't wait to update you all throughout the rest of this cancer journey. I'm halfway there, and I'm sure there will be wonderful stories to tell, and praises to be sung! I am so blessed to be able to honestly say that I am SO happy with this life Jake and I have together, and also for these next 3 months of chemo I'm able to go through. I have so many more hopes and dreams now, than I've ever had before.. So many things I want to do, so many organizations and lives I want to be a part of, and also many places I'd like to see. I've never been so full of life, and I'm ready for anything! Bring It! ;)

With Love,
   Brittany Mae :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 59, Continued..

I left off my story on the day I shaved my head.. Most of my blog might seem like rambling to many, if not all of you, but like I said, I want to remember every detail of this experience. :) Alright, so after I shaved my head, I got a surprise visit from the wonderful Kim Medina!! I wish I could tag her in this; She is such a beautiful woman! So I was talking to my favorite sister-in-law in the world, and she says her mom is almost to my house. I was so excited and just wanted to cry. She took me wig shopping, and after trying on some funky wigs, we found Natalie! It was really hard taking off my scarf and allowing someone to see me without my hair for the first time, but God gave me the strength to get through it.. Yet another event that shows proof that I can't get through a single second of life without God. :) Over the next week, I had a bunch of random, yet incredible, friends stop by! I had fluids again on Monday, and the next day it was Britt and Angela day. We tried to go walking, but the heat killed me, and I just about passed out. I used to be a runner, so no doubt It takes everything in me to not lose it when I can't even walk certain distances.. But my husband and I were talking about how once I'm ALL better, which I will be soon, I can run with all the energy I haven't had in years! I'm going to join an indoor team, and It's just going to be so stinking fun. We always wondered why I had problems on the soccer and track team the past couple of years, and now we know why. My doctor said my cancer could've easily developed while I was in Mexico years ago, and then lingered before growing to the extent it has recently. It truly explains why the doctor could never find anything wrong with me, and yet I had these intense problems when I did anything athletic.. I always felt drained, especially the past year, and I'm very grateful to now know why. A couple of days later I had an appointment in Orlando with Dr. Reynolds. It wasn't the best appointment I'd ever been to, but It could've been worse, haha. My nurse went to check my blood cells, and they couldn't access my port. I sat there for 30 minutes, sitting up and down, moving around, having my port flushed with saline(which by the way tastes like foil), and also having the needle in my port being pushed on and messed with. I don't do too well with people playing with needles that are already in me. Before all of this, the sight of needles made me pass out, but now It's easy peasy Lemon squeezy. Yeah, just said that. So anyways, they eventually accessed my port, and the problem was just that I had a blog clot at the end of it and It was blocking the way to pull blood. Gross, right? ;) The next day I hung out with the wonderful Allie Donut Loe at cranes roost and johnny rockets. Our waiter was crazy awkward, and we just had a weird experience. It rocked my world when they brought out our food in this order, 5 minutes apart each: Chocolate fudge milkshake, french fries, Cheeseburger. It definitely surprised me, and I for sure enjoyed it. Only a couple short days later, My in laws were finally here! Kristin, Greg, Micah, and Jonah live TOO far away for my comfort, and came down to host my fundraiser. :)  Sunday was my fundraiser at Gators in Ocoee, and it was so much fun! We raised FAR more than I'd expected, and It was overwhelming to see all of the people who didn't even know me, donating and just showing their support! I truly do have some incredible people in my life, wow. Breeann was wonderful and is the reason we were able to even host the fundraiser at gators. Yup, she's awesome. Kristin, Ms.Kim, and everyone else who helped set up, tare down, and also to those who came to help us out, thank you SO much for all you've done for jake and I. We are so thankful to have such sweet and kind people in our lives! On monday Jake and I rented, "Country Strong," and It is now my favorite movie. I know my movies, I'm for sure a dedicated movie watcher, and In my opinion, that was a good film. Only problem is now I'm dying to move up North, get property, a barn & horses, live in a log cabin, and live the country life style. I want me some chickens! Hehe. That dream is in our 10 year plan.. So we will see. ;) A few days later I had Chemo, and I wasn't feeling too good. My sessions seem to be weakening me more each time, but that means It's working. ;) They gave me Benadryl, so that knocked me out, and I woke up feeling exhausted and nauseous. Thankfully I had my honey with me, so he helped me out to the car and then up our 3 flights of stairs. Sadly I didn't write down the next two weeks, so I'm now going purely off of memory.. Not good, haha. The weekend was filled with the usual nausea, but not too bad. :) I was having a lot of trouble sleeping because of pain and the nausea, so I took some pain pills that also helped me sleep. Oh sleep, how I missed you. That weekend the Medinas, Greg & Kristin, Angela Ingrao, and my mom moved Jake and I to our new apartment! It was RIGHT across the street, FIRST floor, and just so homey feeling! Jake had to work until 5, so he completely missed the move(I think he did it on purpose, haha), but they did such a great job and thank you can't cover all they did for us! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! I slept 10 hours straight that night, and for the first time felt like we had a home. I think God spoils us just a little bit. ;) Sunday was Easter, and we were able to spend some time with the Medina's! It was so nice to see everyone; I love them all very much! I felt sick, so sadly we had to go home sooner than planned, but I'm thankful for the couple of hours spent with them!After begging to see them one more time when leaving on Easter, Greg, Kristin, and the boys came by the next morning to say goodbye. I already miss them.. I almost kidnapped Kristin. I could find other people to kidnap greg and the boys. I have sneaky ways. ;) That whole next week was mainly filled with Jake working like crazy because he's the best husband in the world, and me sitting at home with visitors here and there because I'm the most exhausted wife in the world. :b Not too much happened that week except appointments, which went very well. Jake and I had a date on either Tuesday or wednesday(can't remember), and that was the highlight of my month. We went to chili's, walked around cranes roost, sat down and played words with friends together, and then went to a late night movie! Ah, such a great night!! The rest of the week and weekend I was basically sitting at home sleeping. On Saturday my mom, Jess, and grandma came over and organized the apartment for me! Can you say heck yeah?! :) It's such a relief to have things put away. No more boxes! :D Oh, fun fact about Saturday. I had marinated a steak that a close family friend gave Jake & I, and then cooked it on the skillet for lunch on saturday. In addition to the marinade, I added olive oil, lemon & pepper seasonings, and soy sauce. It was delish and my first time making steak! I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy it was, and my husband was shocked, haha. I'm full of surprises! On monday Jake & I went to the outlets and got my dress for a gala we're attending in honor of a cancer society this month. I've never been so excited to get all dolled up in my life! Oh, except my wedding, of course. Jake was off yesterday, and is also off today! We are partying it up over here! Going to play soccer together later, though I'll probably have to just watch because I feel sick easily, and then hitting up the neighborhood pool! Such a good day ahead of us. :) Love my God, Adore my Husband, and Enjoying this beautiful day! Please be praying for my husband, since he is working much more than when we first got married, and has not complained once about working all of the time! Other than God, he is my biggest hero. :) Please pray for an over flow of energy in him, and that God keeps him going through all of this! I'll be blogging soon, no doubt. I have a PET scan this friday, which will give the doctors a better idea of where I'm at. Please pray that it all goes well! One of my biggest prayer requests is that you please pray that I will reach more people through all of this than I'd ever dreamed, and that they will see Gods beauty and light, rather than my sickness and cancer. I'm praying for a miracle, and no matter what the outcome, It will be Gods plans, which will be perfect.

With Love,
      Brittany Mae :)

Day 59

I know It has been a month since I last blogged, and I apologize, but I just couldn't sit at the computer and write an entry without getting nauseous and dizzy. Thankfully today I'm feeling okay, and have brought myself to finally update everyone on what is going on in my crazy life! :) I write this, of course, to update those who truly care and love me deeply, and for those who would don't know me and are curious, but also for myself. Chemo messes with your memory, and with all that is going on, my memory seems to be going down hill, so I'm also writing this to remind myself of this beautiful journey God has sent me on! If you don't want to read about the days un-related to Chemo, please feel free to skip until you find something you want to know about.. I just need to add details so I don't forgot anything. I'm going to be skipping days here and there, but will write about the days I can remember. My first 2 entries were actually only written for my eyes, until I decided to post it publicly, because I knew my story and God's light were meant to be read, rather than selfishly kept to myself. So, where to begin.. I find this to be the hardest part. Thankfully I have a cute little journal that I have been writing bullet points of each day in for the most part, and that jogs my memory enough to be able to share with all of you. I left off on March 31st, and to be honest all I can remember writing down about the 31st of march-3rd of april is how sick I was.. No need to linger on those days, so on to April 4th.. That day was actually 4 months of being married to my wonderful husband!! Ah, life is good. Jake worked all day, and I spent the day with my best friend! Tuesday is, of course, Angela and Britt day, and It was spent beautifully. :) We got our usual smoothies at Planet smoothie, and watched the birds, fish, and turtles with absolute fascination. We are just that weird, haha. Sorry Angela, I'm pulling you under with me on that one. ;) On wednesday I spent the entire day with Jake, so no complaints there. He had the day off, so we just relaxed and watched movies, and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it. :) Wednesday was Chemotherapy, and that wasn't anything too out of the ordinary. My dad came to see me, and Jake got me Panera Bread for breakfast. The two highlights of my chemo session, haha. I was feeling okay for the most part, a little nausea, but nothing unbearable. After chemo we went to lunch at Panera, yeah, It was a Panera day. When my body craves something, that's all it wants! My sweet friend Alissa, who I'd written about perviously, was staying in the hospital for Chemo that week, so Jake & I hung out for a little bit, which was definitely fun. :) On thursday I went in for fluids, and that drip only took an hour and a half. I went to see Alissa, and her mom taught me how to make these awesome bracelets. I made one that is lime-green(Alissa's ribbon color), violet(My ribbon color), black, and white, which I'm now sporting on my left arm. It was a fun afternoon, and I just love my days with my cancer buddy! That night I started feeling funny, and right before I went to bed I found a rash on my stomach. It was dark red, in the center of my stomach, and right on my ribs. I touched it and felt immediate pain. The pressure felt like I was cracking my ribs.. Not good. I figured since I went in the next day for fluids, that It would be fine to wait, so when i got there I showed my nurses, and they got my doctor out to take a look. I guess I'm allergic to Nuelasta, or something like that. Nuelasta Is a really painful shot I get the day after chemotherapy in the back of my arm to help me recover from the drugs. It makes my whole body ache and It's just a not-so-fun shot. When the doctor came out, he found rashes all over my upper chest, neck, arm, and back. I was feeling really sick at that point, so they gave me a bag of iron, and also some extra fluids. My hair had started falling out the week before, and It was so scary at first. Eventually It got kinda annoying, because there was hair ALL over the apartment.. But by that night, I was past the stage of being annoyed, and on to absolute fear. I don't know how to describe the feeling of your hair falling out constantly, but It's very sad. It fell out in the shower, on my pillow, in my brush, etc. Though people say, Oh, It's just hair, when you're the person losing it, that is not the case. It's a form of identity, security, and just something you've had your entire life. That night I went home feeling the same as when I got there, and started getting a weird numbing in my hands and feet. That actually hasn't gone away, apparently It's normal for the chemo I'm being treated with. If I keep my legs crossed for more than 60 seconds, my feet and part of my legs are totally numb for about five minutes. My fingers randomly go numb, and they are actually numbing a lot today, so I keep taking breaks from writing every few minutes. On Saturday my mom came over, and that was just really fun, like always! We went to my grandparents house, saw their awesome RV they just got, and talked for a little bit.. I was having a rough day dizzy-wise, so we couldn't stay outside very long. When It's close to chemo, I can't really be outside much, because the heat makes me extremely dizzy and short of breath. My mom took me home, and I ate the yummy chicken divan she made us! Ah, It's just so delicious and my favorite!! Thank you Mama. :) Jake got home pretty late, and we were supposed to shave off my hair, but I just couldn't do it. The next morning I woke up to hair all over my pillow, and when I ran my hands through my hair, It fell out in huge chunks. I called my husband, and told him I might have to do It myself before he got home. He encouraged me to do whatever I felt needed to be done, and was so loving and kind. I was alone, and knew that was how It needed to be. I put a chair in the kitchen, got out the raiser we had bought only days before, and just stared at it. I paced back and forth not knowing If i was brave enough or not. I prayed, put on Switchfoot(My comfort music), and played "dare you to move." Look up those lyrics, the chorus broke me down. I sat down, and stared at the raiser like It was the enemy.. Maybe It felt like it was in that moment. The second the chorus started I lost it. I started crying to the point of choking, and just did it. I shaved off the first piece as fast as I could, so that there was no turning back. I took about 5 pictures throughout the process for myself, to remember how I felt and to bring me back to that moment. I want to someday see those pictures and feel an overwhelming amount of thankfulness, and just know that I'm not there anymore. Funny enough, the microwave was my mirror for this event, haha. About 2 hours later, It was all gone. My hair was all on the floor and I couldn't look in the mirror. I text Alissa telling her what I did, and she immediately called me, and that brought so much comfort. She sent a picture of her shaved head, and I felt so thankful for her in that moment. I finally looked in the mirror, but tried not to, because I would just cry and cry. It was done.. No more staring at hair in my hands as it fell out so very painfully. Like I said previously, It's just hair, but when you're a cancer patient, and you have no control over your body whatsoever, your hair is the one thing you can have fun with. Once you have a fear of losing that, It breaks a little piece of you. I feel like in these blogs I 100% put my feelings and emotions on the line, and that's definitely out of my comfort zone, but I know It's what I need to do, and I'm MORE than happy to do it! I'm absolutely positive that God is teaching me a million and one things these days. God held my hand through it all, and I was just so in awe of his presence! It was okay to cry, okay to hurt, but I had to wipe off my hands, and get back up. I'm in it to win it! :) One thing God has truly taught me is that there is a time for sadness, and a time to rejoice. Every once in a while my heart aches for hair, haha. That sounds crazy, but imagine just going home and shaving off your hair. You're now Queen or king peach fuzz! Haha, though I joke around about my peach fuzz, there are still days that I cry over it. I pray, thank God for my peach fuzz, thank him that I'm BREATHING, and then get up and try again. Though God has made me strong through all of this because He is just incredible, I do still have those rough experiences when I go out in public. I always wear a hat or bandana, and People just bluntly stare. Yesterday a kid in publix about my age was standing next to me in line, and he turned his body completely towards me, and just STARED. I really wanted to turn to him and be like, dude, what is your problem?! But I refrained and just kept my thoughts to myself. About a week ago a car full of 5 younger guys drove by, and I wasn't wearing a hat or anything, and they just laughed. The driver slowed the car down so they could all sit in their car, with their heads full of hair, and laugh very loudly at me and look at me like I'm a freak. I lost very little tears over that event, but I'm human and those things really do hurt. I've truly learned that God is who all of this is for. I don't get up every day and fight my disease because the world tells me to. I don't do it because my hair will grow back when I'm all done, and I definitely don't wake up in the morning wondering how to please my mockers. I fight this disease for God. He began this work in me for a reason, and I refuse to quit when he has blessed me so greatly.. How selfish and stupid would I become If I just grew angry, depressed, and began to resent God? Some people think I'm this incredible person for relying on God, but I'm really not. I'd be absolutely nuts to hang my head and be angry with him, when He has given me this blessing so that I can help others who do, or don't yet know Christ! God would never give me something I can't handle, and I definitely like a challenge, especially when It's from the creator of not only me, but this beautiful world! He has my back. :)

I'm going to blog in 2 entries, because If I don't, It will be one LONG butt entry! ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 24

All of the Hair Erin Cut Off. :)

I haven't written in my blog in a week, so If my thoughts are short and scattered, I'm so sorry. The reason I've been so MIA, is because I literally haven't even stepped out of the house until yesterday, my birthday. Let me start from where I left off though.. that might make a little more sense and be easier to read. :) On wednesday I had my first day of chemotherapy. I'm not sure what I'd expected, but It was definitely an experience. Kristin and I got there at 9AM, and did not get out of there until about 4:30. It was a long 7 hour day full of emotions and... well, hot chocolate. I drank about 4 cups of hot chocolate and A LOT of water while I was there. Kristin is now a pro at working that hot chocolate machine. ;) The room I had Chemo in was filled with lounge chairs, and each were only a foot apart. I'm pretty sure they did that so you can talk to people you can relate to, since It is of course 5+ hours of sitting. I met this sweet older gentleman named Richard who I quickly realized reminded me of my sweet Grandpa. I felt so much comfort in having him there. Richard told me corny jokes while they inserted the needle into my port, which by the way, did not feel lovely, and just distracted me when I began to freak out. I also met this AMAZING girl named Alissa. I'm going to make her read this later, haha.. Hopefully she just skips to this part to see how highly I think of her. :) The second she walked into that room, It just lit up, and I'm so happy she sat next to me, because that girl is such an inspiration. We were definitely the youngest people in the room, and that felt a little awkward, but It was so comforting to hear her story, and to have her there for support. I asked her probably more questions than I'd like to admit, haha, but she was so eager to answer, and just sincerely cared about me and what I was going through. She is going to look SO gorgeous at prom this Friday. Love you girl.. I better get a text with all of the details of how it went! You're going to have so much fun. :) I have 3-4 different types of Chemo I do while I'm there. Basically they give me a shot, poke me in my port, take blood, and then connect me to a bag of chemicals. My monitor beeps when each bag is used up, and I'm pretty sure I had about 6 bags. Some of the bags were just fluids, etc. I had the choice to leave the needle in my port, OR have them take it out, and then re-poke me the next day for fluids. I decided to just have them leave the needle in me over night, so they bandaged me up and left it in. Afterwards I felt okay, just VERY tired sluggish. I slept pretty terribly, but considering I had a million thoughts running through my head, and a needle in me, It really wasn't too bad. On thursday I went in again and sat in the same room for fluids, which took exactly 2 hours. I still felt tired and sluggish, but that was pretty much it. On Friday Kristin picked me up, and I spent the day with her wonderful family.. I am so blessed to even know them! I took a nap here and there, but did my best to stay awake. I'm beginning to see that the exhaustion isn't something I can just fight.. When I'm tired, I have to go to sleep right away. Wow, I am getting so impatient with this music! Haha, every 30 seconds of writing I skip a song in my itunes. I think I'm in a country mood.. Hello Rascal Flatts. :) This song always reminds me of Rebekah Laughridge.. "God Bless the Broken Road", because she could play it perfectly on the piano. Okay, the band in general reminds me of her. Miss you Bam-Bam. :) Sorry, so distracted lately. Now, back to friday.. My sweet friend Erin Ware cut my hair off. I was in the shower that morning, and felt little pieces already falling out, so she suggested just cutting it short so It wouldn't be so hard when It did fall out. My hair is now just barely touching my shoulders. :) I never thought I'd cut my hair until I became a mommy.. Well I'm definitely not that yet, but I think being a chemo patient is a pretty good excuse as well. :) I'll post pictures asap. On Friday afternoon I started feeling sick, so I guess my body was finally starting to get attacked my all of the chemicals. Saturday morning my mom, grandma, and sister Christina came over. By then I was having trouble getting up without feeling nauseous, so I was stuck in bed allllll day. They all cleaned out my fridge, Christina talked to me and was wonderful company, my Grandma folded and put away A BUNCH of laundry for me, my mom made me very thick soup(she failed to add a cup of water to it, like the directions tell you to do, hahahaha), but the soup was good, and they were all so helpful! Things went down hill from there. I got these really bad mouth sores, and couldn't eat or drink anything, so the DR prescribed this awesome mouth wash, and by Sunday morning they were feeling much better. Frustrating enough, my jaw and head began throbbing on Sunday. I took so many pain meds, that my white board I write everything on was completely filled with the name of meds and times I took them. I went from feeling like a 5 on saturday, to feeling like a 2 on sunday. I've never had a real migraine until now. I couldn't handle ANY noises, light, or quick movement. The sound of our xbox even drove me crazy. Monday morning I tried taking a shower, but after less than 60 seconds, I couldn't hear anything, I had terribly blurred vision, and I barely made it to the bed. Monday night Jake helped me get up and we sat on our back porch; listening to the rain hit the trees. I truly enjoy the pinging sound of it hitting the roof, and the light dripping of the rain drops sliding off of the leaves. I could suddenly feel myself getting better by the second. After sitting out there for a good 30 minutes, I started getting dizzy and had to come in, but It was SO worth it. :) On tuesday morning I was woken up by my best friend kissing me on the head saying happy birthday. Did I ever mention how much I LOVE my husband? Wow, I sit here and think about how It would feel to be loved by anyone else in the world, and I get sick to my stomach. I just couldn't imagine being loved by someone more wonderful than my sweet jacob. Being married through all of this is just one of the biggest blessings of all. The idea of going through this without my best friend with me at all times is just a painful thought. I am so in love, and I love it! Okay, mushy part over.. I just like to document everything I feel throughout all of this, so someday I can look back amazed at what God has done in my life! Sadly my hubby had to work from 7am-4pm. On Tuesday I was feeling even worse, but was pretty stinking determined to get better. I had to take Bella(our sweet puppy.. well, kind of a puppy.. she's 2 now, haha) out to go to the bathroom, and my legs were so weak from not being able to get around the past few days, that I almost tumbled down the stairs. To say the least, we ARE moving to a 1st floor apartment.. We will find a way to make It happen, because 3 flights of stairs just isn't going to work. I was so blessed when my wonderful friend Jenna happened to call on sunday asking If she could take me to breakfast on Tuesday, so that just worked out perfectly. Excited to get out of the house, I was trying to rest up that morning, and kept moving to a minimum. I was praying and doing my devotions, when I just got to a point where I couldn't stop crying. God was so perfect and awesome to help me see how blessed I am to have cancer. God allowed ME to have this gift? Wow, It began to blow my mind that he would let me have this disease, so I could witness to others. I'm still in shock from that realization, and will do my best to carry this gift with Gods name written all over it, because though It seems like a blessing in disguise, It truly is such a huge blessing. I went to breakfast at I can't seem to remember where, haha, and had 3 huge honkin chocolate chip pancakes, and these delicious zucchini sandwiches.. Don't laugh; They were delicious. :) My memory seems to be going down hill, but they said that's normal, so please bare with me here. A sweet friend from my work stopped by with 2 cards, an incredible gift, and a chocolate wave with a candle in it.. It's my favorite desert at red lobster, hehe. That was a huge blessing and just sweet that they even thought of me on my birthday! I miss them so much. I rested up until Jake got home around 4. He walked in with a bunch of roses, and my heart melted. Yup, I'm blessed. At 6:30 we met up with my sisters, mom, and grandparents for dinner at Macaroni Grill(last minute venue change), and I was just so happy to see everyone. I started feeling really dizzy and had to leave pretty quickly out of no where, so that was probably the most frustrating part of the day. The second I got to the parking lot I couldn't stop crying. My poor husband just held me, not knowing what was wrong, but I did my best to explain. I was just looking forward to sitting around and talking with everyone, and then out of no where I felt like I was going to pass out and throw up all at once, and my head began to pound again. It really does come out of no where, and It being my birthday, I just kinda got lost in frustration and needed to shed a few tears. I wish I had a do-over, because that was not how I wanted to end my birthday, but I'm just thankful I made it through dinner.. That alone was a battle that God VERY much so helped me win. :) Today I have an appointment at 1:30 at Dr. Reynolds office, and my grandpa will be picking me up in about 30 minutes, so this note must come to an end. I have chemotherapy again a week from today, so I'm hoping I don't react as badly as I did this time. Thank you so much to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, celebrated with me, blessed me with gifts, and just showed me they cared.. You all are so wonderful and the best support system I could've asked for. I love you all and will be writing again soon. :)

With Love,
    Brittany Mae <3

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 16

I left off on thursday, where I had my heart scan, and breathing tests. On Friday i had my bone marrow procedure. If I could find a word to describe the amount of pain I was in during that frustrating procedure, I assure you I would. The pain level I had should under no circumstances be legalized, haha. They took 2 tubes of blood, and I warned her that they had taken it the day before, but sadly that didn't matter to her.. She still sucked the life out of my little vains. The sweet woman who did the procedure lent me her iphone, and showed me this chimes app. she had. It was a cute pond with fish & plants, and then when you touched the pond with your finger, you could hear beautiful chimes, and the fish followed the ripples in the pond. The chimes were in all sorts of pitches, and were just so soothing. Growing up my dad had a HUGE obsession with chimes(wood, metal, you name it), and since then the sound of them just makes me feel so comforted and happy. That was pretty much my only form of happy during this whole ordeal. They told me multiple times that since I'm "so skinny", that they could get in, take the bone marrow & chip of bone out, and be done with It. Apparently I have strong bones, and It was a frustrating day in Dr. Reynolds Office. After they numbed me by sticking a few shots of lidocaine in my hip bone with a rather sharp needle(I'm pretty sure that's the only way they come), I was somewhat relieved that I would be numbed in the general area. The drawing of the bone marrow felt as if they were yanking out my hip bone, but I'm pretty sure they weren't. ;) They also got a chip of my bone itself, and not going to lie, that was such an intense pain. My sweet husband held my finger on the pond, and moved it around so I could still hear the chimes. At that point I couldn't really do it myself due to stress, so he sat there with his typical sweet smile, and calmed me down. He happened to look up when a rod was sticking out of my back, poor sweetheart, but he's a toughie. He walked if off. Now, on with the good! After leaving the office, I went to see my wonderful sister Jessica. She had made me a bed on her couch, so we just watched a movie, talked, and hung out for the rest of the day. :) My precious grand parents brought over food for Jake and I, and that was SUCH a blessing, so I hope someday they read this and know just how much I love and appreciate everything they've done for us! If you know them, you know how incredible they are. Alright, so there's a little tiny gap here for you to just imagine yourself, because I can't remember for the life of me what happened on saturday. I think I just hung around the house all day, waiting for my hubby to get home. Clearly that day doesn't hold too much importance. ;) After resting up the first half of Sunday, My sweet sister-in-law picked me up and took me back to her moms house, where her entire family had a BBQ, and just hung out. I definitely enjoyed spending time with all of them-- I truly love them so much! Between Kim's macaroni, and that delicious carrot cake, my tummy was as happy as could be. On monday morning Jake and I went to the beach with the Medina family, Erin & Cari Ware, and my sister-in-law & her 2 beautiful boys(Who all thankfully JUST got in town, and will be here for an entire week!!). I turned my phone on silent, ignored all phone calls, and just enjoyed my time with some of the kindest, sweetest, most wonderful people I know! After a day of perfect weather, and just an amazing time, we left around 6, and stopped for some frozen gold. I then looked at my phone, and saw I had about 6 missed phone calls, 4 voicemail's, and about 7 texts. A few of the calls were from doctors, which I'd been dreading. I called them back and found out I start chemotherapy on wednesday, only a day after getting my port put in; Yuck. Today Jake, Kristin, and I got up crazy early for my surgery to have my port for chemo put in. We arrived at 5:40, and I was taken in around 6:30. Thank you so much you two for being so patient and hanging out through all of the not so fun stuff. I love you both SO much! I had to change into a beautiful purple hospital gown for the 2nd time, I put on the awesome purple socks I was dying to get another pair of(They're SO cute!), and I laid down waiting for the nurse to come in with her band-aids and needles. She poked and fished around twice in my right hand, because I'm so bruised up in my arms, that hands are the best entry option at this point. On accident she poked straight through my vain twice, and that wasn't exactly the most pleasant surprise. 1 throbbing right hand later, she moved to the left hand. The nurse fished around and thankfully after about 10 minutes, she successfully had the IV in my left hand and we were good to go. The surgery all together went just fine, minus them having problems with my IV. They really drugged me up this time.. The previous surgery(for my neck), called for anesthesia, but I threw up for hours afterwards, so this time the anesthesiologist decided to make the dose a lot heavier. It was REALLY difficult waking up, and gave me a little head ache, but around 4:00 I was functioning much better and didn't throw up once! I am so blessed!! Tomorrow I go in for Chemotherapy at 9:00. Sadly, my sweet hubby will be at work until about an hour after I get home. Kristin will be picking me up, and sitting with me for a long 4-5 hours. Though chemo Is painfully long, I'm so excited to just spend time with people I love. By the way, I'm kidnapping you Kristin-- Sorry Greg. :) I'll let everyone know how it goes, but probably not for a few days. This note was probably the longest, but a few bigger things have happened that I needed to write down, so that's a good excuse, right? Please be praying, because though I can't imagine things getting even harder from here, this is truly where the journey and battle begins. Here we go! Love you guys.. Thank you for all of the love and support; I'll never stop being thankful for everyone who has been there for me even in these first 2 weeks. I'm so in love with God and his continual blessings each day! It's amazing how at peace I've been the past 16 days. No one but Him could do such beautiful miracles in my life. I freak out here and there, and have a few cries when the days get hard, but God has without a doubt been holding both my husband and I each and every day. We are beyond blessed.

With Love,
   Brittany Mae <3

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 11

4th IV
After talking to at least 5 different offices and doctors assistants, I finally have a few appointments made. Yesterday I had a Chemotherapy prepping class, which was from 9am-12pm. Since my husband was at work, my mom went with me, and so diligently took notes for later. :) Everyone in the class was at least twice my age, except one girl who was probably only 10 years older that me. They informed me of what the chemotherapy would be like, how life would become as a cancer & Chemo patient, the amount of appointments per week, the chemotherapy's I'll be personally treated with(each person in the class was different), and just what to all around expect. It was somewhat overwhelming, but VERY informative. I got a pink cancer bag, with a book of info on everything talked about in the class, and how to do my best to stay healthy throughout the entire process. After the class I went to target to get a bunch of anti-bacterial and medical things for during my treatment, and then shortly after was dropped at work by my mom. Work didn't go so well, between worrying about my appointments, and being extremely exhausted from the sickness, I was just ready to go home. I won't be working for another 6 months now, and It's going to be really difficult just sitting at home by myself every day. Hopefully I'll be able to find some company a couple of times a week. This morning at 7am I had my breathing tests, which lasted about 40 minutes. They took me through a series of breathing cycles, and put me in this box for 60 seconds for one of the tests. It was really exhausting, but i was so happy to hear that there wouldn't be ANY needles for that exam! :) Directly after the breathing tests, I went straight back to a different part of the hospital for my heart scan. They drew blood, and then left the needle in for 30 minutes while they looked at my blood work. After a boring 30 minutes of Jake and I staring at our phones, each other, and the walls, they took me back to take out the needle, and finally did my heart scan. We were home by 10:00, and now I'm just awaiting the next appointment. Tomorrow morning they will be taking bone marrow out of my hip. My appointment is for 11:30AM, so hopefully i'll be out after a short hour or two. On tuesday I have an appointment for 6AM right next to the hospital, where I'll have surgery to have my port for chemotherapy put in. I'm dreading this quite a bit, but I know I'll be just fine. I'll also be starting Chemotherapy next week-- It should be scheduled by tomorrow or monday. The blogging will definitely continue over the next 6+months, so please continue to pray for us and the obstacles we will be faced with. I'm praying for this to glorify God in every way!! Love you guys always.

With Love,
    Brittany Mae <3