Saturday, May 29, 2010

FEC #3...

It happened today!!  Linda took me down to MDA.  Jim was able to be with the kids at the swim meet.

Went for my bloodsucking at the lab.  For all you "Twilight" fans, you'd appreciate this, the lab in the main building is called The Cullen Lab.  Juanita did my blood draw, we had a little trouble with my tiny veins but she did it.  I noticed a sign she had hanging up Isaiah 41:10--Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Well I was really anxious about finding out my numbers and I told Juanita, she asked me if I was Christian, I told her yes.  She told me she would be praying for good results and the she said, "Bless you my sister".  Juanita and her sign calmed me down.  Amazing how God brings the right people into your life.

So then Linda and I went to the chemo waiting room.  I got a text from Deana telling me she was done with bloodwork and if we could meet.  She came into the waiting room we were in.  A BIG hug!  It was so nice to see Deana and hold her. She looks so good! Deana and I are within a week of each other as far as our treatments go.  She started with FEC and is now doing Taxol.  And I started with Taxol and am now doing FEC.  We chat via text or on the phone about how we're feeling.  We are our own little Breast Cancer Support Group.  We visited and I was happy Linda and Deana met.  Our visiting took my mind off the waiting for the bloodwork to come back.  I had asked the front desk about it once but they said it hadn't come back.  That's Deana and me in the picture.

Then I heard "Monica Monk".  I was being called back for my vitals (early too).  Guess that meant my numbers were good.  My pulse was 58 -- I was completely calm.  I got back to my room and when the nurse came in I told her I really wanted to know my numbers.  I went from .56 on Thursday to 1.79 today.  Another prayer answered!!

Everything went smooth with my port.  I got my premeds and then my 3 bags of chemo meds.  Christine, my nurse, was very sweet, just a happy person.  Great personality!  

It was a good day up at MDA today.  We got done about 2:30.

Kelli almost didn't swim today because last night she had a fever of 102.4 but woke up this morning feeling fine and fever free, she insisted on swimming today. Thank goodness for text messaging, Linda and I were being kept up to date on what was happening at the swim meet.  The kids had a great meet!  They all took time off their strokes.  Jim took video so I was able to see some of their races.

I will be going back up to MDA tomorrow afternoon for my Neulasta shot to pump up the Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) for my last chemo treatment.  I have one more treatment.  I'm so excited!  

So many prayers have been answered, thank you for your fervent prayers! Please pray that I don't have any side effects from the Neulasta shot.

Please have a great weekend!  God Bless you!  

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Thursday, May 27, 2010

God answered prayers!...

I just couldn't wait till tomorrow or Saturday to share some awesome news with you!!

First of all, I've had several friends offer to cheer our kids on at the swim meet Saturday.  And also offer to help with them in any way they can before the meet, during the meet and after the meet.  My heartfelt gratitude to you all!  It really means so much to me.

I received a text from my friend Linda this afternoon offering to take me for my treatment on Saturday so that Jim would be able to stay and watch Jakob, Kelli and Joey swim at the meet.  It comforts me to know that Jim too will be cheering them on along with our friends.

Look at all the answers to just one prayer request.

I also found out that my friend Deana (whom I met months ago while having my port inserted) will be having her chemo treatment at the exact same time on Saturday.  I text/talk to her often but haven't seen her since February.  The only thing I can say is God's Timing!!

Jakob was pretty upset that I didn't get my treatment today.  He said he'd been praying about it for 6 days and his prayer wasn't answered.  I explained to him that prayers are always answered they just aren't always answered the way we want them to be answered.  I let him know that I was disappointed too but how excited I am to be able to see Deana on Saturday.  Only God!!

Sleep peacefully!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Bump In The Bumpy Road...

Hey there!

Well I had a bump in the road today as Dr. Green called it.  My numbers were too low for me to get my chemo treatment.  

Danielle took me today.  I had bloodwork done and then I met with Julia (research nurse), who informed us that my numbers were too low.  I'm very bummed about it.  I was ready for my treatment today.  Ready to get on with it and get FEC treatment number 3 out of the way.  Then we met with Dr. Green.  It was decided that we do my chemo treatment on Saturday, which should give me enough time to get my numbers back up in the normal range.  Then I'll go back to MDA on Sunday, 24 hours later for a Neulasta shot, so that for treatment number 4 there won't be an issue with my numbers.

So let me try and explain to you a little bit about the numbers/counts.  There are several counts that are looked at, white blood cell count and red blood cell  count are the obvious ones but there are so many more.  My white count is low.  The other count that is the one that held of today's treatment is called the Neutrophil Absolute Count (ANC), it has to do with the white blood cell count.  My count was 0.56 today and normal range is 1.00-4.80.  After chemo the ANC is usually depressed and then slowly rises, reflecting the fact that the bone marrow is recovering and new blood cells are beginning to grow and mature.

The "teenage" cells are maturing so therefore Julia and Dr. Green think my ANC will be okay for me to receive treatment on Saturday.

I was very disappointed when I received the news.  It could have been prevented by me receiving a Neulasta shot 24 hours after my last treatment.  But Dr. Green is very conservative when it comes to giving meds and she felt that I didn't need the shot because I was within the normal range, my number was 1.22.  This too is part of God's plan.  I don't know why this is part of the plan but I must trust Him.  I trust the Dr. He has given me to care for me.

So I come to you now for some specific prayer requests.

1.  Please pray my Neutrophil Absolute Count (ANC) comes back up into the normal range for Saturday so I can receive my treatment. 
2.  Please pray for my medical team.
3.  Please pray for my kids as Jim and I will be missing their swim meet this Saturday due to the fact that we'll be at the hospital.
4.  Please pray for me to get over this "bump in the road" emotionally.
5.  Please pray that I don't have any side effects from the Neulasta shot (it may cause bone pain).

Thank you so much for reading my updates and especially for praying for me and my family.  I couldn't do this without you.

God Bless You!  Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!  Remember to pray for our troops!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Monday, May 24, 2010

Prayer request...

Hey my Army!

Your prayers are helping.  I'm feeling better emotionally.  I spent all day Saturday at the kids' swim meet and I was actually fine with talking to people.  So thank you for those prayers!

My next specific prayer request is that you please be praying that I'm able to get my chemotherapy treatment on Thursday.  Pray that my counts aren't too low for me to receive treatment.  I've been really tired the last few days -- I hope that's not a sign that the counts are low.

Also wanted to let you know that it's 24 days until my last chemo treatment.  Please pray that we stay on track so we can finish on time.

I'll let you know what happens Thursday.

God Bless you all!

Love and blessings from the top of my heart,


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I can't even begin to tell you the amount of helpful, uplifting, heartfelt messages I received in response to my May 16th blog.  Thank you!

I went to see a new Doctor down at MD Anderson today and she adjusted some of my medications to help me cope with some of my symptoms.  Please pray that these new medications help.  I know that it's not just the meds but your prayers.  And of course The Great Physician!

I received a message from my cousin that was also very helpful.  I have his permission to share his post with you.  I hope you can learn from it the way that I have.  It is amazing to me how God can take something we see as bad and use it for good.  Miracles happen every day.

I love you all.

Love & Blessings from the top of my heart,

Here is Andrew's post:

"May 17, 2010 
Dearest Moni,  
      The letter you posted yesterday on Caring Bridge requested assistance from family and friends to help you persevere through this most difficult time in your life…
      In what follows, it is my most fervent hope that what your plea has prompted me to write will contribute towards your recognition that while you suffer, you do not do so alone, but possess within you a limitless power capable of completely restoring you…
      Your comments about being “stuck,” “in a hard place right now,” and stating your attitude as “I’m sad, I’m mad, I’m lost,” all recall the sense of frustration and bewilderment suffered by Job. I’m sure throughout this trial, you’ve had the opportunity to consult this book or have passages of it read to you, so I’ll just quote one section.
      After he has lost his family, his wealth, and is on the brink of losing his will to live, Job declares  
“If only my anguish could be weighed
And all my misery be placed on the scales
      It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas”, (6: 2-3) 
      Job sought to measure his pain so that he could find someway of controlling it: perhaps if he could define it as limited, possibly he could begin to understand why he had to suffer so intensely and continually, and therefore, find a way out of it.
      I think you too, wishing to reach the end of your chemotherapy sessions, desperately want to see a light at the end of the tunnel that would demonstrate the prolongation of your pain is not for much longer…and yesterday you honestly admitted that realization of relief continues to elude you…an excruciating and frustrating feeling, which aggravates the situation because it burdens you further, at a time when your pain already seemed boundless and approaching the unbearable.  
      So what do you do? Where do you turn? Actually, you answered that question yourself in your log entry: “I’d really like to be able to pray again. My prayers have become stagnant.” Your conviction in Christ will grant you your wish to control your pain, render it harmless, and through him, reinvigorate your spirit.
      Easy for my to say, you might be thinking…I’m not the one with cancer…I don’t have children, and therefore have no sense of guilt that I am not strong enough to be the parent I should be…all excellent, valid points…so instead of me just offering you my empathy based mostly in ignorance, albeit with good intention, let’s continue with finding the strength and knowledge you seek through your faith.
      This time I’d like to cite Luke, chapter 17. You’re probably familiar with the story contained in the section: Jesus is trying to convey to the disciples the essentialness of their faith in relation to their worship of God, and that no matter how seemingly small one’s faith may appear, if it is pure, then its power to save is limitless. After this occurs, Jesus is approached by ten lepers who request he heal them; he does, but only one returns to thank him. Jesus, in turn, blesses him for his display of gratitude by saying:  
      “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (17: 19) 
      The leper’s ‘faith’ was his recognition of Christ’s power of love…not just wanted to be healed in body, but in spirit, hence his return and thanking Jesus whose abilities to restore he never allowed himself to doubt.
      I think that the example of 10 lepers with only 1 returning to acknowledge Christ’s selfless act can be interpreted in several meaningful ways. In one context, what Luke is conveying to the reader is that some people will convert to Christianity, but most will not even though everyone is the beneficiary of Jesus’ love. This I think is the predominant way that the passage has been preached.
      Yet, there is another lesson here, which I believe is useful for your situation…the use of 10 lepers can also be understood as not just referring to different people, but an allegory applicable to just one person, with each leper representing a personal crisis, including illness experienced throughout your life or one prolonged period with moments of highs and lows as you have undergone.
      What Luke is seeking to make us understand is this: to fully empower ourselves with Christ’s love, his followers must continually strive to thank him for his blessings, especially in those times when pain is so absorbing as to almost convince us that we have been abandoned…such a moment of doubt is like being one of nine lepers, healed, but thankless to the power which restored you, and therefore without faith.
      Please, don’t misunderstand my intention here…I certainly don’t question the depth and determination of your Christian belief, but I do wonder whether you have yourself at times during this ordeal, and this sense of guilt burdens your overwhelming pain even further. Like Job, you have your limits, and while your faith has given you the perseverance to withstand the trial up to this point so far, you now fear that the pain is greater than your faith, which makes you scared you are faltering, that you’ve failed, let people down, and its all has been in vain.
      Before you settle into this disillusion, I think we should continue looking at Luke chapter 17. It’s no coincidence, I think, that immediately after the story of the 10 lepers, a Pharisee asks Jesus to identify what exactly the ‘Kingdom of God’ is. After that question is put to Jesus, he replies:  
          “The kingdom of God is within you.” (17: 21) 
      This is an oft-quoted verse, but I often wonder whether the force behind it is fully comprehended. Christ remarked that the leper who returned to thank him had enough faith to be healed…in other words, a man afflicted with a presumed incurable illness and having nothing to expect except a painfully slow death, still contained within himself an unfailing conviction in Jesus’ power to heal. No matter how decayed his outer body…the sense of sadness, madness, and feeling of being lost at his condition…the Kingdom of God resided within his spirit, so strong that even when he received the miracle of healing, he did not falter to appreciate the gift, and readily thanked Jesus for his selfless act.
      That, then, is where you need to go to find the solution to control your pain…within you. I remind you that throughout your previous entries in your log the evidence that the Kingdom of God was within you is indisputable. As the leper who returned to thank Christ, you have faithfully recorded your sense of rejoicing to God for each small success in this struggle, each instance where someone has assisted you with kind words and heart-felt sincerity. So, let me quote one final passage, which I firmly believe best exemplifies your capabilities. It comes from the opening of the Book of James:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters!], whenever you face trials of may kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, [s]he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him [her]. But when [s]he asks, [s]he must believe and not doubt” (1: 2-6) 
      Through James’ advice, Christ is letting you know that your pain is indeed limited, but your faith, like that of the thankful leper, is boundless and as long as you believe, will always be greater than your suffering. Perhaps more than ever, you are being confronted with this recognition at the most painful moment of your illness. Through your faith, manifest in surviving all the trials of your therapy to this point, through your family and friends constantly channeling to you their love and faith, you will endure and be victorious because within you lies the Kingdom of God. 
      Remain strong in your religious conviction, continue to lean on your husband, your children, relations and friends, for you must accept Jesus has placed them before you so they can assist you now in your time of need…for soon you too will be healed, and moved by your enduring faith, thank him for the support he freely gave you to survive this painful but momentary crisis in your life.
      This, then, is my prayer for you as requested. I give it freely and continuously, because the experiences you have so well documented in your log have demonstrated to everyone how powerful your faith truly is, because it resides within the Kingdom of God. 
      With my deepest and constant love, 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This is hard...

Upon the urging of a very good friend...I come to you bearing honesty.

I'm stuck.  In a very hard place right now.  I'm sad, I'm mad, I'm lost.  I don't have the desire to read, watch TV, to leave the house or even go to church.  I'm tired of putting on a wig and a smile.  I don't quite understand how I got to this point.  Maybe it's because I've given into this disease.  I don't want to be here.  I want to be the happy, chipper, strong Moni.  Not this weak, sad, tired person I've been as of late.

This is hard for me to come to you with this.  It's much easier to not write in this journal than to tell you the truth.  But as my friend said, "how are we gonna help you if we don't know how to help?"  So with that I decided to be honest.

Could you please pray about these things for me?  I need strength, desire, to push on these last few weeks of this chemotherapy.  This road is long but as another friend told me that in the big picture this is just a short time.  Why does it always feel like it will take forever whenever you're in the midst of trials?  I know there are people worse off than me but that thought doesn't seem to help me.  I don't like to think that there are people worse off than me.

Another thing I worry about is my kids.  They see me upset, crying.  I want to be their strong, good mom.  The one that can get up in the morning and make their lunches without feeling like it's a lot of work.  I am thankful that school is almost out -- the morning rush is really draining right now.

It was so nice having Papa here (and later Monika, my stepmom).  Looking back even that makes me feel a little guilty, I spent a lot of time not feeling well.  Definitely not feeling myself.  I know Papa was here for me to help me, to take care of me -- I just wish the memory of this recent trip could have been a happier one.

Honesty like this is not easy.  My blogs have been truthful, funny, happy ones and now this.

I am still able to look at the blessings that I have.  I have an amazing husband, amazing children, amazing family and amazing friends.  I just need a little boost right now.  Please pray for me to get through this phase.

After all these months, thank you for still showing interest in me and my journey.  I know you are still lifting up prayers for me I just hope that now I have given you some specific things to pray about.

I'd really like to be able to pray again.  My prayers have become stagnant.  Pray for my prayers.

Pray for me to gain interest again in reading, even watching a movie.  Pray for my mornings to be filled with joy again that I have been blessed to sleep another night and wake up with life and the privilege of serving my family.

With tears streaming down my face I thank you.  You mean more to me than you know.

God bless you!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Saturday, May 8, 2010

FEC round 2...

On Thursday morning Papa and I headed to MD Anderson.

First stop -- lab.  I met with a lady named Sue Rimes, with whom I signed up for another research study.

Then it was time for my blood draw.   Papa was brave and came back with me during my blood draw.  I wanted him to meet Lina (my regular phlebotomist).

Next up check in for my appointment with Dr. Green.  While waiting for Dr. Green, Julia my research nurse came to talk to me about the side effects I've been having from the chemotherapy.  Debbie (my other research nurse) was also there and she gave me a big hug.  Papa also got to meet both Julia and Debbie.  We were also waiting on the results from my blood test to see if my numbers were good enough for me to have my treatment.

Finally the results came back, everything looked good except one count was low.  Last time it was at 1.48 and this time at 1.22.  If the count  gets to 1.0 treatment is held for a day or two and I would be given a shot of Neulasta.  I don't understand the whole thing completely but please pray that my numbers continue to be good for my next treatment.

Dr. Green is very happy with my progress and the fact that she can't feel the tumor.  I was happy to be able to introduce Papa and Dr. Green.

Papa went and explored MD Anderson and the surrounding area while I went for an ultrasound of my ovaries.  I had a very sweet ultrasound tech by the name of Melanie.

Off to wait for my appointment with Dr. Lu, a Gynecological Oncologist.  The appointment went really well.  The results from my ovarian ultrasound showed everything to be normal.  No cancer in my ovaries.  I am at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer due to being BRCA-1 positive.  At one of my breast reconstructive surgeries I will be having my ovaries removed.  It's a fairly simple procedure.

Now for more waiting.  My chemotherapy treatment was scheduled for 5 but it didn't start till about 6:30.   We had a very long day.  My treatment lasted for about 3 hours.  It was nice being able to have Papa with me for the day.  He got to see the amazing place that I am being treated at.  I know it was hard for him to see me in the hospital bed actually receiving the treatment but he got to see that I handle it pretty well.  Jim was also there for my treatment.

Here's a picture of Papa and me.

FEC treatment number 2 is checked off the list, now I have 2 more chemotherapy treatments to go.  Please pray that I feel well during this next 3 weeks.  Pray for the sleeplessness and depression to stay away.

Monika will be coming in tonight for a visit.  Then on Wednesday morning Papa and Monika will be leaving to drive out to California to visit my Onkel Bruno and Tante Erika.  Please keep their safe travels in your prayers also.

I love you all and once again thank you for your messages and prayers.  Without you I don't know how I'd get through this.

God Bless!!!  Happy Mother's Day to all the Mamas out there!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday morning...

Well it's Monday morning.  I will say that this week has begun much better than last week.

Our weekend was nice but we received some sad news, my uncle, Papa's brother passed away Sunday morning.  Please be praying for my aunt and cousins, and the rest of the family.  Praise the Lord he's not suffering anymore.

I have 3 more days till my next treatment.  Papa is going to go with me.  He'll get to see the amazing place that is getting rid of my cancer.  I have missed going every week.  I'm hoping this next round won't drain me as much as the first FEC round did.

Oh yeah, my hair has started falling out again, it was slowly starting to grow.  Guess it means the FEC chemo is doing it's job.

The kids are doing great!  They have started practicing for swim team and have their first meet this coming up weekend.  They are excited about having only 21 more days of school left too!

Jim enjoyed his weekend, he got to do some golfing and working on Jakob's truck.  The weather this weekend was absolutely beautiful!!

I feel your prayers -- thank you!  Last week you lifted me up when I was feeling so low.  I really felt those prayers!  I give thanks for you!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,