Saturday, December 28, 2013

Help! I Have Chemo Brain!

Yes, "chemo brain" is a very real condition. The technical name is cognitive dysfunction - and I have it!!! I was so proud of myself during chemo for NOT having least not more significant than I already had. My family will testify that I can be a little scatter-brained and forgetful, and we even joked that we might not be able to tell if I develop chemo brain. However, since finishing chemo, we all agree that I seem to have several of the symptoms (more so than before chemo) found on the Mayo Clinic's website:
  • Being unusually disorganized - yes, yes, yes!
  • Confusion - sometimes
  • Difficulty concentrating - probably
  • Difficulty finding the right word - maybe 
  • Difficulty learning new skills - no motivation
  • Difficulty multitasking - definitely
  • Fatigue - not as much as during chemo but I still like naps
  • Feeling of mental fogginess - yes
  • Short attention span - yes
  • Short-term memory problems - Why did I come into this room?
  • Taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks - Can you say ADD?!?!
  • Trouble with verbal memory, such as remembering a conversation - yes
  • Trouble with visual memory, such as recalling an image or list of words - yes, but not as bad as with verbal 

Chemo Brain

Then throw in the hormonal changes of chemo-induced menopause and you have a mess!!! I find myself feeling like I'm losing my mind one minute and then wanting to cry the next minute. The worst part is feeling so unorganized - even just around the house. I can't seem to find anything I need when I need it!!! And when people start a conversation with, "Terri, do you remember..." Uh, NO! I usually can't tell you what I wore yesterday, so chances of remembering much else are pretty slim.

I've read that this can last from a few weeks (I'm a few months past that...) to 5-10 years or more (oh my...)! So, I guess I better get a good planner/notebook and write things down in ONE location. It's time to clean the house, clean out my purse, and organize my planner!

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace...
~ I Corinthians 14:33

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Husband's Perspective

I'm so thankful for my husband's insight and perspective throughout our journey. This is what he posted on Facebook marking the anniversary of the beginning...

It's been a year. One year ago today in fact. Christmas Eve 2012. It started out as just another Christmas Eve, but ended with a sense of worry and confusion.

One year ago today is when Terri's mom noticed the strange bump on Terri's neck.

The next couple of months were filled with what seemed like unending trips to Tulsa for doctor's visits, scans, biopsies, and surgeries. Days of waiting for results, and then finding out the news we were hoping not to hear…Terri has cancer...non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

We've learned a lot this past year. We've truly learned to cherish each moment we have with each other, our kids, our family and friends. Things like that happen when you're faced with your own mortality.

We've learned we don't know what the future holds…none of us do.

A verse I posted a few weeks ago has never been more "real"... more "alive" to us.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (NASB)

We've also learned from friends who modeled how to handle a battle lost to cancer with faith, dignity, strength, and grace. It seems strange dealing with what we were dealing with and still feel like you don't know the words to say to others. Thank God we have His Spirit to confide in when the the words fail us.

We've grown closer as a family. Our trust in God has been stretched like never before, but never broken. We have been blessed like never before.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed with us and for us. Thanks to friends for providing meals and for shuttling our kids to and fro when we couldn't be there. Thanks for the hugs!

In a week (Monday Dec. 30) Terri goes back for another CT scan. A week after that (Tuesday Jan 7) we go back to Terri's oncologist for the results. Would you shower us with your prayers once more?

May God bless you all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
—Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary???

A year ago today, Christmas Eve morning, I was sitting at my mom's table checking Facebook and eating lots of goodies when my mom noticed a lump near my collarbone. It was the dreaded "C" word - non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The beginning of a new journey...

I have a lot of mixed emotions when thinking about how it all began. On one hand it seems like forever ago, and on the other hand it seems like I'm going through it all again right now. It's been a wild year where we've experienced everything from fear, doubt, and worry to joy, contentment, and unexplainable peace that can only come from God. (You can start reading about our journey here.)

We opened our family gifts last night before going to my mom's house. Daryl and I decided our gift to each other is our cruise in February, so we weren't going to exchange gifts. As usual, He didn't follow the rules... He gave me this new coffee mug that is a perfect reminder of who God is and how His names have played out in our journey this year.


Battle Fighter


Giver of Peace

Ever Present One

Our Righteousness


Good Shepherd

It's like the mug was made just for us! Now each day as I enjoy my morning cup of coffee or my evening cup of tea, I will thank God for how He has demonstrated His names in our lives. And I will smile thinking about how Daryl picked out the perfect gift!

We're looking forward to how God will work in our lives in the coming year.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thankful November - Days 12 - 30

I forgot to post days 12-30...

Day #12 - I'm thankful for my port. I had no idea what one was before February and hated it at first. However, after reading about how ironically toxic (as well as life saving) chemo can be if it touches skin or leaks from an IV or vein, I'm glad to have it...even if I keep it indefinitely for now...and even when the kids call it special names!  

Day #13 - I'm thankful for those who support Cookson Hills Christian Ministries (where I work). We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner at First Christian Church in Grove, OK. Truly great partners in ministry!

Day #14 - I'm thankful for my doctors and their staff!

I want to give a shout out to:

Carleen Huffman, NP at Kansas Medical Clinical who takes care of me, prays for me, and referred me to my surgeon...

Dr. Stephen Bruns at Surgery Inc in Tulsa who has cut me open several times (hernia x 2, gall bladder, needle biopsy, lymph node removal, port placement, and someday port removal). He gave me the initial diagnosis of lymphoma with sincere concern and referred me to my oncologist.

Dr. Scott McHam and Julie Spears, NP at Tulsa Cancer Institute who gave me my official diagnosis and treatment plan with just the right amount of information along the way. They take the time to answer all of my questions and said my treatment showed "excellent" results.

And all of my nurses ROCK!

Day #15 - I'm thankful for weekends! After working all week, it's nice to have a couple of days at home.

Day #16 - I'm thankful for CT and PET scans that can see what's going on inside my body when there may not be outward symptoms!!!

Day #17 - I'm thankful for my Facebook friends who are a HUGE encouragement!

Day #18 - I'm thankful for easy access to the gym and weight room here on campus so we can still work out when it gets dark way too early!

Day #19 - I'm thankful for friends who let me vent and know that it's nothing more than venting.

Day #20 - Deep down I'm thankful for our crazy dog. Tonight I thought he was trying to give me kisses, but it turned out he just wanted the bandana on my head.

Day #21 - I'm thankful that in a world of inconsistencies, God is always faithful!

Day #22 - I'm thankful for a night at home on a cold evening with hot coffee, warm banana chocolate chip muffins, and checking in with my friends on Facebook. 

Day #23 - I'm thankful for the book of Psalms and a new perspective on God as my refuge!

Day #24 - I'm thankful for Sunday afternoon naps!!!

Day #25 - I'm thankful that my chicken partnership doesn't require me to dispose of the dead chicken I found this morning (and one found earlier this month)!

Day #26 - I'm thankful for my friend Marsha who is always there when I need her even when we live many miles apart and don't talk often enough.

Day #27 - I'm thankful for movie night with my girls - even if it was Catching Fire...when I haven't seen Hunger Games...or read the books...and it left me hanging for Mocking Jay.

Day #28 - I'm thankful for Thanksgiving at my mom's with my sister and her kids and being able to spend some time at my grandma's!

Day #29 - I'm thankful my daughter has a job this semester...even though it meant working horrible hours Thanksgiving weekend. Proud of her! 

Day #30 - "Thankfulness is a conscious response that comes from looking beyond our blessings to their source. As Christians, we have been forgiven, saved from death, and adopted as God’s children. There could be no better reason for a grateful heart!" - Henry T Blackaby & Richard Blackaby