26 June, 2012

I had my final chemo exactly two weeks ago; praise the Lord!!  I spent a week feeling nauseated and fatigued, and then, as usual, started to feel better but became neutropenic.  My mom gave me one shot a day for four days, which bumped my white blood cell count back up to normal.  I'm hoping and praying that was the last time I'll have to endure those painful shots!  In about a month, I'll have a PET scan and two CT scans to check that the chemo really did work and to see if I am now cancer free!  In the meantime, I should continue to feel better and better.

And I already am feeling a lot better!  I get tired out pretty easily, but, because I've been cooped up inside for the past four months, I've been trying to keep busy regardless.  I was able to go to our church's get-together at the beach last week.  I spent a beautiful day at Balboa Park for my Dad's birthday.  I've also been able to hang out with several friends.  I went to my best friend Katy's birthday party, had dinner with my fourth-grade-best-friend Becca, and had coffee with a friend named Rachel, who I haven't seen in a few years.  I'm extremely happy to be able to have a social life again!

Now that my chemotherapy is over, many people have been asking me what I plan on doing next.  Before I got diagnosed with cancer, my plan was to begin grad school this fall.  I was all set to enter the Peace and Justice Studies Master's program at the University of San Diego, but now that the time has come, I know I am not physically or mentally prepared to start grad school.  So I deferred my acceptance for a year with the intention of beginning the program in the fall of 2013.  However, my recent experience has made me wonder if I might want to pursue a different career path.  I've been looking into a joint Master's of Social Work/Master's of Public Health program at San Diego State University and thought of possibly going into Oncology Social Work or pursuing something related to public health.  I plan on applying to the program early next year, and making a decision about what program I actually will do when the time comes to decide.  If there's anything these past four months have taught me, it's to take things one day at a time.  Our own plans are unreliable because we are not in charge of life; God is.  James 4:13-15 says,
Look here, you who say, "today or tomorrow we are going to a certain city, will spend a year there, carry on business, and make money."  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?  Your life is like the morning fog -- it's here a little while, then it's gone.  What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.
I can safely say that this year has been absolutely nothing like I planned it.  I'm going to attempt to live my life in the way these verses suggest, not making certain plans, but leaving my life open to the possibilities that God may have planned for me.  So maybe I'll go to grad school in a year, but I'm not positive.  I have several ideas of things I want to do in this next year, but am trying to remember that nothing is certain.

I'm leaving for Oregon on friday and will spend a week there with several of my college friends.  We are also planning on taking a family vacation at the end of August.  Besides those two trips, I have no plans set in stone.  I know I need to get a job and think it might be fun to be a barista for a while.  I also would love to travel this next year if it's a possibility at all -- and if God wills it.  I've been feeling a lot better, but definitely don't feel healthy.  So for now, I will simply take things once day at a time, focus on trying to become as healthy as possible, and see where God takes me.


"Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.  
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."  
-Psalm 139:16

12 June, 2012

I had my last chemotherapy treatment today!  Yay!!!  I feel terrible, but it doesn't even matter because I won't have to go for chemo again!  I just have to get through these next two weeks of feeling sick, then I'll be on my way back to normal!  I am so eager to be healthy again, so I am ecstatic to put my last chemo behind me!!  I'll have another PET scan and some CT scans in six weeks and will then meet with my doctor to go over the results.  So please continue to keep my health in your prayers! And thank you so incredibly much for the love, prayers, and support you have continually given me!  I wouldn't have made it this far without you!

Getting my last chemo!
"Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promises is faithful."
- Hebrews 10:23

08 June, 2012

Last week was a rough one.  I had chemo last tuesday and then began taking my new anti-nausea medication.  Not only did the medication not work, it seemed to make things worse.  I spent a lot more time sprawled out on the couch than usual.  My brother came down to visit for a couple days.  We attempted to go out for dinner last thursday and I felt so terrible that I had to have my dad drive me home before we even had a chance to order.  Thankfully, the nausea has gotten a lot better these past few days.

Unfortunately, I've come down with a bad cold.  There's really not much I can do about it except drink lots of water and wait it out.  So please be praying for me to get better so my final chemo won't get postponed!

While Kevin was here, he wanted to try on my wig (who wouldn't?).  He looked amazingly ridiculous, so of course our mom had to take a picture of the two of us -- Kevin with long, dark hair, and me with the scraggly hairstyle of Charlie Brown's friend Linus.  I knew what I looked like; I had gazed in the mirror every day for the past few months.  But it wasn't until I looked at the photo of myself that it hit me how sick I actually looked.
Kevin and I

Linus, my doppleganger.
I've never been one to wear a lot of makeup or spend hours in the bathroom doing my hair, so I was surprised at how much the appearance change of these last few months has affected me.  It's strange how much our appearance can influence the way we act and feel.  I realized at a young age that if I spent all day in my pajamas, I felt sick, frumpy, and lazy.  And these past three months, that is exactly how my hair has made me feel.  The first few times I wore my wig, I suddenly had more energy and confidence and felt a little more like I did before I got sick.  With the thin, scraggly hairstyle I've had as of late, I definitely have not felt like myself.  So after church on Sunday, my aunt chopped all my hair off with the kitchen scissors... and I love it!! I feel so much better!
Aunt Barbara giving me a haircut

But regardless of my hairstyle, I know that God "knit me together in my mother's womb."  He intricately created each and every one of us.  Yet I know so many beautiful women who doubt their beauty and value.  The reality is that we fail to realize the extent of God's love for us.  While my brother was home, he introduced me to a great organization called Wonderfully Made, whose mission is "to help young women discover, strengthen, and reclaim their true value and worth."  Please take a few minutes to watch this short video they created.  And my prayer for you is that you will begin to know the intimate love God has for you.

"Oh Lord, You have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before.
You have laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.
For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, oh God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand --
when I awake, I am still with You."
Psalm 139:1-18