Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Highs and Lows Along This Journey

Today is Monday, 11/29/10 at 8:30 p.m.  The plan for today was simple, so we thought.  Meet with the oncology radiation doctor (Dr. Lu) this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss radiation treatment plan and have the staples removed so that we could start the radiation treatment as soon as this Wednesday. 

Prior to leaving for the radiation consultation appointment, Yolanda started to experience weakness on her right side from her arm down through her leg.  She was not able to stand up straight or walk without assistance.  She also had some shortness of breath.  While at the radiation appointment, Yolanda described the latest symptoms from this morning to the doctor.  Dr. Lu ordered an MRI of the right side of her body.  We left doctor Lu's office approximately 1:15pm with an MRI scheduled for 3:00 p.m. today.   

After we had the staples removed by Yolanda's neurosurgeon's PA and meet with her oncologist to pick up a prescription for some stronger meds (morphine), we headed to the MRI facility.  Now it's 3pm (we originally anticipated being at Dr. Lu's office for may one to two hours tops).  Yolanda was unable to complete the MRI tests because her pain level started to intensify and she was unable lay still on her back.  After coming home Yolanda"s pain continued to intensify without any relief from her current pain meds plus the new morphine pills.  After several conversations with Yolanda's oncologist (by the way Dr. Osbourne is a saint. Not only did he call us several times but he gave us his cell and home phone numbers), I ended up taking Yolanda to the ER (second time within four days and three times within three weeks).  They decided to keep her for the night to help with her pain management.

It's now 3:10 a.m. and she is finally resting in her room under some VERY strong narcotics.  I am heading home to get a couple of hours of sleep before I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. and take the kids to school and my mother-in-law to work by 7:15 a.m.

My GOD bless and keep you all.  Good Morning Ya'll!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunny Day in Houston

I hope everyone has had a great time "doing you" over this holiday period. Whether you ate too much or shopped too much, watched games all day or caught up on everything you have on DVR, I hope all in all it has been relaxing.

We continue on our journey...
Last night we had an "eventful" evening related to me having a severe onset of piercing pain (more than usual) in my back and chest. I thank God for covering prayer during this entire ordeal. I have learned over the years to always try to find the good in the midst of a storm. Normally when you call a MD on call and they tell you to go the emergency room, you still have to sit and wait, be triaged at the discretion of the staff on duty. However, I believe it is the fervent prayer of all of you that continue to place me in good hands, such that I was able to go directly to the ER and be treated immediately (no delay).

Right now, until treatment starts, managing the intense pain is our priority. I am on 75mg of Fentanyl and 1-2 tabs of Vicodin every 4 hours. For those who do not know, those are just some good ol' narcotics. Its times like these that I would have voted for legalizing marijuana...no joke. I am not trying to start a political debate here by supporting legalization of social use, but until you have experienced the most intense pain of your life, would someone understand the desperation to try anything. NO WORRIES EVERYBODY... I will just keep calling on Jesus as my choice of relief (along with those that have been legalized) to make it through. Something else that has improved during this time is learning to use my psyche to focus, so that I am not a whaling, out of control patient. Channeling myenergy and controlling my thoughts (blocking out surroundings) allows me to help manage my pain as well.

To those who called and made attempts to see us today, my husband was "on duty" and restricted all socializing today so that I could recuperate and rest. Y'all....I absolutely LOVE my husband. He is fulfilling every role imaginable as a husband during this journey. I thank God for divinely creating an individual JUST FOR ME. Everything that I have needed him to be, he is. The best part, that in the midst of all of this, we find time to laugh and tell jokes even about things that are occuring along the way. For example: A part of surgery was visiting a plastic surgeon. The surgeon had to take all of these pictures of me. So, picture this: I am in a patient room with a male physician, my husband and his female nurse. The MD says "take off your top" and "now let's take pictures". Mike and I looked at each other knowing there was a joke between the two of us waiting to be told. Once finished, Mike (and you just have to know Mike) asked the doctor for a copy of the pictures becuase he didn't have any topless pictures of me. Well, once Mike and I were left in the room, I say "Well, I have never just posed half dressed for anybody let along a full room".

You just have to laugh to keep from crying and you have to pray to keep from loosing hope. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Today we give thanks for GOD being the center of our lives. Today we give thanks for family and friends. Today we give thanks for just being able to say thank you Lord. Thanksgiving 2010 has been great. Family, friends, food and fellowship was the order of the day. From the fried turkey to the red velvet cake, we have enjoyed every moment.

In many ways this Thanksgiving was better then any of our previous gatherings. It's funny how we tend to take the little things for granted. This year we took the opportunity to pause and really appreciate family. The leasson for the day is: always cherish and love one another because life is too short and each day given to us is truly a gift from GOD.

It is our prayer that you have enjoyed this day and were able to take the time to reflect on what you are thankful for and why you are thankful.

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How To Follow Instructions

Several people have contacted us regarding how they can follow us on this site and post comments.  You have to click on the "Sign In" hot link located in the top right hand corner of this page. It will send you to the sign in page.  You have to sign in using your google account or create a google account (if you don't have one) in order to follow this (or any blog spot) blog.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Day 6

Well, today was our visit to the oncologist to learn about the rest of our journey. One thing I will start out by saying is that you never want your doctor to walk in the room and say "this is rare."

Michael and my mom accompanied me today. The biopsy that was done last Friday is metastatic breast cancer. Therefore, the cells have spread from my breast to my spine. It is located in T2-T5 vertebrae (inside the bone) which is about mid part of your back between your scapula. There is also a small spot that was identified on my left lung, but at this time is too insignificant to biopsy and the treatment plan will take care of it if it is cancer.

As for the treatment plan: We will visit the Radiation MD on Monday to be evaluated for the initial phase of radiation therapy. I will have my staples removed from the surgery on next Thursday. Radiation will begin the following Friday or week. At this time, it is anticipated that I will need 10 days of radiation. We will confirm on Monday.

After radiation treatment is completed, I will begin chemotherapy. That will require further discussion as it relates to how long and how often, but at this time it is estimated that I will need at least 6 months of chemotherapy. As well, due to the bone degeneration caused by the cancer, I will need additional IV therapy of a particular medication once per month.

There's always two ways to look at a circumstance. Here we are relieved that it is treatable; however, we were baffled when informed that they usually only see this pattern of cancer in 2% of cancer patients. Originally, the cancer was classified as "Ductal carcinoma in situ" (DCIS) which is noninvasive and not expected to spread. However, the original tumor was so large that it would have been impossible to dissect every piece of the tumor. Therefore the majority of what was dissected and analyzed was DCIS. Somehow, a few of those sneaky cells got away and spread to my spine and decided to set up shop in their own neighborhood. S0 we are now faced with invasive cancer, seen in 2% of breast cancer cases and not a closely studied group of patients because of its rarity.

From our hearts: The doctor says that it is not curable but all we pray for is a healing. The treatment plan will place it in remission. We will take this in stride and realize that a healing is from the spirit. This could come back or not. We have informed Kendra and Jasmine and ask that you just continue to support our family in prayer as we continue to go through this journey.

With love to all of you
Michael and Yolanda

We didn't forget!!! Day 5

Yesterday was pretty eventful in that we had several visits yesterday. While I thoroughly enjoyed them all, I was wiped out by night time. I love reading the comments and receiving the calls and well wishes.

I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt our family is being lifted up in prayer. I can honestly say, and I made this comment when I was going through my original bout with cancer, that prayer is tangible. That's why when you say you are going to pray for someone, be sure you do it because they may really be depending on you. As in my case, there were times and occasionally there still are times, when I can not pray for my self for various reasons.

I will kindly share my weakness with you and that is one of impatience. I retract to my private mental place only to try to understand why this is happening to me, how it is transpiring and how this is surprisingly touching and affecting so many of you. As I visit with you each day, I am learning how my experience is allowing some of you to reflect on your personal, family and spiritual lives. This has truly been a walk through God's word for me, because I am having to rely so much more on what has already been written. He tells us that we will have trials and tribulations; He just doesn't give the details. He tells us that He will see us through any situation; He just doesn't tell us how He will see you through nor How long you will be in the midst of that situation. My personal plight now is just my impatience wanting to know what does the end of this trial look like and how much longer must I endure. As well, am I following the plan according to His will and it is impacting who/what He wants it to impact.

Our family is a very strong unit. However, to all of the married couples who read this (and I will elaborate more on a later posting) it has truly revealed a lot about us as individuals to each other (the couple) and has made us reflect on vows that we took 18 years ago. We are regarding them more as the covenant made with God, as they are intended to be, rather than just vows spoken at a beautiful ceremony.

Today is a big day because we go see the oncologist at 1:40. We will learn the results of the spinal tumor as well as the next steps and the treatment plan. As you are already doing, just continue to pray for us especially during that time. Please know that prayer, for me, is a 2-way street, and I am praying for you.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 4

Hello everyone! Day 3 has passed and day 4 is almost at its end. Yolanda has had a couple of good days.  She is still trying to adjust to her new limits and what she can and can't do, for now.  She is learning how to pace herself.  If you know Yolanda, you know how difficult that is for her.

Having family at the house has been wonderful.  My cousin and her husband also drove over from Austin, TX.  My mother and three of my aunts cooked up a storm.  Wow, was the food and fellowship awesome.  We had candied yams, collard greens, old fashion corn bread and I BB&Q some Elgin sausage and baby back ribs.  My mother made her world famous banana pudding (that didn't survive the day) and we had a great time watching the Cowboys beat up the Lions.

As for me (Yolanda), the fellowship was wonderful because this part of the family hasn't visited in years. As always comments are always made that its ashame that it takes times such as these, death and weddings, to bring family together. Let me just tell you how awesome God is: Since my mother nor I have the endurance to cook for Thanksgiving, I was about to order a Luby's Thanksgiving dinner. Later I find out that someone has stepped up to the plate and is preparing an entire meal. What?!

Until I understand it any differently, I still do not know why I am going through this, but I am learning  and experiencing a lot as I go through. I have been reading Hebrews 11 and Job, as a start. I may not be having ALL of the troubles of Job, but let me tell that when you going through a storm such as this, it feels like you can understand Job's plight. What I do know is that in going through trials such as these, its not a personal journey but it is meant to be shared, you will come out victorius and stronger, and you will learn something about yourself that you didn't even know.

Here's is one quick point I want to share that I have learned. People will TELL you they love you and they can say they will PRAY for you. But, it is the EXPRESSION of it that means more than the words. So when people have come to our house, stopped us in the hallway, pulled us into a room, called on the phone, etc and actually prayed that was an expression. When people do things for you, even as simple as reading and posting encouraging words, bringing meals, taking care of girls, running errands, etc those are all expressions. God could have finished the bible in one page and said "I love all of you", but He didn't! He gave us instructions on how to love, showed us what love looked like, and gave examples throughout.

My next appointment is Wednesday at 1:40 where we will learn of the treatment plan and when that will start. We will continue to remain positive and uplifted because this is probably just the beginning of the stretch of the journey.

As for visitation, we are still requesting that it be somewhat limited but please began to stop by with notice. Soon you will be hearing from the girls and I personally can't wait myself to read what they have to say. This is a family affair...all the way

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 2 from Yo

Well, I made it home and much to my delight Michael's 3 aunts, nephew, and mom
came in from Dallas. We had sveral other visitors and phone calls and I so pleased to be back in the comfort of my home. I am having back pain as expected but I am recovering. I will not be at church tomorrow but know that I am thinking of my church members ( whom I love dearly) as well as my friends, neighbors and family.

Day 2

Yolanda is preparing to come home. She is in great spirits and looking forward to leaving the hospital. She is in a back brace to protect her spine. Although still in pain, she continues to remain strong. So now we wait on the pathology report. The report should be back in approximately five days. We will continue with daily updates. Be blessed!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 1

Greeting everyone! Surgery this morning was a success in that God blessed me with highly trained doctors, nurses, techs and aids. Our prayers were answered in that regard. Multiple biopsy's were taken to determine if this is a malignant cancer or not; however the neurosurgeon was pretty confident that the tumor was malignant based on my recent history and his many years of experience. The answers that are pending are: 1) do I have two separate types of cancers; or 2) was there a metastasis of my original breast cancer. Tomorrow I am going home but there will be limited access for visitations and phone calls. Michael still has my phone and is guarding me closely. So please, I ask that you go through Michael to visit or speak to me.

What's encouraging in all of this is that my spirit is already healed. Because I believe in the healing power of my God! What I have learned
going through this process is that "healing" is not the cure of any disease but it is the acceptance of God's perfect well and how it will manifest in you/me. This has also been an opportunity for me to acknowledge, witness and experience true Christian love.

Your love has encouraged my family through this ordeal and we are so grateful. I look for to reading your posts. Now it's getting late; I'm getting sleepy; Love, Peace and Happiness.

Praise God! Yolanda is out of surgery but is still in recovery. The doctor says that the tumor is positive for cancer and most likely breast cancer but he will know exactly what type after he receives the full pathology. She will be in the hospital over night and will most likely go home tomorrow morning. Thank you for all of you prayers, support and kind words of encouragement.
The journey has begun officially. Yolanda went into surgery this morning (11/19/10) around 6:45am. The doctor told us that the procedure should last approximately two hours. Dr. Kim plans to take samples and remove as much of the visible tumor as possible. He also told us that this is not the major cancer surgery. That surgery will be after they receive the full pathology report. They want to fully understand what type of cancer she has and develop the most effective treatment plan. There will be NO VISITATION today! I need my wife to rest and recover. I sincerely hope you all can understand. My main focus now is protecting and caring for Yolanda. She sends her love to all of you. Please continue to lift her up in prayer! I will post regular updates. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

If someone had asked me any day before June 29, 2010 how would I react if I were diagnosed with breast cancer, my response would have been "God knows me and He wouldn't put more on me than I could handle." Well, needless to say I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 29, 2010 and on July 29, 2010 I underwent a mastectomy. I am very grateful that God knows me better than I know myself. I went into surgery with the feeling of already being healed although the cancer had not yet been removed. Recovery was difficult, but with the help of friends, my church family and family, I was able to make it through that arduous process. I thank God for praying husband, children and mother. I thank God for His infinite wisdom, tender mercies, and the power of intercessery prayer.
If you had asked me in July 2010, how would I react or what would I say if I were diagnosed with cancer again, I would most definately say I don't think I could survive that again. Well, on November 16, 2010 I was diagnosed with a tumor (suspected cancer) on my spine. I am now in a upper body brace. I am scheduled for surgery tomorrow to biopsy and remove as much of the tumor as possible. I already know I have the support of my "sisters and brothers in Christ" who have supported me and my family in the past and are stepping up yet again.
Please pray for me and my family as we start this journey.