We are home from Houston, Texas and boy was it HOT. I mean, it is hot in Missouri. We have high temperatures . . . over 100 degrees . . . and we have high humidity . . . . but Houston is just a sauna. Always happy to see it in my rear view mirror!
Mom's appointments at MD Anderson went well. The scan shows NO NEW TUMORS!!! HOORAY!!!!! But, the one remaining tumor has started to grow again. Which, while not surprising, is a reminder of the long road we are on. So, the plan is for mom to take another 3 or 4 chemotherapy treatments beginning in a couple of weeks so she can continue to get stronger (she is better every day!!!!!), and then after those treatments we will go back to Houston (maybe it will be cooler by then) for new scans, and then they will use radiation to kill that tumor. They had originally planned to do an ablation, but the risk of infection is relatively high and they aren't willing to take the risk, so radiation it is. We aren't sure if they will give her 5 fairly high doses of radiation, or 25 small doses of radiation given over 5 weeks, which would mean 5 weeks in Houston, Texas.
Mom did have some fluid around her right lung, and they drained that fluid off Thursday morning. The doctor did not seem overly concerned, but the fluid is being tested right now to see if there are any cancer cells in the fluid. I ASK THAT YOU AGREE WITH US IN PRAYER FOR NO CANCER CELLS IN THAT FLUID!!! We should get a call tomorrow with the results and we are expecting a good report.
My cousin Cammi had her surgery (bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction) a week ago today and everything went GREAT. Thank you all so very much for praying for her. We continue to pray for her complete healing in Jesus name!!! Have I mentioned lately how much I hate cancer??
Thank you all so much for all the prayers. I know they reach our Lord. And while I don't understand why any of this is happening, I trust Him. Please pray for my mom, Donna, anytime the Lord brings her to your mind. As I've said before, this is a long road, and we are weary travelers.
This weekend I made 30 half pints of homemade blackberry jam. My sweet cousin and his wife have some blackberries that are very easy to pick -- which is another way of saying they are tame blackberries, they mow right up to the bushes and mulch underneath them so no chiggers!!
Blackberry jam is so easy to make!!! Just "mush" up some blackberries, add sugar and pectin, and voila!!!
And I have to say that this Ball FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker takes all the hard work out of it!!! You can get the details HERE. You just follow the instructions and let this handy dandy machine do all the hard work of stirring for you!! I've had mine for years and highly recommend it!! **
I'm sorry the picture is a little dark, but this is the finished blackberry jam right before I put it in jars. I follow the recipe that is included with the FreshTech and each batch made 5 half pint jars. You work in small batches which takes a little bit of time, but the good news is while the jam is "cooking" you can be doing something else. You don't have to stand there and stir!!!!!
I made 6 batches, 30 half pint jars in all, and canned them using a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, 10 half pint jars at a time.
The jam is just delicious, and so much better than what you can buy at the store. And if you're new to "canning" and looking to get started this is truly the simplest way!!! You DO NOT have to have the Ball FreshTech machine to make jam or jelly, but it sure makes it easier!!
On Sunday I celebrated my 53rd birthday!!! I seriously do not know where the last 53 years have gone? I feel about 25 or 26 years old and I'm not kidding! My birthday was a very busy day!! I got up and walked 3 miles before I headed to church. After church I went to my parents house and cleaned house, changed the sheets, did laundry and fixed them lunch. Then I headed to Wal-Mart and the grocery store for them and for me. Once I got home I made two more batches of blackberry jam, then went outside and mowed the yard and walked 3 more miles (I'm trying to get in better shape . . . I also started a HIIT class which I go to 3 times per week), then jumped in the shower and got ready for my family to come over for a fish fry at our house. My husband fries the best fish and potatoes and onions this side of the Mississippi River!!!! All in all it was a great birthday spent with family. I have my family and my health and I know Jesus as my Savior. Nothing else really matters!!
My mom is doing well. We continue to try and get her to eat more, but it is hard for her. She is walking farther each day (hooray!) and still doing her exercises and drinking her Ensure shakes. We go back to MD Anderson next week for blood work and a new CT scan of her liver, and to meet with her surgeon and oncologist. Then the first week in August we go back down for an ablation of the one remaining tumor in her liver. We are praying that when we get there next week the tumor is GONE and the ablation isn't necessary. Seriously, that is our prayer. I know that is a big prayer, but I serve a big God!! If you believe, as we do, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, then please agree with us in prayer for complete healing for my mom!!
I hope you can tell from reading my blog that I am a very positive person. I am an encourager. I try hard to always see the "bright side" of things and to look for the silver lining in every cloud. I love Jesus and I trust Him that all things work together for our good and His glory! But I have to be completely transparent with you all and share that I have moments of being very discouraged and very overwhelmed. Being a caregiver is exhausting and while my two sisters help, the responsibility and most of the day to day going and doing for my parents falls to me. Next week I will take them to Houston for the 7th time since last September, and in August I will make the 8th trip for the ablation if it is needed. My mom gets a Lovenox shot in her stomach every evening, 7 nights a week, and will need those shots for several more months, and I give those shots nearly every night. I go to the store for them and try to keep their house clean. My mom gets pretty discouraged sometimes and I try HARD to keep her focused on being thankful and encouraged. I call her every morning and I see her nearly every evening. And I still work full-time and try to take care of my own home and family. So if I sound like I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself, I guess I am. I'm tired. As I said in a post a couple of months ago, I just want my life back. I want normal back.
I really don't say all this to make you feel sorry for me. Please don't feel sorry for me!!! I AM OK!!!!! I said all this so that if you are going through a rough patch in your life, I want you to know that it is OK to feel sorry for yourself once in awhile. It is OK to feel overwhelmed some days. Just because we trust in the Lord, it doesn't mean that we aren't still human and have all these emotions that can change daily, sometimes even hourly. I have great days, and some not so great days. I have days of being full of faith and confident that God is going to heal my mother and this cancer we see before us we will NEVER SEE AGAIN!!! And then I read about someone dying from cancer, or I hear about someone losing a loved one, and I am faced with the reality that while God hears and answers our prayers, He does not always answer in the way we would want. That doesn't mean we didn't have faith, it just means that He is God and we are not. MOST OF ALL IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE STOP PRAYING FOR THE MIRACLE!! I will pray for my mother to be healed until God heals her or He calls her home. And on those days when my faith is weak and I just want to run away (yes, I have days of wanting to absolutely RUN AWAY) I will pray and ask God to wrap His loving arms around me and remind me that this is His burden to carry, not mine. And He always reminds me that He loves me, even on the days when my faith is weak. His joy is my strength. Even though some days I am more joyful than others.
I can't thank you all enough for sticking with me here at Down On The Farm. I know the past year there haven't been many light and happy posts, and I will continue to share what's going on with my mom and I will continue to be transparent about my feelings. But I am trying to be very intentional about moving on with my life while continuing to do all I can for my parents. I've given this horrible disease the past year of my life, as I feel as if my life has been on hold since July 29, 2016, the date of my mom's diagnosis. And I'm going to try HARD to not keep putting off LIVING AND ENJOYING MY LIFE. That doesn't help my mom, it doesn't help me, and it certainly doesn't glorify God.
So in the midst of updates on trips to MD Anderson, you're gonna see me update my laundry room, so stay tuned! And keep those prayers for my mom, Donna, coming. God is good!
**And just as a disclaimer Ball has NEVER heard of me. I bought this FreshTech Jam & Jelly maker years ago and I'm just sharing my thoughts on it.
My beautiful cousin, Cammi, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer back in January. She is 34 years old, a daughter, sister, wife and mother of four children.
Cammi completed 6 doses of chemotherapy a few weeks ago. She has tested positive for the "gene" that makes her cancer very aggressive, and very likely to return and spread. She is having a bilateral mastectomy next month, and her oncologist has recommend that she have a hysterectomy next year.
I would ask that you add this beautiful young woman to your prayer list. And if you feel led, visit her Go Fund Me page HERE to make a donation.
I believe we are to pray for healing. In the Book of James,
Chapter 5, it is written:
any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let
them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:And
the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him
up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.Confess
your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be
healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
That tells me that while we always seek God's will, it is OK to ask our God to heal those that are sick.
I've just finished reading "Forgotten God - Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit" by
Francis Chan. Let me tell you it is eye opening. I'll expand on this in another post, but seriously, if you haven't read this book GET A COPY AND READ IT. It will change your life as a Christian.
And in case you're wondering, my sweet mama is BETTER! She is back home and still drinking those shakes and walking and exercising. Praise the Lord!! We continue to pray for complete healing in Jesus name and ask that you agree with us in prayer!! Remember, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) availeth much!!!
After being admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, May 30th, my mom is being released today. Thank you Jesus!!!! She is drinking the protein shakes every day, and she has improved a lot. She still struggles with nausea. We really don't know where that comes from. The doctors don't seem to know, so prayers about that are appreciated.
She has done physical therapy and occupational therapy every day, trying to build up some strength and get her up and moving again. All of the excess fluid is gone from her body which has helped tremendously!!!
She will be heading home from the hospital today, and on Saturday she and my dad are going to my sister's house. My sister does medical billing and she works from home. So mom being there for the next couple of weeks just makes sense. My sister will take excellent care of my mom!! She can make sure she drinks the shakes. Make sure she continues doing the exercises and gets up and walks several times per day. My sister is an excellent cook, so hopefully some great tasting food (sorry, but hospital food is NOT GOOD) will encourage my mom to start eating again, so the mainstay of her diet isn't protein shakes. We desperately need my mom to gain weight (I won't even tell you how much she weighs) and to regain her strength.
My mom is better than she was on May 30th when she was admitted to the hospital. Just being honest, I was VERY CONCERNED about her that day. And even though she is better, she has a long way to go before she's ready to be at home on her own.
Since April 6th, the day of my mom's liver surgery, she has been in the hospital more days than she has been out of the hospital. The recovery from the surgery has been extremely slow. Much slower than we would have expected, and she is very discouraged by this. She worries about herself a lot.
So, again, I come asking for your prayers. I'm so thankful that even though sometimes I get tired of praying, God never gets tired of listening. Please continue praying for my mom to regain her appetite and her strength. My mom is tired of feeling bad. Tired of not having any energy.
I'll start off by saying that I can't thank you enough for sticking with me these past few months. Cause if you're still reading this blog you're either desperate for something to pass the time, or you are a prayer warrior. And if you're a prayer warrior, then I need your help. My mom was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday, May 30th. She was given two units of blood and her hemoglobin is back to normal. Thank you, Lord. They made her drink 5-6 Ensure protein drinks per day since Wednesday, and the excess fluid they had been draining is DRAMATICALLY BETTER. Her feet and legs are almost back to normal!!! They had been so swollen mom was just miserable.
They kept her in the hospital until Friday when they transferred her to the rehabilitation unit to try to build up her strength with some physical therapy and occupational therapy. She will stay there 10 to 14 days and she actually started PT and OT today.
The bottom line is this, my mom has to drink 5 or 6 Ensure protein drinks per day, every day. She has zero appetite and is nauseous most of the time, so drinking those is a real struggle for her. They are 8 ounces apiece, which for me is no big deal, but for her, well, getting down 5 or 6 of them over the course of a day is very difficult. She can eat "real food" but she only eats a few bites here and there, so the protein drinks are a MUST for her to get better. Without them she doesn't get NEARLY ENOUGH protein or vitamins or minerals or calories. If she doesn't drink 5 or 6 shakes per day, then the fluid will come back, what LITTLE strength she has regained she will lose, and we're right back where we were last Tuesday when she was admitted.
I need you to pray for an increased appetite for my mother. The doctor has put her on an appetite stimulant, but it can take several days for that to begin working. We need her WANTING to drink those shakes and WANTING to eat regular food. Cause for right now, we really have to push her to get her to drink them which, as you can imagine, is no fun for her, or for us.
As I said, she has been losing weight and strength and muscle tone the past couple of months, and she is very weak. The physical therapy WEARS HER OUT and makes her want to sleep, which makes it hard for her to get the 5 or 6 protein shakes down cause you can't drink while you're napping, but without the shakes she has zero energy and she will go backwards and we can't have that. As you can see it's a vicious cycle.
My mother would be very upset with me if she knew I was posting this about her. She doesn't want anyone to know she is struggling. But if you don't know what's going on with her, then how do you know how to pray?? So, there it is. My mother needs a major increase in her appetite. She needs a lot of encouragement. She needs a WILL to get better. The doctor has told us it is totally up to her. If she can drink the shakes, get her strength back, and then transition over to "real food" she will be fine. If she won't, well, the exact words of the doctor to my mother were "this ends badly for you." I know that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond ANYTHING we can ask. So I continue to ask that you agree with us for COMPLETE AND TOTAL HEALING IN JESUS NAME.
I've said it before, I can't thank you enough for the prayers you have lifted for my mother. While I may never be able to thank you in person here on this earth, what a time we will have in heaven together one day!! I love you all, and I pray God's blessings upon you and yours as you read this and respond in prayer. I love my mother so very much. I just want her back and healthy and whole.