Thursday, June 22, 2017

One whole year...

It has been one whole year since I have posted anything. Cancer was gone. Granddaughter, Adaline Lovelace Swicegood was born on July 19th. Cancer treatment ended. Allen had issues with his foot...ended up losing a little toe and part of his foot bone. Was in the hospital a couple of times and had to take leave from work for everything to heal. I had issues with my hip and was scheduled for hip replacement surgery the first week of 2017 but cancer was found in the chest wall near my port. Surgery cancelled. Back on immunotherapy. Didn't work. Had 18 radiation treatments. Cancer breaking down again. Found suspicious spots in lung. New chemo started. Became dehydrated. Back in the hospital for a week. Found another lump in the breast. Biopsy shows it is cancer...still waiting to find out what kind. Chemo stopped. New treatment scheduled to start tomorrow. That is that past year in a nutshell! This shows most of the 'bad' stuff. Lots of good things happened too. Got to see my granddaughter grow her first year. Got to see Alex start maturing into a good young man. Hoping Sarah is on the road to better health. Got to spend holidays and birthdays with everyone for one more year. Please keep us all in your prayers! Love to you all!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Time to slow down

Yes! I think it is time for things to slow least a little. We have our move behind us. We now own a new house in New Braunfels, TX. Very exciting...and a lot of work. We actually moved the first of April but are still unpacking things. The inside of the house is mostly complete now. Still a few boxes of things I have to find places for but for the most part everything is put away. The yard is about finished, too. The front came landscaped but we put in lots of flowers, bushes, a deck and a waterwinder (also known as a wind mill) in the backyard. Still have a couple of rose bushes to transplant from pots to the ground but most everything else is complete. The garage on the other hand is still to be done. We have 2 small pathways to maneuver through the boxes and shelves and tubs. It is so hot out right now and that makes working out there almost impossible. This may wait until cooler weather this fall. We will have to see. Been checking out new restaurants in New Braunfels. Found a couple of good ones and a couple of really bad ones! Starting to feel at home now. We are about 45 minutes (with good traffic) from Travis and Brandi and about an hour from Sarah and Chris now. We are only about 30 minutes from the CTRC, though, where we were an hour and 45 minutes away. I think it will work out.

Looking forward to a good summer settling into our new home and town; having Alex come spend a few days at a time with us; and the arrival of our granddaughter, Adaline in late July/early August. We are truly blessed. God is good.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Adventure!

Originally, when we moved to the Austin area, it was because the company Allen works for was going to open a new facility here. They have now decided not least not in the foreseeable future. They have also extended his Austin territory by adding a couple more counties that are closer to San Antonio. Since our lease is up in March, they have asked him to move back closer to San Antonio. This is good for him as he will be closer to the main office and for us as I will be closer for my treatments. We looked around this past fall and decided to purchase a house instead of finding another one to lease or moving into an apartment complex.

Now, here is the crazy part. We decided to build a new house in a small subdivision rather than buy an existing house. It is scheduled to be finished in permitting. I know in my condition, that may seem rather crazy but I am staying very hopeful that things will continue to improve for me and I am looking forward to making the move. We will be moving to New Braunfels, TX. It is a little closer to San Antonio than Austin but pretty close to being in the middle. From what we can tell, New Braunfels will be a good place to live and we are looking forward to checking out what the town has to offer. We will keep you posted as things progress!

Sunday, January 3, 2016


We are now into our third day of this new year. A year that I wasn't supposed to be here for. I have spent the past few weeks reflecting on 2015 and all that happened. It has been a scary time. By far the scariest time of my life. It has been hard and a very emotional time for me. I went from being optimistic that things will work out after my mastectomy to the devastating blow that the cancer is already back again...this time in the lungs. Then, being told I probably have only 4 to 6 months to live...I probably wouldn't be here for the holidays. Folks, I don't care who you are or how tough you think you are, those words are hard to deal with. Thankfully, I was a fit for a clinical trial in San Antonio and so far it is shrinking the cancer in my lungs and it has not spread anywhere else. For that, the CTRC and Dr. K and her staff, I am so grateful! This study has been such a blessing in my life. I try to stay positive and think that it will completely eliminate the cancer in my body but I have to be realistic, too, and realize that may not happen. It may only extend my life a few weeks or months. With that constantly hanging over my head, I must cherish every moment of every day that I do get to be here during 2016. I guess everyone should really be doing that. None of us know when our time here will be over. A sudden illness. A stroke. A heart attack. An accident. Anyone one of us could be gone in the blink of an eye. Spend time with your family and friends. Do things that you have always dreamed of doing. Make wonderful memories with those close to you because some know not when...a memory is all you will be to them. Love you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Welcome, December!

December is here! Last spring and summer I did not know if I would be here when December arrived but here I am! So thankful for all of the support I have received from my family and friends. So many prayers have been said on my behalf and I thank you all for them. I am so thankful for the staff of the CTRC in San Antonio. They do incredible work there and God truly works miracles through these awesome people. I don't know what lies ahead for me but I will cherish each day. Welcome, December! I am looking forward to a wonderful holiday season!

Friday, October 9, 2015

One year mark

It was this time last year that I discovered a lump in my right breast during a self exam. We had just returned from west Texas for Travis and Brandi's wedding. I was showering early in the morning and found it. My heart sank and I felt again...just to be sure I was really awake. I called my doctor when her office opened at 8 am and that began the sequence of events I have endured this past year. Below is what I wrote about my initial experiences:

This past Wednesday evening I had a complete meltdown. Allen was out of town. Alex was in bed asleep. Sarah had just gone to bed. I sat down at the computer before going to bed. My mind was racing so I decided to try to write down my thoughts. I wrote for an hour and half...non-stop. The last half hour, I started crying. At first, just a few tears but the more I wrote, the faster the tears came. Suddenly, I couldn't see what I was writing through my tears. I had written a ton of feelings...questions...thoughts. I decided to enlarge the type so I could hopefully see what I was writing. I highlighted the whole thing but before I could change the font size, everything disappeared. Everything I had written was gone...erased! I could not figure out how to bring it back. It was after 1 o'clock and Sarah was sound asleep so I didn't want to wake her. I just sat there looking at the computer in shock. The tears had stopped though. I felt panicked. It was almost as if everything I was feeling just disappeared with the text on the screen. Gone! I suddenly felt very calm. It was time to go to bed. I did just that but still couldn't fall asleep. I still didn't know what I had done to make everything I had written disappear.

I have gone through just about every emotion you can think of during the past 10 days. Through everything, the main questions that surfaces over and over again is WHY? I have been alarmed. First, at finding the lump and then again when they did the mammogram...and then a second mammogram...then being told they need to do a sonogram...on both breasts! Then, they come back and want to do a sonogram on the lymph nodes under my right arm! A radiologist came in and said that the left breast is fine...and the lymph nodes are clear BUT they need to do a biopsy on the lump in the right breast. It is showing up as 3 cm big and they need to check it. If I would like, she can do the biopsy right now or I can go home and think about it and call back tomorrow to schedule it for another day. HELLO!!! Why would I put something like this off to another time! Check it right now! Then, she has to tell me all of the terrible things that might happen but probably not. Test is over. When do I get the results? Well....the lab says it can take 3 to 5 BUSINESS days to get the results but I am asking for them asap and they have been really good lately at getting them back to us in 2 or 3 days. But this is Friday so it will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Finally, on Tuesday morning, the nurse called and said I do have cancer this time. I was upset when I got off of the phone with her. Yes, upset because she said I had cancer but more upset when she advised that they were scheduling me for an MRI....NEXT WEEK!!! Did she not just tell me that I had cancer?!?! Why did I have to wait a week?? I was ready to go right then. Should I find another hospital to go to? Did I need a different doctor?? You don't tell someone they have cancer and then tell them but we aren't going to do anything about until next week! I could be dead by next week! Why did I have to wait? That was the earliest opening they had but in the mean time, one of their breast cancer specialist was going to be calling me to set up an appointment to discuss the situation and explain what options I have. Ok. When? Sometime later today or tomorrow. Deep breaths. Ok.

A scheduler called about an hour later to set up an appointment with the specialist...tomorrow. Ok. One more day! I can handle that. At least at that time, I thought I could handle it. Allen and Sarah went with me. I was feeling numb by this time. I couldn't believe (and still can't believe) that this is happening to me. She informed me that yes, the biopsy does say I have cancer but it is not conclusive that it is breast cancer! What?? Cancer in the breast is breast cancer, right?? No. I could have cancer somewhere else in my body that has spread to the breast. Not at all what I was expecting to hear. Ok, so what do we do now? A PET scan. That will show the doctors exactly where I have cancer. Once they know that, they can determine what the next step will be. Ok...when? Well, we do PET scans here at this hospital on Wednesdays. Great! Today is Wednesday!! Where do I go to get it done? Sorry! We are completely booked today. I don't want to wait until next there somewhere else I can have one done sooner? I can check. OK!!!! Then, check!!! What are you doing just sitting there????? I'll be right back. Can you go to Temple to our clinic there tomorrow? Duh, YES!! I will go to Dallas or Houston or where ever I need to go to get some answers!! You just told me that I not only have cancer but you aren't sure exactly where all I have it! My whole insides could be full of cancer and you want to know if I can go to Temple, TX just 90 miles away to have a test done tomorrow?!?!? Of course, I can! Then, she did an exam and said that she thought it was much larger than the mammo stated. She thought is was actually more like 5 cm x 7 cm! Yeah, that is quite a bit bigger than 3 cm. But it could just be still swollen from the biopsy. OK, if that was a possibility, did she really have to tell me that she thought it was bigger?? Couldn't she have just waited until she had some more definitive information or does she just like scaring people to death??? Once the PET scan is completed, they will know what they are dealing with. I still need to have the MRI done next Tuesday and then she can present me with a 'plan'. Would I like to go ahead and schedule an appointment for that? What kind of an idiot does she think I am??? No! I just want to have these tests done and then forget everything! I don't want to know what to do about it or what options I have! I will just let the cancer take over and kill me!! Do I really look that stupid??? Ok...get the tests done Tuesday morning and she will meet with me at 3 that afternoon to go over everything. Now! When will I get the results of the PET scan? Well, they might have them ready tomorrow afternoon but they should be back by Friday morning. BUT I have an interview Friday morning so I won't be in the office until around 12:30. Who else can give me the results? Well, I don't think you would want just anyone giving you the results so I will try to get them tomorrow but I will call you as soon as I can on Friday. Excuse me but I don't care who gives me the results...I just want to know where and how much cancer is in my body! That's ok...I will talk to whoever administers the test tomorrow and get the results from them.

I tried to stay calm. I don't want to upset anyone else. My whole insides are shaking but I manage to go home and help Allen get things ready for a trip he has to make to Uvalde for a training class. I held things together the rest of that afternoon and evening. Helped get Alex to bed and said good night to Sarah. Once she left the room, I decided that maybe it would help me feel better if I sat down and wrote down some of these feelings so I did just that. But then they disappeared.

I was scared. What kind of cancer did I have? It has to be pretty bad to be spreading to other places. Can it be treated? Probably not, if it is already spreading. They can't remove that much stuff. How long will I have to live? I feel perfectly fine. Will I still be here for Thanksgiving? Christmas? Could I last another 6 months? a year? I am not afraid of itself. I am just not quite ready to go. I have things that I wanted to do. Ok. That's not good. God is in control. Things happen in His time, not mine. But God, I really need to wrap up some things. I take care of so many things for Allen that he doesn't even realize. I need to prepare him to take care of them for himself. I was really looking forward to us buying or building a house to retire to in the next year or two. I was looking forward to getting a workshop for my crafts and being able to make some things for me...not someone else...not to sell...just for me. I wanted to do some painting, some sewing, some reading, put in some flower gardens and a vegetable garden...can some tomatoes and green beans again...traveling to some of the places I always wanted to go but we were too busy or too broke to do. Guess those are just dreams now. WHY? Why is this happening? What have I done wrong? Am I being punished for something I did or didn't do right? I have always tried to do what is right. I have always tried to be there for everyone, helping however I could. Why is this happening and why now? I just don't understand. All of these things and a hundred more were going through my mind Wednesday night. I was overwhelmed to say the least.

Thursday came and the test was done. When she finished, she told me that she would be taking the test over to the doctor right then, and my doctor should have the results back in 45 minutes to an hour. That was 2:30. I waited until 4 to call for the results. Of course, the doctor was not at her desk. 4:30 I made the second call and got voicemail that time...had to leave a message. I was looking up the main number of the hospital to call when the doctor called me back. She had just got the results. No cancer showed up anywhere in the body but the right breast. It is definitely breast cancer. The cancer 'team' will be meeting on Monday to review my case and results. She will have a plan for me on Tuesday afternoon at 3. This is 'good' news! Good news that you have cancer?!?! I don't think so! Cancer is never good news. However, breast cancer is more beatable than other forms. We will see.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall is here!

Fall is here. Well, it is supposed to be but you wouldn't know it by the weather here in the Austin area. It has been in the mid to upper 90's for the past couple of weeks...before that it was in the 100's. It is getting a little cooler in the evenings but the days sure are hot! It will cool off eventually, though. I love the fall of the year.

We are doing well. I am still feeling good. I have treatments in San Antonio every other week. Tomorrow is my next treatment. Next week, they will do another CT Scan to see what is happening with the cancer. Hopefully, it is continuing to shrink in size and not spread anywhere else but with cancer, you never know. Thanks to everyone for the continued prayers! They certainly mean a lot to us!

Allen and Sarah are going bow hunting for deer on Saturday. That is opening day! I hope they get at least one deer but it would be great if they can each get one. They really enjoy hunting and their opportunities in Texas are not as good as they were when we were living in Missouri. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them!

That is about all that is going on here for now! Will post more soon!