Saturday, September 14, 2013

indomitable...




 Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
Mahatma Gandhi

I'm sitting in one of the new exam rooms in radiation oncology Friday morning.  A part of me still can't believe I scheduled myself to find out my brain mri results on Friday the 13th. 

But in keeping with embracing what is, I decided not to yield to superstition. 

So as Rick and I sat making small talk, Dr. Foster opened the door and greeted me, "Hello, Mrs. Westra."  I smile at the formality and fight the urge to look for Rick's mom, the only Mrs. Westra I think of when I hear that name.

Dr. Foster proceeds to go over the last 3 months of history with me.  He asks lots of questions and then asks to examine me.  He listens to my lungs, my heart, and runs his hands over my neck and under my arm checking lymph node status.  He, too, asks for my help in making sure he is feeling the enlarged, but tricky node, under my arm. 

He then says "well I will go confer with my notes, and be back to discuss treatment options with you in a few minutes."

Ohhhhh shoot, I think. These are the exact words he had used last time.  I sit back down next to Rick and throw my hands in the air. 

"Okay God, I'm in your hands," I say. 

I'm surprised by the level of peace I feel.  Whatever news he has to share about my brain mri, I feel prepared to embrace it.

It seems like a long time before Dr. Foster returns.

He sits down and instead of bringing up my mri, grabs a copy of my last PET scan as I confusedly look on.  As he brings the report forward, in an almost offhand way he says,

"Oh, your brain mri looks good.  Some shrinkage and some spots have disappeared.  So that's all good."

And my world just pauses right there.  I almost want to ask him if he is sure because this is the thing that has been on my mind the most.

But he is clearly moving onto something else.

He proceeds to ask me in more detail about some of the notes on the PET scan.   He shows me that the radiologist who had read this report had mentioned an area in my skull that he was interpreting as metastases.  But Dr. Foster didn't interpret the findings on the scan in the same way.  So he went to another radiologist, who after seeing the scan, actually agreed with Dr. Foster.  They both felt what they were seeing was not metastases at all. 

I can see the enthusiasm Dr. Foster has for this conclusion.  He has clearly gone out of his way, and taken his time, to research all of this in his own time.  This I think, is part of answered prayers.

He then proceeds to bring up my lung mets.  I smile as I tell him, that was in fact one of the discussions I had wanted to have with him. 

I also have been doing my own research.

Basically, there are two routes we could go, and Dr. Foster presents them both.

We could do 15 targeted radiation treatments to my right lung with the hopes that we would knock the mets back. 

Or we could opt for a more aggressive approach.  We could try to obliterate those mets, with 5 targeted shots of stereotactic radiosurgery, just like what we did to my head. 

Each session would last about 45 minutes and I would have to lie still, my arms back, over my head, with a bean-bag like form placed around me so I don't move. Fortunately he mentions Xanax being involved as well- thank goodness. 

I do however, find myself smiling again at the "obliterating tumors" images prancing through my head.  When I ask him what he would go for if it were him, or his family, he doesn't hesitate to say "aggressive treatment".  Inability to swallow and or esophageal distress are part of the side effects, along with risk of exposure to my heart, and burns on my skin are the main risks involved. I shudder as I recall the lidocaine solution I used to swig by the mouthful to numb my burning esophagus and the eventual oxy I needed to take. 

He then goes on to say the other spot that we should probably consider treating, is my lymph node under my arm.  It simply hasn't responded to chemo and it is time to consider radiating that spot as well. This treatment would take 15 rounds of radiation.  The major risk factor is Lymphedma, or swelling of the arm, but he considers my risk low since I've not had any surgery or lymph node removal previously.


Soooooo...


Dr. Foster agrees to talk with Dr. Panwalkar and then seek prior approval with my insurance company.  I will also talk with Dr. Panwalkar at my next appointment and seek his advice.  Then we can begin the process of planning and mapping out the procedures and begin treatment after that, if we're all in agreement.

I'm still trying to digest all of this.  And trying on "indomitable" for a bit, to see if it fits. 

Thank you to all of my prayer warriors, I feel the presence of those prayers working in and around me and they continue to honor and humble me so. 
















52 comments:

  1. Wow Vicky what an appointment you have had, with some really great news...

    I agree with that tricky lymph node its time to zappy that thing outta here!!! ;)
    xoxo,
    Michelle

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    1. Michelle, I know- was so not thinking it would be so intensive- yet so grateful it was. Zappy hour is indeed upon us :)

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  2. There are shivers up and down my spine as I read about your strength!!

    What a monumental appointment and outcome.

    Wishing you the best as you navigate the choices/decisions.

    It is clear that your medical team is wanting the very best for you.

    Enjoy the cozy weather today.

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    1. Thank you Angie- I was so surprised and yet in hindsight I don't know why? Just had a narrow focus I think :) So glad Dr. Foster was so thoughtful and thorough. I hope you are enjoying the weather too!

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  3. Glad you received good news! And, being able to treat your lung and lymph node is even better news. Wipe them right out!

    Continuing to pray for you! Hugs and love my friend!

    "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." Friedrich Nietzsche

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    1. Oh Eileen- I stumbled across that quote too and almost used it!! Such truth to that and Nietzsche has always felt beyond my grasp in the past and suddenly the light is coming on in new ways :) Thank you for praying- always!

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  4. This all sounds like pretty darn good news and that you are pleased and on board with the game plan. I like the sound of that! Wishing you all the best along with prayers, of course.

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    1. Yes- I am thinking it all sounds good and am perfectly happy to sit with that for a bit :) Thanks for the continued prayers!

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  5. Yes Vicky indomitable fits...
    when I google it you appear!

    "a woman of indomitable spirit"

    when I think of you that's what I think of, a woman whose faith and spirit cannot be broken.

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    1. You're so sweet- I pray for that grace to find me each day and I'm just going to keep believing :)

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  6. My heart is lifted as I read this post, my friend.
    I want to pause right here...right now and thank God for answered prayer.
    "Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers concerning Vicky's cancer. Lord, we continue to be faithful in praying for her and for others who are going through treatment for this disease. I do thank You from the bottom of my heart for being ever near and dear to her and to her family. Continue to keep her close to you...as she leans on You, listens to You, and continues to worship you in good times and in not so good times. I truly thank You, Lord for taking such tender care of her. Amen."
    Love to you, Vicky.
    You know that you are always in my prayers, and I thank you for your prayers for me.
    J.

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    1. I heartily "amen" that beautiful prayer, Jackie. God LOVE you and BLESS you for it and I am so grateful to God right now. XO

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    2. Amen!! Thanking God along with you :-)

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    3. Beautiful Jackie- I can hear your voice as I read and re-read those precious words. Those are the ones I know have seen me through, time and time again. I thank you, from my most humbled heart. God's blessings to you!

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  7. So pleased tonight to read some encouraging news and a plan. I'm praying already for a hedge of protection around you as you proceed through treatments. I think indomitable suits you nicely...you wear it well. I think we should make you a banner to claim it proudly. I will certainly be calling you that in my prayers. I also know it's so easy for those of us not going through these treatments to say how pleased we are to hear there is a plan. I pray we don't take lightly the battle you are so valiantly fighting so again, I will be praying every protection for you in the days to come. Blessings to you and your men.

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    1. Oh Jenny- how I love the sound of that "a hedge of protection," perfect. In some ways, I am the same as the rest of you. I rest in the knowledge that there IS treatment left for me to do, and then my nerves will kick in at some point and fear will enter, but that is always when your prayers save me, time and time again. I truly don't think I would be where I am if it weren't for all of your prayers and God's grace in watching over me. Blessings and love to you Jenny!

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  8. Ditto to Jackie's post. What a wonderful prayer. Francis C. Moore

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    1. Jackie just really nailed it, didn't she? Thank you Francis!

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  9. Prayers for you and your family Vicky. We are praying daily.

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    1. Thank you so much- I'm truly touched :)

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  10. Oh MY! some of what you wrote sounds so encouraging!!! YEAH! and yet the treatment in front of you...a bit overwhealming and not easy at all to me...So I know you must feel the same way...But one thing stood out...There is treatment! there is ideas! and there are people and doctors who say..."I would choose this or that". So thankful for the small...humm not so small miracles! (I came on...tonight..just to check on you...Sweet dreams to all of you. And many continued prayers...!!!)

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    1. Peggy Sue- thank you so much for your sweet words. So much to be thankful for- that is definitely the truth! Thank you for those continued prayers- they sure do keep me going :)

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  11. Vicky, I know we serve a big God and so very, very many are praying and praying BELIEVING that God is able. But I STILL held my breath as I read and then I wanted to jump up and down. How wonderfully blithely these doctors can deliver what is such hopeful news of shrinkage and disappearing and diagnoses that are different and better than what had been believed.

    Now, I know there is still much to be in prayer about as you face radiation and the struggles potentially contained therein. And I will be praying right along with you and for all the other issues to continue to improve but I'm so, SO grateful for even a glimmer of improvement and it sounds like you got more than a glimmer - maybe a shining light, my sweet friend. You are so surrendered to God's will and are a constant example of what following and trusting looks like. You KNOW I could take some lessons from you. Of course, what would I write about in all my Ravings that you have so encouraged me to write? haha

    Thankful for doctors who give direction and say what they would do and now to pray for strength, endurance, side-effect reduction, and peaceful rest and sweet days with those who bring you the most joy and comfort.

    Thank you, God, tonight for our dear friend and may you keep her oh-so-close to your heart. Love you, Vicky.

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    1. Robynn- if you only knew the number of times I have worried about not being as astute and adept as someone like yourself is. Hannah is so LUCKY to have you in her corner-trust me I gain equally from you! Thankful for your ever encouraging words and prayers that truly nourish and sustain me. Love you dearly!

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  12. my dear Vicky,

    I continue to pray for you - around the clock, every single time one of children wakes up or my babe needs to be fed - I pray for you.

    You are so cherished - and I will continue to pray.

    Thank you for your braveness in sharing your story -

    wishing you a restful evening.

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    1. Cheyenne- I wish I could find the words that convey how deeply that moves me. It just does. I think of that sweet new babe and how treasured this time is and am just thankful to have you alongside me.

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  13. When it comes to your brain MRI, Hallelujah, Praise God, Amen!!!!!!!
    Prayers lifted up on a daily basis for your continuing treatment. I am so thankful, Vicky, that you have such a wonderful, faithful support group. It is a testament to your sweet, loving, gracious, strong spirit and nature.

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    1. So filled with gratitude for my supporters too- ones just like you Janay- you do more for me through showing up here and leaving such thoughtful words than I can possibly express. Praise God indeed!!

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  14. I am so thankful for the good news you received. I will continue to pray that the other treatments go smoothly.

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    1. Hi Barbie- so nice to see you here- so thankful for your prayers!

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  15. Well, I am soo happy they are talking business with you now and don't leave you hanging to worry.
    At least you can prepare to fight again with a light in your heart and eyes. People do beat this and every day there are new things coming out.
    You just have to keep looking and something just might be good for you.
    You know I received an email on the liver and it is responsible for the immune system staying strong So you have to make sure it stays strong through food and esp fresh herbs like oregano which is antibacterial
    Every little bit helps to keep your soldiers fighting this war!

    xoxoxoxoxo

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    1. You are full of wisdom and I read and believe what you share with me Vic- thank you for that!

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  16. Dearest Vicky,
    I am left breathless at how God answers prayers and I love that Dr. Foster, almost in an after-thought,
    mentioned how your brain MRI went..."Oh, your brain MRI looks good. Some shrinkage and some spots have disappeared." Amen, and Praise the Lord! Be still my heart, What wonderful words...shrinkage and spots have disappeared. What answered prayers!

    While I do not in any way underestimate the magnitude of the aggressive approach you are thinking about taking, I am SO, SO grateful that there are new things to try and that they are seeing some progress being made. I am in love with the expression "obliterating tumors". I think on my prayer list, next to your name, I'm going to be asking God Almighty to obliterate every tumor of yours. The word obliterate is POWERFUL and parallels how I see God's strength to move in our lives.

    And speaking of strength, I also love the word INDOMITABLE. And when I see that precious picture of you and Rick, I see you held up by a love and partner whose strength surrounds you. God's strength, Rick's strength and indomitable spirit, your indomitable spirit, your faiths, (and mix in hundreds of prayer warriors)...well look out cancer, we are coming after you in FULL FORCE!!!

    One of my favorite quotes says:
    "Be the kind of woman that when you get up in the morning the devil says, "Oh crap. she's up!"
    Yup, with an indomitable spirit and faith...true strength abounds!

    Love you to the moon and back Vicky!
    God Bless!
    Linda

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    1. Linda, you are so thoughtful and kind in all your words to me and I am greatly touched by them. Moved. Deeply. So thankful for you taking the time to read and leave such heartfelt notes- I read and then re-read often. Filled with gratitude for you! Love and blessings to you Linda!

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  17. I have been blog surfing this morning, and one blog led to another, to another...and here I am. Your story, your family, and your journey has captivated me. You are AMAZING! Sending you blessings from Colorado :)

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    1. Darcie- so fun to see you show up here! I clicked over and joined your blog as well and look forward to getting to know you! Love to you :)

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  18. Awesome MRI news :-) and what Darcie said above, absolutely. Amazing Grace, it's what I always think of when I think of you. Sending prayer your way for a clear path, a successful form of treatment - and healing.

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    1. Thankful for your positive light and energy always Karen :)

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  19. Indomitable certainly is a word that describes you well!

    I am thankful for the encouraging news from your doctor, and hopeful that the plan will be successful! My prayers will continue that the side effects won't be too nasty. Wishing you peace and healing! Take care, dear sista!

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    1. Thank you dear sista-could not do this without you! Makes me smile every time I log in and see your sweet self showing up here :)

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  20. Great news! I am keeping the prayers flowing...

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    1. Thankful for you Katie and all those candles lit and prayers said!

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  21. Such great news! You are in my thoughts and prayers! Oh the power of prayer! :o)

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  22. we will all continue to be your prayer warriors for as long as you need us and then some :)
    xo

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  23. Such an appropriate quote! So I guess there's some good mixed in with the hard parts of dealing with the next step in treatment. I am so sorry that they are going to be invasive and just plain un-fun, but also so grateful for the opportunity and the advancement being made so that there are new treatments available. I am praying the side effects are minimal and that you are able to feel some calm throughout.

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  24. I was looking up hazel nuts and this little girl popped up with cancer
    This was a comment on her page hazelnut (such a cute little girl)
    Though it would be of interest.

    To the parents of this child !! I dont want to give you any false hope !! But there is a CURE for all known CANCERS !!
    It was developed in the early 1990's at the: Albert Einstein
    School Of Medicine by William Lyman and Steven Calle ( not sure if i spelled stevens last name correct ? ) And later on brought back to life by Dr Robert Beck . You can find it under the section Suppressed medical breaktrough's Lol !! Well, I hate to break it to you, but TREATING disease is far far far more lucrative than CURING it. Look at the system closely. The Pharmaceutical Industry is extraordinarily powerful, and tied to every aspect you can imagine; media, government/politicians, banks, corporations, etc. Only 5 - that's FIVE corporations own 90+% of the media. They are NOT looking out for us - they are suppressing information to maintain their power. This is PARADIGM SHIFTING stuff here. But look deeper, you'll see. Pleaseeee !! for your kid sake try this. COLLOIDAL SILVER !!! ( this the strongest medicine known to man!!! And believe it or not also the cure for AIDS !! It will boost her immune system. afer this treatment she will have whats called superblood ( completely parisite free )But i wont cure the cancer. But this will !!!! The treatment is called BLOOD ELECTROLYSIS a immune system restoration. 50 to 100 micro amp at 3.92 hertz. also known as the schumann resonance . in combination with the silver colloid to prevent secondary infections , the cancer will be cured in 3 weeks !!! Now i know this sounds unbelievable but do some research on this subject you got nothing to lose !!! Remember a cured patient is a lost customer !! ( And forgive my spelling english is not my native launguage ) And tell others !!!

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  25. Dear Vicky, I didn't see this until after pumpkin latte so now am properly informed on what's coming up. If anyone is indomitable, it's you, girlfriend. You and the Indomitable Snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer. :) Keep on the important work of building up your reserves. Through it all, your kind eyes and smile will draw many to you, just like Rudoph's buddy. Love you!

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  26. yay!! keeping up the prayers and positive thoughts and energy for you!

    LOVE!!!
    xo

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  27. Indomitable obliteration. Love it! Glad for a good plan for you. Praying for calm nerves and an easy esophagus this time. I play music loudly during rad so as to try to drown out the machine.

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