Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winner... and we danced.

"This disease has taken things from me, but it can’t take away the spirit that God put inside of me, the core of who I am as long as I choose to nurture that side of myself."  Sara Frankl


I return to Sara's words over and over again.  What I love the most about having these words in a book?  Its right at my fingertips- and I love "holding" her words.  I've carried them in my heart for so long, and now they've sprung to new life through the pages of her book.  The winner of my Choose Joy book giveaway is...





 #29 

 INKLING!!  



Please email me with your full name and mailing address at vwestra14 (at) gmail (dot) com! I will place the order and get it mailed off to you as soon as I can!! 

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 Our schedule has been packed with all kinds of events surrounding hockey- from providing a team meal, to making food for the hospitality suite, to traveling with the boys.  We just seem to always be somewhere between Roger Maris (cancer treatment center) and a hockey arena.

Last week I met with Dr. Panwalkar for the results of my PET scan and brain MRI.

While I had already been given a copy of the MRI test results through my online medical chart system, I always want to be sure that my interpretation is in line with Dr. Panwalkar's.  So he pulled the scan up and reiterated that he also thought there were no changes in the two spots in my brain- no growth, and no new spots appearing either.  Whew.

So then we turned to the PET scan.  He loaded the previous scan from 3 months ago, side by side with the one from a couple of weeks ago.  Then started making sure we were looking at the same "slice" on either side.  

He clicked his way through, what was essentially a black and white scan.  Some of the white areas are scar tissue that has formed from old radiation treatment, and surgical scars.  So as we paired the words of the report from the radiologist, to what we saw in the scans, over and over again we read the words, "no activity."  Meaning that no yellow was showing up which indicates active cancer.

So Dr. Panwalkar smiled and said, "it looks good."  

He then examined me and asked how the side effects were going.  

But I was still processing the scan results.  

"So would you call my scan results, stable?"  I ask him.  "How do I describe this to others?" 

He leans back in his chair, then turns and faces me.  He is slowly shaking his head side to side, smiling, and says "its rare when we are dealing with stage iv, but essentially you are have no evidence of disease,  (NED) or we could say you are in remission. " 

Instantly I'm flashing back, when Dr. P  mentions good ole Mr. NED, the dance partner I've longed to call my partner... from a post long ago...

"Really… he is just a big tease.  That Mr. NED that just subtly hints that he might be tapping me on the shoulder.  I've longed to dance with him, its true.  To have him fully envelope me in his safe and secure arms, if only for the briefest of spins around the dance-room floor.  

Mr. NED, or officially, "No Evidence of Disease" is what so many of us Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survivors hope to achieve one day. Remission is rare- so rare- and when the evidence of cancer is gone, its called "no evidence of disease," because its often a brief interlude.  A few weeks may pass, a few months it seems, and then cancer asserts itself again.  This is the nature of Stage 4 disease. " 

As I snap back to the present, I ask about my tumor markers.  "Well they're rising.  So we know you have cancer cells circulating, and we'll keep a close watch like usual."

"And treatment?" I ask.  

"Yes, we'll continue on with the same treatment for awhile."

And this is when Superman swoops in to rescue me.  He tells Dr. Panwalkar about the rash I have all over my arm.  And the diarrhea that plagues me. "Not much quality to her life when she is tied to the bathroom, and then the bedroom for long stretches from feeling so weak and depleted."

So Dr. P suggests reducing the dose of two of the drugs.  

I nod in agreement.  Still trying to absorb all the news.

We've concluded our appointment and I say to Dr. P, "It'll be 5 years in the middle of March..."  Again he smiles, and says in the most confident manner, "then we'll start on getting the next 5 after that..."  




What I'm really choosing?  Is to believe, that prayers have been answered.  Amen. 




































67 comments:

  1. I can't tell you how my heart swells and my eyes fill as I read this, Vicky.
    I have to re-read it.
    And again....the same feelings.
    Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers.
    Thank you Lord!! Thank you, Lord!!
    I wish I lived closer. I would squeeeeeeze you hard with hugs.
    So happy.....
    So very happy.
    Now....on the the next 5 years.
    Yes!!!
    Love you much,
    Jackie

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    1. AMEN! Jackie! I LOVE how you said this! Thank you , Lord!!
      My heart swells too!!!

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    2. Miss Jackie- I would squeeze you right back. I've also laid in bed, reading and then re-reading all these beautiful comments and replies- so blessed! Love you so very much~

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  2. Holy Goose Bumps! Amen!! I'm believing with you!!

    I love you~~~~~~~~~

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    1. I have loved reading these comments the past few days as I rest in bed- loving you right back!

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  3. Note to self: Try not to read Vicky's updates at work, because when tears start pouring down your face in joy-absolute joy!- that she had befriended Mr. NED people will wonder what is going on with you! :) So incredibly grateful at your news!

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    1. Barb- ohhhh, that touches me so. I feel so blessed by you sharing in my news, and my story, always!

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  4. The best news of this year!!! Cheers to you my friend! Love your news and heart your scan!
    Xoxoxo

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    1. So great to see you pop in here, Michelle, I think of you so often. Thanks for sharing in my news- praying you receive some favorable news as well! Love to you and the littles~

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  5. Vicky that is how BIG our God is!!! You are a fighter and God has heard your cry and ALL the people that kneel daily with you! Praying for LESS side effects from your treatment!! God is able!
    Much Love from the Oregon Coast!

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    1. Kay- thank you so much for your gracious words! So honored to have your prayers and am so happy to share with you that they have been heard and answered! Much love to you!

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  6. Amen!!! when I read: "This is the nature of Stage 4 disease" I immediately said out loud "well then we are going to change the nature of the disease" I believe we can!

    Love you!!! With you all the way on this journey friend!

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    1. Tiffany- so great to see you pop up here! Have loved having you along on this journey! Pray you are doing well, too friend. Much love to you!

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  7. Holy Heck!!! I believe in miracles!!!! Rejoice! Hugs!!!! Celebration! Awesome amazing wonderful healer our God is an awesome God! Sending you my love xoxox

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    1. All those prayers, Kathy- all the wonderful efforts of you spiritual and faithful friends- lifting me in prayer! Am praying that you and yours have prayers answered as well! Love to you~

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  8. I am beaming as I sit at work and read your wonderful news.

    Continued hugs from Pittsburgh -
    Stephanie

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    1. Stephanie- so great to hear from you. Thankful to have you celebrate alongside of me! Hugging you right back!

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  9. Praise the LORD!! Tears of joy fall as I read this update!! I have been checking for an update and had been praying no news is good news, and praying for some "good news" when you had time. This was the BEST news!! Our God is awesome! Answer to prayers indeed! BIG TIME!! :))) Rejoicing with you, dear Vicky!
    Love and ((hugs)) to you and your precious family!

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    1. This was the best news, by far. I continue to be honored and touched. Thank you for rejoicing alongside of me, friend! Much love to you~

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  10. Such great news! It has made my day!

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    1. Me too, Kass- and its been made even better to have so many of you celebrating along side of me!

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  11. Wonderful news of encouragement. We'll take all we can get from prayers. Our God is awesome. Blessings to you

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    1. Thank you, Diane- indeed we will. Blessings and love to you~

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  12. my head fell back on the sofa and i thanked our GREAT, GOOD GOD for this most fantastic news!!! wow. just wow.

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    1. I am still right there myself- wow, just wow. Yep- that's it, exactly!

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  13. I should know better than to read your posts at work. So hard to explain the tears. I just couldn't be happier for you. I hope NED dips you a big one!

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    1. Ahh- I love that visual- of the dip- so thankful to have you celebrate along with me, Gina!

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  14. I can't tell you how many times I have checked your blog over the past days, waiting for those scan results. Now I sit here with tears of joy and a thankful heart - prayers answered! This is such amazing, incredible news! I am celebrating with you, dear friend!

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    1. As I sit here, finally having some clarity and energy to write back- 2 more sistas have just been given the same news and I am just in awe- beaming- that we finally have that moment we can breathe a little. Thank you for celebrating alongside of me, and all of us! Much love to you~

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  15. And AMEN. Oh, Vicky. What hopeful, helpful news. Celebrating and praising with you! Thank you, God! Thank you for your faithfulness to our Vicky, to YOUR Vicky, to her family and friends. Five years, Vicky. And, as Dr.P said, "On to the next five and fewer side effects!" Love you, Honey! (I'm currently in Bakersfield with my girlfriend who had the double mastectomy in October and she gets her fourth and final, for now, chemo treatment next week so we are so thankful for that as well!)

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    1. So thankful to hear of your friend's treatment being so close to done! Thankful as well for all of your support, encouragement, prayers, faith, etc. Side by side, you have walked with me, like so many others, and I don't know how I would have done this without you! Love to you~

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    2. We are faraway friends but never far in thoughts and hearts. You've been on my mind. Had to pop back on to check on you and was thrilled to see a message. I hope you are feeling a little better and I'm looking forward to that next insight into your life. Still so, SO grateful for good news. My friend gets her PET scan next month so we are praying for the all clear. Love you. Thinking of you.

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  16. Exhaling. Tears of relief and happiness for you, and thankful that NED has paid you a visit. I pray the visit is a very, very, very long one. I visit your blog on a continuous basis, always praying and hoping, and sometimes holding my breath for you. I rarely say a word, hoping that my prayers and positive thoughts help to some degree. I am thankful, SO thankful, that you are coming up to your 5th year anniversary. You are a strong, marvelous woman who teaches so many of us of grace and faith. Thank you, Vicky.

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    1. Thank you, Janay! So grateful to have you here and for all of those wonderful prayers- they see me through! You're so kind and gracious with your words and I thank you so! Love and blessings to you!

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  17. Oh my dear, precious friend...
    I am beaming from ear-to-ear and went outside and yelled as loud as I could
    "THANK YOU ,GOD!!!...THANK YOU!!!" This is the best news EVER and I am overjoyed
    for you, Rick and the boys!

    We have prayed and prayed, a sea of prayers warriors, for more days and weeks and months and years. We have prayed that YOU would be the one to put the ornaments on
    the Christmas tree. We have prayed and PRAYED that you would be there to see your
    boys grow up.

    PRAISE GOD!!! for these answered prayers! NED...a true miracle.
    I want to hug doctor P and do a happy dance in his office.
    I want to fly to Moorehead and give you, my dear soul sis,
    the biggest hug and kiss!!! I am so, so overjoyed for you.

    I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK!!!
    Linda

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    1. You bless me so with the celebration I always sense in your words- the pure joy that emanates through them. Love you so! Hehe- still have my tree up this year- am soon taking it down, but not bothered at all that it is still up! Love you friend- saying prayers for all who need them!

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  18. Wonderful happy news!! So thankful and continuing in prayer. Enjoy the dance... I'm sure superman doesn't mind. *wink*

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    1. Debbie- thank you! And no- superman and I were just talking about how he'd scoop the boys up when they were small, and two-step with them around the room- and it brings me right back to that image and pure giddiness of the gift of dance!

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  19. Now that is some sweet news! I'm so glad you have Superman to swoop in and catch the details. You guys make a great team, and you both are in my prayers.

    And I have to say, this h-less Sara is pretty excited to get to hold another h-less Sara's words in my hands. Thank you!

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    1. h-less, Sara, I was so thrilled to see your name! The book is on it's way!! I have great faith you'll enjoy the book! So great to exchange email with you and please let me know when it arrives!

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  20. Dearest Vicky,
    I woke up this morning, got my coffee and reread...again...the hopeful words of this post. I am so deeply grateful for this good news for you. This morning I have been praying that NED stays around for a long dance and I am so thankful for Dr. P. In this reading I caught the words "then he smiles and says in the most confident manner..." ...how beautiful. And his words of hope..."then we'll start on getting the next five after that." Oh Dr. P...how grateful we are for you and the wisdom and love you put into how you live medicine.

    Not only have we been praying for you, sweet Vicky...and praying for your wonderful family...we have been praying that God would guide Dr. P as he works with you and shares this journey with you.

    I know this journey has been very difficult with taxol, and rashes and so many hard symptoms and I know you will still be doing chemo...but to have this rest and moment of pure elation and joy and peace...well, I am so happy for you that I just can't seem to stop crying. Tears of JOY! Love you, dear one.
    Linda

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    1. You're so sweet- and I'm grinning ear to ear as I read through your precious words again- so thankful for you!

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  21. So happy for you Vicky! Such great news! As always, keeping you in my prayers!

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    1. So thankful to be in those prayers, Genny! They truly have helped me through so much- thank you!

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    1. I knew you'd be right there with me!

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  23. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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    1. Perfectly said, Francis- thank you!

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  24. Praying for long dance times with Mr. Ned........long, slow, sweet swirls around the dance floor.

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    1. Thank you, Hilary- that sounds perfectly divine. Pray you are doing well- think of you often, friend.

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  25. Jackie said it so well, thank you Lord....ditto ditto! Five years? You are the bravest gal ever Vicky. I'm toasting to your remission tonight! Prayers will continue my friend.

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    1. Thanks for toasting along with me, Lisa- so great to have you along! Much love to you~

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  26. "...& all the people said Amen, whoa oh oh, & all the people said Amen, give thanks to the Lord for his love never ends, & all the people said Amen!..." (Matt Maher).I am just beaming w/happiness for you Vicky, that is such wonderful news!!

    Matt Maher tune :)
    https://youtu.be/T9ifzzMD7zk

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    1. I love this tune! Such a great response- thank you Cheri!

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    1. Thank you, Vic- God's blessings to you and yours!

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  28. Praise God! Each day is a blessing....enjoy every breath and each moment. Hold fast to the promise that you are His. XXOXOX

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    1. Yes, Dinah, Praise God indeed! All glory given to Him. Thank you for your uplifting words- much love to you~

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  29. I love your hat!!! (oops, deleted my other post instead of saved...)

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    1. Love my HATS! I wear all of them, all of the time. Stella needs a break! Hehe- and the scarves too- always one around my neck- even when I'm just sitting around home- they are getting a work out!

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  30. Hi Vicky, I've been following your blog for 2 yrs now, always wanting to contact you, but not sure what to say, except that you are such an inspiration. Always so positive and full of joy. I'm so happy for you, such great news! I found your blog because of hockey. I read a few posts back in 2/2014 and they were about your sons and hockey. Our family loves hockey and so I decided to go back to the beginning of your blog and read from the start, not knowing your cancer journey. I love your writing style. I have followed you ever since and pray for you always.

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    1. Kristi- how great to hear from you! I'm so touched you've been following along. Would love to hear more about your hockey loving family sometime if you even feel like emailing me :) So wonderful to read your kind and gracious words and get to "meet" you in this way. Much love to you- and so thankful for your precious prayers!

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  31. Vicky, can I send you here today, just real quickly..... See, at the bottom..... ;-)
    Love your way!!
    http://maddychristinehope.com/2016/01/22/grateful-for-the-fight/

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    1. I was so touched to see this Maddy Christine and then to read your kind and gracious words- I'm so touched! Love and blessings to you!

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  32. Oh My! I like NED! I love how radiant you look in the picture..and I so so loved what Dr. P said... "well then will start on getting the next 5 after that..." Vicky what a wonderful thing..after all the yucky you endure daily..such a gift to have Ned in your life for now...and who can say...he may be there longer then we think! such hope, such promise, such love and well...such answered prayers. BESTEST NEWS EVER! Big smile on my face. love you lady

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    1. Its been so great to hear from you!! I'll follow up with an email soon! Love to you sweet friend!

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  33. I couldn't be happier Vicky! This post just made my day so much happier :) May God bless you and may Mr. NED be firmly by your side for the next 100 years!

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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