Lung function is good… June 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 10:57 pm

I had a pulmonary stress test this afternoon, and the results showed that my lungs function well. Air flow into and from the lungs is normal. This is very good news.

I do continue to have problems with breathing and coughing, however, and those problems begin around day 8-10 after chemotherapy and get progressively worse until the next treatment day.

I’ll try to summarize below. I may be oversimplifying things or may be just plain wrong; I claim no medical expertise. What I heard today does agree with what I’ve heard from my oncologist over the past several months.

Here’s my version of what’s happening to me:  At some point in time, cancer started growing in my lungs. As it did, I began having trouble with coughing and breathing. When the symptoms became too much, I started chemotherapy. After the first treatment on April 6, those symptoms decreased. After a week to 10 days, however, the coughing and breathing problems were back and even increased until time for the next treatment. With the next chemotherapy on April 26, the cycle began once more, and that cycle has continued every three weeks. Taking steroids does help reduce the swelling in my airways during the second half of the cycle, and that in turn lessens the symptoms.

Now this is what I know is true:   Scans have shown that tumors are shrinking; the C-125 cancer marker number has been dramatically reduced from 585 to a normal 26. Those are encouraging facts, and because those things are true, then at some point the symptoms will decrease too. There is no new problem, just a continuation of the same issue. I have cancer, but, praise God, that cancer is melting away. I trust that in His time the symptoms of that cancer will also be reduced and even disappear.

I believe that God is doing mighty things. I refuse to be distracted by little things that seem to indicate that new problems are not being attacked by the chemo. I know that God is faithful. I rejoice in how He is working in my life. I am grateful for your prayers and will rest in His mercy and grace.

I’m ready for treatment 5 tomorrow morning. Weirdly enough, I do feel better immediately after the chemotherapy. Isn’t that something only God would include in His plan for me? Just when I find myself becoming overwhelmed, I am reminded once again that the Creator of the universe knows the plan for my life. Nothing is up to me, and that’s a definite relief.


Looking ahead to Wednesday and #5 June 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 10:23 pm

Wednesday, June 27,  is my 5th treatment day.

The days since treatment #4 have been a bit more challenging than the previous weeks have been. Breathing has been hard, and the heat has made that more difficult. I’m discovering how to use inhalers, which work for awhile, but then they don’t. Oh, well. Obviously, I’m still breathing, or I wouldn’t be here typing this post. Things are not dire, right?

I understand more and more how the effects of the chemotherapy are cumulative, resulting in fewer easy days and many more challenging ones. That’s okay. Cancer treatment is a day-by-day process and manageable only when the focus is on individual segments of each day. I keep reminding myself that this is the way I should handle my life because it keeps me closer to the One who has ordained my days before one of them came to be (see Psalm 139).  I admit that I have needed more frequent reminders of that truth in the last three weeks, and I expect that to continue for each of the weeks remaining after the next two treatments.

What are some good things in my life right now? I’ve finally gotten comfortable enough with my bald head that I only wear my scarf or a hat if I am going out, which hasn’t been often in the last two weeks. I am spending most of my time inside, resting and working on school stuff—and, by the way, those two activities are compatible! When asked about the color of my hair, Abigail says “bald” and rubs my head, which I think is cute. James’s gardens are beautiful wherever I look outside our home, and he has been my bedrock through this experience. My girls have been supportive mostly by spending time with me. Dear, dear friends and family have prayed for me, sent notes and texts, made calls and stopped by for visits, and have faithfully reminded me that God hasn’t put me on hold while He attends to other matters. Don’t misunderstand me: they are not smothering me, but so many people regularly let me know that they love me and are trusting God with and for me during this time. How grateful I am for their love and care!

Since school has been out, my points of contact have diminished, and sometimes I struggle with keeping my focus on Him. My head knows what I should do, but my heart sometimes gets overwhelmed.  Every single time that happens, however, someone reaches out, and I am reminded of truth. I will never forget what these sisters and brothers have given me.

Tomorrow I meet again with the pulmonologist after I have a pulmonary stress test. Then on Wednesday I expect to start treatment about 9:15 am and be finished around 1:30 or so, and the recovery process begins again.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.


curveballs and little foxes June 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 10:17 pm

I do not know much about baseball, but I like one of the words associated with it. That word is curveball, defined as a ball “pitched with a snap of the wrist and a strong downward spin, which causes the ball to drop suddenly and deceptively veer away from home plate.” At times, when you least expect it, a curveball heads your way that suddenly and deceptively changes direction and leaves you reacting rather than responding and often causes you to miss the ball entirely.

At one point, I remember reflecting on these words from Solomon: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (Song of Solomon 2:15). Sometimes when you see the end of your labor approaching and the fruits ready for harvest, you discover that little foxes have crept in and seem to be about to ruin everything. Now instead of harvesting, you have to do something to avoid damage to the vineyard.

Curveballs and little foxes.

I thought that my big issue would be working through the day-by-day challenges of cancer, concentrating on following doctor’s directions, and resting and taking care of myself.

Curveballs and little foxes.

Unanticipated annoyances. Unexpected problems. Little surprises. Deceptive twists.

Ah, curveballs and little foxes.

These things aren’t big. They aren’t things you can gird your heart to conquer. They just appear in your life and distract you.

Curveballs can be hit, however, and little foxes can be caught.

The trick is to notice them for what they are and deal with them right then.

That’s what I want to remember today.


Good treatment day June 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 5:32 am

Treatment day was a good day.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, my meeting with the doctor was a bit delayed and so I started chemo at 10 am. All of the drips went very well, exactly on schedule, and I was finished at 2:15. I cannot say enough about the professionalism and expertise of the staff at the Williamson Tower office of Tennessee Oncology. Everyone is attentive and respectful; everyone is on the same team and committed to the patients. While no one likes chemotherapy, the experience is so positive because of this group. Yes, this is my only experience with a chemotherapy office, but it is not my first one with this staff. Both my husband and mother were patients, and our experience has been the same. Working in an oncology office is a special calling, and I am grateful that my family doctor recommended Dr. Pat Murphy. I am sure that if you have also had a cancer experience, you too have tremendous faith in your oncologist. That’s what’s important for all of us—having confidence in our physician and his/her staff and the course of treatment.

The good news from our meeting is this: For the first time, my C-125 cancer marker is in the normal range! It’s 28 (0-35 is normal), which is a clear sign that the treatment is attacking the cancer. When I was diagnosed in mid-February, that number was 585; when I started chemotherapy on April 8 after anti-estrogen treatment, the number was about 175. Gradually, since that time, the number has been dropping. Now it’s normal. Wow, a clear answer to prayer!

The cautionary news from our meeting is this: He will be watching the physical issues I’ve had for the last 10 days, such as coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, and other intestinal issues. I’m going to be calling the office more, taking additional medicines to control the reactions, and having follow-up appointments with him and with another doctor he had me see last week. I know that I need to stay physically as strong as possible so that these last treatments can do their work and I won’t be overcome by the side effects.

As I write this I’m hopeful and confident and encouraged. I am also profoundly grateful that none of this is up to me: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

Next treatment is Wednesday, June 27. I expect that the days between now and June 26 will have challenges and difficulties, but I know that nothing will be too much to bear. Thank you from your prayers for me and my family.

The best way to contact me is email, but I also have been so encouraged by your comments here! What a blessing this cancer has been for me on so many levels—thank you for reminding me of God’s unfailing mercies no matter what the circumstances.


Next Chemo: Wednesday June 6 June 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 10:18 pm

I wrote the previous post this morning but forgot to click publish. I’m sorry because I did want to let you know that the scan was done earlier than I expected and that the results were so good. The power of prayer is so real to me right now, and I am grateful for the body of believers who are trusting God’s provision in my life. That means I want to keep everyone updated on the latest news, and I’m glad that the news on Thursday was wonderful.

The next event on my chemo calendar is Wednesday, June 6, at 8:30 am, and treatment #4 should begin about 9. I’m usually finished with everything by 1 or 1:15.

This summer everyone on the faculty at BA is memorizing James 1, and this morning in a meeting a group of us reflected together on verses 2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV).

If you are a part of the BA community—or not, you might consider joining us in learning these verses this summer. Although I may stay in verses 2-4 for awhile, I do want the truth of the entire first chapter of James to be rooted deep in my heart as I complete this phase of treatment.

As always, email is the best way to contact me.