Hot Flashes and Radiation

Well, as most of you already know, the journey continues! I will need to finally zap this thing with radiation treatments.

Before we get to all of that, I want to thank you. My sister invited any who were interested, to participate in a fast for me as I went in for my PET scan and awaited the results. I want you to know that I have a strengthened testimony of the power of the fast. Those two days, the day of my scan and the next day, as I heard what my future entailed, I felt complete peace and such comfort. Not only peace if the outcome was that my cancer was gone, but peace, even with the possible need for radiation. Everyone else was so worried about me and anxious to know what was next, that I would only be reminded of the circumstances when they called me, wondering how I was holding up. haha.

So thank you. I truly have been blessed by your faith. You gave me a beautiful gift. Trust me, I have had moments of feeling fear and anxiety through this, but not this week. I lean on you and you allowed me to dispel fear with faith.

Compared to my first PET scan, where I was worried and felt a lot of discomfort because of my tumor, this last scan was a breeze. I was so blessed and at ease, that I literally slept through the whole thing. The next day, it was time to find out the results! Was I cancer free?

When my Dr. came into the room, Jake and I could sense that things were a little off. He went over some general questions, asked how I was feeling, if I had any pain, and so on. I joked that I was able to relate with my 50 year young mother because I was hot flashing so much! It's true, I have hot flashes non stop. I wake up every hour during the night hot flashing, and they come constantly throughout the day. Haha. He said it was normal, and that my hormones are out of whack and will take a while to get adjusted again. But back to the results. He invited us to look at the computer, where he pulled up my scan. He said he was really pleased with the progress we've made, and how well the chemo shrunk the tumor. BUT, it was still glowing pink a little bit, and that was concerning.

As he tried dumbing it down for us, he said that when they look at the tumor, there is a number they refer to. When I started, my tumor was a 30. To be considered cancer free, or in the clear, we want that number to be between 1 and 2. Well, my tumor is now a 3.5. Which is great, compared to 30, but still worrisome because it's not in that safe zone. This is why my Dr. was hedging a little. Though my scan looked really good, he also still felt like it would be in my best interest to do some radiation. He said, "I want to be kind and say, you've been through enough, let's be done. But in the long run, that's not the kind thing to do."

And to be honest, I don't think any of us were shocked. I would have been shocked if I was done.

I really don't know many details, and i'm looking into them now, but my Dr. said he wants me to have a low dose of radiation to the center of my chest, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. As far as side effects go, he said i'll be tired, have some irritated skin on the radiation site, and possibly have a sore throat or hard time swallowing because the radiation will be in front of my esophagus.

*Before and afters of "tu-mah." As my sister stated, "I've never disliked bright colors more in my life!" haha (colors, or glowing, are not a good thing with PET scans)

In the beginning, we went ahead with the intense chemo treatment in hopes of being able to avoid radiation because it could put me at risk of heart disease and breast cancer in the future. Of course I do not want any of that, so we're going to take precautions, like getting scanned regularly in case anything ever does show up, we will have caught it early. But, I feel good about it all. Like I said, I felt such peace, even when I was being told about the radiation, that I know this is just part of the plan for me. I told my family, how I feel about it is, that if i'm supposed to get breast cancer, have heart problems, or any other sort of trial, I will have them no matter if I go through radiation treatments or not. Heavenly Father is in charge, and all I can, and want to do, is follow in faith, push through with gratitude, and enjoy the ride.

The only thing I worried about, when I heard that my journey wasn't over yet, was my family. Everyone has done so much for my little family and I these last 5 months, that it kills me to have to be so dependent still. I feel like such a burden (they all get mad at me when I say that).

One thing I have learned is that fighting cancer is a team effort. And I am so lucky to have world champions on my team. So many people in my family have been effected by this, and have given up a lot to support and take care of me. They have had to put their jobs on the back burner, miss out on time with their own families, ask others to fill in for them as they served me, and have just given all of themselves to battle this with me. I am eternally grateful. I know this has not been my fight alone and I notice, and am so grateful for, every sacrifice that had been made for me.

Among the many many lessons I have learned from cancer, I have learned how to serve. Not because I was the one serving, it was because I have been the one receiving your service. I am anxious to give back and succor those in need. I feel like I have a better idea of knowing how to help, and what does help, when going through tough times, because of this experience.

I will be spending the rest of my life trying to thank and express my appreciation to my family and friends for all they have done for me, and never be able to have them really know how much I mean it. I love them and I love all of you for fighting this with me. What a blessing this experience has been.

xoxo Jen

Ps. Sorry, another ps, but this is exciting. I will have you all know that my hair is growing back in!!!! I now have some good looking eyebrows, a GI jane buzz, and should probably consider shaving again, sooner than later. YES! It will be interesting to see how my hair comes in though, because as of now, it is really light and baby soft. You'd think my short buzz hair would be pokey...not at all. It is way soft and baby-like. So, there it is, my good news minute for ya :)