Sunday, September 30, 2007
We had a tough week last week. Toughest in a while. One good thing our trip to U of M did was it reassured us that our current path is the correct one. We had some doubt, so the trip to U of M eliminated that doubt. That was the main objective of the trip.
However, one not-so-good thing the trip to U of M did was it undusted a bunch of crusty old statistics that had been stored away and forgotten about for a long time. The doctors there dusted them off and showed them to us again. We let them get the best of us. Well, I did, then I started sliding down a slippery slope. Half way down I grabbed on to Kristi and dragged her with me. So we spent some days down in the dumps last week. But Friday morning I woke up recharged. Kristi is also doing much better. Answered prayers no doubt. So, we're going to stick those crusty old statistics back on the shelf. No, we're going to bury them and forget about them!
One more thing. I made a decision Friday morning (about 3:00AM). As I was lying in bed, I decided all this madness started for me soon after I started taking those anti-depressant meds. Those gave me insomnia so I started taking sleeping pills. I decided enough with the pills - I'm going to detox. I'm no longer on any meds or sleeping pills and I feel great! I had a decent night's sleep last night and even went out for a run today...although it was slow and somewhat painful, I made it 2.5 miles!
We just wanted to let everyone know that we're back! We're ready to start shining again. I suppose it's normal to have these down times from time to time, but it was a drag!! That's when we need all of you the most. Thank you very much for all the prayers.
Tomorrow we go in for the first dose of round 9. Please pray that Kristi's counts are high enough for her to get chemo. Also pray that the Lord continues to keep our spirits up. We showed last week just how easy it is to get dragged down. Emily is over her cold so thank you for her prayers as well. We can't believe it's October already and we are anxious to get another month behind us.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I was not able to fall asleep last night and unfortunately my mind decided to take a detour down statistic lane. After many tears and why me's I came downstairs and e-mailed a friend. I didn't think she would be up but I wanted to type my fears and get them out of my head. Plus I knew she would pray for me when she did get the e-mail. God knew I'd be needing her prayers - she was still up and got the e-mail. I had a peace shortly after sending the e-mail. Like a weight lifted.
I don't' know how we would get by without the prayers of so many people. Some days though I have to wonder if God is ready to say "all right already, I hear your prayers for the Rogalske's!" If he had a busy signal we would certainly have heard it by now. But thankfully there are no busy signals, just a direct connection that I know is being made constantly on our behalf. It's more powerful than any medication I am on.
That being said - here are the the specifics.
*Emily's cold is going away - yea!!!!!
*Brian is doing great today. Please continue the prayers for peace, patience, good sleep and the ability to focus on the day to day.
*Nathan's stitches came out earlier this week and his cheek is healing well.
*Ashley is doing great - she is turning into a young lady right before my eyes!
*I have been feeling great. Other than my occasional tears, which always seem to help me after shedding them, I have been doing really good and have a positive attitude.
*We were supposed to do the neupagen shots this week after chemo and we forgot. Oops. I spoke with my nurse today and we aren't able to do them now because it is too close to my chemo. Pray that my white blood count will have gone up enough on its own so that I can still have chemo on Monday.
*We have friends who's daughter broke her arm earlier this week. Instead of surgery or a cast, the doctors are waiting for gravity to pull the bone back in place (it shifted with the break). She has to wear a sling and "lay around" until she goes back to the doctor next Tuesday. Please pray for relief from pain, patience and that her arm will heal correctly and quickly. Her name is Claudia and her parents are Brian & Janna.
*My parents began moving into their new home this week. Their "big" move day is tomorrow. Please pray for safety for everyone helping out and for peace for my parents who are moving out of a home that my dad built and we had lived in as a family for many, many years.
Thank you for reading this lengthy update and for all your prayers!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Next, Brian has had a couple of difficult days. He hardly slept at all last night despite taking a sleeping pill. His mind is getting the best of him and his is exhausted. Please pray that he will be able to sleep better at night. Also, he continues to have low energy. He still isn't able to run because of his ankle and it's very frustrating for him to have that limitation. Please just cover him in prayers for peace, patience and good health. Thank you!!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Most importantly, Kristi is doing great today. She even helped in nursery at Coffee Break this morning. Thank you God for answered prayers. You should see her hair! It's growing so fast!! Sorry for the delay in the update, we just needed to process the info we got at U of M and yesterday at her doctors visit...and we've been busy.
So our path became a little clearer this weekend and at yesterday's check-up. Once Kristi's CA125 level gets to 35, then we have 2 more rounds after that (1 round = 4 treatments so 8 additional treatments after it reaches 35). The next time she gets her CA125 level checked will be on dose 4 of round 9 (end of October). I asked "what happens if it's 39?" The answer: "2 rounds after 35". So, it needs to be 35 or under. If it's 39, then we wait another month and check it again (end of November). Once it reaches 35, then 8 more doses. He calls that "normal plus 2".
Once we reach "normal + 2" we have to wait 6 weeks for them to reverse her colostomy. We estimate that will be end of January - mid February. During this procedure, which is major surgery again, they will take samples from every organ visible and every place possible. They label the samples by the letters of the alphabet and he indicated that they will take so many samples they will go through the alphabet at least once.
Here's the critical point: If she tests negative for cancer, she will be considered "in remission". This is where we need to decide if she goes on a maintenance chemo, does hormone therapy, or does nothing. We haven't discussed this yet in great detail with her doctor. One thing we learned from the U of M doctors is that statistically there really is no benefit to the maintenance chemo other than extending the time the cancer doesn't come back. In other words, if the cancer is going to come back, it's going to come back. Period. That means that the cancer was still in her but was "hiding". Remission does not mean "cancer free". This is a tricky cancer. It hides out and attacks when the coast is clear. The maintenance chemo won't kill it. The percentage of recurrence was the same in women who took the maintenance chemo than it was in women who didn't...they just got 12 additional months of being in remission. The doctors told us based on Kristi's diagnosis and cancer cell type, she is "high risk" for recurrence - 85% probable. Of course Kristi shot right back with "that just means there is a 15% chance I'll beat it!" You go girl!!
So the down side is - IF it comes back, there is very little they can do other than contain it. For whatever reason further chemo isn't very effective at killing it. I think he described it as the cancer "mutates" into unrecognizable cells that the chemo doesn't affect. Of course you can imagine the eventual outcome. On a positive note, we have a friend who's mother also had ovarian cancer, it came back, they re-did surgery and chemo, and she has been cancer free for 12 years...so there are success stories that we'd rather focus on -we have to; it's so easy to start down the slippery slope of the negative statistics.
If she tests positive for cancer during surgery, we continue on a path of who knows what...more surgeries, more chemo, etc. At that point, it ain't gunna be pretty. Since we don't know this path, no sense in talking about it.
So you can imagine the things we discussed this weekend. We discussed both scenarios. After we beat this, how do we make it work for glorifying His kingdom...the fear is we just fall back into our comfortable lives and this will all go to waste...you know, "just another chapter in our lives". We want to make it more than that. All this pain and suffering HAS to be more than that. We talked about writing a book, traveling the church circuit giving our testimony or even speaking on Oprah! OK, maybe that's far fetched...but you get the point. Of course we discussed the opposite scenario as well.
ONE MORE VERY INTERESTING POINT: Based on a study of hundreds of cancer patients, those patients that were prayed for had an 18% higher survival rate than those that weren't. That's more than just a coincidence. Even the liberal doctors at U of M recognized that. They actually did a controlled study where they split up cancer patients into two different hospitals. In one group, everyone was prayed for by name. So they had a group of people praying for each patient. In the other group, there were no prayers. ...and the patients that were being prayed for had an 18% higher survival rate!! Does that speak to the power of prayer or what?! This was actually a study that was performed and has significant statistical data that even the liberals can't counter. Imagine how many people Kristi has praying for her!!!
We're so close we're getting more anxious every day. The CA125 level reaching 35 is exciting, but then the nerves will really kick in because the end will be in sight. The 6 weeks waiting for surgery are going to be painstaking. That's when we'll have to make the really tough decisions.
So that's the scoop. That's mostly what we discussed this weekend. We'd really appreciate your continued prayers over the next few months. Thank you all and we love you!
Thoughts by Kristi:
Despite the statistics, we fully believe I will be cured of this disease. If I start to think of the what-ifs then I become terribly depressed and that isn't good for anything. When I start thinking about the negatives I try to refocus on the blessings in my life. I have so many! I wish you could see the cards I get - especially from the children. Their innocence is so sweet. Our family has been so well taken care of during this time. God also gives me a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Should God decide the outcome of this is different than I am hoping for, I will deal with that then. For now I choose to believe that I will live and will make a difference. I recently found a bible verse that made me smile big . . . .
Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague." Mark 5:34 (from The Message).
Monday, September 24, 2007
Kristi's CA125 level is 47. She is doing good so far, just tired. That's all for today.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Yesterday afternoon, after our nap of course, we went to Birch Run along with thousands of other people. The only thing I have to say about Birch Run is...just because the store has "outlet" in it's name doesn't make things inside it a good deal! If they mark the price up 100% then advertise "everything 50% off" it's not a deal!!! I was amazed as I watched all these people walking around with bags upon bags of stuff with this determined look on their face...as if they were on a mission to conquer the world. I don't get it. The deals weren't great. Mark a shirt down to less than $10 then you get my attention. Say 'half off' and it's marked $60, I scoff. We did find a few things though...mostly trinkets for the house and camper. Oh yeah, and I did find one shirt for $4.99 so I was happy!!
How pathetic are we?! ...while trying to get back to our hotel yesterday evening, we took a wrong turn and somehow ended up right in the middle of Oktober fest celebrations!! There was a massive beer tent, extremely loud music, and lots of people. I mean LOTS of people. Oh my!!! We couldn't get out of there fast enough! AHHHHH!!! After escaping, we just spent last night in the hotel room talking, reading and watching meaningless TV. It's nice to be able to talk without interruption..."I WANT JUICE". It's amazing some of the stuff we talk about these days. A year ago it would have all been hypothetical. Now it's reality.
Well, tomorrow we go in for the final dose (number 4) of round 8. We will also get Kristi's CA125 level checked. The doctors at U of M told us not to be surprised if we don't notice a difference with the first round. They indicated with this type of chemo it may take a round or two to knock down her CA125 level. In fact, they said it may even go up. So, we're not going to be disappointed if it stays the same or goes up slightly. Just a head's up.
We were given a lot of interesting information by the doctors at U of M. We will be discussing a lot of this tomorrow with Kristi's oncologist. We have lots of questions that need answers. Once we get answers, we'll let everyone know what the plan is moving forward.
Thanks for the prayers over the weekend. Everyone stayed healthy and Kristi and I enjoyed a nice weekend together.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Now we're going to just enjoy the weekend. Here's a picture of the hospital...
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Like Kristi said in last night's update, as soon as we leave U of M, we're going to head up to Frankenmuth and make a weekend out of it. It will be our first "official" vacation since Kristi was diagnosed. We both need a break! Granted it's only a weekend, but it's Oktoberfest in Frankenmuth. I've heard it gets quite interesting there this time of the year so it will be fun to just sit back and "people watch". Saturday of course we will spend the day shopping at Birch Run. Kristi's wheel chair will just give us that much more room to pile stuff on as we're shopping!!
We also got Kristi's blood work results today and got a nice surprise...her platelet level is at 78,000! So chemo is definitely on for Monday. Her white and red blood cell counts are both low however, so along with chemo on Monday she will get a red blood cell transfusion. I'm assuming that we will start the neupagen shots nightly next week to bring her white blood cells up.
So lots of prayer requests:
1) That tomorrow's visit goes well and the doctors don't tell us any more bad news!!
2) Safe travel!
3) Safety for the kids
4) Sanity for the my parents as they will be watching the kids!!
5) Kristi's cold to get better
6) Kristi's grandma as she's recovering from surgery
The hotel we're staying at has internet access so we'll try to update the blog tomorrow night with the results of our visit.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I have thought about what it will be like to be "cancer free" and have my energy back and my hair back. The thought is so exciting! It's also a little strange. My cancer is what showed me how to be God's light. We were just living your average life before this happened and now we have been put into the spotlight and given a huge opportunity to share our faith with others.
I some days wonder what we will do when this chapter is done. Will we be bold and look for more ways to continue to shine God's light or will we settle back into the old routine of just gliding through life? I know I will never take living for granted again. But I also think that when we are healthy and strong it is more difficult to show God's power. It's when we are weak and broken when God's strength comes through. Obviously my prayer is that I will be healthy again, but I want to also be able to continue to shine. Kind of a bittersweet problem!
I have to have blood work done tomorrow. Please pray that my counts will be up. I will have my CA125 level tested next Monday. I'm so anxious to find out where that is at!
We are going to U of M on Friday to meet with the doctor there. My parents are taking Emily Thursday night (since we are leaving early on Friday) and Brian's parents offered to come here and watch the kids for the weekend. We will be staying in the Birch Run/Frankenmuth area until Sunday. I'm so excited to get away!
Ashley is doing great these days. Nathan's face is healing nicely. Emily has had a couple of interesting days. She has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality going on. Please pray that she isn't coming down with anything.
I have been having so much fun being "normal" but need to be careful to limit myself which is difficult. I want to do so much! Pray that I will make wise decisions and learn to pace myself so I don't overdo it.
Brian is doing pretty good. We can't tell if the medication is helping yet but we're only in week one. He is having a lot of trouble sleeping lately though which makes him tired. He is very frustrated that he is not able to run because his ankle still gives him trouble. Before he sprained it he would work out every day whether playing basketball or running. I think not being able to exercise is making him tired as well.
Thank you so much for all your prayers. We are so blessed to have so many family, friends and strangers praying for us!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Thanks again for your prayers!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Kristi has caught her first cold since being diagnosed with cancer. With her blood counts low it could turn into something worse so please pray that she passes it quickly. After a pretty busy weekend we had a quiet night. We enjoyed a camp fire on our deck and roasted s'mores and just snuggled by the fire for a while.
Kristi goes in for blood work tomorrow so we'll update you tomorrow night with those results. That's all for tonight...have to get back to my Lions' Superbowl party preparations!!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Lame, I know! but our blog was viewed for the 20,000th time this week!! Pretty amazing. Kristi's testimony video also continues to get watched a few times a day...it's up over 800 viewings. We had someone from Switzerland read our blog the other day. Some of the other foreign visitors have been from: Canada, New Zeeland, Russia, China, Australia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Malaysia and India. People from Hawaii to Maine have also read. Our blog has generated about $280 so far for Lori and Eric. That's awesome. Hopefully you're reading and enjoying some of the ads. Please don't click on them just to give us a credit...we can get into trouble for that (account canceled). If you click, please at least extend the courtesy to see what the ad has to say...who knows, maybe it's something you'll actually end up using!
So that's it for today. Not much I realize, but we're going on a double date tonight with our friends Scott and Kristi so I better go get ready. We'll update more tomorrow night...
Friday, September 14, 2007
I don't really have anything new to report. Just letting you know that all is well.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Something I’ve never mentioned before in any of my past blog entries is that I’ve also been seeing a psychologist for the past couple months. It helps to talk to someone that I have no connections to. I can talk to him for an hour, dump all my problems on him, then leave. Feels kinda good. So now I’m taking meds and seeing a shrink…I guess that makes me a certified nut case. I struggled a long time about taking medication. Shouldn’t God alone be able to help me?! Why should I need drugs?! Well, God gave us the brains to invent the drugs, so I’m going to take them! I’m actually excited to see if it makes a difference. Maybe some day soon I’ll be skipping by you whistling and humming the Barney theme song. OK, probably not, but hopefully my perspective improves.
Sure, I have friends who have offered to come over and talk to me (and that’s awesome that they would do that), but this is different, it’s more than that. How do I explain it? I have this feeling most of the time that my chest is caving in. Sometimes it’s hard to breath. Lately I’ve felt as if I haven’t slept for days. Getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge. I feel like I’m walking around with 50 pound sacks of potatoes strapped to each leg and one on my back. I’m unfocused, uninterested and disengaged some days, a lot lately. Why? I don’t think I need to explain why, do I?! This isn’t going to go away tomorrow, or next week, or in a month. I realize Kristi is feeling pretty good these days – and for that I’m very grateful. I should be doing great then, right?! So what’s my deal??!!
The good times are good, but when they’re good the future starts coming into focus. That’s when I have time to start processing all the possibilities. Ovarian cancer is long term. We’re almost to one critical point in this road – the CA125 being normalized…and we’ll be very happy when we get there. But that’s only gate one. The battle doesn’t stop there. Most of the time ovarian cancer comes back, and when it comes back, it’s bigger and ‘badder’. Why does it come back? They don’t know. That’s the part I fear most. We’re hoping that because she has gone through more chemotherapy than the average woman that they’re killing all the cancer. Hopefully this keeps the cancer from coming back – EVER! This thing won’t be over for 5 years. Kristi won’t be considered “cancer-free” until she goes 5 years in remission. It’s all this waiting that’s hard - overwhelming. So yes, that weighs me down. I pray every day but I realize this isn’t going away in a week or a month. I just pray for patience, understanding, and peace for Kristi. What more can I pray for?! I don’t think we could have made it this far without all the prayers. Please just keep them coming. Some days it just hurts so bad and the extra prayers give us a lift.
Wow, where do I go after that? I have been doing great these past few weeks. My side effects are very minimal and my hair is growing back which feels like a huge milestone for me. I have been doing some things for church - jumping back into where I had to leave when the cancer hit. It feels so good to be useful again and doing stuff that I enjoy. I do get tired pretty easily so I have to be careful not to overdo it.
Apparently though I have been negligent in understanding my own husband. I knew he was tired and not feeling well but had no idea it was this hard for him. He is such a tough guy. I'm glad he updated you all so that you can pray specifically for him. Kind of strange to read about how your husband is feeling through a blog though. This whole experience has been an eye opener.
I have to say that I don't have fear of the cancer returning. Right now I am at such a perfect peace. God let me live through this because there is so much more on earth that I still need to do. Please pray that this peace will continue for me and that Brian will have it as well.
On another note, Louise's surgery went well yesterday and she should be coming home soon. Please continue to pray for her as she recovers and while she waits for the tests to come in.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I am feeling pretty good today. I overdid it this morning because I was feeling so good. By the afternoon I was exhausted and starting to feel nauseous. After a nap I felt a lot better. I just have to learn to pace myself I guess.
Please remember to keep my mom's friend Louise in your prayers tomorrow as she has her mastectomy. Thank you!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Kristi is doing great today. Her Mom accompanied her at chemo so I was able to get a break - thanks Mom! So far she is doing very good!
Here are some specific prayer requests:
* Her platelet level starts going up
* This new chemo is killing the cancer cells
* Please keep praying that her CA125 level is below 35 next time they check!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
We spent Friday night with friends and Saturday night we had a babysitter call us and offered to babysit if we'd like to go out. I didn't even have to think about an answer for that one! So, we went out to dinner and did some shopping. Nothing too exciting but it is always nice to get out by ourselves.
We were talking a bit that night about the different rounds of chemo I've been through. Even though this one is a weekly thing, it's definitely the easiest. The side effects are very minimal. Remember the extreme fatigues and nausea from the first few rounds and then the stomach pain and diarrhea that went with the chemo in the stomach port? Not to mention having to go in on day 1, 2 and 8 of a 21 day cycle. We've come a long way!
I talked to my chemo nurse and the plan is for me to go in for chemo tomorrow. She thinks my counts will be high enough. My platelet level must be at 75,000 for this type of chemo. It was at 105,000 last week. So, we'll go in and see. Brian is actually letting my mom take me this time! He has been so protective of me. Since this is a more predictable chemo and it doesn't hit me as hard, he's willing to let others drive me occasionally.
I heard from Doris and her doctor said that he believes that the pain in her neck is from the chemo treatments. He sounds very optimistic about her outlook. Her CA125 level was a 9! Please continue to keep her in your prayers for peace of mind and that the cancer will not return.
Here's some more requests:
*Louise has her surgery this week Wednesday.
*The kids are having a hard time getting to sleep at night and are very tired in the morning. Pray that they will adjust to this new schedule soon.
*Brian has a doctors appointment on Tuesday. Despite eating healthy and exercising, he is constantly tired. He has also had a couple spells recently where he feels like he is coming down with the flu. He has also had a lot of ups and downs with his mood. Please pray that the doctor will be able to help him figure out what is wrong. Also, pray that he will have peace and patience and strength this week.
*Safe travel for me and my mom tomorrow.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Kristi is feeling pretty good these days...not much to report on. We've had a lot of people sign on to the Buddymapping. That's been neat to see where people are reading from. If you're reading this and haven't signed on, please do. You don't have to leave your name if you don't want to.
Well, that's all.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I have good days and bad days with the hair thing. As Brian mentioned in an earlier post, I had a couple bad experiences recently. I know kids will be kids and they are curious but when their staring coincides with a down time for me, I tend to just sink lower. I'm just so glad in a couple months my hair should be grown in - woohoo!
I am feeling pretty good today. I took a nap this afternoon which helped. I haven't had any nausea today, just a little case of the 'tireds'. My counts took quite a hit with the last round so we don't really know when my next treatment will be. It'd be nice to have a week off but it gets frustrating when I'm on a "wait & see" schedule. Makes scheduling other things difficult.
We heard from U of M already and we have an appointment on September 21. We will be meeting with a doctor there who will have already reviewed all my records. He will give us his thoughts about what we have done so far and where he thinks we should go from here. We will then take this information to my oncologist. I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say.
I have been making a lot of "cyber friends" through this blog. It has been so exciting! A lot of them are because they were doing a search regarding cancer and found our blog. My newest friend, Doris, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around the same time I was. She has just completed her 8th round of chemo and is considered "cancer free". Yea God! It has been so neat e-mailing back and forth with her because we have traveled down a very similar road this year. We had the same chemo and side effects and fears and triumphs.
The reason I am sharing this information is because I would like you to pray for her. She is having pain on the right side of her neck. Her doctor believes it is a result of the chemo. She has an appointment on Friday morning to meet with him. I know all too well how fear can take over when there is something just not right with our body. It's no longer a fear that we have a cold or the flu bug but we will always live with the fear that the cancer has returned.
Also, I have another person I would like you to pray for. She is my mom's friend, Louise, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. She will be having surgery on 9/12. After that surgery they will have to wait for the results to find out how contained the cancer was and if she will need to have chemo or radiation.
It just seems like cancer is everywhere these days. But, God is everywhere too and is stronger than cancer. Thank you so much for reading and for all your prayers! Here are the specifics:
*Doris - appointment on Friday morning.
*Louise - surgery on 9/12.
*U of M appointment on 9/21.
*Praise - my hair is growing in!!!!!
*More praises - the kids love their teachers and are doing well with the adjustment of returning to school. Also, I am enjoying my one on one time with Emily.
*Brian, as always, has been wonderful. He has graciously taken on the extra work when I needed to rest. He patiently deals with my ups and downs and mood swings. Please pray that he will have the strength he needs from day to day.
*Patience as we "wait & see" for my next round of chemo.
*That my blood counts will go up and the CA125 level will continue to drop.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Also today was Ashley and Nathan's first day of school. Ashley is going into 4th grade and Nathan 1st. Wow! Here is a picture of them this morning. Of course we followed them into school and into their classrooms. I'm sure it was completely humiliating for them, but I got some good pictures. :)
Monday, September 3, 2007
One more thing. Not sure if Kristi is just getting tired of being bald and getting more sensitive or if she just ran into a larger crop of rude people recently, but she's growing tired of the stares. I have noticed it as well. When we went camping a couple weeks ago apparently some kids just gawked at her. She was pretty upset by this. She has ran into this again recently as well. On the bright side, her hair is starting to grow back a little bit with this new chemo. We're hoping that her hair continues to grow so she can have hair by Christmas.
Here are some pictures from my camping trip with the kids (we camped about 5 miles East of Hart on private property - my friend Brian's uncle's stable & farm ):