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Ver Beek Blog

Our young family battling stage IV breast cancer one day at a time
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Archive for August, 2009

One more to go!

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I had my second to last round of chemo yesterday.  Everything went well.  My lab work is another story.  My hemoglobin (red cells) are really low so I’m anemic.  If they drop into the eights (I’m currently in the nines) I’ll need a blood transfusion.  My white blood cells were so low that they had to do a Neulasta shot today.  When white cells are low I’m very susceptible to illness so I need to avoid large crowds and public areas.  Neulasta boosts my white blood cells.  It’s a bummer though because Neulasta adds to bone, joint and muscle pain.  It’s going to be a rough weekend. 

Dusty and I met with Dr. Dodde today.  I liked him.  He’s going to be my reconstructive surgeon.  He went over three options for me.  One of which isn’t a good option (just implants).  The two options he wants me to consider are a TRAM flap or a Latissimus Dorsi flap.  I’m spare you the full details of each, but the gist for the TRAM flap is that they take your stomach muscles, tissue and skin and move them up (no implants).  The Latissimus Dorsi flap takes muscles, tissue and skin from under your arm and part of your back, bring it around front and reconstruct from there.  This would involve implants.  Either procedure takes about 5-6 hours and weeks of recovery.  I have a lot to consider.  I’m thankful I have a lot of time to weigh my options. 

It seems like I have so much going on.  Everything is changing.  It’s a lot to digest.  Please pray for guidance. 

I was so excited to see some people joined the Laps for Lindy team.  How fun!  Thank you for participating either physically and/or finacially.  That’s great!  We hope to be there cheering everyone on!

Genetic Testing

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Just a quick note to say that I saw Dr. Vander Woude today.  She is extremely happy with how I’m responding to chemo.  She said the tumor continues to shrink. 

I also got the results of my genetic testing and it’s negative!  This means that I do not have a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.  Therefore I do not need to have my ovaries removed and it also means that Brooklyn, Max and Samantha are not at increased risk for cancer.  We are so relieved; especially for the sake of our kids. 

Eleven Years

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Eleven years ago today I got married.  Today is our anniversary.  Some of you were there.  Do you remember it?  It was a great day.  One of the best in my life. 

Never would I have thought I’d be bald and have cancer on my 11 year anniversary.  Then again, I also never thought I’d have twins.  It just goes to show that life doesn’t always turn out the way we think it will.

As far as my cancer is concerned I’m still fighting it.  I have chemo again on Wednesday so I’m trying to enjoy today and the next few days as best as I can.  Every day is different.  Some days are okay.  Some days are really hard. 

My only goal of the day is to feel good enough to go out and celebrate our anniversary tonight.  I feel pretty good so it shouldn’t be a problem.  Nothing fabulous.  Just dinner. 

Brooklyn left today to enjoy the week camping with Bea’s and Papa.  We hope to visit them quite a bit too.  At least before chemo on Wednesday.  It will be nice to get a change of scenery.  I feel like I never leave my house! 

Samantha is pulling herself to standing by furniture all the time and I was able to witness her cruise from the exersaucer to a chair!  She took four steps.  Go Samantha!  Max still loves exploring by army crawling around.  He’s a silly little guy. 

I meet with Dr. Dodde this week.  He’s my reconstructive plastic surgeon.  I’m interested to hear what his opinion is on the type of reconstruction I should have.  I also hope to get the results of my genetic testing soon.

On a side note, check out the link Laps for Lindy.  My brother, Clair Vander Zwaag, started a Laps for Lindy team for the Susan G. Komen 5K Race For a Cure at the end of September.  If you would like to join the Laps for Lindy team, make a donation or come out to cheer everyone on feel free! 

Thank you for your prayers.  They are being felt every day. 

Thank you for the meals.  They are DELICIOUS! 

Thank you for the help with our kids.  They are loved. 

Thank you for the cards.  They are read often. 

One of the things I love to tell people is how awesome all of you are.  Random people (nurses, neighbors, family, friends, the questionnaire I fill out at the doctor’s office, etc) ask if we need help or a meal and I am so quick to let them know how wonderful our friends, family and community is.  You’ve all gone above and beyond what I think is even possible.  You have our sincerest THANK YOU. 

Two more rounds to go

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Only two more rounds to go!  Chemo went well on Wednesday.  The port is still working well and I didn’t have a reaction to the Taxol. 

Today the achiness and pain is really starting to set in.  The good news is that I didn’t have to get a Neulasta shot after chemo because my white blood cell count was at a good level.  Neulasta can add to the bone, muscle and joint pain.  So I hope that by not having the shot I won’t be so uncomfortable this time around. 

I see an end in sight.  Thank you for your prayers, help, concern, thoughts, emails, etc.  They mean so much to me. 

Have a great weekend! 

Trudging Along

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I haven’t written in a while because I don’t have much to say.  Yesterday I started feeling better.  Tomorrow is another round of chemo.  I have three treatments left.  I absolutely do not want to go.  Part of me wishes I had treatments every three weeks so I would have a more enjoyable life.  The other part of me wants to keep trudging through so I can be done sooner.  I’ll keep trudging.  I just want this behind us. 

Our lives are organized chaos right now.  Dusty is doing well.  He’s enjoying his new role at Herman Miller.  Brooklyn is having fun wrapping up summer (now that summer weather just got here).  She had a good time seeing the play Charlotte’s Web at Hope College yesterday.  Max and Samantha are great.  Samantha is not only crawling, but can occasionally pull herself to standing!  Max still does his army crawl to get around.  It’s a very interesting maneuver.    

Last Wednesday I met with the genetic testing nurse and Dr. Vander Woude.   I’ve decided to go ahead with the genetic testing.  Dr. VanderWoude is happy with the progress I’m making which is very encouraging.   

Thank you for your prayers, meals, cards, emails, cookies (my hips do not thank you), support for our parents and love. 

Cancer Wordle

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Runaway Bus?

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It was a rough weekend.  Friday the muscle and joint pain began.  Saturday I felt like I was hit by a bus.  The pain was nearly unbearable.  It seemed to localize in my knees and legs.  Sunday was slightly better and Monday was back to a dull ache. 

Just when I thought I was getting better, I woke up today feeling like a bus hit me again.  It’s very discouraging.  Everything hurts – muscles, joints, bones.  My knees and elbows feel like I’m being stabbed with a knife.  I’m extremely tired. 

Some days, when I allow myself to think too much, I get very overwhelmed.  The road ahead is still so long.  I wish all I had to do was complete chemo and be back to normal by the end of the summer.  Instead I have to complete chemo, have a major surgery, go through 6-8 weeks of radiation and then another major reconstructive surgery.   This won’t be over until winter.  It seems so far away. 

When I think about what we’ve been through over the past year and now the cancer, I just don’t understand why this happened to us.  I didn’t plan for Brooklyn to spend her 5th year of life with a mom who is sick and can’t do the things we would like to do together.  I didn’t plan on watching other excellent care givers help raise Max and Samantha during their first year of life.  The toll this is taking on my family is staggering.  What I know for sure is that God will see us through this.  This definitely was not what we planned, but His plan is perfect.  We have to trust in that. 

I was able to tune into the webcast of Sunday morning’s church service.  The message was awesome.  So much of it spoke directly to me.  Included in some great verses, my Jeremiah verse was shared again too.  Awesome. 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:11-13

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