Ver Beek Blog

Our young family battling stage IV breast cancer one day at a time
Breast Cancer Ribbon

Archive for June, 2009

I hate cancer. It’s dumb.

posted by:

I saw Dr. VanderWoude (oncologist) this morning.  I’m happy and thankful to say the tumor is shrinking!  She was pleased with how much smaller it is today than the last two visits.  It makes suffering through chemo worth it.  I was hoping this meant I would only have one more round of A/C.  No luck.  She reminded me that the four rounds following A/C aren’t as bad.  She said in a month I will feel better than what I do now.  I can’t wait to rejoin society.  🙂

Speaking of chemo, I have another round tomorrow.  I hate what it does to me.  We have to laugh because in addition to making me sick, it makes me very confused.  I can’t remember conversations.  I can’t process the simplest things.  I feel so disconnected and foggy.  It’s very strange.

DISCLAIMER:  If I have a conversation with you between tomorrow and next Wednesday I may not remember what we talked about.  Please accept my apologies in advance.  🙂

Lately Brooklyn has been testing words to see if they’re “naughty words”.  Her latest words are hate and dumb.  I can tell if she’s about to test a word by how she approaches me.  Yesterday she came up to me, cocked her head to the side, scrunched her nose and said “mom?” (uh-oh naughty word is coming).  “I hate cancer.  It’s dumb.”  I laughed.  I hate it too.  Then I explained how hate is a strong word and dumb isn’t nice…blah…blah…blah

I meet with the radiation oncologist tomorrow, Dr. Edlund.  I think he’s going to tell me if I need radiation before surgery, after surgery or both.  I’ll let you know.

So my tumor is shrinking.  Chemo is working.  A week of misery is coming.  My strength and endurance come only from God.  There is no other explanation for how I’m getting through this. 

He is using you to help me too.  Thank you for your prayers and communication.  Please keep them coming because they keep me going. 

All clear!

posted by:

I am happy to report that my bone scan is clear!  Thank God!  This is another amazing answer to prayer.  Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for me and my family.  I am so relieved.  You are good and wonderful people.  We are so blessed to have you in our lives. 

What’s New

posted by:

Did I depress you after my last doom and gloom update?  Sorry about that.  Sometimes I just have to unleash.  Thank you for your comments and communication.  They made me feel so much better. 

I’m feeling better today.  I’m starting to realize that I have one bad week (right after chemo) followed by an okay week.  I’ll take what I can get ya know?  I had a good time hanging out with the Jill’s today.  Jill G hung out with me all day and took care of my kids.  Jill B cleaned my house and gave me a mini pedi.  Tammy and the kids brought some beautiful flowers and notes.  Thank God for great friends! 

Some of you were wondering if our new carpet got wet over the weekend.  It turns out the carpet didn’t come in Friday so it hasn’t been put down yet.  It’s a good thing because we did get a little wet. 

The bone scan and fluids went well on Monday.  I had some really nice techs at Holland Hospital who hung out with me during the scan.  🙂  The nurse at the cancer center was able to access my port on the first try.  Big relief.  I called for the results of the bone scan today, but I haven’t heard back yet.  I also got my labs drawn today and I’m assuming no news is good news.  

The kids are doing well.  Over the past three days Brooklyn learned how to swim and is brave enough to jump off the diving board (thanks Monica)!   She’s going to VBS at Community Reformed Church and having a ball with that.  Samantha is battling a double ear infection and Max is still our chill little dude.  

Thanks for checking in.  I’ll let you know the results of the bone scan as soon as I get it.  Have a great night! 

I need a break

posted by:

Happy belated Father’s Day!  It’s been a long weekend.  The medicine they gave me helps a little, but not a lot.  I constantly feel sick, nauseas, exhausted and I can see why people ditch chemo.  It is rough.  This is the hardest thing I’ve been through.  Not to brag, but I’ve been through a few things in my 32 years.  I’ll spare you the list, but believe me chemo and cancer top it all. 

I have my bone scan today to see if the cancer has spread to my bones.  I hope it hasn’t.  I also have IV fluids, anti nausea meds and steroids today.  I’m sick of being poked and prodded.  I dread them accessing my port for the fluids.  For some reason the surgeon couldn’t get it in the best position and the nurse has a hard time accessing it.  It hurts.  It’s bruised.  I don’t want them to touch it.  Please pray that she can get it on her first attempt. 

Thank you for everything.  Your prayers are being felt and I need them more than ever.  I’m so tired.  I’m so sick of this.  I don’t want to go through 6 more rounds of chemo.  I need a break. 


posted by:

Did you hear the storm last night?  It kept me awake.  While I was tossing and turning I felt hair on my pillow.  I could pull clumps of my hair out.  That told me my hair was coming out today.  I knew in a few hours our kids would be waking up.  My sister-in-law Becky would be here at 8 a.m. to use her loving and caring arms for our kids.  My Uncle Ken is coming to lay carpet in the basement and my dad is coming to move out our washer and dryer.   So at 4 in the morning I decided to shave my head in the quiet and stillness of the house.  It’s done.  My hair is gone.  Not a single tear was shed over the loss of my hair.  It’s liberating.  I am now one of the millions who are follicly challenged.  It’s just hair.  It will grow back.  🙂

Yesterday’s IV fluid and steroids helped the nausea.  It didn’t take it away, but made it tolerable.  It was better than the last round of chemo.  This morning I’m not feeling so hot so I’m glad I go back today for more, fluids, anti-nausea and steroids.

Next week I have one more IV fluid, anti nausea and steroid.  A bone scan at Holland Hospital to check for cancer in my bones and a blood draw for my CBC’s.   

Thank you for your support.  The special gifts  and food dropped off for us and the kids are great!  The communication.  Everything.  We appreciate all of it.  You are truly the hands and feet of Christ.   

Two down, more to go!

posted by:

Today was my second round of chemo.  I met with Dr. VanderWoude first, had labs drawn and was given chemo (Adriamicin and Cytoxan). 

Many of you were wondering what stage my cancer is.  Dr. Vander Woude explained they can’t stage my cancer because they’re doing chemo before they remove the tumor.  Typically they do surgery to remove the tumor first, stage it, and then do chemo.  In my case, since the tumor is quite large, they’re doing chemo first to shrink the tumor before removing it.  It will help them do a better surgery. 

At today’s visit, Dr. VanderWoude thought the tumor was slightly smaller.  We were very happy about that.  

As for the nausea, we have a new plan.  I’m going in tomorrow for fluids, steriods and my Neulasta shot.  I’m going Friday for fluids, another anti-nausea drug and steroids.  On Monday I’ll go again for fluids, anti nausea and steriods.    She said the first four rounds of chemo are the worst.  The last four rounds shouldn’t be too bad.  So there’s a little hope.  I have two down and two more to go before the easier chemo happens.  Please see the “help wanted” page for drivers that may be needed (I’ll need one for tomorrow).  🙂


After meeting with Dr. VanderWoude it was time for chemo.  We were able to score a room with a bed.  Kendra, my awesome nurse, had trouble getting the needle in the port.  After a few attempts we had success. Right now I’m feeling very tired, a little nauseas and very foggy. Thank you for your prayers and communication.  I love getting the mail every day.  I know the day will come when I don’t receive cards or letters anymore so I’m enjoying it right now.  We are so blessed to have great friends and family to support us. Thank you to the wonderful people who took care of our kids today.  Brooke had a great time with Olivia.  As of Monday, Max and Samantha are now eight months old.   They had their first kiddie pool experience yesterday.  It was great!  They’re growing so fast!  max-loves-the-pool-june-2009-com.JPGsamantha-june-2009-com.JPG

Thank you for your comments.  I still run to the computer to read them.  I just can’t help myself.  Oh and I still have my hair.  It feels strange, but it’s still there.  Have a great night!


Enjoy today, look forward to tomorrow….

posted by:

I am so tired.  Like extreme exhaustion that you hope a good night of sleep would take care of, but it doesn’t.  Last night the thought of carrying Max upstairs to bed was overwhelming.  I was ready to let him sleep on the floor by me until I went to bed.   I know this is due to low blood counts from chemo.  Also, for some reason my back is killing me.  I don’t know why, but it is so sore.   Mainly my low back.  I hope it’s not my kidneys.  Must have something to do with chemo.   Who knows.

Other than being tired and my washing machine breaking, the past few days have been good.  I am so thankful for a dad who can do anything like fix a washing machine – thanks Dad!  I’ll have to write him a thank you.  He’s not techy at all.  He doesn’t have email and doesn’t know how to access the internet.  I’ll send him a note by pigeon courier.   

We had a great morning.  Brooke crawled into our bed this morning and said “so how’s the cancer doing mama?”  “It’s still there.”  I said.  “oh…I wish it wasn’t.”  was her response.  She is too cute.  We had monkey bread for breakfast (thank you Denise and MainDish in GR) which made for a great start to the day. 

The question of the day is if I still have my hair.  As of this moment I do.  I’m seriously considering shaving it today.  I have this crazy fear that clumps of my hair are going to fall out of my head when I’m in public.  Like at church or Meijer.  I don’t want to scare small children.  

Everyone else seems to be amazed at our faith during this time.  Some of you know our story and some don’t.  For those of you who know please skip this paragraph.  For those who want to know, here is a brief recap.  We owned a small baby furniture store in Holland for four years.  I got pregnant February of 2008 with twins and was severely sick from February to October 2008.  The store was neglected for those months and the economy was also failing.  I went into labor, Max was born naturally and Samantha wouldn’t come out.  Her placenta started to come loose (placenta abruption) and we had to do an emergency c-section.  We lost her at some point while traveling from the delivery room to the operating room.  The doctor’s worked on her, brought her back to life and she was immediately transported to DeVos.  She spent nine days in DeVos making a miraculous recovery.  She went from severely brain damaged the first night to laughing, jabbering and almost crawling as of today.  The day we took her home was also Brooke’s fifth birthday.  That night we put Brooke to bed and I hemorrhaged and was taken back to the hospital.  After fluids and a blood transfusion I returned home very weak and tired.  That was 7 months ago.   After things calmed down a bit, we decided to close our store mainly because of our family.  After the birth of the twins we realized how precious children are and we want to be there for them.   Another reason was the economy.  So we closed the store two months ago.  A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer so here I am. 

So, like I said everyone wonders about our faith having been through so much in such a short amount of time.  Our marriage seems to get stronger and our family (immediate and extended) seems to get closer.  True colors have come out in our friendships and I must say we have great friends because the support is overwhelming.  You would think the opposite.  You’d think it would strain a marriage or take a toll on the family.  There are times, believe me, that not everything is awesome, but for the most part we hit the rally button and go forward.  I believe the only reason this happens is because of the incredible faith we, our family and friends have.  It’s been passed from generation to generation and runs deep.  It’s a faith that you know is always there even when you’re young and a moron, but you really tap into it when you’re grown and are so glad the seeds were planted when you were young.  You guys are praying for us – our marriage, our family, my cancer, etc. and God is answering prayers.   THANK YOU!

So I am going to enjoy today, look forward to tomorrow and pretend that Wednesday (chemo day) isn’t coming.  😉

I’m not sick today!

posted by:

Today was the first day I did not take anti-nausea meds!  Yea me!  The day started out a little rocky, but turned around for the better. 

The prayers of God’s people are working.  I know it.  I can feel it.  I am pushed forward and carried through every day by your communication (let this be a notice that from this point forward I’m going to refer to emails, cards, calls, messages, texts, etc as “communication”).  The bible verses you’re giving me are so fitting.  By the way, my Jeremiah verse, yes I’m claiming it as mine, surfaced again in someone’s card this week.  Cool huh. 

I went to see Dr. Porter today and get my labs drawn.  Dr. Porter is a medical psychologist.  I have to start by saying I’ve never been to a psychologist before, but he’s not the “tell me about your childhood” kind of psychologist.  He’s more “so how’s the nausea going?” kind of psychologist that specializes in cancer patients.  He was good.  He gave good suggestions.  He suggested keeping some things as routine as possible so I don’t feel like cancer has taken over my entire life.   While he kept talking my mind started wandering about how routines and twins don’t always mix, but whatever.  I got his point. 

As far as I know my lab work was good.  I was a little concerned I was anemic, but they could tell me within a couple minutes of drawing that I’m not.   This is an answer to prayer too.  Last week I was slightly low and I was a little worried that a blood transfusion was in my future.

Dusty is doing well with his new role at HMI.  He seems very busy and happy with it.  Brooke is doing great and had a good time today at the Farmer’s Market with Avery and Bea’s (grandma Vander Zwaag).   Although she cried during the bee keeper demonstration because she was convinced the bees were going to sting her (sorry Avery – girls cry).  It was nothing that a giant sugar cookie couldn’t fix.  Max and Samantha had a typical day in the life of a 7-month-old – dirty diapers, veggies, fruits, bottles, playtime and naptime.    And now bedtime. 

Have a great night!


posted by:

The past couple days haven’t been better.  I’m awake more, but still nauseas.  I called the doctor this morning and they gave me a different med to use in combination with one of my current meds.  Hopefully that will help.  They said there are other options so if this doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged. 

I’m starting to freak out again.  My hair is going to fall out this weekend.  I dread my second chemo course next week because of the nausea.  I hate that I can’t play with and hold my kids the way I normally would because of my port.  I have to be careful that Max and Samantha don’t head-butt or punch the port with their little hands. 

It is so hard to turn this all over to God.  I am a control freak.  I’m considering shaving my hair off before the weekend because that’s the ONE thing I can control right now.  But then the dutch in me shines through and thinks “don’t do that.  You still have a little shampoo left in the bottle.  If you shave your hair early you will have wasted some shampoo.”  I can’t believe I just wrote that.  You know you can relate.  You can right? 

We didn’t make it to church yesterday, but we did, as I lovingly call it from my preggo days, couch church.  We tuned in via the webcast.  The morning and evening messages were excellent.  In the morning we had Pastor Dale Cooper and he spoke about asking the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to face our challenges.  Last night was Pastor Don Cousins and he spoke about when we pray to listen and not do all the talking.

I need to ask the Holy Spirit to help me turn over all my worries and cares about the future to Jesus.  To fill me with the strength I need to overcome cancer and chemo.  To fill Dusty, my mom and the other wonderful childcare providers the strength to get through the day with our three kids.     

We are so thankful for everyone who is helping or has helped out.  From childcare to fun for Brooke.  From meal organizers to meal makers, from lawn mowing to house cleaning.  So many of you have given to us in so many ways.  We will not forget it.  THANK YOU!

What day is it?

posted by:

I feel so sick.  I can’t eat.  I feel like I have to throw up all the time.  All I do is sleep.  The anti-nausea meds make me very tired so I’ve been asleep more than awake the past four days.  This is horrible. 

I’ve been checking my blog during awake moments.  Your posts, cards and comments usually put smile on my face.  Sometimes a tear down my cheek.  They always renew my faith.  Some of you should be hired by Hallmark. 

It’s hard not to slip into dispair when you feel this sick day after day, but your support helps SO MUCH. 

I missed out on my niece, Mary Ver Beek’s, open house last night.  I was looking forward to going, not only to congratulate her for graduating from high school, but also because they had delicious wraps from Cafe 58!  Dusty took the gang and it sounds like she had a wonderful party.  He also took a wrap to go so I was able to get one afterall.  Congratulations Mary! 

Well…I’m about to take another antit-nausea pill which means I’ll go to sleep.  So goodnight. 

Notice: My hosting company 1&1 recently upgraded the back-end engine that powers this blog. In doing so, they deleted all the existing images on the site. They are not assisting me with replacing the images they deleted, so I will be adding the images back as time allows. Thank you for your understanding.