Ver Beek Blog

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

Three more to go!

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One Taxol treatment down, three to go.  It took about five hours to get chemo and went really well.  The first hour is spent giving me Benadryl and other antibiotics.  Then they started the Taxol.  My nurse, Kendra, had to sit with me for the first 20 minutes to make sure I didn’t have a reaction.  I didn’t.  Jill worked til 3 a.m. the night before and I was tired from the meds so we both took a nap!  So much for card games.  When I woke up Jill went to Wendy’s and got us lunch.  It was nice. 

We were done at the Cancer Hematology Center at 1:45 which was perfect because my surgeon appointment was at 2:00.  I learned something new on Wednesday.  Dr. Hoberman’s first name is Liberty.  I thought her maiden name was Liberty and she hyphenated it with Hoberman.  Anyway….I’m very glad I switched surgeons.  I really like Dr. Hoberman.  She was very informative about what to expect with the mastectomy and about my reconstructive options.  She discovered another spot that may need to be biopsied, but she’ll consult with Dr. VanderWoude first.  She also referred me to Dr. Dodde who could do the reconstructive surgery.  Thank you Jill for spending the day with me and being my personal chauffeur.   

So far I’ve had no nausea from the Taxol!  What a relief.   Yesterday afternoon I noticed my finger tips and feet start to tingle and hurt.  It’s nerve pain.  This morning I woke up and feel very achy from head to toe.  My finger tips and feet still hurt.  This is what they warned me about.   I have to tell ya, I’d rather have this than nausea any day of the week.  I may not say that tomorrow, but for today I’ll take it. 

Last night was rough.  I get so sick of cancer.  I get so angry that I have it.  I hate it.  It’s so hard.  I’m sick of not feeling well.  It seems so unfair.  This is Max and Samantha’s first year of life and as every parent knows, so much happens the first year.  Samantha just started crawling.  Max does a funky army crawl.  Brooklyn starts Kindergarten in a month.  I want to take her to pick out a back pack and lunch box, but I just don’t feel good.  These are things you want to do with your kids.  I never imagined her starting Kindergarten and me having cancer.  It’s hard to truly enjoy my kids when I feel so sick and tired all the time.  So I had a pity party for myself last night. 

The sun is shining this morning and it’s going to be a beautiful day.  Brooklyn is going to see Click Clack Moo this morning at Hope College.  I’ll sit outside and get some fresh air and hopefully a new outlook on my life.   

Next week I meet with Dr. Iakiri, the genetic testing doctor at the Cancer Hematology Center.   

Thank you for your prayers.  I’m so thankful that I don’t have nausea.  I’m thankful that I’m going through chemo in the summer so I can go outside and get fresh air.  I’m thankful for everyone who is helping us with Brooklyn, Max and Samantha.  Have a great day!

Ready for Taxol

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I saw Dr. VanderWoude this morning and the tumor continues to shrink!  She is happy with my response to the chemo.  If she’s happy, I’m happy.  We talked about starting Taxol tomorrow.  Nothing has changed with the original plan.  We’re still doing a dose dense version and there are possible side effects.  She did say that since I had such a terrible time with nausea on A/C that she can’t rule it out with Taxol.  🙁  

Some bad news I found out at the doctor’s visit is that I gained five more pounds!  This is not good.  I would like to say it’s because of the steroids.  It’s not.  It’s due to the fabulous cooks who are bringing us food (particularly dessert).  I have a huge sweet tooth and no willpower.  Please do not take my weight gain drama as ungratitude for the food.  We’re very thankful for it.  I just need to show some restraint.  🙂 

It feels good to be half way through chemo.  I’m not at the half way point on the cancer road yet, but a very tough part is done.  I’m thankful for that. 

As far as tests are concerned, I still have the genetic testing to do.  This will see if I test positive or negative for a particular gene that makes me more susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer.  I don’t need another MUGA scan for my heart because I tested HER2 negative. 

Tomorrow is chemo and meet my new surgeon day.  It takes about four hours to get the new chemo.  Jill is my chemo buddy (that’s what she calls herself).  She’s going to take me to chemo where we’ll hang out, play some cards, eat lunch, I’ll get some chemo, she’ll get some relaxation and then we’ll go home. 

I also meet with my new surgeon tomorrow – Dr. Liberty-Hoberman.  I look forward to meeting and talking with her about the surgery.

Brooklyn, Max and Samantha had a great time last night at the church picnic.  Brooke came home with some really cool tattoos.  Since when do kids get tattoos at a CRC church picnic?  That would never have happened when I was a kid.  My how times have changed… I sound old. 


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Today was the first day in a week that I woke up and didn’t want to vomit!  I felt so good, in fact, that I went to Brooklyn’s dance recital this morning at Zeeland Rec.  They put on a very nice show.  You can check out her Lion King dance by clicking on the “Links” tab and then click on the You Tube link.  I was so excited to see her dance that I even wore mascara!  I know this sounds strange, but I’m freaked out about my eyelashes falling out and I’ve convinced myself that if I don’t wear mascara they won’t.  So I haven’t worn it since my first chemo treatment.  I know it’s silly.  Leave me alone I have cancer.  I figured Brooklyn’s dance recital is the best place to walk on the wild side and be brave wearing mascara.  So far, no lashes have been lost in the wearing of my mascara. 

This is the first time I went anywhere in a week besides the Cancer Hematology Center.  Which, by the way, is becoming my home away from home.   Although it has a very distinct smell that hits me the moment I walk in the door.  It’s not a good smell.  It smells clinical and like a hospital, only worse.  

Random people are so nice.  On Monday, I was at the Center alone in the waiting room assuming my usual position – bent over in the chair with my face in my hands because I feel terrible.  An older gentleman came in and sat down.  After a minute I looked up at him and smiled.  He said “beautiful day isn’t it?”  All I could say was “it is.” and went back to my position.   The nurse called his name and as he walked past me he touched my shoulder and said “I just said a prayer for you.”  How nice is that! 

Comic Relief Moment 

Chemo brain still affects me.  Here are the top moments of chemo brain:

1.  I throw garbage down the laundry chute and laundry in the garbage.

2.  I call Samantha Brooklyn and Brooklyn Samantha.

3.  I told Dusty our dryer was broken and we needed a new one because it wasn’t drying the clothes.  In reality, I forgot to turn it on.  Twice.

4.  I don’t know what day it is.  I’m serious.  What day is it?

5.  I can’t remember if I took a pill.  I have to write it down when I take it, otherwise I won’t dare take another one for fear of an overdose.   I’ve got enough problems.  An overdose is not something I need right now.   

6.  I forget conversations I’ve had with Dusty.  I know this could be to my advantage, but I find it annoying. 

7.  I can’t drive for a week after chemo.  I can’t process four way stops. 

8.  I can’t read books for a week after chemo.  The words jumble together and I forget what I read so I have to start over. 

9.  I forget to call people back.  I’m sorry if you’ve called me and I haven’t returned your call.

10.  I can’t watch a movie or TV right after chemo.  The pictures move so fast that I can’t comprehend what’s happening.  Crazy. 

On A Serious Note:

I was thinking yesterday about the incredible support we’ve received from people.  I’ve learned how to help people in so many new ways.  Some of you send me cards once a week!  I’ve always sent one card.  I had no idea that a simple card could be so nice.  From now on, I’m going to try sending more than one card.  Taking care of kids.  Bringing a meal or cookies or fruit or flowers.  Sending gift cards.  Mowing a lawn.  Staining a swingset.  Setting up a meal schedule.  Setting up a childcare schedule.  Praying for us.  Playdates for Brooke.  Offering help to my parents and friends. 

THANK YOU for showing us how to truly be the hands and feet of Christ.  I really mean it.  I can’t wait to be on the other side and offer help to any of you who ever need it.  I pray for you every day.  That you’ll be blessed by being a blessing to us.  Thank you!

Mount A/C

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I made it down the other side of Mount A/C!  I conquered it.  It was quite a trek and I never want to do it again, but I’m glad it’s done.  I hope none of you ever have to experience it.   For those of you who’ve gone through it, we now belong to a sisterhood of strong women! 

Now….on to Taxol.  We’re doing a dose dense round of Taxol.  This means every two weeks, just like A/C.  I keep making the nurses, techs and cancer survivors promise me that Taxol isn’t as bad as A/C.  I’m clinging to hope that I won’t have to deal with nausea anymore.  I just can’t do it again.  They tell me it’s not a cake walk, but I won’t have to deal with nausea.  They say I’ll have pain in my muscles and bones.  Tingling and numbness in my hands and feet.  I don’t look forward to that.  Somtimes people can’t tolerate the dose dense version because tingling and numbness in the hands and feet become progressively worse and never go away.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to me.  Maybe God will work a miracle and grant me four pain and problem free chemo treatments.  He can ya know. 

I’ve decided to switch surgeons to Dr. Liberty-Hoberman for the mastectomy.  Thanks to everyone for your referrals.  No offense to Dr. Housekamp, I just prefer a lady doctor.  Dr. Housekamp is a wonderful person and I feel bad for switching, but I gotta do what I gotta do.   

Oh and my Jeremiah verse still pops up time to time in various greeting cards and emails.  I love it. 

Here I Go Again

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I went to chemo yesterday and met with Dr. Vander Woude.  Here are a few pieces of great news! 

  • My tumor continues to shrink. 
  • This is my last round of Adriamycin and Cytoxan (A/C).
  • Dr. VanderWoude is encouraged by how well my body is reacting to the chemo.
  • My port was accessed on the first try. 

My next round of chemo, Taxol, will begin in two weeks.  Dr. VanderWoude assured me that it won’t be so bad.  Just different symptoms.  Lots of muscle and bone aches and the fatigue will still be present.  They will give me steroids to help with that.  The nausea shouldn’t be a problem (yeah!). 

Once Taxol is complete, they need to wait for my blood counts to elevate which takes a couple weeks and then I’ll have surgery.  So we’re looking at early October for the mastectomy to occur.  We still don’t know if it will be a double mastectomy or a single one.  We are waiting for insurance to approve the genetic gene blood test.  If I test positive for it, I’ll probably get a double mastectomy.  The fact that surgery will happen in October is a bummer for me because Max and Samantha’s birthday are on October 15 and Brooklyn’s is October 23.  If you know me, I like to plan parties.  It will be hard to do that and participate fully if I’m recovering from surgery.  Hopefully we’ll figure something out.  🙂

I have been receiving cards from you every day.  It blows me away that after all these months I still receive cards in the mail.  It’s awesome.  I had one day where I didn’t get a card and I thought “okay they’re bound to stop at some point.  No biggie”.  The following day I got another card and they’ve been coming ever since.  So thank you for the cards.  I have quite a collection going.  I even reread them when I need some encouragement or laughs.

Dusty and I took a picture of us together with our bald heads.  We laughed so hard we cried.  It’s quite the picture.  Someday, if I’m brave enough, I will post it for all you to get a laugh at as well. 

Today I go in for my Neulasta shot (this raises my white blood cells to fight off infection) and fluids.  Tomorrow is more fluids and anti nausea.  Monday is more fluids and anti nausea. 

Thank you for your prayers. 

I don’t want to go!

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I am leaving in ten minutes for my last round of “nasty” chemo.  After today just four more rounds to go.  Then surgery.  Then radiation.  My hope is that the last four rounds are more tolerable than the first four. 

People ask me how long it takes before I feel better and what chemo is like.  I’ll go in today for about three hours while they give me A/C (Adriamycin and Cytoxin), anti-nausea and now potassium (my levels are low on that).  Tonight it will feel like the beginning of the flu.  I won’t feel good.  I feel like it’s getting worse.  Tomorrow is bad.  Friday is awful.  Saturday is horrible.  Sunday is unbearable and also when I reach my peak.  Monday is horrible.  Tuesday is awful.  Wednesday is bad/okay.  It’s kind of like climbing a mountain.  Then I usually have a week of okay days.  The nausea is usually tolerable.  It’s just pain and aches everywhere – even in my bones.  That’s what going through A/C is like for me. 

I hope to find out today that my tumor has shrunk even more, when I can start the last four rounds and when surgery will happen.  I’ll let you know what I find out. 

Thank you for your communication and prayers.  God has been doing great and awesome things for our family.  He provides in every way. 

Okay Today

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I am doing much better today.  No nausea.  No pills.  No fluids today.  Just a blood draw.  I slept last night.  I’m so tired.  I can do tired.  I have twins.  Tired is nothing. 

I don’t have anything new to update you with.  Just going through the ins and outs of cancer and chemo.  Wishing I had a fast forward button so this could all be behind us. 

I have realized lately how this is affecting Brooklyn.  This is hard for adults to deal with so it’s gotta be tough for a 5-year-old.  She was crying the other day that she wants her mama back.  Having people in the house to help with Brooke, Max and Samantha is such a blessing, but it’s really different for her.  She said she wants me to take her to Captain Sundae, swimming, the park, make her lunch, and not other people.  Basic stuff.  I explained that I will someday soon and that right now I’m fighting cancer.  She asked if cancer was fighting me back and I said yes, cancer and I are in a fight right now, but I’m going to win.   Because I will.  I’m going to win. 

I caught her giggling at my bald head the other day.  I’m glad I can still make her laugh.  🙂 


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It has been a ROUGH couple of days.  It started Saturday afternoon.  I was feeling really sick and not quite right.  Sunday I was feeling worse than what I’ve ever felt before.  I was nauseous, vomiting, my bones hurt, everything hurt everywhere, etc.  Jill drove me to Prime Care and sat with me while they pumped me full of fluids, but it didn’t make me feel better.  It was a bummer to go through all that and not improve.  We found out my white blood count was quite high, but no one knew exactly what that meant.  Jill turned into a pit bull (I say that lovingly) and started figuring things out as best she could.  She made phone calls, asked all the right questions, helped figure out if I should go home or move on to the ER.  We decided to pack up and go home. I’m so thankful for friends like Jill.  She was my rock yesterday. 


Last night was not fun.  I hardly slept which means that Dusty hardly slept.  Poor guy.  He’s a great husband though and went with me today to get fluids and help sort things out at the Cancer and Hematology Center.

Samantha is feeling much better and is more like herself.  She even started waving!  Too cute.  Neither Max or Samantha are crawling yet, but they will be soon.  Brooke enjoyed the day at the pool with some friends. 

I’m so thankful for all the help – Dusty, my parents, Alisha, our friends and family.  Honestly, I don’t know what we would do without them.  The thought scares me.   

Happy Fourth!

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Happy Fourth of July everyone!  I hope you’re enjoying the fourth with your friends and/or family and having a safe fun time. 

I am missing the fourth this year because I’m in the middle of a miserable weekend.  Full of nausea, discomfort, sleep, disconnectedness, etc.  I look forward to the Fourth next year though and celebrating it with our family.

Dusty and Brooklyn had a camp out in the yard last night.  It’s Brooklyn’s favorite thing to do in the summer with her dad.  They pitched the tent, put the babies to bed, made smores and went to the fireworks at Kollen’s Park.  I was in bed at 8 pm so I missed all of it, but they said they had a great time. 

Samantha is still sick so I’m quite worried about her.  She’s been throwing up and not herself.  We think it’s a side effect of the medicine she was on for her ear infection.  I hope it’s nothing serious.  We’re keeping an eye on it.   Please pray that she perk up and get better. 

The nausea is still quite intense for me and my back hurts from the shot.  I’m starting to understand and accept the cycle of chemo.  I’m learning to accept the horrible weeks full of aches, pains, nausea, discomfort and to enjoy the good week that follows.  Besides, only one more horrible round of A/C.  Then I start Taxol (sp?) which I hope is much better. 

Thank you for your prayers.  God is good and will see me through this. 


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Our heartfelt condolences go the Wolters and Grassmid family.  Delia Wolters put up a strong and brave fight with cancer.  She went to her heavenly home last night.   Please pray that peace, rest and understanding will find Clarence, Steve and Marian Grassmid’s family and all of Delia’s loved ones.   We were so sad to hear the news.  We were seeing Delia quite a bit at the Cancer and Hematology center and she looked so strong.  I was hoping we would see her smiling face at church again.  She was such a wonderful and kind person.  She will be missed. 


I saw Dr. Edlund today.  He’s the radiation oncologist.  I like him.  He was good.  I’m going to have six weeks of radiation everyday (M-F) after surgery. 

Did you know I get tattooed for this?  I had no idea.  They’re just tiny little dots that look like freckles, but I did not know that!  The dots are to help them align lasers on the machine.  I took pride in not having a tattoo.  Now I think I should get a tattoo.  One that I choose.  One that I want.  This goes back to the control thing….. can you tell?

Since radiation is happening after surgery, I won’t have it for a few more months.  It’s good to know what the plan is. 

Chemo went well today.  They got my port on the first try.  They had difficulty because they couldn’t get blood flow so they had to “draino” the port.  The draino made it work right away so they could proceed with the meds. 

Now it’s the calm before the storm.  I’m waiting for the nausea to hit.  I feel okay at the moment.  I’m taking it five minutes at a time tonight.  Right now I’m good.  Five minutes from now, who knows.

One more round to go!

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