Ver Beek Blog

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

Archive for January, 2010

All Done!

posted by:

For the past seven weeks my life has been the same thing from 11:45 until 12:30. 

I would pack up the kids, bring them to my parent’s house and go to radiation.

This is LAROC (Lakeshore Area Radiation Oncology Center).  It’s the building where I get radiation done.  There are no bad smells in the building.  It’s not “clinical”.  It’s very zen.  There are water features and soothing music throughout the building.  Oh and carpet.  Not hard vinyl tile floor like a hospital. 


Everyday I would walk in the sliding doors, proceed through the regular waiting room and go to the special waiting room.  I named it special because it’s where people like me wait to get radiated (or what Dusty likes to call radiant).  Then one of the radiation techs calls me back to a room that is built like a vault.  It has a thick steel door and the walls are 4-6′ thick. 

Here are the wonderful radiation techs who I see every day.  Marie, Karen, A GVSU Student and Linda.  Bob works there too, but he must have been at lunch.  My appointments are always over their lunch shift. 


This is the table that I lay on to have radiation.  My arms go in the red stirrups and the triangular pillow goes under my knees.

Once I’m on the table, the techs get me situated perfectly so I don’t get accidentally radiated in other body parts.  When I’m right where they want me, I cannot move an inch.  They leave me alone in the room and go to their hub.  Their hub has four computer screens and a closed circuit television to watch me on.  Once they’re ready, the machine moves around me and I get radiated in five different areas.


Then they send me on my merry way.  Although today they gave me a certificate and a coffee mug. 

Today was my last day of all cancer treatments!  No more chemo.  No more radiation.  Nothing.  I feel like I should run through one of those finish line tapes that you see at the end of a race.  If I see one today I’m going to run through it pumping my fists in the air.  It feels awesome to be done.  Absolutely wonderful.  I can’t put into words how thankful I am to be done with treatment and most of all to be cancer free!

From this point forward I have routine check ups with my oncologist every three months where they check my blood and make sure my numbers are good.  I’ll keep my blog updated when I get any news, but from now on, I won’t be writing much.  

So many of you held my hand through my treatments and I will be forever thankful for you.  I couldn’t have done it without the healing hand and grace of our great savior and God or without his wonderful people.  Thank you for walking with us on our journey.  God Bless.

“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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 

-Jeremiah 11

Almost Done!

posted by:

I can hardly believe I’m almost done with all cancer treatments!  Thank God!  I will have my last radiation treatment on Friday.  I am so happy, so relieved and so excited.  I should celebrate.  Hmmmm…what to do.

I saw Dr. Edlund today (radiation oncologist) and he said my skin reaction is appropriate and that I shouldn’t have any problems from here.  Since Tuesdays are the day I see the doctor, they gave me discharge instructions.  I couldn’t believe I was being discharged.  Another surreal feeling.  The good news is that the fatigue should last for only two weeks after my last radiation treatment.  I can’t wait to have full energy back.  Maybe I’ll run a marathon or something…

Dusty and I went to Chicago to meet with Dr. Song (reconstructive plastic surgeon) yesterday.  I was presented with three options here in Holland – implants, lat flap and TRAM flap.  Plastic surgeons don’t like the idea of doing just implants when skin has been radiated because the results won’t look good.  The other two options take my muscles and I wasn’t happy about that.  Dr. Song performs the DIEP flap which we thought was newer, but upon talking with his nurse they’ve been doing it for 16 years!  I felt like a hill billy asking about that new fangled operation where they use electronical gadgets to reconnect my blood vessels.  I’m glad we made the small trip because Dr. Song gave me more options than I thought possible.  All of which don’t include taking muscles.  His final recommendation is probably what I’ll go with, but there is one other option that I want to look into as well.  The surgery can’t happen for six more months.  I have time to think about it.

So that’s it in a nutshell.  I could write a small novel about my reconstructive options, but I’ll spare you. 

Have a great day! 

Six more!

posted by:

Thank you for the birthday well wishes, cards and emails.  I had a great birthday.  Brooklyn was more excited for my birthday than I was.  She called me “birthday girl” all day and before she left for school in the morning she said I could wear one of her crowns that night.  She had a hard time understanding why I wasn’t having a party.  It’s hard to explain to a 6-year-old that when you grow up you don’t always have your friends over and play games for your birthday.  We had cake though and that’s party enough for me. 

I have six more radiation treatments to go!  Yahoo!  My skin is now purplish/reddish and peeling.  It looks disgusting and hurts worse than last week, but I can endure it.  I only have 1 1/2 weeks left!

Dusty and I are going to Chicago next week to meet with Dr. Song.  He’s at the University of Chicago and he does the latest reconstruction procedure called DIEP.  I’m researching that this week and arming myself with an arsenal of questions for him. 

The kids are great.  Max and Samantha are walking everywhere.  They’re so cute when they walk around the room together.  They’re a little unsteady on their feet so when they walk together they look like a little old couple.  It’s the best. 

Let me tell you something you’ve all heard before:  Don’t take anything for granted.  Even the smallest things.  For instance, hugs from your loved ones or holding your little ones.  Through chemo (bone pain) and now radiation (skin pain) I’ve learned that even a simple hug is wonderful and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Other things not to take for granted:

Eating, hair on your head, eyelashes, driving, reading, thought processing, memory, clapping, going for walks, running, riding a bike, playing with your kids, health, cooking and the list could go on and on… 

I don’t take any of it for granted.   

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  James 1:2-3

Happy Birthday to me!

posted by:


Today is my 33rd birthday.  Yea!  I usually don’t care about my birthdays too much, but this birthday is a little sweeter than most.  I’m so happy that I’m doing as well as I am.  Thank you for your prayers.  God has heard them all and has blessed me with renewed health and strength.  Thank you! 

One of the good things that came from my cancer is that I’ve been in contact with so many people who I haven’t seen or spoken with in years!  It has been so fun to catch up with everyone. 

I’ve been rocking my new short hair do and have had many compliments (thank you).  I washed my wigs and put them in storage and  I gave my head scarves to another girl (Hi Amy) going through cancer.  It felt so good to get rid of those things. 

I think I’m down to ten more radiation treatments.  The end is definitely in sight.  I can’t wait to be finished with everything and give my skin time to heal. 

Have a great day everyone! 

God Bless

Over the Hump

posted by:

As Dr. Edlund said today, I’m over the hump.  I have 16 more treatments to go.  That’s not bad.  The skin that’s being treated looks tanned/burnt with little black dots all over it and it’s in a perfect square formation with a little blotch on my right shoulder.  It doesn’t hurt that bad, but the latest development is itching.  That’s normal though and not a big deal. I compare everything to chemo.  From a paper cut, to a cold, to radiation.  I compare it all to chemo and if it’s not as bad as that, then I can deal with it.  So the radiation side effects, compared to chemo, are a walk in the park. 

It’s strange to be able to visually see where I’m being radiated.  It really is a large area.  It reminds me how big the tumor was and how serious the cancer was.  I love saying “was”.  I don’t have cancer anymore!    🙂

I’m done with physical therapy.  I have exercises I need to do daily or I feel the muscle tightening up and I lose range of motion on my right side.  I’m glad to be done with that.  It’s one less appointment to go to. 

My hair is growing back and I’m just about ready to rock my short hair do.  I’ve been wearing my wigs yet because I’m not a short hair kind of girl, but I’m ready to have nothing on my head. 

The kids and Dusty are doing great.  Samantha is walking all over the place and Max is close on her heels, but he still reverts to crawling when he’s in a hurry.  Brooklyn is doing great and loves school.  Dusty is doing well and is having fun  updating websites that he created and maintains – Haven church and Compassionate Heart. 

I would also like to say I’m glad 2009 is gone.  Behind us.  In the past.  Never to return again.  Bring on 2010! 

Thank you for your prayers and support.  They mean so much to us.  It’s so good to be out and about again – back to church, hanging out with family and friends, running errands, etc. 

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.