Gazing Upward
  • December4th

    I apologize for being long overdue in giving an update.  I don’t have any excuses except that having four kids is kicking my tail!

    I went back to the breast specialist yesterday, and the abscess seems to have cleared up!! She could still feel a small mass but thinks it’s the tissue healing underneath the biopsy scar.  I won’t go back now until February 4th (unless of course the abscess is still there and starts growing again). They’ll repeat the mammogram to ensure that all is normal.  I just have to say HOORAY!!!! for no surgery. Thank you for all the prayers and sweet words of encouragement. I can’t even imagine how I’d cope with the healing process when I can’t even manage my own family and home when I’m healthy! :)

    Another good report came a few weeks ago…actually the same day we got the good news from the biopsy report. I took Maryn to our allergist so they could confirm what her allergies really are. I was scared that there was something I wasn’t cutting out that she was allergic to because we couldn’t get her BMs back to normal.  At first, it looked like eggs might be added to the list. But at the end of the testing, it was just milk and soy allergies which we had assumed based on our pediatrician’s visit. The REALLY good news though is that the results showed up as intolerances rather than full-blown allergies, so she should outgrow them before she’s 15 months!!! (Carter was SO excited when he heard Maryn had allergies and said, “Thank you Mom! Thank you for giving Maryn what you gave me! She’s just like me!!”  So needless to say, I haven’t broken the news to him yet that she doesn’t really have bad food allergies like him after all.

    Maryn did incredibly well. She didn’t even cry when they pricked her back. She is the most chill, laid-back baby. She even fell asleep while waiting for the test to be over.

    (Check out my baby’s arm rolls. See how many you can count. Hee hee. :) )

    The other fantastic news is that the allergist thinks we should be able to use Nutramigen if I decide to stop breastfeeding, as opposed to the ridiculously expensive prescription formula. I may not make it another 6 months (I’m craving some chocolate BIG time!), but I’m sticking with it for now.  I actually feel really great after dropping dairy from my diet. The soy….it’s coming close to being a deal-breaker for nursing but I’m slowly finding good and even delicious recipes and foods that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. My favorites are chicken fettucini salad, kale sausage meatballs, and cranberry apple stuffing (my Thanksgiving treat). I can also eat gummy bears so I’ve been gobbling them down like they’re becoming extinct. If you are or have been in the same boat, let’s please swap some recipes and ideas.

    We’re so thankful for the positive news! Thanksgiving pictures are soon coming your way. The kids put on their annual show, and guess who the plump turkey was????

  • November25th

     

    bday girl

    cake

    blowing out the candle

    daddy and bday girl

    doll checkup

    dollhouse

    getting nails painted

    face painting

    Grace and doll stroller

    Grace singing

    Grace

    Grace's nails

    IMG_2287 - Version 2

    lemonade fountain

    Maryn

    table setting

    the cake

    the girls

     

    Grace,

    My little China doll is growing up! You are full of energy and enjoy dancing and singing…constantly. You often improvise on songs and incorporate lyrics from actual songs.  Most people would describe you as animated, expressive, and perhaps a little dramatic. We joke about you taking up acting because you can show the most mature expressions!

    In addition to prancing and singing around the house, your other favorite activities include playing games like CandyLand Winnie the Pooh Matching, kitchen (always the hostess offering us hot coffee), coloring and all sorts of crafts, doodling letters, and reading about princesses. Belle is your very favorite!

    Favorite shows include Caillou, Max & Ruby, SuperWhy, and Dora. We’ve also recently discovered The Care Bears on Amazon Prime. It brings me back to my own childhood.

    This year, you played soccer for the first time in the fall.  You are also taking a ballet/tap class with Ms. Gina. You are learning how to be a big sister, and you’re such a big help with Maryn. This year has also been one of power struggles. You will do almost anything to win a battle and not surrender.

    At school, on the other hand, I am told you are very well-behaved. You enjoy order and structure. And you have also taken it upon yourself to tell a classmate’s mom if their child has been in timeout during that day. They love getting the scoop from you! But we’re definitely working on cutting the tattle-taling.

    Over the last few months, you’ve had many questions about your China mommy and why we chose to adopt you.  While we have always talked about your background, I think you’re beginning to understand and grasp the details. And that’s difficult for a 4-year-old to do. I predict that we’ll have many more conversations before you turn five. What we want you to understand most is that you are loved, loved, loved, my child. Not only by your mommy and daddy, but also by your siblings, relatives, and friends. And most of all by God. What a story He has written for you!

    Happy 4th Birthday Princess!

    Love,

    Mommy

  • November22nd

    A quick photo recap of Halloween 2012… (all taken on my iphone, so sorry for the quality)

    The cutest ladybug in the house

    I searched the house for black tights, and of course found them two days after Halloween.

    Maryn nestled in for a nap with MaMa.

    Cousins and Best Buds

    Aunt Coco styled Grace’s hair in a true princess up-do.

    Grace never wavered in her decision to be Cinderella. Nor did Carter ever have doubts about being Luke Skywalker. When those two find an interest, they are passionate to the core.

    My brave Jedi knight

    One of my favorite things is when I catch Carter in full swing, practicing his Jedi skills with his light saber. One of these days, I’ll catch it on video.

    He engaged in a friendly battle at his school party. He was absolutely thrilled to have a “fighting” partner.

    Grace got to dress up again for her dance class’ Halloween party. I thought she’d never give up the role of Cinderella, but she recently had me step into the part and dance with Prince Charming (aka Daddy/Scott) at the ball! :)

    I’m sure both of these costumes will make a reappearance at Disney World in March.

  • November12th

    Hello my dear prayer warriors!

    Thank you so much for your sweet comments and emails!  I just got back from the doctor, and she is going to postpone the surgery. In fact, she is hoping we won’t have to have it!  (Beware, some of the following details may not be for the faint-hearted.)

    The biopsy incision had opened up on Friday and drained a lot of what was in the abscess, so the dr was encouraged.  On the ultrasound, you could still see some fluid, but the abscess has shrunk a good bit.
    Because of the improvement, she decided to postpone the surgery. I had no idea how major of a surgery it is. She said an open wound takes 3 months to heal! Also, a nurse would have to come out to our home 3x/week, I guess for cleaning the wound and servicing the wound vac?  I have no idea if insurance covers all that or not. In addition, she showed me where she would need to cut, and I would end up with a 5″ arc scar across my upper breast…which would be completely visible with a bikini top or even a v-neck shirt. I already have a 1.5″ place that will scar from the biopsy and where she opened me back up today.
    So today, she numbed me and cut back open the biopsy site and opened wider to see if we can drain the abscess even more. She didn’t really get any fluid out besides blood, so I hope it’s not trapped somewhere.  Please please pray that the abscess will drain completely and that I will not have to have surgery.  Please also pray that the opening i have right now will not become infected like last time.  I feel so overwhelmed with the surgery, so I’m praying hard for healing. I will go back next Monday, and a decision will then be made.
    Thanks so much for praying with me. :)
  • November8th

    The last week has been one of the most difficult weeks for me, Scott, and my family.  What began as a mild concern evolved into an urgent matter that quickly changed my perspective on life.  With just one word, I felt like my world was being turned upside down. It’s a word every person dreads hearing: cancer.

    But let me start at the beginning. Last Wednesday, October 31st, I went to see a breast care specialist I had seen a few years ago for a small cyst. I have had a large lump for over a month that continued to grow in size. I kept thinking it would turn into mastitis, but it never did. Eventually, it began causing pain and tenderness. I figured that the cyst had grown and was blocking or pressing on some milk ducts.  I presumed that the doctor could simply drain the cyst and I’d be on my merry way.

    When the doctor came in and I presented my problem, a quick glance at my chart revealed that the cyst from a few years ago was actually on the other side.  After an ultrasound on the mass, the doctor said it could be a galactocele (a benign cystic tumor filled with milk). But she couldn’t rule out cancer.  So she sent me over to the diagnostic center for a mammogram.

    After the tech performed the mammogram (which was very painful to my already tender breast), the radiologist requested another ultrasound. They then sent me on my way and said the radiologist would look at the images and send back to my doctor.  Within a couple of hours, the doctor’s office called and asked how soon I could come in for a core needle biopsy.

    When the doctor met with me on Friday morning (she was in surgery all Thursday), she informed me that she and the radiologist were very concerned. In fact, the radiologist had wanted to keep me at the hospital on Wednesday to do an immediate biopsy, but the doctor knew I had Maryn with me and that it would be very stressful.  Based on the images, they measured the mass at 5 cm!  Just to give you an idea, a tumor that large would automatically place you in stage 3 or stage 4 of cancer.  Breast cancer is very aggressive in younger women and can develop that quickly.

    So the doctor showed me on the ultrasound what the mass looked like and how it differed from a cyst, galactocele, or any other benign mass. It was a surreal moment to sit there as she discussed with me the very real possibility that I might have cancer. I felt calm. I had told God I would take whatever He allowed to happen. After all, millions of women have fought and survived breast cancer, including my sister-in-law. And I didn’t even feel afraid of dying. What terrified me was leaving behind my children and my husband. Upon my questioning, the doctor said we would start with chemo before a masectomy, and the treatment would start almost immediately.

    If it were not for the last few moments of the biopsy, I would have gone home thinking that I definitely had cancer. The results wouldn’t be back in until Monday morning, and what a long weekend it would be! However, the last amount of tissue the doctor pulled out showed a little bit of pus. Gross, I know. But it was a sign of hope!  The doctor became excited and said that the mass might actually be an abscess.  It didn’t resemble one on the images based on the shape, border, etc. And the mass appeared solid. But she was able to get some more pus out. She sent that to be cultured to see if it contained staph, which causes an abscess. Only 0.4-0.5% of women (who have mastitis) develop an abscess, and I haven’t even had mastitis with Maryn. But we were hopeful this was the case.

    The weekend was a long one. As predicted by the doctor, the biopsy site became infected (which almost always happens with nursing moms), and I had a high fever, pain, redness, and flu-like symptoms on Saturday…essentially mastitis.  I managed to pull everything together for Maryn’s dedication and brunch, but we all felt very distracted.  I began to feel in my gut that the mass was an abscess. But my parents and Scott were still very fearful.  And despite my instinct, I still had thoughts such as wanting Scott to get remarried if I passed away, what all I wanted to do with my kids, how we would afford Maryn’s formula if I had to stop nursing, how we would cope with the demands of treatment, etc. All our hopes and plans for the future suddenly fell to the side, and the prospect of a new “immediatie” future seemed overwhelming.

    Monday came…and went. The lab results weren’t back in. Tuesday morning came…and went. By this time, my family and I were frustrated and almost beside ourselves. Finally, at 4 pm on Tuesday afternoon, we got the fantastic news that the results showed no malignancies!! The mass was indeed an abscess.

    I saw the doctor yesterday, and we still have an important issue to resolve. First, she had to change my antiobiotics because the particular strain of staph was resistant to the one she had given me Friday.  I will also have to have surgery on Tuesday during which I will be put under, the doctor will open me up, and remove the abscess and infection. It is too large to drain by a simple office procedure.  Potentially, she may have to remove breast tissue which can lead to disfigurement. But my thinking is that maybe insurance will cover a lift and reconstructive surgery after I stop nursing! :)  I will be in the hospital for at least one night, and maybe two.  So I am starting to pump to save up enough milk for Maryn.  I should be able to continue nursing, and it is recommended so that the milk ducts don’t get backed up.  That is a blessing..I’m not ready to give up nursing.  I will have to have a wound vac, as the area will have to heal from the inside out. So I’ll be wearing a large purse-like container connected to my body. Stylish, huh? :)

    I still have a long road to healing.  But we are so thankful for the good news. And to be honest, I’m thankful that for a short while, my mass was presumed to be cancer. Because that one word caused me to reflect on my life. To reevaluate my priorities. To focus on the relationships in my life, and most of all, my relationship with the Lord.  The abscess diagnosis doesn’t mean that I won’t ever have breast cancer.  Only God knows if I will ever fight that battle. But I hope that if that one word is ever presented to me again, I will be able to face it with courage and without regrets.

    To all the women who have fought or are currently fighting cancer, I admire your bravery, strength, faith, and perseverance.  I pray we will one day have a cure!!