About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Preparations, again

This Friday will be round #4 of chemotherapy. I find myself getting into "preparation" mode again on several levels.

It actually started last Friday with a visit to Kaiser. I got my blood drawn for a Vitamin D test and got my flu shot on the way out. (At Dr. P's recommendation). I was a little miffed to get my "results" of the blood draw online and see that they seemed to have made a mistake and drawn blood for a liver function panel and creatinine screen, but no Vitamin D results. That made me wonder if my lab appointment for this Thursday got switched and instead of the pre-chemo tests they would just do Vitamin D. That would potentially delay my chemo. That prompted a call to the lab this morning, which is no small feat. First, you have to leave a message and then wait for them to call you back. If you don't happen to be by the phone to catch the call, it's phone tag and you are IT. You get to start at the beginning and leave a message for them. I realized as I was taking Isabelle to school this morning that I had left my cell phone plugged in. Sure enough, by the time I got home, they had called. Fortunately, the second time was a charm and I did catch the call. As it turns out, they did draw for Vitamin D, the other tests were overkill and will be done as planned this Thursday before chemo.

Dr. P recommended the flu shot for everyone just to keep potential illness out of the house. The injection with the dead virus for me 2 weeks after chemo (which was last Friday). The kids got the nasal mist today. Yeah, I know some people don't agree with immunizations and particularly flu shots. If that works for you, cool. But I'm going to go with what the oncologist recommends. He's gotten me to this point pretty well, so I'm going to go with what he says. Please no comments second guessing this decision, okay? :-)

I'll go through my now-familiar Thursday pre-chemo routine in a few days. Blood draw at 9 a.m., pick up the refill of Cipro and a visit with Dr. P.

The insurance situation with Kaiser continues to be a mess. Kaiser re-coded policies and put me in a "new" plan as of September 1. A couple weeks ago, they had not carried over my out of pocket accumulations to the "new" plan, so I was being told by the providers that I had a huge co-pay. (I have a high deductible plan, but have more than met the family deductible this year). Last month, they told me to call back if I got a bill. Sure enough, I did. My concern is that the services I am being billed for since September 1 are not being adjusted correctly. Is Kaiser billing me as if I had not met the deductible? I can't figure it out from the statement. So I called that department today to check. It is so confusing that the woman I talked to had to have her manager look at the account to figure it out and will call me back tomorrow. What a pain!

There are other preparations I'm making this week as well. I want to get the dog groomed before Friday. She smells bad! I'm making a huge pot of "Chicken Magic Mineral Broth" from "The Cancer Fighting Kitchen." I've planned super nutritious meals for this week full of veggies, legumes and protein so I'm not nutritionally deficient on Friday. I'm doing my higher intensity workouts at the beginning of the week so I can take a day or two off later on. Working out also keeps me feeling strong, keeps my metabolism up, and keeps those happy endorphins flowing good and strong!

This round will be different because my mom and dad are going to be out of town. Mom has really picked up the slack for me at chemo time. It's good they are going--it means my brother Jared is coming home from his 3rd tour in Iraq!! But that means Eric will have to pick up my slack. He is going to take Thursday and Friday morning off so he can hang out with Jean-Marc while I'm at Kaiser getting treatment. I'm most concerned about Monday the 25th. Monday after chemo (day 4) has been my worst day each round. Last time, I rested Sunday afternoon. It helped, but I was still "blah" and foggy on Monday. This Sunday I have the Charger game, and I'm not planning on missing that!

Speaking of the Charger game, yesterday at the "Making Strides" walk, I was going into the area where the flagship sponsors had tents. We had to show a special wristband to get past some ropes. Anyway, the guy manning the rope said, "We'll see you next Sunday!" Turns out, he was from the American Cancer Society and is organizing the event at the Charger game. I was surprised he knew who I was when we hadn't been introduced.

Anyway, I'm feeling good and will be glad when I get to Friday. Then I will definitely be over the hump. 4 down, 2 to go.

My prayer requests:

  • That I be strong spiritually. I've had a few instances in the past few days with fear. I ran across some stupid "tools" online for cancer survival. I should have just closed the page, but instead I put in my stats "just to see." I did not need to see survival statistics/mortality rates for people in my situation.  It freaks me out to think of myself as a statistic. I go along most of the time feeling like I'm going to beat this and then BAM! The possibility that I may have recurrence, metastatic stage IV, years of treatment pops into my head. I know that this is a form of spiritual warfare that the enemy is using on me. 
  • That God would eradicate any cancer cells in my body. Just make them disappear. I was reading Psalm 29 this morning. In it, David is marveling at God's mighty power. He can certainly make cancer cells disappear if it is His will. 
In closing, I wanted to share one of the Psalms that I read this morining during my devotional time.  I found out later that part of it is set to music, "This is How We Overcome."

Psalm 30
 1 I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
         And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
 2 O LORD my God, I cried out to You,
         And You healed me.
 3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
         You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
 4 Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
         And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
 5 For His anger is but for a moment,
         His favor is for life;
         Weeping may endure for a night,
         But joy comes in the morning.
 6 Now in my prosperity I said,
         “I shall never be moved.”
 7 LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
         You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
 8 I cried out to You, O LORD;
         And to the LORD I made supplication:
 9 “What profit is there in my blood,
         When I go down to the pit?
         Will the dust praise You?
         Will it declare Your truth?
 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
         LORD, be my helper!”
 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
         You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
         O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30, New King James Version)


  1. Tonya: We've been following your story through your blog and we just want you to know how inspiring you have been to those of us following you from many miles away. Keep on making those strides, get through the difficult days and enjoy the great ones with your friends and family by your side. You have all our support. Your spirit, your faith and your strength shine through these pages...Keep going strong. Ameen G, and Family (Evanston)

  2. I am not second guessing your decision AT ALL, just wanted to make sure you knew that the Nasal Mist is live vaccine and the kids can shed live virus for up to seven days after the vaccine. (from a website for nurses who may be around the immunocompromised) http://allnurses.com/pandemic-flu-forum/flumist-shedding-virus-433814.html So just try to stay away from the kids sneezes for a week or so.

  3. Good point, KJ! I think it will be okay because they will have had it 5 days ago when I get the chemo, and it takes a few days to have your WBC dip. By then, I'm on Cipro. Lovely, eh? But I appreciate the info, for sure.