Saturday, March 30, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Well, yesterday was the big day they let me go home! It could not have happened without the love and support of my family and friends. Ron, My Mom, Dad, brother Brian, sister Julie and sister in laws Erica and Emily sat by my side pretty much everyday all day. The stay started out rough, but with the help of my amazing nurses, doctors, My people and God's helping hand I pushed myself and finally got over the hump and started to feel a lot better. As of yesterday morning all my tests revealed I was doing well enough to go home. Ron packed up all my beautiful flowers, which were amazing by the way and we headed home. My room looked like a beautiful spring garden and EVERY single person who came in was blown away by them, including me.

I arrived home tired buy elated, as we drove in the driveway I started bawling, I couldn't believe I was actually home and was going to have our little family all together again. The boys came home a little while later after I had a nap. I can't explain how wonderful it felt to hold them in my arms and snuggle in our own home. I was in quite a bit of pain last night because of course I didn't listen to Ron and tried to do too much, lesson learned. Please pray for me in that area, I feel helpless not being able to help with the boys, do laundry or make dinner. I am not really good at just sitting and resting, I am always doing something.

The next steps are to have a follow up appointment with my Surgeon in 3 weeks to make sure everything is healing well, and working correctly. The doctors are extremely concerned with me getting dehydrated, which is one of the biggest reasons that people end in the hospital again after an ileostomy. So I have to drink 10 8oz. glasses of water a day to make sure that doesn't happen, and it will be even more when I get on Chemo. I have an appointment with Dr. Brett Brinker an oncologist on April 18 to discuss my next steps regarding chemo. 

Thanks again to each of you, dear family and old and new friends, for your words and deeds of kindness and love toward me and my family. I would really like to say a special thank you to those who sent flowers, brought gifts, cards, food for my family and those who visited me, I feel so special and loved. Thanks to my in laws for watching the boys the entire time I was in the hospital, it was such a relief to know they were well taken care of. Thanks for your continued prayers for my complete healing and endurance through the long battle ahead.  Thanks for the FOOD that is filling our fridges and freezers and now that I can eat again, oh, am I ever enjoying  your healthy, thoughtful, "healing" meals!

Prayer Requests
1. That I can learn to rest and take it easy so I can recover completely.
2. The pain goes away, I am not taking any narcotics because I don't like them so I am controlling pain with Motrin and Tylenol.
3. For Ron, the boys and My mom as they are helping me recover.

Ultimately, I offer thanks to Jesus who heard me cry out in pain and despair "help me Jesus" about a million times this past nine days.  And He did.  What a privilege it is to know and serve Immanuel--the God who loves us and is WITH us.  Amen! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Do not fear for I am with you

Sorry for the delay in updating I have been an in extreme amount of pain and discomfort, and to behonest a little down. The pain for the surgery was enough and then on Sunday there was a small blockage in my ileostomy  not letting the fluid fully go through to the bag and I started vomiting in the middle of the night. The doctors put in a NG tube down my throat, which the most painful and uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced. I had to leave it in for two days and couldn't eat or drink anything.  I was able to get that takeout tonight and it was a huge relief both emotionally and physically.

My doctor came in this morning with our pathology results, 12 lymph nodes are required to diagnose cancer. If any removed nodes test positive for cancer Chemo is recommended especially at my age. My Dr. Figg removed 55 nodes and 1 of those 55 tested positive for cancer, so cancer can be in very small traces throughtout the body.

My Dr. recommmended starting chemo in 4-6 weeks, so I will mostly recovered by from surgery  and my immunse system will be doing better then and I will have to be on Chemo for 6 months. My second surgery won't be for another month after surgery.

Processing this all has been quite hard, but my family has been here holding my hands the wholeway. Ron has been my rock pretty much here 24/7 since last Thrusday helping me with anything andneverything. So this next year is going to be rough, but I am strong and I will get through this.

God, I am suffering but I know you will carry me and make me strong. I seek refuge in you, give me Your courage to face anything. Provide your Spirit to renew trust and faith in You and strengthen me against all weakness and discouragement. God I know you are with me and will not let me go. I am so thankful for the hope I have in you.

Please keep us in your prayers, I would love to able to be home for Easter!


I will try and keep updating my blog as much as possible depending on how I feel.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Praise be to God

Dear Lord,
You know my thoughts, my fears and my frailties. I praise You in the good times and the bad, thank You Lord for loving me unconditionally and not giving up on me. Lord you are a sovereign God that is in control of all things, I know You've got this! Help me to rest and trust in you, you know that I am not good at that so please forgive me in advance for the moments I will fail. I praise you God for showing Yourself strong and loving in all of this. I know you are the ultimate physician, I pray you guide the hands of the surgeon today during surgery. I pray that you will use this in a way that will draw others closer to you. I pray for my family and friends that you will carry them and give them comfort. Thank You that I can rest in your arms and know that You will take care of me and my family one day at a time. I rest in Your peace and thank you for what you continually reveal to me.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Count down is on....

Well the count down in on now, I am in enjoying my last few days of "normal" before my surgery. Spending a lot of time with the Ron, the boys, family and friends. 

A few things have happened since my last blog post, first being i received the biopsy results from last weeks tests and they came back NORMAL! So I will be able to go ahead with the J Pouch surgery as we planned as long as there are no complications once my doctor gets into the surgery. I know a lot of people have had questions regarding my ilieostomy and then having a J Pouch and what that all looks like. I think this picture  really shows the stages of my surgery well and what the end result will be. Sorry if it is a little graphic for some of you :)

I met with a young girl named Nicole on Friday to talk about her journey with Crohns and the J Pouch surgery, it went great! She was such a sweetheart and really explained the ins and outs (literally) of the ilieostomy and how things are since her take down surgery with the J Pouch. Not to be vane but I am struggling a lot with the idea of the bag, because I am only 28 and I do worry/care about body image. It was good to hear how she hid it as far as clothing, bathing suits etc... I had her tell me like it is, no sugar coating it.  That was exactly what I needed to hear, her struggles, her fears, everything! I am so thankful to have met her, to know it is hard but you can come out stronger on the other side. Sunday, my amazing parents set up a prayer time at our church after the 11:00 service for people to pray with Ron and I and our families. I can't even tell you how touched we were to have people take time out of there days to surround and left us up in prayer. I felt God's presence in an amazing way, and it touched me more than people will ever know. 

Today I had my ostomy appointment where they explained everything that I will need to know about my ileostomy and also picked a spot for where my ileostomy will be located. They had me sit, lay and stand until they found the perfect spot for my ileostomy to go.  The big black circle is the spot they choose, it is now ready and marked for my Surgeon. 
Today was my last day at work for a while, which was hard, I love my work family, they are an amazing support and been with me through a lot over the years. I am beginning to get anxious and nervous and a little scared as Thursday gets closer. I know in my heart that I am going to be okay, but my head doesn't always agree. I am thankful for the "My People" who have surrounded me with love and support and distracted me from everything that is going on as well.

Prayer Requests
1. Continued peace as I prep for surgery
2. That God gives Ron and I the right words to say when we talk to the boys tomorrow about me going into the hospital for a while.
3. For Ron's and my families as we all take on different roles to help both me and my little family get through this.
4. Dumb I know, but that I get a private room at the hospital :)

My prayer for today..."Lord, You promise to bless me and keep me. You make your face shine upon me and are gracious to me. How comforting is it to know You actually turn Your face toward me and give me peace. Your eyes are on those who trust in You, on those whose hope is in Your unfailing love. Your eyes are on me!" - Barbara Johnson, Praying Through Cancer

Whisper this prayer today, God can carry you through anything.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Battle Maiden

Ever since I was a little girl I was told that one of the meanings of my name Heidi was "Battle Maiden", my parents used to joke around and call me "Battle Maiden" and my mom would even write the name on my lunch bags. They thought it was funny, but I can admit it was something I was completely embarrassed of. I was very nicely reminded of my names meaning the other day from my amazing sister in law Erica. She has written me a whole box filled with encouragement cards to open as I need them. The card I opened yesterday said "As you said, God wouldn't give you this challenge if he didn't know your strength and perseverance! You are a Battle Maiden, but you should know that the most common meaning for Heidi is Noble One, you are the best of both". First of all, I am beyond blessed to have the worlds most Siblings and sibling inlaws. Second, I am heading into the biggest battle of my life so far, but I AM A BATTLE MAIDEN and I am armed with the Armor of God, and strength and love from my family and friends. I know that I will never be alone and I have the hope, security and peace that can only come from knowing God and trusting in Him.

Today I am thankful that my parents are home from vacation so I can give them hugs and cry with them. I am thankful for more God connections, I am meeting with a young girl tomorrow who is 18 and had the same surgery as I am having a year ago. I am really looking forward to speaking with someone who is young and female to answer questions I have and tell me about her journey. 

Please pray for the biopsies I had on Tuesday to come back negative, and also for the biopsies that will be done on my lymph nodes after surgery to come back negative as well. If there are any cancerous or precancerous cells in my lymph nodes I will have to have 6 months of chemo in between the surgeries and that will push my 2nd surgery to 8 months out. 

The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Love Always, 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thank you!

Thank you all for your love and support, I am blown away by the calls, messages, text's, emails and posts. I seriously have the worlds best support system, this is the beginning of a long road but I am more confident than ever that I will get through this and God has a plan! 
I love this verse and I feel it is more applicable to my life now more than ever. I have found comfort in making God my refuge in this time of struggle. 

I had a few more biopsies done today, depending on how those turn out will affect the course of action the surgeon will take in surgery. Praying they came back negative for precancerous or cancerous cells so that we can still do the J pouch and not have to consider a full colostomy bag at this time. 

Also, I have had a lot of people ask about how they can help including meals. My amazing friends Stacy and Kelly set up this site for our family so I have one less thing to worry about. 

Hugs - Heidi 

Monday, March 11, 2013

A New Journey

Well, not even sure how to begin, these last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I guess no better place to start than from the beginning. Two weeks ago I had a colonoscopy as I do pretty much every year. I knew I had had one last February so at the beginning of February this year I called my doctor and I scheduled one for myself on February 25. Everything went as smoothly as could be, the doctor came in afterwards and told me the colon looked much better than it had in the past but he found one spot that was infected so he biopsied the entire area and we would have results Wednesday. I thought nothing of it since he said my colon looked mostly clear which was a huge improvement from the last 10 years of colonoscopies and I have been feeling so good. Anyways, I had a follow up appointment on Wednesday night and I received a call from my doctor personally on Wednesday afternoon saying he was looking forward to seeing me and asked if Ron could come to the appointment with me. I knew immediately that something was very wrong. Wednesday night February 27 my world was turned upside down, I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, the pathology report came back positive. I am 28, married a mother of 2 and I have Colon Cancer. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach and I couldn't hold it together.

We were given a lot of information, but I left knowing I had cancer and would need to have surgery to take it out, and they also were not sure if it had spread to or from anywhere else. They had already scheduled a CT scan for me on Friday and an appointment with a Colon Rectal Surgeon the following Wednesday. So the waiting game began, I had the CT Scan Friday March 1, and found out Sunday that the cancer was confined to the colon and was no where else, Praise God! I had an appointment Wednesday with the Colon Rectal Surgeon and he said the only way to get rid of the cancer is to completely remove the entire colon because of my history with Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  They want to take my entire Colon out and replace it with a J Pouch, I will have an ileostomy bag for three months and another procedure to take it out and connect the small intestine to my J Pouch. I again fell apart, this is what I had been praying for not to happen since I was 12 years old and was diagnosed. Ron spoke with our work and they told us to take the next few days or as much time as we needed to figure this out, research, get second opinions and pray. We could not be more blessed with an amazing company that loves and cares for us both and our family. We know this is going to be one of the most important decisions of our lives and we want to make sure we are doing the right thing. Through some amazing divine God connections we were able to get a hold of one of the leading Colon Rectal Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic the number one clinic in the world for the type of surgery that I am having, and also the head Colon Rectal Surgeon at Penn State. The Surgeons are fully confident in the decision of my surgeon here and the Cleveland Clinic Surgeon actually trained my doctor at the Cleveland Clinic on the surgery I am having. So that is where we are at now, I have surgery scheduled for March 21st at Spectrum Health Hospital, and will be there for 5-10 days depending on how my recovery goes with 4-6 weeks recovery time. I will have a follow up surgery in 3 months as well. I wanted to do the surgery here in Grand Rapids because this is where my support system is and I know they will be a major part of recovery. I know these connections did not just happen, God ordained them and I have complete peace and comfort with my surgeon.

I would be lying to say that this has been easy, but I have already seen God in so many ways through this. Even the little things like the boys being born when they were and being at an age where they don't depend fully on me and have no idea what is going on, I thank God for that everyday. I am closer than ever with my relationship with Him and He has given me a peace about it all. I have my good and bad days. I know this road is going to be tough but he is not going to give me anything I can't handle and I will get through this stronger and healthier than ever. I have been blessed with the worlds best support system God, Ron, my boys, my family, my friends, our job and our church. The outpouring of love and support has been unbelievable, I can't even explain in words how much it has touched us.

So that being said, it is going to be really hard to keep everyone updated on my journey to health, I need all the prayers I can get so I will be using this blog to fill you all in on my progress. Feel free to leave messages or ask questions I am completely open to talk about it, I know God has a purpose in this and wants my story to be told.

Check out this song that really spoke to me at church this Sunday, Praise Him in Advance! We all have our struggles big and small, some days it is hard to understand but God has a plan. How baffled would Satan be if we took our struggles and turned them into praises!

Prayer Requests for my prayer warriors
1. God will continue to give me peace with everything as I process it all.
2. For Ron and the boys, that we can get through this stay strong and as normal for the boys as possible.
3. For the doctor doing the surgery that he will have complete focus, God will guide him with wisdom and skill of both hands and mind.
One last thing, a little irony for you, it's Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
So get tested, it is what will have saved my life!