Thursday, November 29, 2012

Response to your contact


I would be happy to talk with you. Please send me your email address in another comment. I have no way to contact you.

Sheri Page

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reconstruction... Not Just Yet!

I just need a minute, a minute without being poked and stretched and monitored. Reconstruction sounds wonderful but I’m just not ready for another procedure. My husband, the faithful man that he is, entertains our many life changes that cancer has brought to our lives. We are making great strides since the worst of treatment rendered my legs almost paralyzed only being able to walk the length of my house to the neighbor’s next store.  We are training for a 5K! It’s a  S L O W progress but we can finally run for 10 minutes straight. Wow, what a difference.

There are more changes that are coming to our house. Today I threw out all of our scratched Teflon pans and I’ll be exchanging plastic Tupperware for glassware. I’m on the lookout for anything broken in my house, heart and mind. I will repair, fix or throw out. Reconstruction just needs to wait a minute.

I’m enjoying the run without breasts to strap down and hair to manage! This reminds me to tell you about a wonderful little place called, Carols Post Mastectomy Specialists (702) 568-9595, where I found prosthetics. The attendants there are very compassionate and full of secret hints and suggestions for us amputees. Boy, I laughed and giggled as I tried on prosthetic breasts. I tried an A cup and a DD! I asked if I could have one of each, but chose something in between. There are special bras that fit the prosthetics so I got a few of those too. It always feels great to get a pretty new bra. You know, these strap on breasts will work for a few more months.

I had a checkup this last week and found that my white blood count is very low at 4.6. The normal count is somewhere between 11 and 4 so you can see that I am on the low end. Doc says it is normal to have a decreased WBC after chemotherapy. I’m trying not to tremble with fear because I realize that if I get sick, I won’t be able to get better without an immune system. Doc says that it was only a 3 in March! Gosh, I guess that’s why they call this a fight! My original instinct was that if I let the doctors do what they do best and if I do what I can do making better choices then God could do what he wants to do. I believed then and I believe now that the healing is mine for the taking. Am I strong enough in mind, body and spirit? Probably not; I can ask for help though. God’s Spirit will guide me through this maze of recovery and restoration. I’m certain that I’ll be alright. The answer is in listening to my convictions and responding quickly to that still quiet voice. Here are a few convictions I've heard: Don't eat sugar, exercise, think good thoughts, be kind and forgive. I have motivation like no other to live right… Livestrong!

I’ve got to go… looking for more broken stuff to get rid of! Much love my friend.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why God? Round 4

The day before my 4th and final  round of treatment I had lunch with a dear friend. She admitted to me that she had often asked, why God after she heard of my diagnosis. Why did it have to happen to Sheri? I was touched that she thought so much of me that she would approach God with this question on my behalf. I admit that I also pondered why, God? Did you catch where that comma was placed? Why, God?
I feel compelled to explain why I chose God instead of asking why He chose me for this trail. In fact it never even occurred to me to ask Him why I had to get this deadly disease.  I want to try to describe to you like trying to describe a color to a blind man who has never seen. This is why I chose God.

I've been called lots of endearing names such as bible thumper, super religious, Jesus freak, self righteous and holier than thou. I love all these terms of endearment because they are a beautiful exchange for other names I was called when I was a very young girl by one of my dad's girlfriends whom I called mom for several years. As a seven year old I heard  her substitute my name for Stupid and Dummy. They stung like hollow point bullets that explode in you creating great damage to the internal body As I got a little older  at about 11 and in the 5th grade I can vividly remember the back of her hand hitting my face as a casual occurrence Its companion Ugly and Idiot numbed my ears. By the time I was in Jr High school the nick names became more elaborate statements that predicted my future rather then one word triggers and physical assaults. You should have never been BORN, you'll NEVER amount to anything, you are WORTHLESS became not only a mantra spoken to me, but one I began to say to myself.

This woman who  was responsible to mirroring the world to me taught me very early that I was an under dog. (If you are a parent DO NOT handicap your children this way! ) By the time I reached high school the dreaded girlfriend had expired her welcome in my father's house as her gambling addiction was revealed.... then her abuses were revealed. She abused herself far greater than she abused me. I was able to forgive her in the years that followed. Darn it if the damage had not already been done though

I remember wanting... wanting to go to college. I love education. I love learning, but that's not the route  I took. This underdog began to hang out on the wrong corners with the wrong crowd and fell from track athlete and cheerleader to a true underdog I was convinced that I was. By the time I was 16 I had already been  victim to date rape. More evidence that I was indeed merely Worthless. There are a million details between the lines of this paragraph and the timeline of my life, but now is not the time.

It was at the end of my marriage to my children's father that I asked God why? Why was life so hard? Why did He hate me so much that he would allow all these things to happen to me? I fell down to my knees and just surrendered. God, I tried the best I could to live a decent life and I failed.

The mantra continued....I am a failure, I am worthless, stupid, a dummy and perhaps I should had never been born. So there you go, God! You can have my life. Take me home now, this life is too hard. OR- you can have my life and do with it what ever you want to do. I'm done, I don't have the answers, you do.

That was the last time I asked God why. From that day, I have carried a peace within me and a knowing that my life is not my own anymore. I gave it away. I gave away the torment, confusion and I was given so much forgiveness that I can't help it if it spills on others. The same with Grace and Mercy. I got an insatiable hunger for the Word and the Truth found on the pages of His love letter. I simply disciplined myself to apply His Truth to life and the transformation began. It hasn't stopped and honestly it never will stop, because no one really arrives at the doorway of perfection and  that's okay.

Now my children were teenagers when I surrendered in 1999. I know that they know their mom has faith, but I'm not sure if  they know why? Until now. Ironically, my dream husband lived almost right behind me on a few streets over. We married in 2007 and I kid him often about waiting so long to find me.

Asking God why I got cancer wasn't even on my radar. Asking God to use my cancer to give others hope and stretch the many observers to a deeper faith is my top priority.  God is SOOOO Divine. I was broken, busted, crushed and trampled many times but NONE like this last time.He has rescued me AGAIN!

 And that's Why, God!!!

I've flipped my wig!

Moments of doubt. I think we've all had them, right? Maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't think so. If you have ever doubted, have you doubted liked me? I doubt if I am making the right decisions, I doubt whether I am loved, accepted or even liked from time to time, I doubt strengths and I doubt weaknesses, doubt, doubt, doubt, doubt. Then with my creative mind I assume. Assuming PROVES that all the things I doubted must be true! Holy cow... you must think I'm a little crazy just admitting this, but I'm pretty sure you've had these thoughts too. Let me give you an example; I discovered that every time this blog is read.. the numbers are tracked and a report is generated for the writer's information. Well, I read that report and 4,000 people have read my inner most thoughts about my journey through cancer. Wow, I got a little intimated by that little fact and I began to doubt. Doubt that my writing was good enough for 4,000 people to spend a single moment of their time on. So, I assumed that my insignificant thoughts should just be kept to myself. You've heard the phrase; Kids are to speak when they are spoken to. That was my father's rule, may he rest in peace.  I'm equivalent to a big kid waiting to be spoken to. I say this with a giggle because several people are asking about my next post!

So, I apologize to anyone who has been following my journey. Let me share the last few months with a bird's eye view. As you can see, I've flipped my wig! Man oh man, 110 degrees is just too stinking hot to wear a fur hat in the middle of summer. My hair started to grow back about a month ago, which has really been exciting!  In fact, I woke up this morning with a little pillow head and had to scoop a little water in my hand to splash down a couple of smashed hairs. More then one person has made mention of my Jamie Lee Curtis look-a-like style. Wow how liberating it is to towel off and go! I actually feel sorry for women who build their joy around a good hair day or bad hair day! For me, it's a bad hair day everyday. You know what? I'm going to be happy anyway!

The last Chemo treatment was May 1st. Looking back on it I can say it all went so fast. Believe this or not but my last chemo was the scariest. Because the conclusion meant one thing; we were done fighting- hope we got it all. The doctors said good luck, no guarantees. If it comes back I will live 2-7 years. I have follow-up visits every 3 months. That might sound intense to you, but for me it seems like someone let me out of jail! I have to have my estrogen level tested every three months to make sure the medicine I'm taking is eliminating the production of that hormone. I'll take that medicine for 5 years. I wish I could take it for ever, but they say five years is enough. The estrogen hormone was feeding the cancer. So if they stop it, cancer will not have food to grow. Here's a big surprise, we found out that fat cells produce estrogen too! So It's time for me to finish the weigh less project that I started last year. 45 lbs since last Sept  2011 have slipped away. I need another 15 lbs and then I'll be right where I want to be.

Doubt and assumption. What a rip off! Let me remember that for the future. Love others! Don't be concerned with the nay sayers and trouble makers. Acts of kindness are good for you, much like eating vegetables. The problem is that I'm the biggest nay sayer in my life! I must not ever doubt the Promise I have in God nor doubt the hope I have that all the cancer was eliminated with treatment. I must have Faith. I must wake up every morning with a grateful heart for another day. 2-7 years if it comes back. I gulp that down when I needed to be reminded the true importance of this life. It is not my to-do list. It is not my career. It is not my security. It is not whether I am accepted. It is simply to live a joy-filled life. Right now, in order to do that I must be reconcilied in every relationship. Got work to do!

Much Love to You- Think Good Thoughts.... until we talk again!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Spring of 2012

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Earnest Hemingway wrote one of my favorite quotes in A Moveable Feast. I love his description of spring. It is so accurate in my opinion to the lessons in life. We know all winter long that we have a hope of spring in the next season. Consider the many different scenarios that define a winter season in life. No matter how dismal the shortened days of winter are, we still hope for newness of life. We are somewhat tormented when cold temperatures, wind and rain seem to suspend spring. Still, there is hope in our patience. We see no good reason for the delay of spring.... until we see and smell the bloom! 

I didn't love the day I was diagnosed, but the parallel timing of my circumstance to this favorite quote was sublime. My diagnosis came in the dead of winter on December 15th.  Stored away in my heart was this quote and the hope of spring which I think about often. I was so excited to know that in the darkest days of treatment that the grass would turn green and the fruit trees would swell with sweet fruit. I am thrilled that the timing was merciful. This is my third chemo treatment and the rose bushes are blooming! It is something beautiful to focus on and be grateful for.

Two weeks after my first treatment, I proactively shaved my head to avoid the trauma and frustration of  my hair falling out, but now I am shinny bald. Being bald because you shave your head is empowering. Being bald because the quarter inch nubs have fallen out  feels entirely different. It is violating. It is exposing. It is humiliating.  I had a moment in the process that spoke clearly to my soul that I was not in charge. Swollen faced from the steroids, sunken eyes, rashes, metallic taste in my mouth, enormously tired and grey complexion; I finally break from the constant beating of cold rains. I don't know the woman with the disfigured body in tears who stares back at me in the mirror. Hope. Therefore, I hope for spring, a newness of life and I hope that the frozen river will flow again. This basket of blooming roses point to spring and are a fragrant reminder that something wonderful lies behind this winter. 

There is a great transforming purpose to this stripping down that brings humility to fullness. My motives have been exposed. I've been controlling  life while trying to find some sort of security. I trusted God while I was searching for this security. Am I the only one who looked for security in the world? I thought financial security would make me invincible. It obviously didn't. The market changed and security was fleeting and cancer came anyway. Truthfully, I never felt as much fear as when I was financially secure. I laid awake many nights fearful that the money would be lost. My motives have been uncovered as I discovered that commitment and loyalty to family would provide security. It didn't. People are human and as unpredictable as spring weather. When they are afraid, they hide. People can't secure you because they are imperfect and flawed. My motives have become transparent to my own eyes as I saw that security can't be found in my status. It can't. Pride is woven so eloquently in affluence that you can barely see where one ends and the other begins. Pride fails and pride falls every time. Pride refuses to secure you. These are all the things I worked for, all the things I tried to control, all the things that motivated me. Not one of these things protected me, rescued  or gave me peace when I received my diagnosis of  breast cancer. It is not a bad thing to have any of these things. However, I was motivated to find security in these things and that was like a cancer of a different kind. I mentioned that I trusted God while I was busy working towards "success" in these areas. Blind, blind, blind... but now I see.
Why not trust God for my security? He has financially provided for us. He has been a rock solid infallible family member and  glorifying His status has given me indescribable security. The kind that changes your countenance.

I'm re-prioritizing! Re-organizing! Re-evaluating! Spring Cleaning! Part of me had to die in this winter, as Hemingway suggests. My fast growing cells had to die and my wrong motives also had to die. Thank goodness I will never be the same again. I'm busy about the task of spring cleaning closets, drawers, thoughts, behaviors, relationships and patterns. I won't get it all done over night, but at least I'm working in the right direction.  I have a new motivation and new purpose. Everything just looks different in the spring of 2012.  Can you imagine? Every action, every word spoken, every detail was based out of a self serving motivation. Gosh, I'm so glad that there is a spring around the corner of every winter.

One last treatment next Tuesday, May 1st and that's the last of the wind and the cold, wintery light of this season. I hope I haven't wasted a morsel of all that cancer has to teach me so far. I'm not looking forward to the next round since my body is already compromised. I'm sure that there will be more wisdom coming and I think it has to do with....... ( to be continued) 

A Moveable Feast  is a set of  memoirs written by Earnest Hemingway about his life and internship as a writer in Paris. His book was published the year I was born in 1964, three years after his passing. Just an interesting footnote, thought I'd share it with you. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Round 2 and half way done!

Some people ask if chemo therapy hurts. No. It’s as silent and sneaky as the disease of cancer itself. Of course if you are like me and you don’t like needles, don’t like looking at them or feeling them, then I’d say- yep being a human pin cushion hurts. Otherwise, the only thing you can feel is the cold liquid pumping into your veins. Then a few days later it sneaks up on you with a queasy stomach, head ache, metallic taste in your mouth and a wide variety of other side effects that peek about 10 days after the drip. Weeks later you may lose your hair, coloring, nails and sense of humor. This is what happens when poison is used to eliminate fast growing rebellious cells.
So where can a cancer fighting patient find joy? It’s in all the beautiful people you meet along the way of the journey.  Yesterday I had my second round of treatment and went to a beauty class all in one day. The class was called “Look Good Feel Better.” A nonprofit organization that generously gives beauty supplies to women going through chemo treatment. I found them when I was doing my research months ago through the American Cancer Society. I went to get support and encouragement, but quickly found that giving support and encouragement felt way more natural. Everyone was in the same treatment stage.  They had either just had their second round or going to have it in a few days. We compared war stories like old army buddies. We giggled at our bald heads, no eyebrows while swapping new wigs, scarves and hats.  “Look Good Feel Better” gave us a healthy supply of new make-up which we applied in each other’s company while exploring new colors and techniques. For a couple of hours yesterday, I found a spot of humanity in this whole process. I forgot that I was being treated for cancer and just felt the kindred friendship of my new buddies.  It occurred to me that this was just the same feeling as the first day on a new job, sitting next to a stranger, the first day of school and maybe even the first time behind a wheel. It is just a new experience.
Then reality hit at the very end of class when my new friend Carol age 70, a real pistol, told me that her daughter 45 year old  Dawn was in Chicago dyeing of liver cancer as she was battling breast cancer. I could have sat there for hours to talk with her as the facilitators were turning out the lights and picking up the trash. I’ll pray for you Carol and Dawn too as I waved good-bye! My God, why? Why must this woman be tormented to be away from her dying daughter while she takes her own cancer treatment? All of a sudden my circumstance became so minimal.
I have been forced to stand at the door of mortality and knock to see if the door was open. It takes a little more courage to do that then knocking on doors to sell Girl Scout cookies, but not much more.  Without Jesus, I would not be strong enough to do this. The most courageous person I know is my sister. Once we were standing on her front lawn at 2 am in the morning and a car came screeching by out of control. It slammed into a block wall perpendicular to her house. I gasped and put my hand over my mouth in disbelief. I was paralyzed by the sight. My sister’s reaction set her feet into motion and she ran across the street to see if the crumbled up car had a survivor. There was a girl inside still alive and a call was made to 911. All of this happened before my hand came away from my mouth. I was paralyzed with fear and no courage.
I don’t watch scary movies because I know that my lack of courage will keep me up at night. Cancer is one crazy scary movie! So, when people say that I am courageous and brave. I just laugh because I know that’s not me! That has to be God in me. His word says to focus on noble things, so I do. His Word says that I (the weak) am strong, therefore I am. His Word says that He will strengthen me and I have witnessed this first hand. Thank goodness that the weakness in my character, basically a coward, is where God is illuminated in me.
Several times Christian women have spoken out and told me that they felt the need to encourage me with Psalm 91. There was one young lady who is a friend of my son who had a beautiful quilt made with scriptures all over it for me and sent it home with a book about Psalm 91. What a blessing it has been to read line by line details about this promise of protection in Psalm 91. The verse that jumps right on my heart is
Psalm 91:7
A thousand shall fall at you’re your side, and ten thousand at your right hand;
but it shall not come near you.
I believe that I am healed. Not by my own understanding, but that of my God. I can’t ignore the repetition of scripture that people share with me that bequests my belief! God doesn’t Promise me everything I ask for. But this time I just KNOW that I know that he has promised me this. I will hold on to this promise and speak it out loud as often as I can.
Getting back to standing at the door of mortality and waiting with sweaty palms for an answer to my knock. I’ve asked myself a few questions. When I see the face of Jesus do I want to tell him about all the things I’ve done and accomplished or do I want to know that I did all He wanted me to do? Do I want to have a million dollars in the bank or do I want to touch a million lives? Do I want accolades and approval from man or do I want to walk in the confidence that Jesus perfected of my life? What do I really want out of this life for the rest of the days I have?
I have waited at the door of mortality and decided that it is not going to open for me today. I pivot on my rear heals and about face setting out to search for His sheep to feed, looking for a million hearts to hold with the confidence that God has a perfect plan for my life. Time to be obedient and do the things I know He wants me to do. I will abandon my plans and chose His for the rest of my life.
And this is the gift that cancer gave to me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bald is Beautiful

Having your head shaved sort of compares to skydiving, I would imagine. I woke up on Monday morning with an excessive amount of hair left behind on my hairbrush. I noticed that my head was tingling all day that day. I imagined it was the follicles in my head letting go of the hair. It was so itchy, but I was too afraid to scratch my head in fear that the hair would fall right out! By Tuesday night it was coming out when I ran my hands through it! I hadn’t washed it since Sunday because of the horror stories I heard from other survivors that it came out in the shower! Wednesday morning I woke up and put my hands on my head to see it was still there instead of on the pillow and  it was, whew. I made it! I made it to the appointed day to shave my head.

About a month ago I popped in a little boutique called “The Wig Cottage.” They specialize in helping survivors make the adjustment from hair loss to wigs and scarves. With my whole head of hair intact, the staff helped me pick out a wig that had the same texture, style and color as my very own hair. I tried on some fun wigs and each time I turned to my husband for his opinion. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I tried on the Lady Godiva wig. Long blonde wig, went down to my waist with surfer bangs. I looked about 18 and could see the real adventure of this wig thing… only to turn and look at him with a disappointed head nod… nope that one wasn’t the one!

Finally, I settle on the strawberry blonde “Malibu.” It was a perfect match even down to the roots! It looked like my hair on a really good hair day. I also picked out a baseball cap with extensions sown in and a nightcap. No, not shot of whiskey, a little flannel hat to keep my head warm at night time because after all you lose 80% of your body heat through your head. There was special shampoo for my head and the wig too. Also, some soothing glaze for my itchy head.

All of these things where right there waiting for me at “The Wig Cottage.” I made the appointment exactly two weeks out  from my 1st treatment as recommended by the staff there. I barely made it! I had a client in the morning and one in the afternoon. So, I thought getting my head shaved between clients on a lunch break was perfect. Although, I was a bit concerned that if it were an emotional experience; would I be able to carry on the day? That was the mauling thought as we pulled up in the parking lot. The morning distraction was sweet and I didn’t have a minute to think about it until I saw the “Wig Cottage” sign.  Nervous and anxious, no return, big deep breath… okay, I’m ready.

I didn’t tell my stylist that I was a wreck inside. I’m sure she already knew. She simply turned my chair so I was looking into my husband’s eyes instead of the mirror. He stared back at me, never looking away.  I heard the buzz of the shears and experienced the greatest relief of itchy head that is known to man. Oh my goodness, it felt so good. I know now why a dog’s leg moves when you scratch its belly. Ahhhhhh……………I didn’t even care that she was taking it off.  No more worries that it’s going to fall out at the wrong time or suddenly. No more stray hair flying in my eyes, mouth and nose. I can wash and scratch my head! I think when people describe skydiving to me that’s what they are talking about. Scared to do it, but so glad they did!

Once she shaved my head she put my wig on immediately so still didn’t have to look at my bald head until I got home. I was so thankful!  With wig on, she turn me around and started to give me a hair cut by cutting the wig to perfection so it was custom to my face and taste. What a great experience. Once I finished my day and got home I was able to take the wig off and look at my head in the privacy of my own home. It wasn’t so bad. I found a few childhood scars that prompted some memories and stories that I repeated to my husband. Tried on my hat, used a hand held mirror to see from every angle, and sent a few pictures of my bald head to those who asked, practiced putting on my wig and ended up just wearing a scarf for the rest of the evening.

Here’s the best part of the day. There was a package waiting for me when I got home. It was from a woman named Joy, who is a survivor. Inside the package was a scarf that Joy was passing on to me. The scarf was given to her by another survivor. She was also Stage II. The scarf is stunning and was purchased in Paris. She sent a beautiful card with it that had the most charming words of encouragement that congratulated me for making it through diagnosis and surgery so far.  It was a message of Hope that arrived at precisely the right moment. Coincidence?  No, that’s how much my God loves me and that’s how much He wants me to know that He is with me.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hello Therapy Room

Hello Therapy room, filled with 3 aisles of yellow reclining chairs. Each aisle had six chairs facing one another, three on each sidewith IV poles on the side of each chair. The gigantic window that stretch from one end of the room to the other and from top to bottom created an outdoor/ indoor environment. Almost like a sun room.

The lady who sat directly across from my reclining chair in our sunshiny room, is considerably older than I and barely a hundred pounds. She looked like a pro at this with her shoes kicked off and a nice bulky book to read. She was so darn cute I could have put her in my pocket. I instantly loved her. She looked up out of her pages a few times and I caught her glance while I was being hooked up. She could tell I was a newbie. I think I saw a twinkle in her eye as she simply sent an encouraging smile across the aisle. Taking her lead, I reclined my chair, kicked off my shoes, snuggled in my pink furry blanket my favorite aunt gave me with my name and a pink ribbon done in bling-bling. I sorted through the Susan G Koman bag of goodies and entertainment that I packed for Gilligan Island's 3 hour tour ( treatment lasted for 3 hours) and picked out my “Crazy Love” book that was given to me by a wonderful Christian sister. It wasn’t long before my aisle buddy took off her little beanie to show my husband and I how her hair was holding up and shared her story about having the hair dresser cut it very short but not totally off as it began to fall out. That little twinkle in her eye disappeared and I saw a vulnerable woman with her insecurity covered by a little beanie. A quick glance back to our books gave us a little break from the eye contact that was about to produce a tear or two. Unspoken rule #1 DO NOT CRY IN THE THERAPY ROOM! When in doubt think about others.

And so I did. I began to just pray for my new friend with the same chant I learned from my 15 year self as a cheerleader. I was going to be her personal cheerleader for the rest of our treatment. Another Aisle buddy joined us. He has melanoma and it was his first time too. So, I prayed for his healing. There were more people who came to the therapy room. One other young man with testicular cancer had his laptop open with pictures of his two little sweetheart children. I met him earlier.. so I prayed for him. Another lady I saw as I went to the bathroom had such a look of disappear on her face that was so intense that I felt it when I walked by, so I prayed for her too. The room filled with more and more patients and I prayed for as many as I could see.

When I got tired of reading I listened to an ipod that my daughter gave me last year for my birthday. First song was Matthew West. “ Strong Enough” Before you listen to the beautiful song join me in this experience of looking up at the Therapy dripping from the IV. Gratitude overwhelmed my heart and I felt it’s expansion was greater than the cold fluid entering my body. I could only think of it as a gift straight from heaven. God knew that I had cancer and no insurance. He knew that I had just lost every penny to my name from 2006-2012 in the real estate crash. A grand total of one million dollars. Busted broke and at rock bottom. He was there when all three of my daughters moved out of state within 6 short months. My Lord has buffered it all with His tender mercies and as a loved one reminds us; with His grace upon grace.

Listen with me again!

The bracelet on my hand in this picture was given to me by one of my best friends. She took it right off of her wrist and put it on my wrist. I thought it extraordinary as she has worn this bracelet everyday for as many years as I can remember. I know the sacrifice was hard for her. It doesn’t compare to the blessing of wearing it over the vein that carried the curing therapy to my body.

There is authority and power in Jesus

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad…”

                                                           Lord Byron

Gosh, I have been dreading this for days and weeks! Everyone made it so endurable that I walk away feeling like I experienced a shower of love. The kind of shower that grows your heart to a greater capacity to receive. We’ve all met people who had a Big Heart. I want to have one of those.. A Big Heart! Thank you God for growing my heart.

Prepare yourself to see the word therapy written down and know that I mean chemo. I just can’t call it chemo. It is tied to so many bad implications. Realistically today’s therapy really doesn’t compare to the way it was used like a loose cannon in the days of past. Doctors are so specific in the way they prescribe it. That’s why I had to wait for more tests to be done before we got started. No doctor is going to prescribe a medication for you that has more consequences than the disease they are fighting. Not to mention all the in-between blood tests to monitor ever organ and blood count. So from here on out I am going to call it Therapy!

We left for Therapy about 10am on Wednesday morning which was only about 45 minutes after I spoke with the nurse who said they had an opening! This is NOT a typical way to start your first day of therapy! For me though, it was a better way. Last week I had read a three ring binder filled with possible side affects and it had me so freaked out that I just wasn’t ready and ultimately glad that therapy was postponed last week.

I had a dream a few days before we started that I was in agreement with the rest of my body parts that we were ready to get therapy. As if they could talk to me?

That dream came on the heals of a MUGA-Scan test that I took on Monday. The MUGA -Scan measured all the functions of my heart valves so we could have a baseline knowledge of its health. If I end up needing more aggressive treatment recommended by the Mayo Clinic they will want this test. The most significant part of having this test was the positive self talk I found during it. As I lay there strapped to the table and arms pinned down to a tiny one foot wide table and a massive diagnostic machine over me within inches of my very scarred and flat chest, the fight internalized. All of a sudden I heard the 15 year old Clark High School cheerleader in me begin to chant.

V I C T O R Y. Victory, Victory, that’s our cry!

Go Fight Win! Defense Jesus Defense!

Push ‘m Back!

R.e.- R.e.b.- R.e.b.o.u.n.d. Rebound!

Then I could hear the almost audible sound in my ears of men marching. Thousands of marching boots. I could visualize Gladiators holding spears in the shape of a cross and marching, looking for the enemy.

It was then that I remembered that there is a protein structure outside our cells called Laminin. It forms the shape of a cross. With all this strength of mind, I knew there was authority and power in what Jesus has asked of me. To Believe!


Laminin is a protein that is part of the extracellular matrix in humans and animals. The extracellular matrix (ECM) lies outside of cells and provides support and attachment for cells inside organs (along with many other functions). Laminin has “arms” that associate with other laminin molecules to form sheets and bind to cells. Laminin and other ECM proteins essentially “glue”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2nd Opinion

I must have read in every cancer book that part of this journey is to make sure you seek a second opinion. Doctors are brilliant, talented and above average decision makers. They are also human! I love my doctors and trust them very much and believe that they have my best interest at heart. With that said, I am seeking a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic on Friday March 2nd. Oh how I wish this was a simple clear cut black and white battle, but it's not.
"It's rather several shades of gray, " one doctor quoted.

There have been many issues about the facts of this diagnosis that are borderline and bothersome! Where one doctor says treating a slight HER2 positive issue is not worth all the consequences of possible side effects another doctor says that even a slight positive score must be treated! All of that is complicated by two different tests; one reports a negative presence and the other a positive presence. So, off to Mayo Clinic we go looking for the tie breaking vote.

The Mayo Clinic sent us a checklist of all the tests they want to review. I am completely impressed that they want to see the diagnostic tests for themselves, they also want the original tissue slides and written reports. It seems to me that they are going to take a fresh analysis approach to the case and file. I am so relieved! I consulted another breast cancer group who only wanted the written reports. I believe we’ll be in great hands when we arrive in Scottsdale AZ.

Meanwhile the Chemo treatment I was supposed to get last week, will be done this coming week. Then when Mayo determines we are on the right track, fantastic! If not we’ll change it up, but we must get started.

The local doctors office where I go continues to impress me with their financial aide. Before the insurance kicked in they guided me to call ahead and negotiate cash prices with the service providers. What would have been over $55,000 paid out in cash was reduced to about $15,000. With the generosity of friends and family, a large chunk of that has been paid. Just the other day they sent me paperwork to fill out for the Patient Advocate Foundation Co-Pay Relief Program, who will help us with the co-pay payments. They really have been remarkable with helping facilitate the assistance needed to get the proper care.

Mornings like this when I wake up and feel nervous and scared, all I have to do is think about everything I can be thankful for and it settles me. I am so thankful that I'm not alone, that I have been well taken care of, that I still open cards and letters every single day, phone calls from friends,  that my husband holds my hand even while I'm sleeping, that two of my daughters and my mother have journeyed many miles to spend some beautiful sunny days with me and another daughter and another sister are on their way. I am thankful for cancer research, for the Mayo Clinic, for the pink ribbon tattoo my niece put on her chest, for my new dammit doll, for a song my sisters dedicated to promise to love me through this, for the joy all my grand children have given me, Good morning.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chemo starts today. Come, pray with me for a total and complete healing.

Hello gang, so sorry I haven’t written in a long while. I’ve been trying to digest all that has happened. It’s been like drinking a cup of water from a fire hydrant. I grew up here in the desert and was told somewhere along the way that the reason we have flash floods is because the land is so dry and hard that when the rain finally falls it can not be absorbed because the land is not porous. When the rain falls it quickly runs over the hard surface of the desert landscape causing a flash flood. The Diagnosis back in December hit a hard surface. The constant pounding and sometimes dripping of reality have softened the hard ground and it’s beginning to sink in one slow day at a time.

I stare at my healing chest and recognize that this is a process. Step 1, surgery behind me. I remember that when I considered my options for surgery I couldn’t cope with more than that. I remember thinking that I couldn’t consider Chemo treatment or even research it because I was already overwhelmed with the decision of mastectomies.

It’s been several weeks of healing and preparation for Step 2, treatment. Along the way there have been a few bumps in the road. I’ve had to have the tumor slides retested because there was a conflict in results. That delayed the treatment by a week. More than the aggravation of delay was an incredible uncertainty and acceptance of a different treatment plan…. A longer treatment plan. We walked all the way around that block to have the test results remain the same and the decision to continue down the original path of treatment after all. Now, I have had time to read about the treatment plan and side affects which have hit hard ground once again. There is so little time for acceptance before treatment starts.

Later today there will be an IV drip hooked up to me and the chemicals that scout out and kill cancer cells will be on the hunt. Unfathomable that just two months ago I thought that treatment wasn’t an option because I didn’t have insurance. I need to remember that this is a gift and God came through. I believe… I believe that God and cooperation with the doctors plus my faith will find and kill every cancer cell in my body. Come, pray with me for a total and complete healing and that the side affects of this treatment will be few. With all my love, Sheri

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I like Sunrises more than Sunsets

I like sunrises more that sunsets.

Jan 28th, 2012- 11:50pm, 12:10am, 12:28am, 1:30am, 1:45am, 2:10am, Bible Study- read Isaiah 41:10 and pray it back “Please strengthen me and Help me“ , Tylenol PM, 2:30am, 2:50am, 3:10am, 3:28am, 4:15am, 4:35am, 5:20am, 5:30am, 5:28am, 5:34am, 6:10am, 6:20.… bathroom, 6:30am Bible study again. Thank you God for another day of sunlight!

As I heal I’m beginning to realize that the numbness across my chest may be permanent. I can’t sleep a wink as my mind considers all things. Mostly, bad things. I’m taking clippings and excerpts from one line sentences throughout the week to battle my bad thoughts. Officially I‘ll call it living hell. I tried to convince myself over the long night that everything would be okay with verbal evidence I picked up during the week. I’ve heard, “This is beatable”, “ you may still get feeling back” “reconstruction can come later” , “You’re beautiful”, “You’re courageous.” God’s Word says, “He will strengthen me”, “He will Uphold me”, He loves me”, “He will help me.” I wrestled all night long with my bad thoughts which I don’t even have the nerve to put in writing right now because they were so morbid.

Perpetual optimism used to be my husband’s most annoying attribute in my eyes. I laid there awake doing mental gymnastics hoping that he would wake up and share his Good Ship Lollypop opinions with me. I was hoping he’d find me stirring and remind me that the birds were chirping in another part of the world or remind me of all the cases where someone else was worse off than us. Better yet, that he would point me back to Jesus. Instead, I tried to lay still so I didn’t wake him up, with my eyes facing the clock and waiting to fall asleep.

This is “The Fight” or at least part of it. It was a rough week meeting the oncologist deciding on the treatment plan and returning to the surgeon to get all the drains and tubes removed. I am trying to hurry and heal from the surgery so I can start treatments. Honestly, I don’t want to start treatments. I don’t want to loose my hair and I don’t want to be numb across my chest anymore . The fight is getting through all of this mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

It’s time to deal with stuff! You know the stuff I’m talking about. The stuff crammed in that outdoor shed that you’ve been meaning clean out for years. It’s dealing with the control freak within and the abuse taken as a kid. It’s handling insecurities and stubbornness. It’s an opportunity to let God in those self protected heart places. Breath, just breath Sheri. It’s time for the next step.

Friday, January 27, 2012

With GREAT Faith!!!

Monday was my first oncology appointment and the weather held perfect expression for me. Rain wasn't pouring from the clouds that hung low, it was only a slight drizzle that lasted all day long. There was a chill indoors that was somewhat uncomfortable. I wrapped myself in a big sweater, stood at a window that faced the backyard and then the weather and I cried small raindrops all day long. I realized that as the rain was coming down it would bring rich nutrient to the soil  and that’s beneficial... so, it was a good day to cry.

The bright spot of the day was taking a step into the new world of oncology. Who knew that I would love a doctor so much who was going to prescribe poison for my body? Who knew, she would be kind and compassionate, gentle and patient? I've driven by this place a million times and never noticed the packed parking lot! There was a little city going on inside of this medical office park. I've never seen so many people in one doctors office before. The chemo chairs were full, the waiting room was full and every patient was being soothed. I'm the new girl in town and I think I'll fit right in. I'm not alone. I had only ever known a few people with cancer and now there is a whole damn building filled with people like me, strolling down the recovery path!

You know you've got something threatening when you have a team of doctors! This doctor was selling me an insurance plan called chemicals, that would increase my odds of cancer being killed off systematically. First, twelve to eighteen weeks of chemo followed by six weeks of radiation and then five years of hormone therapy. My hair will fall out, I'll get sunburned and complete my menopause cycle. "It's optional," she said!

"Not for me, hook me up, let's get this thing started." I didn't hesitate one single moment.

With each layer of treatment my odds of survival increase. Treatment can't start until I am finished healing from the mastectomies. She must have meant physically healing because I’m pretty sure it will be quite sometime before I’m mentally healed from this amputation.

I just want a day between now and that first drip of chemicals where I don't have to think about my life, my fight or my prognosis. I wanna go to the San Diego Zoo. I wanna laugh at the monkeys and be awed by the tigers. I wanna eat pop corn and watch the towering giraffes. I wanna be surrounded by life and at a simplistic level.

It’s with great faith that I press on. It’s a new kind of faith, one that I’ve not known before. It’s bigger than the comfortable knowledge that God is with you or to coin the phrase, “things happen for a reason.” It’s so big that there is a force behind it. Momentum? No, more like exponential power, I’d say. In the book of Mark Chapter 9 there is a story of a man who brings his child to Jesus to be healed of demons. The father asks Jesus if He would have compassion on them and heal his son.   Here’s their interaction. Mark 9:23-24

Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Here’s Sheri Page’s response, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Here’s what happened next… Mark 9:25

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!"

Here’ what happened next in my faith,

When Jesus saw that the people came running together ( who prayed for Sheri) , He rebuked the unclean spirit,( the cancer) saying to it: "Deaf and dumb spirit, ( cancer) I command you, come out of him( her) and enter him ( her) no more!"

With GREAT FAITH, In the name of Jesus!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

More Resources!

Yesterday I set out to look for wigs and prosthetics. So, I opened my handy dandy notebook and began to call some resources that were published in some of the reading material found in my “little pink book bag”. Monday morning I’ll meet with my Oncologist for the first time and begin treatment options. Please pray!

First up was American Cancer Society 1-800-227-2345 There was a cancer specialist on the other end of the line who went over my diagnosis with me. Told me about the typical treatment I could expect and in general gave me more information and perspective about the type of cancer I have. In addition to that helpful information they gave me some other practical resources.

Support group called Reach to Recover. This is one on one support. I will be matched with cancer survivor who has the same diagnosis as I do. Yeah! I can learn from someone else’s battle how to beat it.
Look Good Feel Better is a 2 hour workshop when beauty experts from the community come together to show patients under going treatment how to maximize and enhance beauty techniques.
American Cancer Society Resource Center for Wigs, prosthetics, Hat and Turbans!
Health Insurance Information Team- There are three types of insurance available for pre-existing.
1. PICP.
2. Local, State and Federal assistance ( Social Services, Medicaid and Social Security) .
3. Women’s Health Connection. You must be diagnosed through affiliation of the Women’s Health connection and Insurance will be available through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act.

Susan G Koman 702-822-2324The following resources were shared

Y-Me 1-800-221-2141 This organization is run by cancer survivors. They will provide gently used Wigs and prosthetics for FREE! The intake telephone operators are kind and compassionate
Barbara Greenspun 702-616-4910- Women’s care Center- Support groups and classes
Carol’s Post Mastectomy 702-568-9595 - Wigs and Prosthetics
The Caring Place- 702-871-7333 Free massages!- Support Groups and Classes
Center for Compassionate Care- 702-796-3167

Moving forward and Believing God

I read somewhere this week to stop saying, "I have cancer" and start saying that "God has Answers." What a great perspective to have while moving forward. It's time to turn the page and begin the next phase of this process and begin to think about treatments with my bilateral mastectomy behind me and new pathology reports in.

There are a few things I am going to hold on to moving forward and the most important is that God has positioned us for a miracle. Here's the obvious; I found a non cancerous lump and went for an over due mammogram. Right behind that lump is where the cancer was hanging out. Stage II, late but still early. God warned me in His Word before the mammogram that I must take quick action when I hear the trumpet, so I did! I am at the most aggressive cancer treatment center in Las Vegas. My surgeon had never taken an uninsured patient before and found grace to take me, I was fortunate to get in. Miraculously, I will be insured at the onset of treatment. God has provided in every area of our lives. So far, all medical bills will get paid. One of our daughters can stay in college because of the generosity of friends an family. I have seen healing within my family and friendships. Everything is going to be okay.

I'm in a bible study called "Believing God" by Beth Moore. She has pointed out in her study that Jacob was not given the keys to the city so to speak when he came into the Promise Land. He had to conquer it! He had to win it back! Jacob had to believe God, not be afraid and carry out all that God requested. Gosh, that just has not left my mind nor my spirit.

A dear friend of mine makes beaded bracelets which she so sweetly gave me on the day of that mammogram. The bracelet is hand beaded with each bead representing the story of creation and Jesus' resurrection. I memorized the symbolic meaning of each bead so I could tell other people and walk them through the story as they inquired. Well, I memorized all the beads accept one. I couldn't remember the bead that represented the Miracles that Jesus performed. Boy, how I studied that bead, looking at it from all angles trying hard to remember what it meant. Then when my friend told me what it was, I knew that I was going to become familiar with Jesus' miracles.

So, as I move forward to take back the Promise Land that God promised Abraham and a thousand generations ( that includes me and you) I will commit myself to Believing God for a miracle.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pre Existing Insurance! Yes, I got it!

Just in the nick of time! My application for pre existing insurance was approved and starting Feb 1 I will have insurance! Thank you God. This means that at the exact time I have to start treatment, I will be insured.
Here's the information. Please pass it on!  Call this number 1-800-220-7898
  1. You must be a US citizen. I think legal residents are eligible as well
  2. You must have a pre existing illness
  3. You can't have had insurance in the last 6 months
The monthly rates are reasonable and the total out of pocket cost is approx 7,000. After that 100% coverage. It takes about 3-4 weeks to be approved. This is part of the Obama Health Care Plan.

It was micro metastases

Don't you just love it when you get the same scripture verse more than once? I do! I recently received a beautiful card in the mail from a  relative who sent her love and some supportive scripture hand written in the card. One of the verses she wrote was: Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

I found it again in my own handwriting  taped to the hutch on my desk. What an incredible reminder that God is with me. I can not describe the fear that over comes me when I forget that simple precept. It's like Peter who was called to get out of the boat and walk on water. The moment he was distracted by an oncoming wave he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. That's what happens to me! When I take my eyes off of God I forget the confidence I have in Him who has gone before me and whispers behind me telling me which way to go.

That fear is exactly what I experienced a few days ago when we received some bad news. Originally, the pathologist in the surgery room found no trace of cancer in my lymph nodes and we delighted ourselves with celebration and joy. But, when the official pathology report came back it was indeed in the sentinel lymph node. It was micro metastases. I didn't know what that meant so I conjured up my own definition, which was not a good scenario. It created fear and trembling and a sleepless night. But after I saw the doctor, I realized that it wasn't as bad as I had dreamed up. It was a tiny 1mm speck and she is confident that it can be annihilated through radiation. I think I have figured out that when I stay within the realms of what God has prepared me for then I am at perfect peace. When I wonder off in my own imagination then I seem to get on a roller coaster with no seat belt.

The front of the card said, God is before you, God is behind you, God is over you and God is in you.
From here on out I will remember that if I get that frightened again, then God simply isn't in it. Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Look

It's been a couple of days since the surgery and I can't believe how well I am getting around. Not ready to run a marathon, but still I am walking on my own and can change my clothes. All the instructions say that I can’t use my arm on the side of the mastectomy. So, since it's both sides I'm using more ab muscles than I remember having in the past. Oh.. I'm so sore!

Time for my first sponge bath. Until now I haven’t had the courage to remove a big heavy sweater that I put on as soon as I got home from the hospital in fear that I might see my profile. With my head upside down in the kitchen sink my sisters and I started with a shampoo. We worked our way back to my bathroom where pretty sheets were hanging over the mirrors. My daughters were so sweet to cover all the mirrors in my bathroom so I didn't have to look until I was ready. I slowly un buttoned my sweater and started to peel of the security blanket. Then off came the shirt. Wrapped around my chest was a huge bandage that went horizontally from one arm pit to another and reached down to my last set of ribs. The shape was flat. Completely flat. I couldn’t see underneath the bandages, only the shape. None. With my bottom lip quivering one of my sisters started to soap up the wash cloth. I had to unhook the drainage tubes that were pinned to my pants. While the tubes were still attached to me I handed them to my other sister. So, the three of us that day, in my bathroom, nurtured the body that was left after surgery. With little strength I sat down on a vanity bench and allowed to tears to come and the moaning to be heard. I’ll never forget looking up at one sister and seeing her with draining tubes in her hand that were connected to my body and watching mascara run down her face as she grieved for me while the other sister stood behind me softly and gently brushed out my tangled wet hair, telling me that it’s going to be okay. Then my husband tip toed in with a cup of hot tea, taking over the hair brush. He and I took the time we needed to reassure one another that we made a good decision and that everything was going to be alright. With clean clothes and freshly washed hair I enjoyed a day on the patio in perfect 60 degree temperatures, sun shining on a new horizon.

In Good Hands!

The day of the surgery was pretty remarkable when you consider that I checked in at 7:30am and checked out at 3pm! That’s right I’m not kidding.. bilateral (double) mastectomy! Vomit bowl under chin and cold wash cloth on my fore head and away we went on our way home. Looking back, it was kind of funny when I think about my poor husband who was trying to get me home quickly; the faster he went the more I got sick!

I think the most intimate moment I have ever experienced with my husband was in the recovery room. I remember looking up out of my fog and seeing that wonderful face with his charming smile looking back at me. He just kept saying, I love you. I couldn’t say much because my voice hadn’t returned yet, but I was telling him with my eyes that I loved him too. I made it! Here I am! Almost in one piece and I’m so grateful that you are here waiting for me! There was so much to tell him about my experience since I had last seen him hours ago when he left pre-op. My surgeon picked up my hand and held it like he was holding it as they wheeled my bed into the operating room and once we got there she didn’t let go. The nurse was setting everything up and she just continued to hold onto my hand, caressing it until she leaned over and softly spoke…goodnight Sheri. I remember as they wheeled me in the operating room that it was very cold. The radio was playing oldies and Team Boobie was in good cheer. My doctor, nurse and anesthesiologist were a team who worked together frequently on breast cancer patients. They called themselves Team Boobie, I called them my All Girl Rock Band. The chill of the operating room was sobering. Instantly I snapped out of vanity and became very aware of what was really happening. Team Boobie was not taking off my breasts. They were saving my life. Oh God, I have cancer. Please get it ALL! Take it all! Then Joshua 1:9 ran through my mind and over my lips. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor dismayed for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." That’s what I was repeating when the lights went out.
When the lights came back on there was my husband waiting patiently to tell me he loved me. I was only home a few hours when my sisters got in town. One of my sisters is a nurse and going to school to be a P.A. Whew, thank goodness because I tend to be a nervous nilly about everything. But, she was there to keep track of medicine and to help measure and drain the tubes. It was like having my own personal doctor! I was so happy to not be in the hospital! By the end of the day my whole family and close friends had stopped by to say hello. It was a celebration. I am officially a cancer survivor!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Battle Inside of Me

Embracing cancer is like putting together a 5000 piece puzzle. It takes more than a week. You put it together one piece at a time and each piece is examined to find its perfect fit. Brief moments are taken to refocus on the big picture and gain perspective. If I accept this mastectomy that means that I accept that I have cancer. That's like putting together the inside pieces before you put together the border. By the way, that's cancer will a lowercase c. I've decided that it doesn't deserve a capital c. The surgery marks the beginning of the battle inside of me. I can hardly believe that I have the little "c". How do I wrap my mind around a mastectomy when I can't even believe that  I have c....? Hum.
It's the eve of my surgery and I'm not ready yet, not ready I tell ya!!!! I don't want to do this. I'm just not ready. Oh my God! Big picture, cancer un treated kills. Little puzzle piece, I'm alive today and don't feel anything. Big picture, it's going to be a long year of treatment, maybe hair loss and hopefully reconstruction. Little picture, they are going to CUT OFF my boobs tomorrow?!!!!
It's the eve of my battle and new troops have flown into Las Vegas to bring support. My brother, his wife and children have arrived. We've busied ourselves preparing for their arrival by assembling taco night! No one was very hungry though. We shelled out small plates, made small talk and small bites were taken before we cleaned up. Looks like we'll be eating tacos and that chicken enchilada dish  for days to come!
After my brother took his  family to a hotel for a night's rest I sat up with my husband, daughter, son and mother and made my last not ready yet plea... I'm still not ready and there is no more time to get ready. We held hands and prayed. I heard the most gentle requests from our kids that Jesus would help me because I was seeking Him. I don't think I will ever forget the power of their prayers that night as I lay down to sleep and apologized to my husband that cancer in my breasts was about to affect our life as husband and wife in a gigantic way. He told me that one day I would understand how much he loves me and how little it would  affect our life as a couple.
There was little sleep that night. I fell asleep around 1am and woke up again at 4am. What the heck, I was about to be knocked out and get plenty of rest for the next few days! Early in the morning I stumbled to a computer and found a message on facebook from someone who knew of me but didn't know me personally. She said that she couldn't sleep and that she was awake and praying for my surgeon. I gratefully responded to her that I was up praying for my surgeon as well! Boy, I was glad that the Lord woke someone else up to pray with me! I came to find out that several people were up that morning praying for my surgeon. In the midst of it all I remembered a scripture that one of my friends shared with me in Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; Do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
That was it! That was what I needed. I could hear the power and reprimand in that scripture. It was God convincing me to Trust in Him. I repeated over and over... " Have I not commanded you?..." At last, I found the right puzzle piece to move forward. Just in time to leave for the hospital.

Someone Special to Prepare Me

It was the Saturday morning before surgery when the phone rang in the morning. Really all I had to do for the day was a little laundry and house cleaning. I knew that we would have company over the week and in typical fashion I wanted the house to be clean. Mom was on the other end of the line letting me know that she was at the airport ready to board her flight for Las Vegas. That doesn't seem unusual, but I actually thought she was coming the Saturday after surgery. Oh my gosh! I was so happy! What a surprise. The days were all so full of details and decisions that I couldn't be happier that I was shocked. I had planned to fiddle around the house the whole day only to make an hour chore out of it and quickly get to the airport for our special arrival. Before she hung up she murmured that we had her for a week! I whispered to myself that it was my turn, finally my turn.... unfortunately my turn. My mom is really my step mom. We really don't go into full explanation when we introduce one another to our friends and acquaintances. Instead, you will see that we make direct eye contact with one another and smile BIG when someone questions; your mom looks so young? I'm really only 12 years younger but, she's still the only woman who dared to love me during those rebellious teenage years. She gave me years of belonging as she took me in her fold and claimed me as her own. My mom helped me understand and forgive the woman who gave birth to me, because my birth mother didn't have all that it took to mother me. God had a perfect plan to match us up. Because of the power of  her unyielding love, I have made it  my purpose to keep my wings open wide, pay it forward and love every child as my own who finds themselves in my reach. My mom came to Las Vegas early to prepare me for the sacrifice I was about to make. She listened more than she spoke. She took my side. She took up my defense. She reminded me who I was and turned the last few years of defeat into strength. She told me the truth, I am defined by my boobs, that was my womanhood.... until now. Now, more would be required of me. She told me that she came so I could cry. She prepared me for battle, sent me off with a note pinned to my chest telling of her mighty prayers that had girded up more than one of her children over the years. She has six. Now, we have all had our turn to have her by our side during life's threats. I've watched and learned and I want to be that kind of mom.

Fear and Love can't be present at the same time!

I woke up this morning and walked to the kitchen slowly on my own for a glass of water. Passing the living room, I glanced at the couch and noticed the empty room. Dark and quiet again after the fullness of life and activity camped out for a week. Everyone has gone back home now. All that's left behind are two refrigerators full of food, a heap of blankets, pillows piled on the couch and half empty water bottles standing by crumpled candy wrappers. It was a seven day slumber party with loved ones who were brave and willing to lay on the couch with me. The doors were left wide wide open to let the cool breeze in. We snuggled under blankets, watched movie after movie and ate ALL DAY LONG! I can't imagine recovering from a double mastectomy any other way. Who else besides sisters and brother can make fun of the way you got yourself out of trouble as a teenager or how bad you stink because you haven't had a bath in two days? Pictures were pulled out, the camera lens cover is still off and there are DVDs longing for their place back in their cases. All reminding me of the love, laughter and strength found in a family. The last flight left yesterday at 6pm with a final good-bye text from my brother who said that they were flying over our home. Yes, the angels were flying over us and he is one of them. It's four days after surgery and there is so much to report. I hope I can straighten out the flurry of events that happened last week and remember everything. It was a week that I was completely buffered from the reality of cancer and surgery. I found out first hand that love and fear can not be present at the same time. God opened up the flood gates from Heaven and showered His love upon us as His people were stirred to be near us and pray for us. We were sheltered as a family and covered. Every need that I could hope for was met; even the needs that I didn't know I had were met! So please bear with me as I walk you through the last week of events that will amaze you as they have amazed us!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Hello Everyone! This is Sheri's daughter Monika and I wanted to give a brief update after her surgery today. It went PERFECT!!! We were blessed to hear that although we had heard that the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes, the doctor came out to announce to my Dad that the lymph nodes seem to have NO problems. She did remove a sentinal lymph node just to check it out in the lab and confirm that there is indeed no cancer. They have a follow up appointment on Thur to review the pathology reports and to discuss possible ongoing care. She is surrounded tonight by family, friends,food and laughter. Those are all things sure to get your spirits up after a long day. She is smiling and cracking jokes already. We are all believers in the power of prayer and thank you so much in advance for your continued prayers. Sheri sends out her love and I myself would like to thank each of you for following this blog and supporting Sheri's fight. She is courageous and made a huge sacrifice today for her family. But small compared to our Savior. Thanks everyone! God Bless and Happy 2012 :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tomorrow, Wednesday morning at 7:30a I check in at Summerlin Hospital for a 9:30a surgery

I can hear the beat of the drums and the battle cry from Heaven! I have heard the promises from God in Psalm 91. I believe that He is near and going before me on every occasion. The prayers of His intercessors have reached my ears and I know they have reached His ears too. Thank you to my sister warrior friends and our bible study group for your prayers. I have been like a child so little in my faith, but I am borrowing yours. Thank you for your certainty about a miracle and healing. Thank you for the burden that God has given you to pray. Thank you for your praise and your worship to Him, as you have me and my cancer on your minds. Thank you for pointing me right back to Jesus. Thank you for reminding me of my Faith. I was stunned on the battlefield and lost my armour. You brought back all the pieces and strengthened me again. Thank you for the whispers of love in my ears and the touch of our hands. Thank you that it is about you too. Thank you.

 Tomorrow, Wednesday  morning at 7:30a I check in at Summerlin Hospital for a 9:30a surgery. It's an outpatient surgery believe it or not. The surgery will only take a few hours and the skillful hands of my surgeon will carve out the breast tissue which holds the poison in my body. A bittersweet good-bye. It will take about 10 days for the pathology report to come back in and then we will know what strategy and how to plan the treatments. And I still can't believe that I have cancer!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Five Tips for Financial Aid in Nevada

My time to track down assistance as an uninsured cancer patient has left me little time to consider the reality of the cancer itself. If you know of someone who is in the position of being uninsured, under insured or will need assistance of any kind please pass on this blog. Although the task of applying for assistance is daunting and it is hard to find organizations who have funds to help, there are some worthy resources available. I found possible insurance this late in the game, help with utility bills, house payments, rides, companionship, counseling and the list goes on. I know not one agency who has all the answers but collectively they make an impact in the lives of those who are struggling with an illness.

1) For the uninsured with pre existing illness. PCIP insurance was initiated as part of the Obama health care plan. If you have a pre existing illness and you cannot get health care coverage, have not had health coverage for the last 6 months or been denied health coverage because your illness and you are a US Citizen, you are eligible for health insurance. Go to Phone # 1-800-220-7898. Make sure to call this number.

2) Federal, State and Local assistance. This one  is tough to get and you have to apply for it in the right order or else you may find yourself starting all over. Make sure you have all the documents they request. You will need to disclose all of your retirement funds, cash on hand, bank account balances and assets. The workers at the independent agencies do not always know how the system works. Keep all your paperwork in a three ring binder. Record names, dates and conversations.

  • First, make an appointment for the Social Security office. File an application for both SSI and Disability. Make sure you apply for both! It may take up to 6 months to be approved for SS, but you can be approved for State and Local assistance sooner. You just need to be in the system.  If you have any additional medical procedures make sure to send your information in for your case worker to keep in their file. You will not be able to get any assistance if you don't start here first. Clark County will not help you if you didn't ask the State of Nevada first, and the State of Nevada will not help you unless you ask the Federal Government first.
  • Second, Medicaid programs are found at the Nevada State Welfare Division. There are several physical offices you can go to. You can print the application online and then go to the office to submit it. Your approval at Social Security will help with the approval at Medicaid. Medicaid will issue you a letter in 7-15 days. You will receive at case number and PIN number to track your information.
  • Social Services is Clark County's program for assistance. Social Services requires the most paperwork by far, so be ready to start gathering all your documents. The will require an appointment to bring in all your medical and financial records which takes approx 3-4 weeks to get. You must apply in person to get the appointment. You will need to be in the Medicaid database before you can see Clark County Social Services at your scheduled appointment.

3) Negotiate your bills! Doctors, Hospitals and other medical facilites can and will negotiate better prices with the uninsured. Some may want cash up front and others will allow you to make payments. They want to help but it takes a little pre planning. Call ahead, tell them who you are and negotiate ahead of your appointment. I was able to negotiate 80% off of my hospital bill.

4) Hold a fundraiser. You don't have to do this all on your own. Everyone has someone in their sphere of friends and family who has the perfect personality to help out in this area. Think creatively and have fun with it.

5) There are hundreds of Non-Profit cancer support groups that have funds and man hours available to help. Here are a few I found helpful

  • Susan G Koman, not only has funding but has resources to help your families with counseling, wigs and prosthetics to massages. They provided that pink book bag I spoke of in an earlier blog post
  • Access to Healthcare- 877-385-2345. They are a patient advocate group. They will help you with negotiating medical bills and finding financial aid. Their program has been so successful that they have now gone before a federal committee as a model program for national needs.
  • State of Nevada Consumer Health Assistant Program. I called them last and when I did, I wished I had called them first! They had all the information I dug up, including the information about PCIP for pre existing insurance.
  • Your treatment facility will have social workers who can also help you with medical needs, other financial needs and emotional needs. Use them, that's what they are there for!

Friday, January 6, 2012


IDC is the diagnosis. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Five years ago the cancer or atypical cells (really not cancer apparently to my original doc) were in a tiny lobe just sitting inside of it. Now it has spread outside the lobe, into the duct and beyond into the breast tissue. There is no cure, I've been told.  That's why I have to remove it; 'cause it has no boundaries and doesn't know how to stop.
Yesterday, when I was doing my morning chores, my mind slipped off to that lofty place. Why have I choose mastectomies? Is there someway around it? Gosh, for a day there I  had a moment of denial. Someone must be playing a trick on me. This just can't be possible. This happens to other people, not me. Besides it's just not fair. My husband's sister just passed away 4 months ago after living for 10 fighting years with this thing.
Where are the cameras? I've been punked. You can come on out now and call off the bluff. I fell asleep with that level of  hope only to pop  up in the dark, panicked and announced to my husband that they are taking my TaTa's in 6 days! I found a comfortable place in his arms as he soothed me back to sleep.
Today is ANOTHER busy day with pre-op procedures at the hospital and more retirement liquidation. I'm pulled and tugged to think of long term decisions and make sure the car registration gets done before we begin this process. It's all a whirlwind. I still need to say good-bye to a part of my body!
Good-Bye Ta Tas. Thank you for helping me feed my babies and enjoy the incredible bond that happens when a mother nurses her children. There is no way to describe the joy and affection a mother feels. I remember how I waited for you come then hid you during those Jr. High showers. I remember all the times you grew with me when I over indulged in food and then disappeared when I was fit. It was just the last few years that I really enjoyed your maturity, your shape and familiarity. The disease that grows inside of you has an insatiable desire that can not be quenched. Thank you for taking the sacrifice. It's been a pleasure and an honor to have you with me for 47 years. You've been awesome. Let's say good-bye in peace.
As much as this sacrifice hurts, how do I comprehend the sacrifice of Jesus? It's in Him that I can find my comfort. He knows about sacrifice and how there can be new life because of it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

So Blessed

One last entry today that will catch us all up to speed. I have promised to blog then it took a few weeks to put it into action. Boy, do you see a pattern here in my personality. I do. I must tell you about all the blessings. I was sitting at the dinning table with one of my daughters the other day. I had a million things on my mind and two million that needed to be done, but for that moment there was nothing more important to me than to just sit with her and talk about nothing as we talked about everything. My husband always tells me, slow down and smell the flowers. I always retort, pick up the pace!
My kids have been right there ready willing and able to do what ever I need. My friends are another line of defense that have come to our aid. Our family members are holding us up in their love. All I could think is that there is no way I can accomplish all that I need to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I took a strong look at everyone who stood up and said I'm ready and I'm here for you. For one of the very few times in my life, I asked for help. I was able to delegate my needs to my family and boy; they came through with flying colors. I have many sets of eyes now to help me understand nutrition, reports, chemo treatments, organize prayer supports and fundraisers. I have been upheld spiritual, mentally and physically. As I write this my husband just brought in the mail. He placed an envelope on my desk and when I opened it there was a message inside along with a check. We don't know the person who sent this gift of help to us. We are so grateful and this is not the first time treasures of information and resources have been shared with us. I can only hope that I can give of myself so freely when I see the need.  I Trust in the Lord my God!

Surgery Date Set and logistics

New Year's Eve weekend took sooooo long be over. I couldn't wait for the first business day after the New Year's Eve conversation with my doctor. With all of the results at my finger tips, there is only urgency on my mind. Jan 11th, 2012 is The Day. Moving through this is like sprinting up a mountain. Every now and then I need a minute to digest the terrain. Where am I, where am I going and what comes next runs through my mind like a scrolling banner. Did you know that cancer loves an acidic environment? That it can't survive in an oxygen cell environment? PH balance is important and I should not eat red meat?
That's nice to know, right? So much to do like filing for a modification on my home loan so they won't foreclose while I'm recovering from surgery and chemo. Did I mention that I have no insurance? I spared you from the stories of filing for Social Security, Medicaid and social service financial assistance. I first was surprised that there were so many private agencies to give financial assistance and even more surprised to find out that they are all out of money. One organization told me that no organization could help with the medication because it was against the law! Really? The IRS says that I can't get help from a non-profit organizations to pay for chemo?! The thought is that they can help with  my power bill so I can pay for my treatments. Let's see how does that work? If I qualify, I can be blessed with $150.00 for my power bill, but the $10,000 Chemo drip is on me? Something doesn't make sense here folks? I kindly told the lady on the phone from the last organization I called, "Honestly, I really don't need $150.00 for my power bill, what I need is insurance!
Some good news came from a family member and doctor as well as another friend who is a pharmaceutical rep. The companies that make the chemo will help with the cost if you have a hardship letter. So there is hope. Another friend told us that there is an insurance company called PCIP that will cover pre-existing conditions. I am applying for that immediately! It takes about 4 weeks to be approved and it is the same insurance that our government workers get. I will end up paying for the surgery with deep discounts for cash paying patients. Insurance, if I get it will kick in for treatments. If I don't get it then I always have the option of relying on the county and UMC. Now I know why they show such a loss every year! Cash paying patients at UMC are charged just 50.00 for treatment and a 500.00 deductible. Downfall is I don't get to use my own doctors and who knows if the meds offered are the best ones for me? Fundraiser!!!! I would have rather never been the one in need, but I am. There was a moment when I was sitting in the welfare office, I turned and looked at my husband and ask, "How did I get here"? Gosh I must have been day dreaming during the bus ride that dropped me off here. Then the tears just ran and ran and ran... How do I get back to being a giver again?
With that said and my nightmare spoken out loud, I am so blessed.

Mastecomy, are you sure?

Christmas is over and we are back in the Doctor's office. Mammogram, check. Ultrasound, check. PET scan, check. The PET scan not only said that there was no other cancer found in my body, it told us a lot about the cancer itself. I found out that the HER2 protien was negative. That means that my cells are not cancer friendly...that's a good thing. The growth stage was 1, this is not the same as the "stage" we laymen think it is. Growth one means that it's simply not hungry and agressive.... that's also a good thing. We know what kind of cancer it is so they know how to treat it. It has a 93% chance of responding to estrogen treatment... another good thing! I don't know what that means excactly yet, but I'm researching. It will get the staging number after it is removed from my body and the lympnodes are dissected. But, so far.. I'm thinking this is not so bad. I'm thinking so positively I am talking my self right out of the mastectomy! With this news I began to back peddle on the mastectomy. Maybe it's not necessary? I've been reading a lot about lumpectomys with radiation treatment and I could save my breast. The thoughts of mastectomy have had me in tears non stop! I can't imagine... I just can't do it. At this hesitation the doctor orders one more test, an MRI and wants another biopsy if I chose lumpectomy. It's worth the extra look to save a ta ta!
Leaving the office I got the referral for the MRI and remarkably I had the MRI done within a few hours and stood back in the doctors office with MRI results in my hand by 4p that day. I got an appointment the following week to review the results. Bad news this time. There are 4  tumors in my right breast, three appear to be cancer and it appears on the MRI that two lymphnodes have been affected. Although the left bresat appears to be clear on the MRI, I will need a biopsy of the two pre-cancer leison on that side. Okay, time to take some of that anti-anxiety medicine.
New Year's Eve. the phone rang and the Doctor was calling to check on me. "How are you"? she says.
"Not a good day," I responded.
"What's wrong, Sheri"? she said directly.
"It has all just caught me by surpise," I said weeping.
Boldly the Doctor called me to reality, "No it has not, you did not get your mammogram screening since 2007, why is that? It was becasue you didn't want to know."
Resolved to the truth I said, "You're right."
"So we are doing a double mastectomy,"  she questioned?
"Yes,".... I said simply.
With that we had a few giggles about what party animals we are NOT. She encouraged that I not spend a quite evening at home, but to go out and have some fun. Doctor's orders. I fell asleep on the couch at 9p on New Year's Eve. Woke up right at midnight to watch the count down and said to myself... "this is going to be a rough year."