In Christ Alone: My Journey through Breast Cancer

a 37-year old, christian, mother of four, missionary/pastor's wife's story

Home, Sweet Home July 13, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 4:20 PM

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:28‬)
I was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, and now am back home, sweet home with my family! Thank you to all who have been praying once again as I was in the hospital for the blood clots they found in my lungs a week ago Tuesday. It is such an encouragement each time I hear you are praying for me.

Medical Update

It was not our plan for me to stay in the hospital for a whole week, but it was God’s plan. I got to meet many wonderful health care professionals that were able to help me in so many ways! I was able to do physical therapy nearly everyday while in the hospital. Now I can walk again with the help of a 2-wheeled walker! I still need help to stand up, but then can support my weight and walk for short distances. This has helped my strength increase everyday too. Praise the Lord for increased muscle power!

I was also able to complete all the shots of medication to begin thinning my blood. Now I can just take a pill everyday to keep my blood thin, so my clots don’t grow. Now we wait for my body to dissolve the clots, which could take 2-3 weeks for all the clots to start dissolving. The doctors also said it could take up to 3 months for all the clots to be dissolved completely.

It is difficult for me to breath deeply with the clots I have in my lungs, so I cough and get short of breath easily. They had to send me home from the hospital with oxygen, so we are adjusting to this new obstacle in my daily routine. Hopefully, I won’t have to be on oxygen too long.

Move to Ohio

We are getting very close to our move date of July 23rd! All the needed inspections and paperwork are getting done. Our house is getting more and more packed up. We are hoping to pack most of the rest of our things up this Saturday. We are so thankful for those that have stopped by or taken a day to come out and help us pack boxes. It has been such a great help in getting us ready for the move!

As we look back on my time in the hospital, and even my time in dealing with these brain tumors since the beginning of May, we can see how God has been working. We have been able to share with so many how God is the source of our strength as we face these various challenges. When I am weak, He is strong! Eric and I have grown in our faith in trusting that God is causing “all things to work together for good.” We have seen so many things with my recent medical challenges, selling our house, and buying our house in Ohio that can only be because of God’s perfect timing and plan. And I know there are many more ways God is at work that we may never know about till we get to heaven.

Thank you again for your continued prayers as I get rid of these blood clots and we prepare for our big move to Ohio. We could not do this without all of your prayers and support! God is good all the time!

 

When a Little Cough Isn’t So Little July 5, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 10:54 PM

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
I wasn’t expecting to have another update for you so soon, but we’ve had another eventful day to share with you. Over the weekend I developed a little dry cough. As the weekend progressed, I started having some shortness of breath when I coughed and then times where it was hard to stop coughing. I also had a low-grade fever and was getting chills. We were thinking, “Who gets sick in July!”
I went in for my normal chemo appointment this Tuesday morning and told my doctor about my symptoms. He decided to send me for a CT Scan just to rule out anything going on in my lungs and then we could try some antibiotics to get rid of the cough.

They were able to get me in for a 1pm scan. We waited there afterward for the results. About ten minutes later they came out and told me multiple blood clots showed up on my scan and I was to head to the hospital to be admitted for treatment!

I have had blood clots before about 2-1/2 years ago. We caught those early on a routine scan before I had any symptoms. I have been on blood thinners ever since then to prevent blood clots. But when I had my seizure and they found my brain tumors at the beginning of May, they had me stop taking the blood thinners and switch to an Aspirin a day because my regular blood thinners might have interfered with my new meds and caused swelling on my brain.

Well, now we know that those blood thinners were keeping away blood clots for me. I have multiple blood clots in both lungs. The good news is they are not blocking any of the main pathways, so blood is still getting through. I have started Lovenox shots to thin my blood while I am here in the hospital so they can monitor me. I’ll hopefully get to go home in a couple days as the clots dissolve and I can start taking my pills at home again.

This morning as I was reading my Bible, I came to James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I knew this cough was not like any cough I had before, so I prayed God would give us and my doctor wisdom as we figured out what to do. I am so thankful we decided to do a scan before just trying antibiotics. Once again God is faithful and answers prayer by guiding and directing the next step for us.

On the chemo side of my treatments, last week I got a week off from chemo! I had only received Herceptin the week before, and my tumors on my back had not grown at all. They typically grow a bit when I don’t have my Gemzar chemo too. I asked if I could take a week off from chemo and try to build up my muscles and my doctor thought that would be good. I have seen great improvement in my arm muscles and can use them to move myself quite a bit again! My legs have been slower, but are definitely improving too. My thigh muscles are definitely growing. Praise the Lord! Another praise is that even with last week off chemo, my tumors on my back have not grown this week again! God is so good!

Thank you once again for keeping our family in your prayers as we face this new challenge. Pray the medicine will work and these clots will dissolve quickly! God knew how our day was going to go and He was with us each step of the way. We know He has a plan and a purpose for me to be here. Pray that we can glorify Him in all we do.

 

On the Move June 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 4:42 PM

“…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Hang on! God is definitely moving in our lives this week! Thank you all for your continued prayers for the specific requests I’ve been sharing. It’s so amazing to see how God works out the answers in His perfect time and way! There was a reason I wasn’t able to have my harder Gemzar chemo this week. God knew Eric and I would need some extra energy and have to rest in His strength for what He had in store for this weekend.

In God’s perfect timing, he called Eric’s Grandma Frances Davenport home to be with Him early last Thursday morning at the age of 94. She loved the Lord, served Him faithfully, and left a wonderful legacy that touched so many lives in her time on this earth. We were able to make the trip to Creston, IA for the visitation on Friday and Eric was able to fulfill his Grandma’s request that he be the one to share God’s story of her life at her Celebration of Life Service on Saturday. I don’t think here was a dry eye in the church as the Holy Spirit was at work! Please pray for anyone that was moved to accept Christ as their Savior or is still thinking about it because of the testimony and life of Eric’s Grandma Frances. We rejoice that she is now face to face with her Savior and we have the sure hope that we will be reunited with her when we get to heaven!


Move to Ohio

In God’s perfect timing, He also decided Saturday would be the day for us to sell our house! We had a wonderful family, with great credit, that had already sold their house, that came in on Friday from out of state for a second look at our house. They decided our house was The One after taking time to pray about it, and in God’s perfect timing we sold our house on Saturday morning! Praise the Lord for answering this BIG prayer request! Our family had also been praying another Christian family would move into our house to impact our neighborhood for Christ after we move. Isn’t it amazing how God answered even this prayer for us too!? God is so good!

As we were celebrating, the radio began playing the song God is on the Move. We found that very fitting for God working out all the details at that very moment and in His perfect timing is moving us on to our next Adventure He has called us to in Ohio!

Now, where do we go? We only have a month to find a house and close on it! The house we had been keeping an eye on in Ohio had already accepted another offer and there weren’t really any more viable options available that would meet our family of six’s needs. Then, Friday we came across a For Sale By Owner house. This house is in a great location right between the BCP Office where Eric will work, the church we wish to attend, the Satellite Cleveland Clinic Office that I would like to go to for my cancer care, as well as a great smaller school district for our kids to attend! Wow! Could this be the house God had prepared for us the whole time??? Well…we were able to come to an agreement with the homeowners Today and we now have a signed contract for our new house in Ohio! We should be moving in on July 30th if all goes according to plan. Anything is possible with God! He truly can move mountains when we trust Him and His perfect plan and perfect timing for our lives!

God has been asking us to trust Him for all the details to work out in His perfect timing. It has not been an easy road with the physical challenges I am experiencing, but God has provided help and strength just when we needed it. Rejoice and Praise Him with us!

We now have many details to figure out and see what God has in store in the days and weeks ahead, so please keep praying for us as we go through this time of transition and move on to what God is calling us to next. Thank you again to so many for their prayers, love, and support. We could not do this without each of you!

 

Strength When I am Weak June 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 11:16 AM

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support through this time of recovery from my brain tumors. We could not do this without all of you helping out, praying so much, and God’s grace and provision!

Medical Update

The process of weaning myself off of steroids continues to be a slow one with many side effects to deal with. I have not been able to walk on my own due to the muscle atrophy from the steroids since my Gamma Knife Procedure on May 31st. Thankfully my wonderful husband Eric has taken good care of me, being my muscles and getting me around. I now seem to be keeping the muscle I have and through small exercises I am very slowly gaining some muscle back. My steroids have also given me swelling in the ankles and feet requiring them to be elevated much of the day. They’ve also caused bloating, moon face, and very little sleep making me tired and fatigued much of the time. Thank you all for your prayers that are sustaining me each day as I deal with the steroid side effects. Each week I step down the dosage and will be done with the steroids on July 11th!

Last Tuesday, I was able to resume a half-dose of my harder Gemzar chemo along with my weekly Herceptin chemo treatment for my cancer spots on my back. This was needed as the cancer spots had begun to slightly grow on Herceptin alone. Praise the Lord, it worked and my spots did not grow this week! I was knocked down as if I had a full dose of my Gemzar last week though. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I was “chemo wiped out” and very weak. By Friday, I was feeling better and was even able to attend our town celebration of Bennington Daze! It was a great time to get out and see many friends and enjoy the festivities with my husband and kiddos! I am so thankful for God’s blessings in the midst of trials! He is faithful and will get me through.

Yesterday, was again chemo day for me. I normally have Gemzar two weeks in a row and then one week off to recover my white blood cell counts and anything else that may be low. This week my platelets were too low to receive my 2nd week of Gemzar. They are not critical, but if I received another dose of Gemzar they would have gotten too low. So I had another Heceptin-only treatment day yesterday. Pray that this will be enough to keep my cancer spots in check till next week and I can get my Gemzar treatment.

Move to Ohio

Our house is still on the market and we continue to have a steady stream of showings, but no offers yet. We are told there is a family very interested, so we’re hopeful we will have an offer soon! We know God has perfect timing for selling our house and providing a house out in Ohio that will meet our needs. Please pray with us as we wait on His timing and all the details that go along with this transition.

Strength When I am Weak

I am so thankful for God’s strength when I am weak! Through this time, I have truly learned to trust in Him for my strength as I have lost my own strength through circumstances beyond my control. Have you had to face a struggle beyond your control? Many times bad things happen in this world we cannot stop. We all face hard times at some point. How are we going to respond?
I was greatly encouraged by the following verses and the words of a dear friend Dr. Michael Peck that is the response I desire to have, even though it is hard in the midst of my current circumstances:

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

“I might have situations and things that seem to be against me. However, I can rejoice in the knowledge that the great God Who delivered His only Son to become my Savior says that He is for me. Whatever you are facing today, please remember that if you know the Lord as your Savior, your great God is for you and has blessed you in every way. Turn to Him. Trust fully in Him. Share your heart and hurt with Him. Be watchful of His amazing provision and promise that God is for us!”*

What a wonderful biblical truth-God is for me! In my weakness, how is God going to supply through His power? Watch with me and see Him supply and give me the strength I need in His perfect time.

*excerpt from Dr. Michael Peck’s daily prescription June 21, 2016. Dr. Peck is the Baptist Church Planters Author and Family Counselor and you can see his writing and subscribe to his “Daily Prescription” at his website michaelpeck.org.

 

A Little Stronger Each Day! June 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 10:41 AM

“Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” ‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭43:3-4‬)
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support as I recover from the Gamma Knife Procedure last week and also for Muscle Power! God is supplying, answering, and sustaining us through you and your love and prayers and so much support in this time. Thank you to so many bringing us food, meals, gifts, gift cards, and other help with the kids and around the house. It has been a huge blessing and help for Eric especially. Pray for strength and adequate rest for Eric also so he can continue to help me through the recovery process as he is. Praise the Lord, He is doing great and God has given him the strength or help he needs for everything so far!

Medical Update

I was able to taper off one of my four daily doses of my steroid this week, and I have seen marked improvement each day since. I have felt my muscles improve very slightly in strength. I have definitely begun feeling better and been able to think more clearly each day as well. Each week I will get to drop one more dose of my steroid. It is a long process, but I am so thankful for daily improvement so far! I am still having trouble sleeping because of the steroids, so pray I can get more rest and feel less tired all the time.

I was also able to resume my regular weekly Herceptin chemotherapy treatment this week, but we decided to hold off one more week for my harder Gemzar chemotherapy treatment. Pray that my two cancer spots under the skin on my back will not grow too much in this extra week off and the chemo treatment next week will be able to knock the cancer back down again quickly.

Move to Ohio

We are still working on getting moved to Ohio. Our house has been on the market for two and half weeks now. We have had ten showings, but no offers yet. The kids are looking forward to not needing to make their beds everyday.:) We have also found a beautiful target home that would meet all of our needs in Ohio and have submitted an offer contingent on our house here selling and closing. We are waiting to hear word back if it is accepted. Thank you for praying about all the details with us. God is providing and working and we are excited to see how He will move us in His perfect timing!

Hope & Strength

I am so thankful for God’s comfort and care through this time. He has been faithful to bring me through so many challenges with my cancer over the past five years. He is still faithful and gives hope in this time too. When my strength is gone and I can do absolutely nothing else, I can rest in His care and promises. God is growing and stretching my patience and perseverance. He is showing me what is truly important around me. Have you stopped to consider what is truly important and vital in this life? God, who made the entire universe, loves you and wants to give you life more abundantly! He gives the grace we need to face any circumstance or trial that may come in this life! What challenge are you facing that you desperately need help in? Are you ready to trust God for all you need today? All you have to do is stop and ask God to forgive your sins through Jesus Christ dying for your sins on the cross and ask Him to be your Savior and Lord of your life now! You will receive His great mercy, grace, peace, strength, and so much more! Don’t miss the abundant life offered to you! To find out more about this, click here to read my link about God’s Hope & Strength.

 

Muscle Power Needed! June 4, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 9:21 AM

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ‭‭(Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬)

Thank you for your continued prayers as I recover from my Gamma Knife Procedure. I do continue to have no side affects from it. No headaches or anything. And the tiny pinpoint incisions from placing the Halo Device are healing up nicely.

The Challenge: Muscle Power

The difficulty I am dealing with now is due to the extended steroid use to make sure there is no swelling on my brain as I recover. I have had to maintain a high dose steroid for an entire month already and I have to continue the steroid use for another month while I slowly wean off. In previous updates I’ve shared that I was having some significant muscle weakness, that has become significant muscle deterioration over the past month. This is one of the major side effects of the steroids. It is to the point now where my muscles are so weak at times that they give out and I have fallen a few times. Thankfully, Eric has been right there to catch me and is making sure I am safe and sound all the time.

Will you pray with me for strength in my muscles? Pray that the breakdown of muscle will stop and be rebuilt even now?

I know this is only a temporary struggle that we are dealing with for a little while as I recover. My medical team has given me instructions to follow and says I will recover as I wean off the steroids. This too shall pass in a bit more time. 

I know that Christ can give me the strength to do this! James 5:16 says, “pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” So I am calling you prayer warriors to pray for this specific request: Muscle Power!

 

​ Successful Gamma Knife Day May 31, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 11:53 PM

Wow! What a day resting in God’s goodness! So many of you all around the country and even the world were praying for all the details of the Gamma Knife Procedure today and my medical team as they worked. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the overwhelming prayers storming the throne of grace today. God heard and answered in mighty ways!

We are happy to report that the high resolution MRI showed that the 2 tumors had NOT grown any more and the procedure was able to target both of these areas and shoot them with the 200 beams to kill them just as planned! There were also NO additional areas that showed up on the scans to be dealt with either. I am so thankful for my amazing medical team and their hard work to get everything done exactly as planned. They did a fantastic job, in part because of the many prayers helping and guiding them along!

Here are a few pictures of the process of the Halo Device placement and yes I got to be a bubble-head for a bit to get into the Gamma Knife Radiation Machine! The most challenging part was trying to eat and drink with the halo device on while I was slightly drugged. I’m glad I could provided a bit of comic relief to Eric and my parents as they watched me in this attempt.😉

IMG_4689 IMG_4692 IMG_4694 IMG_4699 IMG_4702

With the completion of the Gamma Knife Procedure today, we now wait again. The tumors should be now dead from the radiation and cannot grow anymore, but will take time to shrink away. We have to wait 2 months before I will have another MRI to see how things look in my brain then.

We were able to return home by 4pm today and I actually was able to rest and sleep after seeing my happy kids! The steroids have been preventing me from sleeping, even though I am very tired all the time. I am very thankful I can now start weaning myself off of the steroids and hopefully get back to some normal sleep patterns and add some much needed energy to my daily routine with my family and friends!

God has been so good to me through all this! He has taught me of my need to rest in Him and His promises when I am weak. He is the One who is with me and upholds me with His righteous right hand. When I feel like I can’t stand, He lifts me up.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

 
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