Thursday, September 30, 2010

Roller Coaster Continues....

So I went to have my ultrasound and biopsy done today at The City of Hope because like I said in my last post the MRI showed 3 or 4 nodules.  The two techs and radiologist looked around for half and hour with 2 different probes and they couldn't find anything so there was no biopsy done today after all. That seems like good news but Im still waiting to hear back from the radiation oncologist to find out where we go now. Hopefully I cant start radiation and be done with it...hopeful thinking...I know ;)... He is supposed to call sometime today or tomorrow. I'll let ya'll know. Once again I find myself humbled at God's amazing work and plan for my life.

and because posts without pictures aren't as is one of my Dad and I. He took me today because Nathan had to work. He even went back in the ultrasound room with me to take care of his little girl :)
My family has been so supportive and there for us through all the ups and downs of this roller coaster.  God Bless them and their gigantic hearts!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Important Test....Please Pray!!!!

This whole journey has been such a roller coaster. Just when we get good news and Im comfortable with the course of action it changes. The Radiation Oncologist called me this morning and told me they got the official MRI report back and I in fact have 3 or 4 small lumps in my wrist. As you  can imagine Im scared and upset with the news. Im having an ultrasound and biopsy done on Thursday at 11am. We're hoping its just post-operative scar tissue or some other type of healing from my surgery and not cancerous.  He also said they appear to be close to the skin so Im hoping if they do have to go in and take them out it wont be dangerous and risky on the function of my hand.  When we got the good news the other day the Orthopedic Surgeon read the MRI results himself so we were confident in them. He said I had no lumps at all so hopefully he knows that those little lumps aren't anything to worry about and that the Radiation Oncologist is just being extra cautious. Please pray for us again as we take on another test. God has a plan. Once again I look to the verse that has helped through this all.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Thank you so much!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Radiation Oncologist Appointment

My Mom & I (Nathan had to work) went to City of Hope today for my appointment with the Radiation Oncologist. There isn't really any new information. He plans to have radiation done for about seven and a half weeks since my margins were positive when the tumor was taken out. Hopefully that takes care of it, it goes away and doesn't come back. He went over the side effects of radiation which are minimal. I feel comfortable with it and am ready to start. He said that since my surgery was about 6 weeks ago now is about the time I'd be able to start radiation. That made me feel good to know we haven't wasted anytime waiting for the authorizations and other tests.  Now I just have to wait for my insurance to authorize the radiation and I'll be set up for it. They have to do a CT scan of my wrist as well as xrays so they know exactly where to radiate. Please pray the radiation takes care of the cancer....God has been so good to us and I still have full faith in his will & plan for my life.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Big Bear

We had a wonderful & relaxing time in Big Bear this weekend.  After receiving the good news on Thursday we headed up the mountain for the weekend.  It was just Nathan, my parents, two brothers and I. We really didn't do much other than spend good family time together. 

The view from the cabin is amazing. Hope ya'll had a good weekend too :)

I promise my brothers were there...I just don't have pictures of the both of them :(

I'll find out more about my radiation regimen tomorrow. My appointment is at 1. Thanks again for your prayers!!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thank You So Much!

First off I want to thank everyone so much for all your prayers leading up to my appointment yesterday. Even though I was a nervous wreck before the doctor came in (my heartbeat was in the 130's) I felt peace. I knew that no matter what the surgeon said and what the results of the MRI were I was going to be ok. The past few days I've just been praying for peace and comfort and God definitely heard my prayers. I'm so relieved and excited about the news and happy to have a plan. I also wanted to thank ya'll so much for all the emails, texts, facebook messages & comments on the blog regarding the good news we received yesterday! Its amazing to have so many celebrating and rejoicing in the good news with us. I know I've said this time and time again but I am truly so blessed. God is so good and I feel through out my journey he's heard every word I prayed and has taken such good care of me.
My family and I are up in the mountains this weekend at a beautiful cabin that overlooks the lake celebrating. Its such a huge relief for us all. I'll post some pictures when we get back on Sunday. Again thank you so much for the support, prayers and love. God has heard our prayers. Hope ya'll have a great weekend :)
My appointment with the radiation oncologist is at City of Hope on Monday at 1pm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great News!

After over a month of confusion and fear we now have a plan! Dr. Femino the orthopedic oncologist at City of Hope compared the pre-surgical MRI with Tuesday's MRI and concluded that no surgery is needed at this time! The last time we saw him he thought for sure she would need another surgery and likely a below elbow amputation, but the MRI results were so good that he said neither would be required at this time! The plan now is to meet with the Radiation Oncologist and schedule her regimen for radiation. She will not require chemo as previously thought and will likely have the Medi-port removed sometime soon. The radiation will be five days a week for six weeks. We will have to follow her wrist closely with MRI's every three months and repeat PET scans to check for any spread.

Dr. Femino said he is hopeful that there will not be any return as the cancer hadn't grown at all since surgery! In fact he said after viewing the MRI that the only reason he knows she has cancer is because of the pathology report. There is no residual tumor or any visible recurrence post surgery! This news was so relieving and we are unbelievably thankful for it! It has been a really stressful and sleepless period of time since she was diagnosed and now we at least have the reassurance of knowing a plan for her recovery! Radiation will be difficult and tedious for her, but things could have been so much worse. Pray that everything continues to be on the up and up!

Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our God

When I was first diagnosed with cancer our good friend Eric shared this song with us. Nathan and I really liked it but since that day hadn't thought much more about it until this past Sunday. They sang it at church and the words really sank in. So true. This song has helped so much this week with such a scary time.

My appointment with the surgeon at City of Hope is tomorrow at 8am. We'll be finding out the results of the MRI and what our options are. I pray its in God's will to have good news. We'll update and let ya'll know after the appointment. I so so so appreciate all your prayers..the supports helps me more than ya'll will ever know.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MRI but No Results until Thursday....

I'm writing this post from my blackberry so it won't be very long! I had my MRI this morning and boy am I claustrophobic..haha! I better get used to it though since I'll be having scans done often! We won't know the results of the MRI until we meet with the surgeon on Thursday at 8am! So please keep the prayers coming :) I just wanted to give ya'll an update so you weren't curious about what all happened today! Now Nathan and I are on our way to the mall and dinner! Time out of the house and out and about is always fun :) Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vanessa's Journey Wristbands

Our wonderful family friends, Jim & Marie, had wristbands made for and in support of me. My dad works with him and we've known them since we were really young. My dad brought them over to my house tonight and it literally brought tears to my sweet and so thoughtful. We've have been giving out the LIVESTRONG bands and I loved how all my family and friends wore them in support of me and now with these personalized ones....its going to be awesome :) Again Im beyond blessed. Thank you so much Jim & Marie for thinking of me and giving us such a wonderful & thoughtful gift and I love the perfect.

If you want one let us know and we'd be happy to mail or give them to you when we see ya :) 
I have so much support....its unbelievable. Im amazed at how blessed we are. 

Again my MRI is tomorrow at 6am. This is so crucial...please please pray all goes well. Thank you again for all the prayers & support.

Sweet Cousin CJ

My little cousin CJ shaved his hair last week too in support of me. This was before we found out I wasn't doing chemo after all. He is the sweetest kid ever and so cute!
The "V" is for Vanessa and Victory :)
I dont have the after picture but I'll get it and add it in soon. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birthday Slumber Party Weekend

Hi..Its me again. Like Ive said before some post are a bit too much for me to handle so thats when my awesome husband steps in and fills ya'll in on whats going on.  That appointment had its up and downs and thats kind of how I've been over the weekend. Im happy I don't have to have and go through chemo but I cry on the spot when thinking about losing my arm. Im trying to not let it get to me because that of course is our last option but if its what necessary to rid my body of this cancer and live a healthy life from here on out...I guess that wouldnt be too bad :) MRI is Tuesday at 6am. Please Please Please pray that the tumor is superficial and on the tendons not the nerves. If thats the case I'd just have the surgery to take out more tissue, repair tendons and then radiation for 6 weeks. That doesn't sound to bad to me. Please pray that it be in Gods will to heal the cancer from body but I still get to keep my arm :)

This weekend was my amazing Dads Birthday. We celebrated all weekend and just tried to push all our worries and trouble to the side and we did. We all had a blast.  Since the diagnoses Nathan & I have been spending so much time with my family. Besides each other...they are our major support system and I don't know how we'd be with out them. So we had a slumber party at their house all weekend, celebrating life, eating and playing games. Saturday was his actual birthday so we went out to dinner to his favorite Japanense steak house. Sunday we watched football and ate all day long....literally!!! It was fun and delicious. Doing fun stuff like this gets our minds off our fears.

Before leaving the house for dinner....

My Dad and brothers, Brandon & Josh
Dad, Aunt Jory, Mom & Me
I may look a little larger to ya'll..
Nathan & Mom were trying to fatten me up for chemo 
so now that there's no chemo...Im just a bit bigger...haha! 
and Im happy with that. Id rather keep these pounds on then do chemo :)
Dad and his girls....
The cool kids...haha!

Again, Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the prayers being said for me. For spreading the word of my journey and finding new people to pray.  This journey hasn't been easy but when I think of all the people praying and I think about our God I feel peace...
If he is for us, then who can be against us 
So please if you have someone praying for us that we don't know...or if you just happened to come across this blog and don't know us at all. Please let us know. We love and get encouraged and inspired by how many love God and are praying for us. Its so comforting. We do read every comment or email and appreciate them all so much. So thank you and again MRI Tuesday at 6am at the City of Hope....please pray!

In Love,

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Today at City of Hope was strange. The people there were very nice. The doctor was friendly and so was all of the staff. That being said we left the hospital way more scared and confused than before. Vanessa had pretty much accepted the fact that she will need chemo and that the mediport she had placed in her chest will be the site of that application. Dr. Chow, however, does not feel that chemo is necessary. Good... Right? Seems good, but he thinks she will need another surgery to take out more of her wrist and possibly an amputation of her arm depending on how much tissue there is to work with without damaging vital nerves. After that she would need just six weeks of radiation to treat the cancer. We have another MRI scheduled for Tuesday at 6am and that will let us know much more about the extent of surgery she needs. We met the surgeon today and he also seemed very knowledgable and competent.

About the Chemo...

City of Hope uses "Evidence Based Medicine" in their practices which means that all of their physicians must be up to date with current studies and literature. With that in mind studies up to 2007 showed that patients responded very well to chemo therapy, but in more recent studies it is shown that patients without metastatic disease (spread) have a 4% higher survival rate with radiation alone and the same rate of reoccurrence locally. Because of these results Dr. Chow does not recommend chemo and that is awesome! The worrisome part is the amputation and surgery. Vanessa is obviously scared of losing her arm, but we do have faith that with all of your prayers and all of our prayers that she will not lose it. So I ask you all to keep praying and lift Vanessa up to God! Pray that she doesn't need an amputation.

Thank you all!



Faith is.....
Following without knowing where
Waiting without knowing when
Believing without knowing how 
Trusting without knowing why

I came across this today and it was too perfect not to share...its so true! 

We'll update ya'll after the appointment at City of Hope today. Please pray for us.

Thank you!!!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beach Day...

I went to my primary care physician today to get my stitches taken out from my mediport. It was pretty painless and there really isn't any new news on the treatment side of things. Thursday at noon is the appointment with City of Hope so please say a little prayer for us around that time if you remember :) We'll know a lot more after that appointment hopefully.  

Its been almost 2 weeks since my surgery and any doctors appointments so it has kind of just been a waiting game.  I've been feeling great everyday and at times really struggle to believe I really have cancer. Its like I feel great.... don't tell me I have cancer.  I know this is the calm before the storm (chemo) but I'm so thankful and blessed to have these days.  Even before I found out about my cancer I never understood why people would say.."ugh I just wish Friday would hurry up and get here" or "gosh I just wish this day would be over". I always thought why? this day is your life...God has given you this day. Its a gift. We don't deserve it. You might not make it to that Friday that you long for so much or that day you wanted to be over so bad could be your last. Enjoy each day no matter what the circumstances are. I've learned life is so precious and can change so dramatically so quickly. So Im loving every minute of everyday spending it with the ones I love.  Today Nathan, Josh (my brother) and I went out to the beach for the day. It was truly           A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I love how soothing & comforting crashing waves and water can be.  The boys played football and did some bodysurfing. I didn't get in. I just laid up on the sand watched them play and prayed & talked to God.  I felt so much peace today.

.my rock.
Little brother, Josh
My hubby. I love this picture. 
So these were my views today. How could I not be at peace and 
in complete awe of God's beautiful creations. 
This was our view as we were leaving the beach around 5:30...
the sun was just starting to set.

Funny Story I have to share with ya'll... 
After the beach today Nathan and I ran a couple errands to Best Buy then Walmart.  When entering and exiting Best Buy the alarm sensor thing went off and I thought to myself weird those seem to be going off a lot around me lately but I really hadn't thought much about it. Then we walked into Walmart and the sensor went off again. I started to laugh and asked Nathan "What is the deal with those things" and Nathan said "You now have titanium in your chest (mediport)  so you're probably setting them off, I have a medical card in my wallet I was supposed to give to you in case you have hassles anywhere".  Its been almost two weeks and I had no idea about the card the surgeon had given Nathan and he'd forgotten about it too. And sure enough when we left Walmart the sensor went off again. Great this should be fun...I'm going to seem like the biggest shop-lifter of all time...hahaha! I guess that's the least of my worries at this point ;)

Thank you so much for the continued love, support and prayers. It means so much to me and It helps me through the rough and hard moments I have. 


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Thursday was the day I had my hair chopped off. About 12 inches.  As I said in my last post I was pretty sad about it but as the appointment time got closer I felt better about it. I know I have absolutely no control over the things happening to my body right now but I do have control over my attitude, thoughts, reactions, and faith. So as my hairdresser (which is a good friend from high school) cut the ponytail off I was good with it  especially knowing I was donating it. The cut is actually growing on me now. I'm sure I'll only have it for a couple weeks before chemo starts but for now I like it. My mom cut her hair too and its super cute. 

Cutting it off...
Before & After of my Momma & I
And because I had to cut my hair my supportive hubby & younger brother Josh shaved theirs down too. They look good.  Again my support system is amazing.
Both of us :)
This is my sweet friend and hairdresser Rebecca.  A big thank you to her from coming in on her day off to cut our hair for us. 

Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself "How did I get through all of that?"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Forgetting About Our Troubles for a Day....

For the first time in two months and three surgeries we were able to go out and spend a day having so much fun. Much of the past two months have been surgery and then recovery then repeat 2 more times.  Today was what we both needed. Out of the house and not thinking about "things" instead we just had fun.

We went shopping at  a couple different stores and I got a few new shirts and a pair of sandals (retail therapy maybe? haha) We had lunch at a really yummy local Chinese food restaurant and this was my fortune :)
I text it to everyone in my family...We all loved it ;)

After lunch both rocking our USC gear. I need to let ya'll know that its hard for my Arkansas Razorback, SEC lovin'  husband to sport USC gear but they've been so good to us so he's trying...Ive always loved I know why ;)

After lunch we headed out to Disneyland for the rest of the afternoon/ night.  We had to stay on the kiddie rides since I still have stitches in from my MediPort surgery but it was still fun. We walked around, watched the Celebrate! street parade and just spent some good worry-free time together. We didn't talk about whats going on we had a normal day just like a day that we would have had just two shorts months ago (man, everyday life is precious..don't take it for granted..we've learned so much from this). On our way home we stopped and grabbed ice cream for dessert. It was a perfect day for the two of us. 

No word yet from City of Hope and we're ok with that. The cancer is slow growing and we're guessing that's why they haven't been able to move this one up. Other people must need the doctor more right now. Everything else has worked out so perfectly and in Gods plan so we trust and know that there's a reason its hasn't been changed and like I said we're ok with it. But we have the appointment next Thursday the 16th and then we're hoping to start chemo the next Monday.   

I'm cutting my hair tomorrow night. A friend of mine is a stylist and is cutting my moms hair and mine. Mom is doing it in support of me.  I haven't decided how short I'm going to go but I do know I want to donate it to Locks of Love. I'll be losing it anyway so why not donate it, keeping it short so when I do lose wont be as bad. I'm sad about my hair I've been growing it long for a few years now and haven't dyed it in over four years. But I know its just hair and it will grow back. As I approach each new step in this journey it takes me a minute to be comfortable with it, accept it, and then I'm good. So this too will pass :) I keep reminding myself God has a plan and he's made that so obviously clear this entire journey starting back in July with my first surgery. I'm reassured by his goodness and faithfulness. 

I'm so thankful for the support my family has given me (us). Nathan has been amazing and just a strong rock for me. My Mom and Dad have cooked us countless dinners & spent so much time just talking and spending time with us. My brothers have been texting and calling me non-stop when I'm not around them to see how I'm doing and if I need anything. My mother-in-law has been doing the same even though she lives so far away in Nashville and I know it kills her she cant be here but her support & love is felt just the same! And to my extended family who email, call & text and wear their LIVESTRONG bracelets in support of me makes my heart happy. God has given me such a great & supportive family and I would be an absolute mess right now without them. 

Its 2:45am...guess its time for bed :) Hope ya'll have a happy Thursday! NFL football starts tonight!!!! WooHoo!!!!!! This girl loves her some sports ;) 

Love Always, 

Psalms 34:4
I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears

Monday, September 6, 2010

Little Update...

a little gift a couple of my old coworkers gave cute and sweet! 
I felt really good after surgery on Friday and then Friday night I started feeling really sick. I couldn't keep anything down. I was so nauseated and throwing up until late last night (Sunday). It was not a fun two days. We're not sure if it was the anesthesia from surgery (I did fine with my other recent two) or if I caught the stomach flu my brothers had. I am better now which feels amazing. 

Still no word if my appt at City of Hope has been moved up so please pray for that. We want and need to get this chemo started ASAP.  Thanks again for the prayers and love!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Home From Surgery

We arrived at USC Norris Tower this morning bright and early at 5:20am. We were Dr. Menendez first case and the admission process started as soon as we arrived. I was really impressed with how smooth the hospital operated this morning and it really helped to give Vanessa confidence and keep her calm. Shortly after the prep we met with surgeon and the procedure started as scheduled. She was done about thirty minutes later and we took her home. She had only a little bit of pain after surgery, but she will probably be more sore in the morning. We are staying at her parent's house tonight because I have to work tomorrow and her mom will take care of her tomorrow.

The outside of Norris Tower
Vanessa right before they took her back. Smiling as usual!

Next step is to meet with the chemo doctor at City of Hope. His name is Warren Chow and he is supposed to be amazing at what he does. Her primary doctor is trying hard to get the appointment moved to a sooner date because right now it isn't until September 16th because he is so busy. So for those of you who are praying for Vanessa please pray that the appointment date gets moved to a nearer date. I will post more soon if Vanessa isn't able to. Thanks for your comments and continued prayers.


Surgery Today...

Its 12:20 am and we have to be up at 4 to be at USC University Hospital by 6 for the surgery to place my mediport. Please say a prayer all goes well and that my recovery wont be too bad :) Thank you all for your continued support, love and most of all prayers. Nathan will update ya'll as soon as we get home tomorrow. ...its outpatient so hopefully we'll be home early from it. 

Lots of Love,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's a God Thing!

After a long discussion Vanessa and I have decided to share a little more with everyone who cares enough to read this blog. We initially intended to keep this private with only our immediate family knowing, but the story and plan God has for our lives is too incredible and amazing not to share.

Our hard times actually started over a month ago. On July 9th Vanessa and I found out she was pregnant with, what would have been, our first child. Less than a week later she woke up from a dead sleep with terrible pain in her stomach and we rushed her to the emergency room. Within an hour she was in surgery to stop the bleeding from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. There wasn't much time to talk before the emergency surgery, but one of the first things she said after the operation was "I guess it's time to get my wrist fixed." The main reason she hadn't gotten this lump removed is because she didn't want to miss an opportunity to get pregnant. We had been trying since we moved to California and had no luck. It has become so perfectly clear in the past few days that the pregnancy was all part of his master plan to get Vanessa the treatment she needed before the cancer had a chance to spread. We think about the consequences if Vanessa had remained pregnant. She could have been pregnant and forced to chose between saving herself with the chemo or saving the baby and allowing the cancer to spread untreated or she may have become a mother and never known that the "cyst" was actually a tumor spreading cancer throughout her body until it was too late. As you can imagine we were completely devastated that the pregnancy ended that way it did but God brought our little baby to us to save her life.  There have been numerous little coincidences here and there that have made us realize one thing and one thing only... IT'S A GOD THING! Nothing else could explain all the things that are happening right now. Everything was planned by God. His plans for our lives are greater than anything we could ever imagine. It has been a rough month or so but if he brings us to it we know he will bring us through it. Each of us involved with this will be changed in some way according to God's plan for us. The changes may be huge in some of us and slight in others, but there will be change.

Nathan & Vanessa
Just before her emergency surgery...she's always smiling.

Test Results

Today for the first time since we started we got some good news! The results from yesterday's tests have returned and the cancer had NOT spread to any other part of Vanessa's body at this time!!! The cancer remains at her wrist site and treatment will go as planned, but her chances for success and ultimately long term survival have dramatically increased with these results! We met today with an oncologist in Santa Monica who seemed knowledgeable and is supposed to be one of the best, but her primary care doctor wants a second opinion from a physician at City of Hope, a primarily cancer hospital. This doctor is the other physician this side of the Mississippi that treats this type of sarcoma. We are definitely blessed to have two of very few doctors who treat this cancer right here in our back yard. We had a mini celebration today at Buca Di Beppos after we got the results. We plan to celebrate every milestone she passes as they come along. Buca's is Vanessa's favorite restaurant and I can only imagine how many times we will be there in the months to come as she continues to defeat the cancer inside of her!

Ness and her cousin Whitney

The medicine port implant is still scheduled to be placed friday at USC Medical center. It is a simple procedure, but she will require general anesthesia because it is a surgically implanted device. When I asked Vanessa if she was scared for friday she said, "Naw... No big deal... I have had worse." She has definitely surprised me with her toughness in the face of adversity. She is really handling all of this very well and I am extremely impressed and proud of her!

Ness and her Grandma

Thank you all for caring so much about Vanessa!