Christmas Morning, BEFORE

Christmas morning, AFTER

It has been a while since I posted.  It has been a busy time.  Trying to keep up with all of the kids during Christmas break when I am healthy is hard enough, but being tired from radiation and all of the hustle and bustle of this busy time, I haven't had the energy to post.

I wanted to take a moment to share what an amazing, blessed, overwhelming Christmas we had.....
The Burlison family (Blake's paternal grandparents' family) wanted to Christmas for us.  Kris (Blake's grammy) insisted that with all of my treatment and surgery, and exhaustion, she wanted to do all of our shopping and wrapping.  She insisted I send her a list of what the kids wanted for Christmas, and told me she would take care of it. So I wrote the kids clothings sizes, and a couple of toys that they liked, and was immensely grateful that we wouldn't have to worry about Christmas this year.  The money we would normally have spent on Christmas presents, we put towards paying off my oncologist and doctor bills.

Well, Kris warned me not to be overwhelmed.  They got a "little" more that what I had written on the list.  So on a beautiful snowy Christmas Eve night, Kris and Craig drove up to our house.  They unloaded the back of their pickup truck into our home. Bag after bag of presents, beautifully wrapped soon filled our family room.  But wait, they all wouldn't fit.  There were still bags and bags of gifts out in the garage.  Piles and piles of presents.  I was so overwhelmed, and could hardly keep the tears from flowing. 

We had told the kids that we wouldn't be doing much for Christmas because of doctor bills, so imagine their surprise and utter delight when they entered the living room Christmas morning, and saw the piles and piles of gifts.  They were jumping up and down, squealing with happiness, and more excited than I have seen them in a long time.  It took almost 3 hours to unwrap all of the presents.  It was simply amazing. 

People are good.  I am continually awestruck at the big hearted and kind things that people do for our family. 

In fact, just last week, some families purchased and installed new blinds in our kitchen, my sister in law helped me redecorate my kitchen, some kind soul from our church gave us a cash gift anonymously with a simple "Merry Christmas".  Someone from Dan's work gave us some money and told us Merry Christmas.  With this we are able to pay off the rest of my doctor bills from 2007 and start the new year with all of my doctor bills paid off. 

It seems like all I am every doing on this blog is saying thank you, but no matter how many times I say it, it can never be enough.   So once again, thank you!!!!  I thank God and all of you for lifting our burdens and serving us. 

Happy new year!!!!


If somebody offered to take away my cancer and all of my pain and misery and suffering, take me back to the day I was diagnosed, and have that event in my life never happen, would I take them up on that offer?  I would have a guarantee that I would never have to go through having cancer or dealing with cancer.  Would I take that offer and return my life to the way it used to be?  I know that some of us long for the way things used to be, I find myself so very often longing for things to be back to normal.

Well, my husband and I had a discussion this afternoon about this exact same subject.  Someone had asked him if he could take away my cancer, would he?  The answer was no, and here is why:

It has been a year of suffering and pain.  Months spent trying to find out why I felt so lousy, why I had so much pain, then me discovering IBC on IBC research website.  Being certain that that was exactly what I had, and yet going to 3 different doctors to get brushed off and told that it was nothing, or engourgement, or mastitis.  As I continued to get sicker, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, sick to my stomach all the time, in pain all the time.  

By the time I was finally diagnosed, I was first RELIEVED to figure out what was wrong with me and I felt vindicated to know that it wasn't just all in my head, and that I wasn't overreacting, and that I wasn't a hypocondriac.

Final diagnosis, Inflammatory breast cancer stage 4, mets to the bones (Back, hip, pelivis, femur, ribs) and a spot of cancer on my lung.  Breast Tumor area is 9 inches around and 2 inches deep. (feels like a baseball in my breast)

I survived a 2 week whirlwind of tests and scans, biopsies and doctors visits.  Within a week of being diagnosed, I had my port placed and chemo started.

I have finished 17 treatments of Taxol & Herceptin.  I then had a modified radical mastectomy.  I had a hysterectomy with ovaries removed.  I am still on weekly Herceptin and monthly Zometa, and am currently doing radiation (5x a week for 6 weeks).  Not to mention surviving these treatments, then you have the joy of paying for those treatments.

I lost my hair, I lost my eyelashes, and eyebrows, I lost some weight (YEAH!), I lost a breast, I lost my sense of taste and smell (which isn't necessarily a bad thing when you have to change your 20 month's old son's diapers)  I tried not to loose my sense of humor, or my smile.  I had a lot more fun going shopping for cute jammies instead of cute clothes.  I seriously have more pj's than clothes in my closet now.

But lets take a minute here to talk about what I gained by having cancer

I gained an even closer, more loving, tender, relationship with my dear sweetheart, Dan.  To see him take a more active role in the teaching, and caretaking of the children,  To see him serve our family by doing dishes, washing laundry, all so  I can rest.  I know that even if my time here on earth is short, and if Dan has to take over my role in caring for our children, I KNOW he can do it, and he would be wonderful.

I feel a more profound and tender love for each of my children, and I have been able to see them step up and grow and help each other and me.  I have seen their faith grow as with their simple prayers praying that Heavenly Father will make their mother all better.   I take more delight in the simple things of reading a story with them, sitting and tickling their back, throwing a ball back and  forth, or playing cars.  There is more joy in the simple time we spend together.

There have been so many miracles wrought in our behalf. We have received countless hours of service from inspired friends and neighbors, who listened to promptings of the holy spirit, and filled a need for us without even being asked.  We have had so many friends and family help watching the kids with all of my doctors appointments, surguries, test days, and sick days.  Never once have we had an need that was not filled.  We are so humbled by all of those who are willing to serve us, even those who don't really know us, but know OF us that have served and helped us.  I had a small army of sisters come and clean my house from top to bottom.  AMAZING!!  The love that we feel from those that do that has brought such joy into our lives.  The donations that have been freely given to us to help with doctor bills, or for Christmas for our family, friends being willing to do all of our shopping and wrapping of presents.  Truly amazes me.  I can say thank you a million times, and it still couldn't adequately describe the gratitude that my family and I feel.  Saying Thank you just seems so trite, but I say it from the bottom of my heart, and hope those who have served and given feel that joy in their heart that comes from serving others.

So, even though this last year could be considered a year from hell, dealing with cancer and all of it's crap, this last year has been one of the best years of our lives.  The blessings we have received, the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father, our testimonies of Christ, has brought our family together stronger than ever before.  Old personality conflicts, once thought so deep and unsurrmountable, now have blossomed into precious, tender, friendships, where there once was jealousy and misunderstanding.  The new friends we have met and been able to share this journey with has been another precious outcome from dealing with cancer.  I wouldn't have met all of the wonderful gals who are also afflicted with this same disease.  I find such comfort from them, and hope I bring a little of that comfort to your lives.

I am truly blessed.  Not by having cancer, necessarily, but because of all of the wonderful things I have been able to see happen because I have cancer .  I believe things happen for a reason, and when bad things happen, we can choose to learn and grow from them, or we can retreat into ourselves and become bitter and unhappy.  I choose to grow and become what I am meant to become.  I hope one day that I will be able to share this knowledge with others and be able to make someone's load lighter, like what has happened to me and my family time and time again.

Thank you all for being a part of my life, and my journey.  I am so thankful for all of the love and prayers and support I receive.  I cherish the friendships that have been forged, and the knowledge that I have learned.

So, I think I just might say, that what could possibly be the worst year in ones life, I am going to say that this has been the best year in my life.  It is the best because I have never felt so loved, so looked out for, so richly blessed because of all those who step up and help and do so much more than we need, just because they want to help lighten our load.  I feel so blessed to live where we live, around good people who truly love their neighbors.

So, no, I won't trade my cancer.  Because I want to keep all of the precious experiences that have came into my life because of it.  


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I just wanted to share Abby's (My 7 year old daughter) letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is my Mom to get all better from her cancer.  And I really want a paws off diary.  Cause I have wanted one for a really long time.  I want a really happy Christmas with my family.  I want a webkin too.
Abby Chase
p.s. I've tried to be really good.

Doesn't that just bring tears to your eyes?  Well, I hope she gets what she wants for Christmas.  Dear Santa, I want to be all better from my cancer, too.  I've tried to be really good....


Today I thought I would share a day in the life of radiation treatment.  My appointment is at 6:45 am, so I have to leave between 5:45 and 6:00 depending on the weather.  I drive 25 miles to the hospital, park, walk in, go to the radiation oncology office, and change into a hospital gown.   Then because I am the first appointment of the day, the tech usually takes me right back to the machine.  I lay on this hard table with my arms in these brackets, and this big machine, kind of like an x-ray machine, moves above and radiates the different treatment areas. They are radiating from my collar bone to bottom of rib cage, and from my sternum to armpit.  The treatment takes about 15 minutes.  Then I change and drive home.  The whole process takes about 2 hours.  I do this Monday-Friday, for 6 weeks. 

So far so good, no real side effects to report.  I am a little stiff and sore from laying on that hard table, and having my arms stretched up hurts the muscles from the mastectomy side, but that is all.  The Dr. said it would be a couple of weeks before I should feel any side effects. 

I can't believe Christmas is in 2 weeks.  I haven't wrapped any presents or done any shopping.  It feels really weird.  At least it snowed on Friday, so it FEELS and LOOKS like Christmas.  I love listening to Christmas music and enjoying my festive house.   It has been nice to just enjoy the Christmas season without all of the stress of running around everywhere. 

I need to share one more experience that happened last week.

A group of wonderful women, angels, came over to my house on Thursday to watch my 2 little ones and do "a little cleaning."  They arranged for me to go shopping with friends and out to lunch.  It was so fun to get out of the house with the girls and laugh and shop. 

Then, when I got home, my house had been totally cleaned, DEEP cleaned, from top to bottom.  All of these projects that probably haven't been done 6 months, they took care of in the 5 hours I was gone.  Bathrooms scrubbed, fridge inside and out cleaned, floors cleaned, blinds washed, vacuumed all of the corners and behind furniture.  Windows washed, furniture dusted, front porch swept, walls washed, kids rooms cleaned and organized and beds made, laundry washed and folded, dinner prepared....  AMAZING!!!  I just walked around all the house and cried after they left.  The house looked SO GOOD!!!!!  Then they had someone come and clean the carpets on Friday.  Words can not express how grateful we are.  I have been so discouraged because I can't do deep cleaning.  After being tired and sick and sore, I am physically unable to do so many things I would like to do.  It is just amazing the service that was shown to me and my family.  (Now if I can only get my kids to keep it clean for longer than an hour!!!!!)

We are truly blessed.  I am so grateful for people who listen to the spirit, and are so willing to serve and follow Christ's example. 


Well, I had my check film appointment today at the radiation oncologists. They drew all over me again with red permanent marker, and took more x-rays and pictures with a digital camera for my chart, and made sure everything was ready to start radiating.  They will be radiating a large area, and even through my back through to the chest. 

I never thought in my life that I would allow pictures to be taken of me topless, but now I've done it twice.  I think when we send out Christmas cards this year I'll write in them, "Amber went a little crazy this year.  She shaved her head, started taking steroids along with a lot of other drugs, had a boob job, got 5 tattoos, and then posed for pictures topless." LOL!!!  Oh my what an exciting year I've had!!!!!

When I saw my oncologist yesterday, he said again "we have seen a miraculous response to your treatment.'  Thank you everyone for all of your prayers and fasting.  I know we have seen many miracles and blessings from the Lord throughout this journey. 

I just had to share this picture of our family.  We had a church party on Saturday called a Night in Bethlehem, where they decorated the gym of the church to look like Bethlehem.  Everyone came dressed in "biblical attire"  and they had a live nativity.  It was so wonderful to go and be around everyone else wearing head scarves and turbans.  I felt right at home!