Always Forward Never Back

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Wowwww, just wowww. It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. And as you know, my cancer is still in remission, 7 months post stem cell transplant, and I’m just completely  grateful to God because He continues to show me that His promises are truth. This journey has been difficult but, spiritually awakening, gratifying, and life changing. It has allowed me to do some soul searching. Being confined in a room both at the hospital and in your home with limited contact with people, places, and things because of a developing immune system, body recovery, bad sleeping habits, and the inability to work caused me to suffer from anxiety for a while. Often times I pleaded with God to relieve my stress and anxiety or ask God if I was doing enough in my 30 years of life, why? Because sometimes I felt suffocated enough where I felt I just needed to be free to “live”. Which now I laugh at because my transplant was allowing me to live, right?  My conversations with my “mother,” asking her if I made her proud or what my next move should be were from my bouts of deliriousness and lack of sleep.

Before, my mom passed I had several conversations with her about finding my purpose in life and the feeling of inadequacy. And her response was always Janele, be patient, pray, and trust God to show you. And I believe God used this journey to address some of those issues I buried internally.  This journey has taught me patience by default and trust God to lay the proper foundation on finding my purpose. My recovery has been a humbling experience and I will never forget the process.

For those who are going through it, it is okay to have your moments of vulnerability. We all struggle from time to time and at times question our lives during times of despair. But, we have to remember to press on and trust God because He will slowly, but surely turn things around. Don’t be content with progress, strive for greatness, and the best version of you defined by God.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

 

I like to thank my Dad for holding me down literally and I will forever be grateful for all the time and love you’ve given me through this journey. I love you for being who you are. Hahaha You couldn’t wait until I got back to doing things around the house. 20170509_202926

 

To my siblings, Clarine, Crystal, Ozzie, Jaylen, and Christian.  From up close and afar, I have admired and watched each one of you live your life on your own terms, flourish in your careers, having your own families, apartments, cars, and vacations. I’ve always struggled internally at times questioning my place amongst you all because I’m still trying to find my way, but your support and jokes through it all showed me that no two lives are the same (in our case, no six lives). Thank you, when I had to ask each one of you for money, favors, and someeee..and I appreciate the help even when ya’ll think I’m ungrateful. LOL. I love ya’ll and one of the best blessings in my life is being your sister. 20170604_093000

 

When you see me, just now I give all Glory to guy. My main man, I’m surviving and thriving through it all. I’m not where I was and yet far from where I need to be.

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Time eases everything..

April 7, 2015 @ 9:23 am I posted on Facebook :

Faith without works is dead.. Our motto for the day. My mom words “In Jesus’ name, We have the Victory, Cancer Free & Jesus is a Sovereign God!” She’s claiming it!

I remember you said that over & over, you turned to me and told me to say it loud, I did. You cautioned me to never forget it. Just looking at those words now gives me chills. “We have the victory, Cancer Free & Jesus is a Sovereign God!”  Two years later, 4 months in remission,  I feel the power and significance of saying it out. Yes, Mommy I will continue to say it loud and with you “We have the victory, Cancer Free & Jesus is a Sovereign God!”  Claim victory and God definitely wanted to me to hear those words and believe in them. Ma, Thank you again for your journey, perseverance, strength, faith, and relationship with God because without me witnessing it first hand, I could’ve crumbled every time I had a setback but I did not. You told me and showed me how to always believe and trust God, pray and keep my faith through it all.  And Thank you for showing your face to me when I was having a terrible day in the hospital, you reminded me that this is not my battle but the Lord’s.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! There are not enough thank you’s, I will love you forever Mommy.

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Ma, you are truly missed without a doubt. Because of you, our family is what it is today. April 8th will never be the same but, as a family we have peace knowing He called you home.  Please continue to watch over us.

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Three Months Later

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:20161103_09322320161223_10411520170313_102113-COLLAGE20170304_12113820161214_153139

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

JESUS. THANK YOU!!

 

 

Reflection. Patience. Faith. Perseverance. Trust.Progress. Prayer. God continues to show me regardless of how low I get, I can look up, and He is always there. There were times when I frustrated but praying helped me realize my recovery was a marathon and not a race. Be patient, trust God, and you will be rewarded. Nothing is too hard for God, NOTHING!! And I truly believe that.

……..

UPDATE: March 2nd, I took my first PetScan since early October. And I received the results last Friday, There was no cancer found!! When, I tell you God is soooo good. To hear those words reassures me that God is a promise keeper.Everyday I wake up,  it is a privilege and I do not take life for granted. The simple things in life become complicated when adversity surfaces. But, remember that God does everything for a purpose, in His purpose, and on purpose.

And, I want to thank everyone who visited me, called,texted, FB msg, prayed for me, and simply assisted me in anyway. I’m beyond grateful because without you knowing, God answered my prayers.

I would like to do a Q&A for an upcoming blog for anyone who may have questions about my journey. I would be happy to share because we all go through things in life that may help someone else.

 

 

HIS PROMISE FULFILLED!!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139:14

November 28th-

Day +6 I still wasn’t feeling good ,still no appetite but, I felt much better than Sunday. I basically slept through the day, my dad and Clarine came by.

Day +7 I was getting fevers throughout the day, however my mouth started feeling a little better, I still had to numb my mouth to eat, but my appetite started to make it’s way back. My doctor said maybe in another two days I would see my WBC. So, that was something to look forward.

Day +8 My throat wasn’t sore anymore, however my teeth were still a little sensitive. I definitely was trying to get some sleep, I got about 5 hours of sleep throughout the night which was great for me.

Day +9 MY WBC finally made an appearance. YAY!!!!  It moved from 0.1 to 0.2, doesn’t seem like much but that made the difference. My doctor explained to me that sometimes there is a gradual rise or a fast rise. Every day I since Day +1 I receive a Neupogen shot, a bone marrow stimulant, it gives your WBC a boost. I was so excited, however later that night I started getting cramps in my stomach and my lower back, I think didn’t much of it. So, I took an oxycodone for pain. That didn’t stop me from being happy that I finally had a WBC. Kelly by for our weekly catch up sessions, a lot of tea was given, lol. We talked to my nurse Michelle, a Spurs fan and love her she so nice and she was one person that told me you will have bad days but it will get better, God will get you through. I always appreciate our weekly visits Kelly, please know that.

Day +10 My WBC jumped from 0.2 to 0.9, ayeee I was getting fancy!! My teeth were hurting just a little, my throat wasn’t sore. And my doctor was so pleased with how I was doing but, I was still dealing with fevers and she thought they were engraftment fevers. Nonetheless, she told me I would be going home in a week and she gave me the best news ever, the triple-lumen catheter was coming out. They were going to access my mediport that I used for treatment. And my little sister, Nia came to visit me!! I was able to share the good news with her, but the coolest thing she was able to watch as they took that 5 inch tube out my neck. It’s always a pleasure when Nia comes, I knew her for a longggggg time. Her mother was my art teacher in elementary school, then they lived down the block from my family for years and our families became closer over the years. I wasn’t even mad she played at Christ the king, *cough* but was definitely happy for her that she got the chance to play four years at the University of Illinois. Our talks are always filled so much of everything, and I don’t take that big sister role for granted. I love you girl and proud of the woman you are continuing to growing into. Thank you for stepping in and helping my team, continue to be a beautiful soul and can’t wait until you are a PA! Then,  Kara came through as well and I gave her the good news too. And, then Satch, (Yanie’s dad) but also one of my first basketball coaches came through to bust my chops as usual. Still talking and reminiscing about the championship game we lost at the Conrad McRae tournament, the only girl’s team in the first year of the tournament. Haha He’s still mad, right Satch, I love you and thanks for coming to check on your other daughter. I miss that Satch mobile though, it was comfortable! Thank you for coming to visit Nia, Kara, and Satch it was great to share some news with you. Later that night I felt a pain in the lower right side of abdomen, I assumed it maybe an ovarian cyst, so I was going to tell my doctor the next morning. Still battling high fevers throughout the day that it was becoming the normal.

Day +11 Next morning, I woke up and my mouth felt great no more pain. My doctor told me my WBC jumped from 0.9 to 2.7, a huge jump. She said I was doing great, but I told her about my pain and that I wanted it checked before I went home. So, she agreed and ordered an ultrasound, but I would get it done Monday. The rest of day was nice chill and I popped a oxy every time I needed one.

Day +12  Everything was feeling back to normal except my tongue, my body was still fatigued, but I’ve been showering and exercising, I was just still getting fevers. My doctor told  me my WBC went from 2.7 to 6.6 , which was amazing!!!! However, she wanted to stop the neupogen shots because she wanted to get the fevers under control. To no avail I still had the fevers, but I was getting an ultrasound tomorrow so we would see the problem. Ozzie came up to visit me because he had to bring me a few days, it was good to see a family member, because everyone was sick, so they had to stay away. 

Day +13 Dr. Bayer’s month of rounds in the hospital was over, so the third member of her team Dr. Donahue started rounds. She let me know instead of an ultrasound, I was going to get a CT scan with contrast because they wanted to see what was causing the fevers. So, I had drink this contrast liquid which is disgusting and because I had to get a CT scan I had to go to the first floor. WHOAAA first time out of isolation in 21 days. Transport came, I took the test I got some fresh air and after the test was done, I was sitting in the hallway waiting for transport and started to get cold. When, I got back in my room I had chills, but I was shaking uncontrollably. I had a 104.9 fever in one ear and an 107 temp in the other ear. I was wrapped in three blankets and heat packs under my arms.  Took tylenol and it started to drop. The CT scan revealed that a small portion my colon was inflamed, that was causing the fevers. So, they changed my antibiotics. AND BOOM FEVERS STOPPED!! Thank God, the normal signs of an inflamed colon is diarrhea and I didn’t have that. It was me paying attention to my body, but making sure I didn’t go home because I was in a rush. I promise before I leave this place, I want to make sure I am okay because I do not want to have to be hospitalized again.

Day +14 Nothing eventful, just monitoring for 24 hours to make sure no fevers. So, I showered and exercised. I was waiting for a release day but after this calendar ends. My numbers fully recovered across the board my WBC, my hemoglobin, and platelets, shows that my bone marrow is putting in work.

Where would I be without with my family? Because there is an order to everything here it is.

Clarine- Thank you for calling me every morning, trying to fb video me, and encouraging me. You told me to stay focus on God’s plan, which I will always continue to do. You pushed to write this blog and convinced me that I had to share my testimony. So, thank you!! It is a blessing to have the best big sister, who has always supported me and you will give me advice even when, I do not want to hear it. You are my left-hand man, you go out your way to make sure that I don’t embarrass you, hahahhaa You are the greatest example of what an oldest child looks like. You are honest sometimes too much, stubborn, loving, strong-minded, secure, and feisty. I love you so much, thank you for being one of my best friends, confidants and sisters that I could have. I pray that God continues to bless you, and provide a doorway for bigger and better things for you and Ava.

Crystal- I still struggle sometimes because you’re no longer my roommate, but I am happy that you have your own beautiful family. You got a little better with finding your phone, lol  Thank you for the drop by visitsha filled with shade, goodies, and for those homecooked meals that I longed for. You are my right-hand man ever since I could remember and I admire how genuine you are, caring, kind, fast talker, and fashionable. Thank you for being there for me, you are the best little sister anyone can have. And you are right this Test is only my Testimony, thank you for that reminder. I love you sister, thank you for being my best friend for 28 years I will never forget you literally. I pray that God continues to bless & protect you and your family, gives you the desires of your heart!

Ozzie- Thank you for checking in on me and being the science guy in family. You are my Leo brother on the opposite spectrum tho. It has been a joy having you back in New York. I love you, I remember how excited I was when you were born. Thank you for letting me use your car for all those doctor appointments I had to go in the last year. I know in the beginning it was hard for you, when I told you. Thanks for being an ear when I had moments, you always told me to stay strong because that was who I was. I love you very much, I am proud of the man I continue to see you grow into. You can be selfish at times (extreme leo spectrum)haha, but your humor, competitiveness, caring, and loving spirit continues to push me. I am blessed to have you as my brother.You reminded me THIS IS NOT RIDER! YOU WILL HAVE VICTORY! And you are right. I pray God continues to protect you and that he blesses you really soon *wink*!

Jaylen- My partner, the one who has been there from the very beginning. I know this has been very difficult for you, but you have been my confidant and rock. You will literally do anything for me and you have listened to me talk and vent. And all you did was sit and listen. You are sensitive, genuine, quiet, observant and talented. I am blessed that not only are you my partner but my twin. I am blessed that you are my brother, you literally keep our family and house together. I love you so much and you always remind me that I will defeat cancer. When, I made you my health proxy you accepted and listened to all my wishes. Day of admission they were suppose to collect my healthy proxy and two days ago when I looked in my bookbag, I saw it still my bag. God reminded me that I am your health proxy! You never needed one. Thank you Jaylen in advance for taking care of me for next few weeks and I pray that God protects you and gives you the strength to deal me. lol

Christian- You literally had a rough two years and I can’t say it enough of how proud I am. You didn’t let things bring you down but you experienced life and grew into the man we continue to see. You started this journey off with me, you provided laughter when one could feel down. You’ve provided some of the best wisdom during this journey, sometimes I forget that you’re the youngest. You are the funniest person I know, sarcastic, caring, honest, and intelligent. Thank you in advance for taking care of me and I can’t wait for your meals when you come home, I pray that God gives you the push to finish your last year of school strong and provide you with a job opportunity after.

 Daddy- Where do I begin? Five years ago, you were dead for 20 minutes and I did the abbreviated CPR that I saw on TV, that contributed a little to you still being here, but GOD performed a miracle and you’re still here. I always joke that I saved your life and 5 years later we are in reverse roles. I know it has been extremely difficult for you after losing Mommy to cancer. You were at her side every step of the way, you never left her side, you took your vows very serious. After Mommy’s death, the word cancer equaled death to you, so I wanted to remove you from my situation in the beginning. But,  as my battle became more complexed, the more you were involved. You have lost sleep worrying about me since I’ve been in this hospital. I am extremely appreciative that I have a father I can rely on, cares about me and loves me. You are doing the best that you can and I am grateful that you will do anything for anyone of your children. You come up here almost day that I tell you to stay home sometimes. And on the worst day of my life, I wanted to protect you because I did not want you to see me like that. I don’t think it would’ve been fair. You remind me to Keep my Head Up, Keep my Spirits High, Keep my Head Strong, Keep my Faith in God, and Keep my mind on Jesus! Thank you Daddy, for being my #1 cheerleader, supporter, and motivator. I love you very much and I am grateful to God that He saved your life so that you could be here to return the favor, lol. You are the best father we could have and Mommy would be very proud to know that you kept your word. Thank you in advance for taking care of me, I know it won’t be easy, but I want you know that I am thankful.

 

I am going home tomorrow, which is exciting. My body has to recover and I have still have no immune system. My immune system is worse than a baby. I have to be in semi-isolation my room, I am the only one that can use my bathroom, I have to eat home-cooked meals only for the next few months, everyone has to consistently wash their hands, I can only  go out to the doctor in full mask and gloves, I can’t go near my three cats  because they can get me extremely sick or kill me, my dog can not lick me, I can get the chicken pox again, and I have to get all the vaccinations I got when I was younger again a year from now when my system fully recovers. So, unfortunately I can not have visitors for the next few weeks, I have to protect myself , my body needs to build an immune system and I need to limit bacteria and infections. 

 

 

 

Week 2

“For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11

Week 2, started off calm because after 7 days of high-dose chemotherapy, your body needs to rest before the stem cell transplant. So, the two rest days in my plan were the  EASIEST days of my entire time in here. These days I spent with visitors because for the first time I felt like myself. I didn’t feel or look like a zombie. Even, the nurse managers and other nurses were happy to see that I was talking and smiling.

Day -2  It was the calmest day that I’ve had here. It just felt great to rest, sit in the chair, and look up at infusion pump to see no drugs, just fluids and heparin(blood thinner). A beautiful site, I was able to walk to the shower, walk the hallway for exercise, and ride the exercise bike. I thanked God more times than I could count that he got me through the hard part. I felt optimistic, I could do anything. And around 11am, my  Rider college teammate Kara, came to visit me. Quick story, Kara hosted me on my official visit at Rider, she was my first friend at Rider, we were roommates my Freshman year, and our families became close over our years and remain close. Our families came to all our games, even though we lost all time!! haha She came all the way from South Jersey to see me, spend time, not once but twice. We literally talked about everything possible, haha. Kara, thank you for always being a friend, sister, family, supportive, genuine, my only teammate literally that caught every pass I gave (LOL), funny, loving, trustworthy, and honest. I appreciate you coming to visit me and checking up on me everyday, I love you and geezzz I knew you for 13 years. Wowwww..

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Day -1 Another peaceful day for the most part, I had another visitor Tanisha, she came to visit me, encourage, talk, and pray for me, which she knows I always ask her to do. Tanisha, I continue to say that I am proud of you, and I am happy to see how God continues to use you to lead. Our talk was definitely refreshing, your note of encouragement has been a daily remember,  2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God’s power is definitely made perfect for weakness, because His grace is sufficient when I feel so low. It’s a reminder, it will only get better!! So, thank you Tanisha for coming, love you girl and thank you for praying for me and I can’t wait to wear my hoodie. At 11:00 p.m. the fluids on the infusion pump were turned up at 150mL, to prepare my body for my stem cells. Back and forth to the bathroom, I went but not as bad as those cytoxan days. 

 

Day-9 to -1 was over, the first phase was over. I made it through by God’s grace.

Every morning, the team makes their rounds. My doctor, Dr.Bayer, the fellow (oops forgot her name, she’s really nice tho),  and NP (whoever is there that day). This is the time to talk to your doctor, voice your concerns, and ask questions you maybe confused about, so make sure you have your questions listed, or someone is there to advocate for you if you can not do it yourself. This is the most important part of your day! Thank God, I am able to ask and talk to my doctors, I need to make sure I know what is going on. It feels great to know your in good hands, all my questions and concerns were answered in detail. Too many times patients are so sick that they can’t ask the doctors questions and it presents more complications. You are in charge of your health keep that in mind, you only get one body.

My last blog, I forgot to tell this story so, but this is relevant. My second day here, November 15th, my night nurse Laura, introduced me to my day nurse, she said this is Evelyn. I remember asking her name again, and she said Evelyn, but, some people call me Evie. I started laughing, she said what happen. I told her my Nana who passed away name was Evaline aka Evie and a registered nurse and showed her a picture. She said don’t worry I’ll take of you like my baby. She’s the senior nurse her and oldest here, she literally treats me like her granddaughter and reminds me of my Nana. That was God’s way of saying  I got it and I will take care of you. She takes care of me the most and one of my favorites. So, thank you Evelyn, I got her to take a picture me with me. And I will never forget her, she has literally taken care on my worse days.

Day 0 At 4:30 am, I got up a little earlier to do my devotional and pray before I got my stem cells. “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 & “25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”Lamentations 3:25-26 I was up praising God in advance, but I felt this calm feeling and it was a beautiful, it was God’s presence. And He said this is the last time, I shook my head in agreement and yes it is. I believe Him and trust in Him. Wait on the Lord, it is never on your time, but on His time.

Dr. Bayer came in early around 9am to explain what was going to happen when my stem cells were put in. And, she wished me a Happy 2nd Birthday and said she will be back. My Birthday was scheduled for 11:30a.m. My Dad, Ozzie, and Clarine(she surprised me & came, she was late as usual so she missed the cells, lol thank you sister for coming,) were all able to be there for this special moment which I really appreciate it and was happy they could share that moment with me. My dad comes mostly everyday, unless I tell him to stay home and I really appreciate that he comes because without him coming I would not have clean clothes, water, and company. Plus it’s always great to have your only parent left to support, tell you they love and they’re proud of you. So, thank you Daddy(this still isn’t the big blog love post lol) I love you very much. My science mind brother Ozzie, this was perfect for you and I was happy you were there to help explain the process. My nurse Soby, another one of my favs she’s the technical nurse, I always tell her she needs to be a professor, because she would be a great teacher. She’s my other day nurse, I have a lot, she explained the process of the stem cell transplant, so I hope I do you justice Soby. hahhaa Because, the chemo killed all of my cells (red, white, platelets) and the last drug bought my white blood count (WBC) down to 0.1, my immune system is wiped out. I take about 9 pills a day to protect my liver, other organs, multi-vitamins, folic acid and pneumonia blocker. To put it in context, a baby has a better immune system than me. In order, to fight infections you need your white blood cells, my white blood cells were damaged because there were cancerous, so that chemo killed them. Now, in order for you to collect healthy stem cells, the cancer in your body has to be gone or reduced significantly. And during that time, they try to hurry up and collect your cells. 

What happens during a stem cell transplant?

  • Your nurse along with numerous people check several times to make sure the stem cells are yours, they check your bracelet and ask your name.
  • It is a procedure, not a surgery, so it is hooked up to your IV pole, it hangs and it drips by gravity into your IV. It takes about an hour. 
  • Your stem cells (white blood cells) have to spread throughout your body until it reaches the bone marrow. Once, there it takes 10 to 14 days to start growing in which your WBC will rise, it is a steady pace, once your count gets to 0.2, that means you have a WBC, it takes a while so be patient.
  • Because your red blood cells and platelets were also killed, you will need to get transfusions. Your hemoglobin level is very important, stem cell transplant patients are anemic automatically, so we have to sustain a certain level. Platelets are needed as well because when you bleed, you need not to bleed severely and excessively.
  • This is the reason why I am isolation, I do not have an immune system and I need to be protected.
  • You get a Kepivance injection on Day 0, Day+1, Day+2, for protection of your mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Your mouth is swollen with extra fatty tissue.

I hope I did you justice Soby, lol. But here is a little video of my stem cell transplant. Video courtesy of my Dad!!

 

I was given Benadryl before the stem cells and I needed another blood transfusion so I got it right after. So, I was sleep for 5 hours and once again, I was woken up by a presence. A surprise visit from Yanie and my sis/Fab4/friend Lauren. That was definitely a great visit because I didn’t feel too good when I woke up. They definitely tried to get me to turn up, haha It was a much needed visit, especially when Lauren came. She drove up from VA,  thank you Lauren, that you care and love me that much that I was one of your first visits. You check on me all the time and always do your wellness calls, which I always appreciate. You really are a gem, down to earth, honest, funny, genuine, loyal, thoughtful, and thank you for sistership for over 15 years and for praying for me. So, Yanie and Lauren thanks for the visit, it was on time!!

Day +1 Thanksgiving Day, for days I was thinking of all food I was going to eat. But, when I woke up in the morning, my mouth was swollen and my throat was sore. Elton, came up early to spend time with me which is always great. Elton, I know I annoy you and get on your nerves and vice versa, but thank you for literally everything. You have taken care of me when you didn’t have to. Three and half years, we’ve been together, and when it got tough you did not leave. That speaks to your character, I know you will stick around through the hard times and that makes me feel secure knowing that you won’t run when things get hard. And that is why I love you and appreciate you even more because we are not engaged or married, you could have left anytime, but you stayed and continue to stay with me making sure that I am doing okay and you are genuinely happy to see my progress. I know this has been rough for you, but hopefully, while you on this journey with me, you see how much I believe and trust God for my complete healing and that trust helps you navigate life. You have done anything I asked and go out your way to make sure I am provided for, especially since I can not physically work for a while, and even though it may not be easy you just try to ease that burden for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the best friend, love, support, genuine, caring, kind-hearted boyfriend, God has sent for me. I love you very much and I look forward to our future. 

My waves of food came in along with my family. Clarine came with Ava, I didn’t know Ava was coming. Clarine brought me some mac & cheese, ribs, and cucumbers. I couldn’t eat the ribs because I was having difficulty swallowing. I love Ava, but I did not want her to see me like that because I think she’s too young and I didn’t want her to have that view of me stuck in her head. It hurt my heart seeing the sad look in her eyes, I didn’t want her to think I was that sick and I would pass like my mom. So, I made sure to put a smile on my face, even though I didn’t feel good at all. And because we are so used to kissing and hugging, she couldn’t touched me it was hard. But, it is always to fulfilling to see my Ava, my first daughter, I love you Ava Lynn. And thank you sister for my food and sharing your child with me.

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Later on after Elton left, because he went to Corey & Crystal’s for thanksgiving, Ozzie, Jaylen, & Christian came to bring me their food that cooked at 132. My dad arrived a few mins later. The food was good except, never mind hahaa, I ate all the food that was soft for me to swallow. But, thank you to the men of my family for coming today and spending the Thanksgiving evening with me. I know I will laugh at least once whenever my siblings come around doesn’t matter who it is. The more the better, but when the boys get together their conversations are definitely all the place but the nonetheless comedy. Thank you Daddy, Ozzie, Jaylen and Christian for coming spending Thanksgiving with me and making sure I didn’t feel left out. 

Day +3 My mouth and throat was sore that I had to numb my mouth to try and eat. I was in pain and it wasn’t a good day for me. I spent it mostly in my recliner, I was so tired I couldn’t get up to take a shower. As bad as I felt, I was still optimistic that it will get better tomorrow and it did, well sort of.

Day +4 I woke up, for the first time ever I found out the effects of the Kepivance. It wore off,  my face was swollen, the fatty lining thinned out. My mouth, teeth, and throat hurt so much. My stomach was swollen and inflamed. All of this was from the effects of the chemotherapy, it burned through my mouth and gastrointestinal tract. And other women health issues didn’t help, so I was prescribed some pills to slow because it made things worse. Even, with all of this I still felt better than Friday, which was unbelievable but, hey praise God for small victories. My brothers came to visit me again, we watched the Knicks game, laughed, and had a great time. I felt better than Friday, so I thought wow, Sunday is going to be much better.

Day +5 At 12:00 am, it went all downhill I had 103 fever, at 1:00am the Nurse Practitioner came in and asked me so many questions. I was given tylenol for the fever. It went down, but I probably got about 2 hours of sleep. At 5:30am, I woke up and when I say  This was the worst day of my life!!! I mean it, I never felt any pain like this in my life it’s an indescribable feeling. My mouth, gums, teeth, and throat felt terrible. If you ever had your wisdom teeth grow in and remember how it felt cutting through your gums, that is how all my teeth felt.It hurt to chew, I could not swallow, so I could not eat solid foods. I could only eat soup and drink tea. My stomach was inflamed and my body was weak, I could barely stand. I was in the recliner all day, because you don’t want to stay in the bed. I called my Dad early to tell him not to come visit because I didn’t feel good. But, my hemoglobin and platelets were soooo low. My hemoglobin was a 5 (normal level is 11-15) and my platelets were 17( normal 150-300) , my doctor wants to keep my platelets above a 30. I ended up getting a blood tranfusion (3 hours) and 2 bag of platelets because after one bag it only went from 17 to 18. For the first time, since I started treatment I lost my appetite and the first time I felt why we can not function without white blood cells. Without your white blood cells everything on/in your body will hurt. But, my nurses were so supportive and they kept reminding me that it will get better once my WBC raises. God literally stripped me down to my most vulnerable state to let me know that He was always there. He will never leave me or forsake me, regardless of how bad I felt just hold on and watch Him fulfill His promise.If I still trusted Him and believe Him it would get better. And I kept repeating to myself this is only temporary, it will get better, stay positive, God thank you in advance for healing. Elton came by drop something off to me and saw how bad I was, he told my one of the other nurses that I wasn’t doing good. My worst day was the end of my second week. 

 

RECAP

My second week started off great and ended with the worst day of my life. This is a reminder that life can really change in a blink of an eye. I realized that all the googling and researching I did, no one tells you that the chemo week was actually not that bad. But, it is after the stem cell transplant. I didn’t find any material at least warning me how I would feel after I got my transplant. My hopes are that I can help someone in the future. There is nothing that can prepare you for a stem cell transplant. Your WHITE BLOOD CELLS are sooooo important and I can’t say that enough. Without it, it puts your body in the most vulnerable state, the simplest things in life, standing, chewing, biting, eating, walking, showering, running, anything you could think  of is compromised. I say that to say, regardless of how bad you feel, how you look, IT WILL GET BETTER!!  And 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God’s power is definitely made perfect for weakness, because His grace is sufficient when I feel so low. And guess what?? I made it through Week 2!!

 

 

Week 1

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

I’ve decided to write a series of blogs correlating to the number weeks in the hospital. Transparency as been vital through this journey, but God instructed me to go deeper.HERE IS YOUR DISCLAIMER, these blog posts are going to be honest, long in detail, and descriptive because this is going to help someone.  Read at your own risk, lol  Right now someone or someone you know may be battling cancer, grief, depression, financial situations, issues at work, home, etc., or maybe someone who will be getting a stem cell transplant in the future. My prayer is that you find how important God is throughout my journey. All you have to have is faith the size of a mustard seed.

The night before I was going in, I wanted my family to come together for a small dinner, fellowship, and eat before things changed. For my plans are not mine, my best friend/sis Ayana aka Yanie actually put together the ultimate support system package. Filled with videos from close friends, Janele’s love box, Black girl magic coloring book, pictures, notes,  colorful post-its, quotes, books,  a package from my Baruch women’s team that included 31 days of positive notes, items they thought I could use, and then everyone wrote whatever they wanted to tell me on a colorful notecard so, I could hang around my room. I was overwhelmed with emotions and I cried because it really meant a lot the lengths she went through to create that package. I love you very much, you made me feel loved, and thank you for  always there being there and being the fourth Henderson sister, Yanie.

What’s one more battle? I mean I already completed 6 months of a strong chemotherapy, ABVD and then, three more treatments of ICE.And from what google and my orientation paperwork said it was only 7 days of high-dose chemo. I could do 7 days of nausea and fatigue, I mean I packed my laptop to watch movies, catch up on my shows and listen to music on Spotify. Being in isolation for 4 weeks, I have to find ways to pass the time…

Out of all those things I listed, one thing made me uneasy weeks. Being admitted in the same hospital as my mother,where she spent a lot of time before ultimately passing. My mother spent so much time over the last few months of life in there, that I had what ifs thoughts especially because of the stem cell transplant. So, talked with Jaylen and made him my health proxy. I told him not to tell anyone, (for my siblings/dad haha) if you know our family dynamics he is my partner.  I didn’t want him to tell anyone because he knew my wishes and I didn’t want anyone to cloud his judgement.My health proxy document was signed, prepared, and ready for collection at admission. I AM GOING TO COME BACK TO THIS IN A LATER BLOG!

Admission Day: November 14th, 2016

My dad drove me to the hospital, he parked the car while I went into admission. And it took about 4o mins to register, I could’ve feel asleep at the lady’s desk. Guess, who she decided to use as a training opportunity. *Raises hand*

*DADDY I am going to give you some blog love, but it will be in a much bigger form, hahha stay tuned* Knee-Slapper

There were two room options available on the admission. A private room or a room in a bone marrow transplant unit.

The private rooms are much bigger, with double doors in between you wash your hands in the sink and put on protective gear, you can’t see who is entering your room, you have your own bathroom/shower, a lot of space, the view is horrible you are staring at the side of the wall, your “team” of nurses, PCAs are always changing because you have two nurses, one for Oncology and a RN, and your food is served whenever, they bring it to you. The bone marrow transplant unit only holds four patient. The rooms are smaller, you share a shower with the other three patients,your toilet is under your sink with a curtain for privacy, a curtain is your door, you see feet or a shadow before someone comes in, you can walk a little corridor, the TV is much bigger, the view is much better you are looking at apartments, parking lots and garages, trees, and you order your meals from a special menu you eat when you want.

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I prayed on where God wanted me to be. Transport bought me to a private room on the 7th floor, about 20 mins later I met Dr. Ruthee-lu Bayer, the head team member of the Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Unit who works with my doctor. A three women team who runs the BMSCT Unit. She walks in the room with a smile, greets me by my first name like we knew each other for years haha and hands me a calendar explaining my plan. I was put at ease because I was in good hands.20161206_105716

She described the calendar,  explained the purpose of the “high-dose” chemotherapy which is to kill all the cells in the bone marrow (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and cancer cells), and then my body will flushed the night before stem cell transplant, I’ll have my stem cell birthday where my healthy stem cells that collected are released through a drip back into me, and then, I wait about 10 to 14 days for my stem cells to make it to my bone marrow to create white blood cells, and wait for my WBC number to raise. Because the BCNU drug brings the WBC down to 0.1 which is zero. My hemoglobin (red cells) and platelets levels will get support from transfusions.  She explained the importance of the Kepivance injections I received three days before. And that, I would one dose the day of stem cell transplant and one dose on+1 and +2 days.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma cells grow and form masses, usually in the lymph nodes, located throughout our bodies in the lymphatic system. It affects the immune system and normal white cells become cancerous and can’t fight infection. Lymphoma is a blood cancer, which affects the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. 

Now, to the breakdown of calendar:

  • Negative days lead down to the stem cell transplant, the demolition of the all the cells in the bone marrow.
  •  Zero is my stem cell birthday. Time for new beginnings.Body is flushed for a 24 hours after the transplant.
  •  Positive days build up to the days my stem cells reach my bone marrow, but cells start growing and waiting for a white blood cell count.
  • Etoposide- a continuous drip for 34 hours on Day -9 and -8.
  • Cytoxan- given 2-3 hours a day for 4 days between  Day -7 and -4
  • BCNU- one hour on Day -3
  • Rests- literally means rest and 11:00 pm on Day -1, the night before my stem cell transplant my body is flushed.
  • It takes 10 to 14 days for your stem cells to reach your bone marrow.
  • Kepivance- an injection to protect the lining of mouth and gastrointestinal tract from affects of chemo

After that nice chat, it was time to get prepared for the start of treatment. So, I needed a triple-lumen catheter inserted. The mediport I was using is not sufficient enough to support everything that would go into my body.It’s usually inserted on the right side, but due to my port, I had to get mine inserted on the left. Transport picked me and took me down to Interventional Radiology on the first floor. Waited in the hallway for about 30 mins,  headed into the surgery room. When, getting a triple-lumen catheter, you only receive local anesthesia. The procedure itself only takes about 15 minutes, with prep time about 45 minutes. The surgeon talked to me, cracked jokes, suggested shows, and movies to watch while distracting me as he shoved a tube 5 inches long and spaghetti size width into my jugular. I felt the pressure from the tube, it hurt but not as much as the other catheter I had when my stem cells were collected.

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Transport came, bought me back to my room, and I see a dinner tray. DINNER, huh?? At 4 P.M. like whatt? Who eats dinner that early, not me. Anyway, I pulled off the cover and saw two nasty lightly cooked lamb chops, slop, and liquid peas. I wouldn’t feed that food to my german shepherd Tuck. I put the cover back on, (only positive thoughts), but they tried to kill me before I started, hahhaha it was tuurrribleeee(I know how to spell). I laid back in the bed, skimmed the room and realized there was no recliner. Before I could ask my nurse about it, she told me I was being transferred into the BMSCT unit at 9 p.m. I felt indifferent, because I was hungry, so my PCA suggested that I call down for a sandwich before treatment started.

Around 4:30 p.m.  I officially started high dose chemo. It was going well, my dad came back just to check on me, and then headed home. Not even 30 mins went by, he called to tell me that my Aunt Pam passed. I was very sad, but felt at peace because I knew she wasn’t suffering anymore. Staying focused and positive the whole time was necessary this time around.The Kepivance injections provided an extra inch and half of fatty lining in mouth and esophagus to help prevent or decrease mouth inflammation and stomach ulcers from the high dose chemo, it necessary for patients receiving bone marrow/stem cell transplants. Because the chemo is so strong it burns and destroys everything, that why that lining is important. I remember as the first bag of Etoposide was starting, that I had only 9.5 bags left. One bag runs for 3 hours, continuously for 34 hours. By 9 p.m. I was already on my second bag and on my way to the BMSCT unit.

First night,  Laura, my nurse gave me a cram session in one night of what to expect through this transplant. This BMSCT unit is ran well, the team of nurses have been working together for at least 15 years. Because,  I am a hands on learner and an advocate for myself I will ask a lot of questions. I need to know what’s going in my body and why? And my nurses were happy because they knew I was going to advocate for myself when the doctors made their rounds. All of the nurses have been so helpful, caring, thoughtful, genuine, and go beyond their job to make sure in your lowest vulnerable state you keep some dignity.

What does isolation in a bone marrow unit exactly mean?

Below is my room for the past 25 days. The only two reasons I leave this room is to take a shower and exercise. But, before I do I wear protective gear. A mask, yellow gown, and latex gloves, the picture is below. My toilet is under the sink,  there is a curtain for privacy.  Because of the chemo, I have a mouth care with a four step process to protect my mouth from bacteria and sores. A process that takes 25 minutes. First, a sodium solution to rinse, then, use a green sponge to brush my gums and teeth I can not use a toothbrush because my gums can bleed, next, suck on an anti-fungal lozenger until it dissolves, and finally swish and spit an artifical saliva solution, because the chemo will mess up your throat. After that’s all done I can’t  drink or eat for 15 mins. I have to do this when I wake up, after each meal, and right before I go to bed. And my infusion pump is attached to the triple-lumen in neck 24/7, we only separate for the shower/exercise. My room has to wiped down once a day. I can’t have live plants or anything that can grow mold, bacteria, or fungus. I can only eat home cooked meals, that means from the hospital or meals my family make. Because I have to limit any chances of bacteria.

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Day -9 and Day-8 The first two days were manageable,  I was receiving sodium chloride fluids bags at 257 mL consistently with my chemo and my output wasn’t equaling how much I taking in. Each morning, you are weighed to monitor your progress. In 13 hours, I gained 5 lbs,  all chemo fluid, not good. And my output wasn’t matching what they were pumping me, so I was given a lasix(water pill) intravenously. I NEVER WANT TO SEE LASIX EVER IN MY LIFE!!! You literally are back and forth to that bathroom for 2 hours non-stop each bag, I probably got over 10 bags. Second day,  I made sure to shower and walk a little. Every time you shower, the nurse has to disconnect you from the infusion pump and cover the triple-lumen with a protective sheet and tape. You have to use an antiseptic soap for your body and body wash for your face. It felt so good to shower. Later, that evening Crystal came by after work, I asked her to decorate my room, and she did, while throwing shade, complaining, and chatting. She did an excellent job, posted all the encouraging notes, quotes, and pictures from my support system package. All the notes force me to stay positive, the bright colors keep you in better spirits. So, thanks again Yanie, and thank you to my right-hand man Crystal for coming through and decorating, you did it to make me happy, even while complaining, I really appreciate it, you made my room a hot commodity, I get compliments every day for the arrangement. Your post-it dated 11/15 reads “Janele, Get your butt up you’re not gonna stay in the bed!!” And sister, as funny as that sounds I read everyday and it pushed me not stay in the bed even when I wanted to. And your note “Keep Jesus on Your Heart, Mind, and Tongue. Just know that this test is only your testimony.” I read and recite at night because it reminds me to speak positive thoughts into existence.

From Day -7 to -4, Cytoxan is so strong that it must be taken in conjunction with Mesna, which protects your bladder. The worst DRUG I ever had in my whole life because of the effects on my kidneys and bladder. For four days, I barely slept running back and forth to bathroom for four straight days. In 4 days, I got a total of 18 hours of sleep . My kidneys and back were sore, I slept with heating packs that the hospital gave me. My body was getting weak and the simple things in life started to become difficult. First day of Cytoxan, I was tricking myself into taking a shower the entire day,  I was too tired and to weak to walk to the shower. My friend/sister/colleague Kelly Barrett who I work with, head women’s coach at Baruch, came to visit me that day, we sat, chat, gossip, laugh and she watched me try to convince my nurse Michelle that was going to shower, and I never did. Thank you Kelly, for your weekly visits they provide normalcy especially discussing our players, hahaha but most importantly, you have a genuine spirit, loyal, kind-hearted, and caring, you know I love and told you, you’re apart of the family especially when conspiring with Yanie. LOL  Oh yeah, Ozzie and Jaylen ya’ll stopped by too, now I remember because that was the day of the one..(insider), never mind, lol.

Day-6 I decided to finally shower and I did so before getting my Cytoxan for the day. Moral of the story, never shower because you receive Cytoxan, I was sick, nauseous, exhausted, and in the bed. That set me back a few days literally, I slept from 2pm-6pm and was up for the rest of the night. Day -5 was a little rough but, thank you to Pastor Beverly Sherrod for coming to visit me. Pastor Bev, you have been a gem for my family every since we lost our mother last year, you’ve helped us navigate and I am extremely grateful to you. Thank you for your encouraging notecard and praying for me, I really appreciate it.

Day-4 Was the last day of Cytoxan. A bittersweet day, because I was happy it was that last day of this drug, my kidneys would finally find relief. And sad because it was my Aunt Pam’s funeral. Even though, I was here I was there in spirit. Thank you to my Moore cousins from N.C. who came up for the funeral and stopped by to see me.  Missy, Michele & Frank, Angelo, Ann, Lewis(Arthur), & Lauren (D&W) thanks for coming to visit and leaving some encouragement for me. Missy, my twin, I saw your eyes at the entrance, and automatically perked up. That Cytoxan did some wonders, made me like a zombie, I would doze off talking to people any time after 7:30p.m. But, staying positive last day, bye Cytoxan. Thank you Jesus.

Last day of chemo, the hard part is finally over?? My nurse, Zeny told me my hemoglobin (red blood cell) was low, normal level for women, 11.0 – 15.0 grams per deciliter and I was at a 6, I needed a blood transfusion. It takes 3 hours. And, I was getting the last drug BCNU, which destroys all my cells in my bone marrow (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets), the demolition drug(hahaha) only runs for an hour. It will bring my WBC down to 0.1 which is zero. That was the plan for the day, but I wanted a shower before my cousin Mattmo & his wife Tonya came to visit. When getting a blood transfusion, the nurse calls for the blood, tylenol tablets and benadryl in the IV are given right before. Matthew & Tonya came just time where we could get a good healthy conversation in, until my nurse gave me the Benadryl. I though I would be good, my nurse asked me if I was getting drowsy. I told her no, I wish she never asked me that, because I was trying to fight it, as soon as they left I was knocked for the next 6 hours. But, thank you guys for coming by thanks for the laughs, catching up, and overall well wishes. Blood transfusions allow me to get uninterrupted sleep. I would’ve slept through dinner, if I didn’t feel a presence. Something said opened my eyes and saw this tall man coming towards me in my dark room. I got shook for a moment until I realized it was my father. Lol Shoot he scared me, he didn’t call my name or give me a warning, he lucky I was weak and in a hospital chair, hehe He showed up at the right time because I needed to eat. Thanks to my sisters Clarine and Crystal for both making me food.


RECAP:

For weeks, the thought of staying at the same hospital my mom passed away made me uneasy. I dreaded the effects of 7 days of chemo I thought I was going to just feel nauseous, maybe vomit, and fatigued. I assumed that for the 7 days of chemo I was going to be watching my shows and movies to pass the time. I used my laptop only one day to write the blog after my Aunt Pam passed.  The hours I spent googling and researching a stem cell transplant did not prepare for this. Those 6 months of chemo and 3 ICE treatments  I did I could do again on my head. I hated how the drugs made me feel, I felt like a zombie that had to turn it off and on when people visited me. I got absolutely no sleep, my skin is destroyed, different colors dark mostly, looks like I was burnt while tanning, all body hair is gone, good thing I don’t care about hair because it’ll grow back. As hard as it was, guess what I made it!! After 5:30 a.m every morning, right after my blood was drawn, I would pray, read my devotional, ask God to keep me positive, keep me from complications from the chemo. And I made it through the first week free from complications, my doctor said I was doing great regardless how bad I felt. Calling on the name of Jesus, when things get rough will sustain you. Doesn’t help if you think negative thoughts because it can slow you down and keep you from getting through each day. God told me He wanted me to as honest in my blogs this time around. No sugarcoating, write in detail, if it’s long so be it. He wants me to provide help to someone who may be going through something.  There is no literature/blogs that prepare you enoug for what you go through once you start that high-dose chemo. One week down, time for Week 2! Jesus, got me through Week 1, I’m sure I will make it.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 14th

Me : “Aunt Pam, Thank you for showing me how to keep fighting, encouraging me, and praying for me. I know this is the last time I will see you, so I want you to know that I love you and I’m happy our bond grew stronger. It’s been a pleasure that I could be able to talk to you about this because my mom isn’t here. God’s will be done regardless and He has the final say.  That’s all I love you.” 

Aunt Pam:”Yes, I know my sweet baby. You are a fighter and I am so proud of you. I read your blogs and you continue to make me fight. And I love you even more, I pray for you everyday, believe that! Remember God’s got this!”

This convo occurred on the day I got my catheter put in. I had a 9 am appointment for blood work. I arrived at the front desk for check-in, and my phone rings, it’s my nurse telling me that instead of going for blood go the hospital at 3pm for the catheter because stem collection was moved up. At that moment, I knew I had to go visit my Aunt Pam and it would be the last time I would see her. And that was November 1st.

For the past week I have been battling myself because I felt that I needed to write a blog entitled “Monday is Go Time!” Even after, constant prayer still nothing. “I ” wasn’t suppose to write that blog, God wanted me to wait because that date had more meaning. And when, I think about it “Monday is Go Time!” was appropriate. So, to be honest I am extremely emotional, it took me a conversation with Christian and an hour after to begin to process, to even fathom, what cancer has/is doing to my close family members. Yes, it is difficult, but without God through it all,  I would be a negative debbie downer. He is always in control and I’m reminded each day. I am more determined, more focused, but most importantly more encouraged in my faith to trust onto the Lord. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was thinking about how Aunt Pam served as a surrogate for my mom in many ways, she gave me the encouraging words I needed and the experience to speak freely and rawly at my most vulnerable moments. And I, thank God that I was able to talk to her daily, pray for her as she prayed for me, and be able to say I love you.

I ask that we keep my Uncle Adrian aka Aggie, her children Kim and Eddie, her mother Joan Idlett aka Granny, her brother Chris, her granddaughter Kensie, and many hosts of cousins, bro-in-laws, sister-in-laws, nephews, nieces, coworkers and friends in constant prayer during this difficult time. Our family has been hit hard over the last year and a half, and I want to encourage everyone that God is sufficient enough to get us through. Reach out to family, friends, because we know not the day or hour our loved ones can be snatched from this earthly place. And I know I will see her again.

 

NOWWWW…Because I am a Henderson..I have to throw in a little humor.

For all those who know.. Uncle Aggie, Aunt Pam, Kim, Eddie, and their pets: cat Jazz and dog Smokie lived upstairs on the top floor at 132. We all went to the same schools, but because Clarine, is three years older than Kim & I we really didn’t spend too much time in school with her. Our starting 5 was legit tho:

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Disclaimer: Please excuse our old kitchen for those who didn’t know 132 came a mighty long way.

Anyway, I’m back hahahaha In the morning, my mom would drop us off on the corner of our school in the minivan while the car was still rolling, wait 45 mins to an hour after school for her to pick us up, and then get home play stupid games we made up for fun. But, there were rules laid out for us by our mothers.” If one fights, everybody better participate because if you don’t hmmm… you will get two more beatdowns. Their motto: STICK TOGETHER, YOU’RE FAMILY!! And that’s what we did and behind our backs they created ummm hmmmm:

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The HENDERSON PRAISE SINGERS! I honestly don’t know why were tricked into becoming the next big family singing group. They knew their roles, my mother got the outfits, got her Debbie Allen choreograph on, and booked the shows even up to 1 hour before the show.*Major Side Eye*  Aunt Pam, she provided us with snacks, ( us downstairs never had the junk food, upstairs had everything, hahhaha), she critiqued us, but most importantly she gave chose Clarine to sing lead for “I go to the Rock”, Whitney Houston version for my Momma (Dad’s mother) Appreciation at her church. Thank you, for the greatest disaster you ever, Clarine stayed in her place as choir director. I love you sister, but Clarine aka Rini aka Cla Cla (when things are funny) wrote the words on her palms, they were too small and her hands were  too sweaty, she couldn’t read them. Nothing but great memories growing up at 132. We were all devastated when they moved after Kim and I graduated from sixth grade.

And even though, we went our separate ways, experienced life, there is my common denominator the kids of 132 are motherless. But, we will always remember what our mothers taught us. STICK TOGETHER, YOU’RE FAMILY, and that is what we will do. Similar roads experienced only a year and a half apart, but know we are with you, and here for you.

God orchestras His plan, He calls for his people when He is ready, and He assures us that weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning!! We love you, praying for you, and at peace knowing she is no longer suffering. Aunt Pam has joined her father, Momma, my Mom and her family members that have passed on.

“20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 1:20-21

 

 

 

Come back next week..

“Faith is a gift from God. It is action oriented, where salvation can only come through belief and acceptance of God’s son Jesus Christ. We as Christians draw strength from Him and are called to walk according to His will.”

 

Last Thursday, I went in for my third ICE treatment which is in preparation to collect my stem cells. Welllllllppp….. I was sent home because my platelets were low. They were 21, normal range is 50-70. So, receiving treatment would be dangerous because I could internally bleed, damage organs etc. So, my nurse told me to come back Monday because my body needed rest to recover on its own. Fast forward to yesterday, I walked into treatment confidently with my 72-10’s Jordans on (hahaha for a winner’s mentality), took my blood tests, said hey to everybody, grabbed some Frooties candy from the check in desk (y’all remember those, filled my pocket up), and waited for my nurse. I was relaxing in my recliner listening to music for about 20 mins when she tapped me on my shoulder and said “Come back next week Monday, your platelets are a 36. I’m sorry Janele.”  I laughed and picked up my stuff headed to the receptionists desk (my friends, we’re on first name basis lol), we joked about my counts rising and scheduled an appointment for next Monday.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it difficult? Yes. But, what can you do. Yeah, the setbacks push everything back however, I look at it as God saving me from something and fully preparing me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. And I rather His protection than a complication. Patience is a virtue, so, if my body says rest then, I would kindly find a seat. Thank you!

……….

So many times,  I get asked how are you so strong or how are you able to get through this? Well, my faith in God is what drives me or sustains me enough to battle and fight. In our darkest hours, faith is given to us by God as we glorify Him through our trials and tribulations. And being able to accept God’s plan might be the most difficult thing to do. Because we are humans we always have questions, (but why, why me, why this had to happen, but how?) which are normal, but acceptance is key in our journey of having faith and trust in God’s plan. There is no timetable to acceptance don’t feel pressured. And His plan is not always our plan, so trusting even when you can’t see His end product relies on our faith in Him.

God has a plan…so, Monday it is!

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:19

When you least expect it..

Heyyy, my beautiful people. As you some of you may know, I started the second round of my ICE treatment today. Honestly, I feel terrible and I have three more days of treatment after today. But,  I had to write this post because it is NECESSARY.

Right now, there is so much going on in the world, at our jobs, in our families, in our bodies, in our relationships list goes on. And you say “Dis TEW Much!” Hahaha

Yesterday, after my meeting with Stem Cell Transplant doctor, I was overwhelmed.  I was alone in the car, I immediately started praying and asking  God  for serenity, strength and to keep me focused on the end goal. I drove myself home thank you Jesus because I don’t remember much about the drive because I was deep in thought (YES I know that was dangerous but, like I said God def came through)

Anywho, about 7 minutes from my house, I received a message from one my former players, Kimani Jackson who I had the opportunity of coaching at Molloy College.  It reads (And yes, I asked her permission before posting,):

Hey coach hen! It’s kimani this is my new number. But really I’m txting you bc I’ve told so many people this but not the person that needs to hear it the  most. I always told my parents that you epitomize everything I want to be as a woman and that if I was to reach your age and be half of what you are I would be blessed and happy. You are so strong, confident, blessed, and unapologetically you and it has always inspired me from when I was a little girl an d all I knew of you was your basketball skills. you busted my a** every Tuesday and Thursday at my Aau practice, I was inspired, you played overseas and  I wanted to accomplish the same things, and the way you never took it easy on me EVER just stuck with me. Then God placed you in my life again and I was  older and I got to know more of you. I fell in love with the fact that you are so honest at all times, genuine, supportive in your special way, positive,  strong and confident in yourself and so trusting in GOD! Then you lost your mother, and I went to the funeral and I observed you and all that shined through at all times was strength!! Yet again I was inspired! and then you weren’t my coach anymore and everyday of my senior year I wished I could look at  the bench and have someone that would tell me I suck when I suck or go for thirty bc they can’t guard you! I cried when I found out you had cancer but then when I spoke to you, yet again that confidence and strength shined through when you hugged me and was stronger than I was in that moment you once again amazed me. You came to a game and you have no idea what it meant to me to speak to you after and just hear your words and advice. And you was rocking t he short haircut and I knew you would bc you always told me “kimani it’s just hair!” I went home to tell my dad, leave it up to coach hen to rock cancer!  At a time where you could be at your worst,  the confidence and strength that I’ve admired in you all this time seems to shine the brightest!!! And I ju st want you to know that I look up to you for those reasons and you continue to inspire me everyday!!! I love youu

Kimani, you know I love you and THANK YOU for seriously being my guardian angel of the day, when you had no idea. And you know, I want you to continue to conquer, work hard and be better than me. Enjoy the fruits and labors of Adulthood, and when you need some “Coach Hen” advice, I always here.

BUT Y’ALLLL WHEN, I telllllll youuuuuuu I did not know whether to laugh or cry. My God, Hmmm I getting teary eyed thinking about it. God will come through, in the clutch, when you least expect it!! He will send whoever, whatever to deliver his message. (I laughed)

Everyday, I get up, pray, and read my current devotion “God will carry you through!” Sometimes, when I feel like I’m having a moment, God reminds me that He is sufficient enough. Yes, this road is difficult, there are times when I just do not have answers,  when I sit in my room in darkness and process what is going, but I am constantly reminded that this path was chosen for me. I will continue to hold onto my faith, my relationship with God,  continue fighting, and eventually this too shall pass.

Everyone has their own lives, own problems, own situations, own struggles and I just want you remember whatever you are going through remember God will carry you through. 

I just want thank everyone who has been reading, commenting, sharing etc. It has been a blessing to me and keeps me fighting for God so He gets all the glory. Transparency make not work for you, but it has for me. I just want to live not die, but while I’m living I will always give God the glory. Anyway, thank you & please feel free to share. You may never know your situation could be helping someone else. 

You don’t look SICK…..

You don’t look sick……        That is one phrase that I’ve heard over 20 times in the past week. I do not like it at all. Why?  For me, I am not sick, I am ILL. I do not have symptoms of a temporary ailment like a cold, flu, stomach virus, headache, etc. something that in 24-72 hours will vanish. I have CANCER, a disease that lasts much longer than that time frame, yes when I get treatment I feel sick, however, when I am not receiving treatment physically I feel fine. That statement usually follows with “Wow, I feel sorry for you.” Please do not feel sorry for me, because I do not feel sorry for myself!! This is the journey that God has set for me so, I will walk, navigate, pray, and embrace whatever comes my way.

My last blog was July 26th a lot has happened since then. My siblings, bro in law Corey, cousin Isaiah, and my Aunt Flo went on a life changing trip to the Olympics. It was beautiful, so many cultures but most importantly it taught me to live my life fully without regrets and worries. I also turned 30, an age I thought I would not see and had a Birthday celebration with framily.(Friends and family)

FAST FORWARD .. QUICK HEALTH UPDATE After July 26th..

 

  • I am stage 4 not stage 3.
  • A lymph node biopsy was needed to determine if it was the same form of cancer or something totally different because these were new lymph nodes.
  • I had a lymph node biopsy done after my 30th Birthday Turnup, the doctor who performed my surgery was the same doctor who performed surgery on my mom’s intestines in Jan 2015.
  • There are several abnormal lymph nodes in my left neck area with a node in my lung, which causes me to cough randomly.
  • On Sept 8th, I met with a Lymphoma Specialist , which he determined that I will be needing the ICE Regimen chemo and an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. ( Google is your best friend)
  • I get my bone marrow biopsy tomorrow, Wednesday, treatment starts Thursday for two cycles (2 weeks in between) and the stem cell transplant will follow after that. (Updates and blog posts will come during this process)

 

You may ask well, did you get a second opinion or does the doctor think this will work. Since July 27th, my oncologist Dr. Thakker has prepped me with so much information and scenarios, as well as encourage me and engage in spiritual talks about what was next, so let’s just say I had time to process this information and pray. I’ve been constantly praying and God answered my prayers. He orchestrated everything in an order in which I could not, would not and should not complain. This treatment is my only option because  six months of chemo did not cure it. Even though, this time around I have a tougher journey I know I need not to worry because God’s got this. He is the same God from before, if I got through those 6 months I know I can get through this.

This battle is not mine it’s the Lord. I will continue to leave everything in His hands because He is the alpha and the omega, He is the Doctor of all Doctors, He is the Healer of all Healers and because I believe and have faith in Him, I already claim healing. Yes, I said this before but I will continue to say and believe it. God isn’t through with me yet and His will is for me to go through this yet again. So, I will trust the Lord at all times and I will continue to recite ” I will live not die.”

We all know someone that is going through something, please take a moment to call, text, email, visit etc. because too many times we have regrets when something tragic happens. My prayers are with all my family members who are battling cancer,  I love you and will continue to pray for you and reach out to you. And to those struggling with grieve, sickness, illness, depression, unnecessary drama, financial trouble, spiritual, relationships etc. I pray that you will be delivered from it all.

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13