09 March 2014

Vicki Marney's Testimony Of Overcoming Breast Cancer — Part II

Vicki Marney And I After 30+ Years Of Separation!

Learning to Lean on God—A Survivor's Story—Part II

December 16, 1994—The Surgical Margin: The biopsy confirmed that I did have cancer—the big C! The results indicated that it was a very aggressive, hormone positive cancer, needing quick attention. The week after the biopsy was filled with daily visits to multiple doctors. My life as a healthy person who rarely went to the doctor, or even took an aspirin, was replaced by that of a cancer patient, known on a first name basis at our small local hospital. The cancer went to the edge of the lump that was removed in the biopsy, so they needed to go back and take a little more, "just to make sure they got it all"—so on December 16, it was back to surgery.

Amid the turmoil of meeting doctors and becoming a human pin-cushion, we found out that we could extend our existing insurance for six more months, so most of my cancer treatments were 100% covered. God was providing a path through the valley.

January 1, 1995—Hello New Year, Goodbye Hair: My first chemotherapy treatment was on New Years Day—I felt both nervous and vulnerable, as I entered the room lined with recliners and IV poles, but Jon was by my side and God was with me. My treatment went without any problems and I returned home to discover a group of my friends had cleaned my entire house—what a blessing!

I took my anti-nausea medications and lay on my bed, watching TV, and waiting. Waiting for what, you ask? I didn't know either. Is this when I would start getting sick?  Fortunately, I never got very sick—only a mild feeling of 'yuckiness' for a few days after each treatment—no vomiting or any of the other horrors I could imagine that would result from my chemo. And yes, I had heard my share of ‘horror stories’ about treatments going wrong. While everyone responds differently, this was my experience—and I think they gave me some very effective anti-nausea medication. I continued chemo for six, 28 day cycles—each cycle included chemo once a week for two weeks, followed by a two week recovery period.

After my first chemo treatment I was called back to the clinic and informed that my white cells had dropped too low and I had to stay away from anyone sick. The problem was that I had just picked up my young son from school with the flu, so guess who had to care for him? Yep, my husband with a very sensitive sense of smell. To shorten this story, I will say that when Jon went downstairs to check on him, 'he kicked the bucket' and had a mess to clean up.  Jon kept coming back up to the kitchen to get more paper towels for the cleanup. With a cloth over his nose and his eyes pleading for the relief he knew was not available, I finally asked him, "How much was there?" and he responded, "I don't know", he sighed and added "but it's a lot!"  

Losing my hair was one of the greatest challenges for me because I was very self-conscious about being bald. When my hair started coming out by the handful, I think I truly looked ‘sick’. We decided to shave the remaining scraggly hairs while we were at a weekend retreat. However, we realized that Jon had forgotten his electric shaver and were nervous he the might cut me.  With my reduced immunity, we decided to do something that seemed to make sense at the time—shampoo my head with Nair!  Hey, it works to make your legs smooth and hairless, why not your head?
   
Jon seemed to enjoy telling people I had less hair than him and noted—"except hers will grow back and mine won't."  I began wearing a wig, or occasionally a head wrap, as soon as my hair was gone. Only my family and closest friends saw me without my wig, and even that was limited.  At one point; however, God stretched me a bit on this. Soon after losing my hair, I went to a hospital workshop about head coverings for people with hair loss, and because I was the only one in attendance who actually did not have hair--most of them were hospital staff—they asked me to be a 'model'. While I was embarrassed, it was actually fun trying on various colors and styles—from black, to blonde, a brunette, and the one most liked by everyone was a redhead! Now I dye my hair—not red, but a dark auburn. Tee Hee!

Summer, 1995—Connecting the Dots: When I went in to prepare for the radiation series, I realized that modesty was going to be a thing of the past. While lying on a treatment table, they lined me up with laser beams and marked me with several small tattoo dots. They then took a Polaroid picture, so they could get the correct alignment for each treatment. Each time I would come back for my treatment, there on a clip on the wall, was the Polaroid picture of me, in all my glory! Truly a strange and awkward feeling…I wonder what happened to that picture?  

My radiation treatments were five days a week, and I was commuting from our church campgrounds for for the first few weeks. The air conditioning on our car was broken and we were having triple digit weather. Having the window down to cool the car also tangled the wig, so I decided, "Hey! The people on the freeway don't know me, so I don't care!" I pulled the wig off my head and laid it on the seat next to me, with windows down and air blasting by me!  However, as soon as I got off the freeway, I put the wig back on before anyone I knew could see my bald head. Later the same day, I started feeling hot and sweaty, so I went into the ladies room so I could remove the wig and wipe the top of my head off. It felt so good, that I decided to leave a cool damp paper towel on my head, under the wig. When I started to feel warm again, I would tap the top of my head to cool off again. God knows how to stretch us in our vulnerabilities, doesn't He?

Many of my friends commented on my 'happy attitude' during this time. My response was that
God had foretold us of his care and control, and I was trusting what He told us. I believed that
God wanted us to look for the positive, while going through the negative and sometimes we
might even find some humor, along the way. These are the things that get us through the tough times—when we learn to lean and become ‘overcomers’ with God's help. I truly do not know how people without faith in God could make it through such difficult times.

Note: This is only a small glimpse of my story and I am currently writing "the rest of the story". God miraculously brought us through it all and I am celebrating 20 years of being a BC Survivor this coming November. I had already decided I should write my story, in celebration, when Diana asked me to share my testimony on OWG—God knows how to nudge us along, doesn't He? I will let OWG know when I finish writing this story and let everyone know how to gain access to it. 

*I have provided a link below for meaningful tips and suggestions for friends and family supporting a loved one going through a life-threatening or chronic illness.*
 

 
Vicki’s Bio:
I live in the lovely Pacific Northwest (Oregon) with my husband Jon, (when I'm not following him around the world, wherever his job takes us). After 40 years of marriage we now enjoy spending time with our five children, and look forward to our ninth grandchild, due spring of 2014. I love to read and I am exploring my possible writing skills, looking forward to possibly being published someday. I am currently working on a book for young girls.  I am also working on a book of my 'memoirs' from my breast cancer journey, to coincide with my 20 year survivor anniversary at the end of 2014.  I look forward to seeing where God's direction takes me from there…

**Here is a hotlink to Vicki's Testimony of Overcoming Breast Cancer -- Part I, in case you may have missed it.**
 

20 comments:

  1. VICKI, thank you so much for agreeing to be with us this week and for sharing your candid and personal testimony with our viewers! Surely breast cancer is one of every woman's worse fears, and I appreciate your willingness to talk about your difficult journey.

    **Note to readers -- VICKI and I became best friends when we lived in the same apartment complex in CA. about 35 yrs or so ago. At the time, we both had one small child. Her godly spirit, kind heart, and great sense of humor drew me to her, but unfortunately I moved all the way across the coast and we got separated for all these many years. Vicki found me on FB, and to make a long story short we actually reunited in person in 2013, when her husband Jon's work took him to nearby NC. What a joy it was to see them again, and be able to keep in touch via FB! AND to find out we both LOVED Christian fiction!!

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    1. Thank you for asking me to share my testimony--it was a needed push to get me to concentrate more on my writing. There is an error however on our separation--I was the first to move away to the East coast (for 9 mo.) and then returned to the west coast, and my home state of Oregon. Later, Diana and her family moved to South Carolina. It was during the time of our separation when I was diagnosed with breast cancer--either way, it was great when we were able to find each other again, 30+ years later. Love you and your family Diana.

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  2. The above link takes you to my FB Writing page (Victories Memories - VM) and then you have to click on the link to the blog--feel free to visit and make posts/comments and "like" my writing page. For those who may want a more direct link to this blog, I thought i would post a direct link here: http://whereisjonandvicki.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/facing-a-life-changing-or-chronic-illness/ My prayer is that these tips and suggestions will provide comfort to those who know someone, or they themselves have to deal with cancer, TY for caring.
    Vicki

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  3. VICKI thank you so much for sharing your story of overcoming with us. This year my husband celebrates 15 years being cancer free. GOD is so good to bring us through the trials that come our way.

    Thanks again for your beautiful words of encouragement.

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  4. Hi, Vicki and Diana!!

    Thanks SO much for sharing your touching experience/testimony, Vicki - an experience in which so many of us can - or will - be able to relate!! Thrilled that you are almost 20 years cancer-free (and that your husband is almost 15 years cancer-free, Teresa)!! I am 14 years cancer-free of my kidney cancer, and am now waiting for a mammogram/ultrasound appointment re: a suspicious breast lump I have.

    God is faithful to ALWAYS see us through our trials!! I once remarked to Julie Lessman that I didn't know how some people managed their lives without God - her reply was "they don't, they just don't know it"!! How true!! I used to be one of those people who didn't - how blessed and thankful I am that He didn't give up on me, and waited patiently for the perfect time/situation to draw me back to Him!!

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    1. Hi, BONNIE! PTL you are cancer free of kidney cancer and praying that your mammogram will just reveal a cyst and nothing serious. Keep us posted please!

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    2. Bonnie--thanks for sharing with us your wonderful news of being cancer-free for 14 years, and also your current status on the mammogram. I pray that God will give you a peace, that passes understanding and that your results will turn out to be negative. I'm not sure that others fully understand the added stress to those of us who have 'been through it' when we go in for later cancer screenings.
      One of my mammograms taken about six years ago, I received a call-back, to come back so they could 'take another look'. Thankfully,they were able to schedule the new mammogram for only a couple hours later, however, it was long enough for me to go through many "What if it has returned..." through my head. On the way to the hospital for the 'second look' a song came on the radio. I don't remember the name of the song now, but it said just the words I was needing to hear, to "let go and let God handle it" You can imagine how relieved I felt when the technician said, "There's nothing there!". I love how our God is so good at providing those little miracles, just at the right time, we need a little boost to our faith. I also know, that had it been a return of the cancer, He still would have been there for me once again.
      Vicki
      Vicki

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    3. I'll be keeping you in my prayers also BONNIE, for a good result, and perfect peace!! As Diana said, keep us informed! xx

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  5. Thanks Teresa, I pray that by my sharing, others will find encouragement through my words. God is so great no matter how things turn out. I struggled a bit with sharing this, because right now we have a dear friend (former Pastor's wife), who continues her long fight for her life for healing of BC, and from all outward appearances, may be losing that battle. It made me wonder--why did I recover and this beautiful Godly woman may not. I come to the realization, that that we have to trust God that He knows the plans and will use all things for His glory and He will help us get THROUGH ALL things, even when the outcome may not be the way we think it should be. I'm thankful that you and your husband have been given many more years together.
    Vicki

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  6. Thanks for your encouragement Vicki and Diana!!

    SO sad about your former pastor's wife, Vicki !! There have been several times in my life when, but for the grace of God, I would NOT be here. God has a different plan for each of our lives, but there have been times when, like you, I wondered why I recovered and a dear friend or relative didn't? The answer that came to me was that I hadn't fulfilled God's plan for my life, and he/she had! At those times, because of our love for that person, it is hard to put our personal feelings aside. God made us human with the ability to love - so we are expected to grieve in such a situation, but He has also given us His assurance that His plan is ALWAYS the best plan, and He has everything under control!!

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    1. Well said, Bonnie...thanks again for sharing.
      Vicki

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  7. Oh Vicki. So sorry you had to go through this but think sometimes GOD chooses to use theses times to get the attention of others by the example of the victim. Oh dear. This is a very serious and scary time and thing to hear the doctor say. but your comments on the Nair and wet paper towels. But, they laughing is one of the best medicine. By the way, my sister used that on her legs because she had horribly big varicous veins, and we were so scared she would cut one. She wound up with all hair gone, so got me some. It did nothing for me. Just cleared some few spots here and there. You didn't say if it worked on your head by the way. LOL By the way, I know about these thing because my next older sister got breast cancer about the age of 39. She had a breast removed and done well for 9 years. Then the big C struck again, in other parts of the body. They didn't have the nausea meds they use now with Chemo and she always got so sick. She lived in OK. and I lived in WY. but we wrote letters real often and she would start getting sick at just the tho't of getting more Chemo. She wanted to work right up till the end and almost did. She was 47. She was so upbeat tho and a great example of a christian. Later so many people in our small town talked about what an influence she had been in their lives during this time. Also lost a niece who had Breast cancer. I am so excited you were completely cured, and a real Breast Cancer survivor of 20 years. GOD has truly blessed you. <3
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Thank you for your comments and questions Maxie. You are such a sweetie. Yes, the Nair did work--left my head nice and smooth and we both felt that I looked healthier with the slick head, then I did, with the few scraggly hairs. Another thing that many people do not know (I didn't know until I went through it) that chemo kills the fastest growing cells, and your hair follicles is one of those 'fast ones', which also means that you don't just lose the hair on your head--you lose it EVERYWHERE and yes that include some private areas. ;-) A nice side-effect of that was, I didn't have to shave my legs or underarms for a long time after my treatments had ended. Although many also lose their eyebrows and eyelashes, that is one place that I did not lose my hair. I wore a wig for about a year.
      Vicki

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  8. VICKI, thank you so much for sharing the rest of your story!! I found it to be a really positive story, so I don't know why I was sitting there crying while reading it! :/ Maybe I was just feeling for you, for the whole experience of what you went through. One I'm sure no-one would ever willingly choose. SO glad you had the Lord along with you for the journey, cannot fathom NOT having God with us through any sort of serious illness!! Bless you heaps, blessed to know you! x

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    1. Thank Noela. I hope everyone knows that although my spirit was strong and I truly trusted God, there were plenty times of tears as well. The first week, I think we held each other as we cried ourselves to sleep, so tears are appropriate.

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  9. Thank you, Noela!! I appreciate your prayers - as well as those of Vicki and Diana!!

    Hugs to all of you!!

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    1. You're more than welcome Bonnie, BIG hugs back!!

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  10. Vicky, Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Your faith will be an inspiration to so many. My brother-in-law passed away right after Christmas after a long battle with melanoma. He was strong and cheerful for most of the years he was sick. He was a wonderful role model for all of us. Wishing you many blessings and continued good health. Katherine

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Katherine. I'm pleased that you have such good memories of your brother. My desire is that my story will touch others, just as your brother's life touched yours. I appreciate your wishes of blessings and continued good health and I wish you and your family the same.

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  11. Oh, Vicki ... your story is such a blessing to read, my friend, and I grinned ear-to-ear over the wet paper towel trick!!
    Thanks for continuing the story and PLEASE let me know when you post the rest, okay?

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Julie

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