Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thess. 5:16-18

Monday, April 2, 2012

Is it odd?

First, please forgive any errors, I'm trying to post this from my phone and everything seems a little off.
Now, as I lie here with Levi after a pretty horrific couple of weeks pretty much wishing for a faster death, I am beginning to feel hopeful again. I know that we're finished with the radiation to the tumors in my brain and that I've been told there is nothing else we can do, drug or chemo wise, to treat the disease left in my lungs; yet I lie here hopeful. God can still do ANYTHING He chooses to do with me. I could get better, or worse, bur it is totally out if my control. I pray they there will be much more laughter than tears in the days to come (and hopefully a few trips!) and that I can truly learn about love and grace and all that good stuff. I pray for a proper perspective and no depression. I pray that God will suck the anger and irritability out of my soul and that my family friends will enjoy a season of peace. I can be honest here and say this has been a nightmare couple of weeks with me getting do suck seemingly so fast. My husband has carried a n enormous burden with grace and dignity in the face of a huge unknown. I am blessed to have such a loving caretaker. My oldest and his older sister have stepped up helping with the younger ones and we ate now taking it one day at a time praying fervently for a miracle while somehow staying in the realism of the diagnosis given. It is more fun to hope, though, right? Today, I am choosing to be happy. I am choosing to LIVE, not die. I hope you all will join me.

Much love....

Monday, February 13, 2012

special days

Valentine's Day. How do you spend your Valentine's Day? For most of my life I spent it celebrating the birth of my mother; she would have been 60 this year. This year I will be celebrating it in Nashville with my honey. We will start our day early with an NPO fast as we head to Sarah Cannon for some blood work and a meeting with Dr. Infante. Then, at 10:50 I get to break my fast with some wonderful contrast as I await my scheduled 11:50 ct. Yummy! If everything goes as planned (like that EVER really happens for us!) we will be able to have lunch before heading to the Centennial Heart Center for an echocardiogram at 3:15. Nice, right? I'm sure the few of you reading my musings wish you were having such an exciting Valentine's Day! To be honest, I do not remember how we spent my mother's last birthday, but if, God forbid, this is my last Valentine's, my DH will always remember how we spent this one, ha!!

BUT, the really special day is Feb.15. Yes, you read that correctly. Feb. 15. As this is the day Cristina Boudah turns 40. Yay! And guess what I get to do to celebrate?!? Wicked, oh yeah, we're going to see Wicked, thanks to my wonderful friend Pamela the Beautiful, I actually am seeing it on my birthday. Then, as we all know you can't just celebrate your 40th birthday for one day, a group of us (not sure who all as of yet) are hopefully seeing Rock of Ages this weekend. Eat your heart out Dr. Cox! It's 80's hair band time and I am all about it! Then, on Feb. 20, if all goes well with my tests today, I get to start the trial with a week in Nashville. No one celebrates a birthday with my style, I don't care who you are ;p

And don't forget about Wicked, again on March 4, because I promised my wonderful son we would go for my birthday. See it just keeps on going. I don't know how we're going to top this when I turn 50. You better start planning now Donald!

So here we are...praying, praying, praying that God will use this new drug to eradicate the cancer in my body. I am praying that we will see a miracle. I am praying that we will remain positive, grateful, faithful, and most of all hopeful through out this next phase of our journey. Wow, that's a lot "fuls"! I do believe in the goodness of God and I do believe I will see it in the land of the living. I see it every day in the laughter of my children, the music on the radio, even the moron who slows me down on the Parkway and keeps me from getting a ticket. His goodness and His love surrounds me even when it isn't celebrate Cristina month :)

So...special days are here and special days are coming. I am excited. I hope you are too.

Much love.....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

sorry for the delay

Since it's been such a long long time that I posted a blog entry, this one is going to be lengthy. Sorry!

The last time I did an update that was not on facebook, I was taking a combo of Carboplatin and Taxotere and my cancer was shrinking. I had a ct on October 18 that showed no growth in my lungs, but the next day I noticed a painful spot under my right arm. I continued on the chemo and we just watched the lymph node hoping it would shrink. It did not. A biopsy around Thanksgiving confirmed a recurrence of cancer in the node therefore a change of chemo was required.

During this time I had also been very sick with an upper respiratory infection that morphed into a sinus infection headaches causing so severe I decided the cancer had moved to my brain and I was going to die. I did not. An MRI was clear (notice I did not say normal) and 3 rounds of antibiotics later I was feeling much better and we started the Havalen. The weekend after my first dose was AWFUL; so awful we thought I was not going to be able to stay on it. I asked for specfic prayer requests and the side effects became tolerable. It seemed to be working on the disease in my lungs, but the tumor in my lymph node continued to grow and became increasingly painful. A ct on January 10 confirmed my fears and we are on to a new drug.

Gemzar. The Gemzar hit my counts pretty hard and the fatigue has had me in bed most days. The pain has also become excruciating, leaving me sometimes counting the minutes until I can take my next pill. On a side note, ibuprofen gets rid of the pain, but I am not allowed to take it because it thins my blood. On a stupid note, when I called for a refill and to complain about the pain, Kim at The Cancer Center, asked if two pills worked and, while I did admit to taking two at a time, I told her I don't like to do that because the prescription is for one. It isn't. I do so wish I could read.

When we found out the Havalen was not working as well as Dr. Gualtieri had hoped, his nurses started the process of getting me an appointment at The Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, TN. Apparently there are quite a few new oncology drugs that have been developed there and he had high hopes that I can get into a clinical trial that will kill my cancer without killing me. I met with Dr. Infante on Tuesday, January 31, which brings us to today.

Dr. Infante has stopped the Gemzar and is ordering another ct to see whether or not it is working. If it is not, I have one option now and two other possibilities. Since I have triple negative (progesterone negative, estrogen negative, and Her-2 negative) breast cancer, my treatment options have been, and are, quite limited. Dr. Infante says one of the tests used for my Her-2 status uses a scale of 0-3 with 0 being absolutely negative and 3 being absolutely positive. My tumor was a 2+ which they consider borderline and means I am eligible for a Phase I study of the drug MGAH22. He is very hopeful that my cancer will respond to its first targeted therapy. The study will involve a first visit lasting one week and then weekly treatments thereafter. I will be evaluated at 50 days and if the cancer responds, I can stay on the drug as long as it works.

Other two studies involve testing of my tumor to look for specific properties in order to be eligible. One is a Phase I/II study of GSK2636771 of patients with tumors that have PTEN deficiency. The only thing I really understand is that some sort of protein is missing and the drug does something with that. I am asking that those of you who pray, pray that my tumor is PTEN deficient and that I will qualify for this study also. The other study we are looking at is a Phase I study of BGJ398 a pan FGF-R kinase inhibitor and I have no idea what that means. I just know if the other two don't work, I want this one, so please pray that I am eligible for it also!

So, here we are, oh so hopeful, a little afraid, and a little excited. I pray for a cure every day, but I'll settle for a manageable, chronic illness. Thanks to all of you who have joined me and my family on this journey. I will do my best to update more often and at the same time try to be more amusing and interesting :)

Much love....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

just some thoughts

I've been meaning to update this for such a long time, but I hardly ever get on my computer anymore and my cell phone is not set up for blogging. Therefore, this may be long and somewhat scattered. I apologize in advance.

Luke 5 12-16 tells the story of Jesus healing the leper. After healing him large crowds came with many sicknesses begging for healing. Now here is the important part, Jesus slipped away to pray. He did NOT heal them, at least not all of them. I tell you this because it hurts my heart when people tell me Jesus will heal me if I claim it or just ask for it. Do you think I have not begged for it? That many of my friends and family do not do the same on a daily basis? And it's okay. It's okay if He chooses not to heal me and it's okay for me to talk about it. God is still good and I trust that He has perfect reasoning for whatever He lets happen in my life. So please, if you know someone with cancer, offer to pray for them, or better yet, with them, but do not question their faith if they are not healed. These things are not up to us.

On another note, I am feeling pretty good lately. I've made some changes to my diet and have been more specific in my prayer requests regarding side effects and between the two, the three weeks since my last treatment haven't been too bad. My energy has been a little low the last week, but I'm hoping that is just from lack of sleep and the fact that I have five kids (that I know of!). School, dance, soccer, theater, plus homework keep the Boudah household very busy.

Today I am receiving my fifth course of carboplatin/taxotere and for those of you who do not know, it is working. I had a ct three weeks ago that showed a phenomenal response so now we pray that it keeps working at this rate. I am certainly hopeful! And for those of you in Huntsville, The Botanical Garden is planting it's garden of hope on Oct. 8th and dedicating it on the 11th. You should go by some time after that and check it out. It is so inspiring to read the stories and gain some hope :) AND the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run is Oct. 15 and Team Cristina is participating for the second year. I am looking forward to hanging out with my friends and family and raising money for a good cause. It is such a blessing to have such an outward show of love through these events, as well as through the cards, meals, thoughts, prayers, kind words and smiles from people I love and from the people who are touched by my story. May God bless each and every one of you.

On a final note, I may have cancer, but at least I don't live in Maine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cancer sucks. But life is good!

A quote from a book I read many months ago has been swimming around in my head all day long, "I am not dying from cancer. I am LIVING with cancer". I've had my pity party over the disappointing fact that the Xeloda did not work, not even a little bit. IT is now time to focus on the positive. God is good, let's see why I can say this.

I have some wonderful, sweet friends, and an awesome husband, who help me put things into perspective. When I went on my first regimen of chemo way back in July, I was told of the terrible side effects, nausea and vomiting, severe fatigue...well, you get the picture. Other than the not working that well on the cancer, it was not a truly terrible experience. God gave me strength and energy and the fabulous support of my church family and many friends to get me through it with minimal side effects. The second regimen was supposed to wipe out my white blood cells, greatly increasing my risk of infections which can be especially difficult in the fall with at least one of my children sick at all times. But my counts made a very slight dip to one point below normal and NEVER dropped again. It was truly amazing. I was so healthy that a week before my surgery, Levi got the flu and laid on me for at least 3 days and I didn't even get the sniffles. God is ever present in my life! My scans before my surgery were clear, surgery and recovery went well and it was on to radiation. I also responded good physically to the radiation, not knowing that the cancer was growing in my lungs, my body held up. I must admit I was surprised when my ct showed how fast the cancer had grown. I didn't feel bad enough to have cancer. I am still astonished some days. I truly believe God's Spirit has given me supernatural strength and energy to get through these days with my family and friends with some joy.

Now for today; I start a new chemo regimen this morning that is a combination of taxotere and carboplatin. I responded really well to taxotere's cousin taxol and the carboplatin shows great results in women with triple negative breast cancers so keep those prayers coming! My children are happy and busy, I am now allowed to enjoy some sunshine and laughter. Well, I am always able to enjoy some laughter :) It really is the best medicine. God CAN heal me, but if he chooses not to, I will still praise Him for all the good He has shown me and all the good He has promised my husband and children.

Oh, and I get to be bald again. I really do prefer to be bald when I have cancer. It gives me so many free passes and preferential treatment. And I can have so much more fun with people! Are you listening future wife? This is all part of your training!

Much Love....

Monday, April 4, 2011

a new prayer for a new day

Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous hand. (NASB)

The above scripture was sent to me by a dear friend today to comfort me after the difficult news I heard earlier. The PET I had Friday showed "increased activity" in both lungs and the lymph nodes near my sternum. In layman's terms, the cancer has spread to my lungs. The worst part was having to tell my oldest who has already lost a loved one to this dreaded disease. My dear friend was praying for me as I delivered the news.

"Do not fear!" I am choosing to move forward in trust, not fear. Though I may grieve for my husband and children and the life I had hoped for, I will trust that the plan the Lord has for me and them is infinitely better than anything I could have planned.

"For I am with you" God is with me ALWAYS. He understands my sorrow and grieves with me, but he also tells me to take joy in my suffering and this I will do. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is joy and this I pray will be poured down upon my household and all who enter it.

"Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God"  I must admit, I tend toward the anxious, but several of my friends have never failed to remind me that I do not worship a God of fear and anxiety. This is the path He has chosen for me and my focus needs to be on Him, not the storms around me. I pray for faith that I will be able to do this and that my hope will remain strong.

"I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous hand"  I so desperately need His strength and help right now. I am already physically and emotionally tired and this journey has only just begun. I am grateful for His people who are already pouring out their love and strength to me and I pray that I will use them to help me and my family on the road ahead.

I have a biopsy scheduled for Wednesday and depending on the results, should start a new chemotherapy called Xeloda on Friday. It is a pill that I will take twice a day for two weeks at a time with a break every third week. It's all good though. God is good and His people are good and His plans are good and this life is good and I am determined to remain grateful. All I ask of any of you who may happen upon this little blog is that you pray for joy in my spirit, heart, and home.

On a lighter note, here is the picture my husband's next wife is going to have to look at above her mantle. I know, I all wish you were as artistic. Maybe in your next life you will be blessed with my talent :)

Much love...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

fear and waiting in Huntsville, Alabama

This is my prayer today:

There are so many scriptures regarding waiting, waiting on you, and here we are again....waiting. I so wish I could wait without fear, in perfect peace, but today I am struggling. Intellectually, Lord, I know you have a plan and you will take care of my family if I get to go home. Intellectually, I know that the test hasn't even been run yet and it could be nothing. And yet I feel as if a cloud has settled upon me and I cannot see the light. I ask that you shine your light into my heart and into my home. I ask that you will guard my heart and mind with your peace and restore my joy, for I have much to be joyful for! I pray that I can focus my energy on others in need, instead of my own selfish worries. I pray that you will remove the spirit of doubt that seems to have invaded my home and replace it with a Spirit of Faith. I can't stop thinking that I do not worship a God of fear and anxiety and I feel guilty and faithless. Please restore me oh Lord. Lift me up into the Heavenly places and give me strength to encourage others as so many have tried to do for me lately. I am so tired. You promise in Isaiah 40 that " those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary." I claim this promise for me and mine today! You have poured your blessings upon me and I thank you for them. I thank you for the love and reminders of love you have blessed me with in the last 8 months. I thank you for this outlet and pray that anyone reading this will not think less of me for my feelings or you for your answers.
I offer this up to you in the Name of your most precious Son...

Psalm 34: 17-18
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.