The Heinigers Going Into September
Like the state we live in, the last 30 days has been filled with peaks and valleys. But, because of the immense support we receive from friends and family all over the U.S. and even in Europe, we have fought hard and have always been filled with HOPE!
HOPE and Cancer
When one hears the words, “You have cancer,” one’s mind can quickly go down the road of negative thoughts, fear, and worry. But, Shara and I are working to influence the narrative to be more filled with hope and joy. A lot of times, we think that our cancer journey has to be all or nothing. For example, we think that we have to put on a happy face and deny the feelings that we encounter. But, maybe we address the feelings we have AND strive to have more hope and a better outlook on the future. We can acknowledge the negative ways cancer affects us AND be grateful for the blessings that have come from having cancer. We can experience the extremes of emotions, from sadness to despair to AND choose to focus on appreciating the little things, ie. more time with family, having the hard conversations that most people avoid, being present and more mindful with the time we do have with family and friends, etc. We are not saying to avoid or ignore the hardship that a cancer fighter and their family and friends will face but we are saying that we have a choice in how we perceive things and fight.
What a Year!
Wow! What a year so far! This year has brought so many firsts for us and also so much HOPE. I think we can honestly conclude that a cancer journey is full of ups and downs. First, so many friends and family have come out of the woodwork to support and love us. While first we attribute all of that to God and his care for us. We know that it would not have happened if we didn’t have friends create a FB page that allowed us to connect with so many across the U.S. and the world that wanted to follow our journey.
This brings up an important point for cancer fighters and their friends. Creating a FB Page for people to connect with and follow will be a huge step in keeping a cancer fighter full of HOPE. That said, it is equally important to be open and honest with that group. That doesn’t mean your updates have to be dark or depressing, but they need to be real. Your crew of people want to know the straight dope. This helps them pray, come alongside you, plan time with you, and more.
We want to thank everyone who has followed the Heiniger family journey, because with you and your support we’ve been able to remain full of peace and joy in knowing that we’re not alone in this battle!
Update on the Heinigers
I have to honestly say that the fight got much harder in the last month. But, I also want to say that I feel like we’re on the other side of that and are ready for the next challenge. The last thirty days we saw a cancer marker number go up which caused us some concern. But, then we had MRI’s and it showed that the cancer is shrinking, so sometimes those cancer marker numbers are tricky. I had a Pelvic MRI and an Abdomen MRI. I would not wish the Pelvic MRI on my worst enemy! Ha! But it is over and it showed great results.
Then we had the most killer surprise birthday party ever! My wife, Shara, spoiled me! We had friends from all across the country come and join us. I also received cards from so many who could not make it in person and it meant the world to me! It was amazing and I could not have had a more special time with so many friends.
Then, as if on cue, we were having too much fun and we (Shara and I) fell to the Delta variant COVID. It was more in our sinuses but did affect our breathing. That was a battle and a half! We had to stop chemotherapy so we did not put anyone at risk in the infusion (both workers and patients), as well as it would be pretty hard to endure chemo and fight COVID at the same time. That was a curveball, but God gave us the strength to fight it hard and it did not last long. So, while it was brutal, we kicked its butt.
Now, we’re just waiting to be cleared and approved for having chemo treatments resume. Also, we’re probably going to schedule a week of radiation as well to focus on the tumor in my colon. I’m psyched and ready for that! I feel healthy and strong and am ready for a good fight.
Update on Stages
We want to keep the names anonymous, when we were not given permission to share them. But, we do want you to hear how many people have reached out just over the past few weeks to Stages that we are fighting alongside and are encouraged through your support of Stages.
“I was just recently diagnosed with stage three be invasive lobular inflammatory breast cancer. I’m interested in this beautiful community of hope that you’re creating.”
“Hopefully Stages will help me fight through this journey.”
“I have Stage IV breast cancer and I’m scared.”
“Did you have a chest port for your chemo? I’ve had several people tell me the anti-nausea meds administered prior to chemo work, but did they work well for you? How was your appetite once you started chemo?”
“I am a fighter and I’ll be starting chemo next week. Is chemo really just a day to day thing? Does working out help or hurt you most days? How do you deal with the mental battle of it? Like how some days are so much harder than others. I’ve been struggling this last week.”
”A friend of mine and I were talking about cancer because her husband‘s father has it, and I shared some of Pete’s videos and his testimony and some of the hope that’s found inside of it and I am praying that it touched them, because I know he would want his journey to be a light to those walking through it without as much hope. I love you guys! If my husband and I can grow into that kind of couple I will be so grateful!”
”Your family will always hold a special place in my heart. With distance and time, I still feel that connection. Cancer has been a sore spot in our family for many years, but your words have been inspiring and healing… Thank you for being so raw and real along your journey.”
Colorectal Cancer is now hitting young people!
Colorectal cancer, which causes tumors in the colon and rectum, most commonly affects people who are 50 and older. But experts have been troubled by the growing body of research showing a steady rise in the number of young people diagnosed. According to a March report from the American Cancer Society, the rate of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 has been increasing by about 2 percent annually in recent years. In 2018, the ACS changed its guidelines to advise people to start regularly screening for colorectal cancer at 45, five years younger than the age recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. People who are more at risk because of an inflammatory bowel disease or family history of colorectal cancer should begin even earlier.
Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston says, “Pretty soon, about a quarter of all colorectal cancers are going to be in people under the age of 50, so we really need to reverse that trend now by doing the research to figure out why it’s happening.”
Tips and Instruction
Communicating with Your Cancer Team
Your health care team is made up of professionals such as doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, pharmacists and others who care for your physical and mental health. Each member of your team is specially trained to help you cope with certain aspects of your life during and after cancer treatment.
Members of your health care team may seem very busy. However, it’s important that you have time together to discuss questions and concerns. When you schedule your appointment, you may need to ask for extra time to have these conversations.
Notes to Take to Appointments
Any questions you have.
How you have been feeling (physically and emotionally).
Changes in your body.
Your worries and concerns.
Issues related to treatments and side effects.
Good Communication With Your Healthcare Team Will Help You
Find out about current information related to your cancer and treatment.
Participate in decisions about your medical care.
Better manage your symptoms and get quality follow-up care.
Make the most of the time you have with your health care team.
Reduce stress by making sure your questions are answered.
Feel confident that you are getting the best health care
So, write your notes out prior to a visit and also bring something to record notes on, as you can be bombarded with information and it can be hard to recall later. This is one of the first things you need to get good at once you are diagnosed with cancer. It will make a huge difference in your journey.