Category Archives: Intentions

The Sorrow and Joy of our Engagement

So I was going to write my annual Christmas letter for family and friends here, but there are other more important things to say and a limit on time right now. ¬†Thanks for understanding ūüôā

“God is never late, He’s never early, He’s always right on on time.” ¬†A friend of mine used to tell me that, and I am now more fully grasping the meaning. At 34-years-old, God has now sent me the incredible man that I am to share the rest of my life with!¬† On Christmas day, Mike Martinez asked me to marry him, as my Mom sat near me “bawling like a baby.”

Mike & Lisa

Mike & Lisa are engaged!

A lot of people get engaged on or around Christmas though, so what makes this so special? Well, for those of you who may not know, my Mom is suffering with Terminal Bone Cancer. Diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer about four years ago, they did a Lumpectomy and a lot of treatment at that time.  Seemingly doing so well, we were all devastated to suddenly learn this past May that she had Stage 4 Bone Cancer, already in 6 places.

Mom is so strong in her faith and in her will to live. ¬†Many people find her an inspiration and courageous, including me. ¬†But she will just tell you, “It’s just me, I’m just doing what I have to do.”¬† My parents have been married for over 40 yrs, and my Dad is suffering so deeply right now.¬† It’s beautiful to see him love and serve my Mom, yet so painful to see what he has built his whole life around now begin to prepare for her “journey home” first.

My fianc√©e, Mike, and I drove here to Florida, planning to be here until New Years; but I now see God’s wisdom in so many things that I have been going through in the past year and a half.¬† Right before we got here, Mom had a Pet Scan, and after my Dad told her how she has declined since we saw her at Thanksgiving, her Oncologist had to frankly tell her, “It will be downhill from here.”

I never imagined we would be discussing my wedding plans and at the same time seeing what Mom wants as far as funeral arrangements, but then again, much of life is not how we plan.  I am learning to become more grateful for the present moment, that she is here now. How fortunate that my sweet Mom has come to know and love Mike even in a short time.

It’s all very fresh, but I soon will be moving in with my parents to help them:¬† They need it, and I know it’s where God wants me.¬† I am abundantly blessed to have a supportive Boss and a best-friend roommate, who‚Äôll put everything that needs to be on hold and do whatever to support us.¬† Yet Mike, working IT for Corporate America, has a Boss who “doesn’t want that for his team” and said that it’s not “his family”. ¬†He feels called to be here just as much as I do. ¬†My selfless fianc√©e still wants to go to his Boss’ Boss now to ask – please join us in prayer for things to fall into place. ¬†I know that God will line everything up, because He ¬†is faithful, and this is what we are called to do.¬† Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we’d begin our marriage in a Retirement Village of all places, but we don’t want to be anywhere else‚Ķ Perhaps we will work backwards from here ūüôā

I thank you all in advance for your love, prayers, and support. ¬†It has been a swirl of activity and emotion since we’ve arrived – Mom had to be taken into the Doctors office the day after Christmas because we now know that she was having an allergic reaction to the medication. ¬†We are so humbled and grateful that a loving “team” of friends and family have already begun offering their services in helping us plan a Florida wedding as quick as we can. ¬†It will be a special time for some of our very close family and friends to share in the joyful time intermingled with sorrow. Hopefully in Orlando, we are beginning the process of setting that date everyone is asking about…there are just a few things that need to fall into place first!!!

The gift of Mom

Mom is our gift!

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Fighting Cancer, Again

With three out of four of her children and my Dad crowding the examining room at the Doctor’s office, Mom met with her Oncologist a few hours ago. Dr. Reyes is the same Doctor who took her through her Breast Cancer treatments, when it first appeared 4 years ago. ¬†He was very disappointed with the Biopsy results, showing that the same aggressive Cancer that she once fought and seemed to have conquered, is in fact back and now in her bones. ¬†It has a name now, Metastatic Mammary Carcinoma.¬†¬†She falls in the 20% of patients with a reoccurence. ¬†It has metastasized (spread) to 6 places already: neck, spine, 6th rib, right hip, a lymph node near her collar-bone, and pelvic bone. ¬†The good news from the scan is that there were no fractures seen in any bones at this point.

Dr. Reyes said that he has no regrets about the course of treatment that they took from the start – that as aggressive as the Cancer was, the treatments were very aggressive as well. ¬†He felt that they did more than they should have, and it still came back. ¬†She’s now stopped taking the drug, Femara, which is intended to¬†stop estrogen production in postmenopausal women used to treat early estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer like hers. ¬†Obviously that hasn’t helped in her case. ¬†The Herceptin, which is¬†recommended after surgery and chemotherapy¬†is a¬†monoclonal antibody that targeted the HER-2 protein, meant to help the chemotherapy work better…that caused heart problems a few years ago. ¬†Thankfully the damage to her heart was not permanent, earlier tests this year revealed.

Since she had already planned to get a 2nd opinion on treatments, Mom was really glad when Dr. Reyes said that he’d like to refer her to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to the Breast Cancer team under Dr. Perez–considered among the best in the country. Mayo oncologists are known to use innovative therapies to treat even the rarest cancers, all while trying to help patients maintain a quality of life. ¬†They are even able to utilize drugs in clinical trials, so they have access to treatment that Mom’s current doctor does not.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, Chris asked Dr. Reyes, “Why was this Cancer not found before – with all the continued tests that you’ve done?”

“That’s a good question,” the Doctor replied. ¬†“I would say that there is no test that is 100% fool-proof, unfortunately.”

Then it was my Dad’s turn. ¬†“Would you consider this Bone Cancer terminal?”

Dr. Reyes replied, “I define ‘terminal’ as end stage Cancer, where the patient has 6 months or less. ¬†So no, I would not consider it terminal. ¬†Could it eventually take her life? ¬†Unfortunately yes.”

Yet as an Oncologist, the Doctor said he’s an optimist. ¬†They are well paired then, as so is my Mom. ¬†He feels that the treatments they give her can extend her time with reasonable quality of life.

Mom has been a true witness of a woman of faith and courage throughout this time of testing and waiting over the past several weeks.  She admits she is doing much better with it this time around.  Looking sympathetically at my Dad, the Doctor said that the spouses often do worse than the patient.

Complaining of pain under her right breast, Dr. Reyes sent Mom straight from his office to get a CT Scan. ¬†He wanted to ensure it wasn’t a blood clot. ¬†We are awaiting the results of that, but the technicians said it doesn’t appear to be a clot. ¬†She will start receiving Zometa injections, which are monthly bone-strengthening intravenous medication. ¬†This is to help prevent or delay broken bones or other bone damage.¬†¬†Currently there are no restrictions in her activity or diet. ¬†Sadly she will need to cease sky-diving though, LOL!

My family is so grateful for a perfectly timed holiday weekend that we could almost all steal away to be together.  As pictured below, Mom has kept the party going and her ultimate Margaritas flowing.  We are celebrating life in many ways, and are about the task of making more great Sanchez family memories. A family weekend of fun, good food & drink, surprises, and lots of love.  I ask, what could be better?

Poolside Margarita time for Mom and Dad

I cannot express enough how grateful we’ve been for the outpouring of support in the form of: emails, calls, Facebook postings, cards, and especially prayers and Masses offered. ¬†Please keep them coming, as this leg of the journey has only just begun.

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