Sunday, October 2, 2011

Respect Life & Breast Cancer Awareness

This is *my* month: Respect Life and Breast Cancer Awareness. God handed me the perfect way to live these two very important causes: a diagnosis with breast cancer while pregnant. As most of my readers know, I was diagnosed at 20 weeks and did chemotherapy while pregnant. Once I gained my strength back after chemo, delivery, more chemo, and surgeries, I have been focusing on being the best spokesperson I can be for both the Pro-Life movement and Breast Cancer Awareness. However, I seldom wear pink and never knowingly donate to the high-profile breast cancer awareness organizations. The reason for the former is that I just plain don't like pink. However, the reason for the latter is that I do not respect many of the breast cancer awareness organizations. This lack of respect stems from their stance on pro-life issues as well as the ways they handle their donations.

Initially after my diagnosis I searched some of the well-known breast cancer (and general cancer) organizations for options. I was shocked and abhorred the options presented: abort my precious baby in order to receive treatment to save my life OR keep my precious child and risk my disease progressing beyond a point of treatment. I chose the unknown -- searching for an alternative. I could not fathom being told to end the life of my baby just to undergo treatment. My heart and soul ached for mothers that thought those were the only options. I found MD Anderson and wonderful doctors who had 20 years experience giving chemotherapy to women with breast cancer. While I'm not certain of their stance on embryonic stem cell use, their help for me through this terrible time has garnered my support. Some other organizations that respect both life AND have resolved to find a cure for this horrible disease are: PolyCarp Research Institute (another that I'm unsure of their ESC use, but fairly confident they are within Church teaching -- ie do not use them), Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, and National Breast Cancer Foundation. I also favor direct donations to individuals who are struggling with this disease. During treatment there are many costs and few sources of income or support -- especially if the sufferer is also the family breadwinner.

I am getting ready to embark on another necessary struggle. The pain I have been suffering with since my mastectomy has grown unabated no matter what I've tried, including my exchange surgery, theraputic massage, pain medications, and muscle relaxers.We are heading down to Houston, TX (MD Anderson) for a second reconstruction option on October 25th. I am having a DIEP reconstruction surgery done that will put me out of work for approximately 6-8 weeks. Our time down there in Houston, TX will be no less than 10 days with a full week of me in the hospital. That is a significant amount of money just to shelter, feed, and transport us on top of our regular home bills. I am also unsure whether my request for donated time from the state (as they've done for all my other surgeries) will be able meet my needs. The employees of the state of KY are truly generous with their time, but this will be my 3rd extended leave. We (state employees) have also had "donated" time (unpaid furloughs) in the past year. I know everyone is struggling financially. However, I am the bread winner in our family since Andrew has been incapacitated (according to no less than 3 doctors) with his back. My paycheck is what keeps us sheltered, fed, clothed, and insured. If I am forced to take days off without pay for this extended period of time, our family will greatly suffer.

With this in mind, I find myself cringing as I ask for support from anyone who can give it. Prayers and thoughts are greatly appreciated. In addition, direct support (through PayPal -- see button* on the side bar), my medical fund through PNC Bank (in Owensboro, KY called Erika Vandiver's Medical Fund), or any other means would be greatly appreciated. I hate to ask for financial assistance -- especially in these economically difficult times -- however, if I've learned anything during this journey, it is to ask for help when it is needed. Help is needed. Thank you for your continued support!

*The PayPal account is listed as That is Andrew's account. I cannot use my own due to my inactivity on both eBay and PayPal my account is severely limited. The transaction description has been changed to ERIKAS FUND for bank statement purposes.

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Smiling already at 2 weeks

Smiling already at 2 weeks
Rachel has been smiling as a response to other people since day one.

And two shall become one...

And two shall become one...
In 2006, Andrew & I became one before God and family! Shortly thereafter we became 3 with the birth of Simon in 2008... Then 4 with the addition of Rachel in 2009!

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