First Round of Chemo
Posted Nov 13, 2022 by Janice Nelson
It’s been awhile since my last update, so there are quite a few things to say here.
Christina started chemo in October and has completed her first round (Each round is three weeks – 2 weeks of treatment and 1 week off). There have been a few ups and downs. She had some terrible back pain while she was in the chair receiving the first infusion. The pain lasted a day or so and went away after that – we don’t know exactly what the pain was from, but we are thinking the nerve endings in her hips/back didn’t like the chemo drugs attacking the cancer in that area. Over the course of the treatment, she did notice some relief of her leg/back symptoms, so that’s a good sign that the chemo is doing it’s job.
However, the first round of chemo wreaked havoc on her liver. Her liver enzymes were elevated, and they were so high that the doctor paused her chemo treatment to allow the levels to return to normal. This is a somewhat common reaction, although the doctor doesn’t usually see this on the first round of treatment. Going forward, Christina will need to take lower levels of the chemo medications. When they start treatment again, they will also need to monitor her liver very closely to make sure it is tolerating the medications.
Christina is currently sick with influenza, which is draining her already depleted energy levels. She went in to the ER this weekend because of the fever, and they were able to test her and discover that it was due to influenza. This is actually kind of good because during chemo a fever could be from many different things that are harder to treat – so even though she’s feeling awful, it’s good to have an explanation for the fever. This is the second virus she’s had in a short time – just 2 weeks ago she had a different virus. She’s doing her best to stay hydrated and get better!
Kudos to Christina’s family!!! Since her diagnosis in August, her parents, siblings, and some close friends have been taking turns traveling here to stay and help in a very concrete way with meals, transportation, rides for kids, help with painting the house, building a ramp, etc. There has been someone here for basically the last three months! Such a wonderful outpouring of love. They have expressed to me that it is hard for them to not be able to be closer during this time, but I know Christina has appreciated all the help.
I am adding meals on to the meal train. As Christina’s energy levels have been waning, the daily task of making dinner for the family has become difficult. I know that having some meals will help them out a lot at this point. I am so incredibly grateful for all the support this community has given – please know that it is SO appreciated! The family will be traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that’s why there are no meals on those dates.
Thanks for the continued prayers and support!
Thank you for Disneyland!
Posted Oct 11, 2022 by Janice Nelson
The Kosiewicz family had a dream vacation in Disneyland last week! This was possible only because of the generous donations of so many of you. They say THANK YOU!!! It was a wonderful trip that made so many memories for all of them. (Christina's brother and family joined them, as you see in the picture.)
For those of you who are praying the 54 day novena, the last day is this Thursday, Oct 13th! Great job making it so far! All the prayers are so appreciated! Of course you are more than welcome to continue praying even though this specific novena is ending.
The next step for Christina is Chemotherapy, which starts today. She is on an IV infusion medication and 2 oral meds, and they work in a 3 week cycle. She will be on these medications indefinitely. These medications will work to kill cancer cells all through her body, but specifically in her spinal fluid.
Thank you for your continued support for Steve and Christina and their beautiful family!
Posted Sep 16, 2022 by Janice Nelson
Steve and Christina had a very peaceful and lovely trip to the Marian shrine in Wisconsin last week. They visited Our Lady of Good Help.
Also last week Christina had surgery to place the brain shunt to drain the excess fluid out of her brain. The surgery was successful and she is feeling a lot of relief now that the pressure on her brain is lessened.
Her main complaint right now is that her left leg is weak and numb at times, making it difficult to walk. Chemo will start as soon as she’s recovered from surgery, probably early October.
The family is very much looking forward to their trip to Disneyland at the end of the month. Thank you to all who made both the Marian shrine trip and the Disneyland trip possible. They are continuing to be intentional about spending quality time together, and your generosity is so appreciated!
I've heard from so many of you who are praying the 54 day rosary novena, and there's even a Facebook group of people who are joining together on zoom to pray each night. Reminder, today is day 27 which means we are halfway through! And starting tomorrow we switch to prayers of thanksgiving to God.
Done with Radiation!
Posted Sep 3, 2022 by Janice Nelson
Much has happened in the last week and a half. Some good news, some not as good news.
Since the discovery of the brain cancer, the doctors have run a few other scans to check for cancer in other places. This is important in order to know exactly what is going on so the doctors can determine the best treatment plan. Her bone scan and CT scan both are negative for cancer, but her spinal MRI shows several small clumps of cancer cells on her spine. This is not a huge surprise, since we know there are cancer cells in her spinal fluid. The doctor thinks these small tumors will be cleared up when the chemo starts.
Christina completed her 10-day regimen of whole brain radiation. Christina’s symptoms were quite severe and got a lot worse during radiation – headaches, vision disturbance, dizziness, difficulty walking. So the radiologist ordered a brain MRI so that they could see if there is something else making her symptoms so severe. Sure enough, they found an issue. The spinal fluid in her brain is not flowing the way it is supposed to. The fluid is being made faster than her body is able to drain it, which is causing excess fluid and pressure in her brain. The neurosurgeon thinks this is the cause of most of her extreme symptoms. Their plan to deal with this is to place a shunt in her brain to help the extra fluid drain. The shunt placement will happen next Thursday, Sept 8th, and will involve a one-night hospital stay. This will push Chemo back another few weeks, until she’s recovered from the surgery.
The most recent brain MRI also gave us some good news - the tumor is responding to the radiation and it has shrunk. It takes time to get the full effect from radiation, so the doctor expects the tumor to shrink more over the next 1-2 months. This is great news! On a more practical note, don’t be surprised if Christina looks different the next time you see her – as a side effect of radiation, she has lost all the hair on her head, so hats and scarves are once again her best friend. :)
Christina and Steve are headed to a National Marian Shrine next week. Our Lady of Good Help in Wisconsin is the first and only approved Marian apparition site in the United States. A group from St. Ed’s has put together the funds to send them to this Marian Shrine. We hope this trip will offer them healing and rest for their journey.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to their family’s dream vacation. They’ve been squirreling away money for years and due to the generosity of so many this dream is now becoming a reality, at the end of the month.
If you are praying the rosary novena with us, keep it up! We are 2 weeks into it already! If you’d like to start now, it’s not too late.
54 day novena
Posted Aug 20, 2022 by Janice Nelson
As promised, here is the info on the 54 day Novena.
Novena means nine in Latin, so a novena is simply a prayer said for nine days in a row. A 54 day novena is a very wonderful prayer. It is a series of 6 rosary novenas, prayed consecutively. The first 3 novenas are prayed in petition, meaning we ask for a specific intention. The second 3 novenas are prayed in thanksgiving.
Click on the link to get the prayers and to see more explanation about it. Please don’t over complicate it – it is simply a rosary prayed every day, with a few extra prayers added in. Copy and paste this link:
If you don’t know how to pray the rosary, copy and paste this link: https://rosarycenter.org/how-to-pray-the-rosary
Novenas are designed to end on a specific feast day. This Novena will end on October 13th, which is the anniversary of the last day that Our Lady appeared to the children in Fatima, as well as the day of the Miracle of the Sun. Additionally, this is the feast of St. Edward the Confessor, who is the patron saint of the parish Christina attends and works at. In order to end on October 13th, we will be starting it TOMORROW, on August 21st.
I’ve thought a lot about what specific intention I will be asking for. My prayer will look something like this: “If it is God’s will, please grant complete and total healing of Christina’s cancer. I also pray for peace and healing for the Kosiewicz family as they face this challenge.” God wants us to come to Him and ask him for what we want, even if it is a huge thing like asking for a miracle! Our God is a God of miracles. But we also understand that sometimes God allows difficult things, and He can make good come from even the most difficult situations. Even if complete physical healing isn’t granted, we know that He always hears our prayers and that He will be walking with the family through this. Your prayer intention can look like mine or it can be very different – I just thought I would share mine as a starting point for your own prayer.
By the way, if you don’t see this until after Aug 21st, it is okay to just join in as soon as you are able! Please contact me directly if you have more questions.
The Cancer is back
Posted Aug 17, 2022 by Janice Nelson
This is possibly the hardest update I’ve had to make on this meal train.
The cancer is back.
Christina went in for a brain MRI a few weeks ago, due to increasing headaches. They found a 2-3cm tumor in her brain, which means the cancer has metastasized to her brain. Additionally, the spinal fluid that covers the brain (the meninges) has been affected by the cancer. The meninges being affected makes her treatment more complicated and the diagnosis more serious. Since the spinal fluid covers the brain and all of the spine, it’s a much larger area to treat and monitor.
These findings mean that Christina’s cancer is now in stage 4, and it is incurable. They will be treating her brain cancer, but they will not be able to cure it completely, and she will be in treatment for the remainder of her life. The goal of treatment at this point is to extend her life while keeping in mind her quality of life. As far as life expectancy goes, of course the doctor is not able to tell us how much time Christina has left. The doctor says patients with her diagnosis generally live a few months to a few years. In Christina’s case, because the meninges are affected, she will likely be on the shorter side of this. However, the amount of time Christina has left will largely depend on how her cancer responds to treatment.
Christina’s treatment has already started. They are doing whole brain radiation daily for two weeks, then after that they will start chemotherapy. She will be on chemotherapy indefinitely, with changes being made based on how her cancer responds to the treatment.
This community is incredible, and we appreciate the support you have all given in the last four years, since Christina's original diagnosis. I will again be humbly asking for help in the upcoming months. However, there is no help needed at the moment - Christina’s family members are taking turns coming to stay and help with the family’s needs. Please watch for future updates about ways to help.
One thing you can do is to pray! We are organizing a 54 day novena to be prayed by anyone who wants to join in. I will post the info on that in a separate update, so watch for that!
This is quite difficult news for all of us to process. There are a lot of difficult discussions to be made as well as practical considerations. Please be patient with the family if they take longer than usual to respond. They are focused on treatment and each other, and are being as intentional as possible for each other with the time they have.
The Journey Continues
Posted Feb 8, 2021 by Janice Nelson
Hello all! I haven't had much to update you about. (I guess that's a good thing!) Christina is continuing with her treatment and recovery. She has weekly physical therapy, daily physical therapy exercises, as well as some doctor appointments. She's very fatigued but overall feeling a bit better.
She has another surgery coming up this week - part of the reconstruction process. To help with her recovery from surgery, I've added some meals for this week and next week. She appreciates all the generosity that you have all shown, and she is so incredibly grateful for your thoughts and prayers as she walks this difficult path.
Thank you all!
Slow but steady recovery
Posted Jun 25, 2020 by Janice Nelson
Thank you for all the meals and prayers for Christina and her family. It is just over 2 weeks since her surgery, and she's doing well. Recovery is going slow but steady. She tires very easily, which is frustrating for her. Just taking a shower takes a lot of energy right now. She is itching to get back to her normal routine, but she is finding the need to be extra patient with her body as it heals.
Some very positive news - she is seeing great progress in range of motion in her right arm and improvement in the area that was damaged from radiation. The doctor said that the damage from radiation was worse than she expected, so it's really good that she had this surgery, as it will help her a lot long term. So wonderful!
I added 2 more weeks of meals, since at this point she still really needs them. The meals have been extremely helpful to the whole family as they care for Christina. Thank you!!!
Out of surgery
Posted Jun 9, 2020 by Janice Nelson
Update on Christina's surgery. The surgery started at 8:30 a.m, and it was done around 4 pm. The doctor called Steve a couple times during surgery to update him on the progress. They told him that the surgery went well, pretty much as expected. Christina will be likely be discharged on Friday. We are so grateful for a successful surgery!!
Thank you for your continued prayers!
Posted Jun 4, 2020 by Janice Nelson
Christina has recovered from COVID19, thank you for the meals and prayers! I meant to do an update sooner, my apologies.
Christina has a major surgery next week, on June 9th. God willing, this will be the last major surgery she will need. This reconstructive surgery, performed at OHSU, will be complicated and intricate. They will be removing the skin and tissue that was permanently damaged by radiation, and also removing the expander that was placed during her original surgery. Then they will be reconstructing her breast, using tissue from her abdomen.
We hope that this surgery will take away a lot of Christina's pain. They can't remove all the damaged tissue, such as the muscles, but the radiated scar tissue and the expander are both causing quite a bit of pain and it will be a relief to have those removed.
This surgery will take 2-6 weeks of recovery, depending on how her body responds. The surgery involves several areas of her body and so it will be a lot to recover from. She will not be allowed any visitors in the hospital because of the current regulations due to COVID19. This is extremely hard on those who want to be there to help in the days following her surgery, but we trust that the nurses will take excellent care of her. She will be in the hospital for 3 days.
I am adding meals to the calendar for the first few weeks following surgery, and I will add more depending on how her recovery is going. You are welcome to give restaurant gift cards in lieu of bringing a meal - I listed some restaurant ideas in the information section.
Thank you again for all of your support! This surgery marks another step toward Christina's recovery!
Positive for COVID-19
Posted Mar 29, 2020 by Janice Nelson
Christina has been sick for the past two and a half weeks. On March 18th she went to urgent Care to get tested, and on March 27th, she received the results of her COVID-19 test. She is positive for the virus.
This is not a huge surprise, as she has had all the symptoms, but it is good to have confirmation. We decided it was best to post an update here, since people have been hearing the news and asking.
Some people have reached out asking if they can help by bringing the family meals, so I set up meals for the next two weeks. The meals will be porch drop offs only. Please avoid any contact. If your family is sick with anything, please don't sign up. They are already dealing with COVID-19, and they don't need to complicate it with any other germs.
Please pray for Christina and her family. This virus has hit her hard. She had a 101° fever for 10 days straight. She has been fever free for 6 days now, but she's not out of the woods yet. She is still very fatigued and weak. Pray that she turns a corner and starts feeling better soon!!
Help needed next week
Posted Jan 15, 2020 by Janice Nelson
Next week, Christina is having her last treatment on Monday, and the next day she will have surgery to remove her Port. I added a couple meals and some rides to the calendar, so we can help them out. Please sign up for what you are able to do.
One year mark
Posted Dec 7, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Today is Christina's birthday. Some of you may recall that last year on her birthday she had an appointment with her cancer surgeon following her mastectomy. The doctor went over the pathology report and described the type of treatment plan they recommended to treat her cancer. It was a big appointment, with lots of information, and it included the devastating news that in addition to her early stage cancer, Christina also had advanced stage cancer with a lot of lymph node involvement. Needless to say, it was not how she wanted to spend her birthday, and it is not one she will soon forget! But she definitely always tries to look for the "silver linings," and the silver lining here is that it makes her grateful for regular, normal birthdays! Today is a good day. 🙂
We all celebrate this birthday with you, Christina! There have been many one year "marks" this fall. Early October was one year since diagnosis. On Nov 21st, one year since the date of her surgery, Christina could be found in Indiana with 12 teenagers at a youth conference. On Thanksgiving we couldn't help but reminisce about what she was doing last year on Thanksgiving (sitting in the hospital one day post-surgery, trying to manage pain levels). And now today we rejoice in Christina - today's birthday holds much hope. Despite the difficulties, I am thankful for this walk with my friend, and I look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with her.
It has been a long time since I have posted an update - my last post was at the end of July, in the final days of radiation. Even after being done with radiation and Chemo, there have still been a lot of doctor visits, reminding us that this is indeed a FULL YEAR of treatment. She has spent time recovering from radiation, continuing her Herceptin/Parjeta treatments every 3 weeks, physical therapy appointments, numerous scans, starting her maintenance medications, continuing to manage side effects to medications, consultations regarding her reconstruction surgery, all while trying to still work and run her busy household.
Here is what comes next for Christina's treatment plan:
~ 2 more Herceptin and Parjeta treatments! Her last one is at the end of January, and she is looking forward to that! At the beginning of her treatment plan, the chemo and radiation overshadowed the side effects of Herceptin/Parjeta, but now the side effects can become quite difficult. She is eager to be rid of the leg cramps, the neuropathy, the itchy body rash, the fatigue, the daily antibiotics, etc.
~ Maintenance medication - she has already started some of these maintenance medications. Since her cancer is estrogen-fed, the purpose of these medications is to suppress the hormones that feed the type of cancer that she has. They are longer term medications that she will be on for at least 3-5 years.
~ Reconstruction surgery - The radiation caused a lot of damage, and that has changed the method of reconstruction that will be best for Christina. The radiated skin is not very usuable (or comfortable!), so much of that skin will need to be removed. She had a consultation with a plastic surgeon at OHSU who specializes in the type of reconstructive surgery that will be best for Christina. To be clear, this is not simply about physical appearance, but we are looking at what things can be done to help deal with the skin and muscle effects that the radiation and other treatments have caused. We are still working out the dates that will be best for her surgery, but it has to be at least 6 months after radiation, so it will be February or later. This will be a pretty major surgery with at least a 6 week recovery time. At that time I will be asking for some meals and other help for the family.
I think that about covers it. I am thankful for your continued prayers and support of Christina and her family during this last year. The countless things that you have done in many small and large ways are so incredibly appreciated.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Roman's 15:13
2 more days
Posted Jul 21, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Only 2 more radiation treatments left, on Monday and Tuesday. But they seem like the longest days. I'll be honest, Christina is not doing great. She's in a lot of pain. The effects of the radiation are indeed cumulative, and after almost 6 weeks of daily radiation, her skin is definitely suffering. Burning, oozing, itching, flaking. The doctor has given her many different skin ointments to help, and she's applying those diligently. She's also back on pain meds to deal with the pain. We'll all be so happy when radiation is done and her skin has a chance to heal. 26 radiation treatments done, 2 more to go. Almost done with radiation!
In other news, Christina's hair is growing back! Her hair is long enough that she has stopped wearing hats, and thank goodness because hats are hot in the summer! She is pleased to report that she now has both eyelashes and eyebrows.
Thank you all for your continued prayers!
Moving on to Radiation
Posted Jun 14, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Good news - Chemo treatment is done. Christina had 6 rounds of Chemotherapy, and the last one happened over a month ago. There are two other drugs she's been receiving since January, Herceptin and Parjeta, which will continue all the way through December. Herceptin and Parjeta are cancer therapy drugs that we are told are very good at targeting the HER2 cancer cells without damaging healthy cells as much. She will continue to receive these treatments every 3 weeks. Thankfully the side effects seem to not be as bad as the Chemo drugs. They tell us her hair should start to grow back soon!
Yesterday Christina started the next phase of her treatment, which is radiation. She has met with the radiation oncologist and they have set up a plan for her radiation. She will be receiving radiation treatments 5 days a week for the next 6 weeks. We are told that the main side effects are skin burns, skin changes, fatigue, tiredness, possible sore throat, dry mouth, taste changes. They say that some people fly through radiation without much issue, while some people have a harder time with the side effects. Also the last few weeks are the worst, since the effects of the radiation are cumulative. Either way, Christina will have a low key summer. No pools or vacations for her this summer, and she has to make an effort to keep out of the sun, to limit the skin damage. She will be receiving radiation until the end of July.
As I've talked to people, telling them that Christina is done with Chemo, there is a question I've gotten many times - "Does it look like they are beating the cancer? Is the treatment effective?" Indeed, all of us want to know if all this treatment is effectively killing the cancer off. Unfortunately, there is NO WAY to tell if the treatment is effective. The tumor was removed during the mastectomy surgery in December, so the main source of cancer is gone. But because the cancer had moved to her lymph nodes, there were likely cancer cells all through her body, looking for a place to land. The chemo and radiation are designed to kill off any lingering cancer cells in her body, to prevent recurrence and to prevent cancer growing in another part of her body. So this treatment plan the doctors have designed is the normal protocol for a person with breast cancer and the level of lymph node involvement that Christina had. They will follow this protocol of treatment for Christina. While it is a little disconcerting that we have no confirmation that the treatment is working, we don't really have another option. We have to just do the recommended treatments, and have faith that we are doing our best to treat the cancer. God is bigger than cancer.
Thank you all for walking along with Christina through this journey, and please continue to keep her and her family in your prayers.
"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise." Jeremiah 17:14
Posted Apr 24, 2019 by Janice Nelson
It has been a long time since my last update. Christina's treatment is continuing on, day by day. Not a lot to report, just the daily grind of the treatment.
One big change - she got her port back! Daily Showers - that's what Christina is thankful for right now. As you may remember, she had a power port put in last December, but then they had to remove it in January in order to help her recover from the staph infection. At that time, they put in a PICC line, which has many more restrictions, including not being able to get wet. A couple weeks ago, she had surgery to put the port back in and to remove the PICC line. She is very thankful to have the port again, as it is completely under her skin and allows much more flexibility in her daily life.
Other than that, chemo treatment has been continuing without a lot of turmoil. She has many side effects that she's dealing with, which is expected as a part of chemotherapy. Since my last update, she has had her 4th and 5th treatments. She's just taking things day by day, trying to keep up with the busy life of her family and trying to work part time. She will have her 6th Chemo treatment at the start of May, which will be her last chemo treatment - 2 out of the 4 drugs she's been getting will continue through the end of the year, but the 2 chemo drugs will be done at that point. She has been told that the majority of her side effects will go away at that point.
You will notice that I have not added more meals in May. Christina said she still has freezer meals to work through, so we will suspend the meals for now. If you would like to bring them a meal, feel free to contact her directly. THANK YOU for the MONTHS of meals that all of you have provided - they helped the family SO MUCH!!!
Your continued prayers are appreciated. Thank you for all that everyone has done to help through this process.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12
Posted Mar 9, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Wow, this has been another intense month. So much emotion that words cannot contain. The loss of a loved one, as many of you know all too well, is filled with so much emotion. I've had a hard time writing this update, as any words I tried didn't seem to encompass it all.
Angela Davies is a friend that Christina has known since the early days of her youth ministry journey. They met in Seaside many years ago, where Angela was a parishioner and Christina was a fresh young youth minister. During her 2 short years in Seaside, many lifetime friendships were formed, including with Angela and her husband Chris. Even though they haven't lived close to each other since Seaside, they have maintained a close friendship for all of these years. Angela was a wonderful mentor and friend. She was Godmother to Steve and Christina's son Alex, and was beloved to the whole family. Unfortunately, Angela has been pretty sick this past year, and following a few hard weeks in the hospital, she moved on from this life, on February 20th. She will be forever loved and forever missed. ❤️ She was a woman who touched many lives by her simple witness to a holy life. She was devoted to her husband and children, and ministered to the entire community. Following her death, the Kosiewicz family went to Idaho to help plan and attend her funeral, which happened on March 2nd. They ask that you pray for the soul of Angela, as well as for the entire family, as they deal with the grief over the loss of Angela.
The battle against cancer continues - Christina received her 3rd round of chemo just after her return from the funeral. She was able to stay out of the hospital after the 2nd round of chemo, and we are hopeful that she will do okay with this round also. But chemo is hard. Christina is weak and tired, with many symptoms. She's had to go in several times for fluids. She is done with the daily antibiotics, and her blood has remained clear of the staph infection she had in January. This is wonderful and we hope to keep her infection-free!
Some of you may have seen Steve's Facebook pictures of his recent trip to Great Wolf Lodge with the kids. This vacation was the kids' Christmas gift, and was planned to happen during their oldest daughter's spring break from college. Christina's treatment made it impossible for her to attend with the family, which was unfortunate, but when they planned it, they knew there was a chance that could happen. Great Wolf Lodge is not a great place for Christina to be right now anyway, with all the people and the germs. Plus the PICC line prevents her from going in the water. Their older kids pitched in a lot, and Steve survived the vacation as the sole parent! The kids had a great time!
I want to say a huge thank you to all of you for your continued support! We are in it for the long haul, and I so appreciate the big and little things each of you have been able to do to help make this journey more bearable. I pray that this season is one of spiritual growth for each of you!
“Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” St. Therese of Lisieux
Posted Feb 4, 2019 by Janice Nelson
A couple updates today. Following Christina's setback last month, she has settled into her new routine. Her meds are given through a pump which automatically dispenses her meds 3 times a day. She has to visit the office once a day to get the medication. We originally thought that they would be putting in another port right away, but that is not the case. Instead, she has a PICC line in her arm, through which she gets all her medications. She will be on these antibiotics for 6 weeks total, and she's about 3 weeks into it. So far, so good.
The doctors cautiously decided to go ahead with her chemotherapy treatments, rather than waiting the full 6 weeks. They don't want to push the treatments back too far, but of course they want to be careful not to stress her system too much either. It's a fine balance. The doctors work quite well with each other and will be watching her extra closely following this round of chemo. She received her 2nd round of chemo today, and as long as there are no other setbacks, the treatments will continue every 3 weeks. So she is done with round 2!
Since her surgery in November, various family members have come to help run the household while she is down and out - her parents, her sister, her sister-in-law, her oldest daughter (home from college for winter break). This has been a huge help. Later this week her parents will be coming down again, so they can help as the effects of chemo set in.
"Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" Galatians 6:2
Thank you so much for the continued prayers and support! I am certain they are bolstering her and helping her get through this treatment! In this way, we are all "bearing her burdens" as the verse says. 🙏📿 Blessings to all of you!
Home sweet home
Posted Jan 18, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Christina is discharged from the hospital and back home. 😍
Also I updated the meal train with meals for February and March.
Thank you so much for your prayers! 🙏
Posted Jan 14, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Cancer treatment can be full of setbacks. Christina just hit a pretty big one. Part-way through the benefit breakfast on Sunday, she spiked a fever. When you are in chemotherapy treatment, your immune system is suppressed, and even the slightest fever is cause for concern. Christina's fever was over 104* F. So off to the ER we went, where they admitted her to the hospital.
The initial tests showed that her body was fighting an infection. They had to run a series of tests to try to locate the source of the infection. This morning they told us that she has a staph infection in her bloodstream. This is a serious condition that needs to be treated right away. They don't know how the staph got into her bloodstream, but it was likely during one of her surgeries or procedures or during the healing process.
Here's what treatment for this staph infection will involve. First step is to clear her bloodstream of the staph. She won't be able to leave the hospital until her blood cultures are clear, which could take anywhere from a couple more days to more than a week. She will need to have her port removed. They will likely be able to put the port back in shortly after. Taking a port out and putting a new one in are procedures done in the operating room under heavy sedation.
Once all that is done and she's cleared to go home, they will start an antibiotic treatment that will last 4-6 weeks. She'll be visiting the hospital daily to get the treatments. This is to ensure that her bloodstream is clear of the staph bacteria.
All of this needs to be resolved before continuing chemotherapy, so unfortunately, chemo gets pushed back until this is taken care of.
Continued prayers are appreciated! We will be updating the meal train shortly.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction,faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12
Posted Jan 14, 2019 by Janice Nelson
The Kosiewicz family would like to say THANK YOU for the benefit breakfast. It was an incredible outpouring of love, generosity, and community. Thank you specifically to the Knights of Columbus, the youth group, the boy scouts, St Edward parish, Shā Eppley, Patty Meadows, Maureen Summers, Michelle Zelenka, Bonnie Sponsel, Shannon Mowry, Karla Horsley, and numerous others who made this event happen. This will greatly ease the financial burden of Christina's treatment. More importantly, it was such an incredible blessing to the family to feel the love being showered on them in that room. There aren't enough words to express how tremendously thankful the Kosiewicz family is. Thank you, thank you!
"I thank my God every time I remember you" Philippians 1:3
Posted Jan 3, 2019 by Janice Nelson
Reminder- there will be a pancake breakfast fundraiser put on by the Knights of Columbus. It is Sunday, January 13th at St Ed's in Keizer, 9am-Noon. They are also doing a basket raffle. Please join us and spread the word!
Posted Jan 3, 2019 by Janice Nelson
I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year! Christina is healed from surgery and is entering the next phase of treatment.
Christina started chemo today, January 3rd. It will be a long day - the treatments will take about 7 hours. Future treatments will be shorter, around 4 hours.
She will have 6 rounds of chemo, once every 3 weeks, so total time will be at least 18 weeks. Her second treatment is scheduled for January 24th. Sometimes chemo treatments need to be pushed back due to complications, so it could be longer than 18 weeks.
This first round of chemo will give a good indication of how her body will react to the chemo. They tell us the side effects will likely hit her on about the third day, and include things like nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and hair loss. She will lose her hair a few weeks after the start of chemo, so probably late January she'll start sporting some scarves and hats!
The chemo will lower Christina's immune system. If she gets sick that could delay her chemo treatments or create other complications. So she is making efforts to keep her family from getting sick. Please don't visit her if you are sick. ❤️
Christina is ready to take on this next phase in her treatment. Please continue your prayers!
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand". Isaiah 41:10
Posted Dec 21, 2018 by Janice Nelson
Best news!! Christina received the best call today. Both her CT scan and bone scan came back negative for cancer. Praise the Lord!
This was a big week for Christina. She had 7 different appointments in 4 days, including an echocardiogram, minor surgeries, body scans, and follow-ups. She went to the operating room twice, both to stitch up an area on her incision that needed some help, and to place her power port. All the procedures went well, and now all the major things that need to be done before chemo are complete.
Chemo will start sometime in early January, but for now we are reveling in this great news!
"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds" Psalm 9:1
Posted Dec 13, 2018 by Janice Nelson
I just added meals for January. Same schedule as the last few months. There aren't a lot of meals the last weeks of December on purpose, so that they can eat some of the freezer meals people have been bringing over. Thank you all! ❤️
Posted Dec 12, 2018 by Janice Nelson
Another quick update. We are still waiting for scans to come back. We need prayer warriors!! The results of those scans are super important. Pray the scans are clear!
Christina is recovering well from surgery. She is gradually coming off the pain meds, which means she's more coherent and feeling like herself. It also means she's starting to get bored, which the doctor says is a great sign. 😀 She is getting around more and is able to do more, which is so nice. She is cleared to take showers and lift her toddlers, which is great. No driving yet, but she has plenty of chauffeurs to drive her around.
Many people have been asking about bringing more meals, and what else they can do to help. Thank you SO much for the love and support!! The family is definitely feeling it! We will be asking for more meals, as that is a big help for the family. I will add more meals on the meal train as soon as we decide what would be most helpful.
The Knights of Columbus will host a fundraiser for the family - a pancake breakfast on January 13th, 9am-noon. This is so great and will be such a help financially. Spread the word!
Please feel free to share this meal train link. And pray hard!!!
Posted Dec 7, 2018 by Janice Nelson
Worst birthday news ever. Today is Christina's birthday, but the news from the doctor was not what we hoped for.
"Unusual situation...." "Sneaky" These are not the words you want your doctor to use to describe your cancer. And yet, these are the words we heard today. Today we saw Christina's breast cancer surgeon. She gave us the full pathology report, as well as the treatment plan going forward.
What we know about the cancer:
-Christina has 2 different kinds of cancer. She has the non invasive type (DCIS), and the invasive lobular kind (HER2).
-The surgery took care of the DCIS, but the HER2 will require both chemo and radiation.
-This cancer is known for being able to hide on the mammogram, which is why it wasn't detected before surgery.
-15 out of the 17 lymph nodes they removed had cancer
-HER2 is an estrogen based cancer, which is good because the drugs for this type of cancer are the best available, and the cancer usually responds well to the treatment.
-Right now her cancer is stage 3, as far as the doctors know. They will do some body scans to make sure it hasn't spread to other parts of her body.
-Consult with chemo doctor next week.
-Surgery on Dec 19th to place a port (this will make chemo treatments easier)
-Chemo treatments will start sometime soon after. She will be on 3 drugs. Two of them will continue for about 6 months, with one of the drugs lasting for 12 months.
-Radiation will happen at some point after the first 6 months.
-Once all the cancer treatment is over, Christina will have one last surgery to finish reconstruction.
I'm not going to lie, hearing all this news today was hard for all of us. It is discouraging and frustrating to hear that the cancer is worse than we thought, and that treatment will take so much longer than expected.
"God is within her. She will not fail." Psalm 46:5
Posted Nov 30, 2018 by Janice Nelson
Today marks 9 days since Christina's surgery. Unfortunately it has been a really hard 9 days. I had no prior knowledge of how involved a mastectomy surgery is, but it really affects so much of the body. There's incredible pain, difficulty moving the arm on that side, unable to do basic things like fixing your own hair or getting up out of bed by yourself. She will eventually need to have physical therapy to regain full use of her right arm. These are all normal parts of this surgery. Then there are the side effects of major surgery, such as dizziness, nausea, effects of pain meds, lack of appetite, etc. Christina's recovery has hit some extra bumps, such as her difficulty in coming out of anesthesia, puking within hours of the surgery, and extra dizziness. But she has been steadily getting better and getting through it. The doctor is happy with how she is healing physically - her incisisions are looking good with no sign of infection.
I have been so impressed by how Christina has handled this whole process. I have been friends with her for a long time, so I'm not surprised, but she continues to impress me. I have watched her rising to each challenge with grace and beauty, along with her sense of humor that is very much intact. She has been asked to endure much, and she provides a great example of how to do it well.
Her husband has been handling most of her caretaking at home. He has been in charge of her after-surgery care and her medicine, dispensing it every 2 hours around the clock, even through the night. He's really doing an amazing job, and we've affectionately started calling him "Nurse Steve."
This week Christina got a phone call with her pathology report, and it confirmed that her cancer has indeed spread. They found cancer in 15 out of 17 of the lymph nodes they removed. The good news is that the type of cancer she has will likely respond well to chemo. There are still tests to be done to determine the proper treatment plan, and we have consultations set up during the next couple weeks to learn more. We still don't know exactly what "stage" of cancer she is at, but hopefully we will know that soon. They told us that they usually like to wait about a month in between treatments, so we expect chemo might start late December or early January.
I attached a picture here - yesterday we went out to get Christina's hair washed and cut. She is now sporting a cute A-line bob. Getting her hair washed was so nice, as she hasn't been able to shower yet post-surgery. And she wanted a short hair cut to get her heavy hair off her neck. As she said, it's all going to fall out anyway, she might as well try a new hairdo. 😀
Thank you so much for your continued prayer and support! This is a difficult process, but we are continuing one step at a time, and we are relying heavily on our faith in God. God is good, all the time.
Posted Nov 23, 2018 by Janice Nelson
I know so many of you are anxious to hear about the surgery and to hear how Christina is doing. This is a slow process, and we appreciate your patience.
The surgery itself went very well. The doctors said they got what they needed and the surgery proceeded as expected. Christina is healing well. The day of surgery was a long one, and she had a really hard time coming out of anesthesia. Pain levels and nausea were a huge challenge for her. The doctors and nursing staff have been amazing, but recovery is just hard. She continues to be in a lot of pain, but they are doing what they can to control her pain.
Unfortunately, we did not get the news we were hoping for about the cancer. They did a biopsy of her lymph nodes and found that they were positive for cancer cells, which means Christina’s cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. The surgeon removed all the affected tissue and lymph nodes.
Because the lymph nodes are involved and they found invasive cells, the treatment plan will be different than originally expected. Her treatment will now include chemotheraphy and/or radiation. We know VERY little right now. The doctors will NOT know anything definitive until after they analyze the tissue they removed. This will take at least a week (maybe longer due to the holiday). At that point, they will have a better idea of what treatment makes the most sense for Christina.
Many people have told me that they haven’t had a chance to sign up to bring the family a meal. As soon as we know what her treatment will involve, we will add more meal dates, so you will have a chance to sign up. Thank you for all the help and support, but especially the prayers – it is truly appreciated!
Of course this is not what we hoped for, but there are many blessings which we are choosing to focus on. We are so thankful that it was caught early. We appreciate the excellent care that Christina is receiving from her skilled doctors. We expect that Christina has a very good prognosis, even if the road is a little longer.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
Surgery date is here!
Posted Nov 21, 2018 by Janice Nelson
Today is the big day. Christina went back for surgery about 30 minutes ago. Surgery will be 5-6 hours long, then starts the process of recovery.
No visitors for now, until she says she's up for company. But all prayers are appreciated!!
Pathology results will take about a week, then we'll know for sure what future treatment will include. If she has no invasive cancer cells, then she won't have to do radiation or chemotherapy. Either way, she will have another surgery in about 4 months. Pray that there are no invasive cells!
Thanks for all your support! Christina is feeling it!
I'll update more later,
Surgery is Scheduled
Posted Nov 8, 2018 by Janice Nelson
I want to say a BIG thank you to everyone for the prayers, for the meals you've been bringing, and for the support you've offered the family. The Kosiewicz family is feeling the love and support, and it is truly appreciated!!! Keep up the prayers!
I'm sure everyone is ready for an update on Christina. It's been a busy month of meeting with specialists, trying to process the diagnosis, trying to make decisions, and lots of waiting. At this point, Christina and her doctors have decided on the best course of treatment for her cancer. The doctor recommended a mastectomy on the affected side, because the scans show that the cancer cells are spread over a large area. She will have a mastectomy with reconstruction on the affected side, as well as a reduction on the other side. This is a pretty involved surgery, that will last over 5 hours, and the recovery will be significant. The surgery date is set for November 21 (Yes, the day before Thanksgiving!) She has a very good set of doctors, and they have been great about explaining each step of the process. So thankful for good doctors!
Her preliminary diagnosis is Stage 0 breast cancer, also called DCIS. Stage 0 means it is non-invasive, as far as they can tell from the scans. After surgery, they will confirm that there are no invasive cells. They will also biopsy the lymph nodes during surgery, in order to confirm that it has not spread. Christina's cancer is the most aggressive type, so we are all thankful that it was caught early.
I am updating the meal train with other needs the family will have during the weeks following surgery. Please sign up for whatever you are able to help with.
Again, thank you for the prayers, and keep them coming!! Surgery day is 13 days away. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions!