Monday, November 26, 2012

On the Upswing

Hi friends and family,

I know it's been way too long since I gave anyone an update. Last week I had to have a really uncomfortable procedure followed by having to have tubes sticking out of too many places and me being absolutely miserable, not to mention having a neutropenic fever for a few days and horrible nausea. If I'm being honest, some of those days last week were honestly the hardest I've ever had to go through. My Mom stayed by my side the entire time and helped me through everything. I'm still having pain and not back to normal yet but I'm MUCH more comfortable now than I was at the beginning of the week. The good news is that my good cell counts are FINALLY starting to go up, so things can only go up from here!

I've continued to be overwhelmed by how far my story is reaching and how much support I have. I absolutely love the "Flat Sarah" group on facebook and all the cool "places I'm going." :) I also have seen a video of a special cheer the Plainfield Central cheer squad did while wearing shirts for me, and a group dedicating the song "The Middle" to me while holding up "Flat Sarah." It's amazing how many people care and are reaching out to me especially during this really, really tough time.

Hello world, Evamarie, Sarah's cousin here! Sarah asked me to finish up this blog post for her with a guest blog. Here is some of the love on her wall from all of you. I couldn't even get a picture with all of it in. Thanks for the pictures and love. Sarah received her Kindle Fire last week and she is starting to feel good enough to use it. She hopes to download some books and movies soon with an amazon gift card that was given to her from the Bare Necessities Charity.

HUGE THANK YOU to all those that have ordered Tshirts or donated on   Sarah is so grateful for all the donations and love. Sarah is currently resting comfortably while we watch TLC, Enchanted, and Family Guy. She still laughs and jokes like nothing has changed at all. Although she is in pain sometimes, she will be back in full swing soon. Sarah's nurses are amazing and very patient and kind to Sarah and we thank them alot. 

What can you do?
-Donated on Sarah's website or buy a Tshirt
-Write on Sarah's facebook group and leave some love. I always read them to Sarah when I visit since she hasn't felt up to being on facebook
- Take FLAT SARAH with you! Go onto "Flat Sarah" on facebook and print out her picture. Take Sarah to the grocery store, mall, park, or anywhere. She was laughing hysterically over the ones that have been posted. 

We love you Our Tough Cookie. 
Sarah and Evamarie

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I don't really have a plan for this post, so it's basically going to be me rambling about random things I've been neglecting to blog about. Right now, I'm still extremely frustrated at having the same pains and nausea for days and days without change. I'm limited in some ways on medications because of my counts being so low, so even on the strongest meds the doctors can give, I have pain and bad nausea throughout the days and nights. Unfortunately, patience isn't my strongest virtue and it's beyond frustrating to wake up every day without improvement in the side effects I still have from my chemo that was a week or two ago now. Since the chemo was stronger, my body is taking longer to recover the good cells I need to start feeling better again. So that I'm not just focusing on the pain and making it worse, I am trying so hard to count the little blessings...recently, my doctors have been successful with a strong anti-nausea treatment that gives me hours at a time without my stomach churning, and it's helped me to be able to have an appetite and eat something; I have also been blessed with fantastic nurses who do everything they can to understand my pain and hold my forehead if Mom or Dad isn't there to.

When I really think about it though, I have LOTS of little blessings in the stories, cards, letters, messages, texts, and other encouragement people have given me. I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to so many people:

-Everyone who has reached out to me recently by mail or unexpected gifts; they warm my heart, make me smile, and lift me up more than you know :)

-My Kappa Delta sisters, some of them freshmen I haven't even had the pleasure of meeting yet, sending package after package of halloween goodies, magazines and nail polish, a book full of cards I sobbed while reading, and even gorgeous hand-painted art to decorate my boring hospital room walls.

-To both of my Grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Loebig and Wielgos, for the continual cards and packages to cheer me up,

-To my cousin Evamarie, not only my cousin but one of my best friends, for coming and having to watch me sleep numerous times but making sure I know that she's always by my side, doing whatever I need.

-To my family at school, my Oriflamme teammates (GO ORIFLAMME! GO WORLD!), the Relay for Life committee I was going to join this year who also reached out to me, and to all of the people, some I don't even know, who've sent messages of love and care and a desire to join me in my battle,

-To all of my family friends, especially the Lotz and Cemeno families, who are pouring themselves into multiple fundraising projects and support methods for my family,

-To the groups who have come together to show what multitude of supporters I have, the Ruedin's 4h group and their family, The Paul Mitchell School of Cosmetology that my cousin Rachel goes to, my Aunt Lori's CCD class, and all other groups who've reached out to me,

-To the wonderful nurses who take amazing care of me, and the staff here at Loyola who makes this floor feel like home

-To the other cancer fighters or survivors and their parents who have reached out in understanding of what my family and I are going through, like Andrew's Mom, the other kids on this floor, the staff at the Ronald McDonald house, and especially my Aunt Patty and Uncle Tim and Aunt Patty's parents (Grandparents-in-law? :)),

-To every friend and relative, near and far, who share their prayers, thoughts and love with me every day!!!

-To every stranger who also shares your prayers, thoughts, and love with me every day without even having met me in person...

No matter how horrible it is to go through cancer, somehow the good and love I see around me seems to almost balance out the bad, as crazy as that sounds. When I'm in pain or I'm brushing my teeth after an episode of nausea, sometimes I wonder how something can possibly hurt this bad. However, when I feel the incredibly overwhelming support of people literally all over the world, I wonder how someone can possibly feel this fortunate.

Because of your love, I'm still standing a strong, brave, tough cookie...and cancer STILL is not making me crumble.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Match Made in Heaven

A LONG-awaited hello to my friends and family! I've been trying to get up the energy to post for a while now. I'm not sure I'll get through a whole post, but my Mom finally encouraged me to at least type something today since it's been a few weeks since I've given anyone an update.

I promised everyone on this blog that I'd post the good and the bad, be honest about how I'm feeling or how things are going. For a while now, I've been in the really, really tough times that every cancer patient knows are coming but could never fully prepare for. At diagnosis I made the decision to fight for my life, to not back down or give up but to follow this journey all the way through. I knew my journey would involve pain and difficulty, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

This is one of those times that things are painful and difficult, and I'm not the cheerful, positive, bubbly Sarah when I'm on a lot of meds and in a lot of pain. I'm trying to learn what is means to still be "Sarah" when I'm not in a cheerful, positive "Sarah" mindset. It feels like it takes so much energy to be social, so I haven't felt up to keeping in touch with any of my friends for the past couple weeks, which is definitely just not "me." I think the best way to cope with feeling so off is to remind myself that this is temporary. I'm going day-to-day, sometimes just hour-to-hour, focusing on getting through and finding a way to distract myself from pain.

When things seem to be at their worst, though, somehow the Lord finds little ways to remind me that I am not walking alone.  My Kaydee Ladies (sorority sisters!) have sent me so many wonderful care packages; I can never thank you all enough for the smiles you bring on the gray days.  The chaplains here at Loyola have frequently offered a prayer and encouragement.  The nurses here on the peds oncology ward are there for me and always willing to give me a little insight into real-life clinicals!  Thanks, too, to my new friend Father Gavin for his visits and support.  My "twin" cousin, Evamarie, visits me and cheers me up.  The cards, pictures, and expressions of love truly brighten my dark days. about some GREAT news?!

To prepare for my bone marrow transplant, the doctors tested my siblings to determine if any of them is a match; if not, they would begin a search on the international bone marrow registry.  After much prayer, we learned that my sister, Mary Faith, is a perfect match for me.  Yes, that's my sis whose pictures are posted earlier on this blog!  What a blessing--each sib had a 25% chance of matching.  My brother, Ben, expressed no surprise at the news--"I knew it!  You and Mary both love to shop for shoes and for purses!  Of course you're a match!" he said wisely.  By the way, Ben is 11 : )

Some people have asked about my treatment timeframe.  Well, it's all up in the air.  A schedule for either more chemo or the beginning of transplant procedures is dependent on many factors that are complicated and tricky, like how my body recovers from this last round of chemo and whether those stubborn cancer cells finally bit the dust.  So, again, God is asking me to face the future day by day, trusting Him and His timeframe.

"Even miracles take a little time," reads a beautiful disney snowglobe that I received as a get-well gift.  I  am willing to wait on God's timing.  He holds me in the palm of His hand, truly.  Even during these difficult days, when I am not feeling up to posting on this blog or emailing or texting, know that I am fighting through it.  I am willing to do what it takes to overcome cancer and to use these days of both darkness and miracles to learn what God wants to teach me.

Please continue to pray for me, for my family, for the medical team which oversees my care, and for my fellow patients here at Loyola.  I might be knocked down, temporarily, but I won't stay down.  I am a fighter and a tough by day...and I'm looking forward to my match, made in heaven!  Thanks, sis!