Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dear friends, Thank you so much for all of your email and your prayers. We are receiving many emails and calls of encouragement as our letter explaining our situation and Greg's need to find a new job has arrived at many of your homes. I was thinking that I haven't said this here in the blog, but the best way to communicate with me or Greg is through our email. My address is and Greg's is We are hoping to collect email addresses for those wanting to receive our prayer letters and updates so we can cut down on the paper mailing process. So write to Greg and give him your address if you are interested in that. Thanks!
MY JAW SURGERY UPDATE My jaw is gradually healing. I still have enough pain to warrant pain meds in the late afternoon and at night. The dentist called today to tell me there was no cancer. He cleaned out a pocket of "brown mushy stuff with bone fragments in it" on the bottom right. That is what the painful round "thing" we were seeing on the X-ray was. My other dentist would have called that osteomyelitis without a doubt, so I will have to live with this biopsy report as it was paid for by Kaiser. Hopefully it is cleaned out now and the bone can grow back healthy. Anyway, he explained that he had to go deep to get it all out and could see that a nerve was being damaged in the process. My lower right jaw has been numb since the surgery 12 days ago and is slowly gaining feeling again. He said it could take weeks or months for it all to heal. It feels now like your elbow funny bone being bumped if I touch my chin, or just tingles or hurts like when Novocain is wearing off. I will see the jaw surgeon on Tuesday before Jenni's All State Choir Concert and leaving for Turkey on Wednesday. Please continue to pray for healing of the nerves and bones. I have had no infections.

With my jaw hurting, it is pretty much overshadowing the rest of my body. Only my neck and head have been noticeably hurting otherwise, and my chiropractor can get that to let up some with adjustments. It is just going to take a while for my spine and joints to heal from the Neupogen shots I had during chemo. If I hadn't had them, I wouldn't have been able to tolerate the treatment, so they were necessary and I am grateful for them. But that and the radiation has dehydrated my connective tissue and it will slowly continue healing over time.
I cried with Laura tonight. I am so thankful that she is here. What a godly and wise daughter and friend. I just have so many emotions churning in me as I know there is a possibility of us moving if Greg takes several of the jobs that have come up. It would mean so many changes and honestly, I just feel tired. We have such fantastic friends, our church, family, doctor networks, etc., here that it would be hard to leave. But God is big enough that if we have to move, He will help us rebuild that in the next place, but that seems daunting right now. Please pray for wisdom as we decide which of these, or some other job, to take. Greg set up an office here and works regular work hours every day, and has this whole month. He takes little time off. He is such an incredible godly man. I am so proud of him. Please pray that he has time to figure out what kind of job he wants to move into and that we will have peace about which job to take. I think we will have some time in Turkey, away from here to process some of this together between Feb 12th and 18th.

I have officially begun taking Femara daily. It is a Tamoxifen type of drug that is supposed to reduce my chances of recurrance of cancer. Now that I am deemed "Post- menopausal" I can try this one. I had lots of side effects with Tamoxifen several years ago and just couldn't take it. The goal if for me to be on this one for the rest of my life. The pills cost $8.43 a day, but my co-pay per month is only $30 on our current plan- rather than the $200+ they actually cost. This medication is hormonal in nature and can sway the emotions, so I'll need to see how it affects me. I have a feeling some of that is already happening! Just another factor to add into what else is going on in my life right now.
Our brother-in-law Paul who had a triple bypass 12 days ago, was air flighted to the hospital in CO Springs from Divide today (Tuesday) as his heart beat was irregular and he was very close to passing out- home alone about noon today. He called the doctor and then 911 and they got there pretty fast. They flew him from the school parking lot a little ways from their house and got him to the hospital in 12 minutes. It would have taken 40 minutes or so to drive it in the ambulance. Greg and I went to be with them as they waited for news of what happened. No heart attack, but maybe an infection, reaction to meds, or both, or something else. They decided to keep him there overnight and do some tests and put him on antibiotics. Greg and I came back home at about 5:00. Depending on when he gets to come home, Greg will go down and be there with him on Thursday and Friday and just work from their house and keep Paul company while Greg's sister, Shelby goes to work.
So please pray for me to learn what the Lord wants to teach me. Pray that I would know God's peace to be able to REST in Him. I do fine for several days and then something else happens, and it is all stirred up again. We have still not been given any word from the board regarding our situation. We met with 2 board reps a few weeks ago and still are waiting for anything further from the board. I am sure your prayers for each of them would be very appreciated. They have a full plate right now.

We have much to be thankful for. I am done with cancer treatment, the rest of our family is healthy, Jenni has been accepted at some great schools, Laura is done with college, Greg has some great job offers, we have amazing friends bringing dinners for us currently, my jaw is healing, we have medical insurance right now, we have a warm house and food to eat, gas was down to $1.92 tonight, Uncle Fred is visiting for a few days to represent the board of I360, I got to help Candy prepare the missions month of curriculum for our 1100+ S.S. kids for February, and I have a warm bed to crawl into when I finish this blog update. It is late and sometimes that is the time I do my processing. I'll take a nap tomorrow- don't worry! God bless you. Don't forget to email your address to us! Thanks much! Nancy

Saturday, January 20, 2007

My jaw is done and healing 1-20-07

Dear friends, It is Saturday afternoon and I had my jaw surgery as planned yesterday morning. Right as we were preparing to leave for my 7:15 appointment, we got a call from Greg's sister who lives in Divide, near Woodland Park up in the mountains west of Colorado Springs. Her husband, Paul, was having heart pain and was in the hospital in the Springs. Greg and Laura decided to go be with them for the day, and Jenni agreed to take me. Paul ended up with a triple by-pass on his heart by 4:30 in the afternoon. Greg and Laura brought our 17 year old neice, Natalie, home with them last night for a few days. I did fine with my jaw surgery. The IV was hard to put in, but eventually worked. He took out the tooth and cleaned out my jawbone. He said the area on the top right didn't look bad to the eye, but he sent it all for biopsy anyway. What I know is that it has been painful for about a year, so I am glad to have it out of there. The bone should grow back healthy now. He didn't clean out as much bone as my other doctor had planned to, but I hope he got enough out. I have a little numbness left from the novicane, but it has been dispating today. I am a little swollen, but not too badly, and the pain meds are working well. Apparently my family thinks I am pretty funny when I am on pain meds, but I don't understand what they could be talking about! We did enjoy lots of laughter at dinner last night- mostly at my expense! Thank you for praying for us yesterday. Please be praying for Paul as he recovers from his surgery. It turns out that he didn't have a heart attack, but was on the verge of having one. So God took care of him and there was no muscle damage done. He is in CCU for a few days, but the prognosis is good. Thank you for your continued love and prayers. God bless you- Nancy

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jaw surgery tomorrow! 1-18-07

Dear friends, I thank you for your communication with me/us. We have received many calls, cards and letters from friends reaffirming your love and confidence in us and in God that He will bring us through this time. I went to Bible study at church yesterday morning and our lesson was about John 10. That chapter talks about Jesus being the shepherd and us being the sheep. It tells that His sheep know His voice and the shepherd intimately knows and loves His sheep. One illustration really stuck out to me. Our teacher referred to a book that explains the sheep/shepherd relationship. I had read that book a long time ago, but forgotten. If a sheep falls and ends up on its back, it is unable to get itself up. It would lie there and die from being attacked by another animal or from starvation unless the shepherd sought it out and righted it. And then, its legs would be numb from being in that position for a while. The sheperd would set it back on its feet, and then gently massage the legs to get the blood circulating again. I guess I have been feeling like that upsidedown sheep. My shepherd wants to help me get back on my feet. I know He is near, but I haven't thought of letting Him minister to my heart and comfort me. What a novel idea! No matter what has been taken away from Greg and me, He is still our constant. He is loving and promises to be with us in the hard times. He never promises to keep the hard times away, but He does promise to go through them with us. I think I need to let Him do some massaging of my heart to heal the hurts. I know I can trust Him to do that. JAW NEWS I saw the Kaiser jaw surgeon yesterday. He was very nice and knows the doctor who did my jaw surgery last year. He agreed with Dr. T's diagnosis and plan for treatment. He will do the surgery tomorrow morning for less than $300 in co-pays for me. Dr. T would have cost $3200. The Kaiser doctor will do it all in 30 minutes, whereas Dr. T would have taken 2-3 hours and done it much more carefully. So I will get there at 7:15 a.m., have anesthesia as there is so much to remove. He will pull out another tooth with an infection under it on the bottom right, and scrape out infected jaw bone tissue from 3-4" of jawbone. Last time this was 3/8" deep, so I suspect it will be similar. My face is aching, so I am thrilled to get this done ASAP. A friend asked me yesterday if the jaw stuff can cause cancer, or if cancer causes the jaw problems. From what I have learned, serious jaw problems can lead to all sorts of other problems. Wherever your body has a weakness, it can make that flair (arthritis, asthma, heart, cancer, etc.). For me, root canals have always lead to infections under them. The infections can lead to the bone getting infected, and then that can spread and get into the blood and travel to your body. I hope that helps explain what I was talking about in my last blog. I saw my radiation oncologist on Tuesday and he said my bone and joint pain could not be from radiation. He believes it is still from chemo side effects like the Neupogen shots I had to take. He signed me off and I don't have to see him again. He is a special person and a fantastic doctor. So your prayers for tomorrow's surgery would be appreciated. Pray that I would heal quickly and get no infections. I am already on some powerful antibiotics to get ready. I am grateful for this costing less, so thank God with me for His provision. I am still so sore and achy, but now know it is from all the stuff my body has gone through with the whole treatment and will eventually heal. By chiropractor says my neck is very stiff. That will eventually heal too. So I can heal from the jaw surgery and the rest of this at the same time. Meantime, friends have begun bringing dinners and that has been a tremendous help. I will update you ASAP to let you know how tomorrow goes. I am thankful for friends who would take time to read all this. By the way, Greg actually got a cell phone and we just got wireless internet at home. We both moved out of our offices at Initiative360 over the weekend and Greg has set up an office at home. That was a sad day for us. We are still waiting to hear from the board. Please be praying for them. God bless you- Nancy

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Joints and Jaws

Dear friends,
I want to let you know how we're doing. We are expecting to hear soon from the Initiative360 board. We continue to desire your prayers for the Lord to make our next steps clear to us. We very much appreciate the love and affirmation of our friends, family and co-workers. Again, you all are being a wonderful support to us in this confusing time (see preceding entries in this blog).
On the health front, Tuesday I saw the dentist who did my jaw surgeries last year. He spent 2 hours with me and feels certain that there is a large area of osteomyelitis in both my top and bottom right jaw. Even I can see it on the x-ray. My face is sore and that part of my jaw is tender to the touch. He had determined this last year, but I ran out of money and time to deal with it before I had to stop and deal with my metastasized breast cancer. I would love to go back to this dentist to do this as he is the best around and many travel from all over the country to have him do this very thing. I asked my oncologist for a referral to him since my oncologist encouraged me to have this dealt with, and apparently Kaiser has dental surgeons who do this type of work. I didn't know that last year when I paid several thousand out of pocket to get this done. I will see the Kaiser dental surgeons next Wednesday morning and hopefully get this done quickly before it gets worse. I had tentatively scheduled with my dentist from last year for the 25th, but probably can't afford to do it with him. I hope these other guys are good and I have a peace about them doing this.
Osteomyelitis is a toxic bone infection that can occur in any bone in the body. The jaw is a dangerous place as there are blood vessels in the jaw that can carry the infection to other parts of the body. A chart my dentist showed me, links the first place I had a large pocket of this infection 8 years ago in my upper left jaw (and just cleaned out last winter), to the left breast where my cancer first occurred. The same scenario was true for many in my breast cancer support group, by the way. So please pray that I would have confidence in the Kaiser dental surgeons to do as good a job as Dr. T, who is a fantastic doctor.
As friends are asking me how I am feeling, I am telling them that I feel like I am having similar muscle and joint aches as I had 3 days after chemos. I am pretty sure it is still a result of all the chemo and radiation after effects. (With maybe a little stress thrown in!) My body is dehydrated from the radiation and I am not able to absorb fluids into my connecting tissues and joints. It takes time (up to 4-6 months I have been told) for that absorbsion to get back to normal. So my neck, back, hips and right shoulder (maybe also a side effect due to what is going on in my right jaw) are particularly sore these days. I think I walk like one of the ape characters in Planet of the Apes when I first start moving! I go back to see the radiation oncologist for follow up on Tuesday. My skin is healing from the radiation burns well. There is still just some redness where the "boost" was aimed the last 5 times I went, and my skin in the radiation field feels a little leathery. I am starting to notice the scar tissue forming from the radiation making it hurt to lift my arm, so I am stretching that area more.
I am wondering about reinstating the dinner patrol as I am so wiped from so little activity. Laura is trying to job hunt, so she doesn’t have much time to make dinners. I am out of gas by late afternoon. There will be info about that soon if we decide it’s a need. Again, thank you for your love and prayers and encouragements in these trying days.
God bless you- Nancy Fritz

Friday, January 05, 2007

Jesus is gone

Dear friends, Today Greg broke the news to me that someone stole Baby Jesus out of the manger scene in our front yard last week. They had to climb over a huge amount of snow to do it, but our CSI investigation is hampered by the snow that has fallen in the meantime. I was hoping that next time they would steal Mary, as Joseph and Jesus have been stolen other times and I still have 2 Mary's. (They can't steal Jesus and what He has done for us through His life, death and resurection.) I think that is the last bad thing that happened in 2006. I am glad 2006 is over. I am taking a deep breath and am looking forward to what this year will bring. I am excited to see what will happen in light of recent developments. I saw a friend who has lots of medical experience today and he told me that he has never seen anyone get over the radiation tiredness and achiness in less than 4 weeks after treatment ended. I guess this isn't so odd. My neck and back are a mess and I can't wait to get to the chiropractor. My family is going to help me teach a lesson on Turkey at church with 90-130 kids aged K- 5th grade. Laura will share some about her recent trip. I hope your year is starting well! God Bless- Nancy

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hard Days

Dear friends,
What to say? I got my bloodwork back and some levels are not in the normal rage. My white count is a little low and a few of my liver numbers and my lymphosytes are a little off. The nurse told me that since the counts aren't too far off, there is nothing to worry about. The doctor will be in touch with me eventually as he is just getting back from vacation. I also learned that as far as my bloodwork is concerned, I am in full menopause. At least for now. That means that I will be able to take the post menopausal medication which is supposed to help prevent recurrence of cancer. I think he wants me to try Arimidex. I really don't want to take it, but feel that I probably have to try. I took Tomoxifen several years back and had too many side effects to warrent continuing to take it. But then I ended up with my cancer metasticizing. It is hard to know the right thing to do in this situation. I feel sad that I have to start taking it. I started taking my vitamins again after 6 months last week. I slept until 2:00 p.m. on New Years day. I am still tired and achy. They told me I would start to feel better about now.
Along with these test results indicating menopause, I also think I am starting to have the mood swings and tears the radiation oncologist warned us to expect after radiation ended. I have to say that along with Greg's being removed from the CEO role at our ministry after 27 years, 5 days before Christmas, that isn't helping my emotions any. If you see me and ask how I am doing and I say, "Fine," I would probably be lying. I am struggling with lots of emotions. Enough said. I still know that God loves us and is powerful, loving and in control. He is good. I am holding on to Him right now- very tightly.
We had a great time with Greg’s sister’s family on Saturday night. Our 1½-2 hour trip to their house took six hours. We left at 2:00 and realized after driving for an hour that we had left Allison home to pick up her boyfriend at the airport with no keys for the truck. We turned around, drove an hour and a half to the airport, got Josh, went home and got Allison, and finally arrived at Shelby’s at 8:00 that night. We enjoyed a great dinner, exchanged gifts and I stayed up late talking to Shelby. We walked outside Sunday morning and enjoyed the beauty of the sun on several feet of newly fallen snow on the pine trees. It was so nice to see God in His creation regardless of all else going on in our lives and the world. Thank you for your love and prayers and friendship. God’s blessings to you in this new year- Nancy Fritz