My Transplant Story Part 1

21 Jul

I’m going to do this in a few different parts. Hope you enjoy, please feel free to ask questions.

It all started July 8th, 2013 at 4:17am. I was sleeping on the sofa because Madison wanted to sleep in our bed, and there just wasn’t room for all 3 of us. The phone rings, I knew who was on the other side of the call. It was Erin from Methodist, she said that my donor had another offer come in, but they were still running test on the heart. She just wanted to let me know so I could start getting ready. She said that the next heart test was starting at 8am and she would call me soon after.
I wake up Brian and tell him. He had some stuff he needed to take care of at work, so he went and did that.
I called my Mom, and she said she was on her way.
Then I called Brandy. She was on her way to the airport, as she was going out of town for work.
Brian makes it home from work and Mom gets to the house. We sit and wait. And we wait some more…..and some more. Lunch time rolls around and I’m starving. I called my coordinator and asked her if I could eat. She said no, that she was just about to call me because the heart is good, and transplant is a go!
I called my pilot, and he said he would be ready in an hour. He also said Mom could fly with us!
Over the next hour I want to do nothing but hold my babies. Not knowing if I would ever get to see them again was the hardest thing ever. Letting them go was just too much for my heart. I felt like I wanted to pass out. I could see in their eyes that they were scared. I did my best to tell them that everything is ok, and that I would see them again. I kissed and hugged them what seemed like a million times, and off we went to the airport.


Apartment Home

17 Jul

Hey everyone!
I’m working on a more detailed post about the transplant.
I wanted to pop on here real quick and post the address for the place we are staying at. Many people have asked where they could send us mail, and what we need…so here it is!

Residence Inn Houston
Attn: Brian and Tiffany Schwantes #714
7710 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77030

For things we need….gift cards come in handy. There is a Kroger right beside us, a Target, and as always any visa or MasterCard gift card would work. We are lucky to have a full kitchen we can cook in.
Thank you guys so much! And I will update more soon!

Aside 11 Apr

Sorry its been so long! I been trying to do an update, but when I sit down to do it, something comes up. 

We went on our little vacation to Gatlinburg! We had a nice time, the kids just love it there! It did snow everyday we were out there! So we plan on taking the kids back this fall, when it isn’t snowing. The kids did get to do a lot though, and our little cabin was so nice and cozy! It was a great time with Brian and the kids!!!





Madison’s birthday was on the 6th! Its so hard to believe she is now 4. I was holding her a few days before her birthday, and I swear I could still smell that sweet baby smell on her, you know what I’m talking about right? Maybe it’s just my mind, but she will always be my baby. I’m so excited to see what this year will bring in her life!! 
Brian and I are getting ready to head back out to TX at the end of this month. Please remember to pray for us! I will have scans and see Dr. Javle and the doctors at the Methodist hospital. We are praying a liver will come soon!!
Two weeks ago Dr. Shah ran my yearly blood work. Most of it came back good, the things that didn’t was: iron, B12, and folic acid. Guess that is why I’m out of energy all the time!! My B12 was so low I’m have to gave myself shots of B12 for a week. The iron was so low I had to have an infusion call Infed, this is for iron deficiency anemia. I’m also taking oral folic acid. I’m so thankful Dr. Shah is really trying to take care of this problem, it would be easy for her to just give me some whole blood, and things would be better for a few days to weeks. The way we are doing this is hopefully a fix that will last. Now I might need the B12 shots the rest of my life (monthly not daily), but I’m ok with that! 
I am still on my chemo! We took a cycle (two treatments) off from that taxotere, because it was believe that it was the reason I got the infection in my thumb. Taking a cycle off will also give my blood cells time to recover. I did however still getgemcitabine and xeloda. I really hope that Dr. Javle has a need treatment I can take (with less side effects) when I go to TX, but I know if this chemo is still working he will want to keep me on it. What ever it takes to live, I will do. I’m not quite finished here on earth, there is still a lot I want to do! 
Other than the iron and B12 problems, everything seems to be going good! My liver function is still normal, and that I’m thankful for! My bilirubin has been the lowest it can be for months now too. It’s hard for me to believe that with all I have been though, that all my parts are still doing good! See chemo doesn’t always just kill the cancer, it can effect all your major organs too. So please, keep praying that God will protect my body from all the effects of this chemo. 
I went back to the doctor today (4-11-2013) for lab work. WBC went down along with my platelets. My hemoglobin went up just a little. My NP said that the Infad infusion will take time. I got another B12 shot today, but I still don’t get that rush of energy everyone talks about! No treatment today, it was my off week!  
I wanted to also give a huge thank you to my church! They have really blessed me over the past few months! Some of the ladies have provided us with meals and it has really helped! Knowing a few nights a week, I don’t have to worry with cooking, really takes some of the stress off me. It’s also fun to try everyones cooking, and there hasn’t been a meal that we have not loved!! Plus all the prayer and friendships I have made over the past year and a half. They are so so special to me. If you haven’t seen the site to sign up for meals, and that is something you would like to do its: last name is: schwantes and the password is 1234



Fast Update

11 Mar

Hey everyone! I thought I would take the time to update the blog. It has been way to long! I’m sorry! 

Its a quit Monday morning, both the kids are still sleeping. Carter was up last night vomiting, so he isn’t going to school today! Pray for me, it will be a long day with both the kids home all day. Plus I didn’t sleep good last night, so I’m extra tired this morning.
Mom was up over the weekend! It was so nice to have her. We all enjoy all the time she spends with us! I just wanted to put this out there– Any family or friends that want to visit us, are more than welcome. Most days (even weekends), we just stay around the house. Its hard for me to get out too much because I get tired so easy. Plus with all the chemo, my immune system is gone. So to avoid infection I really need to stay in. Because of all this, it feels like I haven’t seen most of my family or friends in months. So please, if your around send me a text and stop in to see us. It gets so depressing just sitting here.
I wanted to update the blog with the news I posted on Facebook last week, I know all my readers don’t use Facebook, and I think I’m about to quit myself, and focus more of my time on God, Brian, and the kids. Anyways, here is the update-  “So….when I got back from MDA Dr. Shah used the words “clinical remission” when talking about me and my scan. I didn’t believe her, and wanted to hear it from MD Anderson. So I sent them an email today asking about it, and here is the reply…”They cannot see the cancer on the PET scan; so that is what interval resolution means. Which is awesome news! Right now just know that we cannot see the cancer on the PET scan.”
So what does all this mean? Well I still need a transplant (bad news). There could still be little bitty cancer cells that the scan didn’t pick up (bad news). BUT this is awesome! As many of you know I was told chemo really didn’t work for Cholangiocarcinoma. So to get this far is such a gift from God! He is getting all the glory for this! I could not do this without Him! I find it so hard to understand at times, I feel so unworthy of all the love God has shown me over the last 17 months. I often sit around and think, “Why is He saving me?”, I have seen so many awesome people die from this cancer, I just don’t get it. There has got to be a reason. I also know my God doesn’t make any mistakes, so I try not to question Him but it is hard.
In other news- I’m so excited to tell y’all we are getting to take the kids to Gatlinburg for a few days. Every time I go to Houston, Carter thinks I’m going on a vacation (oh how I wish). He has been asking for months when we are going to take him and Madison somewhere. So Brian and I have been saving, and we are going to have an awesome few days. Please pray that I will have energy to have fun with my family. Also pray that we all stay healthy and we can go. My biggest fear is someone getting sick, and us not going. 
That is about it for now! I go back to MDA late next month. Please pray for God will! Also- there are been a lot of deaths from CC over the past few months. Please remember all the families in your prayers. My heart breaks every time. It isn’t fair. We need to find a cure for this cancer! 

MDA Update!

30 Jan

Hey everyone!!
I’m so excited to tell y’all about this trip to MD Anderson!

Sunday Rachael and I were at the airport in Meridianville, but due to some problems with the plane we couldn’t fly with them. So we had to book last minute flights to Houston. There were no flights from Huntsville, so Derrick had to drive Rachael and I to Birmingham. We made it just in time, and had a nice flight to Houston. When we got there we checked into our hotel and went out for a little dinner.

Monday- WOW! We were at the hospital ALL day! From around 10am until 6pm. It was fun showing Rachael around MDA! I had my PET on this day, so I couldn’t eat all day. Poor Rachael didn’t want to eat because I couldn’t eat, so we were both starving. My head was killing me because I had not ate or had any coffee, coke, dr. Pepper….ect.
Anyways- after the PET was over, we went and got something to eat and I started feeling better. After eating we went back to the hotel and hung out. It was fun getting to spend some time with Rachael.

Now getting to the good part! Tuesday!
Dr. Javle walked into the room with a smile on his face. I knew everything was going to be good. The first words out of his mouth was “excellent report”! The rest was kinda a blur, I was just so happy to hear those words! He did his little exam on me, and said I looked great! He asked if I could keep doing the chemo while waiting on the liver, and I told him yes! So, I keep doing chemo….and wait.
I will go back out to MDA again in 3 months for another check up.

So for now, just keep praying. Pray that a liver comes up, and it’s a good one. Pray God keeps me healthy while we wait. Pray my body can handle more chemo.

Thank you all so much for your support! I love you all so much!


12 Jan

Please help share my story! If you look at the very bottom of this post, you will see a Facebook button, click it and help share my story!!!!
Hey guys! I just wanted to give y’all a quick little update! I had chemo #33 this week. So far I’m feeling ok. My energy level like always is so low, but I’m making it. All my blood work is looking good, so that is good news.
We have so much going on! Rachael and I are going to MD Anderson for my 3 month scan in two weeks. I’m so excited she is getting to make this trip with me. It will be nice to spend some time with her. We will be out there from the 27th- the 29th. So if any of my CC friends are out there during that time, we would love to meet up. Please pray we have safe travels and that we get good news! As always, I will be blogging while out there, so keep an eye on my blog for updates on my scans!
Then after we get back Brian and I will be leaving Feb 7th for NYC. So needless to say, we have a busy few weeks going on! Brian and I are so honored that Beat Liver Tumors invited us to this event! This will be our first time to visit NYC! Plus I will get to meet a special friend named Lisa while I’m out there! Yay!!!
I hope everyone is having a good start to 2013! That is about it for this update! Please remember if you need to get in touch with me the best way is via email,

ByeBye 2012!

31 Dec

Please share my blog with your friends! Help share my story!!

And hello 2013! I can’t believe I’m going to get to see 2013. I can honestly say, when I first learned I have cancer, I really never thought I would see 2013. And here we are, the last day of 2012.

I have so many hopes for 2013. Things I’m going to do different, and I’m going to love the people I love deeper than I ever have. 2013 is going to be about God, Brian, Carter, and Madison. I pray I can mark some stuff off my bucket list as well!! I want to spend more of 2013 in prayer and reading my Bible.

The start of the new year always makes me wonder…will this be the year Christ comes back?!? I sure hope so! I’m ready now more than ever for it! And if your not on the same page as me, maybe we need to talk, because I really do believe we are living in the end times. I want to leave you with this verse: 2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
And another…. Matthew 24:44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

I hope everyone has an awesome 2013! I know 2012 was a hard year for so many people. Please know, I’m praying for you.

2013 for the cure!