Thursday, August 13, 2009

8/13/09 Updates - Lots of good news!

Make sure you read the whole post because I have updates about my cancer, job, and a PARTY!!!

First of all, I am officially FINISHED with my chemotherapy treatments!!! Monday, the 10th was my last treatment, and it went well. Tuesday I went for my last shot. I'm feeling great! I'll have another PET Scan in mid September just for a check-up and an appointment with my oncologist. After that, I'll have check-ups about every three months for a couple years, then the time between check-ups will increase. My hair is still coming back in. It is probably about an inch long now and its very soft. It started out really light blond, but now its looking more brown. That might be because the brown hair shows up better, or maybe my hair's just going to be brown. I'll just have to wait and see! So far it isn't curly, but that could still change too.

I'm very excited about my job, and now know for sure what I'm teaching. I will have the 8th grade homeroom (with some help from the teacher who used to do it) so I will have some field trips later in the year. We'll go to Jefferson City, a Cardinals game, a retreat, and I'll be in charge of 8th grade graduation. I will be teaching both Social Studies and Religion for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. The plan right now is to have Social Studies 3 days a week, and Religion 2 days a week. I will also be teaching Algebra 1 every day to some of the 8th graders. Matthew and my cousin Taylor (who is about to start high school) have been helping me so much in my classroom. I think its almost finished! I've also had help from mom and dad. Mom made curtains for me, the two of them put my computer chair and bar stools together, and Dad is building a podium for me! I start school on Monday, with an Open House that night, and my students start Wednesday. I'm excited and nervous both at the same time. I'm still waiting on class lists and some of my teacher manuals. I think once I have all of that, I'll feel a lot better. Immaculate Conception is a great school with a lot of technology and resources. I really think I'm going to love it there!

Now on to news about the party...

You are invited to an

Open House

Remission Accomplished Party!

Renee Essner has finished her chemotherapy treatments so it is time to celebrate!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

St. Augustine School Gymnasium

Kelso, Missouri

Snacks and drinks will be provided. No gifts please. Your love, support, and prayers are the best gift I could have ever received!

Questions? Directions?

Call Renee’s parents at (573)264-4493

Feel free to bring family members! You can also e-mail me at for questions or directions.

In mid February when I was diagnosed, I never thought this day would come, but at the same time I wasn't scared. I knew that God had a plan for me and even though I didn't know what that plan was, I knew things would work out the way they were supposed to. This has been a journey full of ups and downs, and I don't know how I would have made it through all of this without my friends and especially my family. God has blessed me with the best parents in the world. I know at times it was really hard for them (and Matt) to see me in pain and not be able to do anything about it, but they stayed strong for me and I appreciate them more than I could ever put into words. I also want to mention how amazing Matt has been. As some of my family members have mentioned, if we didn't know before that he was the one for me, we definitely know now. He has stuck by side and put up with my crankiness and bald head and I think this whole experience has brought us even closer together.

I cannot thank everyone enough for all the prayers. God sure is amazing! I hope I can see many of you Labor Day weekend to thank you in person, but if you can't make it I understand. That's usually a busy weekend for a lot of people. Much love, and God bless!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

7/22/09 Updates

I know its been awhile since my last update. It seemed like I kept getting good news and I wanted to wait a little longer and update about all of it at once.

I am now 5/6 of the way through my treatments. That means 10 of my 12 treatments are finished. Treatment number 11 is on the 28th (less than a week away). I've been doing much better since I started getting my shot the day after chemo. I don't have to worry as much about what I eat because my white counts don't get/stay so low.

On to more good news...I GOT A JOB!!! I will be teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at Immaculate Conception in Jackson. They didn't have a teacher leave, but the classes are pretty big so they decided to add another Jr. High teacher. So, I don't know for sure yet what I will be teaching because they're deciding what they want to take from the other teachers and give to me. Originally, the position was for Social Studies and Religion, but because I have extra certification in Math they're talking about giving me some Math. Although I don't know my classes, I do have keys and a classroom. Thanks to my friends and former coworkers at SEMO (who gave me a gift card when I left), I was able to get some general decoration type stuff already! Matthew, two of my cousins, and I got some decorations and started working on my room. It looks so much better with some color! I'm very excited about my job and I think I'm really going to love it there!

One more awesome thing...I also got a new car! The cars I have been driving since turning 16 have been hand-me-downs and have belonged to my parents. They've been good cars, but in our family when you graduate from college you either get your own car, or buy the car you've been driving from mom and dad. I hadn't done this yet because I was unable to work full-time. I'm very grateful to mom and dad for letting me wait a little longer, but after getting a job I decided it was time to get a car. I ended up getting a 2010 Mazda 3 i Touring. It has a moonroof (which I have always wanted) and built in bluetooth. Its a pretty cool car and I absolutely love it. Matt loves it too and has probably already driven it as much as I have.

Other than that, things have been okay. The past couple of days have been kind of hard. The arm that I got my last treatment in has been hurting a lot and my stomach hasn't been feeling the greatest. I have been feeling so good for so long that it makes it much harder when I don't feel well. Luckily, I'm almost finished and my veins will soon get a rest. As of right now August 10 is my last treatment!

As always, thank you for all the love, support, and prayers. God sure is great!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6/24/09 Updates

I'm sorry it has been so long since I last updated. Life has been pretty busy. Wedding season has started. Matt and I were invited to eight weddings this summer and we're trying to make it to as many of them as possible.

Lately I've been doing much better with the chemo. I don't get sick like I did in the earlier months of my treatment. I'm back to doing most of the stuff I did before, I just have to rest a little more often. I was even able to spend a week in Orange Beach, Alabama with Matt and his dad's family. I rested a lot, but felt great the whole time. After we got back I ended up in the hospital again. We're not really sure why. On a Monday night I started getting chills so we took my temp and it was 101 which means its ER time. By the time we got to the hospital my temp had already gone down on its own, but my white counts were low so again I couldn't go home until they came back up. I felt fine and didn't want to be in the hospital, but I knew I had to to be safe. By Thursday my counts were finally (and just barely) up enough for me to go home.

Being in the hospital pushed my treatments back again. It stinks, but hopefully it won't happen again. Right now my last treatment is set for August 12. They still have me on antibiotics to try to keep me from getting infections, and now they also have me on a shot to help with the white counts. The day after chemo I go back to get my shot and it tricks my body into thinking I have an infection so it will produce extra healthy white blood cells. This should help to keep me out of the hospital. The only other problem I'm having is the heat. I get over heated really easy these days so I have to be extra careful.

That's probably most of the news I have. Other than all of this, I'm just trying to find a job. The hunt hasn't been going so well so any prayers would be greatly appreciated.

As always, thank you for your love, support, and prayers. In one week I will have treatment number 9 of 12. We're almost there!

Monday, May 11, 2009

5/11/09 Updates

Last week I spent a few days in the hospital. The doctor had told us all along that if I had a fever of 100.5 or higher, I should go to the ER. Last Sunday (the 3rd) I felt fine, but right before bed we checked my temp and it was about 99.8. All day Monday I felt pretty crummy, but my temp was always 99.something. At about 10:00 Monday night my temp got to 100.6 so we went to the ER. When we got there they gave me antibiotics through an IV and decided I needed to stay because my white blood cell counts were too low (which is caused by the chemo). Finally Wednesday morning my counts were back up and I had been over 24 hours without a fever so I got to go home.

While in the hospital and at the doctor's office when I was leaving the hospital, I got some good news. MY CANCER IS PRETTY MUCH GONE!!!!! My last scan was clear! This doesn't mean the battle is over. I still have chemo (which sometimes makes me sick) because we have to make sure every single cell is gone and we have to prevent the cancer from coming back. Also, because of my time spent in the hospital, my chemo treatments have all been pushed back a little bit. As of right now, my last treatment is scheduled for August 5!

Thank you again for all your prayers and support! Please keep them coming. God bless!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Treatment number four was harder than number three. I had more bad days than good days, but it got better.

Last week we got good news. I had another PET scan Tuesday and a doctors appointment Wednesday. My doctor was VERY happy with the PET scan results. He said there's no new cancer, and what was there is going away. He also said that as well as looking good for current progress, the scan also looked good for long term treatment. We talked about which treatment plan we would use. We're planning on sticking to the 12 chemo treatments and no radiation. The only reason we'd stop chemo and do radiation would be if the chemo started to make me too sick.

Last week was also fun because I got to get out of the house and have some fun. While in college I was on Exec Board for Student Activities Council and last week they had their big Spring Fling events. I was feeling good so I went to the events, got to see people, and had a great time!

I also had a lot of fun over the weekend. The third graders where I coach cheerleading did a project this year to raise money for the Relay for Life. They cooked in class, had mystery chefs teach them to cook things, and made cookbooks that they sold. When I got my cookbook I was very touched to see that they included a picture of me in their dedication. I was also very touched because they asked me to walk with them at the Relay. It was a great experience and I will definitely go back next year. I even got third in the frozen t-shirt contest! (They soaked shirts, folded them, put them in big ziplock bags, and stuck them in a freezer until they were solid. Then we had to race to see who could get their shirt on first.)

I had treatment number five Friday. So far its been going okay. Right now I've got sinus junk, but hopefully that will get better soon. I'm still working on trying to get a job. Its a little frustrating, but I know God has a plan for me and I just have to be patient.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Updates 4/6/09

I'm sorry it has been so long since my last update. I had some days when I didn't feel well, then on some of my good days I substitute taught, and I've been busy lately. Here's an overview of what's been going on.

Three weeks ago I got rid of the hair. I wasn't feeling good and it had already been coming out in big clumps. I couldn't stand it anymore and my scalp hurt so badly. At about 10 pm I decided I wanted to cut it so I called Matt, he came out to my house, and Dad used a beard trimmer to buz my head. I felt so much better after that and it really wasn't as hard for me as I thought it would be. Since then most of the little hairs have fallen out (partially because I lint rolled my head to get them out), but some are still hanging on. I do have two wigs, but I don't wear them as much as I thought I would. I'm much more comfortable in a hat, and when I'm at home I usually don't wear anything on my head at all.

My second chemo treatment was worse then the first. I had a lot of chest pain with my first treatment, so they gave me pain meds to help with that for my second treatment. The pain meds had side effects that caused other problems for me and I felt pretty bad.

My third treatment was so much better than the first two. I didn't have any pain in my mouth at all! I did have a couple bad days, but overall I've felt a lot better. Matt and I were even able to make a trip to St. Louis to see his mom for her birthday. We had a lot of fun and I can't wait to go back again!

Lately, I've been working on applying for jobs for next school year. I've had one interview already and I have more applications almost ready to turn in. My next treatment is this Friday. I hope it goes as well as the third one. After Friday I will be one-third of the way finished with my treatments!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2/12/09 Updates

I have a shorter update this time. Yesterday I went back to the oncologist and then got my second chemo treatment. There is a chance that my treatments to get rid of this lymphoma might change. The original plan was to have 4 cycles (8 treatments) of chemo, then a month off, then a month (20 treatments) of radiation. This plan would increase my risk of breast cancer, heart problems, and thyroid problems because of where they would have to aim the radiation. I’d have to start getting mammograms at age 30, and have regular heart and thyroid tests.

After doing more research and talking with his other lymphoma colleagues, my oncologist is considering a plan 2. This plan would involve 6 cycles (12 treatments) of chemo and no radiation. He said that with plan one my chance of being cured and having no more lymphoma problems would be just decimals better, but it would bring with it the other risks. My chance of no more lymphoma problems with plan 2 would be just decimals worse, but I would have no other risks.

We, along with the doctor have decided to wait a little longer to see how well the chemo is doing and to make sure the chemo is working as well as we think. We won’t be able to tell how well it’s working until I do my next PET Scan in about a month. We have until about May or June to decide for sure. My doctor’s going to do more research and talk to more doctors so they can make sure they’re doing what’s best for me.

I think I can stand another 2 months of chemo and 2 months with now hair if it means I don’t increase my risks for all that other stuff.

P.S. If you don’t have a blogspot account but want to respond, you can e-mail me at