Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...and our wish to you all this year is that you can feel the joy of the Savior's birth, feel his peace and comfort in your lives, and remember his example throughout the year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Reason for the Season


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I have LOVED watching my little Addie enjoy HER little nativity.  She is so tender with the baby Jesus...and re-enacts the Christmas story several times a day.  I have been so grateful for our tender conversations about Jesus that we have had this month.  This is what I wanted for Christmas!  It makes me so happy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Enjoying the holidays...

The shopping and wrapping are done...and now it is time for us to enjoy the holidays.  Larry his feeling better and WE ARE ALL TOGETHER (and healthy)!  That is what I wanted for Christmas... and it seems as though I have gotten it!  I am so grateful! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More hospitals...but for my husband this time!

Poor Larry had a surgery to remove his kidney stones two weeks ago in hopes that he could avoid more trips to the ER and hospital.  It didn't work at all...but instead caused more and made them start dropping.  We were going to go Christmas shopping in friday and dropped our kids off to a friend...a block later he is in severe pain and we end up in the ER.  Last night he was admitted to the hospital and this afternoon her had another surgery. I hope this one worked.  He has 10 stones currently on his kidneys...and he's NOT excited about that!
Lesson learned...make prayers more specific.  We have been praying that I would be home and away from the hospital for the holidays.  Maybe we should have asked for the whole family to be home feeling well.  Just kidding!  :)  I feel bad for Larry...but am grateful he is healthy other than that.  Good health is truly a WONDERFUL blessing!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Inspiration...

"This Christmas, mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.
Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth.
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise.
Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy.
Apologize. Try to understand.
Examine your demands on others.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love and then speak it again."
-Howard W. Hunter
I LOVE this quote...and have tried for the last several years to do these things throughout the month of December.  This year I decided to print them and put them in a jar.  I pull one out each day and try to focus on that.  It has helped me to feel more of the spirit of the holiday...despite the chaos of shopping, wrapping, etc.  
Try a few of these things today...and let me know how it goes.  I guarantee it will brighten your day! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back in the game...and remembering rainbows!

I went shopping I have resumed my "old" life as much as possible...and I forgot how hectic it was.  I am a taxi, chef, receptionist, maid, accountant, personal shopper, babysitter...and you get my drift.  Factor in the holiday chaos, my forever long list of to do's to make up for the last year...and my overall lack of energy...and hopefully you understand my limited blog posts. 

It is great!  ALL of it!  I love being needed again by my family and being able contribute.  I am overwhelmed by all that I need to do, but am SO grateful that I can do all of those things!   I saw this (double) rainbow when I came home yesterday from a marathon errand running day...and I was reminded of the beauties in this life.  Life is GOOD...not always easy, but SO worth it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Big and BALD? No...

I never imagined I would spend a year on a public forum talking about my bowels, but I never imagined I would admit this either:

I have gained over 30 pounds in the last 4 weeks.  Aaah~  My doctors are thrilled... but wow...I hope this slows down.  They think it is my body trying to adapt as it has been in starvation mode for so long.  I'm not sure what to say about that.  I dropped down to to the point where all of my ribs were showing, but not any more! :)  Several people have commented when they have seen me, so just wanted to address it on the blog.  Yes...  I have gained some weight.  (Can you blame me?  Food tastes WAY better than IV nutrition.  And I cook a lot better than the hospital cafeteria... but then again, who doesn't?)

On a different note...I am losing my hair again.  And quickly!  I never went bald with chemo, but thinned quite a bit.  Luckily my hair was very thick to start with.  We aren't sure what is causing it now...but it is coming out in handfulls and I hope it stops.  They ran several tests at the cancer center today.  I hope they find an answer...I don't want to be BIG and BALD for Christmas. (I say this jokingly) 

I still have some other strange, lingering symptoms, but compared to what I am used to...they are nothing! I have  pain all over my body underneath my skin. It is hard to explain, but hurts when putting on lotion, getting hugs, and things like that. My legs from my knees down are completely numb...and feel very strange as well as my fingers. They move correctly but feel detached in strange way. My feet cause the most problems...they feel like strange weights that I carry around. I have to consciously think about them when I walk or I stumble...It is a hard sensation to get used to. And my stomach is still swollen and sore, but I think I will have that for quite a while. 

Please know I don't tell you these things to complain, but I have tried to be very open through this whole process and this is a part of it I haven't mentioned in quite a while.  Other than that...I am feeling great.  Every day gets better...you will hardly catch me not smiling!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Update...

This morning we are headed to the hospital for a quick surgery for Larry (NOT FOR ME!!!)  He is getting several kidney stones blasted in hopes that he can avoid problems in the future.  He has had 3 now and has at least 4 more hanging on his kidney.  We hope it goes well and that he will be back to normal quickly. 

We are returning to normal...though it is a slow progression.  I have short bursts of energy, but they seem to increase almost daily.  I even got to scrub my own house this week.  (yes..I was grateful to scrub bathrooms!)  I have to be REALLY careful because bending hurts, but it was nice to feel a bit more self sufficient.  I have been taking care of my girls each day on my own for a few weeks...which is AMAZING!  My youngest is glued to my hip and just keeps telling me how much she missed me and loves me.  My oldest is just making up for lost time with me.  She has a mile long list of things she wants us "to do" together.  We are going to have so much fun this month...I am so excited!

I was thinking yesterday about how much my life has changed over recent months and just was completely overwhelmed by how much better it has gotten.  I almost forgot about the side effects of my chemo...there were some miserable ones, but another was how I wasn't able to drink or touch anything cold.  That was hard over the summer...no cold water, smoothies, ice cream, etc. BUT.. With all of the freezing weather and snow I am feeling SO grateful that I did that during the summer, or I would have been in trouble. (cold things caused so much pain in my throat, hands, feet, or wherever it touched.)  Small blessings...but there are SO many.  That is just one of a million...but I am grateful I did my chemo in the summer.

I can't even explain how wonderful it is to be at home versus a hospital.  If you have never been there for more than a few days than it is hard to even fathom what I am talking about.  I hope you NEVER have to experience long stays there.  I am SO excited that I no longer have IV nutrition, a wound vac pump to carry around, or a chemo fanny pack.  I am so excited to NOT be connected to a constant IV pole.  I am thrilled to have been able to STOP taking all medicines except a vitamin.  I felt like I was in a medicine induced coma this past year and it is nice to be clear headed again.    I am so grateful that my vision has returned...because it kept me from reading for many months this year.  (Your whole body responds to extreme trauma...and my eyes were NOT working!) 

I am so grateful that I have been able to serve others a little bit lately.  It is amazing being able to be on the giving end again.  I am reminded that there are truly times and seasons for everything.  I hope that I can share some of the comfort and help that SO MANY amazing people shared with me.  I will never forget all of the kindness that was shown to my family this last year.  It is something that has changed me...and will be with me FOREVER!!!

And...I have to remind you that You are AWESOME...and I am grateful for YOU!  This blog has given me an outlet through all of this and has been an amazing source of support and strength.  Thanks for putting up with my ramblings, my sorrows, and for seeing me through this.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh yeah...

TODAY...I went to the gym!!  I wasn't sure what I would be capable of...but I did a class and was SO excited.  I am pretty sure I just sat there with a big grin on my face the WHOLE time.  It felt so good to move my body.  I can't wait until I can try tennis again!!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just SOME of the things I am grateful for this year...


We had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving at my parents with family and friends.  I felt strong, my children were happy, my mom is feeling better (after a big surgery 2 weeks ago), and our hearts were full as
we have SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR!!!
We went around and each drew a scrabble tile and shared things we were grateful for that began with the letter we picked.  It was amazing how easy it was to think of things (except for the letter "Z".)  We truly are blessed!  Silly picture, I know...but this is me...grateful to be doing dishes.  It is amazing what you miss after a year of not being able to do anything for yourself.  I was just thrilled to have the energy and strength.  It was a beautiful day! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The best medicine...

I didn't go out with them, but Larry did.  They went sledding and enjoyed the snow yesterday! 
I am just enjoying seeing them SO HAPPY!  Laughter, giggles, and ear to ear smiles...they have AMAZING healing properties.  Try it! :)

Making up for LOST time...and LOVING it!!

I haven't sat down to blog...because I am ALIVE...and feel ALIVE...and I am cherishing every moment.  I am completely trying to make up for lost time.  I am still very weak but am gaining strength each day.  The girls and I are so excited to have some time together this week with no school...and I am actually excited to clean, bake, play, and just do what moms and daughters usually do.  I can't wait!

I had an appointment last week with my local surgeon and got good news.  It doesn't look like I am going to need another surgery to place another drain for my bowel perforation.  I have gained weight (which was what they wanted...), I am feeling stronger, and it seems like it is almost healed.  He was thrilled with my progress.  That was the last thing that was hanging over me right now.  The open incision on my abdomen is also closing off, so it seems like I can now move forward.  I was SO relieved!

I had been searching for something that I could get to symbolize my battle with cancer...and remind me my own strength.  I found this amazing woman on etsy that made this necklace for me.  The picture doesn't do it justice...as it means SO much to me and I wanted to share.  It symbolizes surviving...the beads are "amber" which symbolize my cancer...and the ribbon is for cancer awareness.  I LOVE it!  She has necklaces that reflect other things as well (other cancers, autism, hobbies,etc.) and I love what she made for me. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I few things I had MISSED...that aren't to be taken for granted!

Showering!  That amazing gift has been returned after MONTHS.  I have been able to shower for about a week now and everyday, I just want to stand there until there until the hot water gives out.  For months, I had to bathe in about 4 inches of water, skillfully scrub the rest, and wash my hair in the kitchen sink.  It is amazing to just stand in warm, running water without the fear that you will get some attached pump or some wound wet.  I am SO grateful to be able to shower!!!!!

And I am driving again.  That might be another thing taken for granted, but it had been months since I had driven myself anywhere.  My van missed me...and I missed my independence.  I have even driven my youngest to preschool like a normal young mom this week.  Her teacher cornered me after I picked her up that day and told me that it was the first time in two months of school that Addie was bubbly and talkative.  I think she was just thrilled to have her mom back...this has really taken a toll on ALL of my family.  She has been stuck to my side since I have started living again and keeps saying, "aren't you too sick, Mommy?"  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My heart is full...

My 7 year old taught us an amazing lesson on the power of prayer last night and how much it can change lives.  She planned her lesson, made her visuals, gathered us together, and made my heart even more full of love and appreciation for her.  I am so grateful for my girls...I can't imagine what my life with be without their love!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Guess What...

Appendix cancer has a ribbon Color...Amber!
  The logo to the right is one of the designs that I found online for appendiceal cancer.  I even love the color.  It made my day.  Now, my lifelong battle with be to promote awareness, help other patients as an advocate, and earn money for research.  (maybe one day I can get the NFL to wear amber...the appendix is just as scary to have cancer in as breasts....)  THere are several new clinical trials that would help my cancer and I am working to put together a run in my area to fund research for this spring.  My degree is in Marketing communictions...so this is exactly what I enjoy.  It feels good to have a bit of energy to even think of tackling such a project. 

Also: The drain that was removing the bowel material from my abdomen had to be removed this morning because it lost suction.  It has been in since the surgery (over 5 weeks) but the stitches had come out twice and it had been inching out over the last week.  We are hoping the body will create its own pathway out for the "foreign matter," but there is a chance for complications.  That is the focus of my prayers now...I just hope it heals and that I can avoid more surgeries/doctors. 
I am ready to start living my life again! :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A LONG TIME

Today is Nov. 2nd...and that marks 14 months of being sick. 
I ended up in the hospital on Sept. 2nd last year horribly ill with a ruptured appendix after it was misdiagnosed in the ER. (as many of you know...) 
 That is what spread my cancer from stage 1 to stage 4, but we had NO idea at the time. 
Some people say that time flies...but I can tell you that the last year or so has just drug on!
MY GOAL: By Dec. 2nd...I want to have my body healed and be able to focus on my FAMILY for the holidays!
(Side note: Today,  I went walking around the block with a friend and I made it!!!  I was THRILLED!!!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happily Exhausted...and HALLOWEEN!


This weekend I tried to do EVERYTHING...and today I am simply exhausted...but HAPPILY exhausted!!!
I was able to take my girls to the trunk or treat at church...I drove the golf cart while they trick or treated around our block last night...and I even got to go to church yesterday!  It was ALL wonderful. 
Aana was the young Cleopatra and Addie was a Halloween Fairy
(though when people asked what she was...she answered "umm...I don't really know!") 

I am sore...SO sore...and tired, but couldn't have asked for a better weekend considering the circumstances.

Just for KICKS!

 Aana's soccer season just ended, but we have finally found a sport that she really seems to LOVE!!!  I missed her entire season due to hospitals and illness, but on Friday they had a parent/child game and a party to celebrate their great season.  I got to see that...and she was SO happy!  I even went to a movie with Larry afterward...and we got a mini date.  It was so NICE to get out of the house so much that day!  A great start to a great weekend!!!




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some Sunshine!!!

I had a several dr. appointments last week.  It is amazing how differently each one can view the same situation.  I came away from one specialist feeling completely hopeless...but ended the day after another specialist who gave such a different opinion and my heart felt so much more peace.  That day, he was talking about continuing the IV nutrition (called TPN) and some other IVs.  I just felt like I needed to ask him (and basically BEG him) to just unplug me completely and allow me to try to eat on my own.  The TPN had been making me violently ill and I was getting the strongest IV anti-nausea meds that there are.  I just didn't feel well at all and had dropped quite a bit of weight. 

Anyway...he let me get rid of the IV's and try a week with NO extra medicine...and it has been WONDERFUL!  I haven't vomited even once since that day and have been able to eat.  Matter of fact, I have been starving and have even had to wake up in the middle of the night for a snack.  Just this week alone, I gained 8 pounds back...which was needed!!

I have the sheer joy of our wooden friend Pinocchio as he exclaimed "THERE ARE NO STRINGS ON ME!!!!!!  Though I technically still have a drain...at least there are NO IV's.  It was so hard to push that IV pole on the carpet around my house, plus carry a separate 15 pound back that held the TPN and pump, plus carry the wound vac unit.  I felt 115 years old and just needed to unplug so that I could FEEL a bit more normal.  I was worried I would crash, but wanted to try...and it worked.

Momentum has shifted and each day I am getting stronger.  I still have a hole in my bowel and an open hole in  my stomach that goes from the outside to the inside of my abdominal cavity.  I am still very weak and tire easily, but....I can see the SUNSHINE!!!!!  Mental strength is half of the battle in these cases, and I feel so much more able to carry on!

I even got to go walk around target until I almost passed out.  That was my FIRST time out of the house other than the HOSPITAL in over 2 months.  Yesterday, I even drove myself to an appointment.  I had been so medicated and weak that I hadn't driven in months.  These might not sound like much ...but to me they are HUGE LEAPS in a positive direction.  I have a long way to go...but I am on my way!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kids...and their unfiltered HONESTY

The night before last...my dear Addie and I were snuggling in my bed.  We used to do this all of the time in the morning, but I have been too sick and sore to snuggle for the last few months.  She was thrilled to be able to cuddle again and we resumed our usual dialogue.  She always asks me to tell her stories about when she was a baby and when I was in the hospital. 

I told her a few of her "baby" stories and she said it was her turn.  She said she was going to tell me stories of "WHEN I was still her Mommy, and I had long hair, and I was still beautiful."  (do I even need to comment on the emotions I felt at that time?~)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More ill than I have ever been in my life...

I know I am overdue in posting but I have NOT had the energy AT ALL to even sit at the computer...or try to use the laptop in bed.  Much has happened since I last posted, but basically I tanked.  My body couldn't absorb nutrution...the perforation in my bowel isn't healing...there are complications, a million trips to the hospital, more vomiting than when I was on chemo, tons of tests, lots of pain, round the clock IV's, and a new pump to carry around that infuses me with 24 hour IV nutrition through my port, and SO much more.  There are still no answers for the problems...and it all continues, but I promised myself I would blog today.

This little "mishap" by the doctor of accidentally perforating my bowel is proving to be a disaster.  I have lost yet another month in my life...and am nowhere near healing.  I am not a candidate for surgery as I am still to malnurished and my tissues area all too weak to hold stiches.  I am just praying that I can stay home...as I teeter on the verge of being readmitted.  I am praying that I can heal...quickly.  I SO badly want to gain strength and start my recovery that is so long overdue.  Many tears have been shed this month...tears of pain, tears of frustration, tears of confusion... I am still here...but my mind and body are getting tired.  Other than the hospital and my house, I have not even been into a public place in over two months.  It has been 13 months that I have been sick...10 months since I have been diagnosed with cancer...and I have held on strong.  This set of circumstances has pushed me close to my breaking point.  I just wish I could go to sleep and fast forward time... so that I could wake up and be closer to whole.  My family needs me...and I need myself to come back.  (that might sound strange, but I mean it...)  I am not depressed as this sounds...but I AM exhausted!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back home...my new home decor

I am behind in updating, but it has been hard to make time/energy for the computer.  I got released from the hospital on Friday evening after another 8 day stay.  I had to immediately start home IV antibiotic treatments, so the home nurses trained me to do those that night. 

That leads me to tell you about my new addition...I am the proud owner of a new IV pole.  Yeehaw! :)   I have to give myself IV infusions at 9 am, 11 am, and 9 pm for a total of 4 hours.  It doesn't sound like much but prepping for the infusions, doing them, etc...seems to take up a bit part of my day.  I also have to go to the hospital every other day to get the dressings for the wound vac changed.  It is a pretty uncomfortable process and I dread it... I am getting tired of abdominal pain.   They are guessing it will take at least a month of wearing the wound vac 24 hours a day for the wound to heal.  I pray that it heals well.  It is in the center of my stomach where my belly button should be.  That is in an area where your core is constantly worked...it needs to heal well. 

I found out yesterday that the surgery they did to fix the bowel perforation "mistake" by the doctor didn't hold because of my weakened condition and is now leaking into my abdomen.  There is a drain there that the doctor had left from the surgery, luckily, so it is catching some of it.  My body is too compromised for another surgery so we are going to try to watch it, and hope it heals on its own, but if the output in the drain increases too much, I will end up in trouble and back in the hospital.  I am praying so hard that it will heal on its own and that there will be no more complications.  I am a nervous wreck...just getting though each day.  I can do this...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just not much to say...But I'm STILL here!

I am still in the hospital, and hope to be able to go home soon.  I will be going home with IV antibiotics and a wound vac and will require home health to come out quite a bit to change the dressings, etc. 

I am struggling with this surgery and hospitalization.  For the others, I knew I was doing it for a great cause...fighing cancer.  I was inspired by the wonderful life that I still want to lead and by my great desire to raise my children.  Every pain I felt and hard thing I encountered was just a hurdle in the way of my goal. 

I guess this one is technically another hurdle, I am just struggling with it because I am no longer fighting cancer.  I am here because of a Dr.'s mistake...and something about that makes this hospitalization much harder.  I was admitted a week ago...and each day has been painful for several different reasons.

I wish I could suspend my blog and allow no readers until things are going better.(because I hate being/feeling so negative)  I can't wait to be able to share stories of cherished time spent with my kids or of me feeling better and enjoying my new lease on life.  Thanks for bearing with me.  This too shall pass...

The woun

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My motto lately

"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on!!!"   ~Thomas Jefferson
(I am trying SO hard to hold on...)

You won't believe where I am!

The Hospital!  I was admitted last Friday after a series of tests and my 10th ct scan for the month.  Here's the scoop. Saturday marked two weeks of me being home from the hospital in Spokane.  Usually in that time I should have been able to start healing and gaining strength.  The opposite had been happening with me.  I got the flu that first week which was torture  (imagine vomiting over 50 times with hundreds of fresh stiches in your stomach!!)   It HURT...but also brough on a fever and increased pain.  The fever continued over a week and the pain got to a point to where I was unable to get out of  my bed except when necessary.  Out of desperation, I went to the ER and got a full battery of tests run and another ct.  It revealed that I had a large abcess below my incision from the last surgery.  I had been on antiobiotics but they aren't able to penetrate the abcess, so the infection was making me very sick. 

I was sent to a radiologist in the hosital who was supposed to insert a catether drain into the abcess  under the guidance of another live ct.  Well...HE MISSED and sent the catheter straight into my bowel.  So...I ended up being admitted into the hospital and had to have emergency surgery to fix my newly perforated bowel. 

Well, now I have had 7 surgeries since Jan of this year...plus chemo and everything else.  Needless to say, the surgeon wasn't able to stich me up because my skin, muscles, and tissues were so compromised from all of the other trauma and wouldn't hold.  So, right now I have an open wound in the center of my stomach (my core...that gets used constantly!!!).  They put a "wound vac" on it which is a pretty amazing technology that keeps my wound tissues fresh and slowly suctions them closed in hopes that they will heal closed.   It looks disgusting and requires a ton of home health care once I get released. I will have to wear it for at least a few weeks and will have to have the dressings changed every other day at my house.  They have told me that it is very painful and I am dreading it.  The first time for me will be tomorrow.  The Dr. also had to repair my bowel where the drain was "accidentally" inserted...and it was also pretty compromised.  I am in a high risk catagory for more complications, so please continue to keep me in your prayers. 

I can't believe I am writing this...  Actually, let me take that back.  I can't belive I am living this.  I pray that I can heal from this and that life will start to return to normal.  I don't know if I even remember what normal for my family is anymore...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Small steps forward...stumble back...breathe, repeat

Saturday marked me being home a week from the hospital.  It has definitely been a slower recovery than my other surgeries.  So much trauma to my body this year has disabled my system from bouncing back as qiuckly as we would usually expect.  I am counting my blessings everyday.  When I have more energy to sit in this hard chair and type, I will share them with you.  Once I get through these "bumps", my life should start to return slowly to our more "normal" family life.  I can't even tell you how excited I am for some of those most basic things.  I get tears in my eyes just thinking of them.

As an update, Friday night I was woke up by extreme pain in my abdomen. (yes..I have posted about this probably over 50 times in the last year).  It was isolated to my right side and hurt more than anything I have experienced OUTSIDE of the hospital...and I have been through a lot, so you must understand that the pain was intense.  It continued through the day Saturday, but I added a fever averaging 103 and vomiting.  That was also excruciating, because I vomited/dry heaved intermittently all of Saturday night and pulled I don't know how many layers of the stiching and repairs they have done in me.  I am worried...and don't even want to think about the damage that may have caused.  I got a blessing...prayed fervently...and debated forever whether to go to the ER or not.  I am getting to the point where I just would give anything to avoid Drs and most especially hospitals.  My girls had passed eachother a small bug where they each had a mild fever for a couple of hours and Addie had puked once...then immediately felt better.  I wondered if it might be that bug...just magnified strongly because of my weakened system.  Saturday morning, the excruciating pain was gone and the fever had broken.  I was relieved....until last night.  I ran a fever again all night.  It was a lower one of 101.7-9ish.  (I might should explain that fever/nausea are signs after huge surgeries of infection!!)  Instead of spending the day at the ER today, I am going to try to see if the cancer center will take my blood and do the pathology at least for initial testing.  It is easier there...and we'll see what happens after that. 

I broke down last night for another reason.  My girls have been pretty amazing and resilient this past year, but I think Aana hit her breaking point.  She just wanted to snuggle with my in my bed like we usually do a bit of everyday while reading together.  I have been too sore and untouchable since I came home, was gone over 2 weeks in the hospital prior, and you know all of the rest.  Last night she finally said, "Than just give me a fever MOM...make me sick...just let me lay here and be with you.  I NEED you..., I miss you...(and you get the drift from here.)  It broke my heart.  I hope she knows how badly I want to be me again.  I tried to comfort her and remind her of the amazing miracles and blessings we've incurred...but she is only 7 and was emotional.  The sobbing from her room broke my heart in half. Retelling it doesn't recapture the pain in her eyes or the intensity of the situation at the time...but it was a rough mom moment for me.

I've had better weeks, but I've most definitely had worse.  I am so determined to fight this fever, to gain strength, and start to live again!  My heart is so grateful that it is in my near future...I have learned a LOT of patience this year...this will pass quickly.  I will let you know the second that it does!  Sorry for the long post, but it is way shorter than the babbling earfulls of who knows what that people kindly listened to when they visited me in the hospital.  Narcotics seem to make me talk EVEN more than normal.  Have a great day everyone!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It is hard to believe...

that there is NO more cancer. 
I just had to write it again.  I am just so grateful!!!!  Our bodies and health are SUCH a gift...and I will never take mine for granted agan. 

Oh...where to start!

1 emergency surgery
8 blood transfusions
16 days in the hospital out of town
over 20 IV's
Countless shots
and more...But I am alive..healing, and there are no signs of cancer in my body!

That last surgery was unexpected and a doozie.  The first couple of days after were better than expected and I felt like it was going to be a smooth recovery...then I tanked.  I am still unsure of all that happened. I am just glad that I made it through and it is over.  I got home on Saturday night and have basically been sleeping since.

(The strangest part, is that I have been awake and functioning, but I am just realizing that I have absolutely NO memory of about two weeks of my life.  I really mean NONE...so I am sorry if I have been a bit out of it.  I know they have me on a lot of medicines, but this is my 6th surgery this year and I have never had anything like this happen. I don't remember my kids visiting, my birthday, or anything else for about 2 weeks while in the hospital.  It is a surreal feeling..)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Moving Forward

Sorry, I've been bad, but let me give you an update.  Shanda is slowly getting better each day.  Since my last post, she was doing great and then unfortunately took a few steps backwards in her recovery.  It seemed to correlate with the waking up of her bowels, of course we want her bowels to wake up and start functioning, but with that came severe pain and bloody stools, sorry to be graphic.  I hesitate to mention that but it explains why she received four units of blood within the past few days.  They have had to increase her pain meds and epidural to combat the pain, which in turn made her very loopy and sleepy.  Today we learned she has a bladder infection.... so now add IV antibiotics to the regimen of medications, poor girl, she has been through a lot.  The good thing is that she has had a lot of rest and is having bowel movements.  We thought there would be a chance that she would be out of the hospital by now, but we are probably looking at another week.  We are very hopeful and are reminded daily that the results of the surgery were very positive and now she just has to heal and get better.  SHE WILL.

Shanda is awesome and I'm so proud of her.  She is going through the worst HELL, I can't imagine.
I love her so much.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

more info

Here we are with another update.  Funny story to start off, when we first saw Shanda for the first time right after her long surgery, she had a IVs and tubes coming out of everywhere, and bless her heart, just looked miserable, and the first thing she said to us "I'm so sorry, I can't and don't want to talk at all, I'm just going to do a lot of listening."  Well, that lasted about five minutes.  All she wants to do is talk, she talks to all the nurses, all the patients in the hallway, EVERYBODY... I guess even a big surgery can't change a person.  She likes to talk about all the things she wants to do when she heals... tennis, her girls, walking, family, testimony, friends, prayers ... list goes on and on.... anyway, I thought that was funny. She is by far the youngest person on the floor, and she has already made a ton of friends, and even has some walking buddies.  She just brings a smile to people's faces when she talks to them, it's awesome.

She does a lot of walking,(30 laps around the floor just yesterday) which is great... we are trying to get her bowels moving, so she can start eating and drinking.  We use a lot of wet swabs to quench her thirst.  She is so thirsty, I feel so bad.  Her Birthday is Tuesday, and all she wants for her birthday is a sip of cold water.  We have high hopes. She has this miserable looking tube that goes up her nose and down her throat.  SHE HATES IT, and I don't blame her.  She is also hoping that gets removed by her birthday.

Right now she is in the middle of getting a blood transfusion because of the ravages of the surgeries and chemo, it is much needed.  She also gets steroids to help with the inflammation.  Her room is a happy room, Sheralee (her mother) has done a fantastic job decorating it.  I think it really makes a big difference.

We just couldn't be more happy with the progress she has made.  It makes my eyes just water thinking about it.  Thanks again for all your love.

Here are some picture, and just so you know, Shanda did give me permission.

Shanda and her mom just before her surgery





Day after her surgery.  Shanda and my parents.


Shanda, her dad, and father-in-law on her many walks

Shanda getting blood and holding her drainage pouch, sorry if too graphic

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Smiles!!!!

I want to do a better at updating Shanda's condition this time around, so here we go.  Shanda is doing awesome, her spirits are very high, it seems like the weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders.  She hardly got any sleep last night, everytime a nurse came in, she just wanted to talk and share the good news.  She talk and talked about how she has the biggest support group in the world, all the countless prayers that have been offered in her behalf, and how blessed she is.  I can't get her to close her eyes.  It's kind of funny, I think we are going to have to give her sleeping pills .  Don't get me wrong, she will be in the hospital for awhile, but what a difference already from six months ago when we were here.  The battle isn't over, but yesterday sure was a victory. 
I am so proud of Shanda, what an amazing, strong women she is.  She has been through hell and taken it like a champ.  What an inspiration she has been.  I love her so much. 
I want to thank everybody for all your support and prayers.  It truly brings tears to my eyes to think of the wonderful acts of kindness shown to my family and Shanda.  Thank you.  I will keep everybody updated.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Post Surgery

Thank you!!!! You heard our prayers! tears of joy. Just received news from the Doctor -- Shanda has no visible signs of cancer!!!!!!! She has a pronounced inflamation of the bowel and the lining of the abdomen. She has serositis (tissue that lines the abdomen that is inflamed and weeping) They removed one ovary and a section of the bowel that was twisted and attached to the abdominal wall. No need of doing Hipec(Heated Chemo) at this time!!!!!!!! She is still in surgery but the doctor came and updated us. The joy we feel is incredible! Thank You so much for your prayers, what a blessing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My cup is FULL...

My eyes are FULL of tears, my hearts is FULL of love, and my cup runneth over...  if that makes any sense at all.  Never in my life have I seen, felt, or witnessed such an outpouring of love and concern.  You (my friends all over) have been so kind to me.  I treasure your cards, letters, flowers, and comments on this blog.  I know I go into this surgery with a huge support system and your strength magnifies my own.  Your faith brings me so much comfort...and your kindness helps me to know that the fight is all worth it.  I feel so humbled, weak, and unworthy of the kind things you have shared with me and about me...but I am so grateful as well.  Thank you for being in my life and for the unique roles each of you play in my life.  Some of you are friends of old, some I haven't seen in years, some are from one of my many moves, from school, from church, some are my family, and some of you are newer treasured friends that have entered my life through various means.  To all of you I am grateful and I feel as though the Lord blesses me through each of you.  You have acted as instruments in his hands...and have answered many of my prayers over this last year.  Thank you!

My surgery is scheduled to start around 12:30 pm on Friday.  Depending on what the Dr. finds, it could be a very long afternoon.  It is just the only place he could fit me in his schedule to get me in quickly.  Larry or my mom will blog and post the updates as I come out .  They are very concerned that the cancer has spread, but I am not going to go there unless it happens.  We will see...and you will know as soon as we do.  I am worried about many things entering this, but feel so much comfort at the same time.  I am at peace with this part of the process...and I hope that this will be a means to healing and health.  I am trying so hard not to focus on the physical pain that I will soon endure...I can do it!  I will do it!  Here I go!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Irony...

This is NOT a flattering picture, but I wanted to show you what is going on.  The black dress masks it a bit and makes it smaller that it actually is, but I think you get the idea. 

The irony in this is that I LOOK pregnant on the week that I will be losing all ability to have more children.  In truth, this breaks my heart, but I am always trying to maintain humor and this has struck me as somewhat funny. 

These look like maternity photos, but they are just unflattering pictures of me with about 6 or more liters of fluid in my stomach.  Just picture a before of me with a very flat, SIX PACK...and this is the after. :) (more humor..., ha, ha!)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Good news

I was able to shower today and am not connected to my constant infusion pump.  I think I am done with IV chemo for now.  That is one thing that brings a HUGE smile to my face.  Today there was also a double rainbow outside my house.   I spent good quality time with my girls today...I made dinner for my family...and I am exhausted.  It was a good day.  I saw that many friends all over the country are fasting for me and I can't help but feel  peace being whispered to my heart. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another curve ball...but maybe I should expect them now~

I got a call from my surgical oncologist last night after he had a phone conference with my oncologist.  Apparently, neither of them have ever seen a patient with the symptoms/reactions that I have had.  Theydecided that I need another surgery to get in and fully understand what is going on.  My CT scan showed ususual things that they aren't able to explain and it seems likely that the culprit is spreading cancer.  The soonest they can get me in is next friday.  I will have to be fully opened up again and will have a hysterectomy in addition to basically repeating the "mother of all surgeries" that I had earlier this year.  The Dr. is also planning to repeat the heated chemo.   My understanding is that I am the only patient in the world that will have had this procedure done twice in one year.  I am terrified... both of what I have to do...and of what they will find!  There are so many thoughts running through my mind...

My fear is that I am not as strong as I was in march when I had that other huge surgery.  I barely made it last time and was found dead in my room because of an overdose of anesthesia.  Since then, my body has been poisoned, weakened, and horribly ravaged.  I don't know how I am going to get through another.  Much has changed since that...and it was BRUTAL then.  I have flashbacks of the moments that I endured once and prayed that I would never have to repeat.  I ask you to please focus your prayers on giving insight to my doctors...that they will know how to treat me.  I pray that I will be able to do what is needed of me.  I will be missing Aana's first day of school, my birthday, and Addie's first day of preschool.  Sept. 2nd will also mark one year of me living in hospitals and being so ill.  I can't wait until I can LOOK BACK on this.  That will mean it will be all over.  I keep thinking I will wake up and my life will return to what it used to be...and the nightmare will be over.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I like to look for Rainbows...

I love that line from a song my daughters sing to me...and it has been in my head today.  Life is full of trials, both great and small, but it is also full of rainbows.  I am embarrassed because I have reread several of my last blog posts and it seems as though I have focused only on the negative aspects of my life right now.  I do not want to neglect mentioning the beauty that surrounds me each day.  Never in my life have I felt so much LOVE, tenderness, support, kindness, or caring.  I am richly blessed with friends, both old and new.  Fighting cancer has given me perspective and enhanced clarity in areas where I was unsure before.  I have met people and been able to bond with them in ways that I am not sure I would have been able to previously.  It is almost like my heart is more open and so are those of the people around me.  I consider myself and my family richly blessed.  I apologize for not sharing that more in my ramblings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drained again...

Yesterday I spent the whole day again at the hospital getting another ct scan and getting the fluid draned again out of my abdomen.  It had returned very quickly from when I had it drained on Friday night.  I should take a picture and post it.  It truly looks like I am 5 months pregnant and is hard as a rock.  The doctors are all stumped and can't figure out the cause.  Drainig the fluid hurts BAD...and I think I will lose it if I have to do it again this week.  I don't want to look or feel like this for the rest of my life.  I pray an answer will come soon and that there is a solution.

I am also unsure if the doctors will be continuing my chemo or not because of all of the adverse side effects and reactions that are occurring.  I will find out more next tuesday when I have another appointment.

I am reminded very strongly of the things that matter in life...and the things that just DON'T!  My hair and my body for example. I would gladly trade them both for good health!  I have sacrificed so much already but would still give more just to feel good and be able to return to my regular activities. (laundry, cooking, taking care of my girls, being a taxi for practices, etc.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some answers, but more questions!

I spent the day at the cancer ctr again today awaiting results from the pathology of the fluid they extracted from my abdomen on Friday night.  They aren't all back yet, but so far there has been no sign of malignant cancer in the fluid...which is a relief. 

The only problem is, that there are many other ways that the cancer could manifest, and the Dr. is worried there might be a tumor blocking the flow to/from my liver.  It could also be that my organs are just worn out...and are weeping.  (I would explain that more like crying... they have been through so much this year!)  The Dr. found that I am having a systemic histamine reaction as well...and that my blood pressure has skyrocketed even more.  My vision is now so blurry that I can hardly focus well enough to see anything.  I don't have to look while typing, so I am hoping this makes sense, because I can't see the screen.

I have to go get drained agan at 9am and have yet another ct scan in the afternoon.  Another day of fasting, poking, waiting, trying to maintain a calmness...and trying not to fall apart.  I look about 5 months pregnant right now...and it is so strange, because it just appeared one day.  My poor body...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just because I hadn't already had enough...

This week I have spent over 20 hours at the cancer center between infusions, getting iv rehydration, etc.  I went in yesterday and showed them my stomach.  It looked like I was pregnant but appeared over a 3 day span.  They sent me to the hospital for imaging and found that I had Ascites, which is the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.  I ended up in the ER getting a procedure where they insert a very long, thick needle that punctures the skin and abdominal wall...then a catheter goes through and drains the liquid.  They were able to drain a liter and a half for now and will send it off to get the pathology tested.  We are PRAYING very hard that it is just from irritation from all of the HELL (sorry for the crude word) that my abdomen has been through, but there is a chance that it is malignant ascites and that it will be an indication of cancer spreading.  I am SO NERVOUS...and can't rest until I know the results.  Please keep praying...specifically that this is not cancerous.  My poor body is getting worn out...from all of the attempted treatments.  I am not sure how much  more I can take.  Thanks again for listening.  And thanks to those that helped me with my kids and rides yesterday.  I am so grateful for wonderful support!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

this one has been rough

I vomited, and vomited, and "other unmentionable things", and vomited...this week and have been back getting IV fluids trying to rehydrate me.  Now my stomach is swollen and is hard as a rock...and tender.  I am not sure what is going on, but I don't like it.  I'd give anything to have my "worst" day from last year...and would never complain again.  I am so grateful for all the support and I will weather this trial, but I am getting tired of it!  Days like this I just want to crawl into my bed and wake up in a couple of months. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I had another round of Chemo today....

And I am SO SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I have been having problems with my kidneys caused by one of the chemo drugs, Avastin, so today they couldn't give me that drug.  They are worried because I am still so dehydrated.  My husband tells me how simple that is to fix..."just drink more!"  If it were only that easy...(the more I drink, the more I vomit...the more I vomit, the more dehydrated I get...and the cycle continues!)  I begged the dr. to review my information and commit to a date when my chemo will be over.  He promised me that he would let me know by the end of the week.  I want to plan a CHEMO free vacation...and I think knowing when the end is will help me see the light at the end of the tunnel.   I still have my fanny pack pump, and my port site is getting very sore and irritated from being constantly accessed by a needle.  My hands are hurting pretty bad right now as I type, so I am signing off.  Thanks for listening!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Inspiration...

I LOVE these girls!!!!

Fun Reunion...Old and New friends, great times!

On the way back from McCall, we drove through Boise and stayed the night with Larry's best friend from middle school through college.  They hadn't seen eachother in almost 9 years!  I have gotten to know his awesome wife through blogging and we figured it was a long overdue reunion.  We had a great time catching up, laughing our heads off, and letting the kids play.  I don't think we will ever go that long without seeing them again!!!   Thanks Hilbigs!!!!

Braithwaite Family Trip back to McCall

Last week, we went back to McCall to meet up with Larry's side of the family and we had a great time.  I wish we had a picture of the whole group.  We all met up in a nice cabin and stayed for the weekend.  The drive went well and my in-laws and almost all of Larry's siblings were there.  My girls had an absolute blast getting to how their cousins and we hardly saw them the entire time. 
Larry, his dad, and brothers went white water rafting, played games, fished, talked about teeth and BYU football, and stayed up late laughing at who knows what. 
We all laughed, played, got caught up in eachother's lives...made more memories, and had a great time!
My Mother in law shared a great lesson about holding on to the Iron Rod and making good choices throughout our lives...the kids loved it!
And how we all are back at home and wishing we lived closer so we could do that more often! 
Family is SO important!!!!!!

Blogging Lull...

I am sorry...my mind is busy, and there is so much I want to say...yet I have a hard time finding the time.  Either, I don't feel well and I just want to lay in bed, or I feel okay, so I want to use every second getting things done that I don't usually have the energy for.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A surprise...and another Team Shanda in the Relay for Life!

My cousin, Jen..and her family came to visit and gave me an album of pictures from when they ran the Relay for Life in Pocatello, ID for me.  They did it ALL as a surprise, and I loved it!!!  I feel so loved and supported though this trial...more than I ever have in my life.  Thanks Matt, Jen, Mindy, Amber, Mason, Chris, Donovan, Jake, Chantilly, Andra, Ashley, Mike and everyone else!!!  That rocked!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More info

When my specialist looked at my ct scan, he didn't have the radiology report yet.  Another appointment yesterday with my chemo oncologoist showed that I have free fluid in my abdomen, which they are going to watch.  It could be another ruptured ovarian cyst (as I have had several of those lately)...or it could be something to worry about.  They want to do another ct in 6 weeks to look again.  I have had SO many ct scans this year!! 

Yesterday was another chemo day and I think it was technically round 9 of 12 (if they are going to count them all.)  I am trying not to get my hopes up that I have only two months left..but it would be SO nice.  My dream is to have a chemo free Christmas with my family.  I have been sick since last September...when my appendix first ruptured and I landed in the hospital for so long.  I am looking forward to feeling like myself again.  Right now I feel like I am trapped in someone else's body.  You should see the bruises all over me.  If you even touch me, it leaves a purple trail, but truthfully that is the least of my concerns.  Thanks again for caring and following my story!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It came in a fortune cookie...it must be true!

Larry and I drove to Spokane this week to meet with my surgical oncologist as a follow up to my CT scan.  After the appointment, we went to PF Changs for dinner.  Here was my dessert.  It made me smile...and couldn't have been more perfect timing.  My stomach was in knots...and I was nervous about what the Dr. would see on my scan. 
I was also quite worried about the quality of the ct scan, because I had vomited up all of the baruim that I was supposed to drink.  The doctor said that it wasn't a great picture, but he was NOT able to see any sign of new growth so far.  I am very relieved at that, but not completely comfortable. (as I explained in the previous post.)  He reminded me of how aggressive I have been in treatment and emphasized that we have to have faith that the Heated Chemo...as well as the IV chemo will work!  I have faith...not in chemo, but in my Heavenly Father.  He knows that the greatest desire of my heart is to raise my girls...I know he is aware of me.  He hears my prayers (and all of our prayers).  I feel his comfort daily and I feel good about the outcome.  I have no idea what lies ahead...but I am doing ALL that I can do on my end to fight this!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today is a six month follow up...and CT SCAN

I can't believe I was diagnosed with cancer 6 months and 2 weeks ago today.  (But...who's counting?)   It seems as though my life has been FROZEN in time since that day in January, but I look outside and realize that life has gone on for everyone else...it is nearing the end of summer and in my mind, we just finished Christmas!!!  I appreciate your continued support and interest in MY family's battle with this aggressive cancer. 

Today I am scheduled to have my pump removed for a week (and I might spend the whole week in the shower...just because I can!) :)  I am also scheduled for a CT scan of my abdomen...so that they can see if there is any visible growth or change in my cancer.  I will post the results, and I am nervous...but I want to explain a bit that I never would have known before my diagnosis.  Most cancers have a battery of tests that can tell them exactly if the cancer has grown, spread, etc.  There are ct scans, pet scans, mri's, etc.  Pet scans and mri's don't work on the abdomen, and the ct scans have limited capabilities.  I have had several ct scans already in the last year and NONE of them had detected any of the stage 4 cancer that I have.  So...this might come back clean, but it doesn't mean that I am in remission.  I wish there were a better test or a more sure way to find an answer, but this is the best modern medicine has for me right now. 

My other concern is, I have to drink a gallon of baruim "juice" before the test to help them get the best results.  I struggle getting a glass of water down, so I am pretty sure this will be a disaster, but I will try. Here's to a clean CT...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miserable...and STARVING!

I'm shaky, nauseous, hurting, faint, weak, and STARVING...but I can't find anything that sounds good at all.  I really mean nothing.   Not even at a restaurant.  Just the thought of all food makes me queasy... it's miserable.  Have you ever had chemo heartburn...or hiccups... yuck, I can't even describe how terrible it is...always tasting the chemicals in the back of my throat.  This continuous pump is going to be my demise.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chemo Update

Well, I figure it is time to let you know what's going on.  I had my long chemo infusion yesterday.  I started at 8 am and ended around 5:30.  They are long days.  Yesterday they gave me 13 different drugs pumped directly into my veins...and I wonder why I don't feel well today.  Only 4 of those were chemo drugs...the other 9 were given to help combat the chemo symptoms.  I fell asleep in the chair..don't remember driving home...and slept all day today.  I think my body will be thrilled to get rid of all the poisons I keep forcing in.  Today I feel worse than I have in a LONG time.  There is no sugar coating it...I look like heck and feel even worse.  My friends that have stopped by might now be scared off for good.  I will avoid the mirror today.  My hair loss seems to have slowed and I feel lucky to have what I do.  This picture isn't the best, but was a quick snapshot when I got home from church on Sunday when I at least tried to get dressed.  You can see I am still attached to a pump, which is the tube coming out of my shirt. I wear the pump continuously for three weeks on...one week off.  Repeat.  My fingernails are getting black spots and are starting to die, my skin is crazy dry and strange, my stomach and bowels are in complete trauma...and now my kidneys are being hurt by the chemo and is causing me to lose protein in my urine and has caused a pretty big rise in my bloodpressure.  (so...I have to take even more medicine for that...surprise!)  I really wonder if there is a better method of doing this.  I don't like what all of this is doing to me!!!!  Please pray that my doctors will know how to best treat me and that I will have the strenght to continue!  Thanks!

Our Family Trip to McCall, Idaho

    No comparison, Larry...Aana's wins! :)
My family forced me to go away on a little trip to forget about the cancer and have some fun.  I was worried about the drive...and how I would feel, but it all turned out okay.  We all had a blast and really enjoyed ourselves.  We had a gorgeous house overlooking Lake Cascade and just couldn't have asked for nicer accomodations or a better time.  We played games, fished, boated, slept, ATE (of course), roasted marshmellows, did fireworks, and more.  I participated where I could...and relaxed when I couldn't.  They gave me the king suite on the main floor so that I could see everything that was going on from my bed.  It was all perfect until the ride home.  A couple hours into the drive, I started projectile vomiting...and went downhill until I landed in the ER.  Long story...but it all ended up ok.   Just a bad end to a wonderful trip.  I guess I might have overdone it...but I hear the sounds of my girls giggling and see the smiles on their faces as I lay in bed right now.  Those wonderful moment stay emblazoned on my memory and are truly priceless!
(Oh...and I caught 13 fish in ONE hour...and at that same time, Aana caught 9)  I felt bad the people unhooking them and baiting my hook. :)
>

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Desperate times call for desperate measures...

I tried accupuncture because I have tried everything else to combat the constant nausea and miserable chemo symptoms.  I have already been a pincushion, so I figured...why not?  And it wasn't that bad....I actually fell asleep on the table.  I can't believe I let them, but they put about 50 or so needles in me...on my face, in my ears, in my arms, legs, and stomach.  It was bizarrely relaxing.  I think I will try it again this week.  I have my regular LONG chemo infusion tomorrow...wish me luck!