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


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 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!!!