Friday, March 20, 2009

Family Update

Some people have inquired how David and the boys are doing. Well, I'm just one observer, but I think they are doing good considering the circumstances of missing their wife and mom. They are all back in school and establishing new routines. David is doing awesome adjusting his work schedule to work at home and around the boy's schedules. Each afternoon a member of the Ellis family is there when the boys return home from school (me on Mondays, Aunt Laurie on Tuesdays, Grandma and Grandpa Ellis on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Uncle Greg on Fridays). We all know being a parent is hard enough, but being a single grieving parent is much harder, so we are doing our best to support David and the boys and respecting the things they are used to doing, as routine is so important in times like this. (Jonny informed me tuna sandwiches are disgusting, by the way. Glad he was with me when I went grocery shopping!)

My close friend lost her husband in August and observing her grief was painful. She has been helpful in givng me suggestions on what others can do for a newly widowed parent such as providing meals, inviting the family over for family night or dinner, offering to run an errand, or just a simple phone call or visit. Thank you to the friends and neighbors who have done this already. David mentions how nice it has been and how it gives his family something to look forward to.

On a side note, Brenton is in a school play The Wizard of Oz next week. It is $2.00 in advance, $3.00 at the door, and he is performing on Thursday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 28 at 1:00 p.m. at Lincoln Academy, 1582 W 3300 N, Pleasant Grove. E-mail David for more information if needed. Go Brenton! -Jennie Kilstrom

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Funeral Program

Below is the funeral program. A neighbor in their ward sketched the photo of Christ for Emilee and her family. I will find out the name to give proper credit soon. I'm going down to help out tomorrow to make sure David and the boys are fed well and have clean laundry :-). Coming soon will be an audio file of the funeral and various slideshows on the right hand side of this column. -Jennie Kilstrom

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Photos and the funeral program will be posted soon. Sorry to make those of you wait who were not able to attend. It's been a week of grieving and catching up on rest since the funeral. -Jennie Kilstrom

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Lovingly looking back at her dear husband and children, Emilee Dolberg Ellis passed from this life on March 4, 2009 after a courageous six-year battle with cancer. With great faith and brightness of hope she was encircled with the love of Heavenly Father and loved ones as she was greeted in the hereafter forever free of her suffering.

Emilee was born on January 15, 1972, in Davis, California. She married David L. Ellis in the Oakland, California LDS Temple in 1992. Always bright and inquisitive she was an excellent student, and was an exchange student in Germany. She got only A grades in high school and was co--valedictorian of her class at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA where she received her AA Degree. She received BA and MA degrees in German at Brigham Young University, teaching German as a grad student. Emilee was a gifted pianist and singer and shared her talents as an accompanist for choirs in her church as well as a teacher of piano. Emilee most recently worked with students at her children’s school, The Lincoln Academy, in Cedar Hills as a Music Specialist.

Emilee was a world traveler, and with her parents, husband and children, saw Europe, China, Hong Kong, Alaska and traveled across the U.S. Just a month ago she enjoyed a trip with her family to San Diego. She was an avid reader and has always loved literature and languages. She enjoyed keeping a journal and was a devoted scrap booker and left her family volumes of treasures of photos and journaling that will be cherished. Emilee was cheerful, optimistic, friendly and an adventurer and gave inspiration to those to persevere through trials with faith.

Emilee’s greatest joy was her family and she participated in every activity she possibly could with them. She is survived by her loving husband, David, sons Brenton, Jonathan, and Nathan; parents Glen and Bonnie Baer Dolberg of Stockton, CA; brothers Daniel (Meggin), David, Paul (Felisa), Peter; and many nieces and nephews and David’s extended family.

A viewing will be held Sunday, March 8 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the LDS Stake Center at 3950 W. Cedar Hills, Drive, Cedar Hills, UT. The funeral will be on Monday, March 9, 10:00 a.m. at the same location. Viewing time will be from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. that morning prior to services. Internment will be at the Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park. The family would like to thank the Cedar Hills First Ward, Dr. Shehedah and Dr. Garner, Intermountain Health Care Hospice, and the staff at the Daily Herald who have been so caring.

Donations are gratefully accepted at Emilee’s medical account at US Bank 210 E. 700 S., Pleasant Grove, UT, 84062. Flowers may be sent to SereniCare Funeral Home, 12278 S. Lone Peak Parkway #103, Draper, UT 84020. Emilee wished for all to visit her blog and you can send condolences to

Thursday, March 5

Thank you reporters Ashley Franscell, Ace Stryker, and The Daily Herald.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4, 2009

Our sweet Emilee passed away this morning around 8:00 a.m. We rejoice she is relieved from pain and is in the arms of those who went before her who are welcoming her and watching over her. It is a comfort she passed on March 4th, as she has always “marched forth” through life's adventures and through her cancer journey. Now she is marching forth to her calling in heaven.

UPDATE: A viewing will be on Sunday, March 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Stake Center building on the corner of Cedar Hills Drive and Canyon Road at 3950 W Cedar Hills Drive.

The funeral will be on Monday, March 9, 10:00 a.m. at the Stake Center building on the corner of Cedar Hills Drive and Canyon Road at 3950 W Cedar Hills Drive. Viewing time will be from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. that morning as well.

David thanks everyone for their comments. If you feel more comfortable sending condolences directly to him, they can be e-mailed to

I will post the obituary when it comes available. -Jennie Kilstrom

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday, March 3

Emilee was given a morphine pump accessed through her port on Monday night. Members of the family press the pump every 20 minutes round the clock to administer pain relief. The hospice care nurse and doctor do not think she will be with us much longer -just a day or so.

Thank you again for your prayers and sweet messages posted. Lots of emotions are going around at this "fever pitch" moment of transition watching beloved Emilee pass from this life to the next. Your words in e-mails and comments keep us spiritually grounded and they are appreciated. -Jennie Kilstrom

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday, March 2

Emilee was unresponsive today (except for two “uh-uhs” when she didn’t want something). She is slipping away rather quickly. Most the day was a mixture of tears with small moments of laughter as we as family members worked together and embraced the sweet spirit in her room.

The hospice nurses and health aides have been stopping in and working to keep Emilee comfortable. She mostly communicates that she is in pain and we are working hard to relieve that. Please keep praying for pain relief for her.

In case you didn’t know, Emilee is an incredible scrap booker. Her mother got her on a good path by keeping memory books since she was born. Emilee has stayed in the habit and has left over 20 big thick books of scrapbooking memories of her and her family. Your comments, memories, and favorite stories will continue in one of her scrapbooks to be kept for her children and grandchildren to see. Please keep the messages coming for David and the boys and share any experiences or stories you would like to. Emilee’s parents express thanks for the kind messages, flowers, meals, etc. that have been coming it. It has really touched them.

I’m putting together a memory video with photos of Emilee through her lifetime. If you have any photos of Emilee you would like to submit, please send them to I can’t guarantee they will get in the video, but I will try. --Jennie Kilstrom

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I will be printing off and reading the comments and e-mails left for Emilee to her. She may not respond, but I know she is aware part of the time of those around her and the comments left for her will be heard. So, please keep writing any memories, thoughts, etc. for her and her family and they will be read. Thanks!
-Jennie Kilstrom

Sunday, March 1

Hi, it's Jennie again. Emilee is still having a hard time and under a lot of pain medication. It's been difficult to watch her suddenly struggle so much. For those who visited 7 or 8 days ago, you know she was able to receive visitors and talk for a long time. I was sharing a Barbacoa chicken wrap and folding laundry with her 9 days ago and talking about life, family, etc. for hours. But the past few days she is really struggling and is resting a lot. Thank you to those who are fasting and praying for her and her family today.

On a brighter note, David told me she craved her favorite Roxberry Mango Madness smoothie on Saturday and was able to have a little that.

The family has expressed a few things that neighbors, ward members, and extended relatives can help out with. Call the Ellis home to make arrangements. Here are a few ideas:
-Invite the boys over after school to play games, hang out, go on a activity, etc.
-Invite the boys over after school and help them out with homework.
-The boys have membership to the American Fork recreation center and could use a ride over and supervision while they participate in activities there.

For those of you who like to cook, here are some food suggestions:
-After school type snacks or quick breakfast type things you can grab and go like healthy muffins, banana bread, pumpkin bread, or really anything you make and want to share extra with (especially something that can be freezed and used later). The family really has enjoyed the desserts but their waistlines have suggested perhaps something a little healthier if possible. :-)

Your words of support through posting on this blog, writing a note, sending a e-mail, or talking to David, Brenton, Jonny, and Nathan really help them feel loved. Keep it up and thank you again for it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday, February 27

I edited the post a bit on 2/28/09. This is Emilee's sister-in-law, Jennie, updating this post. David asked me to help out until he and Emilee can write their own post. I'll give a brief update of the events of the past few days.

Emilee chose to end chemotherapy treatments and to use hospice care. It is defined as follows: "Hospice care is suitable when you no longer benefit from cancer treatment and you are expected to live 6 months or less. Hospice gives you palliative care, which is treatment to help relieve cancer-related symptoms, but not cure the disease; its main purpose is to improve your quality of life. You, your family, and your doctor decide together when hospice care should begin."

Hospice also covers pain control symptoms, mediation between doctors, nurses, therpists, etc., home care, family counseling, bereavement, etc. if that is what David and Emilee decide in their plan. Basically, it is a service in the home that will help Emilee be comfortable and manage her health needs as well as providing support for the family.

Emilee went to the doctor's for more pain management relief -it's been a tough few days and she has had to take extra pain medication to remain comfortable. She is groggy at times. If you would like to visit, please call before and see if it is a good time to come over -she really enjoys it and it lifts her spirits as well as those in the rest of the family.

David mentioned the doctor removed 2 liters of fluid from her abdomen today. Her swelling in the stomach is still very apparent but the swelling in her hands and face looked better than past times I've seen her.

I'll keep you posted as David and Emilee direct me to do so. You can e-mail me at if you have further questions. Also, the blog background has been acting wacky lately, so bear with me until the problem is solved. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, comments, visits, and acts of kindness. They are felt and keep everyone afloat. -Jennie Kilstrom

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday February 24th

I am feeling a little sad today. I haven't feel well physically and that often affects my mood. I am also still doing research toward making my decision to start hospice or not. I had a nice visit from my brother Daniel and his daughter. They brought me some beautiful tulip bulbs, the kind that grow in water and you can see the roots at the bottom. He even brought treats, as Greg did last night. We never lack for sweets at our house!
We went shopping last night to pick up some maxi-pads to put over the spot on my abdomen that is draining. This morning I noticed it wasn't wet, so the leaking has stopped, at least for now. Thsnk you to whoever added more money to my donation account. David's income has been kind of hit and miss through his changing companies, so it is nice to know that we at least have some money to pay the medical bills. I promise that's all I will spend it on!
I have Dr. appointments tomorrow and the next day, so by the next time I write I should have a little more news for you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday February 22nd

My favorite time of day is the evening, since David is usually around and I have my pain under control and I can lie down and relax or soak in the bath. My boyw were all visiting friends or cousins until late last night, so David and I snuggled up with the dog and watched I Love Lucy.

On Saturday morning the older boys came home and my parents came over to work on projects around the house. My project was to help make a list of projects for my parents and for others to be able to help us. I took a nap in the afternoon, then my two cousins, Julie and Chrissie and their husbands brought delicious soup and sourdough bread and mint brownies from Kneaders bakery. My parents enjoyed the visit as well and I got to hold Julie's baby Anna who is 5 months old. So cute!
Last night was Little House on the Prairie for our family entertainment. All of us like to try to guess what will happen on the episode, given the music and the characters, etc. Then we have a little scripture study and go to bed. Both boys got to stay up late on Friday night, so I had to make sure they wouldn't be tired for church in the morning.

Today was church, but because of my illness, I wake up almost every morning with pain and discomfort. I have body aches and my abdomen is filling up again with fluid. It takes a half hour and a little breakfast before the pain medicine works and I feel half normal. It is most comfortable for me to lie on my side rather than on my back and it hurts when I roll over. Brenton stayed home with me this morning, as he slightly sprained his ankle last night.

After church, The hometeacher came over to administer the sacrament to Brenton and to me. After that, I started noticing that my shirt and pants were wet. At first I thought I had spilled some water on them. Then, when I went to change into new clothes, those clothes started getting wet, too. After a little investigation, I figured out that my abdominal fluid is leaking out of one of the holes they made on Thursday to drain it out. My mom helped me use medical tape and a washcloth to cover the spot on my lower abdomen where I am "leaking." We've already had to change it once. If this continues tomorrow, I should probably go to my doctor and find out what else to do.

This will be my week of research and prayer, as I decide whether to try more chemotherapy or stop conventional treatment and sign up for hospice care. Dr. Shehadeh recommends the hospice option, as he says he has nothing else to offer me, now that the cancer is resistant to every type of chemotherapy. I'll ask the opinion of another Dr. or two to make sure this is the case. If I quit chemotherapy, I will also take more of my supplements and lean toward natural methods.
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday February 20th

I've been feeling sick all week, but I did have a surprising blessing yesterday. Elaine drove me to Provo to meet with Dr. Garner, the pain management specialist. After examining my bloated belly, he immediately made a call and put in motion a plan for me to go downstairs and have the excess fluid removed. I don't know why my oncologist didn't think of this, but I suppose Dr. Garner's specialty is helping people with pain and discomfort to feel better.

The nurse was first to use the ultrasound and look for a good place to put the needle. This procedure is called paracentesis so it is similar to an amniocentesis. I joked with the nurse that at least there was no baby to worry about when they started poking me. The procedure was quick and not painful at all. The radiologist confirmed a good site to poke and he put the needle in and connected it to a bottle. I filled a liter bottle in less than 10 minutes so the nurse switched to another one. They both had to press and maneuver my belly to get the maximum amount of fluid out. By the end, they had 1.6 liters and it weighed 5 pounds. Wow! Where else can you go and lose 5 pounds instantly! Actually it wasn't fat, but fluid that had come through my liver but my liver wasn't able to process because of the cancer. I still have a swollen stomach, but I can breathe much better and so it was a real blessing. Thanks for your prayers! It seems that they are having a good effect!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Feb. 18th

Since I wrote last, my belly still looks like I'm about 6 ,months pregnant. This makes it hard to get out of bed or to pick up an item on the floor. I'm messy in the kitchen, too, so I'm always making a mess for others to help with the dishes.

In general, I have been feeling quite sick during the last few days. I have indigestion and nausea, also pain in my back and other bones, which I keep on hand. Tomorrow is my appt. with Dr. Garner, the pain control doctor. Even though I've had a lot of extra muscle pain, he will need to see my big belly and that as well.

I pray that my burden will be lifted, if it be the Lord's will. I will trust in the Savior who has already suffered for me. I will stay as long as God wants me to stay on the earth.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Feb. 14

Happy Valentines Day! Mom helped me on Thursday night to put together valentines for Nathan's 3rd grade class, where they all exchange cards. Yesterday, the 13th was Brenton's 15th birthday. He came home with paper hearts on the door to his room and some balloons and Hershey's kissables. He would never guess that his aunt Jennie did it! This wasn't a party year for Brenton so he and my brother Dave brought 2 friends and Jonny to JCW's, a hamburger place with tons of other menu items, not just gourmet burgers. Then they came back to have cupcakes with candles in them. The rest of the evening, Jonny and one of Brenton's friends played Wii, using a new game from his uncle Dave Dolberg. I remember the boys coming home, but I think I went to sleep before David took Brenton's friend home. Nathan was at his cousin Clark's all evening. Thanks again to Melissa and Greg!
Because my stomach is swollen and distended, it looks like I'm about 6 weeks pregnant. It has bothered me all week and so I went to see my oncologist. Unfortunately, he didn't have anything to offer me. He said that diuretics would just take needed fluids out of my body. He didn't give me hope Dr. Shehadeh fold me that I would soon need to make the decision to keep going with chemotherapy or stop medical treatments and get hospice care instead. I'm going to ask around and see if any other doctors have other suggestions or treatments for me. The naturopathic doctor told me of some alternative treatments such as high doses of either vitamin C or melatonin. Another study was involved in giving baking soda, dissolved in water to change the body's PH level. Dr. Shehadeh said that he was doubtful these could help me. I did buy some supplements, so I'll keep using those.
I want to try one more 3-week round of this drug, especially if the swelling in my belly goes down. That would indicate that the swelling was partially due to the chemotherapy drug. I'll have to rely on the Lord to help me make my decision to keep going with treatment or to quit. Dr. Shehadeh said that at this point, the remaining cancer cells are resistant to the chemo drugs.
I'm too embarrassed to go to church, as I only have a few shirts that are big enough to cover my belly. Even many of my pants can't button in the front, so I have to wear elastic waistlines.
It has been wonderful to have my parents here this week. I feel glad, however, that they have promised to come again when I need help. I was glad to have an outing, so David and I took the older boys out for some shopping. We first went to DI to find a suit for Brenton. We ended up buying a dark blue blazer and khaki dress pants, as well as a long-sleeved blue dress shirt. Jonny picked out a necktie that had CTR in small print, following the lines of the color
I'm looking forward to a relaxing Sunday tomorrow. The boys are usually cooperative and we have a family home evening. I will get more time to talk to my husband and I usually feel like he has lightened my load. Thanks for your comments on this blog. I enjoy reading your ideas and inspiration.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday, Feb. 12th

I've been feeling sick all week, due to my treatments. My parents are helping with the children and keeping the house clean and food on the table. One symptom I'm havivng is severe edema, or retention of fluid, mostly in my abdomen but also in my lower legs and calves. My abdomen is so swollen it makes me short of breath and puts uncomfortable pressure on my stomach. I'll be going to the Dr. tomorrow to get my usual blood tests and also to ask him some questions. I really hope he'll find a way to reduce this terrible swelling.

Today I attended a cancer support group at my old clinic. I had a hard time expressing my feelings without crying. Once I started crying, I could hardly breathe because of the pressure on my lungs. Still, it was good to get my emotions out instead of holding them all in. I pray for faith and not fear, but the swelling problems have made me afraid for my life. I am just not sure whether I will recover if I have more complications.

Brenton is excited for his birthday tomorrow. He is going out to dinner with my brother Dave, two of Brenton's friends and Jonny. Brenton is hoping to use his birthday money to buy a "guitar hero" game for the Wii. Our gift is to give him a new Sunday suit, but we'll have to shop for that another time.

Tonight I was able to attend a Presidential Pageant at the kid's school, Lincoln Academy. Jonathan performed one number with the band and Brenton performed with the choir. It was my first chance to hear them perform since the school year started last August. I'm glad my parents were also able to be there. Both the combined bands and the combined choirs sounded great as they played patriotic music. We didn't stay for the whole program, just to hear the band and the choir perform.

Thanks for your prayers and support. I try to get through each day without too much nausea and pain and discomfort. I like to read and to watch educational programs on cable. I'm glad my parents are here to keep me company and drive me to appointments and play with my boys. I am always happy when the boys come home from school and come up to greet me. It is those little things that I have to look forward to, even though I am sad and frustrated with being sick.

I'm sad that I won't be up to going out with my husband for Valentine's Day, but maybe he can make it up to me another time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday February 10th

My parents came over yesterday morning to help me. It was nice to have them here to help with the house, as I needed to rest most of the time. I've been really concerned about the increased swelling in my abdomen, due to the liver tumors. It makes me look about 5 months pregnant, but with most of the weight on top, against my ribcage. In an effort to get more advice, my parents went with me to a naturopathic Dr. in the afternoon. He recommended several supplements which should give my liver support and maybe help shrink the swelling. We stopped at a Health Food store and were able to find most of the items. One of them is castor oil which you are supposed to put on a damp cloth and spread it over your abdomen, so it can get absorbed by your skin. The rest of the supplements I can take by mouth.

David's dad also came by to take the boys out for haircuts yesterday afternoon. That was such a thoughful gift! The boys look really sharp. I'm really glad when the children can interact with and learn from their grandparents. This afternoon when the boys got home from school, my dad helped Jonny and his friend with their communication merit badge. Now, Dad is helping Brenton memorize lines for the play he is practicing for. Mom is encouraging Nathan to do his chores, though he is acting kind of resistant at the moment.

Today, I've got most of my chemo side effects under control with medication. I used the castor oil pack this morning. I didn't really notice any differences, but next time I am supposed to use a heating pad to increase the absorption into my skin. I'm using my GoLight right now to try to substitute for sunlight. I've been a little sad lately and worried about my new treatments and my growing liver. David has been feeling a lot of stress due to work and my worsening illness. In addition, his mother has not yet received a diagnosis for some of her health concerns. I think the winter season may also be affecting his mood. It has been kind of stormy and cloudy lately. Maybe my parents can drive me to a cancer support group on Thursday.

On the flip side, the children seem to be happy and they have been really great at doing their homework and chores. They give me hugs when I'm sad and they come and chat with me. They have also been getting along a lot better. Maybe having the Wii has helped, but Nathan and Jonny don't argue nearly as much as they used to and they even play together now. Brenton is excited about his birthday on Friday. He'll be 15. He won't have a friends party this year, but we can celebrate as a family. So, despite my large challenges, the Lord has blessed me with more peace and happiness in our home. We are also blessed with supportive parents and loving friends and relatives and neighbors.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 8th

I'm feeling sick today. I guess the chemo on Wednesday finally did me in. I have muscle aches and a sore mouth and I am nauseated and tired. I'm looking forward to my parents arriving tomorrow to help run our household and give me a little TLC.

Last week, I received the first medical bill for 2009. I first have to meet a deductible for the health insurance company, then they cover 80% of my bills until I reach my out of pocket maximum for the year. It's that 20% that I always have to worry about! I edited the side bars on my blog to make it easier for you to look up my donation account. Anything you can send will help cheer me up.

My liver has been really swollen due to the tumors lately and I have pink eye as well. Since my oncologist didn't offer me any medicine except chemotherapy, I am hoping the naturopathic doctor might have a remedy or two that I could try to help my liver. It scares me to look like I'm pregnant because of my bulging stomach. It also means I can only wear the loose tops in my wardrobe. I stayed home from church today because my eye was red and almost swollen shut.

Well, thanks for listening to all of my complaints. I guess it helps to talk about them. I hope I will be feeling a little better soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday January 5th

Hello Everyone! I took a vacation from writing my blog because...I was on vacation! We took the family down to San Diego for a few days and enjoyed the sun and activities. Before the trip, I had finished a round of chemotherapy and then had a PET scan to see if the treatments had reduced the tumors or if they had grown. The results were in before we left on our trip, so I called to schedule an appointment with my oncologist for after our trip. The staff needed to know if they needed to schedule time for a chemo treatment or just a consultation, so they told me they would consult the Dr. and call me back. Dr. Shehadeh himself called back and confirmed that yes, the tumors had grown since the last scan and I would be starting a new drug and a new round of chemotherapy when I returned.
With that in mind, I was extra grateful to be able to travel with David and the children before starting the new drug and treatment schedule. We stayed in a cute 2 bedroom cottage just 2 blocks from the beach. We went to Sea World, Legoland and the Wild Animal Park. We also took a bus to Tijuana. Now the kids can say they have been to Mexico! My favorite activity of the trip was our 3 hour whale watching cruise. We got to see grey whales and we followed them in the boat, as this is the time of year that they migrate to the Baha peninsula to give birth to their young. We also saw a sea lion and several black and white dolphins. We got an extra bonus, as we approached a dive boat and saw an adolescent grey whale playing nearby. Our ship stopped the motor and we saw the whale as e came around to the dive boat and rolled and waved his fin at them. He swam around with a dolphin nearby. When he moved to the other side of the boat, we followed around in ours and the whale came near us and did the same roll and wave of his fin. We could see the little white limpets on his usually grey skin. Another whale watching boat came over to watch from a distance. When we returned to the harbor, the naturalist on board told us not to mention our bonus to the people in line for the next boat, as it is rare that a whale will stay in one place that long.
We got the boys shovels and they had fun at the beach, digging piles of sand and watching the tide come in and wash them away. We also drove to a place with some tide pools and the kids found sea anemone, sea snails, hermit crabs and little black crabs. We made our own breakfast and lunches then ate out a few times at nice restaurants for dinner, ordering seafood, of course!
One morning, the kids had been playing at the beach and David came back to see if I wanted to go down and join them for a while and look at their "creations." I decided to take off my hat and go out to get some sun on my bald head. I did put on sunscreen first, and I wore my sunglasses so I could go incognito. David carried some beach chairs from the cottage and I brought a book to read. It felt quite liberating to go out in public with a bald head. It was a big step for me, but gradually I am becoming comfortable with the fact that I have no hair.
When we got home, I had my oncologist visit the next day. Elaine drove me up and David was also there for the doctor visit. He explained the same thing as he said on the phone, that the tumors were growing again and we needed to change medication. He gave me some instructions and a short exam, then I moved on to the chemo room. The new drug, Doxil, doesn't take quite as long as my old medicine, but they had to drip it slower than usual for the first dose, to make sure I don't have a bad reaction or anything. Elaine and I chatted most of the time. She has been having some health issues and has not received a clear diagnosis yet. She called me today and mentioned that her doctor recommended surgery, so it looks like her problems aren't over yet. At least she can have a degree of empathy for me and all the pokes and procedures I've had over the years.
Today is the day after my treatment and I haven't had any side effects yet, just fatigue, so I took a 2 hour nap before the boys got home from school. My parents are coming this weekend, so I am looking forward to seeing them. Thanks, everyone for your prayers and service to our family. I promise to write more often, now that we are home. I just didn't want everyone on the internet to know that my house was empty for 5 days. Bye for now,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday January 27th

I've been feeling a little better each day, and I have been taking enzymes and supplements to help my digestion. I will have another chemo appointment next week, so I am enjoying a break right now. I have a feeling my oncologist will want to either up my dosage of the current meds or try another chemo drug. I've invited my parents to come out for a week while I'm sick, so at least the kids and household will be cared for.

I invited some of the ward ladies over for lunch today. They did most of the work. I only had to heat up a casserole and clean up a bit. I also sorted through many of our books and magazines and offered them to the ladies as a swap. A few others brought some books to share, so I got a couple of new ones. Not as many took home my books, so I am still left with a box of them. I'll either have to offer them to more people or donate them to DI or somewhere. So, if you live nearby and would like some free books and magazines, just drop by and check out my box!

Tonight the kids are all busy with homework and scouts. I like to see the kids involved in things and they get to play the Wii as a reward. Even David is using the Wii Fit to improve his fitness. I am glad we are getting good use from it.

Today was cold and clear, after a couple of snow storms came through. The mountains look like they are painted white and the sun shone all day on the new snow. Goodbye for now from Utah!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday, January 25th

It is a snowy weekend here in Utah. We welcome the moisture, though, as our air quality has been bad, due to the inversion. The storm clears the air and makes things fresh again. I haven't felt quite as well as I hoped to this week. Still, I was able to take the kids to the store on Friday afternoon. I ride the electric carts around to save energy. I also went visiting teaching that morning, which I haven't done in a couple of months.
Yesterday was quite fun. In the morning, the children all did homework and some chores. In the afternoon, a friend of our family, Ben Fisher, brought his wife Bethany and daughter Maddy over to give the big boys a cooking lesson and prepare some meals for our family. Ben and I grew up in the same ward in Stockton, and I also know his older sister fairly well. She is also a cancer survivor and used to live in Utah for a while, too.
Bethany is a chef, having graduated from Western Culinary Institute and she had the boys laughing and working downstairs for several hours. I was resting upstairs most of the time, but I came down to say goodbye and sit down to a delicious dinner, all waiting for me at the table. Ben and Bethany taught the boys how to make lasagna, also macaroni and cheese, and meatballs and they stored those dishes in our deep freezer for use on another day. Then, they made coleslaw, potatoes and beef barbecue ribs for our dinner. It was such a treat! The ribs were the best I've tasted, definitely restaurant quality. The boys were thrilled with their accomplishment and we had plenty of leftovers for our lunch after church today.
I tried to go to bed a little early, so I would be sure to have energy for church this morning. David woke me at about 8:20 and I got up and got dressed. I brought along some crackers, a water bottle and some gummi bears. Even though I had some nausea, it got better as I sat in the church meetings, using my snacks to help calm my stomach every half hour or so. I think I said last time that I think my liver is affecting my digestion, so I will probably ask Dr. Garner about that when I see him this week.
I was glad to make it to all 3 hours of church. I was able to have a nap this afternoon and now David and the boys are playing games while I write this. My goal this week is to have the children work on some of their assignments in advance and catch up with their schoolwork. Since I've felt a bit better, I've been overseeing their homework and chores each afternoon and I'm pleased with their progress.
Thanks, Dad, for your cute story. I am getting more comfortable with my hairless situation. The kids have only seen my bald head by accicent a couple of times, when my hat fell off. I actually let David see me bald and he wasn't a bit bothered by it. If I feel up to it, I'd love to have some ladies in the ward over for lunch this week. I want to have a book/magazine swap where we all bring our old reading material and swap it for something new. It would be a potluck and I already have food in my freezer to heat up and serve.
Have a good week!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday January 22nd

It doesn't seem like anything interesting is happening this week, so I don't have a lot to tell about. Generally I am building back a little strength and I don't have a lot of pain or nausea, but I feel like my stomach is bloated and I have indigestion. Some of my medications help a little with that, along with good old Tums.

Today I went out to the chiropractor and to WalMart. I had to buy new pantyhose at WalMart and they didn't seem to have any in the A size, at least not in the color I wanted. I spent 10 minutes staring at all those little packages of nylons until I finally picked 2 that I think will work. I'm going to start driving again, mostly short trips, as long as I'm not sleepy or sick. I've been using the pain patches long enough, that I still feel fairly normal, not impaired. If I have to take extra pain medicine, then I probably won't want to drive anyway.

Tomorrow I actually get to go visiting teaching for the first time in a few months. I've also been able to rest before the kids get home, so I can supervise them in their chores and homework. At least it is nice to get in a routine again and David hardly ever has night appointments like he did tonight, so we can usually eat together as a family. I feel so blessed to have David and the boys and to be able to hug them every day and be with them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday January 20th

I am glad to finally be feeling better for my week off. We took a family outing to Salt Lake yesterday, pretty much the farthest I've been out of our house since I got my treatment on Dec. 31st. First, we stopped at the nearby smoothie shop where I got some gift certificates for my birthday. We were quite surprised to find frozen yogurt shakes on the menu in addition to the usual juice flavors. Each shake comes with a "boost" such as calcium, protein, entergy, etc. I had them add calcium to the kids' and protein to mine. The man was even nice enough to split the boys' drink into three portions. They serve rolls with honey butter there as well, so we got one with our drink. The rolls weren't really anything special, but they will heat them up for you in the microwave to melt your butter!

We then went up to Salt Lake to the planetarium to see a star show and David and the boys pushed me in the wheelchair around the outdoor mall, the Gateway. We had a fast food lunch and a shopping trip to Costco and that about wore me out for the day!

Today has been relaxing, at least since I got back from my PET scan. The test went smoothly but the process takes a long time, so I was there for about 2 hours. Since I had to fast, I was quite hungry when I got home, which is unusual to me, since I don't seem to have a big appetite because of frequent nausea. The big boys both helped with dinner and now they are at youth night and David is playing the Wii with Nathan. That Wii is becoming a great hit at our house and it is a great motivator for the kids to get their work done.

I'm looking forward to feeling better this week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday January 18th

I have had a really wonderful week, even though at times I felt sick or tired. I was able to visit with and go out with friends and spend lots of time with David and the children both Friday night and last night. David and I didn't go out to dinner on Friday because I brought home at take out order of the Chinese food I had with my friends at lunch. Then, since I bought 2 more Wii controllers, David, Brenton, Nathan and I had a four way game of bowling. Jonny went overnight camping with his deacons group.

We have really been watching the Little House on the Prairie series that our friends lent us. I realize that every episode teaches you a lesson, even if it is just to try to be kind to those who are mean to us.

Every once in a while I will sneak one of my See's candies that were my birthday present. I take bites of the molasses chips and suck the chocolate off and then crunch the rest. I've also been enjoying the other presents as well.

I want to thank Amadee, my sister-in-law's father, for his beautiful words and insights and comments. My illness is close to his heart, as he lost his first wife to breast cancer. He has had so many challenges and changes to his family, but still he finds time to read my blog and share my pain and share his inspiration. I know the Lord will give you strength to carry your burdens and to bless you, dear friend.

I was able to go to sacrament meeting this morning. I tried on two skirts and they just about fell down to my kness because they were too big! I'm not used to having this problem! For the skirt I chose, the brown embroidered one, I only had to use one safety pin to keep it up and I was able to wear my brown blazer and brown boots along with it. It is one of my favorite outfits, as I saw it last Christmas and waited until March for it to go on sale so I could afford it. I do have several more skirts in my closet that will fit me just fine, as I'm not that skinny yet. It is nice to know that I can go into the closet and everything will fit me.

Jonny returned safely from his overnight, announcing that they had not built snow caves nor gone fishing as planned. He was a little disappointed, but said that he was plenty warm at night, whereas some other boys were cold. Jonny is so motivated that he did Wii fit for an hour yesterday, including running 3 miles in 20 minutes. I couldn't believe it -- it looked like he was going to wear a hole in the carpet! He likes the incentive system on the Wii Fit and is always trying to get more points so he can unlock more games and activities.

Nathan was gone all afternoon at a birthday party which featured Kangaroo Zoo, the kids blow up slide and jumping place. Brenton went to a stake dance around 8:45 and I fell asleep before he got home. I had a nap yesterday and I went to bed on time so I wouldn't be too tired to attend church. Both Brenton and Jonny got to pass the sacrament today. David drove me home during Sunday School, as my stomach was hurting. I need to eat small snacks more often to keep my stomach calm. While home, I put some salmon and rice in the oven to cook (salmon my mom bought when she was here) and so when the kids got home, the dinner was almost ready.

After dinner, David went to one of his home teaching families where the 8 year old Joseph had injured his eye yesterday while fooling around after his gymnastics class. I guess Joseph and some other kids where bouncing and throwing pieces of carpet around and one of them hit Joseph in the eye and cut it and the eye was bleeding. According to the Dr. he may heal just fine, but there is also the possibility of losing his eyesight in that eye. Right now he has a plastic bubble over the eye to protect it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

January 16

I feel like I am still celebrating! I started getting gifts on Monday and that has continued until today, Thursday. I had one of the best birthdays ever, mostly because I felt so remembered and loved by so many friends and family members. The stake RS presidency brought me some balloons and a candle. Sister Jolly bought me flowers, David brought me flowers and another neighbor brought me some lovely calla lilies. Lilies, of all types are my favorite flowers. Another friend in our ward offered to do our laundry for us, and she gave me a cd and some cute socks. Julie and Chrissie took me to lunch and gave me some nice gifts: a CD, a game, some scented soap, a book and some activities to do with the kids. David came home from work early and brought dinner with him. I took a nap for a while and then we had dinner as a family. The boys all did their chores and homework and we watched another episode of Little House on the Prairie, like we have been doing every night before we go to bed.

I took my last dose of Xeloda yesterday. I'm still a little nauseated today, but I feel like I'm getting a little stronger each day. This morning I went to visit my friend in the ward, Janet Harr. She had a mastectomy and radiation about 2 years ago. She was really supportive for me when I was struggling with treatment decisions and when I felt sick. She gave me 2 hats when I turned bald and she gave me a book. It turns out that just recently, her cancer came back and appeared as lesions on her liver, just like I started out with a year ago. The neat thing is that she left Dr. Breyer's practice as well and went to my new doctor, due to my recommendation of Dr. Shehadeh. She is pleased with him and says he helped give her new hope. She just started her chemotherapy last month, so now she is bald again, for the second time. I brought her a bandana and I showed her my black hat with the fall which looks like bangs. She and I had a good talk, as we are both in the same "boat." She also just got a gift of a yorkie puppy who is cute and little and soft. I invited Janet to come over next week and watch the recording I made of Patrick Swayze's interview with Barbara Walters. I found it very inspiring.

Six other ladies in the ward took me to lunch at China Isle this afternoon. We each ordered a different dish and then passed them around the table, family style. I even ordered a take out entree of my favorite mango chicken. One of the ladies brought me a present of some lovely scrapbooking papers and a bunch of little jars of colored glitter. I look forward to using them next week when I am feeling better.

Well, my brother Dave just arrived for a visit. He loves Sandi and nicknames her "crazy pooch." Jonny went on a campout tonight, sleeping in a snow cave and going ice fishing, so just Nathan and Brenton are here. I can hear them downstairs inviting David to play a Wii game with them.
I'll write more later!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 14th

My blood counts are fine. according to the doctor's office. I will just blame my fatigue on the chemotherapy and indeed I have been feeling a little bit better each day. Yesterday I received some birthday presents! My kids were thrilled to open the Wii Sports from a family member. Then I used my birthday money to purchase the Wii Fit program. So far, it has been a great motivator for the kids to do their chores and homework. I have only let them use the Fit program so far, as I want them to get used to it and keep working on it regularly. It has some programs with exercises, but mostly the kids like the balance games, like skiing or soccer, where they play by shifting their balance on the board (a white platform that interacts with the tv and senses your weight and balance.)

I'm looking forward to taking my last Xeloda pill tomorrow and I'll be going out to lunch for my birthday. I don't think I'll have any other celebration that evening, but maybe David and I can go out this weekend. Some friends in the ward are taking me out to lunch on Friday. I'm thinking of going to China Isle to get my favorite mango chicken. I'll be 37 tomorrow. When I turned 35, David had a big surprise party for me, which was dinner and a private concert by pianist Jon Schmidt, my favorite composer ( I have all his piano books and like to play them myself.) Those are fun memories.

Today my jaw is hurting, which means my TMJ is acting up. I'll be going to the chiropractor in the morning. Otherwise, my pain is pretty much under control. A lady in our ward called today to see if she can do our laundry, so she is coming to pick it up tomorrow. What a nice service!

Brenton had his first guitar class yesterday. He is really excited to learn how to play the guitar that David has had for about 8 years. Brenton has also started staying after school for play practice, as he is going to be in the Wizard of Oz. Today, I told him his chore was to make dinner, so hopefully he is starting that about now. I can hear someone in the kitchen, at least.

I am still very grateful that I haven't been terribly sick during my treatments. I can't really accomplish much when I feel sick, but on my weeks off I can go out and enjoy more things.
Bye for now,

P.S. Jonny's big snow cave collapsed. I think he tried to make it too big. We haven't had too many huge storms, so much of the snow outside is crusty. I'm sure he'll get another chance to sleep in a snow cave this winter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday January 12th

Yesterday morning, David woke me briefly at 8 AM and asked if I wanted to get up for church. I told him no and went back to sleep. The next thing I heard were kids coming in the front door. I wondered "Why aren't the kids at church?" I looked at the clock and it said 12 :15. I can't believe I slept so long without waking up. The hometeacher came over to bring me the sacrament after church. David attended a board of review for Jonny to get his Life scout award. Now Jonny only needs to wait 6 months before he is eligible to become an eagle scout. Brenton needs to watch out, as his brother might beat him to it! Also on Sunday we received the gift of a large family photo, the same photo that is at the top of this blog. It must be 16 by 24 at least, and it has a beautiful wood frame. David said the priests in our ward made the frame themselves, putting it together and staining it a nice walnut brown. We put it on the wall facing the door as you are going upstairs.

The rest of Sunday I felt tired and a little lightheaded. I have only a few more days to take the Xeloda pills, but I haven't had as much nausea as before, or else I am just better at managing the medication. I woke up this morning feeling the same way. I got out of breath just climbing up the stairs and I was ready to take a nap an hour after I woke up. I called the oncologist's office and they ordered a blood test. Jennie came over today, so she drove me over the AF hospital for the test. No one called me this afternoon from the doctor's office (if they did, it could have been during the 3 hours I was taking a nap!) I'm doing a little better this evening after my nap in the afternoon. While here, Jennie made some potato corn chowder from a recipe I gave her. It was nice to wake up from my nap at 5:30 and have something to eat. The rest of the family ate around 6:30 when David got home.

Tomorrow I hope to hear from the Dr. if I need a shot or maybe a blood transfusion. Maybe I just need extra rest to build up my blood cells again. I reserved some flights for our family to visit San Diego at the end of the month. I am also in the process of renting a 2 bedroom cottage near the beach. We plan to take the kids out of school and visit places like Sea World, the zoo, Legoland, etc. I should be feeling even better by then, so I can enjoy myself. I'll make an appointment to visit the oncologist as soon as we're back, then I'll find out my test results and what treatment he recommends.

I've been using my little light box every day or so. I am still in good spirits, even though it is the middle of winter. I am grateful for that. I'm also grateful that I haven't had to be hospitalized and I haven't had to fight an infection. I feel very blessed. Ward members continue to remember us and drop by homemade bread, dvds and things like that. Thanks to everyone!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday January 10th

I've been sick most of the week, but I hope next week will be better. I haven't been out of the house since Thursday afternoon when Elaine took me to the Dr. and shopping. She brought us dinner that night. On Friday after school, Brenton spent some time at his friend Skyler's house, where his mother taught Brenton how to make homemade chicken and noodle soup. In fact, Brenton got to help Sister Pierce as she mixed and rolled out the thin dough which they cut in strips to boil in the soup. They also baked us a cake for dessert and Brenton helped them deliver everything in time for dinner.

The kids are doing well. David took them to rec center today, after going to Wal Mart to get some racquetballs. They were also able to do some swimming. I just stayed home and ate leftover chicken soup. With the homemade noodles it was quite filling just to eat a small bowl. Another ward member brought us over some ice cream after the pack meeting on Thursday, so our freezer is full of meals and desserts.

After dinner, we played a family game, Jr. Scattergories. It was just a bit too hard for Nathan, so I let him tell me some of his answers and I wrote them down, and I filled in any blanks for him. Instead of timing the round, we just waited until most of us were done writing, then we went around and read our answers. I'm really looking forward to finding more games that Nathan can play with us so he doesn't feel left out.
I'll try to go to bed earlier tonight so I will be able to go to church. We'll see how i do,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday January 8th

The mystery is solved! For the past few days I have been struggling to keep my pain under control. It turns out when David put the patch on my back on Sunday night, he put it in one place, then took it off and put it on another. By moving it, the patch lost some of its ability to stick to my skin and deliver the pain medicine. Luckily the new patch I got last night worked fine and I didn't have to wake up to the morning in pain.

I went to visit my pain doctor, Dr. Garner, today. When I told him how much liver pain I was having, he wondered if the pain was caused by old issue breaking up or if it could be that my disease is spreading. I have a PET scan on January 20th, so I could probably meet with the oncologist and find out the results at the end of the week. I mentioned to Dr. Garner that I was hoping to take the kids on a little trip, for a few days in southern California. Here was his advice: decide ahead of time if I want to know the results of my test or if I want to wait until I am back from spending time with my family and find out then.

A short trip with my family would be my birthday present, to celebrate turning 37. When I go out with my family it should be to celebrate life, not worry about death. Just like at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will most likely be feeling better during that extra week after my treatment. I don't know yet what we will do or where we will go, but the social worker at the clinic has contacts like organizations and businesses who will donate airfare or hotel time . I want my kids to have happy memories of our time together instead of memories of hospitals and staying in bed all day. My focus needs to be on healing and not on how I am going to pay the bills from the new oncologist and from my expensive tests and treatments.

I am dealing with heavy burdens, but many people are stepping in to help make those burdens lighter. Thank you again.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday January 7th

I've been too sick to do much except read or watch TV. We had helpers both yesterday afternoon and today -- a RS sisters who helped keep the kids on track with their chores and homework. I've had more pain than nausea, so I will discuss this with Dr. Garner tomorrow. When I take extra pain pills, they work but leave me groggy, so I end up dozing all day. We have plenty of leftovers to heat up for dinner. Well, that's about it. Hopefully I'll be doing better soon.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday January 4th

Our church schedule changed today. We go at 9 AM so everyone has to be up and organized in the morning, just like for school. David let me sleep until 8:30 AM and I got up and took my pills, had a bagel and was at church by 8:50. Our sacrament meeting was spiritual and I'm glad I was able to attend. I went home after that to take the rest of my pills and to rest.

Tomorrow the kids start their school schedule again. I'm feeling ok, just the same side effects as before, taking just the same medicine. I feel grateful the children had such a fun time this past week, playing with friends every day and enjoying every minute of their Christmas break. David did some organizing and cleaning yesterday, so even our house is in good order. Also yesterday I received a little Apollo "Go Light" which is supposed to help mimic sunlight in the winter. It is small and chargeable, about the size of a portable cd player.

Yesterday afternoon I sorted photos in my scrapbook room. Just going downstairs to look at albums and photos cheers me up, so my goal is to do a little bit each day. I'm 2 years behind on all of the albums, as I haven't felt well all year. It's hard to believe that March will be the 2 year anniversary of starting chemotherapy. In February it will have been 6 years since I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. In January, I'll have my birthday and turn 37.

I'm hopeful for the new year, but I also am feeling a lot more peace in my life as I read spiritual books in addition to the Ensign and the scriptures. I'm not as scared as I used to me. I know the Lord is watching over me and over my family. I will submit to God's timetable and make my family my priority. I will accept help and service willingly, so that others may be blessed for their service.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1st, 2009

Happy New Year everyone! Even though it was my treatment day yesterday, the 31st, David took me out to dinner with the boys in the late afternoon so we avoided the huge dinner crowds. Then we stopped at a mall to pick out one of my Christmas presents: a pound of See's Chocolates. I think it is the first time I have ever ordered a pound of just my own favorites, so every piece was a real treat for me. You can always tell how well my stomach feels by whether I'm up to eating candy or not!

The meeting with Dr. Shehadeh went as expected. My bloodwork and tests appear to be stable and I am tolerating the treatments well. I haven't had to get a blood transfusion or take antibiotics for an infection. My pain is still mostly under control, though my liver is still hard and presses on my stomach, causing nausea. On Jan. 19th we scheduled a PET scan which should give the most recent indicator of my condition. After that, I'd love to take a few days and go off with David and the boys to celebrate my birthday. I'm having fun just thinking of a few places we could visit as soon as I start to feel better again.

Thank you, Becky and Laurie for the offer of a light box. Please bring or send one as soon as you can and I can even help you cover some of the cost. I want to start out the month being positive so I don't end up down in the dumps later on.

The boys have been playing video games and playing with friends the whole week long. I know they have enjoyed this break from school. Even Nathan has been invited over to several families where they fed him and played with him. This really makes me grateful.

Another surprise I had when I got up from my nap this afternoon. David and the boys had taken down the Christmas tree and put everything away in the basement, except a few wintery decorations that David wants to keep up. The living room is back to its usual configuration and the house looks clean and neat. I got to stay home and rest all day while David brought the kids over to my brother Dave's then he brought home dinner from his mom's house. I always feel well-remembered whenever I read this blog or listen to messages. It helps me to still feel connected to the world. A year ago, when we had to disconnect our cable for several months, I noticed a big difference because I felt isolated at home. Watching my new favorite travel shows is like bringing the whole world's culture right to my living room. I have had a greater thirst for knowledge lately, knowing that is one thing I can take with me when I pass on.

I put a new photo up at the bottom of this page on the blog. It was taken the Sunday before Christmas. Also, David opened my donation account with $1.00 to start with. I'll be using any of the donation money for Dr. and prescription co-pays, not to mention the insurance premiums themselves. You can call 1-800-USBanks and have them look up my name. Also the account number is on the right side of the screen on this blog.

I enjoy writing, as it is a good way for me to express myself and also to get feedback from others. Thanks for reading!