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!