Thursday, December 25, 2008

Great Christmas News

It's Christmas Day, almost over now, but there is so many good things to say, it's time to show you how I have been.This is 6 of my 8 grandchildren today in their new jammies from the Pagama Elf that comes while we are singing on Christmas Eve. We are missing Heather's 2 babies because they are in Phoenix for Christmas. This picture made me smile.

I realize that I have pretty much quit blogging, and it is time to take it up again. I have found it to be very therapeutic for me to write. Part of not writing was intentional. I thought the last time I did (Oct), I felt like it was pretty much at the end of the ordeal. I knew it wasn't a permanent end, but I figured it would be a while before I would know anything about my condition. I have been concentrating on trying to regain my strength. I thought FOR SURE I would be back to my regular self by Christmas, but my Thanksgiving efforts proved to me that it is going to be a while before I am normal again. I may never be "normal" again, because I am aging day by day, but I am so used to having a lot of energy and I didn't expect this emotional or physical setback.
I find myself more tired than I was during Chemo, and a lot more depressed. The depression is not constant thank goodness, but pops up at least once a day. I will see the Dr again in January and talk to him about that.
In November, I saw the cancer Dr. and he wanted to know if I hurt anywhere for longer than 3 days. I told him that I felt a new lump in my other breast and my shoulder had been throbbing every night for 2 months, and all my joints hurt if I sit still longer than 10 minutes. He immediately ordered a breast MRI, a shoulder MRI and a bone scan. I assumed he was looking for cancer spread in all those places. I was wrong. THE GOOD NEWS is that all tests came out showing NO signs of cancer anywhere in those places. They did find a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder and I will need surgery in January, but it's not cancer, so I don't even feel bothered about it. The bone scan turned out to be a bone density test, not a scan. They were only looking for weak or strong bones to see what chemo had done to me. He wasn't even worried about cancer in my bones. That test did show some weakening of the bones, but medication will help. The MRI showed NO sign of cancer in either breasts. Yeay!!
You can see how happy Kenya (5 mos) is for me!

For all of December, Dale has been very strict with me, not allowing me to do much of anything. My married daughters took over and did almost ALL my Christmas shopping, (with my debit card) My son in laws helped plan meals and did a ton of the shopping for groceries, and even did a lot of the food preparation.
It was a little depressing to NOT do what I traditionally do. I like playing the role of the mother of all my brothers, sister, and all their families, and my own, but it's up to about 48 now, and I just am not pysically, or emotionally strong enough to do it this time.
So , I just sat back, and enjoyed all these sweet kids. Tara doesn't think Kenya looks very dark until she sees pics like this next to Krystal's white girls.
The girls took their kids to the mall, and when Santa saw them coming, he must have taken off, but they got a picture of them anyway in Santa's chair. :)

well, that brings me to the last picture. The pajama elf brought me some pink breast cancer jammies, I guess I will never be able to forget what I have been through this year. I don't think Heavenly Father wants me to forget either. My hair is slowing growing back, but NOTHING like I have ever looked before in my life. But every time I get discouraged about something like my hair, I say "it's better than having cancer" I have to get over my pride, and I am working on that

I am thankful for a new year so I can implement my goals that I have been learning about this year, and trying to implement in my life. I hope I feel stronger in January. We will do more blood tests in Jan to check cancer levels in the blood. I really hope to stay on top of all this and eat better, exercise more and STRESS LESS.....maybe that's been the best lesson, I worry entirely too much about everything.
we talked to our missionary today, and it was his 20 month anniversary. That will be a great goal to be strong and spritual when he returns on April 28th. I know his service has blessed my life as well as many others.
I sent out some pics of the family and a little newsletter, along with an updated list of the things I HAVE LEARNED. I will send you one if you want, send me your address, either here or on my email: espydk@gmail.com LOVE YOU ALL, Karen

Friday, October 17, 2008

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED

LIFE IS PRECIOUS

I have learned many things in the last 7 months and the first one is: Life is precious, everyone's life. I have come to love many songs that seem to say just what I am feeling, but I had Tara record this one. It is called "YOU GIVE" I was just going to put the words to the song, but then I realized if you could hear it, it might be even better. You might be able to relate to it, even if you haven't been through exactly what I have, you have been through "LIFE", and probably a few bumps, big and small, and we can all relate to that. This is going to be the beginning of "THE LIST OF WHAT I HAVE LEARNED". As I have gone through this experience, I have known all along that I was supposed to be learning something from it. One thing about breast cancer is, it doesn't take your life away overnight, like some tragedies do, thus there must be lessons to be learned for both the patient and all of their loved ones, family and friends. Before I list what I have learned, I want you to read these words, then click on the "play" button and listen to Hilary Weeks sing this and see if you agree with it.



YOU GIVE



You give me sight when I can't see



You give me breath when I can't breathe



And You give me love and You give me peace



Amd You always seem to give just what I need



You take my doubt and replace it with truth



You take my fear so all I see is You



You take me as I am and You take me by the hand



You see to my soul and You take just what I need.



You give me strength and You give me life



You give me hope and You give me light



You take my pain and You take my shame



You bless me to see the give and take is just what I need



You give and take away and refine me day by day



As you lead me through the bitter and sweet



I am trusting you to make me complete



Though You see the heartache, you're sending your sweet grace



As You give.....................and You take



Please send Your perfect grace.......... as You give................. and You take. video

So here's the list of the things I have learned in the year 2008, things that I probably would not have learned any other way.

1. Life is Precious

2. I need to RELY on the Holy Ghost continually.

3. Doubt not, fear not: faith and fear cannot exist at the same time.

4. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are in charge

5. I need to improve my relationship with my Redeeemer, who understands exactly how I am feeling.

6. Grudges, bad feelings, and hurt feelings are USELESS to hold onto: Let them go

7. Anyone who seems unkind or unfriendly is experiencing a private pain or suffering of their own that we cannot see.

8. The Savior has shown me firsthand what mercy is: getting something benefecial that we haven't earned.

9. No way can I ever EARN my way into His kingdom, I will NOT be perfectly worthy in this life, but if I can become His partner, as he has invited me to be, I will qualify.

10. He wants me to take these feelings of love that I have for everyone and show mercy to all of God's children......because I NEVER know their whole story..... only HE does.

11. I am overcome with LOVE , such as I have never known. I am truly a blessed person, and I am VERY , VERY grateful to such loving angels around me , and angels unseen, and a Heavenly Father and a Savior that love me without end.

12. I know now that I will never waver again, I know that the Father and the Son live, and their mission is to mercifully bring us home better people than we were we left his presence.

13. One last thing comes to my mind tonight, I will NEVER be able to repay all of you for your kindnes and concern and love for me, so I want you to know this: I will "Pay it forward" at every opportunity I have.

14. I love everyone of you that has read my blog, and sent me such uplifting comments, I love everyone of you that has come to visit me, I love everyone of you that has sent me a card or called me on the phone. I want you to know that I want to be there for you if this situation ever arises in your life. I pray that it won't , but it might. My love is 4-ever, Love, Karen

(PS I will finish radiation on Wed. Oct 22nd, but it will be a month or so before I know anything about my condition. Thank you once again for your prayers, they have made a huge difference in me being able to handle all of this. Let us all remember to THANK HIM for answering our prayers.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Radiation:no problem, but still not much HAIR!!

Krystal bought a whole bunch of inexpensive t-shirts that say SAN DIEGO on them at Old Navy. Since Eric is on a mission there, we love to think about that place. We hope his mission president will let us come pick him up, but if not, he can take us back on a trip to meet everyone.
Krystal's husband has a great camera, so my 4 silly daughters wanted to take a picture of us jumping up in the air, this is right before we "Took Off".......

I am feeling much better, the weather is so beautiful and cool, I love to be outside and you can see our back yard (all 10 acres of it that the city owns) makes a beautiful background.
Dale really wanted to have a place on the front part of the house that I could sit on and relax, so we took our old pink couch that is in great shape, but just very outdated in color and put a couch cover on it. I think I told you that he has been going crazy over planting flowers ALL over the yard, front and back, isn't this one pretty right next to me?He told me the other day that this PLANTING spree he's been on is his therapy for handling what's happening to me. He said he wants me to have a positive environment. It is looking very pretty and refreshing, I love it.

I wondered if anyone wanted to see what my hair growth looks like. I have not done chemo since Aug 15th, and I am feeling a touch impatient with it's SLOW growth back, even worse is that is appears to be GRAY!!
Now look at these pretty flowers. Dale and I had a 2 night get away and when we got ready to go, Dale had cut all these different roses , one from each bush he has planted. We thought is was so pretty, but I feared it would tip over in the car so we did not take it with us to the hotel.

Ok, here we are , we have made our jump up just so you could see how much energy I have back. It's not all back, and I am a little lower than the strong YOUNGER girls, even Heather got higher than me, and she is 8 months pregnant. The grandkids were all jealous that we were having so much fun, so we took a rather calm picture with all of them.

Krystal and Heather are holding their own babies , but I am holding Tara's new daughter, Kenya, and Kimberlee is holding Krystal's daughter Allie. Tara's twins were fighting over the CAR that we have, so Maddux decided he would ride around on the top, until he fell off. I don't think you can tell here, but Damon is going to be asking for his 2 front teeth for Christmas. In his hand, he had a little special box holding the tooth, since one of his previous losses really did get lost and even though he wrote a note to the tooth fairy, he didn't get very much money, so he wasn't taking a chance on losing this one.
I was told that I would have 30 radiations, and if you can believe it, I have already done 22. Only 8 more to go. I am NOT fatigued at all, and only a slight pink sunburn is starting that doesnn't hurt at all. I asked the DR how we could tell if this was working, and he said they can't. I was a little surprised, and asked why we do it. I guess there have been clinical trials where they did a lumpectomy and radiation (this is when the lymph nodes are not involved) and they found they don't have recurrence of lumps in that breast. Then they had women who just had the lumpectomy and NO radiation, and most of them had new lumps 6-12 months later, so I guess we are just ASSUMING that it is killing any microscopic cancer cells that the surgeon couldn't catch. The chemotherapy was for the bloodstream, which is if any cell broke off from the original tumor (there's only hundreds of thousands of cells on one tumor), it would travel through the bloodstream looking for somewhere else to set up camp. The chemo should have killed ANY cells that were multiplying and dividing quickly, and my tumor was very aggressiive Now, what do I do after all therapy is done? it's kind of scary. We had a lesson in Relief Society today about trials, and how we HAVE TO BE TRIED AND PROVEN, and the most important thing to Heavenly Father is for us to trust HIS WILL. As scared as I was of dying, I felt more peace today, and had a stronger desire to do whatever HE wants me to do. In Sacrament meeting, we sang, "I'll go where you want me to go", and I thought it Really is the Best to turn your will over to the Lord, and say, "What do you want me to do next?"

I am really trying to not be a brat about all this.
I am still reading JESUS THE CHRIST, and I can't believe it, I am enjoying it, even when I don't understand what he's really saying, but it's very interesting. I am feeling tonight that I can TRUST the Lord more, where at the beginning, I knew that was my weakness, so I am making progress.

Does anyone want to go out to lunch somewhere and celebrate when I finally get an answer from my regular cancer doctor that I have a few more years to live? I think before Christmas, he will order a PET scan that looks for any cancer spots or tumors that are anywhere else in the body. If the chemo did it's job,(along with all the prayers), there shouldn't be any more cancer. Now I will have to do self exams monthly and regular checkups and blood tests to stay on top of this. I know your prayers are still helping, THANX AGAIN I LOVE YOU ALL, Karen

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time Out For Women

Well after 8 radiation treatments, I am feeling pretty good.
Dale had purchased tickets to this TIME OUT FOR WOMEN last January, but due to Pres. Hinckley's funeral, they had to reschedule for SEPTEMBER!! I thought it was so far away, that it would never come, and then finding out what my Summer was going to be like, I really thought it was iffy if I was even going to go, but as has been true for the last 6 -7 months, I was once again blessed to feel good enough to go.
The first day was a LIFE SEMINAR, whatever that means, but we had some very intelligent speakers. Sheri Dew has always been able to speak to my spirit and soul, and she was the first speaker and talked about the INFLUENCE that women have. It was excellent. Wendy Watson Nelson spoke next (recently married to Russell M. Nelson), and she was so full of knowledge, that it kind of went over my head, I took notes, but I didn't quite get it. Something about how asking great questions makes for great relationships. I felt like she was talking to a room full of therapists,instead of mothers, but I blame everything on my "chemo brain" when I am feeling dumb. Kim Esplin (my sister in law was with me and LOVED Wendy's talk.) I wanted to get a picture with Sheri Dew, but someone told me she feels kind of uncomfortable if you make over her too much like she is a celebrity, but when I went up and asked her, Wendy pulled her right over next to me, and said, "She would love to". Immediately after the picture, Sheri looked right into my eyes and asked how I was doing with the chemo. It was obvious what I was going through, but I was shocked that she took just a minute to care. In this picture, she doesn't look like she was thrilled to have her picture taken. We then heard from Virginia Hinckley Pearce, and she was wonderful, and a man that I hadn't heard of named Tom Smith, I guess he's written some books about the OZ principle or something. His was very inspiring and entertaining. Later that night we heard Hilary Weeks sing and Jason Deere who wrote,"Nashville's Tribute to the Prophet and talked a lot about Joseph Smith,, Emma, etc. I took my nonmember sister in law and I have NO idea what she thought of Jason Deere, but she did like Hilary. The next day, we would have a speaker and then Hilary would sing a few songs to make us laugh and cry, and then another speaker and then she would sing some more. I was in heaven. Hilary's words to her songs speak to my heart the way Sheri Dew gets through to me too. Hilary's new song is called "If I Only Had Today", and she talks about if she knew she couldn't stay here on this earth........... WOW............. of course that hit home with me, then the 2nd song on the album is "Just Let Me Cry", and for those of you who don't know , I have done a little crying over the last 7 months, so that song hit me too. I had to buy the album, but now I am going to have to order a case to give everyone one, because it is so good.
This picture was taken Saturday, and we didn't even realize that my daughter Heather, and my sister Colleen had slipped out to the bathroom, but they were there with us the whole time. On the back row is Tara and baby Kenya, then Krystal, then me, then my new sister in law, Heather McKnight, then on the front row is Kim Esplin's friend, Lisa Hatch, then Kim, then Andrea, Kim's oldest daughter and she is holding Caden, her sister's baby, and then last is Angie.(Kim''s 2nd daughter) Most of us spent the night at the house that I grew up in, and we had a blast.


This picture we had to get my daughter Heather in because we missed her, but there's my 3 married daughters, they loved being together.
OK, this next one is my favorite picture because if you look carefully, you will see the gorgeous one next to me is HILARY WEEKS. About 5 years ago, I was the Enrichment Night leader in Relief Society and I could not get it off my mind that I wanted Hilary to come sing at Enrichment Night. I knew it was a lofty goal, but I pursued it and she came, not only to my ward, but we invited the entire Stake, so I think we had 200 women or so come. It was incredible. She played the piano for all her songs, and told scripture stories and funny personal stories to round out the event. I made all kinds of arrangements for her and her family to get down here and stay for a couple days. After all these years, she still remembers me, and someone told her that I had breast cancer. One day about two weeks ago, the phone rings and I see on the caller ID, that it says Tim and Hilary Weeks. I about fainted. I answered and she said, " Is this Karen?", and I said "IS THIS HILARY?" She went on to tell me that she had heard about my cancer and wanted me to tell her the whole story of what happened. I COULD NOT believe it. We talked for quite a while and she told me of a time when she had to have chemotherapy for a Mogel pregnancy that kept growing back. I had never heard of that , but she is so in tune with people and what they go through, and I believe the Spirit speaks directly to her for all these songs she writes. When I went down to get a picture with her, I said anyone that wants to get a picture with Hilary, come on, and so here's most of our group. She is so kind and loving. I am her #1 fan forever. When I introduced her to my sister, she said '"Well, If you're Karen's sister, then I already love you, because I love Karen"
Is that incredible or what? This pic is taken from the big screen that they had in the auditorium, this was after she had sung several songs, but I loved every bit of it, even if she started looking tired. She is one of my heroes.

As far as my health goes, I am feeling very blessed. One thing is the summer is almost gone, and the weather is making me feel much better, I was feeling so closed in inside the house all the time. Now I can get out and go for walks. Well, I have had 8 radiation treatments so far, 3 the first week, then 2 days off, then 4 days the next week, then 3 days off (one for Time out for Women), then 1 today, and I feel fine. Maybe the weekends off have kept me from getting sunburned or fatigued , but so far , I feel almost normal. I still have short bouts of anxiety, and my ambition about doing projects is almost zero, but the professionals have told me to give myself a lot of time before I feel normal again. I won't get any tests to look for cancer spreading until about 3 weeks after radiation is over, which will be about Thanksgiving. The anti depressant the Dr put me on, EFFEXOR, seems to be helping alot. I feel more like I did at the beginning of all this.........positive and encouraged.

I am still reading Jesus the Christ and I am understanding a LOT more than I thought I could. That's one thing about Hilary's songs, they make me feel closer to the Savior, something I am seeking daily. I have to admit though, the one subject that has penetrated my heart deeply came from Stephen Robinson's book, "Believing Christ".......the difference between Justice and Mercy, I think this one principle is going to change me forever. I will explain in more detail later.

Your prayers are VERY powerful. I am thinking Heavenly Father and His Son have been listening to prayers from some of the very elect here on earth, and they just cannot deny your pleas for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Love you 4--ever, Karen


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Radiation Begins

I don't know if this blows anyone else away, but it does me. I AM FINISHED WITH 8 CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENTS!!. I can hardly believe it. I am starting radiation treatments tomorrow. I will have 30 of them. Yesterday I went to get tatoos (VERY Small ones), so they will know where to put the radiation everytime. They say it is just like getting an x-ray, and it only takes about 5 minutes EVERY WEEK DAY. They told me that it will kill any cancer cells that could be possibly still hanging around where the tumor originated, and even though some normal tissue will get zapped too, it will regenerate and recover, where the cancer cells will not. Studies have shown that women who do not have radiation often have reccurrence of cancer near where the first tumor was, so they all believe this is the answer, chemo first, then radiation. I am ready. I don't feel nauseated anymore, I have gained back almost 10 pounds and my anxiety is 90% gone. I am a little bit tired, my energy level is not what it was, but I feel sure it will be sometime in the future. The radiation oncologist said this will probably make me more fatigued. I said well, we'll see, the only thing that has made me tired for the last 4 months is Benadryl. (that's what Dr. Lemon gave me to calm me down) I had several of the staff try to convince me NOT to compare myself with other patients, that everyone writes their own story, and there are so many variables, the every reaction is going to be a little bit different. I'll give it a week or two and then let you know how I am reacting. If I continue to have the positive input from all of you,, this is not going to cause me any trouble, and maybe I can get back to doing a few more normal things.
If only I could pay you back somehow for what you have all done for me. It's been incomprehensible that SO many of you have poured out your hearts with love and concern and prayers for me. I think I have already told you that I don't deserve it, but through the Mercy that Jesus Christ wants to show his people, He has allowed me to see and feel firsthand what Mercy feels like. I have learned so much through this experience. I am keeping a list, and at the end of the radiation, I am going to give you all the list, but I figure it's not completed yet, and I still have a few things to learn, but I will say this. I have learned that EVERYONE has good in them, and if they seem unkind or unfriendly, I can almost BE SURE that they are hurting somewhere in their personal lives, and they need kindness, not because they deserve it, but because we should show mercy like the Savior shows us.
Love, Kindness, Concern, Prayers, Fasting, and MERCY is what has gotten me through this, and as I look back on it, I think, "You know , that really wasn't that bad", then I read my journal and realize it was harder than I remember. Thank you for coming to visit me, it has lifted my spirits so much and it gives me so much courage to go on, and I feel like "YES, I CAN DO THIS"
I couldn't think of any pictures to put on this one, you must be sick of seeing my grandkids, but next time , I will think of something, that's my favorite part of other people's posts.
I leave you my love, more than I have ever had before for anyone, and I hope you don't get tired of hearing this , but THANK YOU SO MUCH, you have truly gotten me through one of the most frightening experiences of my life.
Love, Karen the Kancer Killer (that has lots of loved ones helping out with the demise of her cancer)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Keeping me Occupied

As you can see, this is the birth announcement of my newest grandbaby. I want to thank Brooke Owens Slack for making it up for Tara, and I wanted to tell you what's on my mind this week.On Monday, I had minor surgery to take out my port a cath, and I got very sick from the anesthesia mixed with pain pills, and I felt like I had had a SUPER dose of chemo. Luckily i t only lasted 24 hrs, and I started feeling better. Last week before the surgery, I had a SUDDEN attack of a UTI. I have never had one, but it was as painful as giving birth with no epidural. I got a blessing and some antibiotics and was back to normal about 3 hours later. I feel lucky that my bad days have been short lived. I wanted to let you see the fun moments I have had lately with Tara's new little KENYA. Tara and Heather wanted to try their hand at being ANNE GEDDES wannabes. We had a lot of fun and got these cute pictures.
I felt so good by Friday, Aug 30th, I went to the Reber reunion up at Pine Valley and slept under the stars , it was so refreshing to get out of the heat. It was very uplifting to see family that I don't get to see much and feel of their love and support. all I can say is I AM A VERY LUCKY GIRL!! Thank you all for your concern
. I have high hopes that things are going to go well, and I will be up to speed by Christmas. I went back to aerobics class this week and found out that all the energy that L used to have is about 75% gone, but that's understandable, but I am going to try to go back 3 times a week if the radiation doesn't wipe me out. so for now, I am really enjoying little Kenya, and starting to put "Karen" back together.

I have been told by more than one person that I am going to be a new Karen, it's like cleaning out a messy closet. You pull everything out and dump it all over the floor, but then you start putting back the things in the closet that you REALLY want and need and throw the rest away, and you feel better about your clean closet.
Well, that's me , I have been that mess on the floor, but thanks to all of you and your faith, and a Merciful Savior, I am throwing out a lot of unnecessary things and putting myself back together with only good and useful things. I think I have cleared up any bad feelings that I have had with others;, gotten rid of all my grudges, and I am giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. AND IT FEELS GREAT.
By the way, the medicines the Dr has me on are really making me feel better. I see them as a blessing from Heavenly Father and His Son.
I love you all and I will forever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Last Chemo treatment has been completed...WOW

Well, here it is, chemo #8, it's absolutely amazing that I have made it through 8 chemotherapy treatments. Now, I'll give myself about 3 weeks to get over all of this, especially since the doctors and nurses keep insisting that each chemo gets more lethal, just because of the cumulative effect. The last 2 treatments have been quite easy ones with all the extra fluids they have been giving me, but this one hasn't been quite as easy, probably to be expected. Especially since so many of you fasted that this would be the final "kick off" to all remaining cancer cells. Words cannot express to you how much it means to me that you would fast and pray for me.

This is my friend Paige Allred, we wanted to have our last chemo together. She was struggling with some bad side effects, so they split her last 2 chemos into 4, making them half strength, so she will still go in 2 more times, and I am going to show up just to keep her company. She really encourages me so much. Tara brought little Kenya, (Now 6 wks old) in to see me too. I was so happy that it was my last day of treatment that I made a big batch of cinnamon rolls, and Paige made homemade cheese ball and chips and salsa. We tried to make it a party, but neither of us had much of an appetite, but it was the spirit of the party that was important! Please pray for Paige too, she has 3 little ones under 6, and has kept going regardless of 3 surgeries, and all these chemos. She's 28 yrs old and has a great attitude.

I wanted you to see two of my ANGEL nurses that have truly nurtured me through all this. I have missed my mom more than I ever imagined, and there were times when these nurses would rub my shoulders and give me hugs and listen to me cry, and give me encouragement all the time. This first one is Beth, and the 2nd one is Julia. I truly felt that they loved me, and there were other nurses every bit as helpful that I didn't get pictures of, but the Lord is with these people who are in the service of those in need, and I am SO grateful. It has changed my life forever, (I hope and pray this compassion stays with me)

The next step is to have a minor surgery next week to have my PORT out, it is where all the meds and fluids have gone in , but apparently it is in the way of where the radiation needs to go, so after a couple weeks of recovery, I will start radiation, with Dr. Richards, and he says I will be tired and sunburned feeling, but not near as bad as the chemo. I figure that puts me finished with treatments around Halloween.

I have discovered things about myself that I don't know if I would have ever realized had I not gone through this. When you are asking the Savior to heal you, it makes you wonder if you have pleased him or not over the years, and what can you do to be more like him, after all, he says, "Come Follow Me". I think I have made it too hard over the years for myself and ALL He wants is my heart, everything else is already his. I can now commit to give him all of my heart, and TRY to live like him, maybe sometimes fail, then TRY again, and never give up. My first big project is to read everything I can about HIM. Heavenly Father knows this is a sacrifice for me, but He is helping me to make it easier.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fasting

-This is Tara writing.

On behalf of my mom I wanted to let you know that this Friday is my moms last chemo treatment. While we are very happy that this is her last one, its a little scary to because this is the last chance for the medicine to go in and kill any more cancer cells if any. We are going to have a family/friends fast on Sunday Aug 17th. We wanted to invite anyone who is willing to participate with us, but if your not able to fast we always appreciate prayers! :) We want the lords will to be done, and are hoping and praying it means that the chemo therapy was successful. Thank you all for all the love and support you have given my family especially my mom during this hard time. I think that is why my mom has done pretty well these last few months because of all your faith and prayers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chemo #7

actually this picture is from a couple weeks ago. We were on top of the houseboat, and my 18 yr old son had just had his wisdom teeth out, and his pain pills made him feel like dancing, which got everyone in on the act. FUN times. (once in a lifetime picture)

This is my oldest grandson, Damon. He has come with me twice to chemotherapy, I'm not sure why he wants to, but he brought his coloring stuff and sat at a table for most of the 2 hrs I was there. In this picture, I am actually just getting IV treatments of fluid and medicine to help curb the chemo effects. Damon is 6 and he prays daily for help with my chemotherapy, maybe he's proud that he knows a word that no one else his age does. this is Kalia, she is Heathers only little girl, 11mos old, until Nov when another little girl will arrive. Just like all little kids, she loves the phone, and it has to be a REAL phone too!


This is a typical afternoon at my house when all the kids are there, and this week, after treatment #7, I had Krystal and her family, Heather and her family, and Tara and her family here. We just all pile on my bed, but I got to hold baby Kenya!!

this is Kyla (Yeah, there's 3 of them, Kyla, Kalia and Kenya) she is Krystal's 3rd child, and just as true to the telephone as these kids are, they want the REAL remote too1
This is my best friend from high school, and after 30 years she still loves me and came up from vegas to spend the day with me. I do NOT deserve this much love, but I am the luckiest girl in the world to have so many people care about me
Now, to bring you up to date on the chemos. It's almost impossible for me to believe that I have done SEVEN treatments. The original number was 8, and the Dr hasn't said any reason to change that, so on Aug 18th, I will have my last chemo treatment and approximately 3 weeks later, I will start radiation, and do that M-F for 6 weeks. I am going to ask if they can just radiate my whole body, that should keep it from coming back, dont ya think?
I don't know how often we will be checking lab work and pet scans, but I will be bugging them to do them every other day. j/k There has truly been a miracle with these last two treatments. The Dr has given me these IV fluids that are keeping me from being nauseated. He put me on meds that are controlling the anxiety, and so now I just feel like a lazy bum around the house trying to think positive thoughts. I still don't have enough ambition to clean out closets or anything, we'll save that for spring cleaning or something. The ONLY thing I can complain about right now is my meltdowns. They still happen every 3 or 4 days, but I think I figured it out. It's because I don't have any estrogen anymore. They've taken that all away, then you take away my energy and my normal everyday life, and who wouldn't cry?? I always feel better after a good cry, but please don't take it personal if you find me in one of these heaps on the floor. I think it came with the package deal, and I want to finish what I have started!! And I feel the Holy Ghost has told me that this "Karen" isn't permanent, I am going to be the better version when I get out of this refiner's fire.




Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You went WHERE?

Believe it or not, I made it out to Lake Powell, chemotherapy, Anxiety and all!!

My family convinced me that it would be relaxing to come out on the houseboat that we have a 1 week share on. I cannot tell you how scared I was to think that I might get out there and freak out over something, anything, what if it was too hot, or what if it was too bumpy and I would feel nauseated, or what if there wasn't any food out there that I could eat, or what if I just needed to come home?? The fears seem ridiculous now, but they weren't the day before I went. I had a downright good old panic attack.



BUT, with a LOT of prayer,Not just mine, but all of you guys praying for me too, I decided it would be good for me to be with my family, brothers, sister, and their kids, and just lay around in the cool water. And you know what?? No one would let me cook or clean or do any work at all, and I think I had one of my most relaxing trips to Lake Powell ever. The food even tasted good to me. The days were around 85 -90 degrees and the nights were wonderful, and I truly did enjoy it. I am calling it a MIRACLE! (By the way , my sister's the one with the hair :)

Just to be sure I didn't get too much sun, Dale brought me home on the 3rd day, but it turned out to be just right. I have been feeling better ever since.

It has been over 2 weeks since I have had a chemo treatment, and so next Monday will be LUCKY #7 (Remember the Dr. said I would have 8 treatments, so I am getting excited to be getting near the end).
the last treatment I had, we found that if I went into the office everyday for fluid and IV meds, I did MUCH better. They say this stuff accumulates in your system, so each one SHOULD get worse. (OK, So I am normal) So, here it is Wednesday, July 23rd, and I almost feel like a normal person. It sounds silly, but I can't tell you how much HOPE that gives me, that someday I will feel like myself again.

Since I felt so good yesterday, I went to my favorite place to feel peace. The temple. I didn't know how much time I could physically endure, but it ended up so peaceful, I stayed for several hours. When I got home last night, I felt peace, the peace I beg for, and plead for. If you have ever experienced severe anxiety, you know what I am talking about, if you haven't, drop to your knees right now and give thanks!!! It is indescribable.
I could not have come this far without your love and support, I don't know how ANYONE could go through this alone. My testimony is being strengthened daily as I learn new things that Heavenly Father is bringing to my ATTENTION, possibly things I wouldn't have learned any other way. Thank you for your love, talk to you next week, PS I still like visitors :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Grandbaby #7

We are excited to announce that Grandbaby #7 has arrived!!

Tara went into labor on her own on July 5th, and was so relieved to avoid a C-section, which was a possibility.
WE were surprised that the baby weighed 8 lbs 13 oz, and she was able to get her out without too much trouble.
Kenya Kimberlee Alofipo will be her name. She has been a great baby so far, and the twins are adjusting in their own way. My mom was able to see the delivery before Chemo #6, and was feeling pretty normal.
She had her 6th treatment on Monday, and surprisingly she hasn't been in pain or nauseous yet! She has, however, been into the hospital every day for 3 hours each day to get fluids (for hydration) and some extra meds for nausea. It has made a big difference. She's also been taking Benadryl around the clock, per doctors orders, to help stay calm. It's also working well.
Next week the family is headed to Lake Powell for a week on a houseboat. We are all hoping that Mom can enjoy herself, even if she only stays for a few days. Baby Kenya will be staying at home with Tara of course!
Thanks again for all your comments, prayers, emails, cards, flowers, gifts, and visits! I hope you all know what a big difference they are making for my mom.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Some sunshiney days, some cloudy days

Yay, I made it to the wedding in Temecula, CA! This is a picture of my sister, Colleen, my brothers, Jack, Daryl, Pat and Tom, and me.



The groom is the one with white pants, black shirt and no beard. He is about 45 and never been married, but this girl he got was well worth waiting for. I had the best time that I could possibly have under the circumstances. When we first realized I would be in the middle of chemo at the time of their wedding, no one thought I could even go. What a blessing it all was. I even got out on the dance floor with my siblings and danced once. It felt great. I did continue to fight anxiety all weekend, but looking back on all of it, it was a great weekend.


We even made it to see the new Newport Beach temple.


It's July 1st and this is one summer I am thankful to see go by quickly. I haven't felt good enough to do a post for over a week, Thank you Krystal for doing one for me.

I told you before that I had a saying on my kitchen wall that says, "Flowers that follow the sun(sunflowers for one), do so even on cloudy days" I felt like this was the perfect saying for me because I truly try to follow the "SON" of God every day, but I knew it was going to get harder as the chemo treatments progressed. It has happened. I am struggling. I still have no doubt about who I am following, but I have had a few meltdowns lately. One pretty severe one a week ago, where there were many tears.That was probably the day Krystal wrote about how chemo sucks. I had really no good reason to cry except I felt like it. There are a lot of things to be afraid about right now, but there is so much to be happy about too. The doctor said it is nothing I am doing (e.g. negative thinking), it's just the accumulation of chemo drugs, they go through your whole system, including your brain. My body has been without chemo now for 2 weeks and feels pretty good, but my mind and heart have caused a knot in my stomach that is almost unbearable. When I think about it now, crying does make me feel better, especially when everyone around me is so positive while I am crying. Between treatment 4 and 5, I could see myself slipping on a downward slope, but felt helpless to do anything about it. For now, the best I can do is endure it, one HOUR at a time. I plead for relief and I get it from time to time, but it won't stay gone. I know the Lord is a merciful God, as Jeffrey Holland put it, "He's not trying to tag us out on third base, MERCY is His mission" If we are parents, we can already see how true that can be, but yet we let our children experience a little bit of pain because we see that they learn from it.

The doctor today said that from all the tests we have, I am in remission, that's everything to be grateful for. He is working on changing medications for me to see if they can help me with the anxiety. They changed my chemo dates now, so I will go on Monday, July 7th (that should help me get through the holiday), and then he wants me in the office everyday that week to check on my weight, and my hydration (I have lost 16 pounds now), and my mental state. I, most likely will stay and get fluids and medicine every day that week. The nurse said that chemo has to be tolerable or we don't do it. I love these nurses at the clinic that help me, I know they really want to help me feel better. What a blessing they are to me.

I am not giving up, I am still a fighter, but I am weary, I pray "this too will pass".

I always want to thank you for your love, and encouragement, it really is making a difference, but I knew I couldn't expect to be "UP" all the time, it's not realistic. Don't be afraid of coming to see me, I need you right now, but be very afraid of the way the house looks, it's not in good shape, but I am learning that is the LEAST of my worries.




Thursday, June 19, 2008

Positive Reinforcement

This is my (Krystal's) first time posting on this blog. My mom has done such a phenomonal job of writing her own story, she hasn't needed any help from the rest of us. But last night as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, this is what I was thinking about.

Cancer sucks. Chemo sucks. That's not to say that there aren't positive things that are coming out of them (because there are), but there's no escaping the hard, negative things that come along with cancer and its remedy.

But last night, I was trying to find the silver lining, the positive things that have come out of the past two months. And I managed to come up with a few. Here are some things we have learned through my mom's battle with cancer:

1. My mom has got more energy than any one person needs. Whatever you can say about how the chemo has affected her, it hasn't slowed her down much, if at all. Although she probably sees this as something of a curse (she has taken 5 naps or less since the beginning of chemo, and doesn't sleep well at night), I think it speaks volumes for who she is.

2. She has a well-shaped head and looks good bald. I'm sure all of us ladies wonder what we would look like if we shaved our heads, and fear that our heads would make us look alien-like. But she pulls it off. And she saves a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner.

3. She is fitting into clothes that she hasn't been able to wear in quite some time. Again, another mixed blessing. She is happy to be losing weight, but disappointed that she doesn't feel like eating more. Perhaps a new wardrobe would help?

4. She gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, claiming she can't have bad feelings for anyone again. When a guy from Direct TV came to install the satellite, he was neither helpful nor polite. Instead, he left in a bit of a huff. My mom's reaction? "I just assumed he must have had a bad case of diarrhea and left out of embarrassment." Yes, he couldn't possibly just be unhelpful and impolite.

5. She has never felt so loved. Personally, I have been amazed at the outpouring of love she has received. I knew she was loved (that much is obvious), but the number of lives she has touched far surpasses any number I could have guessed. I know your love and concern sustains her during the hard times, and I want you all to know how thankful we (the whole fam-damily) are to you. Thank you for all the letters and cards, the visits, the prayers, the temple work in her behalf, and mostly for all the love.

Cancer sucks. Chemo sucks. But we're looking at the bright side.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Treatment #5 of 8

This is the day I went for my 5th treatment. I fixed myself all up, and was feeling upbeat that day. Everyone had helped convince me that Friday the 13th was a bad day for cancer cells, and a good day for me. I had 5 grandchildren here to greet me when I got home, and I felt pretty good. Later that night , I was relieved to only have a headache, which is always my first sign that chemicals are invading my body. We all decided to color some pictures.
Damon, my oldest grandchild has spent his entire week creating pictures for me, and he insisted on displaying them on the fridge. He asked for all the magnets we could find.
Our friend Holly Barlow makes a regular visit over to the house every few days, and if anyone has toe nails that need to be polished, she will do a spectacular job for whoever wants it. This is Allie,showing her enthusiasm after telling Holly exactly what she wanted, flowers, colors, and all.


Saturday and Sunday ended up being very good days, I was only a little bit nauseated, and was able to keep a little food down. I made it to 3 hrs of church on Sunday, which was a big blessing, considering this was day 3 after treatment. I had some family from Texas drive up from Vegas and spend the afternoon with us, and I was amazed at how I felt, really not too bad. I was a little sore in my muscles, and a slight headache and mild nausea, but I functioned pretty well the whole day. I think it helped to have people that love me spend time with me.
This is my neice, and nephew, and their mother, who was the first sister in law I ever had. They brought a great spirit to my day. They have a strong belief in God, and Jesus Christ, and we shared stories about how the spirit sustains us.

One other thing made a big difference in my weekend was a priesthood blessing that I had the night before treatment #5. Some of you might think I ask for an awful LOT of blessings, and it's true, I do. They help me so much. I feel such strength from them. I was VERY afraid of how I would react to this new drug called "Taxotere". I was taught in the blessing to exhibit a LOT of faith, if I want to claim the blessings that I have been promised, I thought I was doing pretty good in the faith department, but that goes to show you, we can ALWAYS do better. I am trying to find out what else the Lord wants me to do. Today is day 5 after treatment , and I do feel worse than before, much more nausea, and gosh darn it, anxiety is back. I just have a pit in my stomach all day long. I don't really know what it means, but I am trying all kinds of stuff to fight it. Washing, drying, and folding laundry kind of helped. I am not tired enough to sleep, and yet I don't seem to have enough ambition to remodel my basement. It is very frustrating. Thank you for those who come visit, I think I do better when I have someone to talk to.

I will see the Dr. on Friday, and we'll see if anything is going to change, but as for now, I am not scheduled to have another treatment until July 3rd, so I am going to fly to San Diego, and see my brother get married. We have waited MANY long years for this, and even if I am sick, I want to be there, Jun 27th to see it.

thank you again for even reading this blog, thank you for even caring. It gives me motivation to go on, honestly. Keep leaving little comments, it really makes my day. Thank you again, I love you all.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sometimes it just isn't pretty...


Looking at this picture makes me feel grateful for Krystal. She has been here cleaning my house, trying to take care of her own three children, and even do some cooking for me. She pulled her hair back at the end of the day, and we both commented that we didn't look too pretty.
I thought that having this week off I was going to totally recover and feel like my old self again. But , tell me, do I look like my old self? If you look closely, you will see some blessings. I still have most of my eyebrows, and my eyelashes, and even a little bit of hair up on top. I am not sure why that there is any hair left at all, but I am grateful. One day while I was walking around without anything on my head, my 3 yr old Allie said, "Grandma , you could put your wig on now". I took the hint, and most of the time have some covering on my head.
I need you all to remind me of all the positive things I said over the last 12 weeks, because this week has been an emotionally down one for me. For no good reason, just because. I feel like I will NEVER be the Karen I was, happy, bubbly, ready to help anyone. I don't know why I can't see things as they really are. Everything is going well. Kancer cells are being Killed, never to return, I am half way through the treatments and have been extra blessed with mild side effects
I have even lost 8 lbs. The doctors and nurses say I am doing great, but I don't feel great. I have had a lot of fear about everything from bad news on the tv, to the price of gasoline. It doesn't take much to upset me these days.
I have been given a few suggestions about meditating, etc. and I will tell you I did find a couple of things that were comforting. Jeffrey Holland's book, Trusting Jesus has brought me some peace, but the best thing I did was make it to the temple. I went in and did initiatory work for 5 sisters, and the blessings there were just what I needed, and then I went and sat in the celestial room, and had a good talk with my Heavenly Father. Then I opened the scriptures, and found a good one just for me Isaiah 54-last verse- I felt peace the whole rest of the evening. I am so grateful that I felt good enough to go.
Well, Friday the 13th is an unlucky day for any cancer cells that are left laying around, because it is their doom day. Taxotere is going to mop things up. Pray for me that I can handle the side effects. Thank you for your love and your prayers, I wouldn't want to go through this experience without them ...LOVE YOU ALL, Love, Karen

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Change of Plans

I will not have my regularly scheduled treatment tomorrow for several reasons. The Dr. wants me to be stronger. I had a little bit of a rough week. I could never quite kick the nausea, and then severe diarrhea hit, and I became dehydrated. I also got a bronchial infection that needed to be treated with antibiotics. I spent 2 days in the Doc's office getting IV fluids, and all kinds of medicine to help me. I do feel better, but not as good as I have in the past. They are going to start a new drug on me next Friday, and only give it to me every 3 weeks. The nurses said this was the plan all along , I just didn't understand it. The first 4 treatments were a mixture of adriamycin and cytoxon, and the 2nd set of 4 treatments is supposed to be taxotere. They supposedly mop up each other's messes in case anything is missed. The results are great. I will however take a little longer getting through all the treatments, but at this point, I am trusting that this is exactly what I need. I am looking forward to next week feeling better, and then I will be asking for prayers again to help me tolerate this new drug 'Taxotere'. Thank you for your help. You are making a big difference in my life right now. Love, Karen

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Things that CHEER ME during chemo #4

You proabably wonder what you are looking at, but these are 4 little feet of 2 little boys, Maddux and Malakai. They have fallen in love with shoes, ANY shoes, they don't care if they fit, or if they are on the right foot, or not. This was right outside my bedroom sliding door and I HAD to have a picture of this. They keep me cheered up for sure.


The latest little family to cheer me up is Krystal's family, They have come down from Springville to stay and take care of me for a few weeks. This is her youngest , Kyla, who just turned 1, and loves our family dog, Buffy.


Buffy is very patient with all the grandkids, and I am so thankful for that.

This is Krystal's 2nd child, Allie, I have a special relationship with her. Someone gave her this dance outfit, and she rarely takes it off. She keeps me laughing with her 3 yr old vocabulary.


This picture is Krystal, and her oldest Damon. Damon is 5 yrs old, about to turn 6, and has just graduated from kindergarten. He keeps me entertained with his reading and writing skills, and today he made us an exceptional art piece. Krystal and her family have been living back East for 6 years and Jeff finishes his 10 years of schooling at the end of June. The house they were living in was sold and they had to move all their possessions clear across the country to Springville where they will live for the next year. She decided to come spend some time with me, while Jeff stays in Florida and finishes the end of his schooling. She has been cooking and cleaning , and it has been a big help to me, and she and her family is keeping me cheered up.
This chemo has not been as bad as I had feared, but it has hung on a little longer than the last ones did. The nausea stuck around for 3 or 4 extra days, and even though I had set a goal to never throw up, I did succumb, and I was bummed. I really needed to shower, wash my hair, (wait, I skip that part now), and put on some makeup and go somewhere, so even though my white blood cells were back down to zero, I SNEAKED into sacrament meeting after the prayer and sneaked out before the closing prayer so I wouldn't be tempted to hug and touch everyone, which I love to do. Not many people even recognized me in my shoulder-length wig. Looking in the mirror is starting to bother me, I must have what everyone calls "The chemo look".
I woke up this morning around 4 am, having had a scary dream about chemo, and couldn't go back to sleep. I prayed for peace, and asked for some direction, and I opened the scriptures to something that had nothing to do with white blood cells, but it appeared to me to be talking about my body.
It is in Mosiah 27:6..... see if you think this was a stretch:
"And there began to be much peace again in the land, (I am seeing peace coming back into my life) and the people began to be very numerous, (I am seeing white blood cells starting to be very numerous), and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth,(making their way through my bloodstream), yea on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west. building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land. (Making my body healthy in all parts of my body) Then verse 7 "And the Lord did visit them and prosper them, and they became a large and wealthy people ( the Lord is aware of what I need) It helped me alot and then I was able to go back to sleep.
Thank you all for you PRAYERS, THEY ARE STILL MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!
I love you all, Karen




Monday, May 26, 2008

Jonnys Graduation


When I look at this picture, I kind of feel like crying. This is my 5th child to graduate, almost my last one. That's sad to me. Then I look again and see that I was in good enough shape to GO to the graduation, and feel such GRATITUDE, and I want to cry again. There was a time a couple months ago when I questioned if I would even make it to graduation. I think I had it in my mind that I was going to be in bed almost 24/7. I feel so blessed that so far it hasn't been that way.
Within an hour after taking this picture, I went and had my 4th chemo treatment and I didn't feel sick until 9 oclock that night. My sister came from Orem and since we have been to every grad nite for the other 4 kids, we had to go over and at least SEE it. It was 10:30 when we got there, and I was really feeling the nausea, but I felt much better just being able to see the setup. It was AWESOME, so much work from parents goes into that, and Jonny came away really happy with all kinds of prizes and about 80 dollars in cash.
By Saturday morning, the nausea was gone, and I felt much better. The rest of the weekend was a little bit of a roller coaster with some nausea, some aches and pains, only a tiny bit of anxiety, and moments of feeling normal. It was great to have my sister and her family here, it made the weekend go by more smoothly.
For Memorial day today, the family barbequed burgers and had a fun picnic lunch outside, but for some reason, the smoke made me VERY sick feeling. I couldn't eat any of it. Once they started the volleyball game outdoors, I felt good enough to watch. The weather felt great.
I am trying to make myself read, something that is pretty foreign to me, but I know this is a perfect time to be gaining spiritual knowledge, so the one I have chosen to TRY and read is ,"Trusting Jesus", by Jeffrey Holland. It looks like it is all about trials and making it a blessing in your life. Perfect for me!! I will keep you updated on how my reading goes. Again thanks for your love and prayers, its making a difference.


Posted by PicasaJonny and his buddy Jordan Wade

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ready for chemo #4



I can't believe it, but I have survived 3 chemos already and it's time for #4!... #3 was a little bit harder on me than the first two, but I expected that. The jitters and anxiety was worse than the nausea or the muscle aches. I talked to the Dr. about it, and he said some of the nausea medicine has a side effect of anxiety....great......but he really doesn't want me to lose any weight (which I haven't), so he wants me to keep taking the nausea meds AND some more stuff to counteract the nausea stuff. I will try it this next time.
You can see from these photos that I spent a day or two in bed and the twins wanted to join me. They bring me a lot of joy and take my mind off my challenges. Overall though, I had more good days than bad, for which I feel VERY blessed .
Today is Thursday and I feel great. In preparation for treatment #4, I went to the temple and was able to do an endowment session (and my wig made me feel normal), then I went to my father-in-law's house and he and Dale gave me a blessing. I feel much better now about what I have to face this coming week. I then had to get my lab work done to make sure that my white cell count is back up to normal, which it is. Just like last time, the white cell count went down to almost zero, but another blessing, this one by Dale, Wayne, and Samuel, and it went right back up to higher than normal. Then I went shopping at Wal-Mart, which was scary, for my checking account. I haven't been shopping for so long, that I spent a little more money than usual. Tonight I feel good enough to enter some info on this blog.
Thank you again for all your comments of love and encouragement, it is really sustaining me!!
I love you all!