Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A couple cloudy days

This was on Monday, April 28th, 3 days after chemo #2, I noticed my first bald spot after the hair had been thinning all day long. Right before this picture was taken, I had a panic attack feeling like I couldn't go through with it, but knowing it's too late to change my mind. To make me feel better, Dale and Tara's boys buzzed their heads. Good thing hot weather is coming. It did bring a smile to my face.

By the time the night was through, we had me losing hair; Dale, Wayne, Maddux, Malakai, Jonny and Buffy all had a shaved, or semi-shaved head!! Kimberlee was trying to show me different ideas of what I could do, even though it makes her sad, she decided to try on one of my wigs. I am going to let her wear one on the last day of school.....Just for fun....................... Tomorrow or Friday, I will be shaving my head, as of tonight, which is Wednesday, there is about 25% of my hair left, if you think you want to see it, I will post a picture of it later. In my kitchen now is the saying that my friend, Ester, emailed to me last week. I am going to follow the "SON", even on these cloudy days.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My experiences so far.....

Thank you all for creating this blog for me, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I sat down to read it out loud to a few of my friends, and I got choked up and couldn't continue. I am overwhelmed with the love that I feel from you. I have decided that having cancer is a blessing. Really, I am witnessing something I have never before seen so clearly. I am seeing the best in everyone!! Cancer brings out the best in people. (Especially me!!) I love looking into the eyes of another and see ONLY good, it's the best feeling. I am trying to engraven this feeling in my soul, so that I will not have to repeat this experience just to re-learn it.
I have had many spiritual experiences, for which I am very grateful. You all know me well enough that I will openly share them all with anyone that wants to hear them :)
Just let me know.
I do want to share one here that touched me recently.
I don't know my scriptures stories really well, but what I did know came to my mind when I needed it. I was resting on the bed listening to the song "Jesus was no Ordinary Man", and when I heard the words, "the power to heal was in his hands", I remembered a story about a man that wanted to be healed and was asked to do something kind of unpleasant in order to be healed. I remembered it was dipping himself in some mud, yeah, it was a muddy river, and it was to be done several times, and all of a sudden I felt an impression that I too, am being asked to "dip" in the muddy river in order to be healed. I could see that chemotherapy is going to be unpleasant. I wasn't sure of the details of the story, so I went outside to talk to Dale about it, who happened to be washing off mud from the patio. He reminded me that the story was from the Old Testament, and it was Naaman that had leprosy, and went to Elisha to be healed. At first he wasn't happy about the "cure", but was persuaded to do it anyway. He was told to "wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean". Dale then asked me how many chemo treatments I have left.......interestingly enough.......... 7......... I had 7 times left to have chemo, WOW................What an interesting time for the Lord to remind me of this story, that I thought I didn't know.
As of today, it is 3 days past treatment #2 (which is the first of the seven that were left). I should feel pretty sick, and even worse than I did with treatment #1, but I feel BETTER... it has to be because of all of your prayers!!! Thank you. There is one sign that I do have that there is many chemicals floating around in my body, and that is that my hair is falling out. I went and had Robert Evans gently wash my hair and "trim" it up, we think it will only last this week and then it will be gone, I feel the tears coming on, not because my hair is beautiful, but because I am afraid of looking like an alien. Heather helped me pick out 5 wigs, and Lisa Evans got me 3 cute turban hats, and Whitney Weaver brought me 7 or 8 scarves, so I should be fine :)
Let me say thanks one more time for today, you all have brought me an AMAZING amount of strength!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you all 4-ever, Karen

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Feelin' Good!

Just wanted to let everyone know that my mom is doing VERY well with round #2 of chemo.

The first time she wasn't taking pain pills...this time she is. She also has a very expensive (and EFFECTIVE) anti-nausea medication, and it's making a big difference. Her headache and muscle aches are "bearable" because of the medication.

And her hair is starting to come out...good thing the wigs and turbans are on hand. We want some pictures!

Hopefully she'll be writing on her blog soon...she has high speed internet now. Woohoo!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chemo Treatment #2

Here's a cute little picture of Karen and her grandson Maddux. He seems to know something different is going on here, and he's been spending extra time with Grandma Karen. What a little sweetheart.

Good luck with treatment #2 today! I am sad I won't be there to help out, but I know you'll be in good hands. Love ya!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Great Day

Karen felt soooo good today that she actually baked cookies! She had an even better day yesterday and felt fabulous. Not fair to think that it has to start all over on friday. You all know how much she loves sun flowers and how they always follow the sun or "son". A friend sent her an email yesterday that had a quote about how even on cloudy days the sun flower still looks toward the sun. This was a great time for that quote as she is facing some cloudy days in her future. It will be great to be reminded that even on those days she can still look toward the "Son". She is doing great and feeling very optimistic. Her second chemo is this friday at noon. It is also her good friend, Kathy's, birthday. She and Kathy will go to lunch on friday and then Kathy will take her to chemo. One down, seven to go! She can do this!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Good Day

The Sunday after chemo, Karen felt pretty crappy. She had body aches and felt bloated and nauseated. It came on pretty fast sunday afternoon and by sunday night she did not feel good at all. By Wednesday she was feeling good enough to have her hair washed, take a short walk around the park and get dressed. That was great!! Thursday she was feeling good enough to go to Cedar to watch Johnny play soccer. She was even enjoying some french fries at the game! She will probably be feeling pretty good about the time they do another chemo treatment!


Thought you might want to see the toes. I had to be careful not to get the hairy legs and I am NOT telling who they belonged to!


Karen had Tara help her wash her hair and then called me over to take some final pictures of her hair. I need to find a picture of her before she got her "50 year old haircut". She said that she wanted to cut it short before she turned 50. It was a drastic change but one that we have all gotten used to. I think that perhaps there was wisdom in that decision. It will not be nearly so overwhelming when it starts to fall out from the chemo treatments. Heather has been here all week spending time with Karen and helping to made her life a little easier. Holli Barlow ( a family friend) came over on the night these pictures were taken and painted all of their toe nails. They were having way too much fun!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chemo Treatment #1

Well, surprise, the first chemo treatment came on Friday, April 11th, instead of Monday, April 14th. It was a sudden and last-minute decision, and it was done mostly for convenience for the doctors and for my mom.

My Grandma Ruth (dad's mom) happened to be with her. She had just come out of a small surgery to insert a "port-a-cath", which is basically a little catheter put in under her skin, in her chest, where they can draw blood and also where she'll receive her chemo. This will prevent the nurses from having to prick her arm to veins over and over and over.

Shortly after the surgery, she was surprised by a nurse telling her that her chemo mixture was "all mixed up." My mom explained that the treatment was scheduled for Monday, but the nurse asked if she could just go ahead and do it then. My mom agreed, and decided maybe it was for the best, since that would eliminate a whole weekend of worrying about it.

She sat in the chair for 2 hours as they dripped the drugs in, and got to know the people around her, most of them also there for their first chemo treatment. (She noticed that most of them had their hair.)

She was extremely saddened to see a 28-year old young mother there, also getting her first treatment. This girl had 3 kids, one of which was an 11-day old baby. She has a stage 4 lump that can't even be taken out yet, it's too big. My mom has worried about her ever since. She did say that she's extra grateful that her cancer developed at a much later stage of life.

Now, on to the side effects. She got the treatment around 4 p.m., and felt normal the rest of the day. Saturday she felt pretty good, running errands and making Jonny a corsage for senior ball. Sunday morning she woke up feeling like her head was full of pressure, and she said she felt like she was "puffy", but she looked normal. She started getting an intense headache and body aches. By Sunday afternoon she was experience intense nausea, and pretty much just feeling awful. She didn't throw up, and she got a blessing from my dad. She was blessed to have a good night sleep, and that the chemo would "do what it's supposed to do". She went to bed and slept wonderfully, and has slowly felt a little better each hour, each day. She is still having a little trouble breathing and swallowing, yet a few more side effects of her particular chemo drugs, but she has a great attitude and is trying to eat, drink, and take walks as much as she can.

I took her to a doctor appointment Monday morning, where we got the good news about the PET scan (see previous post) and where I was able to ask the doctor lots of questions about everything I could think of.

He told us that her muscle aches are because of the "growth hormone" that she's getting, and that it will be constant, and miserable. He prescribed more pain medication and told her to USE IT! He also prescribed another anti-nausea medicine to add to the regime. It's very expensive, but we don't care at this point. If it works, we'll take it.

She doesn't need it right now, so she'll probably give it a try next round.

The treatments will be every other Friday for 16 weeks. (That means the next one will be on April 25th.)I was informed that each time she will get sicker, faster, and stay sicker for longer. We are all going to have to step-up to the plate and learn to deal with it. It's going to be hard watching her suffer...we've already started to experience it and to know it's going to get's very hard to swallow. But our hearts are already all being welded together as we love and serve her, and we remember that it is only a few short months of misery before we'll have her back, and our lives will be changed forever, for the better.

We'll keep you updated on everything as time goes on. Please know that she is getting lots of rest, and is answering as many calls and taking as many visitors as she can fit in. She's loves you all and we do too. Okay, that's all for now.

PET Scan Results

The results of her PET scan came back...if you're wondering what a PET scan is, it basically scans the entire body to see if there are any other tumors that have "set up camp." Because the cancer had drifted to the lymph nodes, we knew it was a possibility that there could be some tumors in other places.

GREAT NEWS!! No tumors anywhere! This is such a relief.

There ARE more than likely, cancer cells floating around in her blood, and that's why the doctor is going with an aggressive chemo treatment plan, to mop up the rest of 'em.

Welcome to Karen Kancer Killer's Blog!!

We are excited to start this blog for my mom. The outpouring of love and support has been amazing, and you can't imagine the difference it is making as she fights (and kills) all those pesky cancer cells.

Keeping everyone updated on news and changes has been a little difficult, so we hope this will be the best way to keep everyone update. Feel free to leave comments of love and support, once we get her a new laptop, she'll be checking in regularly.

We want to invite any of you who are interested to be "contributors"-- you can post on this blog. If you have any great Karen stories, or if you happen to be the one who knows some information that others would like to know, please let me (Heather) know and I will make sure to add you.

Thanks again for you love, support, and prayers!! My mom told Eric, currently serving in the California San Diego mission, that by the time he gets home in April 2009, she'll be "good as new." And she will be.