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)