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.
I love you all, Karen