My Inspiration

My Inspiration

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Our Christmas Letter

2014 was not the best year for me, but our family still moved along.  Thanks to many helping hands, our kids continued to grow, make happy memories, and be involved in all the activities they enjoy.

Landon turned 3 in February, started preschool, finally potty trained, learned to dress himself, and somehow is a larger 3 year old than his brother, Garrett was at this age. The only thing he loves more than super heroes, monster trucks and duplos, is he's sister, "Nina".

Alina turned 5 in October, but wishes she was 16.  She has learned to ride her bike with training wheels, loves to go to preschool, and started to swim with the Mini Dolphins this past summer.  She loves American Girls Dolls, singing and dancing when no one is watching, and all art projects.  She continues to be one of the most spicy, busy, talkative little girls you will every meet.

Taryn just turned 7 in November.  Our little social bunny is fully enjoying first grade, the magical year of learning to read. She learned ride her bike without training wheels, and began piano lessons this year. She continues to dance ballet, and swim in the summer with the Dolphins. Her best friend is still her big sister, Kendall.  Few things bring me greater joy than watching those two together.

Kendall turning 8 last January and was baptized a member a The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What a great day that was for her!  This fall, Kendall was excited to move up to higher level in ballet and is loving every moment, she started piano lessons again, swim team in the summer, She's her mothers best helper and her teachers favorite students, everyone loves the Kendall.

Garrett turned 11 in August and bridged from cub scouts to a full fledged scout, which means over night camp outs. Pure joy for our "little" adventurous boy!  He continues to play baseball and swim in the summer, and started on a basketball league this year. He's playing the violia for the second year, and his third year of playing the paino.  So proud of what a great pre-teen he is turning into.  I genuinly enjoy he's witty, fun loving, caring self.       

I pretty much spent New Years Eve 2014 till July in the hospital, doctors office, or in bed.  And the details of those events are well documented on this blog.
But we made up for it with an amazing trip to Hawaii with friends, and a little getaway to New York.  The best part of the second half of the year, was getting back to our normal crazy busy life.   

I honestly don't know when Keith sleep last year?  We had tons of help from family and friends but we would not have stayed afloat without him. 
The majority of the washing, cleaning, kid carpooling, story reading, shopping, cooking, and general care for the house, and kids,  fell on Keith all of last year. 
Not to mention being our family's only bread winner, a bishop at our church, and caring and worrying over me, the love of his life. 
I do not know how he did it all?   Quite certain, he is glad this chapter of our lives is coming to a close. 
I cannot find the word to thank all those who flew out to help us, ran errors for us, cared for the kids on Sundays for us, gave the kids rides and babysat the kids for us.  Please know your thoughts,  prayers, kind words, and concerns DID  lighten our burden, and helped us through this difficult and learning year.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and productive 2015!

Understanding the Plan

One Sunday evening, my older kids were complaining about how difficult everything was at this time.  As I joined in on the pity party, I realized this was actually a good teaching moment for my kids.  

I had just pulled out some of my old mission scriptures that had my little lamented cut outs of the Plan of Salvation, so we decided to lay it out on my bed. 
We started off talking about our pre earth life with our Heavenly Father, and how much our Heavenly Father loved us, and wanted us to grow and learn, become more like Him. I told the kids that I felt the same way about them.     
 He loved us so much He was willing to provide an earth for us to have experiences, gain a body and develop faith in our Savior, so that we can become more like Him. 
He knew it would be difficult and that some would make the wrong choices but He also knew the tremendous joy that would be ours as we experience and learn from life.
A world was created and each of us passed through the veil, and forget our premortal experiences to come to earth for three main reasons.

The first is to gain a body. What a marvelous and precious gift we have in our bodies.   
We lived in the Pre Earth life as spirit, not able to experience the extreme joy or pains that come with having a physical body.  
This made me realize how blessed am I to have experience most of my life with nearly perfect health.  
So what is Heavenly Fathers expectation for us with this gift he has given each of us?  We are here to learn to tame and control this natural body.     It says in the scripture the we must learn to control our desire and appetites. We do this by fasting, living a health and balanced life, and using this body for good.  I discussed wit my kids the benefits of living within these boundries.    
I explained to the kids that up until now, most of pain or sorrow that I have felt with my body has been of my own doing or the necessary consequence of a choice I have made.   
But this experience was different, this is more of a test to prove my mental willpower over my physical body, and in so doing this I’m learning to submitting to the will of the Lord, which is drawing me closer to Him.   

Understanding this expereince has maked it easier to see this experience as a blessing, not a curse.

The second reason we came to earth was to develop faith.   
Living with Heavenly Father, we never had to question, seek and believe in Him because he was always there.   
So how do we know He is there when most of us cannot touch, hear or see Him while here on earth?  
My answer to my kids was this. 
I know He is there, because I feel a warm, comforting feeling when I pray to Him and ask for he's spirit.  
My mind is enlightened when I hear his words through reading the scriptures, or hearing the words of the prophet teach the gospel truths. 
And I have seen His image, in the faces of those who have tireless served me and my family through this difficult time.   
Through my life experiences, I have developed faith in my Heavenly Father and in his son Jesus Christ, and I hope to grow even closer as I continue to learn, serve and seek after Him.

The third reason we came to earth was to learn to choose between good and evil.  
Sounds simple, even easy, yet life is full of difficult choices.  Unfortunately it seems to be getting even more difficult for the next generation.  Evil is stronger and more easily disguised as good.    
But there is so much good in this world too and will always be if we seek after it.  I know that choosing the right and good in life brings happiness and choosing those things are not of God will bring sorrow, regret, confusion, and even pain.
But understanding how to choose between good and evil is not only about the actions we make or even the good or bad thoughts we may have, but through this experience of the past year, I have also learned it is also a choice of ATTITUDE. 
During my visits to the infusion stations at the cancer center, I often would meet the most positive, and happy people getting ready to put poison in their bodies and become deathly sick.
They had every reason to be grumpy, angry, or even bitter, but the majority were not, they chose happiness.   
One women joked, they can take my blood,
put toxins in my body,
cut me open,
take parts of me out,
burn me with radiation,
and they still can’t kill me,
but not for lack of trying.   

This is only funny because it’s SO true.

So to my children who are complaining because life seems a little hard at the time!
Look up,
seek the good,
choose to be happy,
and as my father always says,
“Say your Prayers!”

This is all part of His plan.    

My health update and future plans

Sorry it has been so long since I updated the blog, but I have felt so good, its hard to find time to sit down and write.

In August and September, I ended up having two more expansions on my breast, which are never comfortable but the pain passes in a few days.  I'm learning to live with hard boobs.  But I do feel bad for people when they hug me, cause they feel like I have rocks in my chest.    We were planning to have my reconstruction surgery January 9th, but I've been a little sick over the holidays so they postponed my surgery until Febuary 6th.   

I have continued to take Herceptin every three weeks through the port in my chest.   
I have little too no effects from taking Hercetin, except the constant reminder of the risk of heart problems.  So ever six weeks I have to get an echocardiogram.     
Fortunately, for me I have a great ticker, so I’m not too worried about damage to my heart.
I’m going to continue to take Herceptin until March.

In July, I had a needle biopsy on my thyroid that showed the tumors on my thyroid are not cancer. 
Yippy for me! 
Unfortunately, there are three tumors, and one of them is on the back side of my thyroid, which could push up against my esophagus.  Something I have to watch, but not of concern right now. 
The tumors are causing irregularity in my thyroid production so they put me on a steroid, which help my energy level peep up.

My hair is growing back curly and crazy, but at least its growing back.
Each day I am grateful, to be healthy and active in my life and with my family.   It only took a few months laying around in bed and several hospital visits to learn to appreciate good health and great family and friends.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I'm now about 9 weeks out from my mastectomy, and doing well.

They have removed my last two tubes, and finished expanding my chest.  My incisions have healed and  look good.  In all honesty, I still hate looking at the scars across my breasts.  Frankly, it took me two weeks after the surgery before I could make myself look at them.  I guess I was afraid of what I might see.  One thing I can say, is they are perky and hard as rocks.  Half of that is nice and the second half is painful.

I've been a little tired, and little light headed, but I'm doing better everyday. Some of it maybe due to my red blood count being low, which just takes time to build up, overall I'm improving.   So grateful that I have the strength to help the kids and lighten the load a bit for Keith.  

My hair is growing back, slowly but surely.  I have a solid boy haircut right now. Thanks to a few good friends it's no longer gray but a lovely shade of brown.

As I think back over the past few weeks, one of the greatest blessing that have come to our family through this experience, has been the opportunity for me and my kids to get to know my family and friends better.   The kids really enjoyed having my sister-in-law Lanae, my niece, Breea, and my best and oldest friend, Jenny out for these last few weeks of recovery.  And I was really glad they were here to help and allow me to heal completely.

Last week I started back up with the maintenance chemo of herceptin.  It doesn't make me sick and my hair can continue to grow.

Next week I have a needle biopsy on my thyroid to see what's the story is with that little tumor.  Mostly likely it's nothing and can be treated easily.

I go in September to replace the expanders with silicone implants, which will be one of the last steps.

We're doing great and grateful for all the love and support.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Big Show

Monday May 19th, the day before my mastectomy, I was so glad to have the opportunity to spend the day with a good friend, talking, laughing and crying about our family, children and life and NOT CANCER, like normal girlfriends do.  
I came home to a clean house, bathed and put to bed the kids, and sat down with Keith to talk about all the things that needed to be done, but will have to wait.
All but one, I needed to have a blessing before this next step.
We called a friend to come over, he and Keith gave me a Priesthood blessing.  I've had a number of Priesthood blessings given to me through this journey, each one has given me comfort and understanding to handle the next challenge I had to face.
But for this next step I needed strength.
I have begun to feel too weak to handle one more thing, almost to the point of stopping, giving up, or even thinking I might not make it.  Reason, science, and Keith would tell me that things will get better.  But it seems like just when I'd start to get better, I'd get hit by one more illness.  So choosing to go in for a major surgery that will leave me weak again, seemed too much for this little girl.
The next morning when Keith and I were waiting in pre-op for the surgeons to make arrangements, I thought of all the painful, dark, long days I had endured, and I found strength in knowing that I can do 6 more weeks.  I had to remind myself, I can do hard things.
Once again, the surgeon, the plastic surgeon, the Anesthesiologist and the nurses all come in to mark up my chest and prepare Keith and I for the surgery.
They were all wonderful and next thing I knew I was out!
The surgery took a little longer than they had expected, it was almost 7 hours, so they didn't finish until after 6:00 p.m. As one of the doctors later told me, "You were up for the Big Show, and came through with flying colors!"  They told Keith that everything went well.  I had a complete mastectomy on the right side, meaning non skin sparing, and no nipple sparing, and a skin and nipple sparing on the left.  They were able to place the expanders and the cadaver skin in and fill them halfways so when I woke up I was surprised that I was not completely flat like I had seen on the internet.  I was probably a A cup, which is not too shabby when you're mentally prepared for a little boys chest.    
After the surgery, the next thing I remember was a nurse's voice telling me that if I opened my eyes I could get more medicine for the pain.  I guess I was complaining of pain while I was coming out of the anesthesia.  Thank heavens for modern pain medicine.  I can see how people could get addicted to that stuff.
That night when Keith came back to check on me, I decided I wanted to try to stand up and go to the restroom.  He and the nurse were helping me stand up, when everything went black.  Keith said my eyes rolled back and I was out.  But after a long night of pain, and little sleep, they had me up to walk around.   I was still in a lot of pain, so I was on really strong medicines that made me sleep a lot.
Also the pain medicine combined with the effects of the anesthesia caused my bowel to completely stop.  So I spent the next few days trying to work that out and get things up and running.
Also before I left the hospital, the nurses had to teach me and mom how to drain and keep the 4 tubes that come out of my body under my arms.  You have to drain the fluid/blood that could build up in the tubes and little plastic grenade at the end.  From what I've been told, care of these obnoxious tubes and grenades will help prevent swelling and infection.  We also have to clean, and dress all the stitches across my chest.
When I came home on Thursday, my mom and Keith had the kids and the house managed quite well.
I spent next few days, drugged, sleepy, and tucked away so that no one could touch me.
My dear mother would come up every night to help me drain my tubes and change my bandages. OUCH!

By my two week post op appointment I was feeling better and my drain had turned clear and were draining less, so the plastic surgeon decided to remove my lower drains on both sides.  I was happy about losing at least 2 of them.
But he also decided to fill my expanders to stretch out my skin. The doctor placed a magnet on the top of my chest until he found and marked the spot on the expanders to infected the fluid.  Then he brought out a huge tube of saline with a long needle.  I immediately looked away, but could feel the pressure in my chest.
Keith, who was at my feet said it was the craziest thing to see how much he put in me and watching my chest rise like a blow up pool toy.   Odd experience!
He injected two  bags in both my boobs until I was so tight and in pain, I thought I was going to pop.  The whole trip home I could feel every bump on my rode.

Now it's 6 days later and most of my pain is relieved.   Not looking forward to doing that one more time, but Keith keeps reminding me it will be over soon and worth it.
My scars are healing and I'm beginning to feel human again.  I still get light headed and dizzy, and I have to remind myself not to stretch for or pick up heavy things.
Thankfully my mom was here for two and half weeks, and my sister-in-law and niece are coming out the for next two weeks to help with all the crazy end of the year stuff.  The end is in sight!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I am stronger than cancer...

During one of my past stays in the hospital I went through a change of thought or maybe a better understanding.

I've never really thought of myself as "fighting" cancer.
Maybe because its not really in my nature to be aggressive, violent or angry toward anything.
I don't like conflict.
Ask anyone who has ever been to a violent or even action filled movie with me, I'm a mess because it makes me really uncomfortable and I can't watch.
Also I don't think of myself as being a strong person, who could fight a real battle.

But what I've learned is that when someone is struggling with anything, they fight it on three fronts, physical, spiritual, and mental.

I have a good friend, Jen Roper, who is my age, and has 5 small children that are almost the same ages as mine.  She lost her mother to breast cancer at a young age, and has been fighting off brain cancer for the past two years.  And winning..
She's so strong physically.  She's changed all her eating habits, and runs races every other month.
She's a spiritual giant.  Through all her trials, she has faith and understanding that God loves and has a plan for her and her sweet little family.
But what always amazes me is her mental confidence and determination.  She ends most of her posts with "I AM STRONGER THAN CANCER".  And doggone it, she is.  She just got another clear MRI.
I admire her strength on all fronts, and strive to be courageous like her, even though my battle is nothing in comparison to hers.
Ever need to be inspired read her blog

During my last stay in my hospital, I had a moment when this way of thinking all changed.
After six months of sickness, for some reason this one day was the last straw.
I started the day from a dead sleep, throwing up with no relief even with intense IV medicine, the pain and vomiting would not cess.
As the day continued the throwing up was accompanied by diarrhea.  At one point I was in the bathroom with a mess everywhere, I broke down into tears.
One of my favorite nurses at the hospital, Jackie (who is 7 months pregnant with her first baby) stood next to me, trying to help and comfort me, and it hit me.
If it was a thing or a person, and in the room at that moment, I would use all the strength left in me to beat the crap out of it.
An even though I feel weak physically now, I can and am stronger spiritually and mentally.
I am stronger than cancer and all the other side effects that have come with fighting cancer.

I hate what fighting cancer has detained me from doing, which is caring for my kids, husband, home, family and friends.  
But it has forced me and my family to see things in a new light and appreciate the little things.

A few months ago I was frustrated and complaining about how little I've been able to do to help out with the care and school work of my own children.
A good wise friend, sent me a text to remind me that I've been teaching them more important lessons about life.
I can do hard things.
And doing hard things forces me to grow.

Post op results

The surgery/procedure I had done on Monday, May 5th went well.
Using a little camera they were able to find a spot on my intestines kinda is like a blood blister, that was causing the illius.  So they cut out about an inch of my intestines, stapled it back together and also stitched close the mesentery section of my abdomen around the intestines.
Not much of that makes sense to me but from the pictures and the information we have received this will be the fix to my problems.
Now if I could just heal.
I was released from the hospital last Friday, May 9th.
Honestly I'm just not healing as fast as they had hoped, but my immune system isn't great.
If I'm not on pretty strong pain medicine, I have sharp pain in my side at the incision which makes it hard to get around.
At my post op appointment yesterday, they did a cat scan that showed that everything looks good inside me.  My intestines are a little swollen right below where the staples are, but that's to be expected.  The staples can take 60 days to dissolve but I shouldn't have pain for the that long.
Thankfully my bowls are working fine and my nausea is getting better.
I'm trying to lay low and heal.  Hoping and praying that I can still get my mastectomy next week.  I ready to get on the other side of this process.