My Inspiration

My Inspiration

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Walking the Plank

Why is it that I'm feeling so miserable about this next treatment?

I'm dreading this treatment more than the last two. (I am sure that doesn't bode well for future treatments either!)

I tried to make a list in my mind of all the things that are worse than chemotherapy - things that I could be doing on the day after Christmas, rather than sitting in a treatment room.  Unfortunately, it's not a long or pretty list. 

I should be happy. I got to enjoy Christmas with my family and it was a wonderful Christmas.  After this treatment, i'll be half way through this process.

But as Keith and I were driving here to the cancer center this morning, in the silence, he said, "Do you feel liking your walking the plank again?" 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Poor Keith

"Poor Keith!"

I think this about ten times a day lately. 

Which is odd because I used to just think poor me.

I do all the house work, caring for the kids, and no time for myself. Believe me, I complained daily about my lot. 

Now I feel so guilty about all the things I don't do and all that Keith and many others have to do for me and for my children. 

The last few weeks have been particularly hard for Keith and I.

I recovered quickly from my last treatment and was feeling good - and then two days later, it hit me!

One of the worst colds I've ever had.  I started to run a fever, so I went in to the doctor. My blood counts had dropped too low.  They put me on a antibiotic and gave me ordered to "lay low"

Which, of course, made for a horrible week for Keith - as if he need to have even more on his plate.

He literally had an 8 inch high stack of papers to grade, as well as a lot of church demands with both tithing settlement and Christmas aid for the needy.

But he did it all. He cooked the meals, he cleaned the house, he attended all the kids school programs, and he never once complained. 

How lucky am I?

Seriously, though, "Poor Keith!" doesn't seem like enough to say.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wigging Out

I'm well into recovery on this second round of chemo.

I was smarter about taking the medicine and it helped a lot.

After I was feeling a little better, I had a chance to go an get a wig with Vonda and my cancer buddies, Mary and Jackie.

I have to say,  I didn't really want to get a wig. I mean, part of me sort of wants to hide away until my hair grows back.

And if I'm going to spend the next few months hiding, I don't need a wig, right?

I spend a lot of time in denial. Can you sense it?

But during one of the snow days, I was having a conversation with my sweet Kendall.

She wondered if I would be driving her to school. I told her that I felt up to going and that I would ride along.

There was a long pause and she asked me if when I drove her if I would wear a hat or a wig to school.

And it made me realize that my baldness is still hard for her. And it makes some people uncomfortable.

So, while I don't necessarily feel like I need to wear a wig, I feel like there are situations and people who need me to, and I'm okay with that.

So, I  went.

Wig shopping is an interesting experience. There is an art to putting on a wig.

I mean, if the only wig you've ever tried on is in the Halloween aisle of Target, this is a whole different experience.

There are wig stands, and wig care, and picks and oh my gosh...just so much stuff.

The wigs are made so that it looks like your scalp. And they are snug. When you look up close, you just can't even tell it's a wig.

I seriously am doing things I never even imagined possible. Like being bald.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hair or No Hair

Today we had a head shaving party. (Yes, we even served ice cream.)

It had to be done.

I was losing hair by the handful, and it was everywhere.

The worst part of it was the "hair aches."

It turns out, on top of everything else, that it hurts when your hair follicle dies and the heavy hair is just left hanging on.

I did a good job keeping it together while we were shaving. Garrett was happy to claim sweet justice and took the clippers to my head.

It's not everyday a boy gets to shave his mother bald.

A dear friend helped even it out and my sister brought a pink wig.

But, when everyone was asleep, I went into the bathroom and stared at myself and cried.

I cried until I turned into a puddle, curled up on the floor, and cried some more.

After giving myself some time to let it sink in, I told myself I needed to come to a good place with this.

I have three little girls who feed off my emotions and reactions. This is my reality - my chance to grow and to learn.

So, this is what I've come to.

I've got a good smile and dimples.  I'll play them up to distract people from my salt and pepper buzz cut. 

I'm tall .There are few, especially the little ones in my house, who can even see the top of my head. 

It's a sad little list isn't it?

So I made myself dig a little deeper.

I've got a great sense of humor. I get it from my Dad. What a blessing it's been to see the humor in this.

I am a fairly confident person. I credit this to my mother. As a kid, she had me in dance, piano and every sport and school activity she could get me to try.

At home she taught me to sew, quilt, cook and encouraged every talent I ever wanted.

She minimized the pain of my weakness and encouraged my strength.

Now that I am a mother, I know how much she served and sacrificed for me.

Really this is the best you can come up with?  Come on Tamee, you can dig a little deeper than this.

I am a determined, hard working, successful adult. I served a mission, earned college degrees, traveled the world, taught school and now I'm a pretty good mother to five pretty great kids.

There is so much more to me than this disease.

"For the Lords seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."  1 Sam. 16:7

I am a child of God.  I know this through pray and study of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his scriptures.  I know that he has a plan of happiness for me.  And this experience is part of that plan. 

Our strength as children of God is measured by the strength of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our trust in His pure love and infinite atonement. 

Recently I was talking with a friend who is a little farther a long in this breast cancer journey.  I said to her, "It just doesn't seem fair to lose your hair and your breasts.  Those are the two things that we most often associate with femininity?"

A wise man at the table with us politely said, "I have to disagree.  Those may be the things that the world thinks of as feminine, but we know that to be a women is to be so much more.  It is your innate ability to nurture, and care, to show selfless love, to use kind words and to express wisdom. You have the ability to inspire others and  to feel and show compassion."

I now realize how true this is.  I have divine traits that my Heavenly Father gave me.

Through my life experience I have cultivated and developed these traits that make me a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and women.

Nothing, not even cancer can take that from me.  I have family and friends that love me.  Children that adore me.  A good husband that treasures me.  And I know am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me.

Hair or no hair.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wait Until Tomorrow

So chemo was rotten.

I was sick for about 10 days and felt much better just in time for Thanksgiving.

It was funny. All my food aversions went away. I didn't even really have a headache.

But I did find that I was easily tired. I would do a little shopping and put up a tree, and then need a four hour nap.

As the dance teacher said today, "You don't look anything like a chemo patient."

Wait until you see me tomorrow.

Cause I get to do it all over again.

But thankfully, sweet Keith bought me a 2nd fridge and got new blinds for the whole house. I think not having to grocery shop as often, and being able to be on the main floor will do much to improve my spirits this go round.

Vonda gets here tomorrow and I'll be grateful for the help.

She will stay through the roughest part and hopefully, I'll feel better just in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No Matter The Day

People have told me that they feel like I'm handling this all really well.

And that's only partly true.

But when I do handle it well, I really feel like it's been because the Lord has prepared for me this.

And so many people who have gone before me have shared their stories with me.

They have told me when it would be hard.

And helped me to prepare mentally for this.

And so, yeah, there are good days and there are bad days.

But thankfully, no matter what the day, I've got good people to lean on.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Everyone I know who has had cancer, who loses their hair, has told me the same story.

Either you are laying on your pillow and you get up and your pillow is covered with hair.

Or, you're in the shower and washing your hair, and all of the sudden clumps fall out.

Every, single one said the same thing.

And you know what?

I really thought it wouldn't be me. 


About 7% of people who do this don't lose their hair.

And I was certain that it wouldn't be me.

But, if it was going to be me, I thought it would be like losing your hair after a baby. You think you lose a lot of hair then.

Wow. It's nothing like that. 

It's huge clumps. It's everywhere. It clogs the drain. 


And as I am in the shower and holding a fistful of hair, I started to laugh.

And I got out of the shower and Keith came in.

And I said, "Keith, I'm losing my hair."

He said to me, "I remember when that started to happen to me."

And  I thought, "Oh wait, you really are. But what a bummer for you that mine will grow back, but yours never will." 

Poor Keith.

Dumb Luck

So the full biopsy came back on the node they took out of my abdomen.

I have Follicular Lymphoma‎.

It's kind of fun to say. Say it few times fast, try it out.

It's grade 2.

Lymphoma is categorized as Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins.

Mine is non-Hodgkins.

This is good, as far as cancer goes.

It is fairly stable and not expected to migrate anywhere else in my body.

The doctor called it a wait-and-see kind of cancer.  He said that they will watch it for any kinds of change.

If it gets larger, they take it out.

If it impedes any of my other organs, they take it out.

Otherwise, they just watch it.

It made me wonder how I got it or why.

My doctor's answer, "Dumb luck."

If this is lucky, I'm pretty sure I don't want to be unlucky.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Ships that Cross--Occasionally

This is the love of my life.
I waited and searched for what seemed like a long time to find him.
He's perfect to me and for me!
Some may argue, that he is just plain perfect!  I agree with that too.
Today we have been married for 11 amazing years. When I told my good friend it was our anniversay this weekend, she commented, "My, what you two have accomplished and experienced together in 11 years.  Can't wait to see and hear about the next 11".  As I think back, we have kept it lively.

We had our first son, Garrett, 9 months and 1 day after we were married.  Shortly after that, Keith graduated with his PhD from U of A, and we moved across country to Virginia to start our new job. Over the next few years we had four more kids, Kendall, Taryn, Alina and Landon.  When your youngest was 6 months and our oldest had just been baptized, Keith was made a Bishop in our church. Then somewhere through all those years, Keith received tenure at George Mason University and accomplished many wonderful things in his career.  Along with making babies, I have planted and killed a lot in our yard and managed to fill this house full of junk.  Not to mention all the fun and happy memories we have made on our many vacations and adventures together as a family
And now, our latest and biggest adventure together is facing this thing called cancer.  Before all of this, our lives had become a necessary, but happy routine.  Keith kept busy in his world, teaching at the university and doing all that was required of him to magnify his calling as the Bishop of our ward.  I would drive the kids from preschool to baseball to dance, wipe their noses, feed their bellies and then start the whole thing over the next day. Ocassionaly, our paths would cross and we would get a moment to eat dinner together or maybe see a movie.  But all in all, we lived in our own worlds, each of us taking care of our seperate responsibilities and we had, out of necessity, become two ships that ocassionally crossed in the night.
But that all changed the day I got my diagnosis.  When the weight of the realization of a cancer diagnosis hit me like a speeding freight train, I burried my face deep into the chest of this man I love and we wept together.  In that moment, there was no one else I wanted to hold me and nowhere else I wanted to be than wrapped up in the strong embrace of my eternal companion.  In that same moment, I realized that this togetherness, this oneness, was what we needed to be striving for all along.  Why did it take such a huge wakeup call like the C word to pull us out of our individual routines and back into a relationship that is fully focused on each other? 
Maybe that is one of the lessons we are to learn at the hands of this harsh taskmaster called cancer.  That beyond all the have to's and need to's of life, the one all important need we must fill first is to love and cherish and nurture each other. The cancer may have forced my hand on this, but it helped me remember that I have been blessed with an amazing, loving and faithful husband and partner.  Alone I may be week---but together with this man I love---I can do anything!  Happy Anniversary, Keith.  I love you! 



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It Isn't Pretty

Everyone keeps asking me what's chemo like.

And I think to myself, every single time someone asks, do you really want to know?

Because, if i'm honest, it isn't pretty.

Chemo is like being pregnant and having the flu at the same time, but worse.

The day of the treatment I felt fine. But, the day after the treatment I started to feel sick. Nauseous. Headache. Aches. Chills. Shakes.

And the third and fourth days were dark. Very dark.

And I keep thinking to myself, I'm going to do this at least five more times. Really?

Now that I'm a week out from the chemo, I'm starting to feel like a human being again.

I've made a list of foods that I can handle: tomato soup, hot tamales, white bread.
And things I never ever want to eat again: meat, peppermint, and pretty much any vegetable.

I've also made a list of things to do next time.
Start taking imodium before I even start the treatment. Take tylenol every four hours without fail.
Don't shower unless I'm prepared for a horrendous case of the shakes.

So, what's chemo like?

It sucks. BIG TIME.

But, I continue to be uplifted and I'm desperately trying to focus on the good things.

And I remind myself often that I am lucky. I have a very treatable kind of cancer.

I have all the love and support that I could ever need.
I have family who is laying aside their own lives to come and pick up mine.

And I have faith to keep me going, even when I am not entirely certain that I can.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thank You Again

Today, I really wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for the prayers.

Thank you for the love.

Thank you for your generous offers to help our family, and in particular our children.

Thank you for the gifts you've sent.

I feel so badly that I haven't been able to personally thank everyone who is on our list. Someday, I will try and actually write the thank you notes, but for now, please know how deeply grateful we are for you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sleepless in Manassas

Doctors are awesome and thank goodness for them.

My oncologist constantly cracks me up.

When I had my last appointment I thought I should tell him that I was having some anxiety and I couldn't sleep at night.

He said, "Well, of course you have anxiety. You have two cancers. If it were me, I wouldn't be able to sleep either."

I love a doctor that can deal with it all so honestly and help me keep on going.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Chemo went okay. It took about 8 hours.

The whole thing was a little surreal.

As we sat there, we had nurses coming to administer each medication, one at a time.

They would check the bag, check my name, check my date of birth, sign the bag and put it in.

There was lots and lots of saline.

And an odd assortment of other medications.

When it came time for the chemo, the nurse brought a big bag of green fluid.

And she brought two friends.

They had me look at the bag, checked my name, checked my date of birth, they signed and I signed.

And then they started the drip.

All three women surrounded me and stood there.


They were worried about the side effects of the medication and they wanted to be ready should anything happened.

As I was sitting there, they kept asking me all these questions.

Do you have a headache?

Do you have a tickle in your throat?

Do you feel like you need to throw up?

It was not comforting. What if I had to say yes?

After about 10 minutes they didn't see any kind of reaction, so they left me to finish.

After the actual chemo medication was administered, they came and changed out the needle before giving me the next medication.

It seemed strange, so I asked them why? They said that the chemo medicine was poison and corroded the metal of the needle as they gave it to me. They changed the needle after it was finished because they didn't want to risk it breaking off and entering my body.

What the heck?

And it occurred to me that I had made this conscious choice to put poison in my body. Actual poison. That has the possibility of doing some serious damage to my body.

All so I could kill something that the doctors say might eventually kill me. Let's be honest, I'm just taking their word for it. It doesn't hurt. It isn't causing me pain. I have no symptoms. It's a dark spot on medical test.

I guess I am realizing so much of this is about having faith. Why is that so hard?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rock the Pink

We wanted to have a photo shoot before everything got crazy, so we could capture a few memories of the family. Here's a few we love:


My sister, Randa, is here with me now. And getting my life in order.

Thank goodness for family!

Chemo starts today.

Let's get it done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let's Go To Vegas

We got the biopsy back on the abdominal lymph node.

I wish I could sugar coat it, or say that it was nothing, but at this point in the journey you had to know it was coming, right?

Turns out I have cancer. Again.

So the worst news we could have gotten was that the cancer in my abdomen was breast cancer that had metastasized. This would have meant that my breast cancer was far worse than we had previously imagined and had in fact spread to other parts of my body.

Good news. This didn't happen.

The bad news is that in addition to breast cancer, I also have lymphoma.

Since we only have the preliminary results back, we don't yet know what kind of lymphoma.

Did you know there are 87 different kinds of lymphoma? No, me neither.

Luckily...and I use that word loosely here, the lymphoma is not as aggressive as the breast cancer, so we are moving forward with the current treatment plan.

I will do chemo for the breast cancer, and after a bit of healing, I will move forward with a different kind of chemo for the lymphoma.

As I meet with the doctors and learn all that I can about what's going on inside of me...I try to process it. And deal with it. And when I can, try to find the funny in it.

The doctors are so hopeful and optimistic. One of them said to me, "If I was going to pick two kinds of cancers to have, i'd pick yours."


I'm feeling lucky enough for someone to take me to Vegas right about now. We could win a bundle.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Plan For Now

So, I am starting chemo on Thursday.

I will have chemo on the same schedule as I originally thought.

A treatment on Thursday. 5 days of feeling cruddy. A couple weeks to recover. And then another treatment 3 weeks after the first one.

Right now I am scheduled for 6 chemo treatments -- this is to address the breast cancer.

Depending on the results of the abdominal biopsy, I could have another couple months of treatment, followed by radiation, surgery, recovery and then reconstructive surgery.

This is the plan for now. Stay tuned. It could change tomorrow. : )

Thank you so much for your prayers and love. I feel so cared about.

Everyone has been so kind and generous. I know that when someone you love is sick, the first thing you want to do is help - right then.

I just wanted you know that we are being taken care of right now. We are good for meals and for help.

And for those of you who have asked what you can to do help - I really am learning to take help when I need it and I promise that I will reach out when there really is a need. We even have someone coordinating all that for us.

But please know, for right now, we are okay.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

There No One Like Mom

Monday morning my mom flies home.

It's been such a blessing to have her here. The kids and I both have needed that consistency of having the same person here every day to help us out.

Why is it when we're sick that there is no one who brings as much comfort as our mom?

How lucky I am.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Congratulations, It's a Cantaloupe

I had the abdominal biopsy today. It took about an hour and again, it was much more than I thought it would be.

I don't know why I ever expect things to be easy, because they really never are, but I guess that the optimist in me.

The surgery itself wasn't too difficult. The doctor had seen my CAT scan and thought that the mass in my abdomen looked unusual. He thought that when he got inside things would make more sense, but you already know what's coming don't you? It was just as crazy in there as it was in the pictures!

The funny thing is that the tumors in my abdomen had sort of clumped together. They had blood vessels and lymphatic fluid and had sort of formed a mass the size of a cantaloupe. My motto is slowing becoming go big or go home.

The doctor was actually able to remove an entire enlarged lymph node. The bulk of the surgery was laparoscopic, so I just had a bunch of tiny incisions, but because the doctor was able to get that one lymph node removed, they had to make an additional, larger incision to get it out.

I had a hard time coming out of the anesthesia. No surprise there. I was actually curled up in the fetal position when I awoke.

The nurse kept telling me to stop doing that or I would be cramping up. But of course, I was already cramping up, hence the reason for the fetal position.

The worst of the surgery was that they had to blow me up like the goodyear blimp. My abdomen is still so full of air, it's a wonder I don't float away.

And wouldn't you know, it's the one side effect they didn't tell me about, so I was completely unprepared for how cruddy I feel.

And now, as I lay here, I am comforting myself with the fact that try as I might, with all the diet and exercise I've done, I could never get my belly to be flat. Well, no wonder - I've got a cantaloupe in there!

We should get some preliminary results from the biospy on Tuesday - at least if it's cancer or not. But, the full results will still be a few weeks out.

As it stands, I will start chemo this Thursday and go from there.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

And So We Wait

So I went in for the test yesterday.

And I think you can guess, given the way this whole thing has gone, that it didn't go as planned.

They brought me to the procedure room where they planned to do a needle biopsy

I was put into a twilight state and they would move me in and out of the CAT scan machine as they tried to find the tumors and take their samples.

Normally, the procedure takes about 45 minutes. Of course, I really didn't have any idea of what was happening, since I was mostly sedated. But after they woke up, I found out it hadn't been 45 minutes, but rather two hours! And not only had it been 2 hours, but they also broke the news that they couldn't do the procedure.

Of course they couldn't.

I guess my intestines were pretty swollen and the tumors had fallen in among them. And they just couldn't safely take the samples.

We were told that they will need to surgically take the samples... and our good doctor spent quite a lot of time trying to find someone to do the operation. But, wouldn't you know it, there isn't a doctor available who can do it until Friday. Not tomorrow. But a week from tomorrow!

And, as hard as all the waiting has been, I have found myself praying a lot during this process.

And I have realized that so much of this journey about waiting on the Lord.

And it isn't just this journey that has been this way -- but really my whole life!

I didn't go on my mission when everyone else went. I had to wait to get my answer to go.

I didn't get married when everyone else got married. I had to wait to find the right person.

And I don't get to do chemo on schedule...because the Lord had something else in mind for me.

And while I don't know what it is He has in mind, and as hard as it is, I know that God has a plan for me and that I am in good hands.

And so we wait.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I know you all have questions. So here it is.

Wednesday was a good day. I was mentally prepared for chemo to start on Thursday and we were just going to get on with this.

So, late in the afternoon, the doctor calls and said that they wanted to do a PET scan on Thursday.

And of course, the doctor calls me while i'm at dance with the girls and says, "I hate to give information like this over the phone, but I feel like you need to know."

They had found some shady masses on the CAT scan in the mesentery portion of my abdomen. That's the outer part of your abdomen where your intestines are located.

As hard as all of this has been, I felt like I had accepted this cancer and I was handling it. But it so felt like the last straw. Haven't I endured enough? Isn't this hard enough? 

But apparently it isn't yet. 

I was worried about this development, but Keith reassured me that this was normal and I shouldn't get anxious.

And that's the strangest thing. I went right to the darkest place. I was overwhelmed and I just lost it.

But Keith has been a rock. And keeps telling me that the feelings of peace we have should remain unchanged. The Lord knows. I am in his hands.

And I keep telling myself to hold onto that.

On Thursday, instead of starting chemo, I went in for the PET scan.

I really got up thinking that this was the worst.

On the drive over, the oncologist called to tell me that my nipple biopsy had come back pre-cancerous, rather than cancerous.

I felt relieved and at least felt like I could move forward with the PET scan.

I would tell you more about the PET scan, except that all the tests feel the same. It's another giant room with a machine that makes lots of noises.

They shoot you up with stuff and then they leave you alone for the test.

So Friday, while waiting for the results we go to Costco.

And I'm having deja vu.

The doctor says, "I hate to give information like this over the phone, but I feel like you need to know."

He tells me that the lymph nodes in my abdomen are swollen and are active.

They don't know what that means...there are many possibilities. And we are still waiting to find out.

They didn't want to go in right there because I needed a specialist to be present at my surgery. And he wasn't available until Wednesday.

So, tomorrow, I'm scheduled to have the lymph nodes biopsied.

The Good? My nipple is not cancerous.

The Bad? We are still waiting to find out. We will know a little on Thursday, but mostly we won't know the rest for another week.

The Ugly? How is it possible that I have so much fat on my stomach that I could hide 7 large tumors? I mean, I can squish around my ugly belly and feel in there and I feel nothing but fat.

Seriously. I'd invite you to see for yourself, but there is no way I'm letting you see my belly.

Honestly, in some ways I'm grateful to know what's going on with me. And in some ways I'm grateful that the information is coming one piece at a time.

Because that's all I can handle.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The New Normal

Thank you so much for fasting for me and praying for me.

I can feel your love.

So, today is the day I am supposed to be feeling awful from the effects of my first chemo treatment.

But, as with everything on this journey, you just never know what to expect.

The doctors have postponed my chemo until next week as they have decided to run a few more, just to make sure they have all their ducks in a row.

So, I sit here with my mom, sewing Halloween costumes and feeling as normal as I have since this whole thing started.

And, all in all, it's about the best place I can be right now.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One More Step

Some say that faith is reaching the edge of darkness and taking one more step.

Right now, for me, faith is reaching the edge of a cliff, not being able to see the bottom and trying to believe the people who told me that there is someplace soft to land down there.

That's what i'm hoping for today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I went in for a nuclear medicine test.

It was surreal.

The nuke tech (yes, that's what they call them) comes in wearing a lead lined apron carrying a vial in a lead lined container.

She was super sweet. And said, you're so lucky. We normally don't normally used red dye.

Yay me.

And the, as she is wearing all the protective gear she possibly can, she injects me.

And she says, you need to wait here now, cause you're radioactive.

Keith asked me later, "Did you sing the song radioactive?"

For real Keith Jones?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bad Horror Movie

I had CT scan today.

The nurse was so super friendly and was super excited to try out my mediport for the first time.

As I was laying there, I could hear the hustle and bustle around me but as I was chatting I became totally unaware of my surroundings.

All of the sudden I found myself in a bad horror movie.

The nurse moves the curtain aside and comes at me with the biggest needle ever.

And she plunges it into my chest. And I suck in and wait...and...nothing.

It went into the mediport and all was well.

Too bad my life had to flash before my eyes before I realized what was happening.

The nurse kind of laughed and said, "Oops, forgot to tell you that was going to happen."

Yeah, you did.

The next day when I saw the same nurse, she said, "You probably want to turn your head for this."

Yeah I do.


As I was getting my 2nd biopsy I was talking with nurse. I noticed that she had a scar in the same place I have my mediport.

I was asking her if she had had a mediport and she said that she actually has one now.

She has breast cancer. She is about a week ahead of me in treatment and it turns out that she is just 5 days older than I am.

It blew me away.

Here was a kindred spirit, a sister in my same situation.

And we wept together.

I was asking her how she was feeling. She had had her first treatment last Wednesday. She said it was rough, but it was okay. She felt like she'd had the flu for 5 days and now she was working a few hours a day to get out of the house.

I asked her how she was getting by. She said that she wasn't married and didn't have kids, but that her mom had come down for the first treatment. But now she was alone.

And it made me ache for her.

Because as hard as this is, I have so much support. I have a husband who loves me. Kids that are crazy about me. And a countless number of family and friends who love me beyond reason.

And as much as I cry, I also laugh. And I have joy.

Even in this trial, I am so blessed.

$300 Mouthwash

Dr. Willilams got the full pathology from my tumor biopsy and he was concerned about some of the receptors and decided he needed to biopsy my nipple, where the original lesion was located.

In order to biopsy the nipple, they numb it and in order to numb it they insert a long needle directly into the nipple.

And they tell you it's going to hurt.

And then...picture a cartoon cat who has had their tailed stepped on and jumps to the ceiling, claws out, clinging on for deal life.


It hurt more than that.

I told the doctor that someone who got their nipple pierced had to be deranged.

So, then you're finally numb.

And they cut out a wedge of the nipple. It took six stitches to get the area closed.

Luckily, this part of me is going to be removed very shortly, so we are not worried about the hideous scar I now have there.

He also had me do a spit test to see if I have the breast cancer gene. It's now known as the "Angelia Jolie" test - since this is the test on which she based her decision to have a double mastectomy.

They put out three cups of scope. You have to swish each one again and again until your mouth is on fire. It just burns.

And they hand you the small bottle of scope and congratulation you on your $300 mouthwash purchase.

It's truly not how I would have spent that $300.

We get the results back in 10 days.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Fast and A Prayer

Hi Everyone.

This is Denise, Tamee's friend.

I just wanted to let you all know that on Thursday, October 24, on Tamee's first day of Chemo, we are going to fast and pray for her.

We ask everyone who is fasting and praying to stop whatever you are doing at 1 pm, Eastern time, and pray specifically for Tamee. Pray for her by name. Ask the Lord for whatever blessings you think she needs at this time.

There is power in prayer and in fasting, and we know that our united efforts will bless her.

I know that all of Tamee's family would give anything to be here with her right now. Please know we are loving her the best we can until you get here.



Moments of Faith

It was interesting Sunday at Church today was we spoke about being Mormon and being different.

A lot of people have asked me why I am handling all that is happening with what looks like to them such grace.

When I went to the doctor that very first day and he told me I might have Paget's Disease,  I called Keith right away and told him to google it.

He looked at it and said, "This isn't you. You don't have this."

And I came home that night and lay in bed. And I imagined myself dying. And I cried.

I still had so much left to do.

I am a mom of little kids - there is still a lot of life to lived - for them and for me.

And I was afraid.

The next day we went to see the specialist and Keith came with me.

But before we went to the doctor we said a prayer that we would be able to accept whatever the doctor would have to say to us. That we would have the strength to deal with it.

And in that moment of prayer and supplication to the Lord, my fear turned to faith.

And I knew that all would be well. That God would keep me and carry me.

On that second visit, when the doctor confirmed the Paget's Disease, he wanted to do an ultrasound to look for a tumor.

As I lay there and he did the ultrasound, I could clearly see the tumor. It was a large, egg shaped mass and it was as clear to me as any ultrasound I had had for my babies.

And I had a moment of clarity, of profound gratitude that I knew that thing was in me and that I was living in a place and at a time where it could be dealt with and after which I could live the life I was meant to live.

These moments of faith are in my heart on every step of this journey and it helps me to not be afraid.

And while I still ache for what is to come. And the trials that my family and I have to endure.

Honestly, I would rather not go through this at all, but if I endure it in the arms of the Lord, what more could I ask for?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My One Beauty

Today I cut my hair.

My long, beautiful hair, that I love and hide behind came off.

I didn't cry.

But as they began to cut my hair, one long strand fell into my hand and I slipped it into my pocket and took it out to the car.

As I got into the car and pulled out that strand I finally began to cry.

I felt like it was so dumb to cry over my hair, and the story of Little Women came to my mind when Jo Marsh cuts her hair.

And her little sister comes to her and says, "Jo, you cut your hair. Your one beauty."

And I cried for my hair. My femininity. One symbol of my womanhood.

And as I fight this cancer, I thought to myself,'re not crying for cancer. You're crying for your hair.

You boob.

Oh wait.

That's probably not appropriate. a bonus, I went to Ruth's Chris and ate my troubles away.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wild Woman

I went to chemo class on Thursday. It was a lot about the day to day of dealing with chemo. Not to difficult. Just informational.

Friday, was a different story all together.

I went in for the mediport. It was way more than I thought it would be. The procedure itself was fine.

But I am not a needles, blood, hospital, medicine or drugs kind of gal. I guess no one really is, but it was rough.

As I lay in half awake state, sedated and waiting for the procedure to start, I could hear the doctors and nurses talking. They were talking about their lives and playing music.

A song came on....Home...about not fighting your demons and as I lay and listened, I started to cry.

I think the nurse thought I was in pain, but really, I was just feeling a little overwhelmed.

Laying in bed afterwards, it was really my first taste of laying around for hours with really nothing to do. The reality of what is happening began to set in.

After the procedure was over, I got up and looked at my hair and I just looked like a wild woman.

Well, Let me be clear, after I got up, I of course passed out.

And then I looked in the mirror and found a wild woman staring back at me.

Not that looking like a wild woman is anything new for me - but I really got a sense that it would be better if I made some changes.

So, I decided right then and there I need to start the process of cutting my hair and embracing what is to come.

My main focus right now is my kids and I need to be there for them and do what needs to be done so that they too can deal with what is to come.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Going Blond?

Today I met with the oncologist.

He was so funny. But he also had a lot of good information and it helped me prepare for what is coming.

He said there are three types of breast cancer and identified my type of cancer as a protein cancer.

He kept telling me that I am young and healthy. 

He also told me that I might lose a little weight while on this treatment, but that I didn't really need to. 

That alone makes him #1 in my book.

The one thing he did say was that this cancer is so treatable. That in a year, we are going  to on the other side of this. It's going to be okay.

The doctor wrote me a prescription for a wig. 

The nurse was there and said some people like shopping for the wigs because it gives you a chance to be someone else.

She asked Keith if he'd like me as a blond.

I think he's giving it some thought.

I have to say, it's these moments that make me literally laugh out loud that make it possible to keep going. 

I know you're all interested in my treatment. So here's the lowdown. 

My chemotherapy treatment is called TCH. It is commonly used to treat breast cancer.

It is made of three drugs:

- Docetaxel or Taxotere
- Carboplatin or Paraplatin
- Trastuzumab or Herceptin

Doxcetaxel and carboplatin prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing and can eventually cause the cancer cells to shrink and die. Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody, which targets cancer cells more precisely than chemo drugs. 

Because they want to make sure I don't have an adverse reaction to the drugs, the first treatment will be slower and longer than other treatments.

The treatments will be given by injection. 

In addition I will be given dexamthasone, an oral medication, that helps prevent some of the side effect of the treatment.

Tomorrow I go to chemo class - where they help you learn what the expect.

Friday I get my mediport inserted. A mediport is an internally installed needle accessed device that is typically used for patients that need long term IV access. This is where they will inject the chemo.

Monday, October 22 I will have en ECG to check my heart.

Thursday, October 24 is my first day of chemo. 

Then I start recovery to do it all again in 3 weeks. 

The doctor thought I would need 6 to 8 rounds of chemo, every three weeks follwed by surgery.

So, I guess this is really happening. 

I am getting your messages and it really does help, I just don't feel up to responding to each one - I hope you know that I really do feel loved.

Thank you too for your prayers. I feel them too! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dealing With It

Isn't it interesting how everyone deals with tragedy?

Keith...the more information better. The knowledge he gains each day helps him feel like we are moving in the right direction and doing the right thing.

Garrett. He's the funny one. I don't know where he gets that from. Whenever it gets difficult or uncomfortable he cracks a joke. Keith doesn't know what to make of it. Unfortunately for Garrett, he keeps hearing about all these people who died from cancer and he is worried that I might die too. I often reassure him that everything is going to be okay.

Kendall is forever writing me notes. She keeps drawing pictures of her and me holding hands. All the drawings have broken hearts and the sweetest words. The one she gave me today said, "I know the breast cancer will go away."

Taryn is our oversharer. Again. I don't know where that comes from. She tells everyone she sees, "My mom has breast cancer." The neighbors know. Perfect strangers know. 

Alina. She knows something is wrong, but it expresses itself in neediness and naughtiness. Last night she painted my bedspread, herself and her brother in orange nail polish. As I am typing this, she poked her straw through my coke cup and it spilled onto the floor. Sweet girl.

Landon doesn't really understand. He's still sweet as ever, although maybe he hugs a little longer and tighter than before.

Me. I mostly just want to forget about it. More information doesn't help. 

I have to admit that I am at the point in my journey where I hope the next doctor is going to tell me they made a mistake. That I don't really have cancer. That they got my results mixed up with someone else's. 

I know that isn't going to happen and mostly, I just want to do what the doctors tell me to do and get to the end. 

It's that patience thing again. I'm already ready for this to be over. 

Think Bananas

We met with the surgeon today, Dr. Williams.

He confirmed that there was in fact a tumor in my breast, as he had seen on the MRI and mammogram.

He expressed some frustration that not all the information was back on the receptors...and he is wondering if there is something else behind the nipple, but he couldn't see it far it was showing up as a shaded mass.

Either way, he feels like the chemo will take care of the cancer and whatever isn't taken care of by the chemo will be removed during surgery.

We started talking about my surgery...and the different types of mastectomies that are possible. Nipple sparing. Skin sparing.

He felt like he could save the nipple on my left breast. They will simply remove all the breast tissue on that side and replace it with an implant. This leaves that nipple with sensation.

You have to imagine that as we are having this discussion, he is addressing both Keith and I, while he is actually touching and probing my breasts and demonstrating by pointing how my nipple with still be able to get erect.

I wish you could have seen Keith's face.

Of course, that was nothing compared to what happened when he pulled up the photos of my breasts on his computer. He was showing us where the incisions would go and what the scars would look like.

He pointed out how my boobs had gotten long and are no longer perky. Think bananas.

He wanted us to see how they would look with the procedures he was describing, so he pulled up photos of other womens' breasts.

I was really interested in what the doctor was showing me, while at the same time, as the doctor scrolled through various sets of boobs, Keith continued to move a little further away with each set until he was standing at the door.

It isn't that Keith isn't supportive, but I think it was feeling a little wrong to him to stare at other people's breasts.

The doctor was showing how much better my post surgical breasts would look if I got a double mastectomy as opposed to a single one. And obviously, how they look isn't really my main concern, but let's be honest, if I have to go through this, new perky boobs are just a bonus.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where To Put Your Hands?

I got a letter in the mail with the results of my mammogram.

I don't know why, but I thought it was hilarious that they wanted me to know that my results were abnormal and that I should NEVER ignore breast cancer.

I guess it's good they told me, cause I was thinking of doing just that.

Today was a little rough.

I had a breast MRI.

When I got to the hospital, they put me onto a table and had me lay on my stomach on top of a metal rod with my boobs in handy little cups. They had me lay with my arms above my head - like superman - and hooked me up to an IV.

SUPER comfortable.

I thought the scan was going to be a piece of cake. I was just laying there and it seemed to be going fine.

Then they started the IV with the stuff that would show up on the scan. All of the sudden I started to feel woozy and light headed. The stuff makes you feel all warm and have the chills at the same time.

So crazy.

I was squeezing the call button for the nurse, but because the scan had already started, there wasn't really anything they could do for me.

The nurse said if they stopped now they would have to start again.

So I did what any self respecting woman would do. I passed out.

When I came to, they were pulling me out of the machine. The nurse said she was sure I was okay because she could see me twitching.

She sat me up and I had just enough time to yell, "TRASH" when a nurse shoved the can under my face so I could throw up and pass out again.

Good thing there were three nurses there, because all three of them had to catch my naked self and get me back onto a bed.

I am sure they were wondering where to put their hands.

Good times.

I am feeling fine now, just a little tired.

Good friends helped me organize my garage.

I'm getting everything in order for the days to come.

I know they will be difficult, but I feel very much in the hands of the Lord and I know He will bless and keep me.

Thank you for all your kinds words and thoughts. I cannot express how loved we feel.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Eyes Are Up Here

I was surprised at how difficult it was to tell my parents I had cancer.

No parent ever wants to hear that about one of their children.

You never want your children to suffer, or hurt or feel any kind of pain.

I hurt for them and for all of my family and friends.

At first telling everyone was really hard, but by the time you've told the 12th person, there are just no more tears.

I still cry at random times throughout the day, but it's more about feeling overwhelmed than about anything else.

All the news of the cancer is now in my past and now I'm more worried about today and tomorrow.

I've spent a lot of time comforting people and letting them know that I'm okay. That everything is going to be okay.

It's true. It's going to be okay.

The craziest thing for me is that I've started having conversations with people that all start the same way.

"Hi. I have cancer."

Sounds like I should be in a meeting. My name is Tamee Jones and I have a problem.

Talking to people about my cancer has also been such a strange thing.

Some people stare at my boobs.

For real.

They hold my hand and tell me how sorry they are and they do it all while staring at my chest.

It kind of makes me laugh.

Don't get me wrong. Everyone has been beyond kind and I know they are all struggling to find the right words.

I just need to see the humor in all of it or I will drive myself crazy.

My Best Kept Secret

Sunday came way too fast.

Thinking about facing everyone and talking endlessly on about my diagnosis was not something I was looking forward to.

When I got up, I saw Keith had left me a note that said, "Good luck today. I love you."

What a good man I have. How blessed I feel to have such a wonderful companion.

And the good moment lasted just about that long - a moment, because Sunday morning chaos erupted around me.

Hello family. Let's get ready for church.

I thought with all the feelings of the last few days that we would wake up on a spiritual high and all peace and serenity would  reign in our home.

Not so much.

By the time I got all my grumpy kids to church, we were late and the only open seat was at the front.

Lucky me.

Alina was super grumpy. Par for the course. And Garrett spent quite a bit of sacrament meeting worried that I was going to die.

Holy smokes.

Keith was conducting and used the opportunity to talk about our situation and to bear his testimony.

He started by talking about how he sometimes heard people get up and bear their testimony and say how they'd had a hard week.

And he would wonder why their week was hard.

And then he said that he'd had a hard week.

He spoke about the great comfort and peace we felt and the reassurance that we had that everything was going to be okay.

We both have felt very strongly that God intended this trial for us and that everything was going to be fine.

Keith also spoke about his great love for me and how he felt like he was a better person for having me in his life.

It was beautiful.

And kind.

And loving.

And perfect.

At some point, I too felt prompted to bear my testimony and I got up and shared how much peace we feel and how I too have felt the reassurance from the Lord that everything was going to okay.

I also shared how good a man Keith is. And how sad I was, in a very selfish way, when he got called to be the Bishop, because Keith was my best kept secret.

Since I'm so much the face of our family, not a lot of people knew what a great guy Keith is, and now my secret was going to be out and I was going to have to share him.

One sister bore an especially meaningful testimony that I wanted share. She shared how one day she had gotten a call at work that something had happened to her husband.

He was in bad shape and she rushed home to his side. When they got him to the hospital, it was a very desperate situation and the doctors did not predict a good outcome.

In fact, they thought the outcome so poor that they were extremely concerned when she did not react as they expected.

She had received a strong reassurance that her husband was going to be fine. So strong, in fact, that she wasn't concerned when the  doctors predicted her husband's death.

They even called for social services to make sure she hadn't lost her mind.

But, sure enough, her husband was talking the next day and home by the end of the week. And she knew it would be so.

We feel very much the same way and hope that you too will feel the peace we feel.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I'm Am So Much a Martha

Today we spent a lot of time asking, "WHY?"

Why me?

Why did I get breast cancer when I have spent the last 9 years nursing babies? Doesn't that really lower your risk? I wrecked my poor boobs with all that nursing and this still happened?

I'm 42. I'm just too young! Seriously, have you seen me? I'm young.

I'm healthy. I am going back to the gym. I'm eating salad like it's going out of style. I should have had a few more cheeseburgers if this was going to happen anyway.

I have no family history of this. Really, us Hatch women are a hardy lot.

Why now? Keith is the Bishop. We are away from family. Haven't we been giving all that we can give? Now you want my boobs too?

Hasn't my poor body been though enough ? Haven't I sacrificed enough just to bring all these little people to this earth? Seriously...5 kids under 10. I'm doing my part.

Don't all these questions seem pointless and silly and slightly selfish?

But I can't stop thinking about it and wondering why.

Well, thank goodness for family.

Keith's brother, Randall, send us a link to a Conference talk, about how God helps us turn our weaknesses into strengths.

After spending the day talking about why, and then reading this Conference talk, we decided we needed to go to the temple.

We talked about how we are given trials in this life that hone in on our weaknesses, so that we can turn them into strengths, and ultimately, become more like our Heavenly Father.

It made me think about my own weaknesses and my own strengths. And let's be honest, for me, it's all about my weaknesses.

So, with these thoughts in my head, while I was at the temple I saw a painting of Martha and Mary. And I realized that I am very much a Martha.

I am a doer. I can't sit. I can't wait. I need to get things done.

The things of this world press upon me and I have to make sure that I am doing my part.

I often feel like I can work my to heaven, and of course, that's not exactly how it works.

Because, even if I do all that I can I will fall short. I require Jesus Christ to make up the difference between what I can do and what is truly required. Justice says I alone am not enough.

But thank goodness for mercy and grace - which make up for all of my shortcomings.

And I know that my weakness is that I have trouble being like Mary.

Sitting. Absorbing. Allowing others to serve me and show me grace and mercy.

I can honestly tell you right now, this cancer isn't going to kill me - but learning how to be still, and embrace mercy and accept service from others just might.

Attending the temple was a huge blessing and we felt such a sense of peace. It was wonderful.

After coming home Keith sent an email to ward letting them know about my diagnosis and directing them here for more information.

The journey begins...

Tamee was diagnosed on Monday (10/7) when she went to see a skin doctor for a sore on her breast that had not healed over several months. When the skin doctor saw it, he said it was likely cancer and referred her immediately to a specialist. The type of cancer on the surface of the breast – called Paget’s Disease – is rare and is almost always accompanied with a cancerous tumor inside the breast. Tamee saw the specialist the following day. He confirmed that it was almost certainly Paget’s Disease and performed an ultrasound that discovered the tumor. He took samples of the tumor and a spot in her lymph nodes that he was concerned about. On Thursday, he received the pathology report that confirmed that both the tumor and the spot in the lymph node were cancerous. Obviously, that is difficult news to hear. However, the doctor expressed confidence that the cancer could be effectively treated with chemotherapy and surgery.    

So, at this point, we are putting our trust in the Lord. Ever since that initial appointment with the specialist where he discovered the tumor, we have felt a strong sense of peace. So, we will move forward with confidence that Tamee will have to strength to meet the challenge and that all things will be for our good. Right now, Tamee feels fine. So, we are just enjoying time as a family. Next week she will have an MRI and meet with an oncologist. As more information becomes available, we will update the blog.          ----Thanks, Keith

This is Paula---Tamee's sister.  Tamee and her family need some privacy at this time and ask that rather than calling or dropping by, you leave words of encouragement and support on this blog as well as using it as a source of information and updates on her progress toward recovery, so that they can have time as a family to spend with their children and each other.  Thanks so much for your cooperation and understanding.