Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Bad Country Music Song

I feel like my life has become a bad country western song. Don't get me wrong, I love country music. It's one of the genres I listen to most. But think back to when you were a kid and heard a really bad one. One that goes something like the dog died, my wife left, the farm foreclosed, (and think of someone who can't sing that is singing it) etc. - you get the picture. Three weeks ago, I came down with a sinus infection. I am still coughing from that one. Two weeks ago, Dawson caught a sinus infection, and the heater broke. This past weekend, David was outside playing with a friend and rolled his ankle. We went to the local medical clinic and they took an X-ray. Sure enough, he broke it, and right near the growth plate. The doctor said everything should heal well, but since it's near his growth plate we need to keep an eye on it as it might prevent that part of him from growing. The doctor assures me it is a small chance that will happen. All I could think of was, "Have you met my family?" Later, my pastor called to see how David was doing. He asked, "Would it be all right if I prayed that your family would have a dull 2011?" To which I practically screamed YES!

Thank God for good doctors and good health insurance. I wonder if the medical community has a frequen flyer program?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tyler Perry was right. "I can do bad all by myself!"

Well this past week hasn't been pretty. The boys got sick for a few days, and I stayed home to care for them. They definitely watched way to much TV and played way to many video games. I'm pretty sure we missed a teeth brushing once or twice, and we definitely had at least one day where they didn't get out of their pajamas or as I prefer to call it: "pajama day." (I think that sounds better don't you?) Any way, big thanks to my in-laws and parents for helping and thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. Friday marked the last day we received meals from our church friends and our neighbors. They have really come in handy and have been a tremendous blessing. However, you know what this means. Daddy gets to cook, or as my children prefer to call it, "Run for your lives. Daddy's setting stuff on fire again!" Today was my first attempt. David asked for waffles. My response was to give birth to a cow. When I recovered, I forced myself into the kitchen. I went through three boxes of Bisquick, and I'm not sure how much milk and eggs. It wasn't pretty, but I managed to create 6 waffles. For those of you who read this and are my neighbors, pay no attention to the fleet of fire trucks that are sure to come to our house this coming week. For the rest of you, if I don't update this blog in a few weeks it's because I burned down the house trying to make toast. Until next time, stay safe and God bless.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I miss Mommy

What does a father say when his little boy is crying in bed and says, "I miss Mommy. I miss it when she used to sing songs and scratch my back." I wish I could bring her back, but I can't. I wish she were there scratching Dawson's back and singing to him, but she's not; and she never will be again. That is quite a hard thing for this father to handle. Right now I'm swallowing harder than I ever have before. But I did sing (badly I might add) and scratched his back. Fortunately, he smiled and rolled over just like he used to do for her. David said, "Dad, do you want me to talk to him?" He's such a good big brother, but I fear he's trying to be a bit too brave.

This week seems like our long crawl back into reality. It stings quite a bit. Yesterday, I visited a friend in the hospital (oh how I hate that place). I went because I love him and his wife, but the sound of those machines practically made me jump out of my skin. Tomorrow, we go on the walk in Wilmington to raise money to fight cancer. It's going to be gut wrenching, because Barbara won't be there. However, I look at it as an opportunity to raise money so we can hopefully one day find a stake to drive into the heart of that aweful disease. I hope I'm there when that happens, because I'm going to twist that stake over and over again.

The boys have started acting out. When I ask them why, they say I don't know, and while they might not, I do. I realize you can't blame everything on them losing their mother, but it is a factor. Some of it has to do with me too. I'm not there enough and it shows in their behavior. Often, it feels like a daily struggle. Should I just quit school and spend every second with them? On the other hand, Barbara and I (mainly Barbara) sacrificed so much so that I could finish. How would that honor her? I feel like I'm in a race against time.

While I go through all this, it so nice to have a Savior to hold your hand. Thank God He knows the way. He gets me through it mostly by little graces - a hug from a friend, a meal, a slap on the back, a friend who looks at me and genuinely asks, "How are you?" It's times like these I whisper a quiet prayer and say, "Thank you so much, Lord." I don't know what I would do with out Him and the people He sends my way.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Surviving

Since Barbara's death, some folks have asked me to keep the blog alive by keeping regular correspondence. Other people want me to publish her work. For now, I'm just going to try to survive. I can barely handle grieving, work, parenting, and grad school. Trying to find a publisher at this point would probably put me over the edge. While Barbara was a prolific author, my plan is to make an occasional post. First, let me start off by saying thank you. Thank you to all of you for your cards, your financial support (I was totally surprised by that one.), your flowers, your delicious meals, your thoughts, your prayers, your visits, your hugs. That list could go on and on. It's really been wonderful. You have all been wonderful to me and my family, and I really appreciate it. I would also like to thank Barbara for doing her best to prepare her husband for single parenting. She was one amazing woman. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank Jesus Christ for His amazing grace - most of which shows up in the form of you her readers. Thus far, the boys and I are learning to take things day by day (and sometimes minute by minute). We've had a few ups (i.e. receiving your encouragement) and a few downs (David has gotten sick twice once with some stomach thing and now a nasty cough. Dawson seems to be picking up his own cough now.) At any rate, Barbara soldiered on through thick and thin, and so will I, even if it means I burn the house down trying to cook my first meal. May God bless us all.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thank you

The outpouring of support for Barbara and the entire family has been both overwhelming and heartwarming.

The list of people who provided emotional support, meals, cards, visits, and so much more is just too numerous to mention. Please know that your words and actions have been a tremendous blessing during such a painful time.

Thank you to each and every one of you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Barbara Viewing and Funeral

Viewing: Monday Sept. 13th, 6PM - 8PM
Funeral: Tuesday Sept. 14th, 11AM

Both are held at Faith Presbyterian Church
720 Marsh Road
Wilmington, DE 19803

For those wishing to send flowers, please send them directly to the church
For those wishing to make a donation, Barbara requested that donations be made to the Susan G Koman Breast Cancer Foundation

Friday, September 10, 2010

Barbara lost her battle with cancer today

Barbara lost her battle with cancer and passed away at 9:45 AM today.
Her family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support
Funeral arrangements will be posted as soon as they're available

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hail Mary Pass

From Dave: Barbara has decided that she has three goals. First, she would like to try to live to her birthday. If she achieves this, her second goal is to live until our son David's 8th birthday, and her last goal is to live until our youngest son Dawson's birthday. She met with her oncologist and they decided together to try a dose of chemotherapy. Please pray that it will work, she can come off the ventilator, and that she doesn't develop an infection as a result of the chemotherapy. We are grateful to Jesus for great nurses, wonderful family and friends, and a talented oncologist. Thank you all for your support and prayers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Please no visitors on Saturday, 28-August

Given the amount of effort Barb exerted yesterday, we are requesting no visitors outside of family today.

I'm sorry for being harsh, but she really needs to rest. Thanks for your understanding.

-Dave

Barb hospital update - Saturday, 28-Aug

Barb is still in the hospital on a ventilator. Fortunately, she's still alert enough to tell us all what to do. :) -Dave

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not the change of scenery I was looking for

I was admitted to Christiana today. I knew something was not right this weekend and today called the doctor. I was having so much trouble breathing all of the time and needed my oxygen all the time. I slept most of the day on Friday and the boys loved watching DVD after DVD!They did a chest xray today which showed more fluid around my lungs which is probably the cause of my difficulties. We are going to drain this and I am not sure what else is happening yet.

Please pray for my family as we deal with this unexpected roadblock. Big thanks to Dave's parents too for all of their help.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Off I go

Leaving for the airport to pick up my boy!!!! Praying everything goes smoothly today with oxygen, wheelchairs etc. I will finally get to see David tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

David at camp

David went to his Camp Kesem in NC on Monday and they have a blog and are updating twitter too. If anyone is interested in seeing some pictures of him and he is also doing some serious breakdancing, you can check him out on www.campkesemnc.tumblr.com. The blog is password protected so please email me at davidbarbara.anderson@verizon.net if you are interested. On twitter, it is "campkesemnc." He is one seriously missed boy around here - even the neighbors! I will see him on Sunday!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cyber knife is over!

video
I finished my treatments on Wednesday and ended up taking 2 naps that day. I had chemo on Thursday and it seemed like the longest day of my life. Everything was behind that day and I was so happy to finally be home and rest. I had a busy day yesterday too with a 2D echo of my heart and general errands. But, I decided to give the scooter at Target a whirl. I felt ridiculous but that store is so big and by the time I get through it, go back to the pharmacy, pay, etc., I am so spent. The scooter really made it much more enjoyable. On Monday, I should be able to physically do more and I will also begin my tapering down of the steroids tomorrow. That means I may be able to fall asleep BEFORE the wee hours of the morning.



I spent the morning doing nothing so we could go to a wedding this afternoon. We really had a great time and I am ready to put my feet up! I get so tired but those steroids just have a knack of keeping me from sleeping. I can't wait to get off of them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nice weekend

We really had a great weekend. Lots of relaxing, fun at the pool and some dress shopping. My wonderful husband and son rolled me around the mall on Saturday evening so I could get a dress. I just thought doing it by myself would have really sucked too much energy and would not have been fun. I didn't even make them suffer through shoe shopping! I already had a pair to match. Dawson and I went to see a local community show at the high school on Saturday afternoon as well. Needless to say, I was ready for bed at the end of our day but it was worth it.



I have been feeling so much better without the humidity outside and hope this lasts. Dawson and I went to the pool late yesterday afternoon and he jumped off the diving board for the first time! He loved it and just kept going back for more.






CANNONBALL!

David couldn't believe Dawson had done this when I talked to him on the phone. He just kept telling Dawson how proud he was.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cyberknife today

I was pleasantly surprised when the actual zapping only lasted 12 minutes!!! I did notice a little extra fatigue at naptime today but other than that, it was a piece of cake. I will continue the same treatments on Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We went out for a celebratory dinner tonight because something was easy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cyberknife tomorrow

I will begin my cyberknife treatment tomorrow afternoon. I know I will have 5 treatments but they can't tell me how long they will take. That blows my mind! I told them I will need to take breaks and she reminded me the more breaks, the longer it takes. Spoken like someone who has never endured cyberknife! Fortunately, this is my week off chemo and I will be done the treatments on Wednesday, the day before I go back on chemo. I am also happy it will be done before David is done his camp in NC and I will be able to get to see him at his closing picnic in August. Just want to get this done so I can move on.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Longwood Gardens

My younger brother and his wife are in town and we went to Longwood Gardens on this beautiful day. The scooter was the way to go! Dawson didn't even hitch a ride until the very end. We really had a great time.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Praise Jesus with me!

The CT scan of my head is done! I really was very worried about this and was praying all morning. I left early for the scan because I just couldn't wait any longer. I called my parents to pray for me before I walked in and I knew many others were praying too. I had a team of nurses with me who were holding my hands and comforting me through the whole process. It got scary when they had to put the mask on briefly without my oxygen and my O2 level was dropping more than they like. But, the scan is done. The next step is the mapping and the treatments should start sometime next week. I will be able have the oxygen but the 5 treatments could last 30-45 minutes. That is another week for Tuesday's chemo to keep killing those cells and relaxing my lungs.


I almost didn't believe it when it was done. I praise Him for his abundant grace. I was surrounded with prayer and angels and I left the cancer center knowing that I am loved.

1 week later

Well, I was scheduled for 2 scans last week, which require me to lie flat as a a pancake. My lungs were not having any part in that! The staff gave me oxygen and we tried all kinds of tricks, but ultimately, I was not able to lie down long enough for the scans. My oncologist said the CT scan can wait because it is obvious by my appearance and breathing that the chemo has already begun to take effect. The CT scan of my head is the more pressing need so I can begin my cyberknife treatment. The scan is to simulate the cyberknife and the final step is starting the treatments. I am scheduled to try and get this scan again today. I will be fitted for the mask and "marked" for placement in the machine. Dr. Grubbs said that if I continue to have difficulty again today, don't stress. I am on steroids if the tumor starts to swell, the tumor is not too large and it won't take long for my lungs (on chemo) to get me to lay down. Still, I'm not crazy about this tumor and its location. After I get the boys settled this morning, I plan on doing a little simulation myself. If I can't lie flat here, Christiana won't be any different. Please pray for my lungs to fill with air so we can proceed with treating this tumor. I am also continuing my recovery from chemo on Tuesday and it has ben challenging.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I never really get used to this.

It is hard to get used to this "I have just been hit by a truck" feeling. Although this chemo is generally tolerable, it does have its less tolerable moments. Today, the nausea is overwhelming. My boys have been very understanding and cooperative through it all. There are times like these when they step up their game and really make me proud. I am so thankful that God gave me such sensitive, caring children. This is not to say they don't have their "brother" moments, but they really handle things well when I am sick.

Monday, July 12, 2010

So . . .

I went in for my surgery today and it had to be cancelled due to complications caused by the cancer in my lungs. The medical center personnel suggested I speak to my oncologist as soon as possible and within an hour or so, I was hooked up to my chemo. It wasn't the day I planned but I am glad we are treating this cancer before I start getting really uncomfortable.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

It just gets better . . .

I saw my oncologist on Thursday and based on my symptems, we have scheduled another CT scan of my chest. He has also scheduled me to begin chemo again on Thursday, 7/22. The cancer in my lungs is making it difficult to breathe again and I have a lot of fluid buildup also. Today, I am scheduled for a minor procedure at Limestone Medical Center and pray that it goes well.

I also found out over the weekend that a fellowcancer survivor passed away. She was only 33 with 2 small children. Her last few blog entries showed circumstances very similar to mine. It sure put my argument with Dave about cake in perspective.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We spoke too soon. The brain radiation oncologist called today and said the new tumor that showed up on the May scan is growing. He did not have a full report when he was telling me the results yesterday so was not aware of this development until today. This means steroids and cyberknife again. I am scheduled to meet with my oncologist tomorrow and the brain specialist next week to discuss and schedule the plan.

When asked how I was, I responded with a loud, "I"M MAD!" I want longer periods of time when I don't have to be discussing, planning, treating, etc.!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2 weeks later . . .

Wow, I didn't realize it had been that long since my last post. In those 2 weeks, Dave and I went on a vacation to New England, just the 2 of us and we were also able to visit with family along the way. We returned to a whirlwind week of appointments and scans. My follow-up brain MRI scan showed no growth and no new tumors. We love it when all we have to do is nothing! I see my oncologist this Thursday for Herceptin and follow-up. This one may not not go as uneventful. I have had an increase in the amount of fluid produced through my pleuryx catheter. My arms are swelling more too. I'm not sure what that is all about.

Next week, I am scheduled for an outpatient procedure and it shouldn't keep me down for long.
Dave continues with his internship and we are somehow continuing to balance everything. Lots of prayer is our solution!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Fun







We spent last weekend at the beach at a friend's house. The boys and I were able to stay a little longer and we were surprised at how empty it was. We had some great weather, even chilly at times and really had a great time. We were able to meet up with some other friends there too.

I saw my oncologist last week and my CT scans showed that the cancer in my lungs was shrinking. We are enjoying our summer and the boys are at Vacation Bible School this week. I hadn't realized how long it had been since my last post. I tell people that when I don't write for awhile, it means I am too busy living life and forgetting about that cancer.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Moving on with life

It was anti-climactic to finish chemo on Thursday. It actually involved me getting a test done on my port because we thought it might be leaking internally, but it wasn't. I haven't felt too bad this weekend and I am hoping it only gets better. The boys are finishing spring sports and we are getting involved with the swim team now. We are praying for a summer without cancer.

I came across this organization in the newspaper - Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation (www.makingmemories.org). They grant wishes to Stage IV breast cancer patients. Our family had fun sharing our wishes this morning at the breakfast table. Everyone said the obvious wish first - for my cancer to go away, but I wanted to know their fun answers. David's wishes were some Star Wars toys that I can't pronounce or spell. Dawson wished for all of the Lego Star Wars toys in the world. Dave wanted to travel to the Mediterranean. Everything that popped in my mind seemed so trivial because the thing I want most can't be wrapped or guaranteed - time.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Update

I didn't realize it had been so long since my last post. I went to NYC over the holiday weekend with my sister-in-law Robin and we saw Glee at Radio City Music Hall. For all of you "gleeks" out there, the show was awesome! I had a relaxing , refreshing weekend. Dave stayed home with the boys and I came home to some organized closets and rooms and some boys who missed me.

I am scheduled for my last chemo tomorrow and then am scheduled for a break. I am not sure how long it will last before the chemo flares up but I will take it!

David has started swim team for the summer, in addition to finishing up baseball. Dawson is finishing up soccer this weekend and starting his swim team next week. I like the busyness but I am needing something for me to do (that I enjoy.) I have plenty to do but I need an outlet. I'm looking into a few different things.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good and Bad News

I had a Brain MRI yesterday. I had a lot of trouble getting through the MRI - breathing problems from lying flat (and maybe some anxiety). I did finally finish it. The 4 tumors that were hit with the cyberknife have shrunk and should continue to do that but a new one popped up. It is small but wasn't present on the 3/15/10 MRI. The plan is to watch it and see if more pop up before another cyberknife. A second round of whole brain radiation would be too detrimental to my brain so we have to attack these"seedlings" as they come along.

My head knows that both sets of news have good sides, blessings. My heart just hears, "more cancer," "more treatment." The chemo I receive next week is my 50th chemo treatment! And I still get upset before each one. People tell me that I am brave - I'm not, I'm scared!! The trouble I had with the MRI is making me wonder if my chemo is no longer working as well. You might see me living life and it looks like we are keeping it together, but inside, I'm not. I am daily reading about God's love and His grace and His mercy and that is what is sustaining me. If I show any emotion in front of Dawson, he completely loses it and becomes very emotional. I think he remembers the winter when I would go to the doctor and end up in the hospital for 2 weeks.

My parents are coming into town next week and I am looking forward to the visit and a change of pace. Meanwhile, Dave and I are planning a trip to New England this summer. David told me he wanted to come too and I had to explain how this trip is good for our whole family. He'll understand better when he has monsters of his own. A little separation is a good thing! I pointed out that they would be with Pop and Gam, or as Dave refers to their house - Disneyworld.

My prayer request is this - peace. I am off those ugly steroids and am now looking for peace in the midst of this. Dave is very busy with school and work right now and is doing as much as possible to help me, but there are only 24 hours in a day and he does need to sleep! I may have to hang up my Supermom cape and call in some reinforcements sometimes. I am getting better at asking for help and accepting it.

Finally, yesterday I saw a woman in my oncologist's waiting room that I have spoken to in the past. I was on my way out the door to another appointment (and just had heard about tumor #5) so I didn't stop to talk. But, I remember speaking with her shortly after the breast cancer metastasized to my lungs, about 2 years ago. She also had Stage 4 breast cancer, but hers had spread to multiple organs - liver, abdomen, bones, lungs. She has 3 children and we have talked about how life goes on because of the kids. Anyway, I was encouraged to see her because she has been battling this longer than I have with many more metastases and she is continuing to fight. I have emailed her and am hoping to find out her status.

We appreciate all of the messages, cards, emails, meals, prayers, gifts - everything that our dear friends and family have sent. We thank God for all of your support!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Feeling Better

I have felt so exhausted this past week, taking 2 naps a day and still feeling so tired. But, today I felt like a new person. I just felt better overall and much more patient. I even got Dawson to take a nap with me today. He hasn't taken a nap at home for months! He had some testing done today for his nut allergies (which we found out he still has) and I think he was just spent.

I am hoping my feeling good lasts until tomorrow. Dave begins his class tomorrow night and then his practicum on Monday. The boys have been helping me a lot more around the house and we have been praying a lot for God to sustain me through this upcoming year and keep me "healthy" (as that term is defined in my cancer world) so he can stay focused on finishing up this school year. I have a brain MRI scheduled and also see my brain radiation oncologist on Friday to see the progress of the Cyberknife. Dave and I have plans to celebrate our 10-year anniversary this weekend and I am praying we have good news to celebrate also.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oreos 'n' Cream Cake Recipe

Here is the recipe for that yummy cake. It does take some time to make it but I think it is worth it for special occasions.

Oreos 'n' Cream Cake - 397152 - Recipezaar

Who sent me a Tush Eez?

I will give some more info - it is a pillow for my butt. It is supposed to help with spinal support but I was also complaining about having less padding in my tush because of my weight loss. Not that I miss the padding but hard chairs can be uncomfortable.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chocolate cake fixes everything!

This Thursday, Dave and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage. What are our plans? I have chemo. This is as bad as the time I had it on my birthday! We are planning on going out to celebrate next weekend but I wanted to do something special this week. I made a cake for our family and I have never seen the boys clean their plates so quickly.




Monday, April 26, 2010

Bye Bye Decadron

I took my last Decadron today. The children thought it was a little strange that I was talking to my pill this morning, saying "I hope I never have to put you in my body again!" I told them it helps the inside of my body but it also makes me angry. The only thing I will miss about those pills is the boost of energy I got. I will not miss the sleepless nights or all of the other side effects. I have a scan scheduled in a few weeks to see the tumors' responses to the Cyberknife.

This is my week off from chemo and we are preparing for our community yard sale this weekend. We have been gradually going through the house, collecting items and have quite a bit to sell. The boys are also cleaning out toys that they want to sell for some cash. Praying for good weather!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A break is coming

Today, I finished Round 4 of this chemo and my doctor told me that after 6, we will do a scan and he will give me a break. I told him I thought I couldn't take a break because everything goes haywire when I do. He said he has to so my body can recover or I will become too weak. He said it might not be a long break but my body will need it. So, my last chemo is scheduled for June 3 and I am hoping to have some time with the boys during the summer without chemo. The idea of some time with them just being mom sounds so wonderful!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I feel good

I took the opportunity today to read through some old posts from December through February. Those few months of my life are such a blur because I was in and out of the hospital so much and desperately trying to breathe. I hear stories and I keep asking, "Where was I?"

Today, I walk up and down our stairs with much more ease. The strength in my legs is really coming back and I am feeling pretty okay. The tapering of the steroids is going okay and I should be off of them within the next 10 days or so. I had chemo yesterday and was able to rest well today. It always feels good to feel good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Soccer

Listening to the coaches

Dawson went to his first practice last night and it took awhile to warm up to the idea, but he did start participating. We didn't like the scrimmage when we couldn't get our foot on the ball. But, he'll get there.


Our family is praising God today for many rich blessings. We just had a lot of good news and good things happen today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baseball

I have an appointment with the specialist in a couple weeks and then will have an MRI done in about one month to see the progress. As long as there are no headaches or indications of swelling around the brain, I can start my taper down off the steroids next week.

I felt well enough to watch David's first baseball game. I did rest a little more today, but was able to also do fun stuff around those times. My boy really played well today. I was so happy to be able to see it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Finished!

I finished the treatments today. I was told I should feel some extra fatigue this weekend but it should subside by the beginning of the week. We are praying for no headaches or vision problems because that means that I will not be able to start tapering my steroids next week and I can't wait to get off this stuff! Here are some photos and explanations of the Cyberknife.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Relatively painless

So, sleep did not come easily last night but it did come eventually. We arrived and were told it would take at least 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours but not certain of exact timing. I had to lay down with my fitted mask over my head and locked into the table to so my head movements are little to none. Please keep in mind I was fitted for the mask about 10 days ago and those steroids have been working their moon face action since then so it was a bit snugger today. I had a tv above me and the option of the radio. I chose the radio, hoping to maybe catch a few zzzss maybe. The nurses said I could take breaks and just to tell them when I needed them. About an hour into it, the back of my head really started becoming sore from just being pressed into a metal table for so long so I took my first break and explained my discomfort to the nurse. She says, " Oh, a lot of people complain about that. We have numbing spray." I'm thinking - Why didn't we try that in the first place??!! After a reapplication of the spray later, I had enough of this thing and asked how much longer. "10 more minutes" It had to be the longest 10 minutes of my life!! My back was so sore and they kept fussing me at me to stay as still as possible. I told her I thought it moved with me. She said it does but it has to stop and recalibrate and every time I move, this will take longer. Got it - 2 pain pills before we get started tomorrow! I lied down on the table at 9:15 a.m. and I looked at my watch when I was finally finished and it was 11:30! I couldn't believe how long it took. The nurses just kept saying, "You did really good." I am scheduled for tomorrow and Friday and then will be done. Once I got home, I rested for awhile but feel fine now. Now that I know what to expect tomorrow, I am ready for a good night's rest and to get this over with!

The verses I read and clinged to today were in Isaiah 40: 28-31: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging words.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We needed to turn this day around . . .













We took the boys to Bellevue State Park where they went fishing and played hard. I only got hooked once :). Had to finish it off with our first trip to Rita's for the season.

Zap em!

I received the call from Dr. Shah's office that the Cyberknife treatments will begin tomorrow at 9 a.m. I was so brave about this until that call came. Then, forget it. I am nervous and scared. It will only be 3 treatments, but I still have radiation being zapped at my head, near pretty important brain parts. All of the logistical parts of this are arranged - rides and childcare, etc., but my head is not ready. We have a family day planned today and was looking forward to the "escape." Unfortunately, our day also includes a viewing this evening for a friend from my support group and Dave had her caregiver in his group. The obits also listed a young 39 year old mom with 3 children who died from cancer. Ugh - some days, when it rains, it pours. But we are hoping to get out and enjoy this beautiful sunshine and let it wash our troubles away for awhile.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cascarones

My younger brother and his wife live in Austin, Texas and introduced us to this Mexican Easter tradition last year. When they visited us a few weeks ago, she brought the cascarones. With such a beautiful day and 7 boys, what better time to make a mess! We'll need to get some extra next year. My favorite part is that Dawson is so eager to clean it up.


video

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It seems like the earliest the Cyberknife will start is next Wednesday. The specialist who needs to approve my plan will not be back into the office until then. This was good news to me since the boys are on Spring Break now and it means more time with them before the treatments start. I am loving this sunshine! I am hoping to be able to really enjoy it by Saturday after recovering from today's chemo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dawson Salad


When Dave and I went to celebrate his birthday over the weekend, this was one of the salad selections.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Looks promising

Whew - what a day! Okay - we met with the brain specialist and he said I am a prime candidate for Cyberknife. It really is quite remarkable and a non-invasive procedure. I am scheduled to have more scans this Friday and then my doctor will "map" out the radiation to target the 4 tumors within a hair width of the healthy tissue. One tumor is small and he feels it will take 1 treatment. The other 3 will take 5 consecutive days of treatment. I will remain on the steroids until the treatments are done and will then taper down from there. It sounds like within a month or so, everything should be done or close to it. They will then wait 4 weeks to do a scan to see what progress has been made. The brain tumors don't respond instantly to the radiation - more like a slow cooker. They will not do whole brain radiation again at this time because the damage it could do would outweigh its benefits. It is possible with the Cyberknife that the tumors will not completely disappear but will shrink, become stable and not grow for 1-2 years. I finished my whole brain radiation last year on 4/9/09 so that radiation worked for a year. This radiation is much stronger and more concentrated so we are praying for a lot longer!!

We left his office very hopeful and felt like this is merely a bump in the road. I will continue to get chemotherapy throughout this process. I may need a few extra naps the week I do both but it doesn't sound like the radiation will affect me much.

Thank you so much your prayers today. I definitely felt peace as we entered the doctor's office. We celebrated with margaritas and tacos tonight! I do make a good margarita.
Just a quick note asking for your prayers for our family today. It is going to be one of those roller coaster days with lots of things happening. Dave has an important meeting this morning and then we meet with the brain radiation specialist. Throw in some "life" errands and we have a full day. Pray that my energy and our nerves can keep up! Thank you!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not good news

I feel like I am on autopilot as I type this. I had a brain MRI on Monday and found out last night that all 4 tumors on my brain are growing. This was not shocking to me because I had recently started experiencing symptoms again. As much as I wanted to ignore what was going on, I couldn't. My oncologist called and wanted me to start Decadron immediately to reduce the swelling around the tumors. I meet with the brain radiation specialist on Monday to find out the plan of attack. It seems that Cyberknife is an option but I don't know all of the details yet.

The irony is that I was diagnosed with the brain tumors last year on March 13, 2009 - almost 1 year to the date of this news. How am I doing with this?? I'm angry, sad, frustrated, and even numb sometimes. We received this news less than 24 hours ago. How many more times can our world be turned upside down? I am continuing chemo and had this week off so my body could recover from my last 2 treatments. I was feeling really good this week and even enjoyed volunteering at Dawson's school and going on a field trip with him today. David had a big project for school that we have been working on together and I spent a lot more time with him, not distracted by Dawson or other life stuff. Sometimes Dave has to help him with the projects. Dave's birthday is this weekend and we are looking forward to a night out before the steroids take effect. We call these our "last suppers." That's when we know I am starting some kind of new treatment or nasty drug and it is our calm before the storm. We make it a rule to NOT talk about cancer and just enjoy a "normal" night.

My frustrations include having to take Decadron again. I was fighting this one but my oncologist said it is the most effective drug for the swelling. Explain to me how this drug reduces swelling inside of your body but makes your face and areas of your body blow up like a balloon. My face and body were finally rid of the swelling. I just pulled out my "skinny" clothes bin last week! I can also become quite irritable on this drug and have difficulty controlling my anger. It is little things that set me off and my family is usually the ones who feel it. I just don't like who I am when I take it. My oncologist said he will take me off as soon as he can.

We will update you when we know more. My prayer request is that I tolerate this drug well and that the next step is tolerable and minimally invasive to my families' lives.

Friday, March 12, 2010

No news is good news

It has been a while since I have posted anything. I just completed my second round of chemo and am still getting used to new side effects. My brother, Frank and his wife, Jamie are coming into town today to spend the weekend with us. The boys are very excited because they also have Nintendo DS's. Otherwise, everything is good.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back from vacation

The boys and I returned from Williamsburg VERY late Saturday night. We took the train from Wilmington on Wednesday and had a wonderful, fun time. We went to the Great Wolf Lodge and met friends from North Carolina. It really is a great place for families. My energy level sustained itself well once I realized what I could and couldn't do.

I am now scheduled for chemo on Thursday and next Thursday and the following week off. I have enjoyed these past couple of weeks and feeling human again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wow - it worked big time!

I had my white blood cells count checked today and it went from 500 to 60,000! No wonder my lower back is hurting! My bone marrow is working overtime. Anyway, this means I am cleared for my trip and should feel pretty good. Thank you for your prayers! Our household sent up many!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Unexpected news

I went in for my 3rd week of chemo today and, for the first time ever, my white blood cell counts were too low to receive it. I had 500 white blood cells (normal is 3,000-10,000) and mine have never went below 2,000. I am receiving a different chemo and my oncologist said my bone marrow obviously can't take 3 weeks in a row, so I will start on 2 weeks on, 1 week off. I had plans to go away late next week and I have to go in on Tuesday to see if my counts go up with the booster shot I got today. Then I can be cleared for my trip.

I knew I felt a little wiped today and couldn't understand why. So, I did seek some help with the boys this afternoon so I can get cozy on the couch. David's school has a dance tomorrow night that I was hoping to go to but I will avoid that germ factory (and send Dave).

Otherwise, I am feeling a little better each day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dave said to me this morning that he looks forward to a day where I am not merely surviving but living. He sees my discomfort and desire to help around here and how frustrated I am that I can do so little. Each day gets a little better in some way. This new chemo presented different side effects than I have experienced before and I am adjusting to that. I am hoping that once the boys are back in school and we get back on a schedule, I will be able to do more. We have a visiting nurse who comes by about every other day to help with my pleurx catheter. So many things have improved recently - my breathing, overall pain in my chest area and sleep! My energy is just zapped in the meantime.

It is so nice to be home. Dawson is actually sitting under the desk while I type this so I don't get too far. He was sitting at dinner the other day with a smile on his face (like he had swallowed the canary) and I asked him what was making him smile. He said he had a smile in his body that just needed to come out.

I have been lacks in sending out thank you notes to everyone who has brought us meals and helped us in so many ways. I am so appreciateive of all of the help and cards and encouragements and apologize for not getting out the notes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm home!

I am home and looking forward to a nice, long, hot bath. I had some stories to share about hospital life, but can't think of anything but that bath right now. Oh, yeah - I did put my time in the hospital to good use yesterday. Dave has been so busy with work and taking care of the boys, etc., grocery shopping before this next storm was not a priority. So, I was able to shop Acme.com and we picked up all of our groceries today. We might try this more often!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This is a harder pill to swallow

I(and I swallow a lot!) Dave and I have talked about the different "stages" within the stages of cancer. The new one for us this week is that my breathing should be stabilized with the drains and if this new chemo works. I won't have much energy but should be comfortable. Once the chemo keeps working, maybe the energy will get better (until the side effects from the chemo and steriods set in). It is all confusing right? In English, my cancer is extremely aggressive and this chemo is not working anymore. We still have more options . . . for now. But, in the last 2 months, my health and energy have significantly declined with a few pick-me-ups here and there. There are no guarantees this chemo will work but I pray it won't be long before we find one that works as well as the last.

I just miss my family so much. I have been here since Monday and between weather and work stuff for Dave and scheduled procedures for me, I haven't seen them I really miss them. I hope to get out early this week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The cancer is back and growing.

The cancer has returned , and seems to be the main concern for my breathing problems. Draining the fluid is somewhat helpful, but only a piece of the puzzle. I started a new chemo drug, and, so, far, no problems!

Thank you for everything! We have received so many planned and spontaneous dinner meals. We thank you and it is a big help.We pray for our children and families. These week long hospital stays are not easy on anyone! The next plan will be in place shortly and we will know where we go from here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I am back in the Christiana Hosp. Last week, towards the end of the week, the shortness of breath was difficult to tolerate. They placed a plural catheter in also so I can drain the fluid as necessary, We are still in limbo right now and will update when we know. I just literally came out of surgery about 1 1/4 hours ago,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just about the time I recover from chemo . . .

the Neulasta shot kicks in hard. I can deal with the pain fairly well but this frequent nausea/ vomiting is so unnerving. At times, I can manage it and sometimes, I can't. So, if you catch me on the phone and I sound well and am chatty, that is a great moment for me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ah . . . sleep

I came home from doctor's appointments this morning to a very quiet house and was able to sleep and sleep this afternoon. I woke up to the smell of dinner that a neighbor brought over and I am feeling pretty good. Thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts. I am not planning on returning to Christiana for 2 more weeks!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Proud mama

Dawson started taking swim lessons in September and this is the first time I saw him swim the length of the pool doing the backstroke by himself.
video
I am still surprised by how nice it feels to breathe! I am tired from yesterday's chemo but still able to get around. Yesterday, I watched David play outside from our driveway. I haven't been able to do this for at least a month - either too cold, or I was too tired, or couldn't breathe. I was watching from the window for all of those snowfalls while Dave and neighbors took the boys out. I stood in my driveway and chatted with a neighbor for about an hour yesterday. These may not seem lik big deals but I didn't realize how much I couldn't do until I was able to do. I take so much for granted and am so thankful for the ability to participate in life again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm walking, yes, indeed

I was so happy to be walking into the cancer center today. Sounds funny, right? Last time, I had to be rolled in and felt like a trainwreck. Today, I walked in and felt semi-good. The combo of the chemo and the surgery are making me feel better and better. The chemo has its own side effects, but that is just a part of my life now. Now, I am just trying to reduce the cancer around my lungs enough so I can get some further testing done while lying on my back and not feeling like I am suffocating. These tests need to be done in the the next few weeks, but not immediately.

Thank you for all of your prayers through this. I am really beginning to feel better. My doctor just wishes he could give me longer breaks from chemo, but usually within weeks of chemo, I am NEEDING it again.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Headin' home

Well, my port has been de-accessed and the paperwork is on its way. My parents are gettingme some REAL lunch while we wait for the finishing touches, then I am home!I feel better today and ready to go.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Not fit to type

The Thorasic team completed the final sclerosis procedure around my lungs to get them to "stick" to the chest wall today. The drains were removed. Now I can walk to the restroom without any accessories! Let's see what else I did today. Nodded off mid-sentttttttttttttttt.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

oo..Ouch! That is what I have been saying all day. Both sides now have drains, but my oxygen levels have become much better. I rarely need to wear it! My sleep was so much better last night and the next step is to do a pulmonary function test and decide if a pulmonary sclerosis is necessary. Oh, got chemo while I was here too. Lots of sleep has been had today.

Monday, January 4, 2010

How things keep changing

Since my last post, that spunk has shrunk. I am actually updating from my hospital bed care of Christiana Hospital. Over the weekend, we noticed a significant decrease in my ability to breathe, even with the oxygen. I was at the surgeon's office this morning at 10 and was admitted by 11:30. The fluid has returned and how invasive the procedure will depend on what the scans show once I am sedated.

I am so tired because I can't sleep well at night, can't breathe well and just the worry of everything. I wished I had squeezed my boys tighter this morning.