Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I just wrote a lengthy update, but the computer froze up, and I had to restart. So you're just going to get the abbreviated version now.

A week ago, it was looking like the insurance company was going to under-value our car and total it. We were warned that fleet insurance (the guy who hit me was driving a company car) is typically difficult to deal with, and we should be prepared to get a lawyer.

However, the sub-contracted appraiser assigned to evaluate our car made the other guy's insurance company's adjustor furious by not showing up for appointments he made with us, not communicating with us about it, finally showing up very late, then not sending any information to the insurance company, and not communicating with the insurance company about his supposed repeated computer problems. We found out the last part of this yesterday when Jon finally called the adjustor to learn what the insurance company's decision was. They still had not received any information from the appraiser. The adjustor was very sympathetic and apologetic. We've told everyone from the beginning about our upcoming trip and were assured this would all be settled by then. Now that's impossible. But we are going to drive our dented and scraped, but very functional Suburban to South Carolina and have it repaired there. The insurance company will provide a rental car there and will send the check to our "vacation" address. Although we haven't issued any threats, they aren't ignorant. I don't think they want to be responsible for the pain and suffering of 7 children who would have to miss being with all of their grandparents for Christmas. So now it appears that an appraiser who laid down on the job has made our claim process easier than it might have been.

Friday, December 4, 2009

...and again

For the fourth time in 5 months, we had another car accident. It was snowing, and I was slowing down at a stop sign when another car came sliding around the corner into the side of our (newly acquired) Suburban. The other driver was very polite and kind - no problems there. His insurance company is one we've never heard of, and our company's adjuster said that the person she talked to there was the rudest person she has ever dealt with in her business. We are hoping this is not a foreshadowing of an insurance battle. We were scheduled to drive this Suburban back to South Carolina on December 17. We'll see what happens with those plans, but we're sure hoping they don't have to be changed. We're also hoping (more than hoping) that insurance doesn't decide to total our car because of the damage. Perfectly maintained, leather upholstered, four-wheel drive, nine-passenger SUVs within our price range are rare, and we don't want to have to start looking again.

I was very bothered by the accident, but then, after all, what's a car accident compared to what the Lord has already shown us He can do? The lessons we've been learning over the past year apply to accidents just as well as they do to cancer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank you

The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, our pastor asked Jon to speak to our church family about our experiences over the past year. If you're interested in hearing what he had to say, click here. When you get to the page of audio files for Tri-City Baptist Church, select the file titled "PM Nov 25 2009 John Bixby Testimony". I did not speak that evening, but what Jon said is an accurate reflection of my heart too. The thanks that Jon extended to our church does not stop there. Many of you have supported us is different ways. We're thankful for all of you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jen did a great job. She trimmed my hair just a little (since there's just a little there), and gave me a lesson in how to man-handle hair like this. It feels nice to have my hair "fixed" again.

I know some of you who read my blog have been through cancer treatment, and I have a question for you. I'm loosing my eyebrows and eyelashes again. They are coming out in significant quantities. Is this normal? Am I just getting back into the cycle of growing and loosing hair?

Gilead has his first tooth! And he's diligently working on his second one (and third, and fourth). I'm having a hard time believing he's old enough to be getting teeth. But no turkey yet. He is eating cereal though and doing so well. He's eating much better than my others did when they first started cereal. He also rolls over from his tummy to his back and grins and giggles a lot. His big brother, John, is the very best at getting him to belly-laugh. John's such a clown, he makes us all belly-laugh.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of thankfulness.

Here are a few pictures of Gilead's progress over the months.

May 18, 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Big First

My hair started growing back in September. Now there's enough of it that I need my first hair cut in a very long time. I'm going this afternoon at 2:00! I don't know what I want now or in the future, so I hope miracle-working Jen has some very good ideas.

It's very curly now, and poofy in the wrong places. I have duck-tails around my ears and on the back and top of my head. Kind of like Betty Boop, I guess. But it's fun to have hair, and it still doesn't take too much time. I can't make it do anything besides what it wants to anyway.

It's been a year since my surgery now. I have so much to be grateful for. Everything is still looking good. I'll continue to see the oncologist every few weeks for various tests. My arm continually stiffens up due to the radiation, but I'm exercising regularly, and that should keep it healthy and limber. Some ladies aren't able to do much serious exercising after all the treatment, so I'm thankful I've recovered well. So far, I've had no incidents of lymphedema (painful swelling in the arm due to having lymph nodes removed). Changes in altitude can sometimes cause the onset of lymphedema. We are planning to travel to Greenville, SC for Christmas and that's quite an altitude change. I will be holding my breath.

I'm planning my annual day-after-Thanksgiving shopping trip! I can drive myself all over town! Last year, Teresa (my sister) and I went out for the day, in spite of the fact I had just had a mastectomy. We had a fun, fun day, and I felt pretty well. But it sure will be nice to be feeling normal on such a busy day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Life Goes On

I tried posting pictures of Gilead, but did something wrong. I'll try again soon. Meanwhile, we are going on with life as usual. I am homeschooling the kids again, and that's going well. My energy seems to be about normal - I've been surprised how fast I seem to have gotten over all the treatments. My hair is coming back very nicely and getting wavier every day. It's still very, very short, and very, very easy to take care of.

Cara had oral surgery yesterday to have 4 impacted teeth removed from her chin. She's recovering well, but since the teeth were substituting for a significant amount of bone, she can't put her chin in harm's way for several months (that is, no pillow fights, no sports, no wrestling with her siblings or any other kind of rough play). The surgeon said this is the optimal time to recover from this surgery since she's growing so fast. Normally it would take a year to fill in all the missing bone, but at her stage of growth it should take only 4 to 6 months.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Biopsy Results

The doctor called yesterday evening with the biopsy results, and everything looks normal. We were very relieved to have that news. Normally other steps would be required to confirm that cancer really is not in the enlarged lymph nodes, but because these nodes are located directly above a major blood vessel and because they are relatively small, the next step of biopsies cannot be done. Dr. Schroeder (biopsy doctor) feels that the results are trustworthy, and the only thing to do now is to monitor these areas with regular visits to my oncologist which was in the game plan anyway.

Thanks for all the encouraging notes. There will probaby be more of these ups and downs over the next years, but we've gotten through the first, and I won't bother worrying about the future.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Yesterday was the ultrasound on the supsicous lumps around my collarbone. I would have posted earlier, but we got home last night and had a very fun family evening which I didn't want to interupt with lengthy time online. This morning our electricity has gone off twice.

The ultrasound results were inconclusive. Now I realize that a conclusive result would have been bad news. The doctor told me that he would not be concerned about the lumps (after viewing them with ultrasound), but because of my history he wants to do a biopsy. That is scheduled for next Thursday, October 15, at 1:00 p.m.

Thanks so much to all of you who donated to The Race for the Cure. My friends raised over $1000.00! I really appreciate you all donating to this foundation. Some folks have asked about Susan G. Komen's association with Planned Parenthood. I have done some research, and I am posting an exerpt from a letter I wrote to someone else. I hope this answers questions you may have.

I had read some articles concerning Komen's involvement with Planned Parenthood in some areas of the country. Komen's Denver affiliate provided me with some information about that too. From what I understand, Komen gives funds to Planned Parenthood in areas that don't have other breast cancer screening services available. (Evidently, in certain places, Planned Parenthood offers breast health services for women.) Komen claims that their funds are carefully monitered so that they are not used for any purpose other than breast cancer screening. In Denver, however, Komen works exclusively through St. Joseph's Hospital for treatment and screening. St Joseph's Hospital is well known for its stand against abortion. I don't know how Komen operates in other cities, so folks will want to check out the policies of each individual branch.

Correction: In my comments, someone posted a link that I had not seen. The information at this site says that Denver's Susan G. Komen did donate to Planned Parenthood in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. I did not know that Denver Komen gave funds for breast cancer diagnosis outside of the Denver area. I'm sorry for posting inaccurate information.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quick Update

Just wanted to let you all know that Gilead weighs 16 pounds, 2 ounces! He had an appointment yesterday, and is still doing just great.

I have an appointment for tests next Friday, October 10. Maybe I'll have news after that.

Thanks to all of you who donated to The Race for the Cure. You all donated more than $1000 on my behalf! I know other ladies will be appreciating your generosity.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

7 Days 'til the Race for the Cure

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know how much I appreciate Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This foundation filled such a need in our lives. Denver's Race for the Cure will be on October 4, so this is the last week for fund-raising connected to that event. Many of you have donated to this cause on my behalf and helped me reach my initial fundraising goal. I set a new goal of $1000.00 and that has almost been reach too! If you are interested in donating, click on this link (http://www.komendenver.org/site/TR/Race/General?px=1639263&pg=personal&fr_id=1090) to make a donation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I could not find an electronic copy of the 5280 Magazine's article to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I've scanned a copy here. If you click on the picture of the page with text, it should enlarge so that you can read it. Here's the link to my page on the Susan G. Komen Denver affiliate's website.

Monday I went to see the oncologist for a follow-up on the enlarged lymph node I found the week after radiation was finished. It has not gone away, and the oncologist found a second swollen lymph node in the same general area. She is scheduling tests to help determine what is going on. This has been a challenging week, to say the least. I dread starting this whole process over again, and I hope these lymph nodes turn out to be benign. Many times over the last few days I have looked at the stencil a friend put on my bedroom wall - "Be still and know that I am God." That probably sounds kind of ambiguous to some, but our recent experiences have given me opportunities to learn what kind of God I have, and I have every reason to be still and trust Him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet Amy Caldwell Bixby

Click here (Meet Amy Caldwell Bixby) to see the short version of the interview for 9News. I haven't seen the finished version yet, but hope to get a link up to that later.

Photo by Sandy Puc for 9News

If you're interested in reading my story on Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure site and donating to this foundation that has given so much to us, click here http://www.komendenver.org/site/TR/Race/General?px=1639263&pg=personal&fr_id=1090

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Race for the Cure

I wrote before about how Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been an amazing financial help. Immediately upon my diagnosis last October, this foundation offered me a grant that covered all of my medical costs. They have also provided us with an additional grant to help offset other expenses due to my cancer. We will always be grateful for Komen's generosity and work on my behalf.

Gilead and I have become part of the advertising campaign to raise funds for breast cancer research, diagnosis and treatment through Denver's Race for the Cure that will be held on Sunday, October 4, 2009. Although I will not be running, I have registered and am asking all of you to consider donating funds to the Denver Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Click on the link to my race page (http://www.komendenver.org/site/TR/Race/General?px=1639263&pg=personal&fr_id=1090) if you're interested in giving. Donations are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated by folks like me.

This is one of the pictures taken for Komen's fundraising.

Ellen Jaskol holds the rights to this picture.

It's Not Over

When I finished radiation almost two weeks ago, I had no idea that one of the most uncomfortable stretches of treatment was still ahead. My skin was red from the radiation, and my arm felt a little tight, but I wasn't experiencing any pain. The radiation oncologist commented that my skin had held up remarkably well during this process, but warned that it would get worse for the next ten days or so before it began getting better.

I'm glad she warned me or I would have been very worried. By the following Tuesday my skin was blistering, peeling, and very painful. The pain spread to my muscles and deep inside the tissues. I've taken more Advil over the past ten days than I did after either the mastectomy or the c-section. Of course, I haven't been in bed recovering from the radiation like I was after the surgeries, and I'm sure my constant activity has only aggravated the radiated area. Just yesterday, I finally began to experience some relief.

Less than a week after the radiation was finished, I found another enlarged lymph node just below my collar bone. The oncologist had me come in right away, but she didn't have any definite answers. She hopes I am just reacting to the radiation, but can't promise that's the case. My next appointment is near the end of September, and we'll be making some decisions about more biopsies and tests.

I've been struggling with fear that the cancer is making a come-back already. But it's been strengthening to constantly remind myself that life on earth is temporary even in the best of health, and that God has already proven Himself loving and trustworthy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three Times...

...is not a charm. Yes, I did it again, and this time it was my fault. Thurday, I was driving the rental car home from the hospital, and as I was turning into my very own cul de sac, I got distracted and began watching what was going on in our yard. I hit a Cadillac Deville that was coming the other way. Thankfully the elderly gentleman who was driving maneuvered almost completely out of my way, and we got away with just scratched paint on each of our cars. But I sure felt stupid. He was pretty mad at first (and I guess I don't blame him - I was mad at myself), but when I started crying, he calmed right down and apologized repeatedly for not being quick enough to get out of my way. Now that's backwards.

We had a damage waiver on our rental vehicle, so the insurance stuff, again, is going smoothly. If I mail in my fine, it will be reduced by quite a bit and the points on my license will be reduced from three to one. There are so many traffic violations in a city this size, they pay you not to come to court. Where I grew up, you could only get your fine reduce if you showed up for your court case.

The next day was my last radiation treatment! We loaded up the whole family, and while I held my breath and used the assistant brake pedal on my side way too much, we drove down I-25 one last time (at least the last time for about a month). The nuns have a graduation ceremony for each patient on the last day of treatment. I'll try to post pictures later. They provided me with a cap and gown and had me march around the waiting room while Sister Marie played Pomp and Circumstance on her tape player. I even got a diploma. Then Sister Marie told me I had better not ever come back, except for check-ups. I wonder if she has a fine for violating that rule? They did give me one last rule. Check-up appointments must be made for the morning hours when they will be in the waiting room.

I move on to five years of hormone therapy now. I'll be taking a daily Tamoxifen pill. That will reduce my chances of a reoccurance another few percentage points. After the surgery, my reoccurance chance was about 70%. Now, with the radiation, chemo and hormone therapy, my reoccurance risk is about 40% over the next ten years, so it's come down quite a bit, although its still high. We will certainly appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

I'll continue to post - probably about as often as I have been. Our lives will be full of happenings. It couldn't be otherwise with seven growing children and at least one accident prone adult. I plan to post a series of pictures of Gilead from his birth till now so you all can enjoy his progress with us.

Friday, August 7, 2009


We were almost home from Dr. Roland’s funeral when a lady ran a red light in front of us, and we slammed into her SUV with our much larger Suburban. I remember thinking, right before we hit her, that we would kill whoever was sitting on that side of her car. Thankfully, no one was. Although the accident happened in a busy intersection, and her car spun quite wildly, no other cars were involved, and no one was injured seriously. Five of our family were in our car, but no one even got a bruise. In fact, Gilead slept through the whole thing. But our Suburban was totaled, so we’re in the market for another vehicle. Everything with the insurance companies is going smoothly since there was no question about whose fault the accident was. My kids are still enjoying telling how scared they were and exaggerating the details. Gilead must be intended for a long, healthy life. What other 12-week-old has been in two potentially deadly car accidents, survived chemotherapy, and been through all the other things his little baby self has already endured?

The other car looked much worse than ours...lots of broken glass and crunched metal

We went to Dr. Roland’s funeral on Wednesday. I’ve never really thought of funerals as encouraging before, but this one was. It was held at Red Rocks Baptist Church (formerly South Sheridan Baptist) where the Rolands have been members for many years. The church was completely full of hundreds of people who have been touched by Dr. Roland’s life. Most of his nine children spoke briefly, and what they said about their father challenged us to leave such a love for God with our children also. One thing his children remember him saying was this: “Only two things in life will last forever – people’s souls and God’s Word, so invest in those.”


When my radiation treatment was finished on Tuesday, and I went back to the waiting room to hang up my name tag and say good bye to Sister Owen and Sister Marie, I had quite a surprise. Jon and all of the children had sneaked in and were waiting with a cake and some gifts to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. Everyone in the waiting room sang “Happy Anniversary” to us, and the sisters sang us a lengthy medley of songs asking God’s blessing. It was a special treat and such a sweet surprise. All of us who have radiation around the same time each day get to know one another’s families, so I enjoyed sharing our little celebration with our waiting-room friends.

I learned that at least three of the children had kept this a complete secret for several days. Not even the slightest hint of what was coming. I was one impressed mommy.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Dr. Cook gave us the PET scan results today. The spots that were in question turned out not to be cancer. The scan showed no areas of unusual activity. Wonderful news! I think I'll be having scans every 3 months for awhile.

I would have posted earlier this afternoon, but I was feeling sick. The radiation effects seem to accumulate over the week. I should be feeling fine very quickly - in time to get back to business on Monday.

Our family doctor, Dr. Roland, passed away yesterday morning. His funeral will be on Wednesday. I'm sure his family would appreciate your prayers. Mrs. Roland posted a moving letter to all their friends on Facebook at the group Expressions of Love for Dr. Ralph Roland.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?

Someone I told about the nuns in the radiation waiting room sang this little line from The Sound of Music. I was officially initiated today in the waiting room. Sister Marie sat me down and told me she was going to tell me the rules and that if I ever break any of them, I will be required to make a monetary donation to her 18-wheel truck bank. (No piggy bank for Sister Marie.)

Rule #1 - Always, always wear my name tag in the waiting room and make sure Jon wears his too. Failure to do so carries a fine of at least a nickle per violator.

Rule #2 - Never, never say "My number's up" when my number pops up on the electronic display to show me it's my turn for radiation. Instead, I must say, "Bingo!" - "like you've just won $16,000." (Sister Marie's words.) Failure to show proper enthusiasm also carries a fine of at least a nickle.

Rule #3 - Never, never, NEVER sit in Sister Marie's chair. Violation requires a donation of folded green stuff to the bank. Nickles are not accepted in such cases. Sister Owen told me I could sit in her chair anytime I wanted. Sister Marie said Sister Owen doesn't have any backbone.

Rule #4 - Sister Marie may deliver corporal punishment to any misbehaving patient or patient's family member at her discretion. "You can sue me if you want." She keeps a giant fly swatter handy - her "people swatter" - and I hear that she does use it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The PET scan is done, and we will get the results as early as Thursday from my radiation oncologist. Since the medical oncologist ordered the scan, protocol may require that she be the one who gives me the results, and I'll see her on Friday.

Jon got up very early to fix me an omelet and bacon, so I started out with a good breakfast. The rest of the time before the scan went well without my being uncomfortably hungry. At the imaging office I found out why I had to fast. Cancer cells demand lots of sugar to multiply as fast as they do, so the goal was to get any remaining cancer cells good and hungry so they would quickly consume the radioactive sugar that was injected into me. That also explains why I could not eat carbs. The scan then allows the docs to see if there are areas where the sugar is being required at unusual levels.

The office provided a bag of snacks and bottled water so I didn't have to make an emergency stop for fries and a milkshake. Besides, after learning what I did about sugar today, I think I'll stay away from that. (I was trying to anyway.) I'd been told before that sugar encourages cancer, but until today no one explained why. I've also been told that cancer is encouraged by avocados, boxed food, tap water, bottled water, cell phones, steak, cheese, antioxidant supplements, radiation, chemotherapy, and yams.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

PET Scan

So many of you have asked about the PET scan that I can't believe I forgot to post when it will be! It will be tomorrow (Monday) at 1:00 p.m. This is terrible timing!!! I am not allowed to eat until after the scan is done, unless I get up at the crack of dawn to eat a little protein (but no carbs - doctor's orders). And I was told to allow three whole hours for the process. So at 4:00, I'll drag myself out of the office on hands and knees and crawl to the nearest joint to get some french fries and a milk shake. I know I won't care about healthy food at that point, and I'll surely be needing lots of carbs. Next time I have a PET scan, I'll make sure it's scheduled for early in the morning.

Can you tell I'm a wimp about skipping meals?

We will get the results of the scan on Friday when I have an appointment with the medical oncologist (the doctor that handled the chemotherapy). Thursday I'll see the radiation oncologist again and get an update on how the radiation is going.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Radiation and So On

My fifth radiation treatment was today. It's an unremarkable process from my perspective, although I know the technology that goes into it is way beyond my comprehension. It's so quiet and fast, it's hard to believe how much is actually happening.

I now have three tattoos so that I can be lined up in exactly the same position every day. The tattooed dots are aligned along laser lines to make sure the radiation is precise. I receive radiation in three places: my skin, chest wall, and axilla (under my arm where the lymph nodes used to be). I lie on a table with a huge machine, like a hunching, one-eyed critter, directly over me. It swivels around the table so the radiation can be delivered perfectly. I receive 5 doses of radiation, totaling about 52 seconds. On most days, I am in and out of the office in less than 20 minutes. Two elderly nuns, Sister Marie and Sister Owen (they really are sisters), keep the patients company in the waiting room, and they are a pleasure. They are upbeat, cheerful, and genuine. One is gentle and quiet, the other is loud and sassy. They have really made a name for themselves because I've heard about these two ladies for months now. They make that waiting room a comical, pleasant place. I think many of the radiation patients make their appointments for the mornings, just so they can be in the waiting room while Sister Marie and Sister Owen are there. They move on to other responsibilities at noon.

Yesterday was the interview with 9News. Kim Christiansen interviewed me, and she was so comfortable to talk too. She immediately put me at ease and made the whole interview seem like a simple conversation. I think it went well. Gilead even gave a few gassy smiles at just the right moments. 25 people were interviewed in preparation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) and Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure. The interviews will be aired during September and October. I will be sent a link to 9News.com so I can share them with folks who aren't part of 9News's market. I don't know if I can figure out how to post it though.

Just kidding.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I'll update later about the radiation and 9News interview. For now, I just wanted to share my all-time favorite comic. Those of you who know me know how much I love going to garage sales and thrift stores. I think I would still love it if we were ever to become millionaires. Someday maybe I'll write a book about the incredible things I've found by shopping that way. (Like the 39 pieces of vintage sterling - not plate - silverware for $3.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day Gone Awry

I was hoping to get several projects done this weekend since it's the last chance before radiation begins. But Gilead was obviously developing a cold by Thursday evening and after being up much of the night with him, we decided a visit to the doctor's was necessary. Friday morning the doctor examined him and sent us to the hospital since he was preemie and is still pretty little. After several hours of monitoring him, the doctors at Children's Hospital decided his lungs are strong enough now to handle this cold on his own without any medication or extra support. They sent us home late in the afternoon with instructions about what to watch for, but also with a lot of encouragement that Gilead has developed very well over the past few weeks.

As I was driving home on I-25, I was rear ended by another (thankfully smaller) SUV. We were driving about 60 mph in heavy traffic - obviously he was going a little faster - so the accident could have been deadly. I was very rattled, but there was only minor damage to both of our cars, and both of us drivers were well aware of what we had just been spared. He was very polite and honest. It looks like all the insurance stuff will go pretty smoothly.

So at the end of the day, although none the planned projects had been completed and I was tired, we certainly had some blessings to count. Gilead's lungs are strong, our car still runs fine, and Gilead and I are alive and well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis

In January, two friends passed away from some type of cancer, and we found out about a handful of others who had just been diagnosed. I felt overwhelmed and discouraged. Like I said in a few days ago, I felt like cancer was dropping people around me like flies. Jon knew I was feeling down, and one evening he gave me the book What Is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis and illustrated by Pamela Querin. A gift like this to someone facing cancer might seem morbid to some of you since talking about heaven assumes death. But since death is a common human experience, we might as well consider the after-life. There is so little information - what reliable source do we have? You all know my perspective already. The Bible has been my source of strength, and its reliability has been proven to me.

This is a children's picture book, but its simple thoughts have been wonderful. A young boy wonders about where his grandfather has gone. He asks various people in his life, "What's heaven like?" Each page is skillfully illustrated and holds a different person's answer to the boy's question. The part I like best is this: the thoughts about heaven are supported by a verse of Scripture printed on the bottom of every page. Having turned to the Bible for support, this has become the most beautiful part of this sweet book to me.

Chemo #9

My last chemo...believe it or not I've had mixed feelings. I won't miss feeling bad (this treatment has been the worst), but now I begin to wonder, "What if I have to do this all over again?" My emotions have felt kind of pregnant - that is, my feelings are all topsy-turvy, the way the tend to be when I'm pregnant (familiar territory). Radiation planning is on July 13, and the actual treatments will begin sometime that week. I hope to be finished with that by the end of August. Sometime soon I'll start taking Tamoxifen, a pill form of chemo that suppresses estrogen production since my type of cancer was feeding off of estrogen. I'll have to take that for 5 years.

I can't believe how much has changed since last October. My family continues to grow up even though I sometimes feel like my life has been placed on hold. I still can't believe we have another precious baby. A year ago, I adamantly stated that I didn't want any more children. I'm so glad we don't always get what we want. Cara walked into the youth group with feet nearly the same size as mine. John is standing on the edge of adolescence with feet that are bigger than mine. (For those of you who have never seen my feet, that's not small.) I guess one of the things that has changed the most around here has been shoes. We feel like we're buying a new pair every week. By the time I'm finished with the six-year treatment routine for this cancer, we'll have a daughter just a few months from adulthood. Amazing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chemo #8

Just one more chemo treatment to go! This past round was the most uncomfortable so far, but I'm feeling much better now. Some of my fingernails are feeling a little loose - losing them is a side effect of the Taxol - but since I only have one treatment left, maybe that won't get too bad. My oncologist is scheduling a PET scan sometime in the next 3 weeks. This will be a high resolution scan that will take a closer look at the spots on my liver and bones that the CT scan in February showed. I am nervous about this scan - its findings could change many things. If those unclassified spots turn out to be cancer, it will be considered terminal.

I have not shared details about how the financial end of my treatments is going. Jon started his own residential construction business in 2007, and after a few months of very tight squeezing, we had to drop our health insurance. Our goal was to pick it back up in a year (December 2008), when we hoped the business would be bringing in more income. Dropping our insurance was a very hard decision to make, but we both came to the conclusion that, ultimately, God is the one who provides for us. Either he provides through insurance, or he provides in some other way when the need arises. We were on track to meet that goal when my cancer was discovered in October 2008.

My official diagnosis was only about three hours old when I was approved to receive a treatment grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We knew next to nothing about this foundation, but the supervising nurse at the mammogram clinic knew the who, how, and where to make the whole process so easy that we hardly knew what was going on. There wasn't even time to get worried about how all this treatment was going to be paid for!

All that to say this: We were absolutely amazed at how our Lord worked out details we didn't comprehend, and we feel very indebted to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. When their public relations representative asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by a few media outlets to help with fund raising, I was happy to help in any way I could. Last week I was interviewed for Denver's 5280 magazine, and yesterday a photographer came to our home to get pictures of us all. Gilead and I have another photo "thing" next week, and in July, Channel 9 News will be doing an interview. I don't want to be intimidated about sharing my faith in all of this, and I would appreciate the prayers of those of you who share my faith that I will be able to speak about what has been my most sustaining anchor through these months.

I don't have any updates about Dr. Roland. If you know his family (even if you don't) and would like to leave an encouraging note for them, you can do that on Facebook. Dr. Roland's son-in-law, Will Gaulkin, set up a group - Expressions of Love for Dr. Ralph Roland - where folks can leave notes that the family will print off and read to him.

Sometimes I look around me and feel like cancer is dropping people I know like flies. It's not very encouraging. For that reason, I plan to do another book review next. For those of us who have chosen to believe what the Bible teaches, there is incredible hope and promise in any circumstance, no matter how awful. My next review will be of another children's book. I guess all-things-children is my life arena right now, and there sure are a lot of great resources in this arena.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning may remember that I mentioned our family doctor, Dr. Roland. He was diagnosed with cancer near the end of last year. His family has just been called to be with him; he's not expected to live very long.

We have appreciated Dr. Roland and his practice so much. He is truly a unique doctor. His advice has definitely not been limited to the medical field. He has not been afraid to incorporate his strong faith into his practice. When we were told that I could not maintain my pregnancy and also have treatments for the cancer, Dr. Roland was one of the first people from whom we sought advice. He and his family have been a blessing to us in so many ways. Our hearts are breaking for them.

Please pray for the Roland family.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chemo #7

I've waited too long to update again. We've stayed pretty busy over the last couple of weeks. This round of chemo seemed to go a little better than the first. Some symptoms were worse, but overall, I felt better. Thursday the cycle starts over again.

I've lost all my hair again, and this time it hurt. I don't know what made the difference from the first time I lost it, but I was actually glad once it was all gone this time. I felt like a cat whose fur was always being rubbed the wrong way.

Gilead is starting to put on some fat, and he should be with the whopping amount he eats every day! We're glad to see his appetite so healthy. Aunt Teresa has thoroughly been enjoying helping out with him. She has become an expert burper. (Hee hee - won't she thank me when she reads that?)

Okay...I just tried to post some pictures, but something's going wrong. I'll try to get some posted later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Several of you have asked how Jon is doing. He finally seems to be getting better, although he still sounds bad and still has quite a cough. I'm very thankful the rest of us have avoided this bug. The crazy swings in the weather here probably aren't helping him much. We actually used our wood stove today. Glad we still had dry wood in the box left over from one of the other spring storms.

My sister is coming out again. She'll be here on Saturday. I think she's planning to donate her abundant hair to me this time. Mine is coming out again. (This is our running joke for those of you who don't know Teresa. She has grown her hair since November, but when I was first diagnosed, she had slightly longer hair than I have right now.) The kids are excited, and I'm thankful she'll be here for a couple of weeks.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Gilead's doctor's appointment was today, and it went very well. Gilead's growth and development continues to be amazing. I don't think I'm just a proud mama - the doctors seem to be surprised too. He weighs 5 pounds, 5 ounces now. He's surpassed his birth weight by the time they expected him just to begin re-gaining weight from his low of 4 pounds 9 ounces. The doctor commented that his muscle strength was especially good even for a term baby.

We have been blessed with the "real deal" (breast milk). There is a system here in Colorado through which breast milk can be donated to babies who can't get it from their moms, and we considered using that. Another mom we met in the NICU told us she would like to give us her large supply of frozen milk, if we would be willing to take it. After a nurse in the NICU privately encouraged me to bypass the donor milk bank and the pasteurization process, and after private conversation with the other mom, we felt more than blessed to accept her offer. Gilead takes it so much better than the high-calorie formula he had been prescribed, and he doesn't spit it up (the formula came back up a lot). I think this is one reason his growth has surpassed expectations.

I keep hearing of more and more people, truly all over the world, who have prayed for us. People on every continent (except Antarctica of course) have emailed us with encouragement. Thanks to each one of you. God has more than answered our prayers. Our faith has been reinforced in a huge way. And without our faith in God, I don't know what we would have done in the past months.

My next chemo is on Friday. I've gotten over the side effects of the last one, and I hope they won't be accumulative. It was definitely more unpleasant than the other chemo I had.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Jon has been sick since my treatment on Thursday. At first we assumed it was sympathy sickness - he has a habit of feeling sick on my behalf, and has been very faithful about it with each round of chemo so far. But he just got worse as the weekend went on, and today he spent the day in bed running a fever and feeling rotten. This looks like the classic flu to me - fever, aches, congestion, etc. I want him to be feeling miraculously better by tomorrow - it's his birthday. I would also appreciate prayer for Gilead and for me since neither of us is supposed to be super resistant to bugs right now.

Yesterday was an uncomfortable day for me. The shot that follows the Taxol hit me pretty hard, but I did find that being up and about didn't make me feel any worse. It helped to distract me. Friends came over for a short visit after church, and we had a great time. Today I've felt much better. I keep having the sensation of a spinal block in my back, but that's been the worst of it. (That feeling is still pretty fresh in my memory.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chemo #6 - Back to the Grind

Yesterday was my first treatment with Taxol. It went well, I think. One of the pre-treatments is a pretty heavy dose of Benadryl, and it pretty much knocked me out. I slept during almost the whole treatment. The potential side effects of Taxol are numerous, but the most common ones are flu-like symptoms.

Jon took a little lesson in how to give me my follow-up shot, so he gave that to me today. This shot is to boost white blood cell production so that I can have treatments every two weeks instead of every three. I'll be glad to get done sooner if I can sustain the compressed treatments. The shot has it's own set of side effects, which also include flu-like symptoms. I'm doing pretty well with that so far too. I am a little sore, and my stomach has been a little edgy, but I've been surprised at how well I feel.

Gilead continues to do very well. He's eating more and still sleeping well. He woke up just enough to tell my parents goodbye this evening. I was sad to see them go, and very glad that they were able to be here for the last two weeks. They've been such a help.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's In a Name

Jon said in an earlier post that I would explain Gilead's name. We truly didn't settle on a name until hours before he was born. We had talked about many, many different names (remember Bruce Lansky's Mother of all Baby Name Books?). We chose Gilead because of its meaning (monument of testimony - what better testimony to God's love and care for us than this little boy) and also because of the way it is referred to in the Bible. A lot of bad things happened in the land of Gilead, but there are also passages in which God makes it clear that the area called Gilead has a very special place in his heart. I liked it because it's not common and no one else in our large extended families has used it yet. I also love the way it sounds.

Victor seemed like an obvious choice for a middle name. We settled on that part weeks ago. So now it's all official.

I have no way to respond to individual comments on my posts, but I want to let you all know how much it means to know that many, many of you have been thinking about us.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Quick update to let everyone know Gilead is home! He was released yesterday a little after noon. The doctors and nurses commented that they were surprised that he was able to go home so soon. I'm very thankful that we won't need to juggle the NICU and chemotherapy. The kids love him, and everyone is so thrilled to have another baby in our house.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Going Well

Gilead is continuing to do well. We bring our car seat into the NICU tonight so they can do a required test to make sure that sitting in the seat won't interfere with his breathing. He'll be in the seat for nearly 2 hours for the test. Tomorrow he has some other procedures done, and if those don't knock him back a few steps, the doctor said he may be able to go home on Sunday or Monday. There are still plenty of little details that could delay that, but it's good to have a tentative home coming date.

My chemo resumes on Thursday. I'm glad Gilead will probably be home by then.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From St. Joe's

I'm officially discharged, but still at the hospital waiting feed Gilead for my last time today. He is getting phototherapy for jaundice right now, and the doctor hopes he will be doing well enough to turn off the lights tomorrow. He just ate 40 ml - 5 ml more than he is required to eat. That's the second feeding in a row he's eaten what he's required to, so the IV tube with supplemental "stuff" was removed! Some of you have had babies in the NICU, so you know how much every milliliter counts and what a joy it is each time another cord is taken off. We get so tangled in those things every time we take him out of his little crib.

Your comments have been very special. I've been amazed at how many people are caring and praying for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


What a beautiful day!
Your prayers are truly being answered and we are incredibly privileged to experience and watch first hand the gracious gifts of our Father.
Yesterday, Gilead demonstrated a voracious appetite and already knows when he is working for nothing. He wakes up hungry on time (I see the need for a raise coming). He kept all of his food down and voided properly – that tremendously helps the bilirubin counts. So far he is not under the light. They increased his feeding amounts in the night and plan to triple them from yesterday’s amounts today. If he does well with that the IV will come off sometime today, and then they will want to see him regain his birth weight. We couldn’t be more pleased with his progress.
Amy will be discharged sometime today – that will at least mean that she gets to spend nights at home, but will spend the day at St. Joe’s trying to nurse and encourage Gilead through his growth.
We did find a computer in the family room at the hospital so Amy got to catch up on your notes and comments yesterday, what a blessing! I expect that she will probably post a note with her perspective and the progress of the day a little later.
The changes ate coming so quickly (as always in these first few days) that I ought to get a new picture on here – maybe after church tonight???

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More miracles

Good morning friends,
You really make the start of my day special. I sit here and read your kind notes and expressions and then cry my way through the pictures again and marvel with the question - why has God been so good to me?
Just a quick update. Gilead spent fewer than 24 hours with breathing help. He is already breathing just fine on his own and the vitals are great! He has also figured out the sucking thing very quickly. The question that remains is if there will be the strength, and coordination once Amy's milk comes in to suck, swallow, and breathe at the same time. Another common issue is the ability to keep food down. Right now he is still on an IV with glucose.
Another minor concern is that the bilirubin counts are going up - that would indicate some jaundice and might need a little time under the "bright light"unless they stabilize or better yet go back down. We should know that by today.
Amy is doing great - up and around, of course there is some of the post-op discomfort, but so far she has handled that without narcotics, just the Motrin.
It is a great blessing to have my parents-in-law here, so I can spend the day w/ Amy, then have them bring the kids by for a visit before we switch. we enjoyed our time together yesterday.
Amy probably could have come home last night or at least by this morning, but they are keeping her as long as possible to make being close to Gilead easier. I am also sure that she is resting more there. She has slept very well at night - probably better than me... but I am not the one recovering so good for her.

See you again soon,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here I am

Here he is

All right, I know many of you are praying and anxiously awaiting this announcement. Thank you so much for being patient with me. This has been a wonderful day so full of little exciting things and miracles - some of them not so little. Here are the vital stats. Gilead Victor arrived at 9:06 AM MDT. He had a healthy voice - why can't we get rid of that genetic trait? Amy was a little disappointed that he was so big - she was looking forward to finally having a baby that might fit newborn socks. He was 18.25 inches long and weighed in at 5 lbs. 2 oz., that was an exciting answer to many prayers. His feet are 3" long and he has the typical long fingers of our brood.

The blood tests were great and he seems to be doing well on the blow by air - all the vital signs are rapidly adjusting toward normal ranges. The biggest hurdle at this point seems to be developing the ability to eat (suck on a bottle) for himself. Late this evening however he seemed to respond to stimulation and try with the pacifier so that was cause to rejoice.

Amy is amazing us all and has already been out of bed, has progressed through liquids to some solid food, and of course is dying to be down in NICU w/ her little treasure. I will let her explain the name and tell her side before too long.

The siblings are doing well and all enjoyed getting to meet the new brother - each in their own way and with their own unique responses. That is fun to watch.

Me? I am overwhelmed by God's love and care for us, by you and your prayers and love, by all the little miracles and joys of the day (and at the prospect of trying to get pictures onto this thing).

There are the basics - now for the pictures???


On Our Way

We're just about to head out the door. Last night was restful, and we're looking forward to meeting our little boy. He does have a name now. Jon will fill you all in later.

We've received so many well-wishes from so many people - high school friends, college friends, church friends, family on several continents, people we've never met but who've gotten in touch with us through this situation. Thank you to each one. Your thoughts mean a lot to me and Jon.

Jon says maybe he'll post later today. He can be ornery like that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Big Boy

A quick note before we head off to church this evening. I had visits with both OBs today. The final ultrasound estimated the baby's weight at 4 pounds, 14 ounces. The estimate is based on the measurements of his head, abdomen, and limbs, so it's supposed to be pretty close. He may be 5 pounds after all!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Just a few days to go before our little (still unnamed) boy arrives. We've been down to the wire with names before. We'll have picked one by Sunday.

I have already had my steroid shots. The OBs decided to do them a week early to give them more time to work. Now I know why baseball players take those things. I felt so energetic after the first shot, I just kept going and going. I couldn't sleep that night, but I felt good. I ended up listening to Jim Berg's Quieting a Noisy Soul on my iPod for several hours during the night and finally went to sleep around 5 a.m. I was tired the next day, but had another shot, and my energy picked back up again. Over the next two days, I cleaned some of our carpets, took Cara shopping for her 12th birthday, fussed at the family for making the house a mess, stayed up til 2:00 a.m., took Nathan out for his 9th birthday, and made lots of plans for this week. Yesterday, however, was different. I was very touchy, very on-edge. One of my friends at church asked me if I had begun having the side effects of steroids wearing off yet. So I guess the answer to that would be "yes". I wasn't aware of the varying side effects of steroids, but now I know a little about them first hand, and I'm glad that part is done.

I've been complaining to Jon that my brain isn't working just right. I've been frustrated at being so ridiculously forgetful. But I really outdid myself last week. I had to call the OB's office for the phone number of another doctor. The nurse gave me the number, I wrote it down, and called right away. The line was busy, so I called back a few minutes later. It was still busy. I thought it was really strange, after three of four tries, that the phone in a doctor's office would stay busy for so long - surely they must have more than one line. I was dialing the number again when I suddenly realized that the nurse had given me my own phone number, and I hadn't even realized it. I was calling myself. It's a good thing we don't have call waiting.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Baby Plans

I've definitely been on vacation. No updates for more than three weeks. I'm feeling well since I haven't had any chemo for quite a while. I've been cleaning, organizing, giving the kids their achievement tests, doing taxes, even hit a garage sale and got a few items listed on eBay. I haven't taken a nap more than twice over the past three weeks.

Late last week we had another visit with the OB, and we were able to meet the neonatologist and tour the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I will be having steroid shots on May 7th and 8th and then, because of the OB's schedule and because of the schedule they try to observe after steroid shots, our little boy will be delivered on May 10 - Mother's Day. I didn't think they scheduled c-sections for the weekend, but it's a very special day to have this little guy be born.

Our visit with the neonatologist went really well. He was a gentle, grandfatherly man whose own son was born at 34 weeks. The NICU encourages a parent to be with the baby for 22 hours each day, fathers are encouraged to hold their babies, children are allowed to visit ("just don't bring the whole tribe at once" the neonatologist said), and grandparents are allowed to visit as much as they want. We enjoyed our tour immensely. Seeing the other little bitty babies was fun for me. Most people don't get to plan for a premature birth, but I'm glad we've been give a chance to prepare. I'm about as ready as possible, I think. We were told that the baby will be in the NICU for at least a week (best case scenario - no complications, very good growth). Any complications or concerns will extend his stay. I've spent a week in the NICU before, but the circumstances will be very different this time. I'm glad my parents have been able to work out the details to change their tickets and work arrangements. They will be here for two weeks to help.

The oncologist decided to resume chemo two weeks after the c-section instead of the normal four weeks. She's concerned because the longer the delay between treatments, the less effective they tend to be. The good thing is this - the sooner I begin again, the sooner I will be done. Based on the schedule I have right now, I'll be done with the chemo and radiation treatments about the end of August.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Baby Update

Monday was the next-to-the-last visit with the high-risk OB. The ultrasound still showed a healthy and growing little boy, although he has lost all of his size advantage. He is now slightly smaller than average. That was expected because of the chemo, but I was disappointed to know that it actually happened. The doctors had hopes that he might actually be near 5 pounds at 34 weeks, but that looks unlikely now. His birth is still tentatively scheduled for May 11.

Next week we meet with the neonatologist and tour the neonatal intensive care unit. I'm looking forward to having my list of questions answered. If you could look at my list, you'd never guess I've already had six children. There are so many details about this situation that are new to me that I almost feel like an inexperienced mom again. And I'll probably act like one too.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We Got It

Nathan came home from school on Wednesday not feeling well. Sore throat, fever, nausea... You moms know what those symptoms usually mean. We were able to get into an office that evening for a strep test, and it was positive. I'm glad I've had enough experience with strep to recognize it quickly. The oncologist put our whole family on antibiotics. So far we're doing well. I'll be doing a general disinfecting of the house. We have had two or three consecutive rounds of strep during the last two spring seasons, but sure hope to avoid anymore of it this year.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yesterday, the ladies from my church gave me a baby shower. It was fun and a blessing. I mentioned way back at the beginning of the blog that we got rid of all our baby stuff three years ago. But now we're just about set again. After having six kids, I have become a minimalist. I guess I've spent more time thinking about what we don't need this time around than about what we do. I think we're just about ready for the little guy to get here. May 11 is seven weeks from tomorrow. It's nice to have a fairly solid time frame this time. With the others, by the time week 42 approached, I began to wonder if I was really pregnant or if this was all just a joke.

I've been told I'll probably have a pretty good crop of hair coming back by the time the baby comes. But it will all come out again when chemo resumes. Someone commented yesterday that when her sister had cancer, she learned not to complain about having to fix her hair, because at least she had hair to fix. Just for the record, there is something very nice about not having to fix my hair. I only wear a wig occasionally because it takes longer to fix than I like, and it messes up easily. But I am looking forward to having the real thing again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chemo #5

The last treatment for a couple of months is done! Just knowing chemo is done for awhile makes me feel pretty good. It's gone so much better than it could have, but I'm still glad to have a break. Chemo will probably resume in June. Meanwhile, we just wait for the baby to reach 34 weeks. The delivery is penciled in for May 11. About a month before that date, it will be confirmed with the operating room and written in stone. I will be having a c-section. No more doctor's appointments are scheduled for three whole weeks.

The weather has been beautiful this weekend, and I'm getting the garage sale itch something terrible. I hope not to give that up this summer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Today, after I had been out of bed for about an hour, I began having a hard time breathing. I felt exhausted and nauseated. These are all symptoms of the anemia I’m fighting. I was planning to drive myself to the OB checkup today. I kept wishing I had asked someone else to drive me, and I wished that Jeremiah could just stay in his pajamas all day, so I didn’t have to hunt the clean laundry to find jeans for him. I wished I could stay in my pajamas all day. But I didn’t suppose it would be appropriate to go to the OB’s in pj’s.

I did lay down for as long as I possibly could before dragging myself back out of bed to get ready for the doctor’s appointment. By that time my stomach had calmed down, and I was feeling slightly better. Jeremiah was excited to be dropped off at Elijah’s house again, and I went on to the appointment. I honestly thought I might end up getting that blood transfusion after all. I arrived while the office staff was still on lunch break and had to wait about 30 minutes before the office reopened. After I was inside and waiting to sign in, I saw a notice on the office wall that made me double check today’s date. Then I realized that I had my days mixed up, and my appointment isn’t until tomorrow.

It actually felt good to laugh at myself. And Jon made me feel even better by laughing at me too. So, here’s hoping that tomorrow I feel better than I did this morning. And I sure was glad I didn’t ask anyone to drive me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Test Results

We went to the high risk OB's today - another good ultrasound. The baby's growth remains right on track. We even got to find out how much he weighs right now - 1.6 pounds.

At the oncologist's office, we got the results to four tests - gene testing, echo cardiogram, CT scan, and routine blood tests.

gene testing - No gene mutations. This means my sister and daughters can breath a limited sigh of relief. Limited because, evidently, no one is immune to cancer. But at least they don't seem to be predisposed to it. It also means I don't have to have a hysterectomy to prevent other common cancers.

echo cardiogram - 55% ejection fraction. That means that with each beat, my heart is ejecting 55% of the blood it takes in. That's not a great number. The oncologist said that after this next round of chemo (which is now officially scheduled) I probably will not have any more before Baby comes or that fraction could drop lower. Normal/healthy is considered to be between 55% and 75%.

CT scan - No tumors or obvious developing cancers. There were some unclassified spots on my liver and in my bones, but those could have any of several causes, only one of which is more cancer. The overall report was positive. The radiologist did not think the areas in question had a high likelihood of being cancer, but metastasis couldn't be completely ruled out. The oncologist said the CT report will not change anything in my treatment plan. She assured me that everyone who has a CT scan has small abnormalities show up since the scan is so sensitive.

It was interesting to hear about other "small abnormalities". My upper lungs have scar tissue - I wonder where that came from? If I grew up in the Midwest, it would be considered normal since most people from there breath in some kind of soil spore that causes scar tissue. But I grew up in South Carolina. My lower lungs are flat-ish from not breathing deeply enough. (Jog harder, yell louder.)

blood tests - Still anemic, but not as badly as expected after the last tests. I have felt much better since chemo #4 than after chemo #3, so the oncologist decided not to do a blood transfusion at this point.

The approximate date for our little boy's birth seems to be settling around 34 weeks - around Mother's Day. This is two weeks later than we thought it would be last month. The results of the tests were good enough to allow his lungs to develop on their own without rushing things any more than that. My parents bought tickets last month to come out here based on the information we had then. Now it looks like they will miss the little guy's birth by a few days. They are going to check on what their airline will do for them.

Many people have asked about names for the baby. We haven't picked one out. We read Bruce Lansky's Mother of All Baby Name Books; Over 94,000 Baby Names Complete with Meanings, and the only six names we agreed on were the ones we've already used. I guess we'll just have to duke this one out. Stay tuned to see who wins.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The CAT scan and echo cardiogram are done, and many of you have asked about the results. The next appointment is on Monday which is when we expect to find out the details. The technicians who perform the procedures can't say anything, so we're still in the dark.

The CAT scan folks were surprised to see a pregnant lady in their waiting room, and they only proceeded after talking to my doctors directly and informing me of the risks of radiation to the baby. I was aware that there are risks, but hearing about them in more detail made me worry. I spent the scan time praying that the Lord would protect our little one from injury because of the radiation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The CAT scan and echo cardiogram are scheduled at St. Joe's for Wednesday, February 25.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chemo #4

Today's treatment is finished. John Leland went with us so he could see how uneventful the process is. He was tickled to be given a sandwich and juice and plenty of candy.

My red blood cell count was still low, but not low enough to postpone the chemo. The doctor did say I would probably need a blood transfusion during this cycle, since the counts are likely to drop lower than they did last time. I'm hoping not, but time will tell.

I will be having a echo cardiogram and a CT scan sometime in the next ten days to help determine if I should have those extra rounds of chemo. The echo cardiogram is because I had "cardiac symptoms" with the anemia during the last round. They want to make sure my heart is up to more chemo. The CT scan is to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else.

The next three weeks will be full of visits to different offices. I don't have the dates for several of those appointments yet, but I'll try to post them when we find out and the news that follows.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Never Mind - It's Not Normal

Yesterday was blood work day. Between each chemo treatment, blood is drawn to make sure I'm still functioning reasonably well. I've had so much difficulty breathing over the past week, that we were beginning to get worried. The blood work showed that I've become very anemic. Breathing trouble could be caused by much worse problems, so we were relieved. The oncologist said that if my hematocrit falls any lower I will need a blood transfusion. I've been anemic before, although not like this, and have some ideas how to help this problem. The doctor didn't perscribe any iron supplements - my guess is because I would need so much of them that it would cause very unpleasant side effects. The blood counts should begin rebounding very soon on their own.

My doctor has been so easy-going about the alternative methods of chemo support I've been doing. She takes notes on everything I'm doing and waits to see if it seems to help. She has never once made me feel silly for drinking lettuce juice, or for using any of the other things I'm taking. She seems to be completely supportive. When I suggested I could take some of the supplements I have in the past to help with anemia, she was very agreeable. So we stopped by Whole Foods on the way home and picked up some things which I started taking right away.

I will be having a CT scan or something like it soon, now that the little guy is bigger and developing well. It should help the doctors determine when is the best time to schedule the delivery as well as giving them a better idea of the extent of the cancer. I couldn't have any scans earlier because they put the baby at too much risk.

It looks like I will be having an additional round or two of chemo to prevent going three or four months without any treatment while we wait for the delivery and recovery afterwards. The original plan was to have four rounds of Adriomycin and Cytoxan, then wait for the delivery, then four more rounds of Taxol, then radiation. As I mentioned before, the oncologist is very nervous about waiting for baby and not treating the cancer. She is planning to proceed extra cautiously with additional rounds of Adriomycin and/or Cytoxan. I assume these rounds will include extra testing to make sure I'm not falling apart.

All this info may be like Greek, but maybe it will help to answer some questions about what lies ahead. Several of you have been through this routine and know about the ups and downs of treatment decisions. We appreciate everyone's concern and your prayers.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

We had another high risk OB visit this week. The little guy is still doing well - still slightly ahead in his growth and everything seems to be developing properly. The ultrasounds at the high risk OB's office are fun. The images are so clear. It's hard to believe this pregnancy only has about 10 weeks left. Most of my others have gone 42 weeks.

Tests checking on the chemo's effect on the blood cells are scheduled for Monday. This month has gone pretty well so far - no mouth sores so far, and a couple other side effects I've had before haven't happened either. I haven't felt as well over all - very little energy. I've been spending a lot of extra time in bed and sometimes have trouble breathing. The doctors say that's normal considering both the pregnancy and the chemotherapy.

The OB and oncologist are still trying to come to a compromise about the delivery date. Maybe some of those questions will be answered or at least investigated further at Monday's appointments.

Jon has been home quite a bit this week working on tax stuff. I'm so thankful for him. He's taken care of the kids a whole lot and I've had lots of chance to rest. We are surrounded by friends who have made life so much easier for us than it might have been right now. Thanks to all of you for the meals, laundry, cleaning, help with the kids, and encouragement.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chemo #3

The third chemo treatment is done now. I slept all day yesterday, but have felt pretty well. One more treatment to go, then we'll be waiting for the OB and oncologist to decide between them when is the best time to deliver our little boy. The OBs have said the delivery should not be any earlier than 32 weeks. (I'm 20 weeks now.) I'll be having a c-section which will require about a month of recovery time before the chemo treatments can resume. The oncologist is extremely uncomfortable about going at least 3 months without any treatment for the cancer, and I have a feeling she will be pushing for an earlier delivery. I don't know what's best. I'm not in a position to be calling any shots. This appears to be a competition between my health and our son's. God has shown that he can and will guide circumstances that are entirely beyond our ability to handle. I don't know why he has let things happen the way they have, but I'm thankful for years of experience that back up what the Bible says about trusting him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not to your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Please pray for Linda Rold's husband, Trent, and children. She was diagnosed with melanoma just days before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. She passed away January 19.

a few days later -a little more information:
Linda was in her mid-thirties and leaves three elementary aged children behind. She had a melanoma spot removed about five years ago, and it reoccured as tumors in her brain. I did not know Linda well although we have lived in the same area and have common friends. We attended the same ladies' retreat in late September, after which both of us were diagnosed with cancer. She was a Christian and my friends tell me she was very ready to go to heaven.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blood Work

Monday I had in-between-chemo blood work done. It turned out very well. White blood cells were almost in the normal range, and a couple of other counts that I can't remember were in the normal range. The oncololgist was pleased, and I think somewhat surprised since this is significantly better than the reports after my first round of chemo (which were considered very good). I'm not sure why the counts were so good, and it might mean I'll get a heavier dose of chemo next time. I know lots of people are praying for us, and we would be foolish to assume the lettuce juice alone is what's helping things to go so well.

My mouth is much better this time than last. I have a couple of tender spots, but nothing like before. After chemo-day passed, I haven't had any nausea at all. I have been a lot more tired than last time. We've sure appreciated all the help with things here at home.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thank you, Dear Friends

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver:
in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
2 Corinthians 1:9-11

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The appointment today at the OB's was routine, and everything still appears to be fine with the little guy. Our OB is helping to schedule gene testing, so we'll know if I have a mutation of a gene that can cause breast cancer. If I do, we will be considering what to do about a significant increase in my risk for ovarian cancer as well. That testing will happen sometime before the baby is born.

Several people have asked about how my mouth is doing with this second round of chemo. I'm not yet to the point when I broke out during the last round, so I don't really know.

Thanks to all of you who keep in touch with me through this blog, facebook and notes. You are an encouragement. Jon and I feel like we've entered the drudgery stage of all this. The treatment appears to stretch out for such a long time ahead of us. I counted weeks on the calendar yesterday, and it looks like I won't be done with everything (chemo and radiation) until sometime in September.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chemo #2

I've felt pretty well over all since my treatment last Thursday. Thursday evening was a little rough, and I've been very tired since then, but no big side effects. The kids have had little colds, but nothing too bad. I'm schooling the kids this week because Diana's family all have strep throat. None of us wanted to spread that around. Diana organized everything nicely, so it went very smoothly today.

Someone with experience losing hair suggested that I use a lint roller on my head to pick up all the loose little hairs that keep coming out. What a good tip. I'm well on my way to being really bald, not just shaved. I wonder what it will be like to have it all grow back? Dealing with real hair again might be a challenge.

The baby is still active and growing. Another appointment with the OB is scheduled on Wednesday. If all goes according to schedule, my last round of this type of chemo will end during my 21st week. The delivery will be somewhere between 30 and 34 weeks. Then another type of chemo will be given.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Big News

I just got back from the high risk OB's office. The ultrasound was clear - it's a boy! He's growing very well - several days ahead on his growth compared to the last ultrasound. So chemo didn't slow him down so far.

I began losing my hair in handfuls last Friday, so Jon shaved me that night. Now that it's all said and done, we're all fine, but looking forward to loosing all my hair was hard. I have two nice looking wigs and several good hats, so I'm all set. Maybe we'll get pictures up later. But not yet. I haven't even looked at myself bald yet. Jon shaved his head too. He said he'll grow his back once I'm up to taking a picture of us together with no hair.

My mouth is healing up just in time for my next chemo round (Thursday). I've felt really well except for my mouth. Hopefully next time I can get on top of that before it gets so bad.

Our new year started off well - growing healthy kids and a whole lot shorter morning bathroom routine. (Being bald has its advantages.) Hope you all have a good new year too.