Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! Our prayer this year is that each person reading this will draw closer to Jesus as we realize the reason for the season is His birth and great love and sacrifice for us all. A pastor said recently that Jesus was probably born around March, but a Roman emperor changed the date to coincide with a pagan holiday to draw attention away from that and to the Savior's birth. I am fine with that as I like to think that at least Jesus was not as cold as I was on most December evenings (the low tonight in Bethlehem is 40). We are blessed beyond measure for another year together. I am blessed to know you, and to be able to wish you all a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

We spent a wonderful Christmas morning together, the five of us, beginning at a pleasant 7:00 AM. Each year on Christmas eve, we go over to my step dad's family in Ft. Worth. The make delicious tamales and other authentic Mexican foods. Yummy! We have a good time catching up with people we unfortunately only see once a year. That puts us home most years, around 11:00, so the kids get a late start and give us a little more time in the morning as we stay up even later than the girls, of course!

The girls repeatedly said, "This is the best Christmas ever!" Music to a mother's ears. The yikes got their American Girl dolls, Kit and Addy. They were anamored with each outfit, bow, shoe, book, and even miniature hanger! Katelyn's big gift was a great hot pink digital camera. Also, my uncle Shawn graciously gave us his old Wii and we set it up for Christmas as well. We originally did not think we wanted a Wii and as per an earlier post, you might know I bought one after Thanksgiving to sell, not use for ourselves. That said, all the girls, Jake and myself have enjoyed playing. In fact, I played boxing with Jake and won!! And, golf with Jadyn and lost (she is good!) So far, we are having a great, but carefully limited time, with it. I am thankful to have it uncle Shawn!! Thanks. It is the one video game system that is actually fun to watch as well as play. For me, at least, that is not true with the others.

I took Jadyn and Bryn to see Santa on Christmas Eve. We went to a place that was recommend by several people, but this was our first time to attend this particular Santa's workshop. The children gathered around Santa's chair instead of standing in line and Santa called their names, much to everyone's amazement. Then, Santa spent a good amount of time with each child. I told the girls that they needed to not be shy and speak clearly and loudly to Santa what they wanted so he could hear correctly...





Last Thursday, Bryn had a friend and his family over to play. One of the girls told us she wanted a sled for Christmas. Their mom had no really idea why she wanted a sled as she had rarely if not ever been on a sled and it snows in Texas on an extremely limited basis. Nonetheless, she wanted a sled. Bryn, quick to pick up on this, said she wanted a sled too! When she did not get on on Christmas day, that night as I was tucking her into bed, she said to me ever so sweetly, "Mom, next year, I am going to speak in a clear, loud voice to Santa that I want a sled for Christmas!" :) She did have a wonderful day. One of the girls favorite things were matching pajamas and outfits for themselves and their dolls!







My Dad and Cindy from Oregon sent the girls matching PJ's for themselves and their dolls. This holds special significance as my Dad's mom, my Grandmommy, used to make me matching outfits for me and my doll! I loved them so much. They put them on right away and even wore them over to open presents at my moms house. This brings me to our second event of the day, presents at mom's. We open presents one at a time at our house. It is by no means slow, but it it is significanly slower than the mad dash as Grandma's and Grandpa's. The presents were all from them, so there was no need to make sure we knew who gave what, as is important to me at our house. I actually like how different the two houses are. Both are fun. The girls and Austin had a ball. We all had fun watching them:)



Yikes!



Mom with me and my sister Hope.



Beautiful Ella



We went home and changed into more new matching doll clothes and went out to eat at a hotel bufffet.



We have done this in the past and it is quite nice. There were 24 of us and we had our own room in the main ballroom area of the hotel. The food was fantactic. I sat next to Jacque and we each had seveal plates from the sushi bar. She actually figured we could have ham or turkey more often than a full sushi and seafood bar. I could not agree more. It was delicious. The kids had their own buffet with chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. Their small desserts even had s'mores and jello squares! It was a great time, with no clean up and prep, so we all had more time to visit with each other.

Aunt Diane sat next to all the kids as she is the kids magnet most of the time we get together. Here she is with Bryn.



Jadyn and Aunt Sandy are having a fun meal together too.



Me and mom!



Here are cousins Carter and Zander.



Dad (Mike) with Jake.



I teased Katelyn that this picture with Corbin and thier cousin Aiden looked like Aiden was her and Corbin's baby, thus the silly face!



My mom with my brother Garett.



Aunt Jacque with her sweet Kaylee and Zander.



Many of us headed back over to my Grandparents in Mansfield to visit some more. We took a few pictures there of my cousin Mandy's Jace and my sister, Hope's Ella.



Mandy with the babies.



Jadyn will hold the babies until we tell her to stop. She does not even care if they are crying!! What a sweet cousin she is.



Aunt Sandy with Jace with Aunt Pam and Aunt Jacque in the background.



On another note, I usually forget to write down so many of the funny things the girls say. Usually we say, we should So blog that, then I forget!! I want to start writing down the cute way the kids say things too. I will try hard to be better! Anyway, Bryn speaks actually very clearly for a 4 year old. So when something comes out wrong, all of us love it so much! Two such words lately are "Dubbon for button" as in "Mom, will you please dubbon my dubbon?" The second is "Skabetty for Spaghetti" as in "I wike Skabetty, can I have it for dinner?" I love it:)

Today Katelyn did something I had a flashback to doing when I was a kid. She went shopping with some friends. One of her friends got some money for Christmas and decided to buy a small Coach purse. (I wish I had a Coach, but that is not the funny!) Anyway, Katelyn and another friend did not have the money for said purse. The decided, however to ask for a cute bag from the store to carry around (with nothing in it!) I did the same thing in 6th grade with my friend Joanna. We were at the Galleria and got a few bags. I think from Clinique makeup and Macy's, two very cute and popular stores back then! Now, it is Coach. I was cracking up at the memory.



I have chemo on Friday. I am confident I will have just as good a round as last time. I feel great and had almost a full three weeks of low to no side effects. Please pray for that to be the case for Round 2. I will have new scans in February, so I am eager to see its effectivness, which of course is my fervent prayer. Jake decided to come with my Friday as he is off work for Christmas and rarely gets to go. I know I will enjoy our time together.

Speaking of time together, December 21st, Jake I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Jake planned a complete surprise date for us beginning at the Cheesecake Factory for a great lunch. We went to go see the movie I Am Legend in an IMAX theater, which we really enjoyed. We were still pretty full from luch, but had some time , so we stopped at the Olive Garden for drinks and hordorves. But them the best part was the completely suprise of going to a Dallas Maverick game. I have not been to a game since I went with my dad back in the 80's-ealy 90's when they still played in their old stadium. Jake got a great deal on amazing seats and we both had a ball (pun intended!) I married a fabulous husband and father to our children. I felt treasured that night we spent together. I can't wait until #10!

As I mentioned earlier, Katelyn's big gift from us this year was a digital camera. Katie always has taken pictures of herself, quite the high self esteem that I am in love with! She takes pictues on her photo booth on her computer, she uses my camera. But, a whole new world had opened up hith her own camera! Watch out!! :) Here are a few examples.





Finally, I want to share with you one last moment with the yikes. Whenever either Jake or I get home from being away for any length of time, they hear the car and come running. It is a sweet moment to have them run to great you as you get out of the car. What a welcome!! I happened to have my camera in my hand and needed to capture the love!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Still upright

I kept thinking that I would get sick any day now. But, alas, I am feeling fine. My days have been filled with shopping, games, decorating, braces, loose teeth...and I would not want it any other way. I felt a little tired, but it has been a great round. I am thankful that this treatment can be long term. I am counting on it working!

Thank you God, for Ixempra. Now that my prayer has been answered concerning side effects, I am moving on to the far more important request--amazing effectiveness. I pray that this medicine is the perfect combatant for my unique tumors.

Well, because we moved back my chemo, I was able to attend Bryn's Christmas program at her school. She was precious! I am sure her teacher would not agree as Bryn got a little bored up in the choir loft and started pulling tiny bits of white feathers from her fur trimmed dress. This was not all. She then began throwing the said feathers up into the air and pushing them further away by blowing with her puffy cheeks. I think my new video camera caught it all. Including her beautiful singing. It was fun to watch! Here is a small segment of the video to prove my point. She makes me smile.

video

Other important news is Katelyn got braces today. She looks very cute, and a little more grown up. Her teeth hurt a ton. She came home from school and went right to bed. Poor thing. She choose aqua for her first rubber band color. We have a whole new world approaching with a new long list of foods to avoid. Her orthodontist said she will most likely have them on for 18 months. I jokingly told Katelyn "Merry Christmas" after I was paying part of her big orthodontist bill. I seriously told her that it was a privilege to have braces and a lot of people could not get them. She looked with complete sincerity and said, "Why??" The receptionist told her many of their clients were adults getting braces because their parents could not afford them growing up. Then we had a conversation in the car about abundant blessings.





Not to be out done with tooth excitement, Jadyn lost her first tooth today! Actually, her mom pulled her first tooth today. This afternoon, Jadyn said her tooth hurt. I looked at it, and told her that is was loose:) Thus began the incessant tongue wiggling, tooth excitement. We had a few errands to run and I told her when we got home I would feel it with a napkin as to not get my dirty hands (or hers) into her mouth. She was prompt with the napkin when we arrived home. It seemed like it needed a few more days when I felt it, but gave it a little tug anyway. She winced a little and left to fidget some more. I am not a wiggly-tooth mom. I pulled almost all of Katelyns teeth quickly as to avoid the "dangling by a thin tread loose-tooth syndrome". Alas, Jadyn came up a few minutes later with another napkin asking if I would give it another feel. I, tired of the game already, took it and pulled up fairly hard. Out came her first tooth! Yea!! She is thrilled. Now, we have just 20 more to go. Here is a before and after photo.




This weekend we went to our church's winter festival, Winterfest. We all had a great time. The day consisted of Christmas crafts, bouncing on bounce house obstacle courses, riding ponies and tractor rides, and even seeing a live penguin show. This year's event was so spread out, and we had awesome weather. My mom helped us, which was a huge help.

















I love normal life.

Take care,
Jess

Friday, December 7, 2007

Treatment update

Hi all!

Monday I went to see Dr. Haley so get my scan results, and have my 4th round of adriamycin and cytoxan. I had one extremely difficult round of this drug combo and two fairly hard rounds. I had decided to switch my treatment to Mondays so I could have fluids all week without bumping into the weekend. But, when I saw Dr. Hayley, the first thing she did was go over my most recent scans I had taken last week.

The good news: no spots in organs...liver, lung, kidney, breast were all clear! This is great news!! It was my last scan that showed some uptake in my breast resulting in the lumpectomy and the scan before that that showed a few lymph nodes which sent me to the axillary dissection. So, this is no small feat. I think the drugs I was on held the tumors to the bone only.

But this leads to the not so good news...I do have fairly significant growth in my bone. I went from 2 spots on my vertebrae to 8. I have spots still growing on my hip and ribs. The spot on my clavicle is still there, but not growing. I have some spots on my back on the side (it has a big name??) So, this means I need to switch my drug regimen.

I consider this okay news. First, the bit about no growth in organ. Second, the adriamycin and cytoxan was very toxic to me. To everyone really, but Dr. Haley mentioned that I had it particularly bad. To me, finding out that this treatment was not my wonder-drug now is a blessing. It would have been more sad to have finished the 6 rounds only to find out the same information.

Now, as you remember, I went to Houston a few weeks ago for the metastatic breast conference. One of the things that was mentioned a dozen times, was the brand new drug, Ixempra. It was specifically for people who have failed on the drugs I have failed on and needed another drug...that's me! Dr. Haley did not mention it at first. She said there were several options, Doxil or Gemcitabine. But then I told her I had heard about Ixempra. She said that I would be a candidate for this drug. She said she had just gotten her hands on it last Friday and had only given it to one patient, one round. I would be number two!! The woman that was number one had already tried the Doxil and Gemcitabine. She is a little ahead of me, imagine that! She could not give it to me Monday as it was so new, insurance companies had to be taught that it was a real, FDA approved drug. So, I took it today.

I felt a little like a celebrity as the pharmacist came in to tell me that I was number two! Also, my chemo nurse said they all had to take a special seminar on how to give this particular drug and it special procedures. I felt quite special. The whole thing took just over 4 hours. Today's treatment coincided with an appointment with my surgeon, Dr.Euhus, whom I love. He was so pleased with my clinical exam and is having me come back in 3 months. It is always a joy to meet with him. He is the one who sent me the information concerning the Houston trip.

I really feel like God ordered my path to Houston. I would have never heard of Ixempra, as I have not since I have been back expect my own research. I hope you guys all hear a lot about it, as I am counting on it being MY wonder-drug. Unlike adriamycin and cytoxan, which I could only take 6 rounds on due to its toxicity to the heart and other organs, I can take Ixempra for as long as it is working. I am shooting for years, heck, how about indefinitely. A scan in 3 months will let us know.

Now, I feel great at day 1. It is listed for normal chemo side effects, but again, I am praying for none. Thanks for echoing my prayers.

My mom was able to take off work and go with me to both appointments today. We had great conversations, until I fell asleep for a few hours after they gave my a big dose of benadrly!! I was grateful for her precious company.

Take care,
Jess

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a blessed Thanksgiving with so many of our family present...I think 35, but every time I recount I get a different number. We sure missed those that were not there, the Yetter family in NY and Ashley McComb in AR.

Now, for the Thanksgiving photo album. If I am missing any of the 35, please understand. They were probably outside! I stayed in the warm house most of the day. It was a blustery day in Texas, with sleet and then later, the most beautiful snow!! It did not stick at all, but it made for an amazing, pretty drive home that night.

Aunt Pam and baby Jace!


Katelyn and cousin Corbin


Aunt Diane and Grandma


Cousin Jeremy and Grandpa


Shawn and his girlfriend Janalee (sp?)


Jake and my brother Garett trying to pose like manly men!


Garett and Jess


Katelyn and my mom, Judy


Jace and Jess


Aunt Diane and her daughter (my cousin) Mandy


Aunt Sandy with Katelyn and cousins Carter and Kaylee


Grandpa gave all the little girls a bear they loved: Kaylee, Jadyn, Bryn and Kacey (sp?) Kacey is Janalee's little girl.


Uncle Mike and my cousin Molly


Molly's boyfriend Billy and baby Aiden!



My sister Hope and baby Ella!



Yesterday was Black Friday, where crazy people wake up to get a must have purchase for Christmas. I was one of the crazies in line with my family to get a Nintendo Wii. It was actually a lot of fun to be with my mom, and aunts: Sandy, Jacque, and Diane. Then, they all headed to Target and Wal-Mart for great deals. I headed to Dallas with some friends to the Galleria and the American Girl store. The girls are asking Santa for American Girl dolls and I went to check them out for him. I got a lot checked off my list already! Those of you who already have your Christmas shopping already done, go ahead and do not mention that little fact to me!! Here is a picture of our shopping adventure. It is dark because it is 5:30 AM!! Did I mention it was cold?



We have put up most of our Christmas decorations. I will post a picture one day soon. As we are getting out various things, Bryn pulled out the angel that goes on the top of our tree. She said, "That is a beautiful fairy!" We all smiled and told her that was an angel. Then later, she was trying to get the angel for the nativity out of the styrofoam package and she said while pulling and prying, "This silly fairy is stuck!" We smiled again, and helped her with the angel. I guess her fairy dress up outfit looks like our angel decorations. I look forward to telling Bryn again of the Christmas story, including the angel!

--Luke 2:10-11 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Tomorrow is a tradition at our church. Each Sunday after Thanksgiving, we have a Thanksgiving service, where people stand up and share with the whole church what God has done this year in our lives and what we are thankful for. It is a blessing to me to hear about some amazing things God has done in the lives of so many, including us!

In case I do not post tomorrow, I have a set of scans Monday to determine if this hard chemo is working. Please pray for clear results and treatment plan for the coming months. I have chemo next on Monday the 3rd, so I might not have results until I see my doctor on that day.

I am so thankful for all of you!