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!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Weekend learning

I had a great trip to Houston last weekend. I learned so much from others that have a similar diagnosis, and also from the leading doctors at MD Anderson.

My favorite part, though, was meeting several wonderful young women (30's) that are living with Stage IV cancer, raising children, making it through the yucky days, loving the good days... just like me. They came from all over, New York, Florida, Missouri, Virginia... I was shocked that the five or so women I grew close to ALL were diagnosed at stage IV. That is so sad to me. I guess logically, we did not have mammograms or have any awareness/prevention at all, so we all caught ours so late.

Most had been on the same drugs I have, similar surgery, go through the same tests. It is neat to meet people that live so far away, yet are so similarly treated. It gives me confidence in my treatment. It also is amazing to share something with women that know exactly what I am talking about. My family and friends can empathize, but only someone who has been there can fully know what I feel.

I now realize that I am missing out by not being in a support group here at home. I am actively looking for a young women's group here. I am also looking for one for the girls too. One woman I met said after her daughter went to a support group for kids, she came out saying to her mom, "That mommy has cancer, and that mommy does not have hair too!" They were so excited to meet a mom that was just like theirs, and they did not feel so different anymore.

I learned a lot about new treatments just around the corner. I understand various therapies better. I now understand all about stem cells and why they and cancer stem cells are so important. I heard over and over how targeted therapy is the future of medicine and how they can learn to target specific cancer cells and develop drugs just for them. I learned about new and different tests I will ask for. I learned how stage IV cancer is effectively treated as a chronic illness instead of a terminal one. And much more. I filled a tablet with information, and I am gearing up for a longer visit with my oncologist at my next appointment!

I know a lot of people were wondering why I went alone. First of all, most all of the women were alone at the conference. Some brought daughters or husbands, but they were in the minority. It was a good time for me. I am rarely alone and it was a good opportunity for some quiet time. Also, I so treasured my time talking with other cancer survivors that I think that would have been more limited or different with a non-patient there. I promise, I wrote down all the information I needed, and asked several questions. Also, the conference was recorded and will be available for streaming online soon.

It was such a blessing, I am already looking for another event! I think I found one through the Young Survivors Coalition in Florida in February.

Friday, November 16, 2007

In Houston!

Hi all! I did get the opportunity to go to Houston this weekend for a metastatic breast cancer conference. I got in this afternoon, via a Southwest Airlines buddy pass from my dad! It was easy to maneuver the airports and I got to my hotel just fine.

One little God note. I was in the Houston restroom and before I entered, I recalled that I had my driver's license in my pocket from boarding the plane in Dallas. I did not put my hand in my pocket, I just thought to myself that it was there. After I used the restroom, and washed my hands, I put my hand in my pocket. My license was not there. I stepped into the bathroom stall I was just in and looked down...on the floor was my license. It was a weird feeling, because in a way, I knew it was not on my seat on the plane, or back in Dallas. I knew it was right there! I am sure it would not have been fun getting home without it...actually impossible via plane. So, I thanked my amazing God for watching after me as I am away from home!

Okay, so now I am safe in my hotel room, which is steps from MD Anderson where the conference will take place. Earlier, I took the Metro Rail up and down (as far as it went) just to see what was around my hotel, and I ate a yummy Italian dinner. I think tomorrow I will try the indoor pool at the hotel. As I re-read this, it sounds like I am going to have a lot alone time. I will, but I will also be at the conference ALL day tomorrow (from 9:30-7:00!), and most of the day Sunday. I am so excited to learn some new things, and as Jake says, meet some people like me!

More to come later :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fun visit

We had a fun weekend with my dad, in from Oregon. We were busy right away with Jadyn’s 6th birthday party. We had it at an indoor swimming pool. We had a great time! Jadyn and her friends loved the huge slide. If you were under 48”, you had to go down with an adult. For almost 1 and ½ hours, Jake was the designated adult going up the huge staircase and down the fun slide. Most of my family was able to attend as well. I am so grateful for so many great friends and family close by!

We spent all Saturday at soccer games and the school carnival. Jadyn played the cake walk a dozen times until she finally won with her aunt Diane and aunt Pam! A cake walk is where you walk around in a circle to music; when the music stops you stand on a number. If they pull your number from the hat, you win the prize--a cake! We got to stay until the end and attend the live auction and then watch a show from Nana Puddin’(a children’s ventriloquist show). We won a Boles basket in the auction (Boles is the school Katelyn attends) and my aunt Jacque won a plate for me that has all Jadyn's kindergarten class thumbprints on a Christmas platter. Thank you!!

I think this visit with my dad could be titled the Bryn visit. She did not take anytime to warm up to dad and right away wanted him to sit in the back seat with her all the time. He went along with this most of the time!

Sunday, we has a beautiful day. We had a picnic at the park, and went to a late movie as a family before my dad had to head back home. At the park we were at, Bryn wanted her picture taken with every statue in the park. There were so many statues, that I was thankful I had a digital camera! Bryn used to be the one who did not like her picture taken. That day, she was like a little model!

Today, Bryn had a Pow Wow at her school. A ll the four year old classes met for the parents that included singing and dancing in true pow wow fashion. Each child got to pick an Indian name. Bryn picked "Sunflower".

My sister Hope came to see Bryn's show with Ella. We ate lunch afterward, and here is a precious picture of little Ella sitting up so tall in the highchair.

I have my third round of chemo tomorrow. I am so thankful for such a great second round. I am planning on keeping things the same where I go in for fluids Monday and Tuesday. I think I will get scans in the coming weeks to see if this chemo mix is effective. I also have a great opportunity to go to a conference in Houston at MD Anderson in a few weeks that will focus on stage IV metastatic breast cancer. I think it will be a great time in finding out new treatments and means of dealing with my current prognosis and symptoms. It is a packed two days, but I know I will learn a lot.