Monday, January 29, 2018

2 Weeks

Mom and Dad were here for the past 2 weeks.  My dad has told me in the past that he doesn't like to sit around and would rather be working on a project.  I'm not sad about that one bit, you want to work, I'll let you!  My mom has been wanting to get her hands on my family room since I bought this house.  Well, she got her way with it.  It looks amazing and feels so homey.  We painted the back wall a beautiful soft blueish, sea foam color.  I love it, even though we went to Home Depot a bazillion times trying to get the right color.  We loved it so much that we also painted the mudroom/breakfast nook the same color.  Before long, the entire house will have some kind of this color combination; next rooms the master and guest room.  I paid a friend to paint the shutters in this room and the mud room, since they were a cream color.  They look so much better.  Dad also put up a trim around the windows which adds to it. 
 I love my new pictures and frames on this wall!  It's perfect.  I love the one in the black frame that says, "Embrace the Adventure!"  Um Yes!  And the little one say's, "Do one thing everyday that makes you happy."  I actually had that in my bedroom, but painted the frame and put it out here. Do you like the new chair too?  It's a recliner, swivel rocker that I found at Homegoods, along with the rug which adds so much.  We basically found the chair and then went with the decorations around that color. 
I'm now the proud owner of a water softener, a sectional and a Traeger grill.  Yep I know so exciting.  Mom and dad hate hard water and complain all the time when they have to use it.  My couch was rather uncomfortable and the family room needed a sectional which I found at Costco.  Also at Costco the day before mom and dad left I got a Traeger grill.  I've been wanting one for a long time and got a great deal.  You are looking at the future Master Griller my friends.
While mom and dad were here we found out that Tuesdays are $5 at the movie.  We have an awesome theater in town that has electric recliners.  So while they were in town we saw The Greatest Showman and Wonder.  They were both fantastic.

We also went to the symphony and the Tenors where we had tickets on the 4th row and middle seats.  I felt like a teenager.  They did an incredible job and the concert was amazing!
Dad turned 65 while he was here too!  He's pretty incredible and I'm so happy that he is healthy, active and talented.  Mom has always had the vision and dad makes the vision happen! 

What else did we do in two weeks?  Well I had a killer UTI, so I sat around a lot with the heating pad.  I had a visit with Dr. Dalton and came away feeling like I'm not dying tomorrow and that we have more options and more time, at least I hope! We had lunch and dinner with my cousin Jen.  We also watched the entire 4th season of When Calls The Heart, which we love.  And while we were working and driving from Homegoods to Homegoods, we listened to the 3rd Rae Carson book which we loved, Into the Bright Unknown.  I think we had a fantastic time.  It was nice to not have to work during their visit either.  Typically mom and dad stay for 6 weeks, but mom is helping with a desert table next week for their Stake RS conference and dad has a huge job that he is going to start before he retires in 350ish days. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bowling and Bowling

For the most part I really quite enjoyed the 2 weeks I was home.  One day we all gathered at the Nampa Bowl and donned the awesome, colorful bowling shoes and got on our bowling moves.  It was super fun and highly entertaining.  I am pretty sure I've never seen my mom bowl before.  Every time I bowl, which I think I've bowled twice in the past 20 year, I think of my jr. high and high school lifetime sports class where we would literally get on a yellow school bus and drive 1/2 mile to the local Bulldog Bowl.  I still remember learning the correct way to have your forearm when you let go of the ball, even though it makes no difference with my schools, because lets just face it, bowling isn't my talent.
The rest of my Christmas break was literally watching college bowl games.  I love college football, have I ever mentioned that!  Yes, I know I have about every other post.  It was funny because mom would often come in and ask when the game would be over and dad and I would inform her that it would be in 3 hours, because a new one would have started.  There were some pretty great games and we enjoyed them all.  I'm always sad when college football is over.  And I was really sad that Georgia didn't win the national championship.  They were oh, so close. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Taught Me...

In 2017 I learned that my cancer will likely never go away.  As much as I pray and hope for the miracle I want, it just isn't happening.  And maybe I should not use the word never, but as a medical provider I can clearly see and understand what is going on.  The CT report I had the day after Christmas said, "Progressive Metastatic Disease." Definitely not what I ever thought I'd be reading when I read my reports, yes I read them and I understand them.  Sometimes it's a little scary and it makes me a lot tearful, but I read about all of the growing tumors reported and realize I'm so blessed that they aren't causing me more problems and pain than they all ready are.

In the Spring of 2017 I learned that it's ok to take a chemo holiday and to stop all cancer related medication's, to give my body a break and to start fresh with another one in July (that didn't work either).  I've learned to adjust to new medication side effects, while becoming more grateful that I can function on a normal work day, because of few medication side effect from oral chemo/antiestrogen treatments. (My new treatment, Tamoxifen; let's hope this one works.)

I shed more tears in 2017 than any other as I lost 4 dear friend's from complications due to this disease which still has no preventative test, making for those diagnosed in late stages, little chances for an extended life.  I miss these ladies fiercely and feel a huge void in my life, especially my friend and co-worker Kendra.  Not a day goes by, that she doesn't enter my thoughts.

Due to a short 3 weeks on a parp inhibitor (that made me crazy sick and made me miss a week in Sydney) in 2017 I kicked my twice a week Circle K coke zero habit and decreased my sugar intake secondary to one of the medication's I'm taking now!  But I'm not going to lie, I also discovered Andy's frozen custard down the street, that I can buy by the half gallon and pare with frozen raspberries! 

Unfortunately in 2017 I lost most of my muscle mass given a pretty steady resting heart rate of 165 and some major shortness of breath with any exertion.  I also became severely anemic and developed some awful lower extremity edema.  Thankfully this has mostly all improved thanks to a few units of blood and a kidney stint, although we are watching this ever so closely. 

During the last 2 months of 2017 I learned to adjust to having a ureteral/kidney stint which is most uncomfortable, but at least it will give me more time without having a tube in my back or having to remove the kidney all-together.  I've learned to adjust pain medication's when the tumor on your left kidney grows bigger and starts making you feel like you've been kicked in the flank.

2017 brought me new friendship's, some of whom fight the same fight I do, who understand exactly what it's like to live with a scary disease that can potentially take your life whenever it wants to.  I developed some of these strong and wonderful friendships', as well as cancer survivor skill's by attending 2 different OVC survivor camps.  This allowed me to mingle with other strong, resilient women, some who have lived with this disease for many years, some who've been in remission for many years or just a few, but also those who were newly diagnosed. 

2017 taught me about hope as I listen to my family and friends pray for me.  It's most humbling to hear a niece or nephew pray that Auntie Terah will have strength in the same prayer they are saying while blessing the food.  I learned even more, that no matter what you do and no matter what your job is or what your life looks like, we've all been so uniquely and strategically placed where we are in our communities, in our homes and in our families for a reason.  
I was humbled in 2017 and given a tender mercy when my employer made it possible for me to  have FULL BENEFITS (with the same premiums as if I was FT) with just working 1 shift every 31 days, (even though I'm working a little more than that).  This means if there ever comes a day I'm on my death bed, I'll be being the provider instead of the patient for at least 10 hours a month.
2017 allowed me to check off two more continent's on my bucket list; Asia and Australia.  It allowed me to enjoy vacations in Seattle, Charlotte, New Orleans, OKC, Montana, Destin Beach, Milwaukee, several trips to Disneyland and home to Nampa.  2017 brought me ton's of girly laughter and memory making while on girl-trip's or just sitting around a kitchen table visiting and sometimes crying with my incredibly talented, compassionate loving and supportive girlfriends.  Each year I live I'm more grateful for the special friend's the Lord has placed in my life.
2017 was similar to the past few year's with the same pain, the same struggles, the same hopes, but also the same fears and the same tears.  It is my hope that 2018 will bring me new courage that has come from year's of trying again and again.  I'm past wishing for my before cancer life, instead I'm creating new hopes and new goals while living my present life.  I'm celebrating each new day, just how I am and wherever I am.

I want to be kinder in 2018, with a child like love to all I interact with.  It is in being kind and having charity that we truly serve our Savior.  I want to be more like Him, to learn more about Him; to look for ways to serve other and to bring happiness and joy despite the negativity that surrounds this world, for this is what He taught and what he would do. 

And when I'm home in 2018 I will continue to hug my nieces and nephews fiercely when they walk in and out of my parent's door.  And I will keep asking them to stop growing, they are getting too tall.  Oh, what I would give to freeze time.  My nieces and nephews are so perfect and at the perfect ages right now (10-nb).  I will keep loving their drawings and cute letters telling me they love me all the way around the moon and I will treasure the cuddles and laughter we will share.  If there is one thing I hope to leave these little ones it is to have courage in the face of fear and uncertainty and to have a firm, unwavering testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a faith in our Heavenly Father's love for us His children.

In 2018 I'm hoping to develop exceeding faith in the plan that Heavenly Father has layed out for me.  I will continue to pray that His will, will become my will if they are different.  And I will for sure work on this goal of letting my faith be bigger than my fear.  (I found this and had to buy it this week).

I still have hope that there will be a medication that will shrink and stop my tumor growth so that I will have more time to grow my character and spirituality, to make more memories with my family and friends and to see more of the beautiful world that has been created for me to enjoy.  And if the road is a bit bumpy, I'll for sure shed tears of sadness and pain, but I'll also try my best to face the adversity I've been given the best that only I know how.

In 2018 I hope to develop more friendships, forgive and be forgiven, laugh a lot more and cry less.  I hope to gain back at least some of that muscle I lost, hike more mountains, take more walks and ride more bikes (or just take more spin classes.)  I want to enjoy every moment I can in my backyard come 2 weeks when I have a backyard makeover, while I swing on a swing with a book in my hand.  
So in 2018, I'm going to cheer with joy when I get to be the provider for 10 hours instead of the patient, even if its flu season and I have to wear a master mask crossed eyed!  Did you know that I love my career?  I do!  And I'm so grateful that even among the low white counts and the discomfort that I have at times that I can turn my focus on others and away from myself.  And I've been blessed with an incredible gifted immune system; I very rarely get sick...knock on wood!
I don't know what I will learn in 2018.  I don't know what challenges or experiences lie ahead.  But what I do know is that I've been given an incredible medical team in Phoenix, Boise, Boston and Houston.  I pray that they are guided to the best treatment for me.  I plan to continue to rack up those frequent flier miles traveling the world and visiting loved ones, even if it means I have to inject a little heparin in my abdomen before I board a cross country flight.

PS...In the next month or so I promise mom, I'll get my trust finished so that you won't have that worry at least about me having my affairs in order.  And the cookbook, yep it's still in the works.  I've been a little lax, but I'll get it finished someday I hope very soon!

Christmas 2017

I went home a week before Christmas.  In those days we did some baking of course.  Mom and I spent a lot of time making the kids pillow cases to match their personalities.  I'd venture to say they were a hit with the kidos.
Christmas Eve I helped dad make the meat for dinner.  We had an amazing tri tip which we smoked on the traeger.  We also made a prime rib on the traeger for New Years Eve.  I've decided it's time for me to buy my first grill and just skip to a smoker.  I've always been a smoked meat kind of girl, well at least since I lived in the South. 

The only time I really happy about having snow is around Christmas.  It started snowing Friday night before Christmas and the snow lasted the entire time I was home because it was just plain freezing.  At least it was pretty and we had a white Christmas. 
This Christmas was a little different, but turned out to be wonderful.  Tenielle came home for a few days before Christmas, but Tanner and Kayla stayed in Utah.  I was happy that Tony and Erin stayed at mom and dad's, because it would have just been strange to wake up Christmas morning to just the 3 of us.