Sunday, November 12, 2017

Crazy Cancer Update


Last time I was home I of course had to incorporate into my time there my quarterly ct-scan and visit with Dr. Dan.  Friday morning my visit wasn't what I was expecting.  Well, some of it was like when Dr. Dan told me that most of the tumors had grown between 3-6mm, but nothing worrisome.  There was even a small tumor that has resolved; I think it's the one that was radiated that was superficial on my pubic bone, because I can't feel it any longer.  The tumors in the left lung remained the same thank goodness. The concern was the left kidney, which had severe hydronephrosis (fluid around the kidney).  Dr. Dan was afraid that if we didn't take care of this asap, I'd lose the kidney.  I was complaining of my heart rate being 168 by just walking a few steps from the waiting room.  My heart rate has been up for months and then I felt like I couldn't breath with any exertion.  I also have had horrible swelling in my legs, which is very uncomfortable.

Dr. Dan got me an appointment with the urology oncologist for Monday morning.  As I was making my appointment with Dr. Dan for December, the urology nurse called up and asked that they draw some blood and run some tests.  It is always fun to visit the nurses in the chemo suite, which is where they access my port.

Mom and I then headed to Great Harvest Bread (our tradition after each visit) and  Tj Maxx, well, I was in the car talking to Nick and mom was shopping.  While there, Dr. Dan's nurse called to tell me that I needed to return because my hemaglobin was 6.8.  It's suppose to be over 12.  They thought maybe it was a mistake so they redrew it and in 3 hours it had gone down to 6.  This bought me 2 units of blood.  Of course it took forever so I only had one on Friday and one on Saturday.  I seriously thought I was feeling rather well, but after 2 units I had a normal heart rate and more energy.

While sitting for hours recieveing strangers blood, I thought of how unselfish it was for someone to donate their blood to make me better.  I had to go up to the oncology floor to have the transfusions.  It was so wonderful to see the nurses who took care of me 4 years ago.
Monday I was very upset and tearful when the Urology Oncologist Dr. B. told me I'd have to have a ureteral stint placed to be in until the tumor pushing on the ureter resolves.  I was not happy with this news in the least bit.

After my visit with him I met with the social worker and the financial/health insurance lady because I'm concerned about what to do when my cobra runs out the end of April.  We talked through things and I felt much better and reassured by the time I left, well about the insurance, not the tumor.  When we left St. Lukes, I started vomiting.  I've only had this happen one other time because I was upset and it was the day I had surgery to remove the cancer.

Halloween Day I had the stint placed.  I also had an xray of my left hip because I've had so much pain in that leg and hip.  I was for sure I had metastisis to the bone, but another visit with Dr. Dan on Wednesday showed that the bone is normal.

The stint has caused me so much discomfort for nearly 2 weeks.  There are times I wanted to rip someones head off.  Thankfully I've figured out to take bladder spasm meds every 6 hours which gives me some relief.  I really thought that they were going to have to remove this and put it into my back, but the last few days have showed me that I can handle it.  I'm praying specifically that this tumor will resolve quickly.  They will have to replace this every 3 months until it does, which means a minor surgery.

The only good thing from the stint is that the fluid I was retaining in my legs has resolved, so much so that I've lost 7 pounds. Dr. Dan did some research and said that there are some cases that severe hydronephrosis can cause anemia.  I'm staying on this antiestrogen pill for 2 more months and will have a repeat scan around Christmas.  If tumors are still growing, we will try a chemo pill.  I'm trying to keep my head up, but I admit, there have been some days the past 2 weeks that I've been quite emotional and had some fear.  But I've cried those tears and am feeling much better.

There is a general conference talk from Oct. 17 that has really hit me to the core.  It's entitled Turn to the Lord.  In it the speaker shares this quote from Elder Oaks which has really helped me this week, "Healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best.  Sometimes a healing cures our illness or lifts our burden.  But sometimes we are healed by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us." 
 There have been times recently that I've wondered if God is listening to me or cares about what I am hoping and praying for.  I wonder sometimes if He has forgotten me.  And then in my scripture reading I read this and I am assured that yes, He hears me and He hasn't forgotten me.  I'm trying to turn my will to His, but it takes a lot of faith to do this, especially when we don't know His will.
 I went to the temple this week and read the words, In Every Thought, Doubt Not, Fear Not. I also started reading Neil Marriotts book.  I love what she says in the introduction, "How do we make the Lord's ways our ways?  I believe we begin our search by learning of Him; going to scriptural sources, studying with an open heart and mind, and praying for understanding.  As our trust in Him grows, we seek to do His will, and we search for answers that will help us understand His doctrine.  As we learn and act on His doctrine, the grace of God will abide in us...He will be with you in all your circumstances, and especially in your hardest moments, when it is all you can do to endure.  He wants you to live a joyful life, and He makes that possible for all who follow Him with a yielded, obedient heart."  And so it continues. 

I won a contests at work this week.  I never win anything!  We were suppose to share pictures that brought us happiness.  I shared this photo with the caption that said something like, "Happiness was working a few days a month.  It's time that allows me to forget my diagnosis for a short and take care of others."

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Fall Family Fun

While I was home last weekend, we had us a very full Saturday. Gavin had his last football game.  I love that our family supports each other when we can.  We all enjoyed watching him tackle and run the ball.
It wouldn't be fall without my parents beautiful tree.  I was so happy that the leaves didn't fall off the tree until I was there.  And right after Halloween right on cue, the tree was bare.
We love our pumpkin patch traditions! 


Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Traditions

I LOVE our family Halloween traditions.  Some of my most favorite memories are Halloween evenings spent at my grandparents trick or treating around their little circle.  That circle of about 10 homes, once felt really big, but with time it became smaller.  There was a lady who didn't pass out candy, but gave us the choice between a dime and a pencil.  I can't remember what I chose each year, but it's something I'll never forget.  My grandparents had this awesome fireplace in the backyard, where we would roast hotdogs and grandma always had homemade (not from a mix) hot chocolate on the stove.  And sometimes if we were lucky she made long johns, aka maple bars.

This past Friday was our Young Family Halloween Party.  It's something I choose never to miss.  We now hold this annual party at my cousin Reads the weekend before Halloween.  We typically have a hay ride, we now eat soup and rolls and of course my cousin Katie continues Grandma's Hot Chocolate tradition.  There is always a fire going in the fire pit where we gather around to catch up with cousins.   Of course it wouldn't be Halloween without all of the adorable children in their costumes going from car to car filling their bags with sugar.
 Prettiest Unicorn ever!  And General Lee!
 Hey Abe Lincoln!
Little Red Riding Hood only smiles if she can see herself when taking a selfie.  It's so funny.

This years party didn't disappoint.  I loved that my cousin Misty was able to come this year from Eastern Idaho with her children.  Unfortunately Alisha was home with a sick baby.  We missed her.  The weather this year was fabulous.  To end the evening off, we watched It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown outside.  I love my family and the memories that we always make together.  I'm sure that with each family gathering, our grandparents are proudly watching from Heaven. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Oklahoma

I've never been to Oklahoma, that is until this past weekend. This means I get to check another state off of my states I've been to list.  It's pretty much up to Alaska, Arkansas, NJ, NM, ND, MS, MN(well I've been to MN, but only the airport) that I haven't been to and really the only other place I really want to visit is Alaska and maybe NM and only because it's only a state away. 

Our reason for going to OK was to visit my dad's aunt Carol who is almost 94.  She is the only remaining sibling from my Grandpa Youngs family.  Her daughter Laverda picked us up from the airport.  I admit, I wasn't so hip on seeing all of the OU and OSU paraphernalia since I'm by far not an OU football fan, if you get my gist from the BSU/OU history. 

You should have seen Aunt Carols face when we drove into the drive way.  It was like a kid at Christmas.  She was thrilled to see us.  She is a jokester and a teaser and sometimes you don't know if she is being serious or teasing.  But she is usually teasing.  We visited all evening and over Chinese Food.  I think there was enough to feed an army.
Mom and Dad stayed at Carols and I stayed at Laverda's, just about 10 minutes down the road.  Sunday we attended church, where we were able to visit with some of dad's cousins children who also live there.  (Their parents are on a mission in Alabama, but they also live in OK) One of them use to be in our ward when I was in my senior year of high school and early college.  And their daughter is serving in Seattle, who I met last year when she was serving in my friend Aubrey's ward.  Small world! 
After church we spent the day at Laverda's eating, chatting and napping and eating some more. 

Monday we had lunch at this super delicious Mexican restaurant Teds.  They have the best cheese sauce and salsa that they start you out with and even warm tortilla shells.  I'm a huge flour tortilla fan, especially homemade. We met Crista and her daughters (Christa is Laverda's daughter).  I remember when I was a kid/teen when Crista would come to Nampa for the summer and Paige her cousin and I and Alisha would spend days out at Aunt Carols.  I have such fond memories of those days.
We visited the OK city bombing memorial which was beautiful and on a beautiful fall day.
Tuesday, since we didn't leave until evening, we drove 2 1/2 hours to the Pioneer Woman's Mercantile.  Oh, wow it was all that I ever thought it would be and more.  Mom and I loved it.  Dad wasn't so into it, but he was a good sport.  I totally splurged on a leather purse, which I've been wanting for a few years.  Vera Bradley, might just be out of my style for at least now.  We had some delicious desserts there, but didn't have lunch there because the line was crazy long.  But we had some amazing BBQ at a place just down from there, that was probably just as good or better. 
All in all, I'd say OK was a hit.  It was so fun to visit with aunt Carol and have her tell us story after story.  One, that I found interesting and that I hadn't heard was that when she was a kid, her parents never bought a house. They moved all the time and always rented.  Her mom would find a better place and they would move.  She said sometimes when her dad would be gone for long stretches he would come home and drive by the house they were living in with the kids on the front steps, not realizing the family had moved while he was gone.