Friday, July 31, 2015

Chemo Round 2 Again

I'm every so excited and grateful that my cousin Emily, who I haven't seen for nearly 3 years came to visit me on Tuesday and will be here for a week.  It has been such fun to catch up and just be together.  She of course came with me to chemo today.

This morning's chemo went ok, it ended up being much longer than it needed to be, given we are on Island Time and no one but me moves fast.   Over the past hour the fatigue and abdominal discomfort have arrived, but not too bad.  I am hoping a good nights rest will improve these side effects.  I'm really hoping since I only had one of the drugs today instead of the 2 I had last time that I'll be able to bounce back quicker.

I will admit I'm a little discouraged tonight.  My ovarian cancer marker went from 64.9, 1 month ago to 83 today, normal is less than 36.  Sometimes the numbers elevate and then go down, but it has never gone up when I was on chemo.

My neutrophil count went down from 0.9 to 0.8 which it should be above 2, however my white count did improve from 2 to 3.4, even though it should be between 4-11.  So many prayers have been said in my behalf and yet the numbers aren't improving.  I know I need to be a little patient given I've just started the chemo but It does give me a little fear of this regimen not working, even though my original symptoms of back pain have improved.  Unfortunately we are going to have to go with the injection next week to boost the white count, so that when they implement the second medicine on August 20, my counts will be up.  Because this medicine works on the bone marrow, side effects that typically occur are long bone discomfort and fever; I have heard of people who don't have any side effects from it.  Maybe I will be the lucky one.

To top off the craziness, this evening the ER called to tell me a patient I have seen twice this week was diagnosed with pertussis.  I am immunized against this and they have empirically placed me on an antibiotic as they have with all who have come in contact with the patient.  It is a little scary however given that my immune system is compromised, but being immunized I should be fine.  I am forbidden now to see any ill patients.  I can only see the trauma's and I have to wear gloves and a mask which I will strictly follow.

Over the past 11 years that I've been in practice I've only worked with 2 members of the church.  One of them is working with me this Summer.  Last night he gave me a blessing.  The spirit in the room was almost tangible.  I don't believe it is a coincidence that he is here this Summer and worked with me yesterday.  My testimony of the Priesthood has increased 10 fold over the past 2 years as I've been given many blessings and seen the blessings come forth.

I appreciate so much the prayers and fasting from so many of you including my dear ward members, strangers, friends and family.  I feel these prayers being answered as most of the time I am at peace and feel rather well.  I'm anxious to return to Phoenix in a month.  I will be praying and fasting along with many others on Sunday that the chemo will kill the cancer and that I will have minimal side effects from the chemo.  In the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, the church I belong to, we fast for 2 meals the first Sunday of each month.  When we fast it draws us closer to our Heavenly Father.  We fast for those in need, our own needs and for gratitude.  We also pay a fast offering of our choosing, which goes to those in need within our ward family.  I have a great testimony of fasting and have seen the blessings from making this a monthly ritual in my life.  I would appreciate you joining in with my family and friends for this special fast if you feel so inclined. 

So many times I feel like I'm begging Heavenly Father for what I want and not for His will.  I know that faith and fear can not coexist and am trying so hard to keep the faith.  I'm trying to keep this quote in my mind and put my trust in Heavenly Father even though it is sometimes so hard.
My Bishop sent me a scripture this week, that I remember opening my scriptures to 2 years ago when I returned home from the hospital.  It is is the Book Of Mormon in Mormon 9:21 "Behold whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth."  Tonight my scriptures fell open to D&C 6:19 and 36-37.  I have fallen back onto these scriptures time and time again throughout my life and have found great comfort in their words. And so again I will fall back on them, obeying the counsel for me at this time.  "Be patient; be sober; be temperate; have patience, faith, hope and charity...Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.  Behold the wounds which pierced my side and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven." 

My friend Pamela posted this on FB today, I'm pretty sure it was for me and the answer to my prayers today:

The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we “wait upon the Lord.”
Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, “all these things shall [be for our] experience, and … [our] good” (D&C 122:7). Elder Hales

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Specific Prayers Needed

My cousin Emilie came to town yesterday and we are having a blast!  We spent the entire day with my friends Wendy and Melanie at the beach which I so much enjoyed.  I loved being in the ocean and letting the waves carry me up and down; this was most relaxing and the water temperature was perfect.   

Today when I got off the beach I had a message from Dr. P asking me to call when I could.  He informed me that my blood draw which I had this morning showed a Neutrophil count of 0.9 (normal should be above 2) way too low for chemo. They will do chemo if it is above 1.  

Next chemo round is suppose to start on Friday.  A low neutrophil count makes me at risk for infection and working in the ER really makes me at risk.  Dr. P even suggested that I not work, which I quickly told him I was mostly just seeing trauma patients and I had to work for my sanity.  If counts don't go up I will have to have an injection of Neupogen, which I don't want to have.  The side effects from it aren't pleasant from what I've heard.  I was so very blessed the first time I had chemo to never have my counts decrease this low.

I have been rather tired this week, but feeling well.  The neutropenia explains the fatigue, even though I thought it was just from working 60 hours in 7 days.  The fatigue hasn't stopped me from my daily walks and enjoying a day at the beach though.

Because I know prayers work, I'm asking that you please be specific in your prayers for me the next two day's that my counts will go up, that I won't have to have the Neupogen and that my immune system continues to withstand infection.  I have absolute faith that Heavenly Father can increase my counts and that He hears all of our prayers.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

You Are Never Alone

 Over the last month I have never once felt alone, even when in a busy airport being given the devastating news that I was going to have to start chemo again, I didn't feel alone.  As I sat in that very busy Boston airport with tears streaming down my face a man came to sit next to me.  I told him I was sorry that I was crying and told him why.  And then he told me about his bout of cancer.  He was a stranger to me, but a child of the same God that I trust in and love.  I am sure that Heavenly Father sent him as an instrument in his hands to sit by me, to give me comfort and peace.

I love what Elaine Dalton says at the end of this video, "No matter how well prepared you think you are there are hills on the course...People cheering for you along the way who are absolutely essential...We are never alone.  Our Heavenly Father is only a prayer away.  You can rely on the enabling power of the Saviors Atonement.  And the Holy Ghost is within whispering distance."

I will totally admit, I wasn't in the least bit prepared for this hill that I'm having to climb.  However, because of the way I live my life with so much reliance on my Heavenly Father I suspect it is somewhat easier than if I didn't.  

I'm ever so blessed to have people all over the country cheering me on through this journey, who absolutely are essential to my health and well being.  You will never understand the strength I receive because of your support.  I have the largest army of friends, ward members and family members. Tonight at work, I brought out some of Terah's Army bracelets.  I was humbled by all who wanted to support me by wearing a token of me on their wrists.  I hope that as people wear these bracelets that they remember when times are tough, there is a way through trails.  I hope that my example of endurance gives others hope when they feel they can't endure hardships.  

Most of all I have felt strength and love from my Savior Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father.   I know that as I keep my faith through the difficulties I'm facing, I will be blessed.   I know that the Lord will bless me, even as I face this insurmountable trial.  I love this quote by Jeffery R. Holland, "These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace."

Yesterday we had a young mother come in unresponsive.  After being down for 57 minutes she regained a heart beat, but today remains on life support.  From this experience I again realized that my little trial is minor compared to her families and her 8 month old twins.  There are definitely other trials worse than mine.  I'll take this trial and I will make the most of it, hoping that while on this journey I can inspire someone along the way.  I know that Heavenly Father is right by me, as He always has been.

I absolutely love and believe this quote.  It has helped me many times along my life path.  "We are not alone in our little prisons here. When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple.  Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble...We must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us." Jeffery R. Holland.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Oh How I Love Thee Summer FF

1.  I was super sad to see Tristen and my nieces leave Saturday morning, but they needed to get back to their daddy and to attend dance camp this week.  My nieces have a special place in my heart and in my arms.  I am so glad we were able to spend nearly 2 weeks together this Summer.  We had such a great time and have already put it on the calendar for next year.  Lazy Summer day's can't be beat.
2.  Saturday was super busy.  I attended 2 baby showers, a birthday party, a lunch BBQ and a Dinner.  By that evening I was exhausted.  My cousin Callie threw the cutest "Around The World" baby shower making most all of the decorations.
3.  Sunday we had a BBQ and the kids all came over.  We did some tentative planning for our Disneyland trip.  Oh, are we going to have fun!
4.  Monday morning I went to see Alisha's new house.  It is around the corner from her old house.  I love her new house.  It is decorated so nicely.  I especially love a picture that is hanging in her living room, which hung in our grandparents house for years.  It looks perfect in her house.  We had us a lovely chat over Bowel of Heaven for breakfast.
 5.  Callie, Danielle, Becky and their kids came over Monday afternoon for some pool time.  Callie also cut my hair since I was starting to grow another mullet.  It grows so fast in the back, sure wish the sides would hurry up.  She actually said my hair was looking like a bell, so we thinned it a little.  It is really cute and actually has a cute style when I wear it straight, which is difficult to do when you live with humidity.  It was perfectly straight when I got to the ferry Tuesday night 15 minutes into my ride I had a head full of curls.
6.  Monday evening we went with Grandma Betty and Lee out for dinner.  We had such an enjoyable time visiting and eating of course.  After dinner my friends since childhood Derick and Terra dropped by.  I loved catching up with them.
7.  I flew back to MVY on Tuesday morning.  My dear friend Melanie stopped at the store and bought me some groceries before picking me up from the Ferry.  What a darling she is.  It is so wonderful to be back here.  It is quite possible that my plans will change as I will likely stay here now until September 3.  I just can't give it up and if I'm going to have to have chemo I might as well have it in a beautiful place.  The Summer is flying by so quickly, I want to savor all the time I have here.
 8.  I had a devastating case this week.  As a cancer patient myself, yet a medical provider, I had to inform my patient who is only 39 and had 4 children under the age of 8 that she had metastatic cancer throughout her spine.  She had finished treatment for breast cancer a year ago.  She had even had a double mastectomy.  Before I gave her the news I said a prayer that Heavenly Father would bless me with comfort and guidance as I gave her the diagnosis.  He was with me for sure as I was able to have composure as I discussed her test results.  There was a tender mercy in this experience given,  as I was able to tell this dear lady about my experience and to let her know that I knew exactly what she was feeling as I had experienced my very own recurrence of cancer just 1 month previous.  My heart still aches for her and her children.  Will you pray for Anne please?
9.  I spent nearly the entire day today with my dear friend Melanie.  She is so much fun and we have lovely chats when we are together.  She is cool too because she drives a Jeep.  We put the hood down today and let the wind blow our hair.  Most of our day was spent at the beach.  It was a perfect beach day.  We regrouped for an early dinner of fresh clams and oysters.  They were okay, but the experience was fun.   This bird swooped down and picked up the lunch of the person behind us at the beach today.  It was hilarious, especially when the person was trying to get it back from the bird.
10.  I moved today.  I wasn't fond of where I have been staying.  The location was perfect, but the house was dirty.  I'm now staying at the hotel in Vineyard Haven.  It is much cleaner and has 2 beds for when my guests come.  It also has a little kitchen, but the best thing is it has a private beach.  The view is spectacular.  I can't wait to do some exploring in the morning.  The town I'm staying in has beautiful white houses with black shutters and the yards are gorgeous.
 This was in the previous house across from the nasty loveseat hung what I guess some people call art.  I had to stare at this thing for weeks whenever I would sit down.
 11.  Tuesday when I returned I was trying to turn on the ceiling fan.  Somehow I fell and instead of just falling on the floor, I caught myself and slammed my face on the corner of the wall.  Since I didn't have ice, I immediately slapped a frozen chicken breast on my face.  It maybe helped the swelling, but the bruise looks awful.  Thankfully it looks worse than it feels, actually it doesn't hurt unless I touch it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

20 Years Since High School

This past weekend was my 20th High School Class Reunion.  It really is crazy to think that I'm that old.  It was so enjoyabel to visit with friends, many of whom I haven't seen in 20 years.

The Friday evening gathering was wonderfully attended.  People always think it is awkward when you haven't seen someone for several years, but I didn't feel this way in the least bit.
Saturday I attended the BBQ Luncheon, but only for an hour.  I was so happy to see my friend Amy who has been my friend since 1st grade.  We double dated all through High School.  Our boyfriends played on the Varsity Basketball team together; it was fun for us to attend games together.

Saturday evening we had a nice dinner and program.  When I arrived an hour late to the evening festivities, I saw on all of the tables teal nail polish with an attached message.

What a huge surprise and humbling experience for me.  I didn't expect something so kind and generous in my support.  I truly have amazing people in my life and am so grateful for them.  I was given an opportunity to address my fellow classmates during the program.  I talked about my experience with Ovarian Cancer and about trials, that we all have them and how no trial is better or worse than another.  I hope my words touched someone in the crowd.

It was wonderful to be able to visit with my classmates, many of which I attended elementary school with.  There were 2 in attendance that I attended Kindergarten with.  I found myself saying, "This isn't just a High School reunion, it's a life reunion."
Friends since Kindergarten; a Nurse, PA and DR.  Mrs. Shea would be so proud.
For those of you who aren't aware, my brother Tyler was in the same grade as me.  It was awesome to grow up with him.  I never felt alone or afraid, because he always had my back.  One story I heard about him was when we were in High School and the guys in the locker room were saying inappropriate things to my then boyfriend after football practice about us.  Tyler wasn't afraid to put them in their place telling them not to talk about his sister in that way.

There were many, many who didn't attend our reunion.  For those people, I'm sorry you missed a great time.  I think the consensus is to have another reunion in 5 years because this one was so enjoyable, hope we see you there.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

More Idaho Fun

Last week in between swimming, celebrating birthday's, being sick from chemo and my 20th High School Class Reunion fun (post to come) we also did the following:

We went to the 100th Snake River Stampede as a family.  It was crazy and the parents were afraid the kids would fall over the ledge and into the crowd below, but I'm happy to report all came away wanting to get on a horse or a bucking bronco.
One morning the sisters attended the beautiful Boise Temple. What a peaceful experience it was.  I loved being able to attend with my sisters.  The spirit was beautiful and even though I wasn't feeling well the entire time I was there it was a treasured experience.  I'm pretty sure that because of giving my time to serving others, Heavenly Father blessed me, because from that afternoon on I've felt back to my normal healthy self.  I might even venture to say the back pain even after traveling from Boise to MVY today is not even bothering me.
After the temple we stopped by one of our most favorite restaurants for Saturday morning brunch Tammi's Tea Cottage.  The reason being was because they are closing after 26 years.  It stinks that our favorite hometown restaurants always close; like the Beanery.  They say they will still do some catering, but I bet we will have had our very last one of these very unhealthy, yet amazingly delicious Monte Cristo's.  "Is it greasy?  Is it fattening?  I'll take it" (Inside Sisters Joke).
 Since I'll never have the opportunity to have a child, my brother Troy and Sister-In-Law Becky gave me the special opportunity to go with them to find out the gender of their baby coming December 1.  As soon as I saw the face I said, "It's a boy."  He looks like Beckett.  And yes he is a boy.  Stella wasn't happy one bit when we did our revealing party.  For that we bought a pinata and of course put lots of blue candy in it.  
But we also revealed to the kids that we are going to Disneyland in September by decorating it as Micky Mouse.  The kids are so happy, but I think the adults are even more excited.  This week we even reserved our 6 bedroom house with 2 laundry rooms which is only 2 miles from Disneyland.
My favorite part of my time home was just being together.  My mom always says it's a let down when everyone leaves.  I think she is probably right, but we always have our next get together on the books.  Mom, Dad, Tenielle and Tony will be here August 7 and most of us will be home again the end of August.  And in 2 months we will all gather at Disneyland for an entire week together! Until next time...