Friday, January 22, 2016

My First Fabulous Friday of 2016

I totally admit I've been a blogging slacker, especially when it comes to Fabulous Friday and I'm not going to promise anything going forward, just saying.
1.  Friday and Sunday I spent time with my aunt, uncle and cousins.  I can't believe how big their kids have gotten in just a few months since I've been out of town.  We played a fun game which involved some of these gems!
2.  I've worked-out every day since I've been back to Phoenix except for the few post chemo days.  I even worked-out before having chemo last week.  I feel so much better when I work-out.  I have a goal to meet my 10,000 steps every day.  My Christmas gift fitbit is totally motivating.  If I don't have my 10,000 steps in at night I walk until I get them.
3.  I admit I've done a little shopping this week at Talbots.  I bought another dress for the Colleens Dream Gala, even though I already have 2.  I really like this one the best.  You'll just have to wait for February to see it.
4.  Speaking of Colleens Dream, I had lunch with Colleens daughters on Wednesday.  These ladies are awesome and I'm so grateful for all they do for Ovarian Cancer research.  I'm excited for the gala too.
5.  I bought some new running shoes this week which are teal and bright yellow.  I love new running shoes.  They make me want to work out more.
6.  Yesterday I met up with my hiking buddies.  We haven't hiked together since May.  I've missed them and love them each so much.  Unfortunately one of them moved to Kansas City, but she came to town yesterday.  We really talked more than we hiked, which was just fine, because we had a beautiful view the entire time and had a lot to catch up on.  Isn't this the coolest hole in the rock?
7.  I'm going to Portland today to attend an athletes for cancer camp.  I'm excited to meet others my age who have experienced what I have and to learn what they have prepared to teach me which will make me a better post cancer person.  We will also do yoga and hike.  Sunday I'm going from Portland to Spokane to visit my sister Tristen and her girls for the week as her husband will be out of town (and she doesn't like to be home alone).  I'm so excited to see them.
8.  I've been talking with a group called Dributts about going to Haiti the end of February.  I'll find out more information this afternoon, but I plan on going.  They take special diapers there and teach hygiene to young mothers so that they can prevent diseases like cholera and dysentery. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Finished Chemo Again

I never thought I'd be writing a blog post about finishing chemo once, let alone twice in 2 1/2 years.  Remember I thought I was due for another cycle of chemo after finishing last weeks?  When I went to have chemo on Monday it was decided because I've been in the normal range for 2 cycles that we would finish the 8th one and then do a PET scan in 4 weeks to see if there is any sign of cancer.  I had gotten an email from Dr. P in Boston last week who was wondering how I was doing.  Him and Dr. Dan agreed that I only needed 2 rounds after my CA-125 was in normal range.  Even though it is 25 which is in the high normal, it is felt that we are just chasing a number.  I was thrilled with this decision.  I really was about at my whits end with chemo.  I'm hoping and praying that when I have the scan on February 8 that there will be no signs of cancer.  Will you keep praying for me and this result?  My work won't let me go back to work until my PET scan is normal.  I'm so ready to go back to work and get on with my life.  

In church today my friend and RS president spoke.  She referred to a talk by Elder Bednar who was quoting Elder Maxwell when he had cancer.  In my personal opinion, Elder Maxwell was one of the greatest speakers, even though he sometimes was hard to follow because of his deep thoughts.  Elder Bednar says, "During the course of our conversations that day, I asked Elder Maxwell what lessons he had learned through his illness. I will remember always the precise and penetrating answer he gave. “Dave,” he said, “I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving.”

Elder Bednar continues, "In his October 1997 general conference message, entitled “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” Elder Maxwell taught with great authenticity: “As we confront our own … trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we ‘might not … shrink’—meaning to retreat or to recoil (D&C 19:18). Not shrinking is much more important than surviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 22).

'Elder Maxwell’s answer to my question caused me to reflect on the teachings of Elder Orson F. Whitney, who also served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle"' (I've quoted this before because it is one of my most favorite quotes.)

Elder Bednar goes on to tell a story about a young man who got the devastating diagnosis of cancer shortly after he was married.   He quoted this young man who said, "I knew that having faith—at least in my circumstance—was not necessarily knowing that He would heal me, but that He could heal me. I had to believe that He could, and then whether it happened was up to Him."

This quote really touched me as tears slid down my face after my friend quoted this, I realized that maybe the reason I had to go through this again was to teach me that even though I have the faith to be healed, I also need to have the faith that what ultimately happens is up to the Lord.

This same friend visited me this week on a day I hadn't showered and had mostly spent on the couch.  (Let's just say I wasn't looking my best.)  In her talk she shared the conversation we had that day.  I had told her that I felt like I needed to serve more and asked her who needed my service.  Her response was not what I had expected.  She said something like this, "Your service to many is the testimony you bear and the example you are to do hard things.  So often we think that in order to serve people we think we need to bring in a meal or provide some manual service.  But the service you give to our ward is the person you are and how you have endured your trials."

I was completely taken back by this response and humbled.  I look around me and see so many others going through much harder trials than I am going through.  I often wonder why I had to go through this again, but I know that it is wasn't all just for me.  I also have learned that the trials we go through aren't always just for those around us, but for me and you and everyone so that we can become closer to Christ through serving.  I've had so many people serve me from taking me to chemo, to bringing me meals, but mostly for including me in their daily and family prayers.  I'm ever so grateful for the faith and prayers of so many friends, family, children and strangers.  My dad gave me a blessing when I went through cancer the first time and in it he told me that I needed to have faith in the prayers of those who were praying for me.  I've taken this advice to heart and have great faith that my simple prayers are heard, but the prayers of many are what has healed me. 

And so I wait for 3 weeks to have my PET Scan and blood tests, with hope that my faith to be healed will be seen on the Scan and that I will have a long healthy, happy, successful, service filled life.  I know what I want, I have the faith that He can heal me, but whether I'm healed is ultimately up to Him.    

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Years Eve And A New Year

I had chemo 2 days before New Years Eve.  Day 2 after chemo is always my worst day.  Let's just say for the most part I layed like a limp noodle on the couch and watched all the bowl games all day long.  It was fantastic that I could watch football all day even though my mom hated it.  Tanners girlfriend Kayla drove from Utah to spend the holiday with us.  She is cute and super fun.  Towards evening the kids, Grandma Betty and Grandma Jeanne came over for appetizers and prime rib.  I did eat a little tiny bit.  My taster if always off when I have chemo.

Can you tell that we are absolutely in love with this little guy?
We played the candy bar game which is our tradition, I drank some sparkly and was unfortunately in bed by 10.

Happy for us, Tenielle, Tony and Tanner decided to stay one extra day, which we spent watching bowl games.

It's always kind of a let down when everyone leaves, but I will admit it's also nice to get back home and to some kind routine.

My friend Pamela came out to Idaho for 3 weeks while her husband had to work.  She is a super mom to her 4 kids.  She was suppose to go back to Baltimore the day before I came back to Phoenix, however her flight was canceled.  I was sitting in the airport on Wednesday and noticed her diaper bag, which I gave her and looked up to see her.  She and her kids were on my flight to Phoenix.  It was the quickest flight I've ever experienced because we chatted the entire way.  I sure love this friend of mine.  A few days before she left she brought me her first banana pie.  Oh, my it was out of this world delicious.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Today is a perfect winter day in Phoenix.  Well at least I think so after being home in Nampa for 2 months.  It poured rain all day today, even as I was walking over to the gym for my first weight lifting workout since my second OVC diagnosis.  My heart rate goes crazy when I work out, but today I warmed up by walking for 10 minutes and then did my lifting and felt just fine.  I'm going to be sore tomorrow, but it will be a good sore.  I'm ready to get my muscle back.  There was a short break in the rain and I even saw some sunshine.  I decided to use this break to hit the library and the super market.  I loved that I felt comfortable in flip flops, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt; I told you perfect winter weather.

In honor of our winter weather I decided a pot of soup was in order.  I combined a few different recipes to come up with my own Chicken Tortilla Soup.  It was souper delicious.

I will admit I did have to search my kitchen to find my crockpot, since it hasn't been used in I don't know how long.  It's possible I haven't used it since moving here, but maybe once.

1-2 cans of Chicken Broth (I didn't have any so I used water and chicken boulion)
1 can diced tomatos
1/2 can lime and cilantro Rotelle (I didn't want mine too spicy, but you could probably use the entire can)
1 can tomato paste
1 can black beans
A little minced garlic
1 can corn (or frozen corn) I put my corn in towards the end of cooking
1-2 tsp chili powder
1/2-1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2-1 yellow pepper chopped
I grated onion because I'm going to share this with Aunt Leslie and she doesn't do onions (that is if she can see them).
2-3 whole chicken breasts

Put all ingredients in a crock pot.  I put this on high for an hour or so and then turned it down to low.  When the chicken is cooked shred with two forks and then return to pot.

I've had cream cheese in this soup before and it was amazing.  I did put a little in my bowl, but you could put a block in the crock pot 30 minutes before serving so it melts or leave it out and use sour cream.
Garnish with smoked gouda cheese, oh my it's amazing.  Squeeze in fresh lime and cut up some avocado.  Tortilla chips would add to this too if you have them and want the added calories, since this is chicken tortilla soup.  Hope you enjoy this as much as I did and will for the next few days since I made enough.