Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sabbath Answers

Over the past 20 years I've had countless prayers answered in the very place I'm suppose to be on Sunday's.  Today was no different.  I felt the spirit in each of my church meetings today.  In Sacrament a young man talk about the importance of anchoring a boat on shore to prevent it from moving in a wind storm and compared this to anchoring our testimonies on Christ for when the wind storms come into our lives.  Another talk was on service, especially when we are feeling down.  And the last talk was on missionary work, specifically being member missionaries.

In Sunday School the lesson was on Hope and Faith, two of my most favorite topics.  It seems over the past few months my faith has been tested more, given my circumstances.  It is hard for me to understand why after 13 months of chemo I'm still not in remission.  I hope (or expect) and have complete faith in Heavenly Father that I will be healed.  I keep having to remind myself that Heavenly Father has a different time table than I do.  I was reminded in Alma 32 that before I have hope and faith that I must first be humble.  It was a concept that I think I've always overlooked in this favorite chapter of mine from the Book Of Mormon.  As I sat in Sunday School I had to ask myself if I truly was humble.  I hope that I am, but know that I still need to work on this characteristic.  I love Alma 32:21, "And now I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."  I have hope and faith that even though I can't see the chemo working in my body, that it really is working.  Clearly on the scans and the blood work recently we haven't seen the change we are hoping for, but after 4 treatments of this new chemo, come August 24 I hope we see that change. But if the change that I'm hoping for doesn't come I still believe I will be healed, it just may mean it will be through some other treatment.  In my prayers I am very specific that my doctors will be guided to the treatment that will shrink my tumors.  It seems like a simple request, but one that I have great faith and hope in.

Alma 34:17-27 have always been some of my most favorite scriptures teaching us to pray or cry unto the Lord for every minor and major thing in our lives.  Verse 17 states, "Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy on you...At the end of the chapter it say's, "I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions...But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all of your afflictions."

My take away from this:  be humble, have hope, faith and practice being patient.  I'm pretty sure I've been practicing characteristics for over the 3 years I've been dealing with OVC, but I must need more practice to master them.  It seems at times the last 3 years have flown by and other times it seems to be creeping.

I had the great privilege of teaching all of the young women today.  My lesson was on Taking upon ourselves the name Jesus Christ.  I so much enjoyed the remarks and participation from these amazing girls.  They are starting school tomorrow and it was the perfect lesson for them as they embark on a new school year.

I started out with a talk entitled "What Have You Done With My Name" by Melvyn Arnold.  He says, "Each week as we partake of the sacrament, we covenant and promise that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.  If we are willing to do so, we are promised that most wonderful blessing-that His Spirit will always be with us...Someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name."

Most of my lesson was from a talk entitled Being a More Christian Christian by Robert. D Hales.  In this talk he asks the question, "What kind of Christians are we, in other words, how are we doing in our quest to follow Christ?"  We talked about Christlike qualities and how we can strengthen them within ourselves.  These included the following:
Christian Love, Christian Faith, Christian Sacrifice, Christian Caring, Christian Service, Christian Patience, Christian Peace, Christian Forgiveness, Christian Conversion and Christian Endurance to the End.

Looking at this list, I have come to realize there are definitely plenty of things I need to work on so that I am more Christ-like.  I definitely have a long way to go.

I ended my lesson from the ending of the first talk, "Before you act, picture the Savior standing at your side and ask yourself, 'Would I think it, would I say it, or would I do it knowing He is there?' For surely He is there."

I sent the girls home with the following quote which I love
At the end of this Sabbath Day, I'm feeling uplifted and ready to tackle a new week, to find ways to serve others, be humble, increase my faith, hope, patience and to be a better Christian.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HM'S Visit and Chemo Update

Last Saturday I flew home.  This is shot of the Grand Canyon from the plane.
 When I stepped off of the plane I saw my cousin Ben who lives in Houston, with his family getting ready to fly home.  They had been in Idaho for 3 weeks and I missed them.  So glad we had 5 minutes to chat.
I basically saw my sister in passing when I got home.  She was home for the weekend, but then went to a conference for work.
Luckily she came back on Wednesday evening so she could meet HM, who came to our home on Sunday!  It was such fun to have him with me at home.  We did a lot of relaxing, spending time by the pool, chatting with friends and eating a lot of moms sweet treat's.
Monday evening we went boating which was a blast!  The water was perfect at the lake and we had such fun tubing and knee boarding.

Tuesday we went to the Bukaroo Breakfast and watched rodeo qualifications.  It was a great way to get us into the Stampede Mood.  That afternoon my nieces and nephews and cousin Callie came to swim and brought her darling kids.

Tuesday evening we met my friends Kaycee and Brent to the Snake River Stampede.  We had awesome seats; front row, just to the side of the shoots.
Looking Mighty HOT in his new Cowboy hat and boots!

Wednesday was the dreaded chemo.  HM was a champ as he listened to me visit with Dr. Dan and put forth a plan.  In 4 weeks I'll have a CT scan.  If the tumors are shrinking we will continue with the Doxil.  If they aren't we are going to do a clinical trial, which we are actually going to do anyways.  It is called the MATCH trial and will match my tumor to 4000 genes.  It does require a biopsy which will be uncomfortable, but if we can figure out what kind of tumor it is then we can match it to the specific treatment instead of guessing like we are doing now.  There is also an immunotherapy clinical trial that we talked about too.  I'm really hoping that this treatment is working.  I'm not really in any pain, which makes me hope and think this chemo is working.

Wednesday night we got BBQ and took it to the Shakespeare Festival where we joined Alisha, Jason, mom and dad.  There we watched a performance of My Fair Lady.  It was such a fun night and the BBQ from Bodacious Pig in Eagle was delicious. So much so that we took the other kids there on Saturday.
Thursday morning was a lazy morning, we had breakfast with Tenielle and her beau before HM had to get on the road to head back to Seattle.  Boo for goodbyes.  I get to see him again in 3 weeks.  I'm getting really good at counting down the days.  Some days I wish I could just invite him over for dinner and a smooch.  But I can't so I make the most of all the time I get to spend with him.  Thank goodness for FaceTime.
I had so much fun with my cute nieces and nephews while I was home.  I can't believe how big they are all getting.  We had dance parties, celebrated 3 boys turning 6,  lots of pool days and many snuggles!
And I'm a horrible aunt, because I didn't take any pictures of Klara.  Not quite sure why.  Next time I'll take lots of pictures of her.  She is getting a little bigger but so tiny and so cute.  She has the most beautiful blue eyes.

Yesterday I had lunch with these ladies that practically raised me.  I'm so grateful for each of them and their friendships, advice and love.
I've been feeling okay with this chemo, but last night and today it seems to have hit me a little.  Thankfully I'm feeling much better tonight and feel like I'm back on the road to recovery.  Until next time...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Homebound Again

In 3 hours I'll be homebound again!  I'm happy to go home for many reasons...
-I'm meeting HM there tomorrow.  I'm excited to share him with my family, even though I'll be honest that I'm completely freaked out at the idea of taking him home.  I've found it's easier to keep guys from my family if it doesn't work out.  However, I am excited to spend several days with him.
-We are going to spend plenty of time out at the pool because the weather is going to be fantastic.
-We will of course attend the Snake River Stampede, a tradition we have had in our family since forever.
-We are going to one of my favorite plays in the mountains; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
-I get to cuddle, kiss and snuggle with my nieces and nephews.
-Of course we can't forget chemo, seeing Dr. Dan and hoping it's working.

Last night I had what I'm sure was a partial bowel obstruction.  I've had them before and each time they bought me an NG tube, which I didn't want.  I was in such horrible pain that I was seriously contemplating a trip to the ER, which you know me, working in one definitely makes me not ever want to be a patient in one.  Thanks to a few of my girlfriends and my parents prayers, the pain let up and I'm feeling much better this morning. 

Sometimes I feel like my prayers aren't being heard and answered in the way I am expecting them, but then I have moments like I had last night where I really needed prayers answered immediately and they are.   It is then that my faith is strengthened and I can't help but remember that Heavenly Father is listening to me.  This morning I read this quote that hit me to the core and was a good reminder to me to keep the faith no matter what. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lace To Erase

Last Friday night the WNBA Mercury team here in Phoenix honored OVC survivors and had an OVC awareness night Lace To Erase where they all wore teal shoe laces.  What an honor it was to be involved.  It was such a fun night and even more fun because Aubrey, her sisters and her mom were there to support me.  We have such fun together.  I sure love these girls as if they were also my sisters.
 Survivor Sisters and my dear friend Nicole CEO of Colleens Dream
I went out with apparently the best WNBA player.  And she is playing in the Olympics.  You learn something every day!

Friday, July 8, 2016

4th of July Fabulous Friday

I can't believe we are well into July.  It seems like when 4th of July is over the Summer days begin to fly by and all of a sudden everyone is back into school mode.  However being the single lady that I am and being well into my summer reading program (of which I can't seem to get enough time in my days to read all of the books that are piling up on my library chair) and the fact that I live in Phoenix where we have Summer temperatures well into October, I feel like my Summer is coasting along rather well.
It was a little disturbing as I visited my local Costco this morning to see backpacks and school required clothing on display, especially when it was 105 at 1030am, at least they still have a plethora of bathing suits and shorts out.  Speaking of bathing suits, I did it again...I purchased another, un-needed bathing suit last Friday evening.  It is so cute and was begging for me to take it home, especially because it was on the clearance rack at Marshalls.  I've come to the conclusion that one can never have too many flip flops, sunglasses and bathing suits.

Speaking of bathing suits, Monday I worked 9-5 and then headed over to our clinic directors home for her annual 4th of July party, where I spent most of it with a drink in my hand and in the pool.  Her pool is awesome as it has this large area where you can "lay out" and be in the water.  Hope that makes sense.  I've never seen anything like it, but if I ever design a pool, I'll for sure use that design.  I only stayed a few hours, because I like to watch the fireworks on TV from Boston and NYC.  I know boring, but it's my tradition, since I think I've worked nearly every 4th of July of my life.
 My dear friend Aubrey is in town this week!  Yesterday after work I went over to her parents where her sisters and sister in law joined us.  We cooked kabobs on the grill, chatted around the pool while kind of watching for any potential drownings and then of course because it is summer (and I had a groupon that was expiring today), we took the kids for snow cones.  It's one of my favorite things about Summer for sure.  It's even more fun when your bestie from college and her adorable nieces and nephews are here to do it with you.
And then we facetimed HM, because remember Aubrey is the only one of my friends or family to meet him.  She thinks he is fabulous and so do I.  He knows how to make me smile really big and blush.  I'm not really a blusher, but this guys seems to bring it out in me.  I love technology.  What did we ever do without facetime, especially in a long distance relationship?  I facetimed him all the way home and then until we both had to get some shut eye. 

I've worked every day this week and it has been crazy busy.  I've had patients in atrial flutter, having heart attacks, blood clots, lacerations, broken bones, and hand foot and mouth to name a few.  I'm on the count down again, 5 more shifts before I go home for another round of the dreaded chemo, which I'm really hoping and begging the Lord that it is shrinking those blasted tumors.  But I'm really excited that I only have 8 more days until I get to see HM.  He's definitely one of a kind.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Don't Give Up

As I knelt in prayer last night, I poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father asking for specific direction and understanding.  After praying as I do each night, I read my scriptures hoping for an answer, which I didn't receive.  Most nights as I turn out the light I also turn on a general conference talk.  I go in order of what talk is next.  Last night was no different.

As I laid in bed, with many thoughts streaming through my mind and not really focusing on what I was listening to, I heard 3 little words that gave me the direction I was seeking, "Don't Give Up."

And for at least an hour I laid there thinking about the power that comes with these 3 words.  I repeated "Don't Give Up" over and over in my mind, knowing it was Heavenly Father giving me the answer to my prayer.

There are a handful of things in my life that would be easy to give up on.  Life isn't easy.  And sometimes it feels like I'm never going to make it, but then I remember that Jesus never gives up on me and so I better not give up either.

Several weeks ago Mitch read me a childrens book called I Knew You Could.  He gave me a copy of it when I was in Seattle last week.  This afternoon I read it and felt that it was telling me again not to give up.  A part of it says,

"You'll go through tunnels surrounded by dark.  And you'll wish for a light or even a spark.  You might get scared or a little bit sad, wondering if maybe your track has gone bad.  So here's some advice to help ease your doubt, The track you took in must also go out.  So steady yourself and just keep going-Before you know it, some light will be showing.  And then you'll be out, heading to a new place. You'll be ready for the next tunnel you face."

Today after church I had a little pow wow with my girlfriends. I love these ladies and am so grateful for them in my life.  Each of them has had different challenges and experiences.  They shared those with me in our conversation.  Their words to me were Heavenly Father's way of also answering my prayer.  Their consensus...Don't Give Up!  Oh yea, don't you love how we were totally color coordinated today!
All day I've been playing this quote in my mind by Elder Holland.  I love it.
And so as I start another week I'm going forward with determination to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I'm not a quitter, never have been, never will be.  No giving up for me, no, no no not even when the going gets tough I keep going.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June's Visit Home

My visit home last week was such fun, even among the side effects of chemo.

Sunday we celebrated Father's Day and Klara's blessing day.  I made an awesome pork roast for dinner.  I have the best dad a girl could ever have.  I'm so grateful for his example of never quitting, working hard and loving harder; and teaching me to do the same.

Most every day our pool was full of kids.  It's always fun to sit and chat with my girlfriends, sisters and sister-in-laws while watching the kids swim.

Tuesday was the day I was down for the count, my cousin Alisha came over in the afternoon.  She thought I was sleeping the entire time, but I listened as she updated my mom on her life and her kids.  I just let her do the talking and I was the listener, with my eyes closed of course.  That evening Kaycee came over.  By evening I was a little more company than earlier in the day when Alisha came over.  It's always fun to catch up with these two.

Tristen and the girls flew in Thursday morning.  Mom, Tenielle and I picked them up.  The pregnant lady needed breakfast so of course we made that possible.  And then we did a little shopping, the only shopping we did all week.

That night we had a baby shower for Tristen and her baby boy due August 12.
Friday I saw Dr. Cooper.  She basically told me that the masses are stable, with the exception of the 1 on the left iliac crest which has grown 1.3 cm, despite chemo.  It doesn't cause me any pain though.  We are going to see what the 3 and 4 treatments do.  If they shrink the tumors we will continue with treatment.  If they don't we will proceed with surgery.  I'm praying desperately that they shrink.  I really don't want surgery, even though in the back of my mind, I know it is inevitable.  The good news is that she doesn't think I will need to have a colostomy!

Friday afternoon our family headed to Christensen Pond.  The kids have a blast here.  Kadyn even told me on Saturday that he can't wait until next year when we go again.

That night we went to my cousin Read's where we roasted marshmallows and watched a movie outside.  It was actually a bit chilly.  I saw my cousin Misty who I haven't seen for quite a while.  Always fun to see her.
 Saturday my friends the Fergusens came to visit me and then we had the entire family over.  We had such a fun relaxing time together.  No one was in a hurry, we ate good pulled pork sandwiches and ate ice cream cones while the kids swam in the pool.  I have the best family and so much enjoy our time together.
 Sunday I flew to Seattle where Aubrey picked me up and we went to church.  They had a new sister missionary from Oklahoma; long story short we came to the realization that we have the same great, great grandmother.  Kind of cool.

 HM came over after dropping his kids of at their mothers.
 It was so wonderful to see him, to kiss his lips, look into his gorgeous blue eyes and to hold his hand.  The things you appreciate when you have a long distance relationship.

Monday HM and I had lunch and then we rode the ferry to one of the many islands in the area.  It was second best to being in MVY.  This little island was darling.  We drove to where we took a short hike down to the lighthouse, walked on the beach and sat on the beach for at least 2 hours.  The weather couldn't have been better.  It was super relaxing and so enjoyable.  We rode the ferry back and then had dinner on the patio, while looking out at the water and the ferry as it came and went.  I so much enjoyed this dinner date with my man.  It makes me smile as I reminisce that perfect day.
Tuesday he took me to his office where I sat flipping through magazines while he attended a meeting.  His office is right next to the temple.  It's such a beautiful sight.  We then had lunch and ice cream before we had to say goodbye again.  I wonder if goodbyes will ever get easier, I assume they likely won't.  I'm excited to spend an entire 5 days with him in a few weeks!
On the plane ride I visited with a sweet couple.  In our conversation I told them I had OVC.  As we were landing they told me they wanted to pray for me and that they believed in the power of prayer.  I'm so grateful for all the prayers that are said in my behalf.  I believe they have great power and that the Lord hears them and is answering them.  This sweet lady was about finished with her book on Hope and kindly gave it to me.  I'm excited to start reading it.  I have great hope for a cure, for a long life of many memories to come and for a future of love and happiness.