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. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017


 3 days before Christmas this adorable little one graced us with her presence (to Danielle and Tyler, #5).  How happy we are to have her.  It's fun when they are tiny, but I like them best when their personalities come out!  Can't wait to see what she is like as she grows to become the little human she has come to earth to be. I think she definitely has my mom's little eyes.

Christmas Eve-Eve

We've always had Christmas Eve with my dads family, but given Christmas Eve was on a Sunday and we couldn't reserve the church on a Sunday, we had it on the 23.  It actually worked out great.  There were over 120 family members in attendance.  I think one of the biggest turn outs we've had in many years.  I love that this is the only time of the year that we have as many Young's together as we can. 

We always have a delicious dinner including grandma's yummy red punch.  This year it seemed to have hit the spot for me and had the perfect icy consistency that I love.  I think that we are always afraid there won't be enough food, but there has never been a year this has happened.  In fact there are always lots of left overs. 

My very favorite part of Christmas Eve is getting all of the kids dressed and ready for the nativity.  It is humbling to me as we prepare to depict such a sacred time in human history.  And I really feel like the kids can sense the sacredness of this event as well.  My cousins little 3 year old came up to me just before we started the program.  She was concerned that she didn't have a tie around her waste like the other angels.  It was so cute.  I loved watching Aidree's face as she played the part of Mary.  This year some of the older children narrated.  I think they did a great job.
I love how Joseph (Bridger) is looking at Mary in the picture.

Our newest tradition which is several years old now is a photo both which is always fun;
 These two...
Of course we always have a little visit from Santa himself!
And as we leave for the evening, we leave with the tradition of all traditions:  Grandma's candy/cookie platters, which I've taken over as my little project.  I love the happiness that comes from the memories of Grandma's baking and the platters she always sent us home with. 
 When we were cleaning out my grandparents house we came across Grandma's very sad looking wood succor Christmas tree.  I remember my cousin asking me if I wanted it and I said no because it looked really bad.  But she talked me into taking it.  I am so glad that she did.  I am pretty sure that my Grandma Young would have been very impressed with my spray painting skills.  Out in the snow and cold, in my ugg boots and robe, I revived this little tree by a can of spray pain.  I loaded it up with dum dums and brought it to our Christmas Eve party.  There were some very happy cousins to see this tree.  The great grands, especially my nieces and nephews loved having this at my parents house this year, especially little Klara.  For sure this will be added to our Christmas decorations for years to come.

Friday, December 29, 2017


Wowzer's where has December gone?  I literally savored every moment of this month.  I love that Thanksgiving was a tad earlier and that we didn't have to jump right into December.  My cousin Abe flew back from Thanksgiving with me and stayed at my house for a few days because he had a conference.  It was super fun to have him in my home. One day while he was here we went to see the lights at the Mesa Temple.  They are amazing and I love it because it's nice and warm, unlike the beautiful Temple Square lights in SLC where it's freezing.

December 1 I attended my first concert by the Millennial Choir and orchestra.  I've been told its incredible and by far it was one of my most favorite live events I've ever been to.  It was so beautiful and definitely brought me right into the Christmas spirit.  I went with my friend Barbara.  It was an early concert, which was nice, because after we attended my work party at the AZ Museum of Natural History.  It was pretty awesome with several large dinosaurs that welcomed us there.  They had it on the rooftop.  It was a pretty cool party.
I decided that since I was home for a few weeks in December and since I haven't put up Christmas decorations but twice in my adult life, that I would do just that.  I'm so glad that I did, because I enjoyed it so much and might just enjoy it for a few more weeks until mom and dad come and Mom makes me take them down.  There is a sense of peace that comes from a dark house with only the Christmas tree lights on. 

On December 2 I watched college football and put up my Christmas decorations.  I'm always a little sad when football season comes to an end, because have I ever mentioned that I LOVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL?   I attended our church's live nativity.  It was so so-real and so precious.  I loved that it was nice and warm outside.
December 4-7 I met my parents, Tony and Erin and my Aunt's great niece Maddie at Disneyland.  Maddi had never been and I was so happy to let her experience all of the magic and happiness of Disneyland, especially at Christmas time.  She loved it and we were all totally worn out by the end of the first day, but of course we did it 2 more days.  One of the days my friend and her family also met us there.  The more the merrier! 
December 8 I went to the Nutcracker ballet/Phoenix Symphony Orchestra with my cousins and aunt.  I have been wanting to see this for many years.  It didn't disappoint in the least bit.  I loved the costumes and of course I love the music.  Oh, it was just wonderful.  A new tradition for me for sure.
On December 11 I attended the best little school orchestra and band concerts that my cousins kids play in.  They did an amazing job and I so much enjoyed the Christmas music they played.

I've been planning my backyard and now front yard makeovers for the last few months.  I want it to be perfect, so I'm planning every detail.  Come mid-end of January I'm going to be loving my days on the patio with a book in my hand.

I went home for Christmas on December 18.  Yep two weeks at home!  And you know it was pretty fun, except that I was on the couch a lot because of some discomfort.  We even got a huge surprise; a white Christmas and some freezing cold temps.  Definitely another post for all of the excitement of the holidays will follow soon.  I pretty much stayed warm by wearing this awesome new robe I found at Costco and my new found love for Ugg's which I bought in Phoenix, go figure.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving was awesome!  It was awesome because it was in the 60's and we were loving the time we could spend outside.  This practically never happens in Idaho.  The kids played in the bounce house, played football and we even walked down to the school to swing.
Friday we did some very limited shopping at Fred Myers.  I think we only do it because it is a tradition and to run into our friends the Rudders.  We watched football the rest of the day until we had our family dance, which my family actually had as a surprise birthday party for me.  Super sweet and fun.
 Saturday more football and then we headed to the Caldwell lights where it was so much warmer than last year.  It is so much more enjoyable when we aren't freezing.