Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Party!

We had a great time at our Halloween party today!  There were about 30 people at the church house, 12 of which were preschool age and able to do the activities we had planned.  There was singing, Halloween stories, freeze dancing, musical chairs, cookie decorating, coloring, a pinata, balloon racing, and lots of junk food for everyone!

Mykee decided last minute to be Rapunzel instead of a witch and Evan got to be a pirate!

I almost put a shirt on under Evan's pirate costume... But no, pirates need to be showing their manly chests right?  If Adam had his way he would have used a Sharpie to put some chest hair on him :)

Matching BFFs!

Cool Pirate moves.

Papa Skip is in town and helped out with the party

Dancing with her prince

Story time!

Cookie decorating

I think this was Mykelle's favorite part- though if you ask her she'll say all of it was her favorite!

Cutest little monkey ever!

Going through the goodie bags

Balloon popping race

Mykelle didn't like the noise, and couldn't quite figure out how to pop the balloon!  I had to reach down and pop it while she bounced up and down on it. 

Musical chairs for preschoolers- everyone is a winner!

Pinata!  Mykelle didn't want to wear her shoes because Rapunzel doesn't wear shoes in the movie!

Evan ended up filling his hat with candy!  Mykelle's pile was pretty decent too

Awesome party!  Can't wait until next year!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Emotional Roller Coaster

I feel like I'm up in the clouds, but on a bumpy ride that any second could drop me back down or in another loop and have me upside down again...

The biopsied tissue did not show any cancer cells!!  {UP UP UP IN THE CLOUDS!!!}  BUT there was not a lot of tissue able to be examined, it could still be cancer.  {Uh-Oh... starting to get bumpy again}  We need to do another CT scan of the face/neck area and more blood work to find out why I have this pain in my lymphatic system.

So, I may not have the final word, but it is good news right now!  Many questions have yet to be answered.  I asked the docs, if it turns out it isn't cancer, why are there these lymph nodes growing in my body?  The answer was vague- well it could be your immune system starting back up so your nodes swell (sounds good to me!), it could be a virus (that's a long virus I've been fighting then, over 2 months seems excessive), it could be some random swelling due to exercising (Really?  In only three tiny spots that just happen to be lymph nodes less than two centimeters diameter?), it could be that PET scans aren't perfect and make mistakes (twice, six weeks apart? Doubt it),  it could still be cancer (boo), or it could be nothing (this option gets my vote!).  When I pressed the issue and asked the nurse why the lymph nodes would "light up" in the scan from taking up the contrast that usually only cancer cells pick up, she side-stepped the question and started talking about something else.  In other words, she didn't know.

I feel like I've received a short reprieve, and that I'm still waiting.  I guess I better get used to it, because I could be waiting a long time.  There might not be more answers after my CT scan and blood work come back (appointment with doc is scheduled for Nov. 2, so there'll be another blog post then).  The docs still want to keep an eye on these enlarged lymph nodes and continue doing regularly scheduled PET scans.  And they want me to let them know if I have any new symptoms come up.

Do you see why I want to jump for joy while at the same time I still feel subdued??  It's a very weird feeling!  But I will take this morning's result over the one I was expecting.  And I will continue to pray with all my heart that the results keep getting more and more clear!  Though I'll still take murky results, if that's what I have to have.  So much better than the alternative!

I can't help but feel the Lord's hand in this.  I have felt peace over the last few weeks as I've struggled to deal with 'dirty' scans and the possibility of having to face all of this again.  I have felt so many people supporting me and praying with me and my family.  I am so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love I've received and continue to receive.  Though I know it's not fun for anyone to go on this particular roller coaster, I am grateful to have such wonderful friends and family along for the ride!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creative Movement Class & Biopsy Update

Mykelle and Evan started Creative Movement class yesterday (we call it "Dance").  Mykee did it last spring and loved it but Evan was too young.  I'm really excited they get to do it together this time around!  Evan really just seemed to enjoy moving to music, though he didn't really follow the directions that well.  Mykee was jumping all over the place and would start hopping anytime the music came on- I think Miss Amanda was getting a little frustrated with her :)  Sadly though, both kids seem to have inherited my total lack of dance skill...

I took two videos, the second one is more of the same but longer- so feel free to pass it up!

Evan, John, Kate, and Mykelle watching a show

Look at this cute Joy School group!
We were acting out the story of the cap peddler and the monkeys- the kids were the monkeys in the tree!

The flowers above were sent to me by none other than DR. LAURA!!!  I love her :)  I called her show to ask her advice with dealing with the everyday crappy feeling that comes from knowing the cancer came back and she gave me some good advice- make a plan to deal with the cancer and play music on my ipod.  Then she sent me flowers, how sweet huh?  Mykee said they smelled like oranges and Evan thought they smelled like bananas.  Wonder if that had anything to do with the color of the flowers??

I had the biopsy on Friday.  It went well enough, aside from being postponed almost two hours (I had a good book, and my kids were in good hands, so I was content enough).  The doc biopsied the node in my armpit- a tiny one about 1 1/2 centimeters.  I'm assuming it went well, though the doc never came and talked to me when it was over!  My recovery in the hospital was a lot easier than last time, though I'm still sore and feel like I shouldn't move my arm too much.  Now I'm basically just waiting until my appointment on Friday to hopefully have more of my questions answered!  I remember waiting after my biopsy last year, and how horrible that was- the doc didn't even know what kind of cancer it was at the first appointment and I was forced to wait longer.  That was awful!  This is much easier, compared to that.

I'll write again on Friday with another update!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Seriously Bad News

It's back.  The cancer is back.

My first reaction was to cry.  Then I sobbed, and cried some more.  Now mostly I am okay, except for random little things like when I hear my daughter tell me out of the blue, "I never ever ever want you to go away ever again!  Stay here forever!" and I have to hug her close so she doesn't see the tears falling.  Or I see the 4 little Halloween pumpkins on our front porch, one for each of us, and I think that sometime soon there might only be three.

Thoughtful, kind, people are always asking how I'm feeling.  How do I answer that??  I feel like crying and throwing a fit similar to the ones Evan throws when he's screaming and crying on the floor.  I feel like swearing up a storm and throwing every glass dish I have out the window.  I feel like grasping every moment I have with my kids and husband, making the best memories I can.  I feel like taking my kids to Disneyland, Costa Rica, and Hawaii and spending a month in each place, without a care in the world.

But that's enough whining.  Dr. Laura always says it's okay to whine, but only for a short while, then it's time to make a plan.  So I'm working on it.

My PET scan came back poor- an enlarged lymph node under my right arm and two in the groin area, as well as "intense activity" in my already huge tonsils.  I have been feeling tired lately, and had a lot of pain in my lymph system throughout my neck, chest, and jaw area ever since I came back to NJ from the summer in UT.  So I was pretty sure it was back before my appointment today.

I go in for a biopsy on Friday and should get final results on the Friday after.  I imagine I'll then hear the treatment plan as I'll be seeing my main doc, Dr. Goy, the world-reknowned lymphoma specialist.  Amazingly enough, a new drug called Adcetris was just approved by the FDA in August specifically for Hodgkin's Lymphoma patients with failed stem cell transplants.  This IS amazing by the way- there hasn't been a new drug approved for HL treatment since the seventies!  (Prior to this drug I had a 30% chance of still being alive in 5 years... now, it's better, but I don't know how much better those odds are, though I plan on making it at LEAST 5 years!)  I will likely receive several (up to 16) transfusions of Adcetris, one every three weeks, followed by possibly another stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant- not quite sure about that part.  At least this is my understanding as of now, it will change after talking with the doc next Friday.

It is awful to have to face this again, exactly one year to the week of having to face it last year.  BUT, I have such wonderful support- husband, children, family, friends, ward, and my Savior... I can do this, again.  I have to do this.

As always, and even more so now, your prayers are welcomed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Adam and I decided we needed to get away for the weekend and do something fun.  We tossed around the idea of Boston or DC but ended up deciding on Palmyra!  We made reservations at a hotel with fold-out couch for the kids and an indoor pool, as well as a continental breakfast, and took off early Saturday.

It ended up being a very uplifting and relaxing weekend, and the fall weather could not have been more beautiful.  We prepped the kids with the story of Joseph and the First Vision and watched some You Tube videos along those lines before we went to the Joseph Smith's home and the Sacred Grove.  The kids loved seeing the old houses and beds (Mykee was intrigued with the beds for some reason) and were excited to get to the Sacred Grove so they could say a prayer and have Jesus appear to them.  The tour guide missionary recognized us from the I'm A Mormon video and said we probably get that a lot.  When I told her we didn't get it often at all she laughed like I was being sarcastic!  I felt a little awkward with my "fame," especially when she said she couldn't wait to tell her companion she'd given us a tour!

Mykelle drinking from the trough

When we made it to the grove Mykelle asked to say a prayer- I had to tell the kids that if they closed their eyes they could feel Jesus around them, but wouldn't be able to see him.  It was a great opportunity to talk about feeling the spirit.  So we sat on a bench in the grove and prayed together.  Mykelle and Evan both agreed they felt Jesus' spirit even though he was invisible to them.   It was very sweet.

As we were leaving the grove we told Mykelle that Joseph Smith has stood where she had and prayed where she had.  She got all excited and asked, "And did the mosquitos suck his blood out just like they sucked ours?!?"  Funny the things kids key in on...

After the sacred grove we had a picnic at the Smith farm picnic area (really just some tables off to the side of the parking lot).  Then we went on to the Hill Cumora.  Mykee and Evan's favorite part was seeing the giant statue of Jesus in the visitor's center.  They also loved climbing and then rolling down the hill!

Our weekend also involved a lot of swimming and the very first miniature golf experience for our kids!  Needless to say, they needed a LOT of work... But with a little help they each got themselves a hole-in-one!

Water Ring Around the Rosies

Today I asked Mykelle, "How come you're so cute?"

Her answer, "Because of my very smart brain."

Enjoy some of the many sides of Evan: