Monday, January 30, 2012

Case Studies and Family Pics!!!

Here I am again - actually keeping my promise of updating after Russ's last appointment, so here it goes......
We met with Dr. Sharma and his team of staff and he presented 2 different case studies that Russ can possibly participate in.  It's hard to explain how they work other than he's a human guinea pig and has to be monitored almost daily by taking blood from him and doing routine scans.  Which in all actuality isn't a bad thing, just lots of visits up to Huntsman Cancer Institute.  They're also sending his last biopsy to a lab in Phoenix where they can analyze it for gene and chromosone tracers, etc.  I'm actually very excited for this part....I feel like this is something the doctors should have done from the very beginning!!!  So now we are researching the 2 different case studies and choosing one and then start the eligiblity process then see if they will let him do it (kind of backwards I know).

In other GREAT news, our family pictures have finally arrived!!!!!
Here are a couple of sneak peeks:

Haley, Audra, and Taylor

Say cheese!!!

Andy, Josh, Liz, Lauren, Jim, Erik, Kristin, Dan

This was so much fun to get together and finally get full family group pics.  Our photographer was amazing!! 
I'll update again when we've decided on what we're doing.
Love you all!!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

From an absolutely hectic week to a quiet Sunday morning....FINALLY!!

I woke up in a panic at 6 AM over something I forgot to include in a packet of info for my boss (he was picking some papers up from me that I left on my porch - pretty common practice since he's flying all over the place all the time and my house is on the way to the airport), so I hop (dragged my butt) out of bed and go grab my laptop and start printing 3 reports hoping to catch him before he left.  And to my uncanny luck, the printouts were done and he had just barely come and left.....drat!!!  I ended up emailing them to him and he's printing biggie. 

Sooooooo here I am WIDE AWAKE at 6:30 AM on a Sunday morning wondering what to do.  So I poured myself some cereal and start reading/surfing my RSS feeds of my FAV blogs that I love to catch up on and get inspiration from.  Can I just tell you how much I love being able to do this in complete silence?!?  Things you do for fun when you have 3 kids, a full time job and a sick hubby :)

Anyways, while I was doing this I was immediately reminded of a story that my father-in-law sent me - don't know why I thought of it, but it is by far one of my favorite stories and I hope one of you out there will enjoy it too.  It just really sums up why bad things happen to good of my HUGE issues right now if you couldn't tell :)

Here is a quote from it if you don't want to go read it - I'm putting a link to it after the quote from Hugh B. Brown:

"You sometimes wonder whether the Lord really knows what he ought to do with you. You sometimes wonder if you know better than he does about what you ought to do and ought to become.
I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”

He goes on to tell of a hardship in his life......

I wanted to tell you that oft-repeated story because there are many of you who are going to have some very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried to prove what you are made of. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, “God is the gardener here. He knows what he wants you to be.” Submit yourselves to his will. Be worthy of his blessings, and you will get his blessings."

Now for some updates on Russ - 2 announcements:

1.  Russ has an appointment up at the Huntsman Cancer Institute tomorrow at 1 PM (they've moved it 3 times now.....hopefully the 3rd time's the charm) - we hope that they can offer some kind of case study or experimental option.  Russ has also been reaching out to other cancer centers across the country, so we'll see if any of that pans out.

2.  Russ has been asked to baptize my best friend's niece next Saturday!! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!!  This little girl has been working so hard to get to this point and I'm so honored they asked Russ to do the baptism!!  I'll be sure to post pics!!  After that, Taylor and Audra are singing in the children's choir for Stake Conference that'll be a busy day!!

As far as the girls go, they're doing great.....definitely not a lack of things to do for them!

Haley has Young Women activities every week and usually hangs out with friends on the weekends.  She had her 'Viking Showcase' Wednesday night.  I have videos of her Symphony Orchestra playing that I filmed with my new camera I got for Christmas, but haven't figured out how to save them and edit them yet, so I'll have to post it later.   I feel bad that I don't have a pic of her this week, so I'll post one from when we went to Classic Fun Center last week (she's gonna kill me!):

Taylor went on a school ski trip last Tuesday and had a BLAST: 

Taylor is always playing...I mean 'hanging out' (Taylor hates it when I call it with her friends and went to a Cheer/Dance camp yesterday.  We've also been hard at work on her Science Project of making your own Geodes in empty egg shells:

 Audra went to a birthday party at All Star Lanes yesterday for a little girl in her class.  She loves being in 1st grade now and making all sorts of new friends:

Now time to get the girls ready for church (I love that it's at 11 AM now!!) and get dinner in the oven so it's ready to eat when we get home.....YUM!!

Love you all, thanks for reading and I will update again when I know more with Russ after the appointment tomorrow AND we're supposed to be emailed our new family pics we had done over Christmas...can't wait to see them!!

Until next time..........


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Next steps.......

Wow, what a day it's been........don't exactly know where to start, so I'll start from the beginning.

Things started out the same, getting the kids ready for school, feeding them breakfast, getting them out the door to the bus.  I stayed home and worked today so I could take Russ to his doc appt to review his latest CT Scan at 2, so I did my usual of answering emails and fielding phone calls on various work subjects, the norm.  I then decided to go run some errands and while I was out, dropped in at the hospital where my neighbor/friend had surgery the day before.  He was doing really well and was happy to see me as was his family.  It was a great visit and I was in good spirits.  Love those people!! 

I then picked up some lunch for Russ and I and came home to eat before his appt.  I was greeted by my beautiful girls whom had just gotten home from early day out at school.  Taylor was being her silly self and had tucked her scarf into her pants and acting like they were suspenders, she cracks me up!!
We got to the doc appt on time and did the normal pre-cursor stuff like his blood pressure, temp, etc and was guided to the exam room where we waited patiently for Dr. Litton.

When he finally came in, he had the CT Scan results in his hands and then had to leave for a moment to answer a phone call.  He came back in and promptly said that the CT Scan results weren't good and that his tumors had grown 'insignificantly'.  We were puzzled by what that meant and he pointed out that the liver lesion had increased from 9 mm to 15 mm, which I immediately reacted and said that it had doubled in size since the last scan when the chemo was supposed to halt the growth.  He again repeated that all of it was insignificant (small) growth and that due to his very uncomfortable side effects to chemo (he had to have 3 units of blood transfused the week before Christmas and was constantly dehydrated and losing blood) that the risks outweighed the benefits and that continuing down the same path of the chemo he was on was not a good choice since it wasn't working, so just to sum up the journey we've been on for treatments so far are:

4 rounds of chemo (Adria/Ifosfomide) from Sept 2010 to Dec 2010
5 weeks of radiation to the pelvis (Jan 2011 to Feb 2011)
Surgery (14" incision from sternum to pelvis) to try and remove the main tumor - only to find out that not only had it spread to the lungs and that they could not remove the pelvic tumor, but that there was also lesions on his liver (tiny sores or tumors) - the surgeon then told me that he only had months to live.  He was in the hospital for 7 days and 6 weeks of recovery.
We had a whirlwind Spring, Summer and Fall - we did so much and had so much fun!!
In the Fall of 2011, he started having new pains in his diaphragm that shot up into his shoulders and chin - we later found out that it was 'referred pain' from a new lesion on the liver - and new smaller tumors popping up around his port, chest and shoulder.
Then came 3 more rounds of a different chemo (Gemzar/Taxotere)

To sum it up, he's been in treatment for 1.5 years with no success.  The doc couldn't even give a recommended suggestion.  Instead he gave us 3 options:

1.  Do nothing and wait for problems to arise and re-evaluate the next step.
2.  See if he would be eligible for an experimental chemo
3.  Try a clinical trial up at Huntsman with Dr. Sharma - also all experimental oral chemo drugs.

We basically feel like they're throwing up their hands and giving up.  Because Russ's type of cancer is so rare, no one knows what to do when it resists all of the traditional drugs.  Russ and I didn't say a word to each other until we got into the car.  I then started bawling and he and I talked about it and that we should make the best out of the time we had left.  We will go to the appointment with Dr. Sharma whenever that happens and see if it's something we want to do.

The rest of day was a blur, we visited with his parents, I didn't call anyone to talk about it because I didn't want to bawl.  We went home and started making dinner and my good friend Jill texted me asking me how I was doing and I told her what was going on.....she is such a sweetie and is genuinely worried about our family.  I then talked to another good friend Melinda which we don't get to touch base too often, but when we do, it's all good.  Maybe I will start calling family and friends tomorrow....not sure???

I will keep trying to update this blog at least 2-3 times per week.  It's kind of therapeutic actually........

Until next time.........


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Life makes you see.....

So as if I'm not going through enough with my hubby being diagnosed with terminal cancer and fighting it for the past 1.5 years and having one of the most stressful jobs of my entire life.......I'm thrown another curveball.  One of my very good friends has to have surgery tomorrow to basically save his life.  This brings back so many hard, terrifying, horrible feelings and memories of when my hubby had to have surgery last March only to receive such horrible news from it, that I naturally fear the worst for my friend.  Then I stop.....take a deep breath....and really analyze why I'm feeling this way and that I have SO much to be grateful for!!  I've learned so much and compiled what life makes you *SEE* - sometimes for the first time.  Enjoy :)

Life makes you see........

How important the family unit is.
How much love surrounds you in hard times from friends, family and even complete strangers - you are never alone.
How blessed you are to get to spend each second upon this Earth.
How beautiful your children are and that you GET the opportunity to raise them.
How each second is precious and to make each moment count.
How important it is to have best *girl* friends.

There is no way I could have gotten through all of this without my family.  They are my rocks of foundation and my friends are my beacons of light that guide me through dark times.  Russ and I have become so much closer due to these experiences and I will be forever grateful for these moments.

Until next time...........


Monday, January 2, 2012

Bring it on 2012

Well, I am in 20 freaking 12. Boy am I glad that 2011 is behind me! So much went on last year that when I have been looking back, I'm in shock at how I actually survived, let alone lived it all. It is my New Year's resolution to start blogging at least twice a week....not only to document my life but to start a new hobby and maybe it will help me stay a little more sane.

Cheers to 2012.....see you again soon!