Sunday, August 31, 2008

A new home

Yesterday morning Cara and I gulped down large Nautical Bean coffees and looked at the disaster that was our apartment. Moving is no fun. Definitely not for people, such as us, who greatly value order. Plus, we were exhausted from a week of doctors visits and getting Jan's house ready for the move.

But then the Smiths, the Hassons, the Laitys, and Kim and her two boys arrived and energized us so we could get it done. It took 2+ loads with three trucks and one trailer, but by mid afternoon, we were largely moved in. We kept on saying, "When did we get all this stuff?!!" But that's what happens when you have kids. Bekah and Sadie each get their own room, both so adorable with their little girl furniture. Cara and I have a room with Western exposure, so we are looking forward to the rain pelting our window this Winter. Also, we have created our own family room space complete with our furniture and entertainment center, enabling us to have a space for the four of us to hang out, watch movies, etc. It really has turned out better than we imagined. I'll try and post some pictures soon.

Tomorrow, we are planning more labor for labor day (what else would we do?). Katie (Cara's sister) and Rob are in town and Rob has been scheming up a way to get grass in the back yard, a vast expanse of dirt and rocks currently. Tonight we picked up a whole load of pipes and sprinkler heads, so it looks like we are going to try and get it irrigated. So if you have a little spare time tomorrow, feel free to stop by and lend a hand. Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Good Day

Today ended up being better than I expected.

I woke up and could barely get myself to take a shower before taking Sadie to her doctors appointment. I was dreading all three appointments I had to go to and I was starting to ask God Why me? Why do I have to be the one who has cancer and why right after I have a baby and why right when Keith is going back to school? I was feeling pretty down but I knew the days events had to happen so I put down my coffee cup, got out of my chair and got ready for the day.

The first appointment was for Sadie's tongue "tie" issue and it turns out the the doctor didn't think it was necessary since Sadie is eating fine and gaining weight.....I was kinda relieved since I knew watching my little baby scream from the procedure wasn't going to be easy. The doctor said that maybe having a good first appointment of the day was a sign that the rest of the day would go well also. I thought...ya that would be nice but God's been stretching me so much lately I'm not sure today is the day that He's going to give me a break.

The second appointment was for me...I needed to get my stitches taken out from my biopsy site on my neck. I was a little nervous about it since I'd never had stitches before and I had to wait for a while since the doctor was stuck in surgery....but it ended up being painless....yea! Just one more appointment to go.

The third appointment was to my oncologist to find out the results of the PET/CT scan and what stage the cancer is at. I knew going into the PET I was at a stage 2 but I had been trying to prepare myself for stages 3 or 4. Keith and I had to wait over an hour to see the doctor and when he finally came in he showed us the films of the scan.....I was only glowing in my neck and chest! Thank the Lord! I was in shock.....God is finally giving me a little break....I'm only at a stage 2! I will still have to go through 12 weeks of chemo and then radiation but it sounds like that should hopefully do the trick. I know the road is still going to be hard and I'm still in the fight of my life but it gives me hope to know the cancer didn't spread further through my body during my pregnancy. I will have a pic line (an IV placed in my upper arm that will stay for the 12 weeks of chemo. to administer the drugs) put in hopefully on Tuesday and my first treatment is scheduled for Thursday at this point.

Thank you for all your prayers and sorry this post is so late. When Keith and I finally got home around 6pm I was back on mommy duty and this is the first chance I've had to sit at the computer to share my day with you.

Big day today

This morning Sadie is getting her tongue-tie fixed, hopefully a quick, painless, and effective procedure.

This afternoon Cara and I meet with Dr. Mallone to get the results from the PET scan. Cara is getting nervous and trying not to think about bad news. Appeal to God for healing and for courage as we approach this pivotal moment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Radioactive

Today I got a PET/CT. What is it? It's basically a CT of my whole body that detects cancer cells by using radioactive sugar. Because the cancer cells multiply faster than most cells in the body they grab the radioactive sugar faster, causing the cancerous parts of my body to "glow". This morning I went in to the imaging center and was injected with this special concoction, I waited in a room for about an hour giving the sugar time to travel throughout my body and then I was put into the PET/CT scanner for about 30min (I had to stay still the whole time). I spent about 2hours there and Keith went to Starbucks and Target to help the time go by. It turns out that I'm radioactive for 24 hours so I'm not allowed to be around the girls until tomorrow afternoon. They are spending today through tomorrow along with Keith at my mom's house. I'm staying at our apartment and using the opportunity to start packing our stuff up and to get a good night sleep but I know I'm going to miss my girls tonight.

Pray that I'm not glowing anywhere else in my body besides my neck and chest. We find out Thursday at my oncology appointment the results and what stage of cancer I'm at.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Huge Thanks!

I just want to take a moment before I go to bed to thank all of our family and friends who helped us this weekend. We got so much done at my mom's house in preparation to us moving in. Rooms got painted, furniture was moved out to storage, Bekah had play-dates, dinners were prepared, toys were washed, junk was thrown out, counters were organized, window blinds were washed, bathrooms were scrubbed, a step was make for the back porch to prevent Bekah from falling and a fan was installed into mine and Keith's room (thanks to Keith's grandpa)....I'm sure I'm forgetting something but you get the idea.

We worked so hard this weekend and I'm exhausted but we couldn't have done it without all the help - so thank you friends and family! I hope we have energy left to move out of our place but at least we will be into my mom's before I start chemo.!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where we're supposed to be

Cara had her appointment today with Dr. Malone, our oncologist. We felt so right about him, instantly impressed with his expertise and caring demeanor. He rolled his doctor chair right over next to Cara and explained that she is definitely in stage 2, and possibly/probably higher. Her spleen is enlarged--a sign of possible stage 3 cancer--and if that is the case they'll do a bone marrow test to make sure she doesn't have stage 4. A little scary, but the prognosis is still good no matter the stage. Dr. Malone took great care in answering all our questions, and he knows his stuff, still teaching every so often up at Stanford where he previously practiced. He even knew about Cara's CAH disorder, something very few doctors around here know about since it is so rare. So we are in very capable hands. What's next? Cara has to do some further blood-work and get a CAT scan on Tuesday of her abdomen and pelvis, and Malone said she should start the "Stanford V" chemo treatment the following Monday.

So pray that the cancer has not spread to her spleen or bone marrow! And pray that her body responds well to the treatment. Cara is such a strong woman...I'm cringing as the Dr. lists off the side effects--naseau, vomiting, exhaustion, hair loss, mouth sores, etc.--and Cara's sitting there like, "Alright, I'm ready." Crazy! I can't begin to tell you all how encouraging it is to know that we've got countless prayers going up on our behalf. And the meals, kid-watching, and other help has kept us sane in the midst of crazy circumstances. Crazy to us, that is, not to Him. We're doing our best to here His voice saying, "Be still."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Appointment Tomorrow

I have an appointment tomorrow at noon to see Dr. Malone- the Oncologist who worked up at Stanford Hospital. I hope I get some information since it's been hard being in the dark for so long. I'll let you all know how it goes. I guess I better start making a list of all the questions I have so that I don't forget them tomorrow.

We are still working hard at my mom's trying to get the rooms ready for us to move in - the storage unit was delivered today so we can start moving some of my mom's stuff out to make room for our things. Keith just left to take Bekah to the Dr.'s since her bladder infection has returned (she ended up being allergic to the antibiotics to she didn't finish the treatment and her pee-pee pain is back). I'm headed to my last OB post Sadie appointment right now and my mom is busy feeding Sadie. I would ask if life could get any more crazy but I really don't want to know the answer.

Until tomorrow....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moving Forward!

I finally got a phone call!

I've been calling the Oncologist office everyday since Thursday and I wasn't getting anywhere. Every time I talked with someone in the office I was told that my paperwork was either not there or that it was on the Dr.'s desk waiting to be reviewed. I decided to call in a favor to my old employer (Dr. Mundorf) to see if he could call the Oncologist to help get the ball rolling.

Well...tonight the Oncologist himself called my cell phone! He reassured me that Hodgkin's Lymphoma is very curable. He's going to order either a PET scan or a CT of my chest and abdomen to see if the cancer is anywhere else in my body. It sounds like treatment wouldn't be to far along after that and one of the Dr.'s associates used to be a professor up at Stanford Cancer Center (one of the best Hospitals for Lymphoma) so I should be in very good hands!

We are still planning on moving into my mom's house and Keith along with my brother Josh spent a few hours today puttying holes in the walls to get them ready for some fresh paint. I actually helped a little since I had a bit more energy today. We will be moving into the main house and more specifically the three rooms at the end of the hallway. Bekah is having a blast being at Grammy's house more often - loving the extra attention from her Anunt Kacey and Crista and Unlce Josh although Josh scared her today when he put on a womens blond wig. Bekah went crying/screaming down the hall and into her room...I hope she doesn't do that to me if I end up losing my hair from chemo :(.

I'll keep you all posted as to what happens next. I'm very relieved that treatment is coming and I will actually be a cancer patient but it totally scares me too. My time to fight is almost here and I pray that God will give me and my family the strength we need to get though it.

Times are changing

Ok, so we are beginning to realize how drastically our life is going to change. At first I was thinking that everything would remain mostly the same, with Cara going in for treatment every couple weeks. Not anymore. We are realizing that we are in the fight of our life, and that we need to be in a wartime mentality--focused totally on the goal of getting Cara better. We know that she'll beat this, and that our life will eventually be more "normal", but for now we are preparing to consolidate and sacrifice.

The first change is that we will be moving in with my in-laws, Jan and Bill West here in town. They have a few extra rooms and they brought up the idea a few days ago. The girls already feel so at home there, and it makes it much easier for Grammy Jan to be available. The move also puts us closer to good friends such as Kim Davis, the Peets, and the Laitys, among others. Honestly, it will be hard saying goodbye to our apartment home, and Cara can't believe she has to drive up and down that dirt road again, but it is the best move for us right now.

Also, we are hoping to get Cara treated up at Stanford Medical Center, the best cancer treatment on the west coast. It's been highly recommended by several people, and my grandparents live close so we could stay there if need be while Cara gets chemo (most likely method). However, we're still waiting for a call back from our local Oncologist who would probably need to refer us to Stanford. Waiting is hard right now. By the way, we still don't know what stage Cara is in, so pray that we caught it early.

At this point the girls are doing well, except Bekah has an underarm rash and decided it would be fun to dump her milk-soaked frosted mini-wheats all over herself this morning. So she had some fun morning bath time. Sadie slept for almost 6 hours in a row last night, and is actually starting to look a little chubby (so cute!).

Saturday, August 16, 2008


"Normal is just a setting on your washing machine," my friend used to say. But I woke up Friday morning and felt like we're getting used to this new rhythm, our emotions stabilizing as we accept the new normal. Plus, there was an awesome thunderstorm (never happens here). Upon hearing the rumble of thunder and then checking, normally the most useless site ever for the above reason, I rushed outside with Bekah in tow. The storm stayed miles away, but we still saw the occasional flash of lightning and counted to around 10 before the rumbling was heard. Bekah pointed up to the clouds and exclaimed "airplane!" And then big drops started splattering everywhere and Bekah ran around with a huge grin on her face. I love thunderstorms.

Aside from the weather fun, we've been able to get Sadie into a feeding routine, and we bought some super cool bottles called "Dr. Brown's" that reduces her gassiness a ton. Cara has been sleeping well at night and sometimes even sneaks in an afternoon nap, essential since Lymphoma causes extreme exhaustion. I have no idea how she was able to live with this for the past three months while carrying around a 10 lb baby and still being productive. Crazy. The Oncologist hasn't called yet but we expect to hear something by early next week. We did however get Cara's medical reports and found out that the growth they removed from her neck was 4cm in diameter. We totally appreciate all the help and prayers from so many of you, enabling us to survive and even meet the challenges ahead with grace and hope. It's going to be a long road ahead, and we don't know what we'd do without our beloved family and friends!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I finally got the phone call....well first I got a call back from the ENT doctor's office. Sadie is "tongue-tied" and they were finally able to make an appointment for her to get it fixed. She is unable to bring her tongue to the top of her mouth which makes swallowing hard and sucking on a pacifier even harder.

And then, as I was talking to Sadie's doctor, the surgeon who performed my biopsy called me with final results. He didn't have a ton more info, but I do in fact have Hodgkins Lymphoma. I will be scheduled to see the Oncologist that my uncle sees (this is a very good thing) and should get a call with the appointment within a few days. The Oncologist will be the one to schedule any further testing and decide what treatment plan is best.

I hope and pray that I get some sleep tonight since I am physically and emotionally exhausted! Thank you all for your prayers and support. We will continue to keep you updated!

Prayer Time At The Sand Box

Well, it's been a hard day and it's only 4:30. I still don't have the outcome of my biopsy. I've talked with the surgeons nurse and the results aren't even available yet. She said she would have the dr. call to see if he can rush the results but that if more testing was necessary then it could take a few more days.

Sadie is taking a small bottle (1/2 gentlease formula and 1/2 breast milk) about every 2 hours and she's keeping it down although she has been really fussy. We burp her throughout her feeding and that seems to help a bit but it's still hard to see her in pain.

Bekah has been telling us for a few days now when she is going pee-pee...we thought she's finally realizing she doesn't like having a wet diaper and she wants to be changed. Well today she started screaming in pain and grabbing her diaper when she is going pee. I called her pediatrician but they were all booked and told me to take her to her ER. I then started crying and my mom had to finish up the conversation with the nurse. We asked for the dr. to call us, pleading for him to just call in a prescription for her since we were fairly sure it was a bladder infection. Plus, the thought of spending more time in the ER was awful. A few hours later Keith called again to talk with the dr. and found out he had called in some antibiotics for Bekah! Yay for caring dr's! I hope Bekah will be feeling better soon - it's hard to handle both girls crying from makes me want to join right in!

You may be wondering about the title of this blog. Well, after all this happened we all went outside for some fresh air and met a new mom named Nicole near the sandbox and we started sharing what was going on in our life and day. She asked if we went to church and if she could pray for me. We all started crying and as Bekah played in the sand and Sadie slept on my mom's shoulder, Nicole prayed for me and the family. God is so good to send a neighbor out just when you need a little extra encouragement and prayer!

A Questions For Moms...

I'm having to change from breastfeeding to formula and so far Sadie doesn't seem to be doing very well with the change. I know she's ok with the bottle and pumped breast milk but when I tried to give her formula yesterday afternoon she threw up so much she got down to her stomach acid. Last night Keith took the late feedings so that I could get some extra sleep. He gave her a bottle that had 1/3 formula and 2/3 pumped breast milk. She took it once but was awake for 3hours and refused to take more when she got hungry again so I had to get up to breastfeed.

Do any of you have a formula suggestions or any ideas on how to make this change easier for all of us? So far we've tried Enfamil iron, gentlease, and lactofree.

Thanks for you help. It's hard enough to not be able to breast feed Sadie for as long as I did with Bekah but to see her struggle though the change is heartbreaking....and stressful.

Monday, August 11, 2008

something worse...

It's midnight and we're both exhausted after being at Sierra Vista all day. Tonight, after performing a biopsy and taking out one whole lymph node, the doctor came out and told me that it looks like Cara has Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cara tells me that when the doctor told her the diagnosis she responded by telling him about the fun and spunky short hair cut she was planning on having if her hair is going to fall out from chemo.....she was just coming out of the anesthesia and was a little loopy. Apparently, out of all the cancers, this one is really treatable, and we'll know more in two days with the official results. Our world is spinning right now, but we need some sleep...and we're resting in God's goodness and presence. Thank you for your prayers, your calls, and your visits--keep praying!!! We love you all.

Psalm 73:23-26

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Swollen Lymph Nodes?????

I share this information with all of you hoping that you will pray for Keith and I tomorrow.
As some of you know I went into the ER a few months ago with big lumps in my neck that appeared overnight. The ER dr. ran some blood tests that came back fine and because I was pregnant decided to send me home, but told me to come back if they didn't go away.

Well...they never did, so I finally went back to the ER on Friday, even though Keith was out of town in Texas and my Mom had to watch the girls. Fortunately, my sister Lacey was able to stay with me in the hospital. But I needed to go in since the lumps were starting to put pressure on my esophagus and it was difficult to swallow.

The first dr. I saw was going to send me home with the explanation that lymph nodes swell for many reasons, saying I should eventually see my primary doctor. Then there was a shift change and the second dr. decided to run more tests after seeing how large the nodes were (I'm very thankful for this second dr.). The blood work came back normal, so then he ordered a chest x-ray which didn't show anything and a CT of my neck and chest with and without contrast (he also talked about running a thyroid test with the blood taken earlier but I was never told the results). Then the CT came back showing more swollen lymph nodes in my neck and chest. I knew about the ones that were popping out of my neck but I had no idea that I had more!!!

At that point the dr. wanted to admit me overnight for a biopsy and further testing. I was a little shocked but so so grateful that I was finally getting somewhere. He had another dr. look at my neck (I think it was the surgeon) and he felt it would be better to let me go home for the weekend since it was Friday evening and all the dr.'s that were needed had gone home. So I left around 7:30pm after being there for about 5 1/2hrs!

I was told to come back to the ER Monday morning at 8:30 for a biopsy and sooner if I got to the point of not being able to swallow...or breath. I also have to make an appointment with an oncologist for this upcoming week. It sounds like the swollen lymph nodes can be anywhere from being benign, to be caused from cat scratch fever (I was scratched by a cat about a week before the lumps appeared) or something worse. I'm trying not to think about the something worse right now (although at times I feel I'm failing miserably) but it's hard when you don't have much information to go I welcome your prayers today too.

I'll keep you updated on the results of the test and how everything goes. Thanks for your prayers - I know Gods in control but it's still hard to wait and wonder.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Growing Girl

My mom came over yesterday for a little while and held Sadie for me! She also gave her a bottle so I got a feeding break. I decided to take the opportunity to snap a few pictures of my little 3week old since she was looking oh-so-cute.

Fly Fly Go Away

Yesterday Keith went to Wal-Mart to get a few things we needed and on the list was a fly swatter for Bekah. We've been keeping our front door open a lot lately since the weather has been so nice but that means that we also have some flys buzzing around. She always wants to play with the fly swatter but I never let her since it's we decided to get her her own and she loved it!

Nap Time Fun

A few days ago I had both girls down for a nap at the same time...YAY...that means I should be able to lay down also...right? Well, not when you have an almost 2 year old who would rather play than sleep. She started by throwing her doll Sally and her ni-ni (passifier) out of her crib, then she needed something to drink, then after an hour or more of jumping in her crib she started wining again. I went in to check on her and I found her stuck in her bumper. Silly girl! Oh well at least with all the crib play time she hasn't figured out how to climb out yet.