Sunday, May 31, 2009

PET Scan Results

Before heading out to North Carolina I had my 3rd PET Scan. Needless to say, I was worried about the test results and didn't want them to ruin my trip, but I couldn't resist knowing. The reading was not in before I left Salt Lake, so I checked in with Bruce during my layover in Detroit.
Great news! There is NO evidence of disease. However, there is an area of inflammation on my chest wall, which may be problematic, but at this point we don't have any reason to believe that is due to something other than the high dose of radiation I received.
I am cautiously optimistic and very grateful! I am looking forward to a wonderful summer with my family. I will have my tumor markers checked every month and will have another PET scan in 3-4 months.
My heart is so grateful, but at the same time I am very afraid to hope too much. Please keep praying for me and my family. I know it is because of the faith of those around me that I have been blessed with so many miracles. Thank you!
love, Jeanel

A Visit to North Carolina

Last week Suzette and I went to North Carolina to visit our brother and his family. Rick has just completed his first year of medical school at Wake Forest and he and his wife have just added a new bundle of joy to their family. We had a great time!! Everett is an an incredibly sweet and very cute baby! We also really enjoyed playing with their 18 month old, Carson. He is a whiz kid and already knows his colors and letters.
We enjoyed our time in Winston-Salem and were able to visit Old Salem, a shopping village, and an antique mall. We also enjoyed some late night games of cards and speed scrabble.

Suzette and I also road tripped to Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington for a little sister time. We had a great time at the beach (I was the only one with an umbrella because the chemo intensifies the sun) and enjoyed a long walk while finding shells for the boys. We also found an antique furniture store with already refurbished furniture and amazing shipping rates. Suzette scored some great finds and I chickened out....
A special thanks to RIck and Page for being such wonderful hosts and to my parents for watching the boys so that Suzette and I could get away!!

Happy 4th Birthday Xander

We recently celebrated Xander's 4th birthday with a small family party and a homemade Lego Star Wars cake. I can't believe how big Xander has gotten. It has been so fun watching him grow over the past year. He is has a happy, fun loving spirit and is a very sweet little boy! He gives big hugs and juicy kisses... He loves to ride his bike and scooter, play outside with his brothers, do puzzles, and sing/talk himself to sleep at night. This year he has come up with every excuse for coming out of his room at bedtime and has mastered his colors, letters, numbers. He also loves to sing The FIfty Nifty United States song (I just wish I could get it out of my head!) I am so grateful to be his mom! I l love you Xander!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Sister, My Best Friend

The Race for the Cure
The First Thank Your Project. I'm sad I don't have pictures of the cookies!

I want you all to know that I have the best sister in the whole world! She is beautiful, talented, creative, funny, kind, thoughtful, faithful, hardworking, friendly, outgoing, and has a real knack for being of down-to-earth, yet sophisticated. She is my best friend and confidant. Time and time again, she serves me and those around her with love and selflessness.
Last week I called her for ideas to make 'thank you gifts' for my friends and family that live close by and have been taking care of us. We made plans to get together this past weekend to put something together. When I got to her house she had already baked 288 gourmet cookies by herself and she was ready to work on assembling the gifts. (For those who don't know, she has 6 kids at home, 5 of whom are in sports, dance, and piano!) I am constantly amazed at the amount of work she fits into her day. She is always on the go, ready to serve. She somehow not only survives, but thrives on less than 5 hours of sleep. (We do not share that gene!)
My sister has always been amazing. For some reason she has always found it in her job description to take care of me. When I was little, she would drag me out of my crib and put me in her bed at night. While our mom was in the work force, Suzette made dinner for our family at a very young age. She was always the peace maker in our family, so she was a great person to find if one of my brothers felt like pummeling me. When I got older (and she wasn't busy with boys), she made herself available to give high school counsel to her middle school sister, which continued while she was in college and I had moved on to high school.
One my funniest memories was when I was trying to decide whether to get married or to go on an LDS mission for 18-months. She was going to help me with wedding plans or with making some jumpers for the hot weather in the Dominican Republic. She helped me with her classic whit when she said something to the effect of, "I don't know what the answer is, but you better go up to your room and don't come down until you've figured it out. Either way, we've got work to do."
One of my most memorable times with my sister was when she left her 6 kids (and was pregnant with #7) in Utah and came to Kansas to help me drive back home to Wisconsin when I was going through my divorce.
In addition to being a rock in daily life and life's tough spots, she has always been my model for all things social, fashionable, beautiful, and tasty. For those who know me, you know that those are not my strong points, but she loves me anyway.
I love my sister very much. She is one of my life's most treasured blessings. She loves me for who I am, she is on my side, and she is cheering for me every day. Last year she ran the St. George Marathon. When she got home she told me that she ran the marathon one mile at a time and gave me her medal to help me fight my cancer one day at a time.
Suzette, I love you with all my heart! God gave me the perfect flower to help me run this race. And we will win the race. We live, laugh, cry, learn, love, and grow together. Whether I live or not, I will survive because of you. Thanks for being my sister and my best friend!
Love, Your Lil Sister

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Today was a beautiful day full of sunshine, love, laughter, and family. Bruce and the boys made breakfast in bed for Grandma (she got out of bed too early) and me. It is a tradition we all love. The boys love playing waiter and I enjoy hanging out in bed a little while longer. We had a nice time at church and then went to my brother, Paul's house for dinner and play time.
On the way home from Paul's house, Bruce asked me what my favorite part of the day was and oddly enough, the cards from Bruce and the boys were on the top of the list.
The card I got from the boys featured a bunch of kids yelling, "Mom", "Ma", "Mother", etc. over and over and then, "Happy Mother's Day!"-- very appropriate.
This is what Bruce's card said: "Once there was this guy. A nice guy really. And he met this girl. An incredible girl. So naturally this guy falls head over heels in love with her, and much to his surprise, she feels the same way, too. But that's just the beginning of the story... A few years pass and the guy and the girl have built a pretty good life together. They're a family with all the usual stuff thrown in. One day, between all the to-do's and have-to's, the guy stops and looks at his wife and he thinks- WOW. How did life get so good? And then he looks back at his wife and there's the answer... He met, fell in love with, and married the perfect girl. (What a lucky, lucky guy.) Happy Mother's Day!
It was a great day and I love all of my boys!

The Race for the Cure

A couple of weeks ago Brooke mentioned that some friends from work were planning on participating in the Race for the Cure in SLC and were wondering if I felt up to joining them. I was a little hesitant because I would be just one week out from chemo and probably wouldn't have the energy to walk 5K. I was assured that a wheelchair would be available if needed, so I happily accepted the invitation.

I then asked my family, including Sue, to join the festivities.

The race was a huge success, with an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 in attendance. The energy and spirit were incredible. It was great to feel the unity and power of so many people fighting the fight. Stories were told through signs, shirts, banners and cheers. It was a life-changing day and I am grateful to have been able to share it with family and friends.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rick and Page Race for the Cure

My brother, Rick, and his wife, Page, participated in the Race for the Cure in North Carolina last week. Thanks to both of you for racing your hearts out and for supporting me in this fight!

And here is a picture of their baby, Everett. He is so cute!!! Suzette and I are going to meet him at the end of the month.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Done with Chemo Forever?!

How nice would it be to never have to have chemo again?! It is hard to let myself go down that road because of the heartache that accompanies disappointment, but... When I think about life without chemo, suddenly I have so much more time in my week and so much more energy to live. I think of nice long walks, playing outside with the boys, going to the gym, working, mowing the lawn, having the strength to actually 'scrub' when I clean, going up and down the stairs without a second thought -- basically having energy to do whatever I want to without having to take a break or having to prioritize my activities. I also think about having my hair back and wonder if my skin will ever be back to normal. I wonder how I ever took my health for granted. I think about the future. I think about my boys in school, graduating, getting married. I think about family vacations, missions, and grandkids... Life without chemo- what a wonderful thought!
Today I am taking it easy. On Friday I had my 20th chemo treatment and I do best if I do nothing at all for 3 or 4 days. Remarkably, I have kept most of my hair during this last round of treatments. It has thinned as the weeks have gone by and now it threatens to fall out with every turn of my head. I have been incredibly blessed with energy and minimal nausea. I have kept my finger nails, my hands don't itch, and I have my parents helping me this week while Bruce is at a medical conference. Even with chemo, I've got it good!
Thanks for your love, support, and continued prayers!

Picture Perfect Day?

Ryker turned 2 in January. It is now May. This week Brooke and I took the boys to Temple Square in an attempt to capture a picture that would be '2-year-old-portrait-worthy'. That was a high stress day for me because I was trying to get things done around the house before my last chemo treatment. When I came downstairs, after sorting through the boys' winter clothes, I found Xander with a butterfly stamp in his hand that he stamped all over his arms and face, as well as Ryker's face. As the boys can probably tell you, I was not happy and I didn't have time to get myself ready... Anyway, after the scrub down, the 30 minute drive, and the military march to the photo shoot (to avoid any wrinkles or dirt) we made it to the chosen spot. Landon decide he couldn't remember how to smile, Xander chose not to smile, and Ryker either looked like he was in pain or didn't want to pay attention. Some how Brooke managed to get some good shots and hopefully I won't burn in 'bad-mommy-dum'.
On a more positive and less stressful note, this week I was able to go to Women's Conference at BYU with my sister and mom. We had a great time. The speakers were great and focused on being able to do all things with the strength of the Lord. It was nice to be back on campus and see how things have changed over the passed 13 years.