Saturday, 28 April 2012

Update on Mary: Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Mom is having a really good week! She got to take a break from chemo this week, so she is feeling much better than usual. She has been eating more, including adding some meat and fruit to her diet (yay!), and has been taking far fewer pain pills this week. Fewer pain pills means shorter naps and more time for fun. Today we went to the Wiseburn School District's annual carnival. Dad always likes to show off his schools, so it was a good day for him. The boys had a grand time getting their faces painted, listening to the bands, riding a train, seeing a fire truck, and eating ice cream. It was a gorgeous day, and we all enjoyed spending some time in the sunshine and getting our vitamin D.

Please continue to pray:

Praise for a great week with extra energy and decreased pain!

Pray that we will find balance for her body with one set of medications.

Pray that her body will get the rest it needs from the chemo and that her blood counts (red and white) would be good.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and your support! You are making this difficult journey much easier on us, and we appreciate it more than we can express.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A Tea-Cup Party For Two

This week mom spent a morning having tea with some friends. Tommy heard about this and was a little disappointed to find out that a party occurred without him. He told me he really wanted to have a "tea-cup party." So, I decided to plan a little tea party for Jjaja and Tommy that afternoon.

They had tea and cookies and played cards. Mom is teaching Tommy to play "war," which he refers to as "warrior."

Tommy had a wonderful time at the party making some special memories with his Jjaja.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Update on Mary: Done With Her First Round!

Mom finished her first round of chemo on Friday, so now she gets a week off before she starts round two. She is very excited to have a break from the appointments and infusions.

We have been getting questions about the status of her tumor, etc, so I want to explain that we will not know anything until the end of round two. They do scans after the second round of chemo, and it isn't until then that we will find out if her tumor is shrinking, growing, or staying the same.

The standard chemo for pancreatic cancer is used to provide "clinical benefit," which means it is designed to make patients feel better. Only a small percentage of patients get tumor shrinkage from this chemo, but we are certainly hoping and praying that mom is part of that number.

Mom is feeling much better than she was before she started chemo, which is a huge praise! She is experiencing side effects that are unpleasant, but they have been minor compared to her symptoms prior to beginning chemo. She has also been able to take fewer pain pills, which means she is awake and clear-headed much more often than before. Additionally, she has been able to eat a wider variety of foods, and has even gained a few pounds. She finally has an anti-nausea medication that actually works, and this has been a great blessing. While she is still a shadow of her healthy self, her energy and stamina are improved as well. Thank you so much for all your prayers, they are clearly making a difference.

Continued prayer needs:

More weight least five more pounds would be great. The more the better, because chemo gets progressively harder and she will likely start losing weight again at some point.

She has been sore this round, not in the usual "tumor-pain" areas, so please pray that this pain diminishes.

Good sleep at night.

For us to figure out a good balance for her body in regards to one of her medications.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


So, on Tuesday while we were all driving to get ice cream, we heard a commercial on the radio for the SoCal Disneyland deal...and we decided that we should go. The plans were totally dependent on how well mom was feeling after her Thursday morning blood draw. We didn't tell the boys so that there wouldn't be any disappointment if we couldn't make it. Happily, mom came home from her appointment feeling good, so we got ready and drove to Anaheim. It was very different from a typical Disney trip for us. We didn't rush to get there, we arrived late and didn't stress out about it, we moved very slowly around the park, we didn't ride everything, and we left early. But it was a fun day. We probably looked funny, with me at 37 1/2 weeks pregnant pushing mom around in a wheelchair while Dad backpacked Nic in a carrier and pushed Tommy in a stroller (I had the easier job). As if our family doesn't attract enough attention in public places...we decided to throw in an advanced pregnancy and a wheelchair! At some point I should probably stop being shocked by how different my children's personalities are, but it really hit me yesterday when taking Nic to Disneyland was so different than it was taking Tommy. Tommy stinkin' loved Disneyland when he was Nic's age, but Nic was much more ambivalent. He liked the carousel, Dumbo, Casey Jr, Storybook land, Finding Nemo, Autopia, Astroblasters, the Tiki Room, Tarzan Treehouse, the train, and Small World (which he asked to ride again). Every other ride he spent clinging to someone (usually Dad) in sheer terror. Tommy loved everything, as usual. Pirates remains his number one favorite ride. He woke up singing the song the next morning.We are so thankful that we had such a fun day and the chance to make some fun memories with Jjaja and Papa!

Nic protesting against Winnie the Pooh

Tommy practicing his best pirate at breakfast

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Lazy Morning With My Boys, or How I Spent My Easter Vacation

I've been sitting on this post for over a week for no particular reason. It's always important to stock up on snuggles...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Update on Mary: Thankful for a Great Week!

Mom's last round of chemo went really well. She had very few side effects, and has been feeling better than she has in months. Obviously she isn't in top form...but this week has been so much better than the last few weeks. It has been such a blessing for us to have this time. We've even gotten to do some fun things - like have a birthday party for Tommy, relax on the beach, go out for ice cream, go on a tour of the maternity ward at Little Company, sign me up at the hospital, register for my baby shower, do some shopping, and meet my Dad at work for a special lunch out. As you can see, we've been busy! It's been great for all of us.

Tomorrow mom has a blood draw. Please pray for hydration and an easy draw. Pray that the results show good enough white counts for her to continue with chemo.

Friday she has her "long" chemo. We are anticipating that with the extra bag of chemicals that next week will be another hard week and that she will have side effects again. Please pray that she would be well-hydrated and her veins would be easy to find. Pray that her side effects won't be too bad and that she will not have excessive nausea. She still needs to gain weight (or at least stop losing so much).

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers. Your love and care have made this rough time much more bearable. We can't say often enough how much we appreciate it.

Some photos from the beach (mom controlled the camera most of the time):

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Happy Birthday Tommy!

Today we had a small family party for Tommy. Small for us is about thirty or so it was a mad house. I was not as organized as I would have liked, but thankfully I was rescued by a number of helping hands. I destroyed the cake that Tommy helped me bake as I was attempting to frost it. It was a sad moment for me, because I really wanted to salvage it and serve a homemade cake, but with one hour left before the party I had to give up and admit that it was beyond repair and send Dad down to the store for some cupcakes. Sometimes you just have to give up and do things like that.

The party had a rough start for Tommy. He got intimidated by the crowd and did not want to come downstairs. Uncle Kevin saved the day by offering to "hide" Tommy on his back and take him straight to the bounce house. Once he started playing things improved and things went smoothly from then on... or at least close to smoothly...

Some highlights:

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Chemo: Round One, Week Two

Mom completed her second week of chemo treatments today. Thank you for all your prayers, this week things went much more smoothly for her. Her veins were easy to find, the iv was placed quickly, and the whole process took only two and half hours- much quicker than last time. We are so thankful that things went better than last week.

Mom has been experiencing some unpleasant side effects from the chemo, but overall this last week was much better than any of the previous few weeks. I would say she had probably 5 "good" days in the last week, compared to 2-3 good days per week in the weeks since I have been home. On a good day Mom is able to get outside and sit in the fresh air, or even get out of the house and go to the store, the park, or the beach for a few hours. She needs to get a lot of rest, even on a good day, but it is encouraging to see her be able to enjoy herself some. She is in pain every day, but she has generally figured out how much medicine to take to take the edge off and make it tolerable without knocking herself out completely. This has made a huge difference. The most important positive change I've seen in the past week is in mom's ability to eat a little more. She still isn't able to eat enough to maintain her weight, but she has had an increase in the amount and variety of food that she can tolerate and has been mostly able to keep it down.

Please pray:

That the tumor would shrink

For an end to her nausea, increased caloric intake, and weight gain

For no blistering/mouth sores

For more "good" days for this week

That her red/white blood cell counts would remain healthy (so she can continue treatment)

Getting some snuggles:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

36 Weeks

Sunday marked 36 weeks for me. This week has also marked the realization that little Kenneth could be here in just TWO weeks. YIKES. I am not prepared. Thankfully, my OB thinks I have a little longer to go. He said that there was no reason to think that I would deliver early, and expects me to make it to week 39/40.

Jeff got to come with me to this week's appointment, and it was an exciting one. I had an ultrasound and fetal monitoring. According to the ultrasound the baby is in the correct position for birth (whew) and his estimated weight is 6 1/2 pounds, which puts him in the 66th percentile. If his growth continues along the same curve he will be in the 7 pound range. My OB thinks this is super. I do not. I would like to point out that I am not in the 66th percentile for ANYTHING and would prefer to give birth to a baby closer to my size. I decided to look it up (to give scientific weight to my natural indignation) and found that based on my age/ethnicity I am in the 20th percentile for height and 10th for weight (pre-pregnancy). Stinking Jeff and his way-too-tall genes. Have I mentioned that I had the decency to be only 5 1/2 pounds when I was born?

I am feeling particularly unsettled by this news because I spent the afternoon watching some horrifying birthing videos. My mom and Colleen are preparing me for childbirth by scaring the bejabbers out of me! It doesn't help that the library videos tend to be, well, videos, and are therefore 25 to 30 years old and feature excessive amounts of body hair, and loads of body hair just makes everything look scarier. We will be continuing to prepare for the next few days....hopefully I will make it through and still want to give birth.

According to one of the books that I was reading this afternoon there is no more horrible and excruciating pain than childbirth. I found that really encouraging. Also, apparently I am slated to have much higher than usual anxiety due to losing Leah...although honestly I have had so little time to even think about being pregnant (aside from this afternoon's festivities) that I haven't felt as nervous about it as I might were the rest of the circumstances in my life anywhere close to normal. But, it is time to remember that I am pregnant and that I need to be ready to pop this little guy out.

One of the assignments that the OB gave me was to start "kick counts." The sheet he gave me instructs me to lie down an hour after I eat and count the baby's movement to make sure he moves ten times in two hours. Lie down for two hours? In what universe would a mother of two boys be able to lie down for two hours? Ha! I have yet to start my log, although I have been more mindful of the baby's movements, and I will admit that counting to ten kicks/punches/rolling motions would probably only take five or ten minutes of lying around. But I never have time to do so precisely one hour after a meal. Or anytime except right before I fall into bed...

Here is the belly at 36 weeks:

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Easter Festivities

Our Easter weekend was jam-packed. On Saturday we did our traditional egg-dying with my cousins. Together we dyed 42 eggs for the big hunt. Tommy dyed eggs with Jjaja last year, and he was really looking forward to doing it again this year. Last year they wrote names on every egg he dyed. Then he wanted to make eggs for all the members of our family, friends, etc. This year, he just wanted every single egg to say, "Tommy." There were many many Tommy eggs. Nicolas did not find egg dying interesting at all. That worked out fine because he also does not understand that throwing eggs into bowls of dye does not yield the best results.

On Easter we had a family breakfast, with Mom, Dad, Jeff, Tommy, Nicolas, Kevin, Colleen, Emily, and me. I made blueberry cream biscuits with blueberry sauce and whipped cream, raspberry-lemon coffeecake with cream cheese filling, and cinnamon-raisin swirl bread. I had everything done the night before so all I had to do was wake up, set the table and warm things up. We had a really nice breakfast together, followed by our Easter basket hunt. We all still hunt for baskets. Every year my dad hides them in our family room, using his most devious methods. The rules are that you can't tell anyone else if you find their basket and if you get really stuck (and it happens) that dad will play "hot and cold" with you, but he isn't going to just tell you where it is. This year we all found our baskets fairly quickly, but dad claims that last year (I wasn't present so I can't verify this statement) it took someone 40 minutes to find their basket because he hid them so well. After we opened baskets we went to church together, then came home so that some people could rest (Mom and the little boys) and the rest of us could cook, clean and set up for Easter dinner.

I am proud to say that I survived hosting 17 for Easter dinner. I will freely admit that I did very little actual cooking, mostly just shopping/heating and forcing other people to bring things. A dear friend also came and cleaned on Saturday and then again after our party, so don't feel too sorry for me. I am happy to report that everything tasted great and the house even looked nice. My goal was that mom would have a "real" family Easter, like she would have done, and we succeeded!