August 11, 2015

It's been quite awhile since I have posted anything on here. I think I left off after my surgery back in April. So much to share and my brain is fried. I have recovered pretty well. I give my diet and strict schedule of working out credit for my fast recovery. It took me a good month before I felt like I was able to get back into the gym. Now I am back and it feels so good. There are a few things that aggravate my chest and back but it is working its way back to normal. Summer has come and gone and I am sitting here wondering where our summer went. We didn't really plan much in the form of trips because we were unsure of future cancer treatments and what were were up against. Now that cancer is not in our future we were left with an open schedule. Baseball kept us busy. Keaton was a part of the West Valley Little League and had a great time. He made great friends and learned so many valuable lessons. We are so thankful for great coaches and friends who made that a great experience for Keaton and for our family. Each weekend consisted of 2-3 games and practices and many other commitments. Keaton was faced with many challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. He played very well and we couldn't have been happier with the outcome of their team this year. We stayed busy. With what you ask me? I can't quite tell you with what but we were busy. This summer we had the privelage of having my brother-in-law Preston live with us. He finished a year at BYU Provo and then came up to live with us for the summer to work with Lance. We LOVED having him! The kids loved it and Lance and I loved it as well. We really grew to love Preston. My children just adore him and we will be sad when he heads back to school this week. In June we attended Lance's brothers medical school graduation in Lebanon, Oregon. Crazy little place but it was nice to get away. There were a few of us who made it and flew into Portland and we rented a beach home on the Newport coast. Talk about a cold place. Not my kind of beach to play on. It was pretty cold. But we had a great time attending his graduation and being there to support him in such a great accomplishment. In July we made it down to Utah to see family. Our kids had been begging us to take them to Lagoon so this year we finally did it and everyone joined in too. We had a great time there. The next day was another full day at the Provo Rec Center. Ever been there? It's amazing and you otta go next time you are there. We need on of those in Boise. The first part of August Lance took the boys up to Stanley Lake to visit my mom and extended family up at their campsite for a day or two. The kids loved that. They love camping. I would have gone but not with my younger two. It would not have been enjoyable so I leave it to Lance to take the older boys and they sure loved it! In June we met with the plastic surgeon. Dr. Ninu Mistry is her name and she came highly recommended. Surgery is scheduled for October 12 th. Kind of nervous for that but ready to get it over with. Cancer has not left me untouched. I am forever marked because of it and it will take some time to get it back. Surgery will be pretty detailed and it will be a little painful but bring it on and let us move on! Our children have been pretty supportive and have just been interested in the whole process. Its been good to inform them of what is up ahead of us. Nothing scary, just different. For a short time. Our children are growing right before our eyes. Conversations change and they understand more. It's hard to keep things from them. They are getting so big. Where did time go? Where are my little kids? 

Lance and I are doing our best to raise our children strong, but loving, independent but warm, courageous yet prayerful and confident but humble.  I hope that they can search inward, reach outward and always look heavenward.  For they’ve got an incredible road ahead of them. 

April 26, 2015


I am out and about more. Every time someone I know see's me they will something like "Wow, what are you doing here?" or " Wow, are you suppose to be up and moving?" I guess no one really understands that it really ins't very complicated and terrible surgery. Yes, it was uncomfortable but it was doable. It was only about a 2-3 week down period and now that I feel better I can use my arm more and I am driving around and I am starting to feel like me again.
But that is the just the thing, I don't want to feel like the old me again. She was tired, frustrated, impatient with her children and loved ones. When something as big as this happens, I want to feel changed. I feel it inside but I am trying to figure out how to change on the outside. Does it happen with some dramatic hair cut? I have contemplated that and I am not sure Lance would be on board with that.
My children are constantly fighting with each other. It drives me literally to the point where I start yelling and it just makes everything so tense. How do you change that? I have been doing more meditating and scripture reading and other things to help me cool down. Someone once suggested yoga to me and I need to look into that. I need to make changes because this experience changed me, it changed our family and yet here we are still the same.

Last Thursday we met with Dr. Wigod the breast reconstruction doctor. Lance and I both went in with positive thinking and just upbeat about the whole thing. First of all they had us watch this video about breast reconstruction. Lance and I laughed the whole thing through. Growing up and in the church you always are taught about pornography and how we shouldn't watch such things. Well this video felt like it. It was a video on breast cancer and breast reconstruction. Felt funny and felt surreal all at the same time. So we just laughed which seems to be a constant theme to our lives.
The gal, I guess you could call her a nurse came in and asked us questions, went over all the different reconstruction options and what they look like and how long of a period it would take. She told me that Dr. Wigod likes before and after pictures of all patients and so I was taken to a little photo studio to take pictures. Awkward!!!!
Then Dr, Wigod walked in. He was not professional in anyway. Very smart probably in what he does but no bed side manners whatsoever. He didn't even shake hands with Lance. That was a huge red flag for us. He sat down in front of me and flat out told us that we needed to have the mastectomy done on the left side before we even talked about reconstruction. I am a good candidate for implants and that is the route he would go. So about 5-6 months of surgeries and procedures all to get the chest of a lifetime.
As I sat there all I could think about was more surgeries, more pain, more being uncomfortable and more down time away from my kids. Our talk with him was short and to the point and that was it. Lance and I looked at each other not impressed. So as soon as we left we started doing our own research on reconstruction doctors. We have set up an appointment with another doctor but that is not until the end of June.
So maybe for now we get back in touch with Dr. Szentes and schedule the other mastectomy. YIKES!!!! The thought of having to do that all over again just doesn't appeal to me but neither did doing it the first time. I knew is was what we had to do and I know this is what I need to do but doesn't make it any easier. Lance tells me that I need affirmations to recite to myself each day.  Something like I accept myself. I accept that this will happen and I can be happy. Sounds kinds silly to me but as I have read book of those who have made lots of money and  fame they all credit their affirmations they recited daily. Probably a lot to it.
Today is Sunday. I am sitting in my sunny office and hearing the sound of kids screaming in the back ground. Some happy and some sad. When will they get along and love each other? I hope someday they will realize just how lucky they are to have siblings and a loving home.
Time to get lunch ready and kids dressed for church. Here we go.......

April 13, 2015


It's been a week since I had surgery. It's been a fairly okay week too. Surgery was successful. They removed all the cancer they could find. Doctor also removed 4 of my lymph nodes to test them for any signs that cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. Its called the Sentinel Node Biopsy. Surgery was about two hours. After I came to they put me to my room and I saw Lance and my father standing there with two thumbs up telling me that everything went well. That was our sign that things went well. I saw them with two thumbs up and all I could do was cry. We all cried.
All the lymph nodes came back clear. No sign of cancer in them at all. I had a 5 cm tumor that was cancerous. It was diagnosed at DCIS in SITU. Meaning that cancer cannot spread outside the milk duct. But the surgeon was lead to believe that it had some invasive components to it. So we had no idea what was really going on until the surgeon could go in and physically see it.
I stayed in the hospital over night. We had a steady stream of non stop visitors. It was so nice to have people come and take my mind off of pain. The pain was not as bad as I had anticipated.
We were released the following afternoon and I went straight to my parents home. It has been quite the nice place to rest. They have been so sweet to take care of me and see that I am helped in anyway possible.
It's been a week and I am doing better. I have a drain that is still in me and probably will be for another week. Until then I have to rest and take it easy or this drain will never come out. That is the hardest part of it all. Laying down or sitting up is pretty much what I do with an occasional walk outside to get some fresh air.
My kids miss me and I miss them. I have come home a few times to visit and it seems to be really stressful on them and on me as well. It will be an adjustment to come back home and take on my role as mom again. I really miss it but I really need to rest to recover properly.
I received the phone call from my doctor that all the final pathology reports read that all the cancer has been cut out. I am officially CANCER FREE!!!!! Dr. Szentes said no radiation, no chemotherapy and possibly a hormonal therapy will be beneficial but we won't know much about that until we meet with my Oncologist. So far all is looking great. I am hopeful for a full recovery and everything can go back to the way things should be.
Thank from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done for us. Your prayers, emails, texts, phone calls, visits, goodness the list goes on and on. We are very grateful for the love and support you have all shown us. Now it is our turn to return that service.

March 22, 2015

Morning will come

This past weekend I was able to fly down to Provo and spend the weekend with my sisters-in-law for a women's conference held every year. Now picture in your mind a really large group of amazing women who gather together and share everything they know in life. They are truly amazing. All of these women belong to the same family. My family. The family I was privileged to marry into. I love them all and I can honestly say that.
I flew in early Friday morning. On my flight from Denver to Salt Lake I sat next to a women with a small baby. I knew it was the seat for me. So I squeezed in. We had the most pleasant conversation. Her name was Ashlee and she is a member of the church as well. Serving as Relief Society President. Mind you she was only 32 years old. A young beautiful mom of 4 children. I really enjoyed that conversation. We talked the entire flight. Somehow the conversation got on to Breast Cancer. I had no plans to even talk about it on this trip. I was going to leave it all behind and just enjoy the weekend. But I think it was inspired. She had a friend who was a breast cancer survivor. She is alive and free of it. I needed to hear reassurance of something that has been so deadly to women around the world. I feel it though. Something inside me just whispers that it will all be okay in the end. No matter what that end will be it will be okay. I really enjoyed that flight and I made such a great new friend. I wish her all the best.
Well my father-in-law picked me up from the airport. We had the most pleasant conversation on the way to Provo. Shared some tears and words of encouragement. It is going to be okay! I keep telling myself that. It is going to be okay!!!! It has to right?
We arrived at the church and there they all were. This was my family! These people who have been praying for me. Fasting on my behalf. I felt this huge swelling in my heart of deep gratitude that I made it. For the next two days we sat for 5-6 hours listening to all different amazing people on various topics.
Grandpa Ray was there. How sweet it was to be with him. Now mind you this man is still going strong, but not as strong as he used to be. He is 94 years old and he was there smiling and just happy as can be. I don't believe I have ever seen that man mad. He hugged me and told me I was loved. I felt loved. It's been almost two years since Grandma Ray passed away. She was greatly missed but I know she among so many others who have passed on were there in spirit with us.
Saturday night after the conference was out all the girls and dad included  went out to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory. It was my first time there and I loved it! It even had gluten free food. Another bonus! We spent the rest of the evening shopping and just being together. I loved every minute of it. I knew that come 8 oclock I would have to say goodbye to all of them. Shauna was sweet to drop me off at the airport on her way back to Bountiful. We had the nicest visit. I love all my sisters-in-law. They are all amazing women who inspire me daily. I love the one on one time I get with them. I got to have that evening with just her. I loved it!!! Thanks Shauna!
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend just absolutely wonderful!!!
While I was there I stayed with Sharlene. They have a basement that was available. I went to bed around 10. I had the whole downstairs to myself. I felt kind of lonely but I found comfort in it also. I feel like I need to share an experience I had. I was ready for bed. I was trying to go to sleep and I couldn't. I was trying to figure out why. Maybe it was because I was missing Lance or my kids or maybe because I was so tired I had a hard time calming down. I remembered that I had forgotten to say my prayers. So I knelt down. I just cried. I laid it all to Him above once again. "I hate cancer!" I told him that. I told that to Him several times. After a good cry then I quietly got back into bed. I was wide awake. My thoughts drifted to Madalynn. I thought about her a lot. The way she felt, the way she smelled. The promise that was made that morning will come and we would see her again. I found comfort in that. Wondering if she was aware of me and what I was feeling. I laid there and closed my eyes. Morning will come. I am sure of it. A new day where we will be free from fear, fear of the unknown and free from all pain. I don't feel physical pain. In fact this is the best I have felt for a really long time. For the first time in my life I feel great. There is another aspect of pain. Emotional pain. This dark cloud that I have prayed so hard to be taken away is still there.
There was a story told this weekend of a man who has been suffering from cancer in his jaw. He has been in a lot of pain. He had a dream that he was in a huge room with lots of people who were suffering from pain. The door opened and in walked the Savior. This man was aware of him. He said he couldn't describe Him. Only that it was love. The Savior went to some and commanded that they be healed and they were. Some of them were not. When it came time for his turn, he pleaded with the Lord to be healed. He had faith to be healed and was sure the Savior would. Then he said the Savior told him that it would be too unkind of him to heal him. What does that mean? Why would that be unkind of the Savior? Maybe He loves me so much that He has given this to me.
I have the faith to be healed. I have the faith that the Savior can take this from me. From us.
My mother-in-law reminded me that when Lance and I were engaged we went to the movie theater to see Charly. Why we went to this movie I still have no idea. But we went and hated it. She reminded me that Lance was troubled by that movie. He prayed that that would never be us. Now here we are young with a family and with breast cancer.
Surgery is scheduled for April 6th. A single Mastectomy is scheduled and they will test my lymph nodes to see if it has spread. Until then we really won't know. So we just cross our fingers and toes and everything else that crosses that it will be good news. We have had small miracles along the way. Praying that they will continue to come. I know the Lord knows me. I know I have the faith to be healed. I know that morning will come and it will be glorious.

March 16, 2015

The more I think

The more I have time to think the crazier I become. My goal is to keep busy. Hard to do sometimes. Many times actually. Just trying to find enough things to keep me occupied is the goal for this week. This week should be pretty close to normal. No appointments are scheduled. We are just waiting to see what the gene test results are. This will be a big decision maker for us. So until then we just sit tight. Hard to do. All of this started only about 3 weeks ago. This has been the longest 3 weeks of my entire life. I feel like I have aged 10 years since then.
This morning my alarm clock rang at 6:30. Time to get up and go to the gym. I lay in bed wondering if that is what I really feel like doing. I know I gotta get up and get going. This is what I have been doing for the past 9 months. But this morning I have to fight myself to get up. But I do it anyways. I made it to the gym and I am so glad I did. Getting a good workout is what I like best in the morning. It starts my day off right. Everyone knows when I don't make it to the gym. Those days kind of stand out.
So far I still feel normal. I don't hurt. I don't have any aches or pains. I feel good. I know this will change in the next little while. I am scared. I am terrified of what this is going to do to me. What will I look like? Who am I going to become? A monster? Every time I look at the pictures of women who have had similar experiences to what I will do, it terrifies me and I have to turn it off. I am trying to prepare myself mentally but I am not even sure that is possible until we are in the thick of things.
We still have no idea if it has spread. We will know once I am under the knife and Dr. Szentes can test the lymph nodes. My fingers and toes are crossed that those will be free and clear. And if they are, well we will cross that road when we get there. If we get there!
Yesterday was my father's birthday. He turned 61. That feels old but he doesn't look it. We had a family dinner at my parents last night. My niece Ava had a birthday as well so we celebrated them together. That is what we do in our family. We celebrate it on that Sunday so everyone can be there. As we were sitting around the table we started talking and people started asking about appointments we had this week.
 We started to talk about cancer and all different possibilities we might be up against. Losing my ovaries, losing my chest, and possibly all my hair. What is left of me that is feminine? Not much. All I could do was sit there and silently cry. I am going to become an it. That is all I could think about. An it! I felt like my identity being washed away. I am scared. I am really scared. I admit it. I feel defeated some days. When I think about it long and hard.

This week we have no appointments. I want to feel normal. Have a normal week with my children. This weekend I will fly to Utah on Friday to spend the weekend with my in-laws for a sisters weekend. I am really looking forward to that. Something fun to do before crazy starts.

So the more I think about it, the more I just want to have a normal week. So that is what we are going to do. It is already filled with baseball practice. Soccer practice. Piano lessons, scouts, mutual and all the other things we do as a family. It's going to be a good week.

March 12, 2015

Miracle #2

I missed writing down Miracle #1. Lance informed me that we found it so early. Yes, to some that isn't considered a miracle. The fact that I have breast cancer is not a miracle at all but the fact that we found it early is.
Miracle #2 happened this morning. Last week I had my first Breast MRI to give the doctor's a better image of the breast and to see the cancer and what was going on. When we received the news that there was something showing on the left side, well that just made me sick to my stomach. All the thoughts that run through your mind as to what it could be. Has the cancer spread? Is it in both breasts? Does this mean it is going to get pretty ugly from here on out? Those were all the thoughts I have been been entertaining up until this morning. Literally I couldn't eat, sleep or just enjoy everyday life. Every time something hurt or didn't feel right, I would tell myself that it was probably the cancer spreading. You know, depressing stuff. That is what the mind does to you when all you have is time. Time to think. Time to play out all the scenarios. Time really is torture!
This morning came. I didn't sleep at all last night. I took 4 melatonin and was thinking that would put me out but I think my mind was stronger than the meds. All I did last night was pray. Pray, pray and pray some more. I remember looking over at the alarm clock constantly to see what time it was. I must have eventually drifted off to sleep because my alarm went off at 6 am this morning. We had to be to the hospital by 7:30 so they could get me all set up for the MRI. Can I just say how much I hate MRI'S? Being confined and the loud noise. It is really quite terrifying for me.
The nurses and doctors were all very nice. After I had dressed into the lovely scrubs an older man by the name of Ray came to take me back to administer the IV. I sat in a very sterile room. It was just me and him. As he was getting ready, I just sat there and started to cry. He turned around and stopped and sat down right in front of me. He held my hand and looked me right in the eye and said "you got this!" Do you know how many times I have heard that phrase? Millions of times. He sat and talked with me for awhile until I started to calm down. A nurse came in and started to give me some medicine to help me through the MRI. They had doubled my prescription because last time it didn't really work so well. Bless them all. I sat alone for about 5 minutes and the only sound I could hear was a constant loud beeping. To some this would be really annoying but to me this was calming. It helped settle me down. I welcomed that sound.
 The IV was in and Dr. Macy who was going to perform the biopsy came in and introduced herself. I felt good around her. She was gentle, friendly and very personable. I really liked her. After the medicine really started to kick in ( 5-10 minutes) they had me walk to the next room which was the MRI room.
Now picture with me a very large room with a very large machine smack dab in the middle. The walls are a beautiful color and there are plants in the room. That was the first thing I noticed. Why are there plants in the MRI room? Sign that life is beautiful and can still go on in the middle of all the crazy out there.   Anways they had me lay face down on the machine and placed me where they needed me. More pinching, more pressure and I was ready. Ray was right there to put a warm blanket over me and he also put some head phones on me so I could listen to music. I am still not quite sure why they give you that option because once you are in the MRI it is all static and the loud pounding of the machine is much louder and it blocks out all sound.
Here we go........ I was so out of it. I was so groggy. They asked me if I was okay and all I did I guess was just lay there. So they pushed me in. This time I wasn't anxious, just really relaxed. I prayed some more. I prayed a lot. All I asked the Lord for this time was a small chance for something good. Some ounce of good information because all we have heard is negative this whole time. If I could get just one ounce of good information to keep me going I would be grateful.
Oh I forgot to mention that before I went into the MRI machine Dr. Macy asked me if I had any questions. I asked her if she believed in miracles. She responded that she had seen some happen. I told her that I wanted a miracle today. I wanted her to give me good news when we were done.
 30 minutes of laying in the machine and just praying. I wasn't crying this time. No itches, just a slightly uncomfortable back with the position I was in but I was good. I prayed that whole 30 minutes. It felt more like I was talking to myself. I have been told and taught many times growing up that we should find time to pray out loud. Something about praying out loud makes me strange. At least for me. So I have decided that in order to be heard, I am going to pray out loud.
I was told that there would be a lot of pulling me out of the machine and putting me back in so that they could find the exact location of the spot they were going to test. But nothing like that happened. I was in there the whole time. When they pulled me out I was waiting to feel the needle and the biospy would begin. Dr. Macy was there rubbing my back telling me that I was done and that I could sit up. I knew I was groggy but I wasn't groggy enough to know that they had missed the biopsy part. When I sat up the first thing she said " Melissa, you got your miracle." She went on to explain that she could not find anything there. It was simply gone. There was nothing to test. It was clear. I sat there silently. He heard me! He blessed me with a miracle. I have Dr. Macy a hug and told her that we had to go and tell Lance right away. So she helped me out and we went straight into the waiting room where Lance had been waiting the whole time. I was groggy but a happy groggy. Miracle #2 happened right before out eyes.
I know God is a God of miracles. Miracles come big and small. Now maybe this was a small miracle to some but to us it was HUGE!!! Huge enough to celebrate. My left breast was okay. No cancer!!!!! If only my right side could have that same miracle. I know I can't ask the Lord for that right now. Small victories! I will take it! Tears of joy today!!!!! Now some of you might say "Ya but you still have cancer!" I know!! I know that!! I feel it!! There is no getting away from that cloud that hangs over me every second of every day. But today I see the sun peaking through and we are going to beat this! I feel it! The road might be long and hard but we are going to beat this!!!! Cancer will never take what is mine! I choose to live!!! I choose to be happy!
So tonight as I write this I feel at peace. I am very grateful to Heavenly Father for allowing me this one small miracle.

March 9, 2015

My honest faith

Sunday has come and gone. Owen woke up feeling really crummy. It was literally coming out both ends and I judging by his reaction I don't think he has ever had diarrhea like that before. It kind of freaked him out.
Lance leaves early in the morning for meetings. Sunday mornings are kind of lonely in our home. We just got a new DVD on 50 different scenes from the Gospel series. Truly beautiful video. This was one literally 24/7 in our home. I sent Lance a text that I was going to have to miss church because Lance is conducting in sacrament this month. I felt let down. Church was the one place I wanted to be. Luckily my father came to the rescue! He has been hands down there whenever I have needed someone. I am so thankful for that. It is hard for me to leave my children now with this diagnosis. I just want to be at home with them.
Our sacrament meeting starts at 1 pm. Hayden and Owen went down for a nap. It was going to be an easy afternoon.
Church was better than I thought. I didn't want people to feel sorry for us or make it an all about me sacrament. That was not my intent at all. I only had 3 of my 5 children with me and it was so relaxing. It was nice to sit and listen and just be still. Kind of.
Lance bore his testimony. I watched him and just felt this immense love for him. He has been my rock and just a great support to me. I don't know what I would do without him. I just knew I needed to get up. You know that feeling that builds and builds inside until you feel like you are about to burst? Yep, I felt that. So up I went. I didn't even know what to say. But I just knew I wanted to be honest with myself and with the Lord. I have felt a lot of emotions. A huge range of emotions. I don't really remember what I said, but I said it. I felt relieved. I could breathe.
The rest of the day was very much for me. I feel personally that each class and each lesson I gained so much from. Brother Flemming gave an amazing lesson on the miracles that Christ performed. From raising the dead, to healing the lame. If Christ could perform miracles then why can't he do that now? Maybe he does. Maybe there are some who are completely healed and cured. Maybe that is not what he has in mind for me. Maybe my healing will come in other ways. But I am hopeful that all will be okay in the future. It is going to be a journey. My new mantra is "Trust your Journey!" It seems suited for me. Trust that this journey is going to be bright and change our lives for the better. Most days I just pray for my normal life to come back. That boring day to day routine that we created for ourselves. I would give anything to go back to those days when the dark cloud that tends to hover over my heard constantly go away. I want it gone!!!! I want the sun to shine all day. But I have come to realize over these past 2 weeks since this all started that the sun does shine. I just have to look for it.
Surviving is my goal. Surviving for my children. Surviving for Lance and most of all surviving for myself. So I write this all down knowing that one day we will look on this and see how far we have come and to see what our new normal is becoming.

This evening a sister from our ward Linda Waumbolt came over to visit. She brought me a bottle of Curcumin C and she explained its power of fighting inflammation because that is the start of cancer. Inflammation in the body. I was so grateful for her visit. We are surrounded by several people to have gone above and beyond for us and that has been an emotional thing for me. After her visit my mother showed up to watch our children so we could go and visit our friends Kim and Kay Cherry. They are one of the most amazing couples I have ever met. Kay is a breast cancer survivor and Kim was diagnosed 6 years ago with ALS. According to doctors he should have been dead 4 years ago. At the time of his diagnosis he was told there was only hope. No treatments, no cures no nothing. I can't imagine being told that. In my diagnosis there has been story after story of survival and how so many are beating the odds now. ALS, there are no survivors. Only a death sentence and they have beaten the odds. Kim is still up and golfing. Getting healthier and healthier every day. They have literally reversed his diagnosis through several things and I have felt very impressed to visit with them and talk with them about some of the things they are doing.
Several times we have been told about the benefits of a hyperbaric chamber and ozone therapy. So maybe we are being led in different directions. The more and more I read about the treatments out there the more I am terrified about what it can potentially do. So we are being well educated through many sources about all the options out there.

Thanks you for all your support, prayers, generous meals and thoughtful gifts we have had each and every day. We have been truly blessed. We love you all for that!!!

March 8, 2015


Dr. Szentes recommended that we have some genetic testing done. There is a gene that has been discovered that can predict who will and who will not have cancer. It is called the BRAC 1 & 2 gene. Awhile back it became big news when the actress Angelina Jolie had her double mastectomy because she had tested positive for the genes.
We were instructed to go downtown to MSTI. The Mountain States Tumor Institute. We met with a geneticist and went over our family history and all the many diseases that seem to creep up in the family. It is amazing that most of them are actually pretty healthy. Give and take a few here and there with something but overall pretty healthy genes.
We were told that if we tested positive for the gene then my chances of having another breast cancer is up to 80% and my chances for Ovarian Cancer is 65% and higher. So if the tests come back positive, looks like I will loose both sides and have a hysterectomy as well. After the testing was all said and done Lance and I looked at each other and this is what Lance said , "They are going to take your ovaries, your boobs and you may potentially lose your hair? No one told me I get a boyfriend out of all of this!" All we could do was laugh. To be honest I almost peed my pants. And they we cried. This has been an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs and we are only just beginning.
The tests will take up to 2-3 weeks to come back. Don't know if w have that much time so we will see what the doctor says this week.

The MSTI is a very humble place. This is where all the those who look like they are about to meet death go. The chemo ward had a few people in there and everyone looked at us like we were too young to be there. I would have to agree with that one. Everyone was old.

I still can't believe this is happening to us. Still feels like nothing physically has happened. I am sure that is all right around the corner. Lance and I are terrified of Chemo. We have heard the bad, the good, the life saving and the terribly ugly mark it can leave. We are looking into other treatments that don't seem as harsh.

Seems like everything we have read in the holistic line of healing is diet, oxygen, hyper barrik chambers and lots and lots of vitamins. We are considering this as well. We have read numerous accounts of people healing their body holistically and it seems more appealing to me now than ever. But at the same time, I want this evil out of me. I am almost to the point to do whatever it takes to get it out and gone. Chemo does save lives. There will be time for healing afterwards.


March 7, 2015

The blessing

Last Tuesday Lance and I went in to renew our temple recommends. After we had our interviews and visited with great friends we hadn't seen in awhile President Firmage our Stake President calls Lance and I into his office. Now let me just tell you about this man. We have known him for many years. A great family friend, previous bishop and just an outstanding guy. We sat down in his office and chatted for awhile about some things I had questions about. I asked him "Do you really think Heavenly Father maps out who is going to get what aliment or who is going to pass away leaving 5 children behind. Or does he just allow life to happen and he tests us to see what we do with whats been dealt to us?" I have struggles with this for some time now.
Lance had an aunt who passed away a few years ago from this very same thing we are dealing with here. Breast Cancer. Diagnosed and gone all within 6 weeks. Very sad story leaving behind a great husband who loved and adored her and 9 beautiful small children. I wanted to know if Heavenly Father really needed her more on the other side then here on earth taking care and raising her family. What could be more important on the other side than what we have both been called to do, be a mother?
We had a pretty in depth conversation about that that helped me to understand a little better. Before we left he asked if he could give me a blessing. Of course those are always welcome. He placed his hands on my head and in a very bold and clear voice he told me that Heavenly Father loved me. He was aware of everything going on and that in the name of Jesus Christ he told me my cancer would be eradicated from my body. I would live a long healthy life. I would live to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He told me that when the time came to chose a treatment that the spirit will tell us loud and clear which path to choose. Through constant prayer we would be guided to know which treatment to use and if any treatment at all. I was loved! He knew what I was going through and I was also told that the Lord is pleased with my life. I was also told that this would be a turning point for my children as a turning experience for their testimonies. The blessing was over. I got up and tears were coming down the President's cheeks as well as mine. He was confident that the Lord was talking in that blessing. I was confident too!!!
So even though all we have received is bad news. Somewhere, some time in and in some way some good news will come. Until then we just pray that no matter what happens, we are going to make it through. We cling to that. That night after the blessing I was encouraged to go home and write it all down. So I constantly go back and read those notes from the blessing.
So another day as passed and I am exhausted. Not sure where this is all going to lead. I am nervous. I am optimistic. I am hopeful. I am tired.
Tomorrow will bring on a new day and we will carry on our activities as if nothing still hasn't happened. I will hold on to these days because there are but a few left like today. Cancer is the new normal in our family. Cancer has come to stay for awhile but it may not stay permanently.


Thursday night we had the MRI. I had to have a prescription for claustrophobia. I just hate being confined to small areas. So I took the pill on the way to the hospital. Lance and I headed up to the hospital at 4 so we could be ready for the MRI at 5:30 p.m. They gave me some lovely scrubs to wear. When they came in to get me they told Lance he had to stay behind. No one can be in the room while the MRI is taking place. So all he could do was wait as well.
I have never been so nervous in all my life. I was hoping for the meds to kick in. Maybe they already had. I was told to lay face down on a bed with my chest facing towards the ground. They said that the MRI would take roughly 30 minutes and I was to hold really still or they would have to redo it. They so generously gave me some headphones with Pandora on them to block out the jack hammering sound that I would hear. 
They gave me a little button to hold in case of emergency I could squeeze it and I could be pulled out. So I laid down face down and they pushed me into the machine. I was face down so I don't know exactly how close I was but I felt the top of the machine or tunnel touch the top of my head. So it was pretty tight quarters. I was really feeling stuffy. I was scared and I was tired. The machine started and Josh Groban came on the headphones. I love Josh Groban. Then all of a sudden the jack hammering started. They weren't kidding when they said it was loud. It frightened me. I was crying. I wanted out. But I knew that if I didn't do it this time there would have to be another time. 
Let me step back here and explain something about our life. Since all my children were babies we have used noise makers. Noise makers are amazing with children and also with moms of young kids. So this felt kind of like that. It kind of put me to sleep off and one. The hammering would go on for a few minutes and then it would stop. I cried. The tears were itching my nose and I couldn't wipe it. I had to lay there and I had to find other things to take my mind off of that. So I prayed. I cried loud and I prayed loud. The machine was so loud anyways, how could anyone hear me? I couldn't even hear myself.
That was the longest prayer I have ever given in my entire life. I threw it all at him and was angry. I was sad. I felt betrayed almost. I just cried. I was confined and couldn't move and I cried. I was scared. I was really scared and there wasn't anything I could do about it.
So after what felt like an eternity the machine stops and they pull me out. The gal asked me if I was alright. She said I looked pale and sick. I was okay. Believe it or not I felt okay. I felt okay. For the first time in a very long time I felt like my heart felt prayer was heard. He wanted me to feel that. To know that and everything was going to be okay. Not to be afraid.
We headed on down to the blood lab for some blood tests. That was easy. Afterwards we held hands and walked out to the car. Stuffed our faces with Arbys and went home to our children. I just knew that the MRI was going to come back fine.
Well the next morning came and we received the call. I was by myself. Lance was outside working on a house or with a client and I was alone. Dr. Anthes was on the phone again. She had read the MRI results and she said that the cancer spot on my right side had grown a little larger and the left side was showing a non suspicious area of enhancement. What the heck does that mean? So she said because I have cancer on the right side we have to rule out if it is cancer on the left side or not. So what does that mean? Another biopsy is on its way. This Thursday at 7 am we are suppose to be up at the hospital for a MRI guided biopsy of the left breast. Again more bad news. Maybe. Just wait some more. More waiting. Can I just tell you that this is the worst part of it all. The role playing of what it could entail and all the horrible thoughts, sad thoughts, angry thoughts that go through your mind is torturous. So until then we try to act like nothing. We try to live a normal life. But what is normal anymore? I find myself praying like crazy to Heavenly Father to just wake me up from this terrible dream I am having. I just want my life back. I want it to go back to the way things were. Life had no worries. No real stress. Not compared to this.
I am tired. We are studying everyday to find the right kind of treatment for me. Chemo scares me to death. The poison they put into your body to kill the other poison. We are exploring all options right now. 

Breast Cancer - the diagnosis

You read it right. Breast cancer. I was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I found the small lump on the morning of February 18. I remember just feeling my chest and right away I noticed a lump. I felt it some more and sure enough I was feeling a lump, probably about the size of a grape. So I called Dr, Carlson and scheduled an appointment to get in to see him. He couldn't get me in for a week and so the thought of having to wait for a week to see what it was was torture. Later that afternoon his nurse called me to see what I had scheduled for and I told her what I had found and she asked if I could come to the office the next morning. That was a huge relief.
So Thursday the 19th we go see Dr. Carlson. I really do have the best OB in the world. He has delivered 3 of my 5 children and I will stay with him til he no longer practices. He is just that friendly. He did an exam and felt it right away too. While he was doing his exam I had also mentioned that I had been having some kind of bloody discharge from my nipple. ( Sorry for all you boys out there who may stumble upon this.) He didn't seem too worried at all. He was under the impression that it would be simply a cyst that was it. But he recommended that I get a mammogram just to be on the safe side given the fact that there is some breast cancer on my mother's side of the family. Lance and I walked away from that appointment feeling pretty confident that it would be that and only that.
Well the mammogram was scheduled for the very next day. Looking back on all of this, it happened all so fast and doctors got my foot in every door exceptionally fast. We had planned to go to Utah that weekend for a surprise birthday party for my brother-in-law Dave who was turning 50. Lance and I tried to find a babysitter so just he and I could get away over night but we had no such luck. So Lance and I decided that he would take the three older boys and go for the weekend. Since we were pretty sure the mammogram was going to reveal a cyst and nothing more I was convinced I could go in on my own and just get it over with. Win, win!
So Lance and the boys packed up at 6 am and headed for Utah. I stayed behind with Ellie and Hayden and found a babysitter to watch the kids while I went downtown to the hospital for the mammogram. I wasn't nervous at all. Just anxious.
I waited for quite awhile and then they called me back. I was nervous actually. I was nervous about the mammogram hurting. I had heard all the stories of all the pulling and pinching. But actually it wasn't painful at all. I have no idea what those women were talking about. But maybe for women who actually have a chest it is painful. Since I am really small and flat chested it was a piece of cake.
The mammogram was fast and easy. Then after those tests I was lead into another room that had the ultrasound machine. The young gal who did my ultrasound was really nice. I felt comfortable with her. Then after she was all done she told me to wait in the room while the radiologist looked at my scans. About 10 minutes later the radiologist Dr. Anthes walked in and she was very young. Very pretty lady. She asked if she could do another ultrasound on me. I had no idea why she wanted to because I was convinced it was just a cyst but she went ahead and looked again. After a few scans she sat back and told me what she thought.
I knew right then and there it wasn't just a cyst. I could see the look on her face. She sat there and asked if I had a history of breast cancer in the family. We talked and she said that they had found two solid masses in my right breast. Cysts are usually liquid filled and the light will shine through them but solid masses pose another threat. Cancer? Fibroids? Dense tissue? She said that it the small mass measured about 1 cm and the larger one that I found was around 3.5 cm. Pretty large and very suspicious looking. She told me that I was looking at the possibility of having a 50% chance or greater of it being cancerous. My stomach literally dropped. I felt sick to my stomach and I just scared. I cried. I cried a lot. She wasn't very friendly. Kind of cold. She just sat there. I sat there by myself trying to take it all in. What was I going to tell Lance? My kids? That was my first initial thought, my kids. Sorry Lance! 
She recommended that I have a biopsy of the two masses to know and confirm what she suspected. So we set up that appointment for the next Tuesday. That was it. I walked out of the hospital feeling absolutely nauseated. I walked slowly back to my car. I couldn't even find it. I had to walk around a little in the huge parking garage to find it. Found it. Got inside and dialed Lance. He picked up the phone so cheery like always and asked "So......?" "They think it is cancer Lance." That was all I could say. All I could think about was I have cancer. I just knew it. I felt it deep inside. I knew what this was going to be. Cancer. That stupid C word that you hear about all the time. Everyone around you who has battled it, knows someone who has survived or passed on because of that C word.
I am not sure what Lance thought too. I sensed that he was nervous. We talked about the whole procedure and he asked "Do you want me to come home right now?" I really wanted him to. I was alone. But I knew that my boys were having a great time with their cousins so I told Lance to stay. I should have let him make that decision and not me. 
When I got home I let my babysitter go and I just sat down and hugged Ellie and Hayden. I cried and Ellie said "Mom, I love you most!" (We have been in this Tangled mode for a long time. Mother Gothel - me, tells Rapunzel " I love you, and Rapunzel replies , I love you more and then Mother Gothel says "I love you most!") That is our inside joke and we say it to each other all the time. I needed that. I needed someone to hug me and tell me they loved me. She did it! I cried and then we played. We played and played and made more phone calls.
Lance came home the next night after the birthday party. The boys rolled into town around 1 a.m. I was so glad to see them home. I was so glad to have him home. My boys, we were all together and that was all I wanted.
The next few days were a blur. We tried to carry on our daily lives as if nothing ever happened. Routine is a friend of mine and that helped me keep my mind on what I usually do every day when the kids get home. Do homework, hold Hayden who is sad, make dinner and try to love them all at the same time. When my boys walk through the door at 4:30 life gets pretty crazy in our home. The noise volume escalates, fights begin, hungry stomachs are churning and I am already tired. But that didn't phase me. I wanted all that back.
It is Stake Conference that weekend and I am so relieved that I don't have to face a lot of people. Just us. In and out and we are good. This time Lance is sitting with me and life is good. Man I wish it were like that each and every Sunday but he can't. He gets to sit up on the stand. Most Sunday's I envy him for that.
Tuesday morning rolls around and we show up to the same place for the biopsy. It is 7:30 am and our appointment isn't til 8 a.m. So we have a little time in our hands. We just sit patiently and wait. 8 o'clock rolls around and they call my name. Here we go!
They put me back in a room and I change into the hospital gown. The kind that makes you just feel so cute. Most likely someone just died or delivered a baby in it, but I don't care this morning. Dr. Anthes was back again. Only this time she was sweet and caring and very nice towards us. Lance was with me too so I felt like we could do it and prove them wrong that cancer wasn't it our cards.
The biopsy was fairly quick. They numbed me quite a bit and with the amount of needles they stuck in me to get tissue samples I am still amazed I didn't feel anything. 20 minutes later and we are done. That was it. 
Dr. Anthes asked if I wanted to see the tissue samples. I was curious. They looked like little white worms floating in a cup with solution in it. So they sent us on our way and told us the results would be in 2-3 days. So more waiting. I am sensing a pattern in all of this. Wait. Wait some more and then some more. So we went home. I was told I couldn't lift anything heavier than 15 lbs for the next 48 hours to prevent leaking and infection? I have not idea but I like the idea of being babysat for awhile. Lance and I decided that we would stick together 24/7 until we got the results back because we wanted to be together when the news came.
Thursday morning start early in our household. Keaton and Andrew have piano lessons before school starts. So we leave the house right around 7:30 and have our lessons and then it is off to school. I thought well today was the day they said they would call but I will be back home by 9 and surely they won't call that early. Well I was sitting on the couch waiting for Andrew to be done so we could go to school and my phone rings. It is a Boise number and so I take my phone and run out the front door. It was Dr. Anthes. My heart was beating so hard. This was it. But wait, where was Lance? Oh ya that's right, at home. So I told the doctor that we weren't together and we wanted to be when the news came in. So she was very considerate and told us that she would call back in one hour to tell us. That was one of the longest hours of my entire life.
I take the kids to school and rush home. She calls. Lance and I are sitting in his office with the speaker phone on. Dr. Anthes went into detail about the biopsy results. The smaller of the two masses came back benign. That was good. The larger one however was showing signs of DCIS in situ. Meaning and cancerous lump of cells forming in the milk duct. Now the term DCIS has two terms. One of them is invasive or in situ, meaning non-invasive. This was what she said the biopsy results were showing. This was the good kind to have. So Lance and I sat back a little relieved but at the same time I was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I wanted to cry but I didn't. We just sat there and talked more about other things concerning the cancer and that we needed to make an appointment with a surgeon for some options of removing it.
So we set up an appointment with Dr. Szentes. He came highly recommended by several people including my own mom, grandmother and sister who all used him at one point in their lives. We got an appointment with Dr. Szentes for that Thursday. 
We met him and he was a very nice doctor. Very polite and very sensitive to what was going on. After meeting with him and having an examination we sat down and went over my mammogram and ultrasound findings to understand what it all meant. No one up to this point had educated us at all about what they found. We were left to look it up all on our own and it was not good.
Dr. Szentes was a little concerned with the size and shape of the DCIS. He said typically you don't feel DCIS because they are small and in the milk duct. But because mine is so large and calsifications were spread throughout the area he was concerned that it has become invasive. Meaning it is starting to spread. But based on the biopsy and other tests it says DCIS non invasive. So maybe there was a mishap in the biopsy that happened. Still don't know. So we talked about treatment options and the best way to deal with what we know. He suggested I have a full mastectomy given the size of the tissue involved and how little chested I am in would leave my breast rather distorted. So that is what he recommended. He also told us that while in surgery he will do a sentinel node biopsy. This is the node that is the boss of all the other nodes. If the cancer has reached this node then they start taking each node out one by one to see if there is cancer in them. Cancer in the lymph nodes is never a good sign because this allows the cancer to move freely and faster to other areas of my body. So fingers crossed it hasn't gotten that far yet!
After the apportionment we were scheduled to have a Breast MRI.