Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cycle 2

Okay so we made it through cycle 1 of Chemo!!! Hurray!!!! At the end of the cycle Randy was hospitalized for 3 days because his neutrophils had taken a nose dive, leaving his immune system severely compromised!!! They finally decided to let him go home Saturday afternoon and told him to be careful and use common sense: wash hands, avoid being around sick people, wear a mask, etc. He was soooo glad to come home! He had to go in the next morning to the hospital here in town to have his blood drawn to check his levels. Miraculously they had gone up significantly from the day before!!! Yes!!!

Monday morning, we were orginally supposed to be in SLC for the start of cycle 2 but they delayed it because his blood levels were so low. So he called monday morning to give the Huntsman doctors the results and they were pleased with how well the numbers looked so they scheduled his next cycle for the next morning!!! So we rushed to get things together and headed up!! I was so relieved they didn't delay his treatment an entire week!!!

Cycle 2 started and the first two days went pretty good. However, by day 3, Randy was starting to feel the effects of the chemo and it wasn't the greatest of days. His veins were starting to get hard and it has been really difficult for the nurses to get the IV in. Some days they have had to poke him 2 or 3 times to try and get a good vein. This is so hard for me to sit and watch him endure the pain. In all our marriage he has never been one to hate needles but he is sure getting sick of them really quick. The exhaustion set in by about mid week and also his appetite has been non existent, and the nausea has kicked in. However, despite feeling rather crummy, he was able to get a lot of work done throughout the week while sitting in his recliner in infusion. I try to make it sound glamorous, but really after spending so many days there, we are utterly sick of the place. Although, this week was interesting because we were able to spend some time on each day chatting with some friends from Richfield who are great friends with Randy's parents.Their diagnosis is far less fortunate than Randy's and my heart goes out to them and their family. But it is nice to see a familiar face in such a gloomy place.

Friday, we celebrated our 11th anniversary in the infusion center! Out of all of our anniversaries, I think I will remember this one the most. It was actually kind of cool to sit there and look over the valley and see the Temple in the distance where we were sealed for all eternity. Never, since our wedding day, have we been back to the SLC Temple together and I have always wanted to go back. The only thing that would have made the day better was if we could've gone to the Temple. If Randy would've been feeling better I would've suggested it, but I didn't, knowing that if I would've suggested it, he would've gone despite how he felt. We were able to go to the Oquirh Mtn. Temple a week or two prior so I guess I will be grateful for that. But just seeing that beautiful Temple in the distance that morning, and being with Randy was enough to remind me of that special day 11 years ago. For not dating longer than a week before getting engaged, and spending our entire engagement 1,000 miles apart, I would say we have beat all the odds and done pretty well. Randy is such a special guy and I realize more and more each day how lucky I am to be his wife. He is so patient with me everyday and NEVER raises his voice at me or yells at me. He always is willing to wait on me hand and foot and never once complains when I ask him to do things. He is such a great Dad to our three beautiful children. He loves playing with them and teaching them every opportunity he can find. He is the best husband I could ever hope for. 

Okay, enough of my sappy love story. We eventually survived the long week and headed back home with a box of injections that Randy has to give to himself on certain days of his cycle to avoid having his white blood/neutrophils from nose diving. We are so glad about this for two reasons: we don't have to drive 4-5 hrs. for each shot, and he hopefully won't have to be hospitalized for the low blood levels!!! But it sucks he has to give himself a shot practically everyday. I couldn't do it. I don't know how he does it.

We were only home a couple days from his long week and had to turn around and head back up for his Tuesday infusion. I was really nervous about this one because I didn't know if he was going to get the high fever that he tends to get. So we got to the hospital and of course they had the hardest time getting his IV in. They drew his blood and we had to wait for the results before they could order his chemo. His blood results came back great so the shots must've helped!!! Hurray!!! But then we had to wait another hour or more for the pharmacy to bring up his chemo. Once it came, it was a quick 15 min. infusion. All the waiting is so exhausting.

The whole drive home I just kept waiting for the fever to hit. I felt like an over protective mom asking Randy every 5 min. if he felt okay. Honestly, the guy handles this all so great and doesn't complain about anything. If it were me I would be whining every second!!!

That night he didn't feel great, but the fever never came!! Nothing is worse than seeing him suffer with the high fever and chills and not knowing at what point do we call the hospital. I really did not want to have to take him to the ER again.

So here we are midweek of week 5 and half way through the chemo!!! Only 4 1/2 weeks to go!!! Somehow I have a feeling these next weeks to come are going to be more taxing on his body. It makes me grateful that he entered into this whole thing physically in the best shape he's been in in his life. I think it has helped him endure the side effects of the chemo so much better than others who aren't so great in taking care of their bodies.

Looking forward to having this chapter in my life behind me, but until then, we are going to keep fighting!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Chemo Week 2 & 3

I forgot to update last week about how week 2 went. Basically, Randy was feeling good after his first long week of treatment and started week 2 off good. He was able to go into work on Monday and get a lot of things accomplished. That night we headed up to Salt Lake (actually Herriman) to visit some friends or ours. We had a good visit and Randy was feeling really great! We were able to stay with Randy's sister who lives right by the Huntsman South Jordan Infusion center where we were able to schedule all his Tuesday infusions. Since these are short infusions, only 1 day a week, it made sense to schedule them closer and save 1 1/2 hrs. of drive time. We got up Tuesday morning and Randy showed up early and they were able to get him right in. The nurses did some blood work to make sure he was healthy enough to get chemo, and all his levels looked good so they did the infusion, which only took about 10-20 min. Overall, the whole thing with waiting for the blood work and the infusion only took about an hour. I was able to take care of some appointments of my own while he was in infusion and we finished about the same time! After his treatment he was feeling good so we headed home. We actually were regretting not having our Temple clothing with us because we had some family names we wanted to do the work for and really felt like we needed to get the Temple. We were right there next to the Temple and Randy was feeling so good we wished we were better prepared. We decided on our next Tuesday appt. we would try to be more prepared.

A little over two hours later we arrived back home and Randy had some pressing work issues he needed to take care of. I was so extremely exhausted that I sat down on my bed and immediately fell asleep for a much needed nap. After he had worked for about 3 or 4 hours, he finished up what he needed to and then suddenly he wasn't feeling very good at all. He started to get the chills and decided to rest a bit. One of the things the nurse tells us to watch for through all of this is a fever. They like to be notified if his temp. gets above 100.5. So we kept a close eye on his temp and as soon as it got to 101+ we decided we better call the on call oncologist, since it was after hours. The on call dr. was pretty concerned about his temp. and the fact that he had had a cough and a slight cold the last few weeks. She called in a script for an antibiotic and I rushed off to the pharmacy, barely making it there before they closed for the night. That night he slept pretty good and the next day he was feeling a lot better. The rest of the week he felt pretty good and decided he wanted to plan a rock climbing trip. His doctors said that if we was feeling good that he could maintain normal routines and do the things he is used to doing, as long as he listens to his body. So, he had a great weekend and was feeling pretty good for the most part. His cough was clearing up and he was ready to head into week 3!

Chemo week 3:
We woke up Tuesday morning and we were scrambling to get out the door on time. Trying to get kids ready to drop off at the neighbors and getting things in order for the day always takes longer than we think! Randy was working on some reports for work and I was scrambling trying to get ready. We finally got on the road, a tad bit late, and even had to turn around and go back for things we left. I hate when that happens!!! Anyway, we got on the road and of course I had to stop so many times to go to the bathroom. (If you know me at all, this shouldn't surprise you!!!) Story of my life!!! Sorry TMI, but I think some of you who have ever traveled or gone anywhere with me when I have one of those days where I have to pee every 5 seconds will get a laugh out of this. You know who you me sometime and I'll give you more details into the story that will have you laughing!!

We finally make it to the hospital and they get his blood sample. We have to wait a bit for the results, but not too long. The nurse comes back and says that his white blood count is low and she needs to check with the doctor before they can give him Chemo. It takes FOREVER to get a hold of the doctor. We sat there for over 2 hrs just waiting!!! Luckily I had a good book with me, but I forgot my jacket so I was freezing. They keep those infusion centers sooooo cold. I'm glad they have heated blankets or else I would've been a popsicle by the time we left.

The doctor finally called back and said he could have the Chemo treatment but that he had to come up for the next three days to get a shot that was supposed to help his bone marrow create more white blood cells. BUMMER!!!! Driving 4 1/2 hrs. everyday for the next three days was not sounding fun to me. They were trying to figure out a way for us to administer the shots on our own at home, but we had to get the insurance to pre approve it and we didn't have enough time for that. was looking like we were going to have to make the drive everyday.

They gave him his infusion which took about 15 min. and we were back in the car. This time however, we had remembered to take our Temple things with us so we could go do a session while we were right there so close. We weren't planning on his infusion taking soooo long but we decided we had enough time to get a session in at the Temple. As soon as we finished the session, Randy was feeling awful. He started getting the chills so we decided we better hurry and get home. When we got home, he immediately went to bed and stayed there all night with a fever and chills. This time he didn't call the nurse because he figured it was just a side effect of the chemo treatment and that he was already on an antibiotic so he should be fine. He woke up the next morning still feeling awful and stayed in bed until we had to leave to drive and get his shot. He took some Tylenol and his fever dropped a little and we headed up. When we got to the hospital, we told the nurse he had a temp over 102 the night before and she said we should've called the Dr. the night before to let them know about the fever. When they took his vitals then, his temp was 99 and the nurse didn't seem too concerned and gave him his shot. We got on the road again, after only being at the hospital for 20 min., and immediately he started getting the chills again. We had to stop at Target to get a blanket because he was so cold he couldn't stand having the AC on. And of course, with it being a hot summer day, I couldn't stand to drive in a steaming hot car!! The blanket was perfect and we were able to make it home without too many stops. This time I stayed away from drinking water so I didn't have to pee near as much that day, ha ha!!!

When we returned home, he ate some dinner and took his temp. and it was 101 or 102. He took some Tylenol and decided he better call the dr. It was the same dr. that was on call last week when he called.  She was worried he might have pneumonia or neutropenia and wanted him to go to the ER and have the ER doctors in town call her. Oh Goody!!! Back to the hospital! This time we just went to the hospital in town because it was the closest. We sat there for a few hours in the ER and they took his blood, did an xray of his chest and monitored his vitals. Of course the second he got there his temp dropped and he was feeling just fine. However, his blood work was not good at all. The dr. at Hunstman requested he stay at the hospital for a few days to monitor him and get some fluids and antibiotics into him.

Here it is Friday night and he has been in the hospital for 2 days. He has felt fine, but his blood count is too low. His immune system is extremely compromised and he's at a great risk for infection. They decided not to do any more of the shots, not sure why, but his oncologist said that the one dose he got was sufficient. After two days in the hospital, his white blood count has actually gone up a tad bit, however his neutrophils have decreased and that is what they are worried about.

I understand neutrophils to be immature white blood cells. I believe they are the cells in your body that first respond to fight infection. While getting chemo treatments, these blood count levels drop and need to be monitored rather closely. When the levels drop too low, it is called neutropenia, and your body is at high risk of infection. I think I explained this correctly. If there are any nurses or doctors out there who are reading this and wish to correct me if I'm wrong, please do!!! This cancer business is a whole new ball game for us! Sometimes I don't understand half the things the doctors explain to us.

The oncologist has delayed Randy's next cycle of treatment because his body is too weak, or rather his blood count is too low to do another round. They have to wait for his levels to go back up before they can treat him again. They told us yesterday that hopefully he could come home today, but that didn't happen because his neutrophils dropped, so we just have to see how each day goes. I've taken the kids up to the hospital to visit a few times, but it's hard because they have to wear a mask so as to not give him any germs.

I'm a little frustrated that his treatments have been delayed because I had everything for the next 6 weeks planned out. But  I'm glad they have such a close watch on him and want him to be as healthy as he can. Besides, it will be good to be home for a few days and get caught up.

Just being home the last two days has been wonderful!!! Braylee has been having a really hard time with me leaving her so much. When I'm here, she clings to me and gets so whiny about everything. Also, her nap schedule is totally off and I'm afraid she won't have naps anymore. Nooooooo! I love her afternoon naps! It's the only time I can really have to myself. I'm hoping if I can be home with her this next week we can get back in the groove of things. Ryker has also had a little bit of a hard time. He gets really emotional when we have to leave Randy at the hospital and he misses his daddy so much.

It has definitely been a challenge these last few months but it has also strengthened my testimony so much. As some of you know, it has been a real challenge for us to get pregnant with our last two kids. Earlier this year we decided that since we hadn't gotten pregnant on our own these last 3 yrs., that we would try some medicine that would possibly help. As soon as I started taking the medicine Randy had surgery and we found out about the cancer. Obviously the whole chemo thing has put a damper on the plans to get pregnant, which has been so hard for me. I have always wanted my kids to be close in age so they could play with each other and it just hasn't happened that way with any of our kids. They are 3 and 4 years apart and just when I get totally out of the baby stage, I have to start all over again. Why can't I just pop them out like so many people I know?

Seven years ago, I learned the hard way while trying to get pregnant with my second child, that it doesn't matter what I want. Heavenly Father has a plan for me and it isn't always what I want, but it's what is best for me. Learning that lesson so many years ago has made it easier to deal with this time around. I'm not saying that it isn't hard to come to terms with or isn't painful, but it is easier to understand and to find comfort in the fact that I have three wonderful children that I love and will forever be grateful for. It's also comforting to know that if I had gotten pregnant a year ago, I would have a new born I would have to be taking care of through all of this and that would not have worked at all. Heavenly Father really does have a plan for me, he knows my strengths and weaknesses and what I can handle and what I can't. I truly do believe that and I hope that as Randy and I go through this next phase of life, we can be strengthened through our trials and grow closer to each other.

I also want to mention what wonderful neighbors and friends Randy and I have been blessed with. They truly have made this whole ordeal manageable. We have had meals offered exactly when they were needed the most. We have had neighbors just show up and mow the lawn. So many people have offered to watch the kids when we are at treatments. We had a pipe break and water leaking in our basement the weekend before Randy's treatments started and so many guys showed up to help Randy get it fixed in record time! We have had thousands of dollars donated from family, friends, friends of family and strangers who don't even know us to help pay for the high medical costs and gasoline to drive to appointments so far away. As exhausted as I am these days, I'm so grateful for the help that has been offered, because without it, I would probably have mental break down. Thank you all so much!!

I'm really hoping Randy can come tomorrow and that chemo treatments can resume quickly so we can get this thing over and done with!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 1 of Chemo

With all the time I have spent sitting at the hospital this week I thought I wouldn't have any trouble with up dating Randy's progress on the blog. This first week has been so overwhelming that I just haven't been able to focus on anything. I can't quite explain it but my brain just feels like it's in a huge fog these days. So I will do my best to do a recap on our first week experiencing Chemotherapy.

First of all, I'm not gonna lie, this week has been rough.  I think it has mostly been the exhaustion and realization of the whole thing that has made this week just awful.  We went in Monday morning, after only getting 5-6 hrs. of sleep (possibly less) the night before. I honestly think Randy may have only gotten 3-4 hrs. of sleep. He has a slight cold and every night for the last few weeks his cough has kept him up at night. Not a good condition to start Chemo but what other choice do you have when cancer is spreading through your body?

Despite the lack of sleep, Randy went into this thing so positive. Our good friend, Gigi Neslen, had started a donation fund on and in just 2-3 days, friends, family and even strangers had donated thousands of dollars to help us pay for our medical bills as we go through this journey. I have already said this so many times on facebook, but we are soooo grateful for everyone who has helped, whether it has been money, meals, taking care of our yard, watching kids, or even just offering prayers and encouragement for our family, it has been such a blessing for our family. Going into chemo on monday, we just knew that we had tons of support and friends back at home who were cheering Randy on and praying for a quick recovery from all of this.

Although we were extremely tired, we sat in the infusion center on Monday and so much information was told to us by nurses, doctors, social workers, and pharmacists. It kind of made the day go by fast and the information they had was so helpful! On Randy's long weeks of Chemo, he has to have blood work done on the first day to make sure his levels are in a healthy range to do chemo. This first week they were, but going forward, as the chemo starts to attack his body they have to really keep a close eye on his blood count and platelet levels. If they get too low then it's too dangerous to do Chemo. Let's hope his levels stay in good range all throughout so we can get this over with!!!

Back to his schedule, while they wait for his blood tests to come back, they start his IV and begin pumping tons of fluids in his body. The first hour of treatment everyday is just a saline drip so his kidneys can filter properly with all the drugs they will pump into him. After the saline, they start him on some nausea meds through his IV. I'm not sure how long this takes, it's a little different each day. After the fluids and nausea meds, they begin the chemo drugs (if his blood tests have come back good). He has three different chemo drugs, but they mostly they only give him two on his long week, and on Tuesday's they give him the third drug. After the chemo goes through his IV, they then have to give him another hour, sometimes 2 hrs. of more saline. It's quite the process!!! By the time we walked out of the hospital on the first day, we were practically walking zombies. Randy did okay the first day, he was just extremely tired. He has a hard time each day adjusting to the sun light when we drive back to my parents house. That seems to be when he has the hardest time. He usually only complains of a headache and that he feels light headed. Luckily he was able to have a good nap that afternoon! After his nap he was feeling so much better. So the week pretty much progressed the same way each day, minus the blood tests that they only do on day 1. We usually start at 7 am and he gets done between noon and 2 pm, depending on the day. Some days he has been able to work on his laptop, some days he has been so exhausted that he tries to close his eyes and rest, although there are so many noises in the infusion room it's a wonder anyone can sleep there.

Let me explain a little bit about the infusion center. They have it set up in what they call pods. There are 8 pods that run along large windows that overlook the valley. The view is absolutely amazing!!!! At the back of each pod is a nurses station. In each pod, there are 4 stations, for a total of 24 infusion stations. Each station has a recliner where the person getting treatments sits, and a chair next to the recliner (for the person accompanying the patient) that is more comfortable than a regular dr. office chair, but not near as comfortable as a recliner. Each station also has a tv and dvd player and magazines to keep the patient entertained. The four stations in each pod are open so you can visit with the person in the next station if you want to, but far enough apart  that it provides a tiny bit of privacy. Well, actually it's not very private at all. You can practically hear what everyone is saying unless they are talking quietly with one another. However, each pod is separated with half walls so it can be somewhat private. I imagine they try to keep it somewhat private because I've noticed that they spread the patients out between all 8 pods. They aren't all full at one time and people come and go at different times all day. Some people are only there for 1-3 hrs. and then they are gone and someone else will come in their place. Here is a little picture that you can kind of see what a pod looks like. There is a section to Randy's right and also immediately behind him, and the one in the corner of the picture you can see that makes up one pod. This pod we were in that day was pod 8 and it is all the way in the back of the infusion center. The view in this pod in not fantastic, it is just the side of the mountain instead of the view of the valley. But it feels a little more private in the corner so I don't mind not having a great view.

Some days we have felt like talking to the other  patients, other days we have not. It is so interesting, and sad at the same time to talk to the cancer patients. Everyone has a completely different type of cancer and a completely different treatment regimen. One guy that I started to notice there after a few days, has to go everyday for 65 days. Another gal only goes on Monday for two weeks, but then has the third monday off, then starts over again. Some people go 1 day a week, some go 3. It's all different!!! And I'm finding that they all are so positive and happy, no matter what regimen they have. And none of them seem to complain one bit! It truly is an amazing place to be! The strength I find in the cancer patients is just overwhelming!

The fifth day of treatment this week was the hardest for both Randy and me. I was so exhausted and emotionally drained that I found it hard to sit there all day. Randy was so exhausted from the week that he basically slept the whole time or watched tv. He had so many fluids pumped into him throughout the week that his body was swollen and he said he had gained 10 lbs. just in the few days!! I know he didn't gain the weight from eating food because his appetite had decreased significantly as result of the chemo. I'd say the most side effects he had this week was loss of appetite and exhaustion. When we talked to the nurse on Friday, she said that by the middle of next week he should expect to see the side effects really start to kick in. Yikes!!!

The hardest thing so far in this journey with cancer has been not knowing what to expect. The doctors and nurses give you this long list of side effects of the drugs and it makes you so scared, but what other choice is there? None! So we just listen and nod our heads and hope that since Randy is young and strong that the drugs won't effect him too much. After going through the first week, I'd say he has done amazing!!! But then the nurse says that things will probably get worse next week and I start to get nervous. Will I have the strength to help him through this? Will I have the energy? Will I have the knowledge to help him with what he needs? It scares me to death!

Last night we had our first major experience with side effects. Randy decided to sleep in the guest bed so he wouldn't keep me up coughing. I was deep in sleep when I heard load moans, almost yelling coming from the bathroom in the hall! I jumped out of bed just terrified, not knowing what I would find. Randy was in the bathroom just puking his guts out! Sorry, it's a little graphic but somehow I have a feeling this is just the beginning. He said he has never thrown up so much in his life! I'm just glad he made it to the bathroom, because after talking to him in the morning, it sounds like it just came on suddenly and he almost didn't make it! Wouldn't have wanted to clean up that mess!! Not to mention they told us that large amounts of his body fluids are toxic. Yikes!!! Really, really  glad he made it to the toilet!!! But after that he was able to take some meds to help with nausea and he slept the rest of the night in peace. Phew!!! Survived week 1 with fairly little trouble.

Week 2 begins. We sent the kids off on vacation with my family so hopefully I can clear my head a bit and get some things done around the house that have been neglected for weeks. Probably won't happen, but I can dream right? Anyway, Randy has only 1 treatment this week and it is short 1-2 hrs. Yeah!!!!

I'm not sure what to expect for this week but I'm praying with all my heart that Randy and I will be strong and that his body can fight this war that is going on inside his body.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cancer Sucks!!

I haven't posted anything on this blog for seriously two years. Life just kind of got crazy with baby #3 and I was finding less and less time for uploading pictures. Originally I started this blog when we lived very far away from our family and it was my way of letting them see pictures of our family and be part of our lives despite the distance apart. Once we moved closer to them and we saw them more regularly than once or twice a year, I felt like my blog wasn't as important. Recently our life has turned upside down and I have decided that this blog can be very useful as not only a journal over the next phase of our life, but also as a way to communicate with others who are interested in Randy's progress over the next little while. I'm finding myself explaining the same things over and over to different people and by the end of the day I look back and realize I'm exhausted from talking on the phone for countless hours. As much as I love talking to friends and loved ones, the topic of conversation is not that pleasant these days. I'm going to try and keep regular updates on the blog of how Randy is doing so if you feel like calling, we can talk about more enjoyable topics!!!

If you are totally confused and not knowing what the heck I'm talking about, let me take a few minutes to explain. My husband has cancer. CANCER!!!! Just hearing that word makes me want to scream! Here is our story, sorry if it's a little TMI, but it is what it is.

So around the end of April my husband noticed that his right testicle was enlarged and painful. He told me he thought he had another hernia (he has had multiple hernias but it was years before we were married). We knew a trip to the doctor was inevitable but at this point it wasn't too painful and so he put it off because he was a pretty busy guy. I swear he thinks he is superman and nothing will ever happen to him.

Well, a few weeks went by and all of a sudden it was causing him so much pain he could barely walk. He decided to just skip the family doctor and go right to the surgeon. The visit with the surgeon left us with three or four possible solutions. The doctor didn't think it was another hernia but instead he thought it to be either a torsion (a twisted testicle), a tumor, or a hydrocele (sack of fluid). He scheduled Randy for emergency exploratory surgery the next day to find out what was wrong and fix the problem. Looking back now and knowing what I know now, I'm so wishing they would have just waited a day or two and did some tests first!! Like maybe some blood tests or even an ultrasound!!!! I don't know if we would have had a different outcome than the one we have, but it causes me to wonder.

After surgery, the Dr. told us that is was a torsion and that they removed the dead testicle. As much as he tried to prepare himself, it was a tough blow to Randy's ego. At least he still has the other one right? What a good sport he is about all of this. The recovery period wasn't too long and he was up and going to work within four days. We were so glad to have it all out of the way and I was finally get back to my regular routine. A week after surgery we got a call from the doctor. The lab results came back and it looks like it was a tumor in the testicle and it was cancerous.

What. The. Heck????

So many questions going through my head at this point. I thought the Doctor said it was a torsion? How does he get that so wrong??? Did he just assume it twisted because it was dead, or did it twist along with having a tumor? Looking back now, I wish I would've asked all these questions when my husband went back to see the dr. after we found out the news, but I was so sick and out of it that I was probably lucky to even get out of bed that day.  I forgot to mention that while all this is going on, I'm sick as a dog. I got the stomach flu just a day or two before his surgery. And I had a constant head cold, flu, and congestion practically all year!!! So of course it gets worse when our life suddenly turns upside down and I'm stressed to the max!!!

They run some blood tests and have a CT scan done and the Surgeon tells us that the cancer has spread to his blood, tissue around the groin area and possibly the lungs!!! Then he tells us that a specialist in Provo will be contacting us for more follow up. Keep in mind, we live in rural Utah in the middle of the state. The closest big city is Provo in one direction, or St. George in the other direction. And both are about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs. away. By this time we are freaking out.

You hear the word Cancer and your whole world falls out from beneath your feet. We know nothing about cancer. Everything runs through our head, from chemo, to radiation, to surgery, to extremely high medical bills, to sickness and to possible death. We are scared. We don't know what to think. So we try not to think. But we can't stop thinking. CANCER!!! AHHHHH!!!

The Longest day of my life waiting for that call from the specialist, and that's just to schedule an appointment!!! They finally call, and can't get us in for 2 weeks! TWO WEEKS!!! I can't live like this for 2 weeks!!!!! I can't live not knowing for 2 hrs!!! Luckily for us, we have AMAZING family and friends who got on the phone ASAP and got us in at Huntsman Cancer Institute for only 1 week away. I'm not happy knowing that I have to wait a week but I'll take 1 week over 2!!!

How I functioned this week of waiting I'll never know. We had some amazing neighbors who helped bring dinner, tilled our garden, and offered to take the kids and were basically there for me whenever I needed to vent. So grateful for our wonderful neighbors!!!

We finally went to the specialist and we left that first appointment actually feeling total relief! Okay, not total relief, but we slept a heck of a lot easier that night. The Oncologist explained to us that nothing alarming showed up on the CT scan and that the cancer markers (not cancer) in the blood were elevated, but that is typical since they just removed the cancerous tumor and it takes about 6 weeks for those markers to return to normal levels. Huge sigh of relief!!!! It's not cancer in the blood, it's not cancer in the's cancer markers that are elevated. We know we aren't out of the park yet, but we have huge hope that all was taken care of with the surgery!!!! The oncologist says it's Testicular cancer stage 1, which means we wait and watch.

After a couple follow up appointments and blood work, things start to look really good. His levels were going down and by the end of June the cancer markers had returned to normal. Okay now we are singing the Hallelujah Chorus!!! Life couldn't be bettter! On a plus side, I finally feel like my cold is letting up and that I actually might get to go a few days without taking cold medicine around the clock for the first time in months!!!We have about three weeks of bliss. And by bliss I mean cancer free euphoria that can only be described if you've ever been in a similar situation. You just have to have this experience to understand. It is amazing to know you don't have to do chemo or radiation. I finally felt like we were going to have an okay summer after all.

Then came the final follow up appointment after his levels normalized. It was on a Friday after I had been visiting my family in SLC for a few days while Randy was attending a conference for work. Randy had his blood drawn one last time and the plan was to go back in three months to have another CT scan and blood work just to make sure all was well. All went well at the appt. and they scheduled him for three months out as a routine check. Then Monday came, the day we got the blood test results from the previous friday. I had completely forgotten about it because our last test three weeks prior was normal, so why wouldn't they be normal again? I came home from working a few hours knowing that I had a huge day a head of me of unpacking and laundry from being gone. Randy was home and I remember thinking it was a weird time of day for him to be home. I went and talked to him and he told me the bad news. His cancer markers had gone up, but only from a 7 to an 11 (0-9 is the normal range). But still, they went up!!! The oncologist wants to see us first thing the next morning. Here we go again!!! All I can think is that maybe there was some kind of mistake. How could they go up?

I quickly scramble to find a place for my kids and we pack up again and drive back up north to where we just were less than 24 hrs. before. So exhausting!!!

We meet with the dr. first thing in the morning and the first thing he says is that he is concerned with the procedure that Randy had in Richfield to remove the testicle. Apparently it wasn't the preferred method to go into the scrotum to remove the testicle when cancer is involved. With the preferred method, they can go in above and remove the testicle as well as the tube and vessels to prevent the cancer from spreading up to the lymph nodes. Not sure if this is why his cancer has spread, but it does cause me to wonder. Either way, his levels are elevated indicating that the cancer has spread and chemo treatment is necessary.

How in the course of 24 hours has my life gone from what we thought to be cancer free bliss to chemo!!!! I just laugh because I don't know what else to do or what to think or even feel. The good news is, they tell us that if you have to have cancer, this is the one to have. It's 95% curable. But that doesn't make me feel any less scared. Okay, maybe a little less scared.

The next two days are full of tests after tests after dr. visits. I'm so exhausted that I almost fall asleep sitting up waiting for the last dr. appointment. My hip is aching from sitting in waiting room seats. Couldn't they have recliners in the waiting room??? It turns out after they do more testing that the cancer has in fact spread to his lymph nodes. Now we are in stage 2a testicular cancer. Chemo is scheduled for Monday. We have four days to prepare.

His treatment will be in three cycles, each cycle taking about 3 weeks.  The first week he has to go in for five days with 7 hr. treatments each day. The second week is just one day, 1 hr. treatment. The third week is 1 day, 1 hr. treatment. Then the cylce repeats over 2 more times. So it's about 9 weeks of treatment that we have to look forward to. After the treatment they will do more scans and blood work and if the cancer is still there they will go in and remove the lymph nodes.

Sooooo not looking forward to my life the next 3 months. I'm trying to take things one day at a time but honestly it's so overwhelming. I'm trying to stay positive as much as I can and think that things could always be worse so I need to be grateful for what i do have. We have already had so many neighbors, and friends and family help out in so many different areas. It makes me happy to know we have such a great support system.

Randy is handling everything so great and I honestly don't think he has complained once this whole journey so far. He is such an amazing guy and I know he will be a fighter!

I'll try to update the blog as often as I can. I know so many people have offered to help and honestly it's such a relief when they do because I don't know how I'll make it through this without our support system. Right now it's hard to know what kind of help we will need because it's hard to know how he will react to treatments. And it's summer and the kids are home and don't have to be to school. But I just know as the weeks go on that things will get more and more difficult. I'm asking right now for prayers for our family and for Randy as he begins these chemo treatments. Thanks all!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is it fall yet?

The end of our summer has been so crazy and I'm just itching for fall to get here! I usually am soooo sad to see summer go but after this summer I am ready for cooler temps and an excuse to stay indoors! Our last month has been ever so crazy. Rayden started school and along with that comes sports....not only did he want to do soccer this year, but flag football too! Every night of the week we are off to games/practice and it is somewhat exhausting! I'm just lucky Ryker isn't quite old enough to be in sports. Next summer we'll have twice the games to attend. Ugh, not looking forward to that. 
Randy and I have been getting up early every day training for a big bike ride. It was exhausting work and I'm glad and somewhat sad to say it's over. Now I can enjoy my mornings and sleep in as long as I want! Well, as long as the baby will let me. Which lately has actually been quite a long time. She is a bit different than my boys and will actually sleep in!
I'm a little bit late in posting about this, but Rayden turned 8 this year and was baptized this month by his father! It was such a special day for our family and I was so glad that we were able to have most of our family here to share his special day with him! Rayden has such a tender heart and is so sweet and loving. I hope he always will remember how he felt that day and always be steadfast and strong in the gospel.
 After the baptism we went camping with the Riddle family to Maple Grove. Since we only went up for Sunday night and Monday morning it was short, but sweet. The weather was perfect for me, not too cold but not too hot. There were some really fun water falls near by that we hiked to. The kids had a great time!

All of our hard work training for our bike ride really paid off. Last weekend Randy and I went up to Salt Lake to start our relay ride, Salt to Saint. We had a team of 8 (well actually 7, one girl did the first leg and stayed in Salt Lake) we started at the Capital and ended in Saint George. We started at 8 am Friday morning and finished at about 3:30 pm Saturday afternoon. We rode all day and through the cold night, getting almost no sleep at all and having the time of our lives! It was great! Randy was our only man on the team. We needed him to do some of the more challenging legs, the hills! Of course most of the legs had some hills to tghem, but some were definitely more challenging than others! On our team was my mom, a few ladies from her work and a few ladies from her ward. The hardest thing of all was trying to stay awake through the night. Most of my legs were at night and early morning so I was completely exhausted the next day! I think I slept for three days straight after it was over to catch up!

As for our little princess, she is getting so grown up! She just gets into everything and follows her older brothers all over! She is still giving hugs and kisses all day long and even starting to say a few words. Of course she won't say momma, but she does say dada and stop. It's so cute, I'll be yelling at the boys to stop rough housing and she'll be yelling stop right along with me! She also likes to blow raspberries on my cheek, it's hilarious! She is also a climber! She has discovered how to climb up onto the kitchen chairs and then onto the table. I have to keep all the chairs tucked in all day or we're in for trouble. Oh she also loves to climb up the jungle gym and go down the slide! At first it was a little scary when I discovered her doing it, but she just loves it! She also is going to be my little gymnast. She loves when I pick her up and flip her back to do a back flip. If I do it once I have to be prepared to keep going and going because she loves it and cries if I stop! She sure keeps me busy. As we were driving home from soccer last night, Rayden said to me, "I hope we have another boy." I asked him what he was talking about and he said he wanted another brother! Oh boy, it must be time to start thinking about another one! I don't think this spoiled girl would like that!
Here is a little video of our little climber! Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Adventures

Lake Powell this year was great! Of course, when you are camping on the beach, there is wind and sand in everything! But we still managed to have a lot of fun. And the kids didn't let a little sand keep them from eating their licorice! Our kids happened to be a little bit sick on this trip, but they did pretty good considering they didn't feel well.

 Ryker was brave enough to ride the banana boat!  He has always hated to put his head under water, even in the tub. When they got dumped off the banana boat I thought for sure he would be crying. He was scared but still did pretty good. We even got him to ride the tube after his dump in the lake! What a trooper! I thought Braylee would love riding in the boat, boy was I wrong! She hated being on the boat and wearing a life jacket. She just wanted to walk all over the boat but found it a little difficult with all the rocking and movement!
 Rayden tried water skiing this year on the little training skis. He was the first grand kid of my parents to get up! He didn't stay up for long, but at least he tried and did so good! I got to wake board a little bit, had a few hard crashes, but still kept trying. I just can't quite get the hang of it because I'm too used to slalom skiing. All together it was a great vacation. 
 The kids had fun painting their face for the children's parade for the 4th of July. We did our usual festivities at the park and played in the sun and heat all day long! We ate a bunch of snow cones, cotton candy, and deep fried candy bars! We love the 4th!!!! Next year.....we'll try the deep fried pickles!
 Our little family decided to take a little hike up Monroe canyon. Randy took the boys last year and had a great time so we all decided to go again. It ended up raining, well more drizzling, all day long. Luckily the path was well covered with trees so we didn't get too wet. At the end of the trail there are some great rock climbing routes. Next time we go we will be better prepared with our climbing gear and make a whole day out of it!!!
 Rayden celebrated his 8th birthday this year! I can't believe it!!!! He requested a star wars cake and picked how he wanted it to look. He is so funny with his star wars obsession! We had to cancel his baptism because it coincided with our Lake Powell vacation. We are rescheduling for next month so stay tuned for more on that wonderful event!
 Every 24th of July, Pioneer Day, our kids walk in the Monroe parade to honor our ancestor, Sarah Emily Wall, who came across the plains with the Willie handcart company. Grandma Riddle always does such a good job to get our kids and take them. It was a pretty hot day this year but they still survived.
 Right after the parade, Grandma invited me and the kids to go up to Frying Pan campground, by Fish Lake to camp for 4 days. It was a nice little break in the middle of summer. I got a break from housework and the kids got to play all day long with cousins. Braylee even did pretty good. Cousin Breanna was such a great helper with Braylee and made it so much easier for me! Thanks Breanna!
 Little miss Braylee turned 1 year old! She is such a little cutie pie! We just love this little girl to pieces. I can't believe how quickly girls catch on to things vs. boys. She just picks up on things that my boys never did. She started walking a little a couple weeks before her 1st birthday. She is doing so good now walking. Oh and she loves to give kisses! She is just so sweet and cute and cuddly. She has about 6 teeth and has two more on the way. She loves playing with her brothers. When they are around she is so happy, but if they go play at friends house, she gets so sad and clingy. She loves to feed herself. She hates it when I stick something in her mouth. She has to pull it out and examine it before eating. She is such a great sleeper and eater. She LOVES food! I guess she's a Riddle!
Her hair is long enough for little pig tails on top but she won't ever leave it in. After re-doing them five times in an hour I finally give up! Maybe one day she will let me do her hair! We have loved having this sweet girl in our family!
We also just got back from a trip to Bear lake but my camera died and I didn't get very many pics. We went to our cabin with our friends and did some biking around the lake, swimming at the lodge and of course Raspberry shakes!!! We didn't get to go to Pickleville playhouse but maybe next year! Now it's time to get ready to go back to school. Randy and I celebrate our 9th year anniversary this week! We are headed to St.George this weekend without the kids so we can do some rock climbing and go to Tuacahn and see Hairspray!!! I can't wait to have a little mini honeymoon with the hubby, even if we are roughing it by climbing and camping :)  As always, stay tuned for more pics on that! Although it may be awhile. We have school starting, as well as soccer and football for Rayden. Also, I'm thinking I'll start teaching Rayden how to play piano. That may be a disaster but we'll see!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer madness!

 Be prepared for picture overload!!! Our summer started out with a little bit of eclipse watching! Thanks to my awesome MIL who was a science teacher for many many years, we were all taken care of for this epic event! Not only did we get to watch everything happen being reflected on the white board, we also had some awesome welding shields that we could look directly at the sun with and see first hand the eclipse! It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast!

Don't you love my mask? I kept thinking Randy and his brother looked like Freddy Crougar with the mask on!

This was about as complete as we got to see it from our location. Apparently we weren't in the prime spot to see the eclipse straight on but it was pretty cool anyway.

The next journey on our summer agenda was Little Red! I rode with my mom and sis in Logan for about 65 miles!!! It was craziness, especially since the longest I had ever been before was about 30 miles and it was 2 months ago. Yeah, I didn't do so great on the training when it came to this ride but oh well. Maybe next year I'll get my act in gear! So the first 50 miles were great! I felt awesome and we only had to do a few little hills. We were quick at each rest stop and we were popping peanut butter topped oreos and red vines in our mouths like crazy!! My only regret is that I didn't grab a few extra gu's at the first rest stop because by the time we got to the other rest stops, all the gu's were gone. I really could've used a gu after lunch. So we stopped for lunch at about 50 miles and we didn't eat too much for fear of getting sick. I was feeling great so we hopped on our bikes and were going to try for 30 more miles. As soon as I started pedaling, I kid you not, I was so exhausted! My legs did not want to push another inch, let alone 30 miles!!!! Mom decided to stay behind at the lunch stop and wait for Randy and Hanna to come pick her up in the van. Sarah and I went on ahead. Well, it wasn't long before I realized I should've just quit at lunch. I was lagging behind so bad and it was still 7 miles to the next rest stop. Then, the horror of it all, I realized that the 7 miles until the next stop was nothing but climbing hills!!! And, the sun decided to come out from behind the clouds, and the wind decided to stop. It was sheer TORTURE!!! But, I'll have you know, I did not stop once on those 7 miles of dread. I thought about it with every single push of the pedal but I just knew if I stopped I was not going to start again. The only thing that helped me keep going was knowing that at the top of the hill I would get to go down the other side. That was pure freedom!!! Riding so fast down that hill, knowing at the bottom I could finally rest!
So, I get to the bottom and I'm totally wanting to kill my sis for not warning me about the hills after lunch (after all, she rode the ride last year). I got to the bottom and I had to wait forever for my sis because she stopped along the way and was waiting for me because she thought I was behind her. We finally reunited and I was totally planning on stopping and having Randy drive me back close to the finish line. Then they said it was only 9 miles to the finish line so I thought, what the heck, I've come this far I can 9 more. WRONG!!!!!! As soon as I started riding again I knew I was done for. Those last 9 miles might have been worse than the 7 miles of uphill!!! But, I did it!!!! I went a little slow, but I did it!!! Thanks sis for pushing me along!!! It was great!!!

And at the end, my amazing hubby and kids were cheering me on! Oh, and try not to get too grossed out with my bulging gut!!!! I had guzzled so much water that day that I felt like I was going to explode!!! I promise, it really isn't that nasty!

Our next adventure was on to the cabin at Bear Lake!!! Let's just say the weather was soooo much nicer this trip than it was a month ago!!! The water at the pool was so great!! For the first time ever, the water was the perfect temperature!!!

This little girl and I stayed behind one day and she was loving the ticorice (ryker's word for licorice)!

On the afternoon that called for cooler weather, we headed out to the Minnetonka cave! I haven't been there in years! I have to say, it wasn't quite as cool as I remembered it being when I was a little girl. After going to the Shenandoah cave back east a few years ago, these formations weren't near as cool. It was a whole lot of climbing stairs and not very many formations. But, the boys loved it! Braylee, not so much. She cried the whole time. She had just woken up from her nap and was famished. Next time I will fee her first!

Crazy faces in the car. We spent a lot of time in the car!!!! After Bear Lake we headed to Seven Peaks for a day. Then, we headed back to Richfield to sleep for a night and unpack the car, just to repack the car to leave the next morning!

Our last stop on our marathon vacation was Las Vegas!!! Randy took the kids to go see the new dam at Lake Mead. I chose to stay at the Condo because I was so tired from being in the car all day.

This was the amazing pool at the condo!! It was so much fun!! We just spent all day hanging by the pool, or should I say pools. There was one main pool, two big baby pools, a large hot tub and another smaller hot tub. They had some really fun cabanas all around the pool and a couple covered areas with couches and tables. The best part was, we were practically the only people there all day!

There were little fountains that shot out the side and Braylee kept trying to drink from them! There were these perfect little shallow outlets around the pool that made it so nice for Braylee to just play in. I couldn't ask for a better pool. It was even one of those cool salt water pools. We LOVED it!!! After swimming all day, we headed to Randy's cousins wedding. It was such a beautiful reception! Lots of great food, family, and even dancing! We were lucky enough to find a babysitter within a mile of the reception to watch the kids. A girl who went to school with Randy and his brother lived there and had a 12 yr. old daughter who was kind enough to take our circus for a few hours! It was a great vacation but I have to be honest, I was really looking forward to being back home and sleeping in my own room!

Back in Richfield, we celebrated Ryker's 4th birthday!!! I just can't believe this little fireball of energy is 4 already!
Here's a random picture of Braylee. She is into climbing on everything!

Back to the birthday boy, he really wanted garbage truck pancakes for his birthday. So I did my best to create it and make his wish come true!

He was one happy boy with his garbage truck pancake, with chocolate chips no doubt!

Then, we come to his cake. This boy just LOVES anything construction! This cake (compliments of pinterest) was the easiest cake I've done so far and it turned out just great! Perfect for my little construction man!
He didn't look very happy, but let me tell you, he really was! He just gets really shy, especially when I have the camera in his face and everyone is staring at him singing. He is the craziest kid I know and so wild all the time. However, anytime we try to get him to go on a ride at the carnival, or ride a bike, or sit with kids at story time, or go to primary, the kid is sooooo scared and shy.

The best part of the cake was the inside! It turned out even better than I hoped! And it tasted delicious too! A little too good, I couldn't stop eating it!!!

So that has been our summer so far. We had all our fun at the beginning and now we are moving on to the boring part of summer. The endless days of fighting children and ornery momma. Ryker is such a little fireball. He just teases Rayden all day long and runs around crazy all day long! Braylee is into everything and has developed a little attitude. She has discovered how to open cupboards and the E.T. cabinet. She likes to push on and off the Xbox all day long. I found a way to childproof the cabinet and she gets sooooo frustrated when she can't open it! It's quite comical to watch. She is also starting to stand on her own and maybe even will be walking in a few weeks. I'm a little sad about that. She has pretty much figured out how to go down stairs, but I'm still a little nervous to just leave the gate off. She is just growing up way too fast. Rayden is just a little know it all and growing up so fast too. I can't believe he is getting baptized in a month and a half! CRAZY! Anyway, this is our crazy life for now. Our garden has been struggling a little bit but so far we've gotten some peas, lettuce and broccoli. Oh, and our garlic we planted last fall is almost ready. Randy picked some the other day just to see how it was going and they looked good! I'm glad my hubby is a gardener because I love to eat the stuff, but I'm horrible at knowing how or what to plant! Maybe one day I'll be an expert gardener, ha ha!