Kim's journey

Kim was diagnosed last Thursday, September 16, 2010 with ovarian cancer. As Kim's Family, Friends, Neighbors and Fans - we have started this blog to help share information, updates, support, and love with each other during her next few months of surgery, treatment and healing. We will try to update it whenever we receive information. Please feel free to leave a comment expressing your support, love, and encouragement anytime - as that is how we will all grow and strengthen each other - especially Kim and her family. We love you Kim, and our faith, prayers, and total support and dedication are with you as you embark on this "Journey"!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Faith and Prayers

Thank you for your faith and prayers.  Surgery went better than expected. I am hoping to be released by the middle of this week.  It's been hard, but your prayers have definitely been felt.  I am touched by how many of you are serving me and my family with your acts and expressions of love and kindness.  My family has  been greatly blessed through you.  My thoughts turn to those who might not be as fortunate as I.  Those who may be fighting a battle, any battle, without the support that I continue to receive.  I ask you to please look and see if there's something you can do for someone who might feel alone, and help them as you've helped me.  Thank you, thank you, for your love, faith, and prayers.  What a mighty blessing they have been for me!   Love to you all!  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The New Drug & Surgery is Planned...

Well, I began taking the new drug on August 19th.  I take 2 pills a day of the Veliparib--one in the morning & one twelve hours later in the evening.  From the very beginning it caused kind of a headachy feeling & some pretty good stomach cramps.  The study is for Veliparib in a time-release capsule, so I had to spend over 12 hours at Huntsman on day 4 of the drug, having them draw blood through my port every 1-2 hours so they could check how it was releasing & breaking down in my bloodstream.  They told me not to expect to see any results with my CA-125 levels or the size/shape/color of the nodule in my chest wall for a month or two.  The headachiness (is that even a word?) has gotten much better, but I'm still having issues with the stomach cramping.  This week we discovered why that is still a problem for me....I also have a fairly significant tumor in my abdomen...again.  At my first appointment with Dr. Werner, she told me that she wanted me to schedule an appointment with Dr. Dodson, the gynecological surgeon/oncologist that was partners with the Dr. who originally did my de-bulking surgery.  I went to that appointment just this last Tuesday, thinking it was going to be no big deal.  Unfortunately, during his exam, he found another tumor in the abdominal area that didn't show up clearly on any of the scans.  I'm thinking that Dr. Werner suspected this because she sent me to him & called ahead of my appointment to talk to him about it.  Dr. Dodson gives all of us a very good feeling, & did a great job of explaining my options.  They are:1) Do nothing...and it will get worse.  2)  Do radiation on the tumor.  This would shrink it & decrease the discomfort I'm feeling, but it won't fix things.  He's pretty certain the tumor will just return & that I'll want surgery down the road.  Trying to do surgery on tissue that has already been irradiated isn't a good thing...things just don't heal well after radiation.  3)  Do surgery now.  From what he described, this surgery is going to be pretty similar to my first one. Then again, they don't always know what they're getting into until they open you up--it could be worse. Although, the prospect of this doesn't thrill me, I feel that it's my best option & Dr. Dodson felt confident that it's the right choice for me.  He frankly said that some of the other physicians that sit on the "tumor board" are probably going to tell him that he's crazy & thinking too optimistically.  But, he felt that,my overall health is pretty good....despite the darned cancer...& he was hopeful that I could still have some good quality time ahead of me.  Vern, Mom & I had a good feeling speaking to him, & although I would love to receive visions and/or have angels speak loudly to me telling me exactly what I'm supposed to do....I feel that the still, small voice of the Spirit was whispering through Dr. Dodson's quiet, confident one as he spoke to us. That feeling has continued to be with me these past few days, so we are going ahead with plans for the surgery on September 18th.  It helped that before we left his office, Dr. Dodson called both Dr. Prystas & Dr. Werner to speak to them & get their opinions on the subject.  They both agreed with him, for which I am grateful.  They know me much better than the other Dr.'s who sit on the "tumor board".  They know what I'm fighting for...the wonderful support I receive from my family & friends...& they know the faith I have in my Heavenly Father & Savior.  I know there are some more difficult times ahead in the next few months, & I am counting on the faith & prayers of those close to me to sustain me during those low moments.  I am still continually mindful of, & grateful for, the fact that I know my Heavenly Father & Savior love me & have a plan that is perfect for me.  Thank you for your continual faith, prayers & sustaining service to me & my family.  Love always, Kim  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back from Houston

Much has happened in the past 3 weeks, & I'll do my best to update...but it's late Saturday night, & I'm exhausted so I'll just write the highlights:
  • My insurance company did officially deny my coverage out-of-network, & according to the Utah State Insurance Dept., they have no obligation to pay for anything out-of-network.  We signed a contract with them 12 years ago, little imagining that we would ever need to go out-of-network, so the contract stands.
  • I was finally able to get an appointment with MD Anderson scheduled for August 13th.  In the meantime, Dr. Prystas learned that they were starting a study of a new ovarian cancer drug at Huntsman, & she was able to get me an appointment with Dr. Theresa Werner on Friday, August 2nd.
  • The day before my appointment at Huntsman, MD Anderson called & asked if I could come sooner--on August 6th.  I said "yes", & went about making plans to get out there.  Vern had been planning for months on going with the YM in our ward (Hunter's group) for their High Adventure activity during this week.  I didn't want him to miss it, especially since I thought I might not be in Houston for that long, so Kali made arrangements to go with me.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to friends of my parents, the Wells', for so generously getting us the airline tickets with their Frequent Flyer Miles--it would have cost a small fortune to get tickets on that short of notice!
  • Vern, Mom & I met with Dr. Werner & her team on the Friday before we left for Houston & were super impressed with them.  It is a huge clinic, but it also felt very personal & the level of compassion & caring we felt from them made us all feel comfortable.  Dr. Werner had a couple of other chemo options to offer us, but she feels that my best option is to participate in a phase 1 study of a new drug called Veliparib.  It is a parp inhibitor, & works against fighting cancer cells in a way that is different from traditional chemotherapy.  If you want to know more about it, you can look it up online--I won't even attempt to give you the layman's version.  She encouraged me to keep the appointment at MD Anderson, to see if they had anything that might be better for me.  She felt confident that they would be able to help me determine what would be the best treatment option.
  • Kali & I flew out just this past Monday, & met with a Dr. Westin there on Tuesday morning.  MD Anderson is HUUUUGE!  Besides that, there are about a dozen different enormous hospitals in the same approximately 10 block area where MD Anderson is.  If you think that IMC in Murray is big, you have no concept of what a big hospital even looks like. My actual appointment with Dr. Westin was pretty short.  She had reviewed all my records, & asked what I was looking for.  When I gave her the history of the past week, & what Huntsman was able to do for me, she basically said that was my best option.  They are also doing studies on different parp inhibitors from various drug companies in Houston, but considering the amount of traveling back & forth that I would need to do, & the fact that I would be paying "out-of-pocket" for some of my care, she felt that the studies being done at MD Anderson weren't going to be better enough to justify all the extra time & expense to participate.  I had received a Priesthood blessing on Sunday before we left, where I was promised that revelation would come, & the Dr.'s & I would know what was necessary to do.  The decision couldn't have been any easier to make--I was incredibly grateful for that!  Now, I just have to wait to see how much of my $16,800 deposit will be returned....hmmm.
  • So, with all that being done, I went back to the hotel room & called Huntsman to get scheduled for the Veliparib clinical trial.  Then, Kali & I spent the next 2 days slumming around Houston in the heat (97 degrees!) and humidity (We have no idea what it was, but it felt like at least 100!).  I'm very glad that we went, & so grateful to have Kali's sweet company.  She is an emotional rock, an excellent navigator, & just darned fun to be around!
What I've written is just the "facts, and nothing but the facts".  There have been so many "tender mercies" that have occurred during this many kind & generous acts of service & help have been given to us.  I would love to write names, & the wonderful things that have been done for us, but I know the hearts of these dear individuals wouldn't want others to know.  Just know that our Heavenly Father, who knows ALL things, is thankful for your discipleship in being His hands in my life when I have so very much needed them.  My heart is full to overflowing of my love & gratitude to you for your faith, prayers & support.  I pray for you also!  Love always, Kim

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Waiting for a door to open...

Wow...a lot has happened in the past 3 weeks.  After my chemo treatment on July 1st, my CA-125 numbers came back even higher.  I was able to get in on July 5th and had a PT scan and consulted with the radiation oncologist.  The good news was that the ovarian cancer didn't seem to be real active in my abdomen, but there were 4 spots that showed up on the scan in my chest.  One is the nodule I can feel in my right chest wall, another is in my right lung, and one in the lymph nodes under each armpit.  When I met with the radiation oncologist, she said that she could get to all those areas with radiation, but said that as the cancer has obviously metastasized, doing radiation isn't going to do very much other than just shrink those won't really be killing the cancer cells that are flowing through my bloodstream and lymphatic system.  She said that she felt that trying to get in on some clinical trials of a new chemo drug is going to be my best option.  When I spoke with Dr. Prystas, after receiving the PT scan, she felt exactly the same way.  She recommended that I go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX to consult with them and see if there are any clinical trials going on there that I could participate in.  I've learned in the past two weeks that MD Anderson is one of the two premier cancer treatment centers in the U.S.  The other is Sloan-Kettering in New York.  I understand that most of the cancer research and clinical trials goes on at these two centers. Dr. Prystas then sent me to Dr. Reading last week to have a biopsy done of the nodule in my chest, because she wanted to have a little bit more information as to whether we were dealing with breast or ovarian in the chest area.  Well....because everything I do has to be unusual and weird, it ends up that this big old tumor in my chest is ovarian cancer.  Who would've thought?  Duh....I should have gone to Vegas and bet on that happening!  Anyway, Dr. Prystas sent the referral off to MD Anderson just this past Monday, and they were supposed to review my records and call me this past week to schedule me to go down there to meet with their specialists and have tests run.  I was excited to get home from exercise class on Wednesday morning and learn that MD Anderson had called me...I shouldn't have been so excited.  They were only calling to tell me that they were "out of network" for my insurance, Select Health, and therefore, couldn't see me until I received approval from Select Health.  I can't possibly express in words what a frustrating morning that was, as I spent hours on the phone, trying to make the patient advocate person at Select Health understand what my predicament was, and trying to get the reviewer at MD Anderson to schedule me an appointment (she didn't.)  The bottom line of the past 4 days is this: 
1)     I have cancer that my doctors and the specialists at IHC and Huntsman can no longer treat.
2)     I have been on the same HMO with Select Health for 12 years (we can't get the really good insurance because Vern is self-employed), and apparently there are NO "out of network" benefits on our particular plan.
3)     Select Health is reviewing my request to go to MD Anderson, but they have up to 2 weeks from last Wednesday to decide, and if they do approve my going to Houston, they will only approve 1 procedure at a time--ie. they will only approve my receiving one consultation with a physician there.  Any other procedures needing to be done, will also have to go through the system to receive approval.  MD Anderson doesn't operate that way--they practice in a multidisciplinary way with all sorts of specialists working under one big roof to coordinate your care.  They tell patients that when they get an appointment, to plan on being there from 3-7 days while you meet with a variety of specialists and have tests done.  All of this is done outpatient, while I cover all my travel and lodging costs on my own.  Operating in this way would quite possibly have me out there a couple of weeks.
4)     I can't even find out if there are any clinical trials I could participate in, until I go through this procedure....and MD Anderson won't schedule me an appointment until I get approval from Select Health.
5)     I asked about what the approximate cost of this first week of tests & consultations would run, and they couldn't tell all depends upon what they do.  They said that "self-pay" patients (ie. patients without insurance that have money, are expected to put down a "deposit" of $16,800.  Mind you, this is just a deposit for seeing me that week...not what it will actually cost.  When I asked if I could schedule an appointment if I sent them the money, I was told that because I have insurance, I would need their approval before I could schedule anything.  AAARRRGH! can see why I'm just waiting for another door to open.  It's been a tough week to get through.  I've had to keep in mind, though, that the Lord has given me assurances throughout these past 3 weeks that this is the direction I need to take.  I have been blessed by the great exercise of faith, fasting and prayers on my behalf by my family and friends...they have been tangible, and are what has kept me going.  I have received many "tender mercies" through the sweet acts of service, (given often when people didn't really even know what I was going through), and through the spiritual blessings and comfort I received as I was preparing my lesson for Sunday School today.  God is truly good, and I know He is continuing to watch over me and my family.  Love always, Kim

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lots of trips & Bad Numbers

     I haven't written for awhile because I've been traveling, and waiting for good news to share. The trips to Arizona with Heidi and to Nauvoo with my family, Nana and the Leishman's were great! Nauvoo and the other church history sites are so inspirational....I loved being there! The Spirit there is powerful, and it is so good to be reminded of the difficult challenges others have faced and triumphed over. It helps me to continually be reminded of how the Lord blesses those who exercise faith in Him, and how His vision is eternal and perfect. I consider it a tender mercy that I was able to be strengthened in that way before returning home to learn that my CA-125 #'s have gone up. This new chemo doesn't seem to be working, and the lump in my chest has not decreased, as it usually does when a drug is working. The doctor's don't like to discontinue a drug after just one round, but my CA-125 has been a pretty reliable indicator so far. Sooo....I did my second treatment in this second round today, and I will be meeting with a radiation oncologist this Friday to see if radiation of the lump is an option. Dr. Prystas may order some more imaging tests to see if anything can pinpoint just exactly where the cancer is besides my chest.
     The big problem I'm facing is the fact that I've now run through all the drugs that treat ovarian/breast cancer. It's too soon to try and recycle chemo treatments, so I'm kind of up a creek without a paddle! There is another drug out there that works on kidney cancer, and shows promise of working well for ovarian, but it's not FDA approved yet to treat with ovarian. So, of course, my insurance has denied our request to use it and pay for it. It's not a just shows promise of buying more time for me. Because it's pretty expensive (I didn't even dare ask the price at this point), we are trying to see if the pharmaceutical company will somehow work with us on getting it, and doing it at a reasonable price.  So, if anyone has energy for extra prayers--there's a specific one for you.
     The hard part about all this is that we all figured that when I got to this point, I'd probably be ready to give up treatment because I'd be in pretty bad shape. Most of the time, I'm functioning pretty well, so this is kind of tough emotionally. My desire is to continue to be here awhile longer. I'm not sure yet exactly what Heavenly Father's plan is for me...I still feel like He's okay with that's what I'm operating with until He tells me otherwise. Vern gave me a very sweet and tender Priesthood blessing yesterday, and we are all doing good.
     I don't know how many, or who, are still reading this.....but I am continually humbled by your sweet thoughts, prayers and faith on my behalf. Jesus Christ is truly a God of miracles...I am a walking testament to that fact! I love Him, and my heart is full of love and gratitude for all of you!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Headed to the Happiest Place on Earth

     Well, there's been lots going on this past month--a few chemo treatments, lots of school stuff, skyping with Jarett on Mother's Day & some CT scans thrown in also.  My CA-125 #'s had very slowly crept up the last couple of times, & this lovely nodule in my right chest started growing & getting tender again--darn, darn & double darn!  I'd been having a few other weird symptoms--which are probably normal signs of aging--but having cancer kind of throws a new perspective on all that & it's easy to get freaked out.  So, Dr. Prystas ordered some CT scans, which look pretty much like the ones they did 6 months ago.  The nodule looks the same, & the fluids in my chest & abdomen actually look better on this latest scan.  It's funny how once the Dr. says there's nothing new there, most of those weird symptoms just go away--I know, it's all in my funny head!
     Anyway, those #'s have been pretty good indicators of what's going on in the past--& so has this nodule in my chest--so I get this week off of chemo & we'll begin a new drug next Monday.  This new one is most likely going to make me lose my hair--which is surely a loss since it came back in so lovely (can you feel the sarcasm dripping?).  I'm gonna have to start working on my top-of-my-head tan quickly!  Fortunately, the hair loss doesn't seem to coincide with the nastiness of the other side effects--they should, hopefully, be easier than what I've been on.
     So, with all that said....I'm heading to Disneyland with Vern, Kali & the ladies from the dental office.  We're headed out for a little weekend retreat--driving in the suburban straight through today & back on Sunday.  I am totally excited for this trip!!!  2 1/2 years ago, I had to miss my trip with them to Orlando when I got diagnosed & had my big surgery.  They are such fun to be with, & this is going to be a great trip! My tender mercies this week?  No chemo effects for Disneyland & Jarett was transferred yesterday, so I don't have to drive right by the freeway exit where his apartment was & have to keep myself from stopping to give him a big hug--I don't have any idea where he is now...& won't until he emails me next Monday.  The Lord is really watching over me--I feel Him every day!  Love always, Kim

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Trip to DC and a Hard Week

     While Vern & Kali were off to Peru doing dental work & exploring, I took the boys to Washington, DC with my mom & younger brother, Matt.  We had a great time visiting there, & I had lots of strength & energy.  I don't think there was anything that we left undone--which is amazing, considering that everyone else & their dog were there for Spring Break & the city was a bit crowded.  Matt & I even did some driving in the DC traffic!  We were met there by our Hatch cousins, who live in Virginia, & really enjoyed experiencing all the wonderful history of that area with them.  We just wish the trip could have lasted longer!
     The day after we returned, last Monday, I went in for my chemo treatment.  I seemed to be doing well, & there weren't any changes with the physical exam, but the next day my CA-125 #'s came back, & they've gone from 58 up to 71.  It's not a lot, but enough that we need to make changes (again).  Dr. Prystas is recommending that we keep doing this treatment, but do it 2 weeks in a row, with 1 week off.  Hopefully, this will be keeping enough of the drugs in my system to keep the cancer at bay.  That same day, we received the news that my cousin, Eric, & his family had lost their 17-year old son to an unexpected death.  My heart has ached for them, & my spirits have been pretty low all week.  What a blessing it has been to watch & listen to General Conference!  It truly is a healing balm to the soul.  It is spiritual nourishment to my heart to be able to feast upon the words of Christ & His gospel at this time.  President Uchtdorf's message this morning has seemed especially relevant to life's circumstances.  How thankful I am for the "light" of the Savior, & the sure knowledge I have that we need not live in darkness, doubt & fear...for He has overcome the world & we can put our trust in Him.  I am continually thankful for your faith & prayers on my behalf.  Hopefully, there will be better news to share in the future.  Love always, Kim