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"!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Last Update...for Now

Last week I finally got all my drains out--yea! It has been wonderful to sleep at night without laying on them, & feeling them tug and pull on my irritated skin. I was also able to see Dr. Prystas on Friday to get the game plan. It was kind of a difficult appointment for me. I think I was hoping that I'd go in & she'd tell me all the things they were going to do that would control the cancer & guarantee that I'd stay healthy--& that's not how the appointment went. Basically, we're just going into a holding pattern. She has put me on Tamoxifen, which is an anti-estrogen, & has been shown to inhibit growth for both breast & ovarian cancer. She's not sure why the CA-125 levels went up--it could be due to the surgery. I'm learning that the CA-125 tests can be somewhat fickle, but it's the best thing they have at this point for helping to diagnose & track ovarian cancer & it's treatment. It's difficult to determine what is "normal" for a person. Some people may have a CA-125 level that's in the "normal" range & can be full of cancer. Others may have a higher level, and be doing fine. We're not really sure where I am cancer-wise at this point--we just have to wait. I'll either remain fairly healthy & do well, or the cancer will return in the same place, or somewhere else. They're not going to go "looking" for cancer by doing all sorts of tests--it's unnecessary, the tests also have certain risks & it can make me even crazier than I sometimes am at this point. Dr. Prystas said that if the cancer returns, I'll know it--the symptoms will come back. If it does return, then we'll deal with that particular problem at that time. We asked about doing a "maintenance" chemo every 4-6 weeks, as that had been mentioned at one point. She said she'd rather not do that at this time. If you do that, at some point your body just has enough of it, & you also develop allergies to the medication and/or it just doesn't work as effectively the more you have it. She'd rather wait & use the chemo meds if they're needed again. Soooo...I've started the Tamoxifen & will wait 2 months before going in to have my CA-125 levels checked again--I think it might be a difficult 2 months. Thankfully, summer is almost here & the boys will be home and busy & time might fly by really fast.

Years ago, I read Lance Armstrong's book about his battle with cancer. I remember him writing that the chemo/radiation treatments weren't nearly as hard as the waiting he did for the year after he was finished. When you're doing your chemo treatments you're so focused & feel as if you're actually "working" on killing the cancer cells. I can see that just waiting & watching for symptoms is going to be pretty tough mentally & emotionally. But I've decided that in most ways, nothing has really changed...I am still entirely dependent on my Heavenly Father. He is in charge--He has always been in charge--I've just deluded myself into thinking that I've been in charge for the last 46 years. That doesn't mean that I'm not doing everything I can to get and stay healthy--I'm trying to make changes in my diet, my environment, my attitude, how I spend my time & energy. But I have to not waste my mental & emotional energy by worrying & giving in to my fears of "what if". I'm going to try to just go forward & enjoy this summer as much as possible. Jarett is graduating from Weber this week & will be heading off to BYU-Provo this fall. Kali is staying in Logan & working for the summer, but not too much...I'm hoping to be seeing quite a bit of her. She has promised to come & help me with the spring yardwork in the next few weeks. Hunter & Braedon will be busy with camps, soccer, basketball & baseball...& we have a few family reunions to attend. Vern and Kali are heading to Alaska on a road trip in June. It promises to be a busy summer & I'm excited about it, & looking forward to feeling well. I've decided that I'm not going to worry about updating this blog each week. If anything happens before my appointment with Dr. Prystas the middle of July, I'll write about it..but I'm hoping that I won't be writing before then.
The scriptural reference I'm trying to engrave in my brain for the next couple of months is this from John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you...Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Elder Holland once said that this may be one of the Savior's commandments that is almost universally disobeyed. I know that faith & fear cannot coexist together, & that my Savior wants me to be happy & joyful--this is my goal for the summer (and for whatever time He continues to grant me!). I am so thankful to Vern & our children, Mom & Dad, my brothers & sister, Vern's family & all our extended family members, my ward family, my Ogden Valley family and all my dear, dear friends throughout the world who have supported and sustained me with their fasting & prayers, their letters & gifts, their kind words and acts of service throughout the last 8 months. How can I ever repay what you have given me? You truly are "angels" who have been sent to watch over & minister to my needs. I love you, & I also pray for you--I know that I'm not the only one who has gone through challenges this past year-- we've all had them--mine have just been more visible than yours. Thank you for being there for me. My love & prayers are always with you.--Kim

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just a Quick Update

This is just a quick update--it's Saturday--the sun has been shining--I've been in the house paying bills and I am ready to turn off the computer and enjoy the rest of the day. I am feeling pretty good since the surgery. Each day the tenderness seems to be getting better. I still have all 3 drains in--aaarrgghh! My sister told me hers were in for 2 weeks--I was so hoping that they'd be gone by now--it's difficult to find anything decent to wear so I can go out comfortably, and they get to itching and being sore at times. But, I have left the house a few times the last 2 days because I can't stand being cooped up anymore--this spring weather is glorious!!
I also got the pathology report this week from Dr. Reading. They found absolutely no cancer cells in the right breast anymore--yea!!! They removed 9 lymph nodes from the right arm, and two of them still had residual tumor cells in them. She said that I have responded very well to the chemotherapy for the breast cancer. It's difficult for me to believe that there were no cancer cells at all in the right breast, considering how large and extensive the tumor was 7 1/2 months ago--that is just an amazing miracle to me. I'm still not sure where we go from here. Four weeks ago, the CA-125 levels were 79, which leads my oncologist to believe that there is still cancer in me--they're just not sure yet where it is. I was kind of hoping that they would find cancer cells in the breast, so we would know where they were, and I could feel good about getting them removed. I am so grateful that the chemo has worked so well--I just need to wait (again & always!) until I speak to Dr. Prystas next week to see what the game plan is at this point. Thank you again for the prayers and support during this recovery--it has been much easier so far! Love always, Kim

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I am doing really well & am so grateful for the prayers & well wishes I have received. The surgery was not near as bad as the one to remove the ovarian cancer, & I feel that the recovery has been easy in comparison. If I didn't have 3 drains coming out of my chest area, I'd probably be out & about by now. Hopefully the drains will only have to be in for a few more days. My chest & arms are still fairly numb, but I do get hot, shooting pains in my right arm periodically when I move it. Dr. Reading didn't have to remove any muscle (thank heaven!), but the lymph nodes they removed on the right side were entangled with nerves, & she said that I would have pain in that area for a few weeks.
I have been so tenderly cared for by Dr. Reading, the nurses at LDS Hospital &, of course, my mom these past few days. Vern--as always--has been keeping things moving smoothly on the frontlines with our children & home. My friend, Melanie, gave me the new book of quotes by Elder Holland, and I just devoured it the day I got home from the hospital--I love how he expresses things. One of the quotes that just resonated with me this week was this one:
"When we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with--here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
There are so many "angels" who have ministered--& continue to minister to me. On this special day, I want to express my love to that sweet angel who gave birth to me, raised me well, & continues to attend to my every want & need. I know that she has touched not just my life, but the lives of all those who know her & observe her Christlike devotion & example. I also express my love to my children--they are beautiful people in every way, & are much better than I deserve to have. I am grateful for their forgiveness of my weaknesses & faults. I have learned more from being their mother than I'm sure I've ever taught them. I think one of the greatest blessings Heavenly Father has given me, has been the opportunity to be their mother. I am so grateful that I am still here, & can continue to love them & take joy in all that they do. I am so thankful that families can be together forever! Love always, Kim
P.S. Thanks to LoriAnn Hogge and all my friends for the cute running shirts they wore at the Snowcrest Ragnar Relay yesterday--you are all amazing!! I can't wait to see the pics!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kim is Home and Doing Well

Kim had her surgery on Wednesday!  It was originally scheduled for noon - but it was finally around 1:30 p.m. when she went in for the operation.  It was a three hour surgery and by 5:00 p.m. she was back up to her room getting settled for the night.  According to Kim's Mom Fern, the doctor said that there were "no surprises", that they were able to perform the surgery without any complications, and are now waiting on lab results to determine just exactly what the next plan or step will be for Kim.  She was released from the hospital yesterday and arrived home about 6:00 p.m. last night.  She has come home with three drains which allow the fluid to be released from the incisions, but Fern indicated that the liquid is already beginning to be clear and so hopefully she will not have to have them be apart of her for long.  In usual Kim style she is positive, grateful and appreciative of each of you and your kind thoughts and prayers in her and her families behalf.  We will all wait anxiously for Kim to add the next post!  We love you Kim and continue to learn from you through each step of this journey!  You Are Amazing!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Small & Simple Things

Well, I can give a big sigh of relief--the bone scan results came back clear and we're all set to go this week with my surgery. I was more worried about it than I would have liked to admit--I have been achy all over, but the pain in my left upper arm was so consistent and intense each day that I was sure the cancer had spread. Of course, since I received the news, it's not bothered me near as much as it did before! I can see that having cancer kind of messes with your head, and changes your outlook in ways that aren't always positive.
I received the news in Provo where I was attending BYU Women's Conference with Mom, Julie and Heidi. It was a wonderful conference, and just the place I needed to be with my worrying. All of the classes I attended offered some good insights and the Spirit was strong there. It was wonderful to get away with these wonderful women whom I love so much, and just enjoy being with them. Elder & Sister Bednar's messages were especially inspiring to me. The theme of the conference was from Alma 37: 6-7: "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." I spent alot of time those two days thinking about all the "small & simple things" that have consistently been done for me and my family by so many of you. These "small & simple things" have lessened my burdens and have greatly affected my outlook & attitude--thank you. I am also very thankful for the many "small & simple things" my Heavenly Father & Savior have done for me. I've been trying to write in a gratitude journal each day since my diagnosis--it has been a very small thing for me to do, but has helped me to really see all the great things that have occurred in my life. I am grateful that I have the gift of sight so I can write and read the about the small & simple things that happen each day in my life. It is so interesting to me that as we recognize our blessings and express gratitude to our Maker for giving them, He pours out even greater blessings upon us. I love you all and thank you for your prayers for me this week. Love always, Kim