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, December 23, 2012

Christmas Tidings

     Once again, I am behind the ball in keeping this updated!  I imagine that everyone is so busy at this time of year, that my writing probably has not been missed.  I have had 4 treatments now with the Topotecan & am doing okay with it.  The schedule so far is to have it 2 weeks in a row, & then take a week off.  I've had a treatment that past two Mondays, so I get to have the week of Christmas off--yea!  They all said I would most likely lose my hair, but it's still hanging in there so far. After the first two treatments, they checked my CA-125 levels & they had only dropped from 226 to 214--not a big difference considering how much sicker this one made me feel.  It was a bit disappointing, as each time I've tried a new drug it seems to have dropped fairly significantly after the first few treatments.  Hopefully, this was just a fluke--but at least it DID drop--that was good news!
     Jarett is doing well in the MTC--in fact, he has been thriving there.  His Spanish is coming well, & his letters have been so positive & full of the spirit of the gospel.  It has been exciting to sense the change that has already occurred with him.  Of course, he hasn't lost his fun sense of humor.  In a letter to Hunter, he wrote about how good he's eating, & the workouts he'd been doing to try & stay healthy.  He said, "When I get off my mission, I'm gonna make a video called Elder Iverson's 9-week Guide to Getting Abs in the MTC".  Oooh--I can hardly wait!
     This Christmas season has been full of wonderful activities--our Dental Staff, Ward & Neighborhood parties, caroling with the family to our Home & Visiting Teaching families, going to see "Savior of the World" & the lights on Temple Square, watching Braedon sing with his Valley Choir, seeing my nieces dance in the "Nutcracker" ballet, reading inspirational Christmas stories each night before bed, seeing a special screening of "Les Mis", shopping & lunch with many wonderful things that I am thankful to be here for, & feel well enough to participate in.  As I was re-reading this last paragraph, I was struck by the fact that every one of these activities were done with so many of the people I love.  I am continuing to be served by my family, friends & Relief Society sisters--life is soooo good.
     Today, Elder Marlin Jensen gave a special lesson in church that just went straight to my heart--I know it was meant specifically for me.  He taught of charity--the pure love of Christ--& as a class we read through 1 Corinthians 13 & discussed each & every attribute of charity as given by the Apostle Paul.  It was a beautiful discussion, & the Spirit was strongly felt.  I realized that I still have so much work to do--especially with my family--to become a truly Christlike person.  As I thought through some of my dealings with others these past few days, I felt ashamed at my lack of charity.  But, then my heart was just filled with gratitude for the opportunity my Heavenly Father & Savior have given me to continue to be here on this earth & continue to learn to be charitable.  My shame turned to hope as I realized, once again, what a blessing the Atonement of the Savior is for me.  How thankful I am that I can repent, that my heart can be changed, that I can be forgiven for my selfishness & come unto Him & be healed of ALL my weaknesses--not just cancer.  This is a beautiful time of year, & I hope that I can be worthy to receive the gift of charity in my heart each day, & carry the Spirit of "Christ"mas through the year.  My love to you all!--Kim

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New chemo...again

Well, it's been an eventful couple of weeks.  Last Saturday, Kali got back from Mexico safely, & had a great trip serving with the AEM people.  The next day, Jarett spoke in our Sacrament meeting & we served dinner to about 100 people afterwards at our house--thank you everyone for coming, & especially for those who helped!  It was just a great day!  On Wednesday, we dropped him off at the MTC in Provo & things have been fairly quiet ever since.  The "drop-off" went much better than I expected--it might have been that I was just worn right out with my emotions from the previous week.  We took him to his favorite restaurant, J Dawg's, for one last hot dog before he left, & there were so many other missionaries with their families there that it was almost a party atmosphere.  Some people standing in line behind us were from San Bernardino, CA & told me great things about the places he'll be going & the people he'll be serving.  Then we pulled up to the curb at the MTC & the excitement & Spirit there are just palpable!  How could any parent not feel good about leaving their child in such a place?  I thought I would sob all the way to Salt Lake, but didn't even shed a tear after we left--it was then that I realized that the blessings of having a missionary had already begun!
On our way home, we stopped in Salt Lake for my chemo appointment...I figured if I was going to be sobbing, I might as well just go hog wild & have a chemo treatment to boot!  My CA-125 numbers have continued to climb the past couple of weeks, so there was no way of staying on the Doxil and hoping it would work.  I'm now doing a new drug...Topotecan (makes me think of Toucan Sam--Fruit Loops!).  It's not as easy to take as the Doxil, & I felt a little rough for a couple of days, but we'll do it.  I'm just hoping that it will work at killing the cancer cells & keeping those pesky CA-125 numbers down.  We're not sure what the schedule is going to be like with this drug.  Because I've been doing some type of chemo almost non-stop for the past 2 years, my bone marrow production is suppressed & that's going to make it a little bit more of a challenge with the schedule & dosing.  I'm taking this week off of chemo, heading to Vancouver, WA with the family to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, & then having another treatment on the 26th when I get back.
At this time of year, I am just so thankful to still be here with my family & friends, & hope that I will still be able to be an influence for good in their lives.  I am thankful for Vern & each of our darling kids.  Although I miss Jarett, I'm thankful that he is where he is, doing what I've always dreamed he would want to do.  I am thankful for dear parents, who in their 70's, continue to make great sacrifices for me & my siblings.  I am thankful for the love & support of my sister & brothers and their great families, and the wonderful family that I had the privilege of marrying into.  I am thankful for loyal friends, who continue to support me with their service and good examples.  I am especially thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ & am so thankful for His Atonement.  I am thankful that He, and my Father in Heaven, know & love me intimately, completely & perfectly...& that our lives have purpose & meaning.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Love always, Kim

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Time is Speeding

Wow!  It has been almost 2 months since I last posted--sorry.  Life has just been speeding by so quickly with both good things & also some not quite as good.  I did another chemo treatment with the Doxil on October 8th--the day before my baby boy, Braedon, turned 12--yea!  The side effects haven't been too awful, as I was able to enjoy his celebration (which always seems to stretch into several days now--how come?)  He received the Aaronic Priesthood that following Sunday, & the whole ward is excited because now we have a total of 3 deacons--whoo hoo!  Then the next week, Mom took all of the Cloward girls on a trip to New York City for 4 fabulous days.  It was my first trip ever to that city, & we had a really great time.  I had never had much of a desire to see NYC, but I must say that I was duly impressed--it is an amazing place!  I didn't feel real great for most of the trip, but was able to do all the running around (& we did LOTS of that!) & really did enjoy myself.  I am so glad that we went when we did, instead of this past week with Hurricane Sandy--it was the trip of a lifetime--thanks so much for the wonderful memories, Mom!    
That same week, Vern took all the boys to San Francisco for the ADA meetings & met up with his brother-in-law & the boys' cousins from Virginia.  They also had a great time, & the best part about it all was that I was able to come home to a house that wasn't trashed--bonus!  Now that everyone is home, we are getting ready to see Kali off to Mexico for an 8-day humanitarian aid trip, & Jarett will be leaving for the MTC on November 14th.  We've been busy getting him ready to go, but I don't think it's really sunk in yet for me that I'll be saying goodbye to him for 2 years.  That's going to be a tough one.  I'm sure he'll be glad to leave me, though--it's rough being away from home on your own for a year & then coming back to find your mom reminding you to brush your teeth, make your bed, go to bed, etc.....  What will I do with all my time once he's gone again?
On the other side of things, the lump in my right chest reappeared about 7-8 weeks ago, & my CA-125 went up from 43 to 69 at my last test.  I had some more CT scans last week & everything appears just as it did on my last ones 6 months ago--so that's good news--at least I've been holding steady for the past 6 months!  We're a little unsure what to do at this point with this information.  I might go in after Jarett leaves, to have the lump removed & biopsied to see if they can get any more info on whether it's looking more like breast cancer or ovarian cancer.  We didn't remove it 6 months ago when it appreared, because it's not really going to change the outcome of everything, & will probably just grow back.  And then, after my first treatment of the Doxil it shrunk back down again.  Dr. Prystas would like to see if we can get a little more mileage out of the Doxil before we have to switch chemo treatments (again!), so we're going to try to do the blood tests next week & see if it will help if I have the Doxil more frequently than 5 weeks.  In the meantime, I am feeling pretty well--I just get really "pooped out" by the day's end & have a few burns on my feet & toes.
My second cousin, Nicole Rasmussen, was on Channel 2 News last night.  She is an amazing woman & is such an inspiration to me & so many others.  She has had health challenges since she was in her teens, & lost her eyesight shortly after she was married from a severe brain infection that nearly took her life.  She has gone on to have 3 children & is doing a "top-notch" job of raising them.  The story on the news last night focused on how she cooks fabulous & easy meals for her family, but also shared so much more on how she is overcoming her challenges.  I'm not sure I know how to create links on this blog, but you can go to to link up to her blog.  I love, love, love hearing & reading about others who are dealing with pretty big challenges in such a positive way.  There is so much to be grateful for in life, & so much to hope for because our Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us!  Love always, Kim

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2 Year Anniversary

     I'm not sure if anyone is even reading this anymore--I'm terrible about writing on a regular basis.  I was trying to write a few days after each chemo treatment, but really slacked off this last time.  I actually had a treatment of Doxil on September 7th, but just haven't felt very well & couldn't motivate myself to sit down & write.  Today is the two-year anniversary of the day I was originally diagnosed with cancer.  I know things were "cooking" in there much longer than that, but things became "official" two years ago.  This past week, I've really been contemplating the fact that I'm still here & thinking about all the changes that have occurred during this time.  The other day I was reading some stories of cancer survivors---I don't know if you can call me a survivor since I'm still battling the darn thing, but, in some ways I feel as if I'm not only "surviving", but might actually be "thriving".  Don't get me wrong--if I were given the choice, this is absolutely not what I would choose in my life, but two year's perspective has helped me to see that this experience has been vital to my spiritual & emotional growth.  And then, when I have those days where I feel tired, achy, cranky, miserable & downright scared about where things are headed, I realize how much more I need to grow!
     Today we had a wonderful lesson & discussion in Relief Society on faith, & one of the "take away" lessons for me was to "give the Lord a chance" in our lives.  We are His children & can only begin to understand how much He loves us individually--each & every one of us.  He is just waiting to bless & help us with all that is going on in our lives--our small every day events are just as important to Him as the huge challenges we face.   Two years ago, my life circumstances made me humble myself  & give Him a chance to work His miracles in my life.  Each time I have truly exercised my faith in my Savior, He has blessed me in ways that are unmistakable!  I have felt His love & He has helped me to have peace & hope in His plan for me.  Sometimes the adversary is so strong with the doubts, worry & fear that he plants into my mind & heart, and I need to continually turn to the Savior for healing.  Some days I do better at this than other days.  How I wish that I were perfectly faithful & always turned to Him for guidance & help!  How much more joy, happiness & peace could I have, & could I bring to my family if I could do so?  But, the Savior is always faithful to me, granting me that portion of His spirit that I need most at that time, when I sincerely humble myself & pray to Him for help.  There is so much more in my heart that I wish I could articulate at this time.  I pray that some day I will be blessed to speak as the angels do & praise my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I have a testimony that He lives!  He is our Redeemer & His Atonement is real.  Love, Kim

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer's Almost Over

     I've heard from several of you that it's been too long since I've written--I'm so sorry!  Our summer has been just as hectic, crazy & fun as everyone else's!  Jarett received his mission call & opened it when we were on our way down to the Grand Canyon for a quick family trip after the 4th of July.  He has been called to serve in the California San Bernardino Mission--Spanish speaking.  We are so excited for him!!! He doesn't leave to go into the MTC until November 14th, so he'll be moving home this month from Provo to spend the next 3 months.  It's going to be tough finding a job for this short time, so keep your fingers crossed for him.  His little brothers are thrilled that he'll be home full-time, & I'm just hoping not to drive him completely nuts before he leaves.  Unfortunately, having cancer has NOT diminished my ability to constantly nag.  If anything, it's made it worse--I feel I may have less time to teach my children how to be decent human beings, so sometimes I go into overdrive & make us all miserable.
     I did pretty good with my last chemo treatment--the burns weren't too awful & I was able to do okay with the tiredness.  Some good friends of ours, Jeff & Melanie Shaw, invited our family to go to Lake Powell with them during the time of the worst side effects & I handled them pretty well.  It was just wonderful to be there relaxing, reading, eating great food & having my boys all completely entertained--thank you Shaw Family!
     The new chemo schedule with the Doxil is going to be every 5 weeks--that seems to be the magic formula for letting my white blood counts get high enough to receive it.  I received my 4th treament of the Doxil yesterday, & just a few hours ago received the good news that my CA-125 had dropped from 65 to 53.  I'm somewhat surprised because I've had some stomach aches the past couple of weeks, & had worked my frenzied mind into thinking that the cancer was having a party inside of me again.  I feel sooo relieved & grateful.  I wish there were more words I could use besides "grateful" & "thankful" to describe my emotions.  I am not articulate, & that is one of the reasons why it takes me so long to write.  Your prayers are continuing to be felt & are so (gratefully) appreciated.  I know there are many others in need of prayers, & I try to be mindful of them as I pray.  I am especially grateful for Vern at this time.  He has many heavy burdens to bear, & he willingly & quietly bears them.  He has to deal with the worst parts of me, & on this cancer journey has patiently supported & loved me.  Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ are continually mindful of us--They love us & are so happy when we love each other.  Thank you for loving me.
Always, Kim  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This Summer So Far..

Things are going well so far this summer.  I went in last Monday, June 25th for my chemo treatment, but my white blood counts weren't high enough and they had to put it off until yesterday.  They still weren't quite where they wanted them to be, but Dr. Prystas decided to go ahead.  The Doxil has worked very well as my CA-125 has gone down to 65.  Whoo hoo!  That's the lowest it's ever been since I began this journey!  I'm still trying to get used to this new chemo treatment.  It is definitely much easier in many ways, but it's been kind of unpredictable.  With the last chemo, I knew that I was going to feel crummy for the first 5 days and then I'd feel better.  The Doxil is slowly released over a period of a few weeks, and so I'll be feeling good for some days and crummy for others--I just never know when I'm going to have the crummy days, so it's more difficult to plan things.  I also got some bad burns--from the inside out--on the skin between my fingers and toes about 18 days after my last treatment.  They are still sore & healing and I hope they won't get worse with this last treatment.  It has been an extremely busy summer so far.  We've had a lot of family company from out of state the last couple of weeks--and I have been really tired at times--but it has been wonderful to have them here!  I'm so thankful that I can still be here, and feeling well enough to have spent this time with them.  We are waiting for Jarett's mission call to arrive this week (hopefully), and I know this is going to bring some big changes in our lives the next few months.  Life is sooo good!  What a blessing to be on this earth at this time--to have my family, friends and the gospel of Jesus Christ--He is everything!!!  All my love, Kim

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Just Trying to Keep Up

     Sorry to those of you who have been waiting for me to post.  Once school got out, it's just been crazy & I'm just doing my best to keep up with these kids of mine!  I had my last chemo treatment on May 29th & then received the good news that my CA-125 DID drop down to 148.  That was a huge surprise for us, since Dr. Prystas had told us a couple of times that we could expect it to actually go up the first couple of rounds.  The other really good news is that I can no longer even feel the lump in my chest muscle, so this chemo seems to be working pretty well.  It's actually the easiest I've had with all the different chemo drugs I've done.  In fact, I left for California 5 days after this last treatment & went to S. California with my boys & my sister's family.  We had a great time tromping around Disneyland & Legoland, but I have definitely been dragging since I got home.  In fact, about 3 weeks ago I ran into someone & caught myself telling them, "I don't know why I'm so darned tired!"  Then I remembered...Duh!  You have cancer....I actually thought that it was pretty cool that for a few minutes my thoughts weren't with this nasty cancer, & I was just trying to figure out why I was so darned tired that day. :-)  All in all, this summer has gotten off to a really good start & the next few weeks are filled with all sorts of fun activities with family & friends.
     I went to the S.L. Temple today & looked down at my temple recommend & realized that I need to get it renewed this month.  I just thought, "Yea!", because I remembered the first time I went to the temple after I was diagnosed & my recommend was still fairly new.  On that day, I was thinking, "I probably won't still be here to meet with the Bishop & Stake President for another one."  How incredibly excited I am to be able to meet with them this month & renew this precious piece of paper that allows me to attend the Temple.  Other than my own home, the Temple is the place I most want to be, & I can hardly wait for the day that all my children will be there with me & Vern.
     I continue to be so grateful for your faith, love & prayers.  Love, Kim

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Running As Fast As I Can

     It has been a busy, busy past couple of weeks--I feel as if I've been running as fast as I can--both literally & figuratively.  Vern and Kali have been gone to Guatemala the past 10 days doing some sightseeing & some service dental work in a clinic down there.  They arrive home tomorrow & I can hardly wait to see them & hear all about their trip.  I'm so glad that things went well with my health before & during their trip, so that they could have this opportunity.  I'm grateful that they could serve in this way, as so much service has been given to us.  I've been busy shuttling the little boys back & forth between various sports & activities, & it's been good that Jarett's been home to do all my hard spring yard work the past 10 days.  It's been good to have him home--I always feel safer when he's here.  Today I walked/ran the last 9 miles of the Ogden Marathon with my friend, Heidi.  What a beautiful day & what a marvelous experience to be able to run the gorgeous canyon again!  By the time we finished, I felt like I was walking on "bloody stumps", but the emotional lift I received from doing it far outweighs the aches & pains I'm feeling tonight.  It was great to see old running friends while I was doing it, & so wonderful to be doing this with Heidi--we've had our ups & downs running this race over the past few years & this was definitely an "up" year for me.
     Today was a much needed boost for me after the beginning of my week.  I met with my surgeon, Dr. Reading, on Monday & learned that the lump in my breast is most likely another tumor.  She said that she can remove it if I want, but that she knows she wouldn't be able to get clean margins because it's in the chest muscle, & it will just likely reoccur in that area.  Since they know I still have cancer cells floating around in my abdomen, this new tumor doesn't really change anything as far as my treatment & the eventual outcome of this journey goes.  Since I've received the chemo, I've noticed that the lump is much less noticeable--it isn't tender like it was initially, & it's not as well defined. appears that the new chemo drug is working on it.  It was kind of hard to hear the news--not that it was anything new--I knew I still had the darned cancer in me!  It just seems as if I will most likely be doing chemo until I can't do it anymore.  Sometimes I try to go through my days pretending that I don't have cancer, & this new lump just made it all the more visible physically for me.  But, as with each new twist & turn on this journey, I needed a few days to just process everything emotionally & cry.  I do cry once in awhile still, but I always feel better when I can focus on what I DO have, rather than on what I might not have.  I can't say thank you enough for the kind thoughts, words & prayers--I still feel protected by this big "bubble of love".  Love always, Kim

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Chemo

This is going to be a short one--it's Sunday night and I'm tired. It's been a good day--one of those days at church where you feel as if every lesson, talk and/or testimony is meant directly for you.  I've been weeping on and off throughout the day--not out of sadness--mostly out of gratitude for knowing that my needs are known and I'm being taken care of.  My numbers did go up again after my last chemo--darn!--so I had a CT scan last Monday, and then my chemo treatment with a new drug--Doxil.  Things went pretty well for both.  Not much shows up on the scan except for a soft tissue nodule in my chest, very close to where the tumor in my breast was initially.  Dr. Prystas isn't sure exactly what it is, or how it's related to my cancer.  She doesn't think that even if it is a new tumor, that it's responsible for my CA-125 numbers going up as much as they have--the cancer is obviously still at work in my body on the cellular level.  I'm working on getting an appointment with my surgeon to figure out what to do with the nodule.  It appears to be just between the skin and my rib cage, so hopefully it will be easy to remove if that's what we decide to do.  The chemo doesn't seem to be as bad as what I've done in the past.  I actually felt pretty well Monday through Wednesday.  I went to bed Wednesday night starting to worry that because I wasn't feeling terrible, the chemo must not be working.  What a blessing to wake up Thursday morning feeling achy & tired! I've had moments where the worry, fear and discouragement start to set in, but for the most part I'm feeling at peace with everything.  I have to keep looking at the "big picture" and remember how thankful I am to still be here and participating in my family's life.  Kali graduated from USU yesterday--YEA!--and it was a marvelous blessing to be able to see her walk across that stage.  I am incredibly proud of her and the young woman she has become.  A year ago, I couldn't even imagine being able to have the experience I had yesterday--every day is a bonus and a blessing.  Thank you again for the prayers--I feel as if I've been wrapped up in a big "bubble" these past couple of weeks.  This "bubble" has protected me from the discouragement that could so easily beset me at this time.  The prayers are doing so much to strengthen and bless me--thank you again.  Love always, Kim

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CA-125 Update

Well, I had my 16th chemo treatment two days ago, & received my CA-125 numbers yesterday. Unfortunately, they've gone from 82 to 173. I can't say that I was surprised. I've just had a feeling this past week that things weren't going to continue to go as smoothly as they had been. In fact, I had a couple of "tender mercy" experiences on Sunday, that I think helped prepare me to receive the news, so I'm doing pretty good. Dr. Prystas says that it's possible there was a lab error in running the blood test, and so I'll go to McKay-Dee next Wednesday to have my blood drawn & redo the test. If the numbers are still elevated, then she'll probably order another scan to see if perhaps there is a small tumor growing somehwere that can be surgically removed. If they don't see any signs of a tumor, then she'll probably switch my chemo medications. Fortunately, one of the drugs that was unavailable to me last fall is now available, & she thinks that would be a good choice. I won't know anything until next Thursday or Friday.
In the meantime, life goes on. I'm receiving my Christmas present this weekend from Vern--tickets to see the Donny & Marie show in Las Vegas. We'll be heading down to Vegas on Friday morning to spend the weekend. I am so excited! My kids think I'm lame, and I don't know that Vern's real excited about the show, but I am thrilled to be seeing my childhood crush. Vern puts so much thought into his gifts to me, & I am really very grateful to be going--it will be a nice break for the two of us. Next week I'll be heading to BYU Women's Conference with Mom, my aunt Phyllis, Julie, Heidi, Elsie & some friends. I am so happy to be able to go down there, and know that it will be the best place for me--physically & spiritually--to get whatever the news is going to be from Dr. Prystas.
Thank you all again for your sweet thoughts & prayers. I have heard from so many of you these past few weeks, & am continually touched by your continuing to think of me, and serve me & my family. I am so blessed to be loved by so many of you--this has been an incredibly difficult, yet sweet experience for me. I have really come to know how much Heavenly Father loves each of us, & how very involved He is in our lives. I know that I probably receive so many more "tender mercies" from Him than I am even aware of, & I hope I can open my eyes better to see His blessings & workings in my life. Love, Kim

Friday, March 23, 2012

My veins are shot!

I had my 14th chemo treatment on Monday, & my veins are finally done for. Kathy (the wonder nurse) has been just awesome at always being able to find a vein & get the needle in with the minimum of pain & fuss, but it's been a bit more challenging for her the past couple of times. On Monday, she just couldn't find one on my left arm that would work at all--she had to put it in the right, which is not ideal since I had 11 lymph nodes removed from that side & have to be careful about anything involving the circulatory system in that arm. I am headed into LDS Hospital this afternoon for a small procedure to implant a port-a-cath into my chest that will make receiving the chemo & doing blood work extremely easy. You may be wondering why this wasn't done 18 months ago, because many people have this done before they ever start any chemo. Well, one of the downsides to it is that you then have to take a blood-thinner every day to reduce the risk of blood clots--although I've been told that the dosage is so small that I probably won't notice the side effects of it. And Kathy explained to me on Monday that they try to let their patients go as long as possible without a port, because when you first get that nasty cancer diagnosis there is so much that changes in your life & not having a port is just one more way that we can keep things somewhat "normal". I am really glad that I've been able to go 18 months without one--Kathy has been so good at doing my IV's that it's not been that awful & it's been nice not to have to have one more weird thing going on in my body. Soooo, as you can well imagine I am, once again, NOT excited about the upcoming swimsuit season.

On the upside, my CA-125 numbers dropped from 90 to 82--yea! It's not a huge drop, but because it's getting down under 100, it's not likely to drop drastically. It's just wonderful that it dropped! At this point in time, the plan is to keep doing chemo every other week until my numbers quit dropping. If & when they stabilize, we may continue to do the chemo, but just not as frequently--maybe every 3-4 weeks.

The last couple of weeks I have been trying to prepare for a talk I get to give next Thursday at a RS Birthday Social. The theme for the evening is "We are His Hands", & I have been spending time re-reading through the last 18 months of journal entries. This is honestly the first time in my entire life when I have kept a journal on a regular basis. I have really gained a testimony of the importance of writing our life experiences & thoughts down. I know it's a blessing at the time I write, because it helps my mind to focus on the good things that occur each day & increases my gratitude. But, I am now seeing what a blessing it is to re-read and remember the "tender mercies" of the Lord. Some people reading my journal might say that the things that occur daily in my life are small & insignificant--that many of the sweet things that occur are just coincidences. That is not how I see them--as I read them, I am reminded again of the love my Heavenly Father has for me, & the small & simple ways that He expresses His love. As I read the entries about the service that others have performed for me & my family, my heart swells once again with love & gratitude for them. I don't think my children read this blog-- but if they ever do, one thing I would tell them to do is keep a journal & write every day about the blessings & tender mercies they 've received that day. When you know you are going to write it down & express thanks to God for it, I believe your eyes are more open to the blessings & little miracles that He is continually bestowing upon all His children. Much love, Kim

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trying to See the Big Picture

I had my 12th treatment this week, & received the call the next day telling me that my CA-125 numbers went down again from 161 to 90. I'm just amazed that they have continued to come down significantly each time with this different protocol, especially since the side effects aren't near as bad as what I went through last year. I have really felt well the past month--other than the tiredness (which may be completely normal for someone closer to 50 than 40!), I have had relatively few of the weird aches & pains on my "off" week that had so plagued me in the first few months. Many days I feel almost as normal as I did before I got sick.

I read a book this week, a memoir about cancer called "Between Me & The River", by Carrie Host. It's an excellent book & her experiences have been very similar to mine--although she is a very gifted writer & has the ability to articulate her thoughts, feelings & experiences much better than I ever could. I very much relate to her feelings about "living" with cancer, because that seems to be the part I'm struggling with right now. Each day I awake with my heart full of gratitude that I've been granted one more day, but then find myself sliding back into old habits & weaknesses when I was so hoping that this whole cancer thing would make me practically perfect--aarrgh! One small example(among many I could use): I have now found the 20 lbs. I initially lost the first couple of months & then at least another 10, not counting all the weight I should have lost with the many body parts that are now missing. I've officially moved out of my "fat" pants & need to order a bigger size & that has been causing me a ridiculously stupid amount of time & mental energy. I remember just 16 months ago when I looked like death warmed over, I promised Heavenly Father that if He would just let me live to raise my children, I would NEVER, EVER again worry about my weight &/or what I looked like--I am so frustrated that I'm right back to square one with this!

Over the years, as I've read through the Bible & Book of Mormon, I have been dumfounded at the many times the Lord comes in to rescue His rebellious children only to have them turn around within a short period of time & go back to their old ways. I have marveled at what I've thought was their stupidity, & His absolute love, compassion & patience with them. I am incredibly grateful for these scriptures that remind me again & again of His plan for us, and His patience & longsuffering with our weaknesses. I am striving every day to keep looking at the BIG picture & remember what this life is all about--loving God & loving others. That's it--everything else is just a distraction that takes my energy away from those two things that will bring me eternal happiness, & help bring the same gift to those I love. Tomorrow is another day, & hopefully I'll be here to have a go at it! Love always, Kim

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Numbers are Still Coming Down

Disneyland 2012

I'm on the tail-end of a chemo treatment today. I had it on Monday, the 23rd & am just today feeling almost normal. I was able to go out to dinner & a movie last night with Sue, but was still feeling funky & had a bad stomachache after dinner. I need to learn to take it easy--when food finally starts really sounding good I have a tendency to go crazy & eat too much, & my stomach just isn't able to handle it all! I was so pleased to learn this week that my numbers had dropped this last month from 266 to 161. I have to say that I was very surprised. I really felt that they were going to stay pretty much the same, or go up. It seems that the farther along I go with the chemo treatments, the more weird "symptoms" I feel in my abdomen--so it kind of messes with my mind. I've noticed that I'm much more tired this time around than with the chemo I was doing last year, & I've been alot more emotional these past few weeks. So many people tell me that I'm handling things so well, but there are some days that are incredibly difficult emotionally, & I do throw myself a "pity party" every now & again. I am so very grateful that my Mom is with me the weeks I do chemo. I am in awe at the number of people I hear about who are doing chemo & still going to work at their jobs! Mom does so much to help me with the kids, the house, laundry & meals--but just having her with me during the day--so I'm not alone--is the greatest blessing.

We had a fun trip to Disneyland 2 weeks ago--the weather was great & there were 15 members of the Cloward family who joined with us. We'd rented a house all together & the kids just had a marvelous time with each other! How grateful I am to have such great family & to be so close to them--we truly love & enjoy each other.

Thank you, thank you to all who continue to keep me in your thoughts & prayers. I am continually bowled over by the kindness of so many of you--the sweet notes, texts, calls, words of comfort & hugs mean so much to me. I am ever mindful that there are many others that are struggling with all manner of "diseases"--whether they be physically, mentally or emotionally. And it is our privilege & blessing to be able to offer up whatever we have to help ease their burdens. Our Heavenly Father's plan is just perfect, & I am thankful that He uses us as instruments in His hands to bless each other--both those who give, & those who receive are blessed by His love. Thank you so much for giving to me. Love always, Kim

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's A(nother) New Year!

Christmas Eve

Mom told me today that it was time to update my blog...I'm either feeling yucky (chemo week) or so busy (non-chemo week) & I'm not very good at doing this. I am feeling very blessed to be able to welcome in another new year, even though it was pretty low-key at our place last night. I did the end-of-year bookkeeping for the dental office on New Year's Eve day & then Vern & I caught a quick bite around 2pm. I layed around the rest of the evening just resting & watching TV--boring. The boys were busy playing video games most of yesterday, & around 10pm, Braedon wondered why we weren't having a party--it was a pretty lame night. Everyone but Vern & Jarett were asleep by midnight.
The Christmas holiday has been just wonderful! I had the week off chemo before Christmas & was able to really enjoy the time with all our family. We had family parties with both the Clowards and Iversons, & then spent Christmas with just our family. Kali brought a friend, Stephanie, home for the holiday & we had a couple of great days. Julie's family came up the night of Christmas to hang out & ended up sleeping over--what a delight to have cousins to play with!
I also just love when Christmas falls on a Sunday & we have the opportunity of attending church. My heart was just full as I sat there surrounded by people I love, & who have shown their love so abundantly to me. I am so very grateful to my Savior for making all these wonderful things possible in my life! His birth, perfect life & atonement are priceless gifts that I know I am completely unworthy of--I marvel at His love for me.
I went in for my chemo treatment just this last Tuesday & received the good news that my CA-125 numbers are continuing to come down (from 412 to 266) & my other organs seem to be
holding up okay under the onslaught of the drugs. I'm still feeling a little funky today, but I'm sure that it's because the holidays were too much fun & I know we're all more than a little tired. I'm going in for another treatment this Friday, which is earlier than I normally go, because we have a little family trip scheduled for the following week & I want to be "over" the worst & feeling good for it.
I've had a good start to the new year, & am looking forward to setting some goals & working to achieve them. While I feel as if I've grown so much this past year, there are also many days where I question whether I'm doing very well with this precious time I've been granted--I've really slacked off in certain areas & have used the cancer & chemo as my excuse. I'm so thankful for opportunities to start anew, & thankful to my Savior for making it possible. Know how much I love all of you, & am continually thankful for your love & support. It's been wonderful to hear from, & see, so many friends this past month. Love always, Kim