Friday, June 10, 2011


Our bathroom has been unusable for probably a couple of years now. We finally found the tunnel (income tax return check) and are beginning to see that there just might be a light at the end of it.

Do you have any idea how complicated it can be to install a shower?? There are a few layers of waterproof stuff under this backerboard that you see. Again, Dave is doing a very professional job and has gleaned all his know how from watching video after video on the internet of how to install a shower.

We are ready to pick out tile and finally do some things that will show! We have a vanity, vanity top, shower and sink fixtures already bought but they are all waiting to be installed because we have to get the shower floor and bathroom floor tiled first, right? And if you're tiling the shower floor, you're certainly going to do the walls at the same time, right? No, we don't have a window in the shower. That black square is a cut out that will eventually be tiled and will then be a place to put shampoo, conditioner, etc. The floor of the shower has to slant toward the drain so you don't end up with standing water. All sorts of complicated things to think about. You really have no idea how many procedures are underneath those tiles you stand on when you shower.

This is what we are calling a wild tomato plant. It just started grownig and do I mean growing! The tomatos are too big to be cherry and too small to be beef steak so we aren't quite sure what is sprouting up, but it is sprouting beautifully!

This will probably be the last year for plums. Besides, the birds get to them before we do anyway. The tree is getting much too large for its location and is beginning to do damage to the sidewalk. Dave wants to take it out this summer.

Now if this won't make any of you ex-patriates come back then nothing will. Take a look at what is growing on our side yard. And they taste even better than they look!

Austen and his swim coach.

Coach Mikesell gave Austen a very coveted award. It is the Grafton Weiss Pride Hustle and Desire Award. Coach Weiss was a much loved and respected Water Polo and Swim coach that passed away a few years back (only in his early 50's). He and Coach Mikesell were very close, so the award doesn't go to anyone that Coach Mikesell doesn't feel is worthy of it. Austen worked very hard this year, lettered, and made All Orange League second team. A very good year. We are indeed proud of him!

This one will be hard to believe, so that's why it is recorded on "film". Austen, at the banquet, actually talking to some of the girls on the swim team.

Looking forward to summer. School is out in 3 more days and I only have 7 more days of work!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Times!

This is a picture of me on March 6th and I am very very happy. I am happy in this picture because of the opportunity I had to go to Idaho and share the baptism of two of my grandchildren, Eden and Jack. Today, March 22, I am also very very happy.

I had an appointment with one of my doctors today. He performed a biopsy on the tumor about two weeks ago. I went today for results. The results were negative, meaning that they found no cancer cells in the tumor. I didn't show much emotion with the doctor there - I just asked him questions. I was told so far - so good. I will continue to be monitored every 3 months or so by him and by the oncologist and by the radiologist. Not sure how long it actually takes before they can say the words "cancer free", but for now, I will take this!

After the doctor left, I even surprised myself at the emotion that I felt. Even though I don't think I am stressed, I must be or why else would I break down all by myself in the examining room? It was a wonderful opportunity for a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving however, and I took full advantage of it. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father saw fit to answer my prayers in the way that I was hoping for. I know He always answers prayers. Sometimes though, the answer is "No" or "Not Yet".

We went to Pancho's to celebrate!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Return to Normalcy

For the last 3 1/2 months, things have been anything but "normal" or "ordinary" for me. I was diagnosed on September 24th with a squamous cell cancer. I had my first of two chemo treatments and first of 31 radiation treatments both on October 15th. I continued to work for a while, but began a medical leave of absence on November 13th.

I am so pleased to report that some assemblance to normalcy returns to my life tomorrow, January 11th. Finally, after 8 weeks of being on a medical leave, I am returning to work! I am both pleased and nervous at the same time. Pleased to be with some mighty wonderful people again who gave me strength, encouraged and helped me along this journey every single step of the way. Pleased to be back at a job that I have always enjoyed. Nervous to know that I have to be in an upright position for eight hours straight.....but confident that I can do it, none the less.

Normal, in that I usually get to go to Boise, Idaho about twice a year to see 3 daughters, 3 sons in-law, and seven sweet grandchildren. I was due to go in October for my second visit of 2009 but couldn't due to treatment schedules. In the meantime, a new little grandaughter was born and so finally, in January, I was able to see them all and meet the newest little one! Now that there are eight grandchildren so far away.....well, there ought to be a law! All of my family has been so supportive, including the Idaho bunch, as witnessed by my greeting party at the airport.

Other normal things are being able to attend and be active at church again. There are so many many wonderful people there who have supported me and helped me along this rocky road. The comfort and knowledge that we have a loving Savior took so much worry and burden from me. There are friends of friends, and friends of bloggers and friends of friends of friends who have also prayed for and supported me. There are some mighty wonderful and generous people out there, aren't there?

We didn't get to attend as many H20 Polo games as I would have liked, but it was wonderful to be able to attend the H20 Polo Banquet. I guess this could be classified as a "normal" thing to do, but for a while yet, doing something "normal" will be pretty special to me.

I know I'm not out of the woods yet. Lots of tests still to be taken to see what the status of the cancer is, but I figure that since I am feeling so much better than I was in September something good must have happened.

All I have to offer to everyone is a most inadequate THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I have learned that normal and ordinary are two very wonderful blessings to have in one's life.

And by the way, does anyone know how to submit someone for sainthood? Please let me know if you do. My sweet husband Dave is certainly worthy to be a saint. He did everything that was asked of him and then anything he could think of in addition. He knew when things were the toughest and I was at my lowest, and his strength and encouragement pulled me up and out every single time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Tis the Season.....

Earlier in the week Dave told me to save Wednesday night, as he has something planned for us to do but it was a surprise. Rolled my eyes and wondered what he had up his sleeve. He isn't one for planning very many surprises, but when he does, it is a pretty good one! As it turned out, he just had to make sure we were home on Wednesday evening.

So Wednesday night rolls around and I ask him what time we are leaving for our "surprise" and he says about 5:00 - 5:30. O.K. I say, so I am sitting, relaxing and waiting for the time to pass, wondering if we are going to dinner or a movie or if he found something a little different in the newspaper to go and do. So I am reading a book, waiting for time to pass, when I hear the unmistakable sound of live band instruments in our front yard.

So I walk slowly down our hallway and open the front door. Outside, completely covering our front lawn were dozens of people. I was greeted by members of our band, playing Christmas music. Not only was our band there, but others had come to join in as well.

Our choir director was there, with members of choir and other students and staff members as well. They sang while accompanied by the band.

Our band director was there, directing the band, of course!

It took a little bit of organizing between band director and choir director, but they got it together marvelously. I enjoyed every single second of it.

I am watching everyone - and completely overwhelmed. It was cold outside, but I didn't feel any kind of a chill at all until everyone had left. I was so completely and totally overwhelmed at the time that others took from their Holiday celebrations (it is December 23rd for Pete's sake!) to come and share with me. The warmth and love that was there completely melted the chill in the air. I truly didn't feel it at all. (Maybe the Boise folks will scoff at the 50 degree "chill" that was in the air at the time, but coats and thermal underwear were certainly in order for this California gal.)

A few staff members took time from their own Holiday preparations and families to come and join in.

The baseball team was there. Thanks generous Katella parents for sharing your kids with me.

Some of choir was there - one of the girls even wearing her black and purple Knights Fighting Cancer shirt.

Me and the band. Aren't they beautiful????
Of course you will never see anything like this in the newspaper. You don't hear much of love and generosity and giving and kindness in the press or on the news - mostly it is of toys being stolen and hearts being broken at this time of year. If you are lucky enough though, you might be able to experience this feeling of Good Will Toward Men and sharing. It's out there. Proof enough?
Go Knights!
(Of course I will never be able to say "No" to another student or group or club again after I return to work. Last minute requisition? No problem! Need a check yesterday? Here it is!!! )
Love you all! (and thanks again...)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wonderful Colleagues

As I kind of hinted at in my last post, I was going to tell about "Knights Fighting Cancer".

Below is a photograph I took of a picture that hangs front and center in our family room. Across the bottom it says "Knights Fighting Cancer". In the picture is the Staff at Katella High School, the place where I work. On the matt of the picture are the signatures of those wonderful people at Katella High School.

They all took the time from a staff meeting to do this for me. I can't imagine what it was like to organize over 100 people and get them all up there on time and in some assemblance of order and then all look at the camera at the same time. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? Then to get them all to individually come in and sign the matt at well. It is so nicely and professionally framed, as you can see, and the little purple ribbon adds a touch of class.

It radiates warmth and love everytime I pass it. It also makes me smile, no matter how difficult that particular day might be.

And speaking of purple. . . . .
After a bit of research by a staff member, it was learned that my particular cancer is symbolized by the color purple. Armed with this infomation, a small movement began. Staff members were asked to wear purple on Wednesdays as a show of support for me or for anyone else that they knew of that was also fighting a battle with cancer. I had no knowledge of this request or of anything else that was going on. I was still working on the first Wednesday this was to happen. I arrived at work and noticed that there was a lot of purple walking around, especially among staff members. I idly wondered about it from time to time but dismissed it just as quickly, too, as mine is a busy office without much time to idly wonder about things. It wasn't until later in the day that I was told what it was all about. I absolutely came apart. Everytime I saw a staff member after that I had to deal with tears of love and gratitude. Then I learned that black tee shirts with purple ribbons printed on them, along with purple bracelets, had been ordered and staff could buy them. If you could see more detail in the picture, you would see that most people are wearing their tee shirts.

The students were talked to in class about cancer and the battle that it was and they too were asked to wear purple if they knew someone who was dealing with it. There was a sweet young girl who put together dozens and dozens of purple ribbons to pass out, just in case anyone had forgotten. I also received a purple IPod with music already on it. It's kind of known that I'm not much of a techie so everything was taken care of for me.

I have received cards in addition, both from people at Katella and people with my job at other schools in the district. They have all truly helped so much.

Aren't I lucky to work with such a wonderful group of people?


Sunday, December 6, 2009


So I thought I had hit a wall last time. Little did I know that it was only a speed bump.

Here are a few pictures though. This is the radiation machine. Treatments are generally daily. Will explain that part later. I climb up on the "bed" and lie face down. They move the bed forward and then get me in perfect position by moving me a tad up or down or left or right, usually by just pulling the sheet that is under me.

Then, as you can see in this picture, after I am positioned perfectly, the whole bed raises up and moves forward. That is me, lying on the table. (They have modestly covered me up for my photo shoot!) So I will get a treatment of radiation in this position. It literally takes less than 5 minutes and then they change the position of the machine to get the tumor from a different angle.
It just rolls under me while I stay in the same position. They shoot the radiation beams from this angle, again taking less than 5 minutes. Then they lower the table to it's original position, back it out, and then I scoot down and climb off, returning again in 24 hours to do it all over again. Through this part of the treatment I feel absolutly nothing except how cold it is in that room. I always have a sweatshirt or jacket on under the hospital gown. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the treatment itself - it's just the air conditioning.

At the beginning of this blog I bravely put a "before" picture. Then, I was going to put an "after" picture when things were done. Here is a "during" picture. Not to frighten anyone, but I have seen even worse "during" sites of me in mirrors. Things are progressing though.

I still have enough hair that I can go out in public without worrying about it. I think I am done losing hair now though and it will hopefully thicken up again as new hair grows in. I have finished both of my chemo treatments (2nd one was November 12 - 16) with very very little side effects. I still have the PICC in my arm however. They're just being sure that I won't need any kind of hydration or transfusions before the radiation is over. If so, the PICC is the quickest and most efficient way of administering both.
Originally I was to be done with the radiation on November 25th, the day before Thanksgiving. I had been having daily treatments since October 15th. On the 19th of November (a Thursday)however, I asked my doctor about hospitalization. Skin damage due to radiation was getting very severe. Skin was peeling and seeping and bleeding. Walking was difficult at best, and I began using a wheel chair to get to and from our car and my appointments. Sitting was not a lot better. I found out the true meaning of the word excruciating. I use it to describe what it was like going to the bathroom when the acid from the urine would hit that skin. I couldn't imagine continuing on like this so I asked the doctor about being hospitalized. I imagined being on a constant IV drip for pain while I continued with the treatments (only had five more to go at that point). Instead though, he stopped the treatments for 7 days, and that had two weekends included, so for 11 days I went without radiation so I could heal some. Between all of your prayers and my prayers and the things I learned from reading in the scriptures and the promises of the Atonement I healed enough so that I could begin treatments again on December 2nd. At this writing I only have 2 more treatments to go - Monday the 7th and Tuesday the 8th. Things are going very very well.
I won't go into detail about the pain patches that one wears 24/7, and stronger pain tablets (that one takes in addition to the patches every 4 hours), and salves and ointments and bathroom procedures that often take half an hour. Almost all of that is behind me now though, and as I said, things are going very very well. (If you want details of things I have leanred and discovered to make things a bit more tolerable so that it might posssibly help someone elseI would be glad to share. Give me a call.)
I'll just end this post by saying that we are promised some pretty wonderful things in the scriptures. All we need to do is be aware of them (and of course we become aware of them by reading about them), and then simply ask for thoses blessings.
I have so many things to share. I still need 2-3 naps daily though and can feel a need for one now! Can hardly wait to tell you about Knights Fighting Cancer.
Love and thanks to everyone who has supported me and helped me along this journey.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hit the Wall!

Don't even have the energy to take a picture to post. I guess you can tell though, I haven't been on the loop or either of my blogs in over a week. Whew! Hit a wall. No energy and no enthusiasm. I am also officially on leave at work. I have an 8 hour job for a reason, and putting in three, four or five hours a day just wasn't keeping up. I asked for a sub and they have "ordered one".

I am now 2/3 of the way through my treatments. My last chemo started today. Same as last time. Wearing a battery pack that will administer the chemo drip 24/7 for 4 days. Everyone celebrate with me on Monday at 4:30 p.m. That's when they will take off the battery pack/chemo drip!!! Am a bit scared as to the side effects. My body is a bit more tired and weak this time around, but I had a wonderful blessing tonight administered by my angel husband and our bishop. That's probably why I am feeling good enough to write a few lines.

The chemo stays in your system about 6 or so weeks. That is why I am starting to lose my hair now, so long after the first treatment. Doctor said I shouldn't lose it all though, maybe about 30% more with this treatment. I guess we will just see how thin it can get before something needs to be done. (If it needs to be done at all.......) Sweet Jody spent about an hour with me learning to tie scarf knots and seeing it done on U Tube and watching it over and over again so I could feel encouraged about doing it. We learned a lot! (You gotta wear earrings was probably Number 1!)

Mouth sores was the worst - but there is a wonderful prescription called Magic Mouthwash (no, it really is called that) and it is a miracle worker. All I am asking of it is one more miracle!

My final radiation treatment is November 25th. Another day for everyone to celebrate at around 5:00 p.m. (My standing appointment is at 4:30)

And last but not least. I have been finding some time to read on and off and have been making some notes about things that have struck a chord with me. I won't put them all in this entry, but maybe eventually they will make it in other enteries.

Here are two of the first things I learned:

Worry: It is fruitless to worry about the things you cannot change. Also, don't worry about the things you can change. If they are important enough to worry about, then change it! (Stop wasting your energy by worrying spinning your wheels needlessly!)

When we pray, we often ask God to change the external aspects of our lives. This way, we don't have to change internally. (Bam! Think about that one!!!)