Monday, December 19, 2011

A Bump In The Road

Things were going well in my life.  I picked Tashi up from the airport on Aug. 20th as she was going to attend BYU this year.  Stephen also is attending BYU so that is fun.    I liked being her mother for a few days.  She is such a great gal.  I felt young for a bit there.

On the 22nd while I had Tashi at my house, Lexi and Bear came through on their way back to school in Virginia.  They will both be attending Southern Virginia University again this year and they are both on scholarship which is good.
Lexi and Bear

The phone rang just as they drove up.  It was Nancy, Paul's wife calling with news no one ever wants to hear.  She had found a lump in her breast a week or so before but she and the doctor both felt it was due to her breast feeding their 8 month old baby.  She had an ultrasound just to be sure.  On ultrasound it looked like cancer so a biopsy was done.  The results                                 were back, and indeed, it was cancer.

What a bombshell.  I had had enough experience with cancer, I thought, to last a life time--my son in law Scott died at age 25 of Ewing's Sarcoma, I had had breast cancer, I had just lost a spouse to Neuroendocrine carcinoma and now my 35 year old daughter in law was facing breast cancer.  It seemed like too much to bear to watch this little family have to struggle through this.  Nancy had lost her father in May.  Their children had lost two grandfathers and had their mother diagnosed with cancer in four months.  That is a lot!

I had planned to travel to Salt Lake in the morning anyway with Tashi, Lexi and Bear.  The four of us went to a community play to celebrate my birthday which was the next day.  The play was 'Nunscense' and it was not at all what I needed.  I felt it was too sacreligious and I did not enjoy it so we left at half time and went home.

For my birthday the next morning, Tashi had decorated the kitchen and made a nice breakfast for me.  I so appreciated her trying to make my birthday a as good as possible.  We all headed north in two vehicles and stopped first in Highland where my Mom was living with my brother Don and his wife.  I visited for just a few minutes and left the three young people to visit with Mom and I left to drive up to Paul's.  They had doctor appointments and tests scheduled for the rest of the day.  For the second year in a row, I spent my birthday in the shadow of cancer.  Last year I spent the entire day with Dave at the hospital and at the doctors office getting him diagnosed.  This birthday I spent tending the kids so Paul and Nancy could have a similar experience.  That evening when they got home, I left to have dinner with Dave's Mom and sister and her husband, along with my three grandchildren who were still in town.

Tashi and I stayed the night at my Mom's empty house and the next morning I took her back to school at BYU for registration.

I stayed up in Salt Lake with Paul's family for about a week so they could take care of all thing that have to be done with this diagnosis--more tests, more scans, central lines put in, consults with other doctors--oncologists, surgeons, etc.  It was an emotional roller coaster for all of us but especially for Nancy.  I felt such pain for her.

Since that time I have spent the week of chemo, which was every three weeks initially, up with Paul and Nancy so I can care for the kids and keep things running.  This has been a privilege for me and I am so grateful I have been available to do this.  I had a trip planned to Hawaii in late October and we decided to not cancel that.  John and Traci are eager to help and they have wonderful neighbors whoa re bringing in meals every night during the chemo weeks and also offering all kinds of help with the kids.

Labor Day weekend I went up to the condo with John and Taci and family.  We had a great time fishing and just hanging out--enjoying the peace.

Lyndee, Emily and Sam

Traci and Owen

I had been asked rather late to help with the Arts Festival again by coordinating the Living History.  That became much more difficult to do.  Julie had sent me fabric to make a costume but instead I borrowed one and was able to fulfill my duties as the timing worked out.   The Festival was on the 10th and 11th.

The next week was the Challis family picnic in Murray and Nancy was able to attend with her family.  Mom was able to come also which was nice as she has been having quite a struggle, both with her angina and with the multi-infarct dementia.

In early Oct. I went to the condo for General Conference and found that very therapeutic.  I took hundreds of photos of the turning leaves which were stunningly beautiful.   I watched the movie 17 Miracles and cried myself silly but I felt close to Dave and enjoyed the solitude and absence of the pressure my house gives me right now with all the fruit and vegetables to pick, bottle and freeze.

Challis and Nancy came up on Sunday to join me and we watched conference, took a nature walk to see the leaves and we watched 17 Miracles--I really wanted to see it again.  We had a great visit.

The next week I went and stayed with the grandkids while Nancy had chemo and then left when Paul got home because I had a reunion at Bear Lake with returned missionary couples that had served in Chile.  We had a great time.  I stayed Monday night and Tuesday night and left early on Wed.  Nancy had been feeling pretty good on the day of chemo and on Tuesday so we felt it would be okay.  I called on my way back to Salt Lake and they were all sick and Nancy was very sick from the chemo--probably because she had a virus also.  I felt badly that I had abandoned them.

I had a reunion with high school friends in Salt Lake that weekend.  What fun that was.  These reunions have been so good for me--I get so much strength from family and friends and I am making great memories.  Memories are especially important right now for me.

I took my trip to Hawaii for Mic's birthday the last week of Oct.  I got there before Halloween and was able to help Mic sew costumes for the kids--Hannah was Jamsmin and Eliza was Little Miss Muffet.  The baby was the spider that sat down beside her--so cute.  We had so much fun with parties and just spending time together.
Carving pumpkins with Mic and Hannah

At the ward party
Eliza scared by the big spider

When I got home from Hawaii, I had a reunion of the St. Marks Hospital School of Nursing class of 1967.    We spent the entire day together eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, getting a guided tour of both the old St. Mark's on 3rd West and the new St. Marks on 3900 South in SLC, and just visiting.  It was absolutely wonderful!

The next week I started working in the office at the Manti Temple as a volunteer.   I love it!  The biggest problem was going to be driving in the winter at night.  I got called to be the first counselor in the stake Relief Society when I returned from my trip and it just so happened that the president and her husband and sister go to the temple on Tuesday afternoon at just the same time as my shift and I was invited to drive with them.  What a blessing this is for me.

On the week that Nancy had chemo, the week of Thanksgiving, Paul met me in Nephi with the kids after my shift at the temple so I drove alone that day.  Thanksgiving was great.  John provided another large turkey but it was only about 35 pounds and not 50 pounds like before.  We still had the problem with the oven catching on fire from the drippings but no harm was done and the turkey was delicious.  All the Utah families came except Paul and Nancy.  She was too ill but their kids were there staying with me.  The kids spent hours on Rip Sticks and skate boards trying to outdo each other.  when the weather got too cold, they moved into the garage and continued with the fun.  The next day we took Dave's truck and went into the mountains and Paul and Nancy's kids picked out a tree to cut and use for Christmas.  Saturday night was the annual tree lighting in Fillmore.  John's family and Paul's kids attended with me.  I was glad to have family to go with.  It had been a perfect holiday weekend.

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