December 23, 2009

O Christmas Tree

This is our Christmas tree. It is crooked. It has fallen down three times. After the last “timber” incident Spencer exclaimed, “There is always something happening around our house!” Ain't that the truth! A year ago, a few months after I was diagnosed with cancer I was shocked to discover that life went on. My world continued to spin. (Albeit on a slightly crooked axis.) Cancer did not exempt me and my family from the ups and downs of life. The car still broke down. The fridge needed repairs. The kids still had homework and missing assignments, and the finances became a little slimmer just like everyone else. I discovered that, like Spencer said, there continues to be something always happening at our house. I think that’s called life. Our Christmas tree makes me smile. It is not pretty. The decorations are a variety of “kid-friendly” ornaments collected over the years. After the third time the tree toppled over, everything was just quickly tossed back up. I don’t think I would have left the tree in this condition b.c. (before cancer) Now my crooked Christmas tree makes me smile. It reminds me of my life over the past year. Last December I was going through high dose chemo in preparation for stem cell harvest and transplant. I stayed with my parents to be close to the hospital. My family had Christmas without me. It was extremely hard for all of us. Just like our Christmas tree, my life is not perfect. My home is not perfect. My clothes are not expensive and my car is not shiny, or brand new. Just like my tree I occasionally fall down and I need someone to prop me back up... but this December I am here in my home with my Christmas decorations, my Christmas music and with my crooked Christmas tree. I am here to be apart of “something always happening at our house.” I am here to enjoy Christmas parties, and visits with friends and relatives. I am here to soak in the love of my husband and children. I am here to celebrate the birth of our Savior who came to earth to atone for ours sins and to bless us with his spirit. To strengthen us in our challenges and to provide us with opportunities to help prop each other up. Our lives, like my Christmas tree, might never be perfect. I think what matters more are the people who are around the tree. Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year

December 04, 2009

CAT problems

Several weeks ago we had CAT problems! One evening after going to bed we heard a kitten crying outside the bedroom window. My husband went outside and looked for the kitten. He figured it must have ran off because the mewing had stopped. So we went to sleep til about 11:30pm when it started up again. Luckily my 17yr. old son had just come in and we asked him to see if he could find it. He went downstairs into the bathroom and opened up the window where the kitten was stuck in the window well. As soon as he reached to grab it, The scared kitten jumped out of his hands into the bathroom and down some duct work under the counter that did not have a vent cover on it. " Just great!" now we had a scared kitten running around in the duct work of our basement. My son put some food and water by the hole, shut the door and hoped it would come out in the night. Well it apparently did come out because some of the food was gone, but climbed back in the hole and wandered around-- for two days! We heard it "crying" in another area of the basement-- for two days! We never saw the cat but it did continue to come out for food and water and then quickly went back into the black hole--for two days! Some thing had to be done! The last thing we needed was a dead cat in the heat and duct work. It was time for an "official family meeting" to solve this problem. Several ideas were discussed. We laughed at some of the more outrageous ones. Everyone had an opinion. Finally this is what we came up with. After several attempts it finally worked! A rubbermaid container, a stick, and tuna fish....... And that- my friends- has nothing to do with cancer!!

December 01, 2009

Laying Low

My how time flies when your having fun! It is already December! Blogging as well as many other things were put on "the back burner" during the past few weeks. The month of November was pretty tough. I relished the good days but they were few and far between. Chemo treatments, adjusting to some changes in medications, and a stubborn sinus infection which refused to leave kept me down. I am hoping and praying that things will improve. The Doctor put me on monthly IVIG (immunoglobulin) treatments which should increase my immunities and help keep away these pesky infections. I have to keep reminding myself that all of these drugs and treatments are to help me. They are the prickly friends who are searching for the enemy lurking in the bone marrow. May they be mean and nasty to the hard-to-kill cancer cells and kind and gentle to my tired body.

October 28, 2009

Happy Cancer Day

One year ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. This morning my husband wished me "Happy Cancer Day." Wow what a year! Who would have thought a year ago that: I could give myself a shot (a blood thinner) every night without even flinching. That I would lose all my hair... twice. That I would finally get down below my "goal weight".....and then gain it all back. That I can lay down during the morning, afternoon, and evening... and not fill guilty. That I can impress family and friends with a list a page long of all the medications I take. That I know more about cancer than anyone should have to. Who would have thought a year ago that I would even know what multiple myeloma is. Wow what a year! We celebrated by meeting with my Doctor at Huntsman. Last week I had an MRI, blood work, and another biopsy. Today we went over the results. Everything looks good and "my numbers" are where they are supposed to be. We celebrated by going to lunch. Maybe tomorrow I'll bake a cake.

October 07, 2009

I GOT A TICKET TO RIDE!

Welcome to my rollercoaster. 
 (that's me and my son on the 2nd row in the first picture and another son and my husband on the first row in the 2nd pic. Yea for Disneyland!)
I am on maintenance therapy for a whole year!!! I am just finishing up the third cycle-nine more to go! This consists of a quick IV push of Velcade on days 1 and 4 and 15 and 18. It's basically chemo two times every other week. I am also on Dexamethasone-a steriod during those weeks and Thalidomide everyday.  
Some of you may remember hearing about this drug.  It was used in Europe in the 50's and early 60's as an anti nausea drug for pregnant women.  It then cost less than $2.00 a pill. It caused terrible birth defects and was taken off the market.  About twenty years ago it was discovered that it kills myeloma cells. It now costs over $5100 a month-thank you insurance!  I have to take a test and survey every month to assure the drug maker-Celegene that I am not pregnant-fun! 
   All of these drugs include side effects and a free ticket to ride the roller coaster.  The games begin on the Monday of Velcade when I am at the top of the ride. By Thursday I go in for my second dose and I am heading down the track faster and faster.  "okay just relax and take a deep breathe," I say to myself as my energy drains and my stomach begins to churn (not too bad they have good drugs for that) I get chubby checks and a red face.  I get shaky and achy from the steriod and have a hard time sleeping. My hands and feet go numb and tingly.  By the weekend I am dragging and hit the bottom of the track physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Do I raise my hands high in the air and scream as I go down or continue the white-knuckle grip through the whole ride? Is this the time to hold on tight or the time to let go?  Let go of the fear and  remind myself that things will get better. To draw close to God and rely on faith in him.  To replace the "death grip" of fear with faith in God and his plan for me.  I am slowly learning. 
 Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”

    I Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God; that he may exalt you in due time, Casting  all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 

"Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could go through life scared. Jesus died to take away our sins and our fears. He died to give us hope, to give us life, to give us something, often the only thing, we can trust with complete assurance."The Secret to Riding Roller Coasters  by Randall Willard ----(you can read it on the internet)

I am learning to reach for his hand as I descend down the track. Then I start "clackity clackity clack, slowly heading back up about Tuesday.  I can feel myself getting stronger each day and try to be somewhat productive as I clack back up the track.  Preparing myself for the next round the following Monday.  

WHAT A ROLLERCOASTER!!  
I am learning to plan my life around this ride with safety belts that never unlock to let you off! Couldn't I just hop on over to a happy little merry-go-round for a change in this crazy amusement park?
    I asked the nurse if my body would adjust and this would get easier.  To my dismay she said it will actually get harder because the Velcade will continue to build up in my body as the treatment continues. Yuck!  
  I do feel stronger on the off weeks as my body continues to recover from the stem cell transplants but I don't think I will be off running any marathons anytime soon. I consider the day a success if I can make dinner and do a load of laundry. 
  I know several people have wondered why I have to do this since I am in Complete remission.  Complete remission means there are no signs of active myeloma.  This treatment will hopefully kill off all the "sleeper cells" lurking inside my body.  The stem cell transplants and high dose chemo wacked off the dandelions now we go in for the roots.  
   This plan of attack we have chosen is the most aggressive form of treatment used in the U.S.  Most major cancer centers including the Mayo Clinic prefer using several different lower dose chemo drugs until they prove ineffective and then resort to one stem cell transplant.  
We chose to go with the most aggressive Total therapy 3 treatment.  Where you throw everything possible at the cancer before the cells know what hit them and have a chance to adapt.  Some studies show that this promises a longer remission which buys time until a cure is found.  
There is a lot of research and clinical studies being done.  New myeloma drugs are coming out about every six months.  There is much hope that a cure is coming.  I have to hope that that is the case.  
My husband is by my side on this ride, holding my hand as we race down this track together.  He constantly amazes me with his strength and ability to juggle so many things.  This is not any easier for him. So here we are riding this rollercoaster together, adjusting to this life, and relying on our family, friends and faith to pull us through and.... learning when to let go. 
What a ride! Wish us luck!

September 22, 2009

Reading Time

"The Mountain time is good for that as well, to make us think of the happiness in small things, to promise that we will savor each moment..."
              Beyond the Dragon Portal by Melissa Glenn Haber

August 25, 2009

PLenTy of NeW BeGinNinGs

   My kids are back in school.  I love this time of year.  There are plenty of new beginnings, fall weather, and high school football games.  

   Last week was an Open House for the elementary school.  I took my youngest son to meet his teacher and see his classroom.  We marched into his room and I proceeded to introduce myself to his 5th grade teacher.  I begin to explain that last year was a pretty tough year for our family and before I knew it I became a little emotional.  It was totally unexpected.  I had to take a few breaths before I could continue and explain the situation.  It didn't come out to clear and I ended up telling her I would email her with the details.  How do I explain how much I have worried about my son?

    This last school year as I was going through chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, and living away from home for months at a time,  my husband and I were literally in "survival mode."I constantly worried about and prayed for my children.  I was the most concerned about Spencer my youngest.  He is my "baby."  He has a learning disability.  Central Auditory   Processing Disorder.  He can hear just fine but he has trouble processing information.  For example when he hears information about a horse he doesn't know whether to file it in his brain under horse or animal, or a form of transportation.  He had great teachers last year and he did make progress but it was hard to stay on top of things at home.

   I worry about all my kids.  A ten year old shouldn't have to worry about their mom.  He even asked me one time how long I was going to live.  I told him I am young, I have good Doctors, and I am doing everything I can possibly do so that I can be around as long as I can.   Probably till he is all grown up and has children of his own.  It was hard.

    I worry about my fourteen year old son.  This summer he went away for a week to summer camp.  Something must have happened up in the high Uintah Mountain air because when he came back his voice began cracking all the time.  My usual mild mannered boy occasionally turns into a monster unable to control his emotions.  This is not the best combination with a mom on chemo, and steriods.  I am learning that sometimes it is best to go in the other room and bite my tongue.  I love him and we are learning to enjoy the good times.

   I worry about my son Jace.  He is a senior at Maple Mountain High School.  A brand new school.  He is heavily involved in Student Council, Seminary Council, and Football.  I am just trying to keep track of him  at this point.  I just hope that he is making good choices.  Last year was pretty tough for him.  I felt so bad that I was unable to attend any of his wrestling matches.  I missed out on a lot.  

  I worry about my daughter Mallory.  No nineteen year old should have to drive their mother to the infusion room of the hospital and then watch as they administer chemo into her IV.  She had a pretty tough time last year.  She moved away from home to go to college.  Luckily it was only twenty minutes away from home.  She spent a lot of time back at home taking care of her younger brothers, shopping, taking care of their needs, and helping her dad.  She still managed to do well in school.

   I am finding that you never stop worrying about your children.  My oldest son is married, working and going to school.  His life with his wife just started when mine came crashing down.  I hope to be able to be more involved with them as my health improves.  

   I hope that through all of this my children have learned some valuable lessons that will have a positive impact on their lives.  That they have learned compassion, responsibility, and to rely more on their family.  That even though mom and dad won't always be there to listen to them, or solve their problems, they can always rely on God who listens and answers prayers in the way that is best.  That faith can replace the fear.  And that true happiness comes from making good choices  living a life with integrity, and doing your homework!

   So yes this past year has been pretty tough but it's time to move on.  Its time for new beginnings, beautiful fall weather, and a few good high school football games.

August 16, 2009

Summer

Summer is quickly coming to an end and my children are ready to go back to school.  Mom hasn't been too entertaining these days.  But I am adjusting to this new phase of treatment and learning to plan my life around the good weeks and bad weeks.  
  We have been able to do a few fun things together.
We went to Salt Lake City and visited This is the Place Monument and Heritage Park.  We stayed at a nice Hotel, The kids swam three times, had dinner at a Thai restaurant-delicious! and went to a lazer show.  Then we went to a family reunion the next day.  It was nice and relaxing to be together.
Some "rare" birds
In June we went to Star Valley, Wyoming. My favorite place. Stayed at the family cabin.  There's beautiful scenery, fresh crisp air and lots of room for kids and dogs to run.

August 13, 2009

Middle of the Night

"It's 3am and I can't sleep standin' on the edge of something much too deep."                                                                                                Sarah McClachlan
Actually It's "Dex week"  This steriod messes with my nerves, sleep, and patience.  But it does crazy things to cancer cells and the proteins they live off of.  So my family puts up with me.
         
        In the middle of the night here is what I think.
We are all lined up in heaven watching earthly gifts being handed out as people leave for earth.  Up ahead someone says, "Who wants cancer?"  I mistakenly hear "who wants answers?" I jump up and down, raise my hand high in the air and say. "I do, I do, Give me a big one!"  
P. S.  My hair is growing back!

July 16, 2009

Back in the High life Again?

 Today I am sitting on a beautiful green mountain top feeling a slight breeze while the smell of wild flowers wafts across my face and blows through my long, thick, curly, blonde hair (hey it’s my daydream!) The white puffy clouds dot the blue sky.  

    Today is a day of rest and reflection. My family and I have been looking forward to this moment for over nine long dark months.  It is a day to peer down off this steep mountain peak and realize how far I have climbed.  I am tired.  I am thirsty.  I have blisters and battle wounds but today, “I made it to this mountain peak and the mountain’s under me.” 

    We met with Dr. Tricot yesterday. I “aced” my tests and scans! All the results indicate that there are no signs of any active myeloma cells. I am in complete remission! 

    Now I wish I could dance through the field of daisies like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music and say this is the end of my journey.  It is the end of days and weeks living away from the family.  It is the end of aggressive, high dose chemo, and two stem cell transplants but it is not time to retire my hiking boots yet.

       I will still be undergoing maintenance therapy for the next year.

This involves four chemo injections a month of Velcade, along with a steriod drug, Dexamethesone, and Thalidomide an “anti-cancer” medication. The Doctor explains that   this regimen will kill off the “sleeper cells” lurking in my body and give me the possibilities of a much longer remission.  

     I haven’t felt “normal” for over a year. I told Dr. Tricot that I would love to go off all the medication for a couple weeks to see what I feel like without any side effects.  He laughed and explained in his Belgium accent,  “You must remember what our objective is, you haven’t reached the finish line yet, but you are doing everything possible to get there and the rest is out of our hands.”

     These words brought me comfort and assurance that this dark, difficult journey for our family has been worth it.  That I have scaled this steep, sharp, rocky mountain knowing that I am doing everything I can possibly do to reach the top and to extend and improve my life.  The rest is in God’s hands.  

      I am tired.  I am thirsty.  I have blisters and battle wounds but today, “I made it to this mountain peak and the mountain’s under me.” 

July 08, 2009

Test Day

    Tomorrow is test day.  Joe and I will head up to Huntsman to see exactly how much progress has been made through chemo, two stem cell transplants, and specialized drugs.
     I will have lab tests run first, and bring in a 24 hr. urine collection (fun :0)  Then a bone marrow biopsy and aspirate.  If you want to see what this involves, there are some great videos on Youtube.  None of my sons were brave enough to watch, but my daughter and I watched them twice.
   I will also have a combination PET/CT scan.  This procedure takes about three hours, because first  they must inject you with a small tracer quanity of radioactive material that is attached to a sugar which goes to the metabolically active parts of your body.  You have to sit in a recliner in a quiet room for 45 minutes to give the sugar time to get where it needs to be before the procedure.  
   One time I brought a book to read, but the nurse told me I couldn't read because then all the particles would go to the brain. interesting.
    After a peaceful rest,  you are lead to the room with the big tunnel machine.  The nurse shows you where to lay down.  The blanket covered "bed," is abut 12 inches wide.  So you lay down with no place for your arms. Do I lay them across my chest or let them dangle to the floor? Then the nurse steps in with big black velcro straps.  She straps your legs together below the knees.  Then straps your arms closely to your body.  "snug as a bug in a rug!"
     That's the easy part.  "Let the magic show begin!" Now you must lie perfectly still for 45 minutes to an hour as the bed moves through the tunnel.  
    What do I do?  Do I sleep?  What do I think about?  The first few times I went through this procedure my objective was to try  not to think about anything.  Because one thought would lead to another and ultimately end up rather quickly back to cancer.  Bringing fears and fighting back the tears.  
   Now my mind wanders all over during the scan.  Last time I could not get a John Denver song out of my head.  "Country Roads take me home to the place I belong...  The problem was I forgot most of the words, but kept starting over, ugh! very frustrating!!
    When the test is over and the straps are removed from "the Magic show," they point the way down the hall to the waiting room.  The only good thing, I've decided, about this whole day, is I don't have to worry now (since I've lost my hair) of getting up and walking out the door with "bedhead!"
    Well there is no last minute cramming for me.  We will get the results of the tests from Dr. Tricot next Wednesday.  Wish me Luck.  We are expecting the best.  I will keep you posted.
                                Love, Kris

June 19, 2009

Me and Myeloma facts

I have been pretty slack about writing-sorry.  I have been sooooo busy  what with summer gardening, painting my house, and training for my next marathon-not!
   Actually I have been enjoying the rainy weather, trying to do what I can around my house and trying harder to ignore the things I can't do, and considering a walk through the grocery store as my "marathon" training.  
   So now for the long anticipated update.  How am I doing?
Well that is a loaded question and the answer is prone to change hourly.  I am regaining my strength ever so slowly.  I guess I was getting a little too cocky last week thinking how lucky I was that I had not had any infections after this second transplant.  Alas that was not to be the case.  Last week Joe had a conference in Park City for two days and I was so excited to go with him.  Instead of spending some quality time together, I spent most of the time in the bathroom kneeling at the toilet.  I couldn't blame it on chemo so I assume I had picked up a stomach infection.
    The last few days I have been developing a sinus infection.  It's been a doozy and has really knocked me down physically.  There is nothing like getting sick to remind me that I need to be more careful with this weakened immune system that I have.  That is the nature of this beast multiple myeloma.  It is a cancer of the plasma cells within the bone marrow.  The cancerous cells crowd out the healthy plasma cells that help fight disease and infections.  
   Since we are on the subject of multiple myeloma I wanted to give you a few facts about this cancer because I have never really explained much about it and very few people even know what it is.
     Like I mentioned multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells.  It represents only 1% of all cancers.  It is most commonly found in older men.  It is called multiple myeloma because it affects multiple parts of the body.  The acronym CRAB helps me remember what they are.  The C stands for hyperCalcemia.  Calcium from the bone leaches into the blood stream.  If enough of it gets into the blood it can damage the kidneys or Renal system. The A stands for Anemia a common problem with mm. The B stands for Bone.  As the myeloma cells begin to multiply they start to eat into the bone causing lesions, and repeated fractures.  I was very lucky to not have any broken bones which is usually how mm is diagnosed. However I do have numerous lesions or weak spots throughout my body.  I have an infusion once a month to harden the bones.
   Multiple Myeloma is treatable but is not curable yet.  There are several different approaches to treatment.  My Doctor takes the "hit 'em hard and hit 'em fast" approach.
Thus the high dose chemo and two stem cell transplants.  We were able to knock off most of the myeloma cells through this, but my doctor explains that there are "sleeper cells" lurking which we have to get rid of through maintenance chemo shots and anti-cancer drugs and a steriod throughout the next year. 
   So the question is How am I doing.  Well I made it to the top of this first mountain range but I am not done mountain climbing yet.  Every step through this journey has been hard.  It has affected every facet of my being. It has made me grieve for the life and body that I had, but truly appreciate the many good things in my life I still have. I look forward to renewed health and a happy future.

June 02, 2009

My Life Preservers

 After reading my previous blog,  I realized that I had failed to mention one of the greatest blessings in all of this.  My parents!  I don’t know what we would have done without them.  Luckily they live just 20 miles from Huntsman; a true blessing while I am required to be close to the Hospital during testing, treatments and recovery.  I can not even imagine how we would have managed without them. Having them live conveniently near the hospital has been wonderful, however they have done so much more than that.

    My parents have given me life twice.  Once when I was born; the only girl in a family of four boys. (ironically just like the family I am raising) And now they give me life again through the many sacrifices they have made to get me through these last several months. 

     They raised me in a home filled with love.  They taught us life skills I am grateful for now.  Both teachers, they worked hard to care for a big family and made sure we knew how to work hard.  We spent many happy summers in my favorite place-Star Valley, Wyoming, working and playing in the hay fields and woods.

     They have been with me every step of the way.  From the moment we found out the plan, they have adjusted their lives to help my family and I manage all of this.   My dad bought a new car that would be easier and safer to drive into Salt Lake everyday for appointments and treatments.  He  made sure it had good snow tires and was heated before I got in during December when I had to be at the hospital by 7am every morning for over a week.  My dad has taken turns taking me to appointments-He takes the shorter ones :) and gets things done around the house when my mom is with me.  

     My parents just bought a trailer home in St. George last year and were anxious to get down their and enjoy it. They put all their plans on hold without a second thought.  My dad is one of my life preservers!

    My mom has spent her life caring for her children. She cooked, canned, sewed and worked full time.  Although she was a 4th grade teacher for many years,  I think her second career has been that of a nurse. She has spent countless hours in hospitals over the years attending to the needs of our family with broken bones, health problems, and serious life-threatening accidents. Well her experience comes in handy once again as she takes care of me.

     She has spent many, many hours in the waiting room and infusion room by my side.  Her life has been completely consumed with me and my needs.  She probably knows more about my disease than I do as she researches and stays on top of what I should be doing each step of the way.  She spent everyday of my ten day hospital stay with me even though I wasn’t good company and manages to whip up healthy meals for me even  though I could only take a few bites.  My mother has given her life to give me a second life.  She is one of my life preservers!

     How can I ever express the love and gratitude I feel for my parents.  I ask the Lord to bless them everyday for the sacrifices they make on my behalf, and hope that I can be there for them whenever they may need my help.

      I Love you both and am so grateful to be your daughter.  Thank you for all you have done for me now and throughout my life. You have supported me every step of the way.  You are my life preservers in every sense of the word.  Love, your daughter, Kristine

May 24, 2009

Doggy Paddlin'

I have lots of time to think lately. I try to avoid it as much as possible but sometimes as the hours and days drag by I find myself stuck in a thought or idea with nothing to do but pursue it. 
    Before I had cancer. I was very good at avoiding such scary and difficult topics. It was too depressing to think of what it would be like if something like that ever happened to me or someone I loved. In fact I doubt I would even read a blog like this one unless it was someone I was very close to. Much easier to avoid such a sad topic.        I compare it to an icy cold lake. I would walk near the water’s edge and maybe dip my toes in the cold water but I am not a very good swimmer so I would only swim near the shallow area where I can still touch the bottom. Never think of venturing out to the deep areas too distant from the safe shore.       Well seven months ago someone came and threw me out in the middle of the lake. I spluttered and thrashed and doggy paddled trying to come to grips with this new reality and not drown in the overwhelming circumstances I have been thrown into. I am not superwoman and there are times when I come close to drowning in self pity. In fact today I made a list in my journal of all the things I have lost because of cancer. As my list grew the tears begin to flow. In fact, I think that lake is made of the tears I have cried over the last seven months. Sitting there looking at my list a thought came to me like a light bulb turning on. I wasn’t left alone in the deep waters of the lake. The Lord had thrown out some life preservers before I even got there. He had prepared some things in my life before cancer became my reality.       I can look back and see things being orchestrated in a way that makes this journey more bearable. I think of the timing. If I had been diagnosed a year earlier, I would have been going through treatments during preparations for my sons marriage. I would have missed my daughters High school graduation. Because of the circumstances this year, my daughter was able to arrange her college schedule so she could help more at home.      In September we moved our Martial Arts studio from a studio in our back yard to main street. Eventually making it easier to rearrange my preschool after my diagnosis. My oldest son has been able to help run the studio. I was able to hire a preschool teacher who would eventually count on the income when her husband lost his job several months later. Also for the first year ever, there is an assistant principal at the school where my husband is principal. Thereby lightening his load. And probably the biggest one is the fact that my Dr.- Dr. Tricot a top Myeloma Researcher and Specialist in the country moved from Arkansas to Huntsman a year and a half ago. Those are just a few examples of the little miracles or life preservers that were put in place before I even got thrown out in this lake.       I am still out in the deep, and the water is still cold, but I have a life preserver and the Lord is watching out for me. I have to quite thrashing around so much and trust in the Lord. He has a plan for me and He makes preparations on my behalf before I am even aware of it.       I am a terrible swimmer and a slow learner. I am sure there will be days ahead where I will still be doggy paddlin’ and “cryin’ a river” in my cold lake, but for today I am going to make another list in my journal of some of the life preservers I have been given and practice the back stroke.

May 20, 2009

One day at a time

Well here I am 33 days out from my second transplant. What a journey it has been. Harder than I ever dreamed it would be. I am gaining my health back ever so slowly! Last Wednesday I was able to go home for a few days. It was Joe's birthday so my daughter came and got me and snuck me home. Joe was completely surprised when he walked in the house and saw me there. It was so good to be home. I was able to get a few things done while I lay in bed. It was tempting to stay, however after a couple days we knew I was not yet ready physically, emotionally, or mentally. So I am back up to my parents home. I am trying to be patient with myself. Every morning I want to just jump out of bed and move doing the normal routines in a day. Instead I slowly shuffle around the house and spend most of my time resting as my body continues to regain it's strength. Joe reminds me to just take it one day at a time.

May 15, 2009

Preschool Plug

I am starting to think beyond one day at a time and beginning to plan my future. I have put serious thought into my plans for preschool next year. I am told that my immunities as well as my energy level will still remain quite low for another year. So with that information I have made the decision to hire one of my past preschool teachers to run my preschool for me next year.  Hopefully after the new year I may be able to help.  Teresa has taught for me for four years and I have great confidence in her abilities to take this ball and run with it. So If you or anyone you know is interested please let them know. Here is a little information about my program Kris Kelly-/teacher/owner  Certified Teacher-BYU graduate Taught at BYU's Preschool Lab.  Has over 16 years experience teaching  and developing preschool curriculum. Several of her teaching ideas have been published in a national educational  magazine. Loves finding innovative ways to teach young children and seeing them progress as they learn new skills.
Teresa Veater-teacher
Veteran Preschool teacher with over 22 years experience working with preschoolers in the classroom as well as Nebo School District's Transistional Kindergarten program. Her organized yet gentle approach will help your child to gain independence and educational skills for future success.
Country Kids Preschool
is an established preschool in Spanish Fork for the past fourteen years.  We offer a full academic program in a unique preschool setting.  A classroom as well as a large gym area provide many opportunities to educate the whole child.
We offer;
*Developmentally appropriate activities with a hands on approach.
*Small class sizes, 8-10 children per class.
*Thematic units organized to teach basic skills while learning about the world around us.
*Monthly parent newsletter and calendar.
*Alphabet introduction focuses on using all the senses to explore recognize, and remember the letters and sounds.
*Math and number exploration through manipulatives, patterning, sorting, and calendaring.
*Large and fine motor skill practice through games and activities.
Two and three day sessions available
Contact Teresa 801-423-1888
or Kris 801-798-6146  for more info.
(Thanks for letting me share and advertise this important part of my life)

May 08, 2009

99.9%

I met with Dr. Tricot this morning. All my lab work came back with great results. The myeloma cells are 99.9% gone and my white blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets have recovered significantly. If I had more energy I would be jumping for joy. I am now set to begin maintenance therapy for the next year. Hopefully I can recover quickly enough to begin enjoying it. Strangely enough my biggest issue right now is food! I just have no appetite. I have been on anti nausea medication but it makes me so tired. Now I am trying medicine to increase my appetite. How I ironic! I've spent my whole life trying to lose those last ten pounds and now I have to force myself to eat and gain weight! This afternoon I was pleasantly surprised by a visit from my husband. I didn't think I would get to see him and the kids until Sunday, but he drove up and spent a few hours with me today. He always lifts my spirits and gives the best back rubs. I could not ask for a better husband, father to our children, and best friend. I know this year has been so hard for him. Having to juggle responsibilities as a school principal, running a martial arts studio, being there for our kids and just making sure everything keeps running smoothly. I always knew he was amazing but now I know he is definitely my super hero! All my Love Joe, Love, Kris

May 03, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

So much to express. So Little energy to do so! Yesterday-Saturday May 2nd, I was released from the U of U Hospital. I was there ten days. It is all a blur now-of pain, side effects, Trying to eat when my mouth is too sore to swallow. Trying to get up and move when I am too weak to stand. Trying to stay connected to my family when I can't remember anything. I feel like I have been in a big black hole that I am just now starting to find my way out of. Into sunshine and coherency. I have been told that I had about every side effect possible-Lucky me! One crazy one began right after the stem cell transplant when my hands and feet began to swell and turn red. They felt like when you freeze your hands out in the snow and then come into thaw them out and get that prickly pain feelng. I figure it felt like that for 30 hours without much pain relief. As soon as that began to subside and the skin began to peel off in big sheets than I was blessed with different side effects. This is all so crazy! I have always been very healthy. When I go to the hospital, I bring home a new baby! This time I bring home a new perspective, and new hope for a long remission and opportunities for a new life. I am so grateful for all those who have prayed for me. I know He listens to those prayers even when I am too weak to pray for myself. I am humbled by the kindness, concern, and love of others. Thank you.

April 27, 2009

Faith Will Get Us Through

I recently was reading in the scriptures and found a great quote the I believe fits Kris and our family. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. Kris and I have discussed many times the strength of the spirit at this time in our lives. The Lord has not abandoned us. He is with us stronger than ever. Kris is slowly gaining strength. Her white blood cell counts are slowly on the rise. Today is day 10 since the stem cell transplant. This is a milestone day for her. Your comments and prayers are felt and appreciated. I was able to take our kids to see Kris yesterday. It lifted her spirits greatly. People ask what they can do for us and I simply say: "Pray for Kris." Thanks again for all of your prayers and thoughts. Kris will be back soon to write on her blog. Joe Kelly

April 22, 2009

Another Tough Day On The Mountain

This is Joe writing again. Sorry to disappoint the fan club but Kris is still out of commission today. I have spent the entire day with her. She is still in a lot of pain from the chemo. The pain is general and spread over her body. There is only so much that pain meds can do. I want everyone to know that she has world class care here. The BMT unit is very impressive and she has great nurses and doctors. She is in a private room and comfortable as she can be under the circumstances. She is on day + 5 since her stem cell transplant and received her last major dose of chemo today. By day +10 her stem cells will be ingrafted into her bones and will begin to produce red and white blood cells and platelets. Currently, her white cell count is at 0 and she is nutripenic which means she has no resistance to infection. She is on IV antibiotics and IV pain meds. I was able to read her all the comments from the blog and it lifted her spirits. God Bless everyone who is reading this blog and supporting her. I know many of you read and do not comment. That is ok. The prayer that you carry in your heart is helping. I met a man today in the cafeteria who was in a much worse place than we are as a family. We were able to talk and comfort each other. He is two thousand miles from home and his wife is pregnant and very sick in this hospital. We are still counting our blessings. Kris and I actually realize them and savor them more at this time. Family and friends like you are the greatest blessings of all. In the end it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that keeps us going. The spirit is very strong in our family right now and very close to Kris. Thank you all for everything, hug your spouse and your kids and keep praying for Kris. I was able to serve that man in the cafeteria today in a very small way and it made me feel great. When we are down we need to find someone to serve, it will make us feel better. Take care and God Bless. Joe Kelly

April 21, 2009

We Can Feel Your Prayers

This is Joe writing on April 21. This round of treatment Kris was given new drugs, more stem cells than before, and stronger doses of chemo drugs that she received last time. The infusion of stem cells make it possible for her to receive doses that are up to 10 times greater than a regular dose of chemo. There have been some tough side effects this time around and Kris is in alot of pain. She was admitted to the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the University Hospital today. What she needs more than anything right now is all of your prayers and faith. You are all so wonderful and have been so kind to Kris and our family. When I say we can feel your prayers we do. I know its a hard thing to understand unless you have had so many people at once praying for you, but it is a very powerful experience. We really do feel your faith and prayers. Kris is doing better tonight and has the pain under control. We will keep everyone updated on the blog. She loves the comments you write. This means the world to her and they really are her contact with the outside so please continue to post comments. Thank you so much and God Bless. Joe Kelly

April 17, 2009

The Climb

Early Thursday morning I woke up and seriously considered calling everything off.  “I think I will just just sit down in the dirt and slide down this mountain on my butt!”  I did not want to walk into that hospital and start another round of chemo! This is seriously not very fun anymore!!  The first time around I did not know what to expect, now I know too much.  But I guess there is no way out of this--but up so it is time to start climbing again.

   I had several high dose rounds of chemo on Thursday and then went in this morning for my second stem cell transplant.  The procedure is fairly simple.  After receiving a short saline IV, I was given a transfusion of my previously stored stem cells, then two more hours of saline.  The cells are stored in a DMSO solution as a preservative.  The minute it hits your body, you get a metalic, garlicky taste in your mouth and an interesting odor-which my family did not enjoy.

    My husband, my daughter, and one of my sons came with me to celebrate this second “Stem Cell Birthday.”  It will take several days for the cells to begin working, and my body is beginning to slow down.  This afternoon my face, hands, and feet began to swell.  I look like a pink lobster. 

    I have probably had cancer for several years.  I have know about it for over five months.  I am still in shock about it everyday.  This mountain is very steep!! and some days this climb is on my knees, but I still have lots of life to live and enjoy, lots of family and friends to love, and many lessons and blessings to receive from my Savior.  

April 14, 2009

The Big Week

Well this is the big week.  Yesterday-Monday I started the first regimen of Chemotherapy.  I was at Huntsman from 8am to 3:00pm. It began with blood tests then we waited for the pharmacy to mix up my personal chemo-cocktail.  The first drug was a high dose of Carmustine given through an IV, a quick run of Velcade.  Then finally a two hour infusion of Gemcitabine, a new drug which my insurance doesn't cover! This medical adventure is not cheap, but we feel very blessed to have good insurance which does cover most of the costs.  I guess it's one more year of driving our old red van!
    I have had little reactions so far-just enjoying it for as long as I can. I know the side effects will eventually come.  I go back in for another round of chemo on Thursday replacing the Carmustine with Melphalan the happy high dose drug which causes mouth sores.  I had it during the first round with few side effects of the mouth because they have you pack your mouth with ice for over an hour before and during the transfusion.  I am really looking forward to that!
   Friday is the stem cell transplant.  A transfusion of 8.27 million of my own stem cells which had been previously harvested and stored.
Well here I go-so far so good.  Wish me luck.  Thank you for all the good thoughts, the many prayers and the kind deeds for me and my family.  I love you all!!

Happy Easter

   Sorry I am a few days late.  I was busy enjoying a great weekend and feeling somewhat normal.  My treatment schedule was put off from Monday April 6th to Monday the 13th due to a bad cold.  It took the whole week to feel better.  Saturday I got the family rounded up to clean the house,  helped my daughter sew a dress, and helped prepare food for easter dinner. I made rolls, a fruit salad and Great Grandma's famous Easter Chocolate Roll for desert. My husband took over the ham and potatoes. It felt so good to feel so good!   Sunday I went to church and listened to my son give a talk in Sacrament meeting.  Then my parents came down for dinner and drove me back to their house to begin treatment on Monday morning.  Here we go again!

April 06, 2009

Good News, Bad News

I have Good news and Bad news. The Good News first-We met with Dr. Tricot on Friday and found from all the test results that the chemotherapy and my body have been doing what they are supposed to. There is no sign of cancer in the bone marrow and the overall cancer has decreased by 90%!!! After telling the Dr. that I was so frustrated with how slow my recovery from the first tranplant had been, he replied this meant that my body had been working extra hard to kill the cancer (and I thought I had not done a thing for last two months!) I always feel better and more hopeful after meeting with Dr. Tricot. The Bad News is not that bad after such great news. The plan was to begin the next round of treatments on Monday the 6th, however I caught a cold and possible sinus infection over the weekend so everything is postponed til Friday. Plan B is to get over this cold and get healthy enough by Friday to begin chemo then. I am leaving my bags packed and thinking healthy thoughts til then.

April 02, 2009

Gearing Up for Round Two

Monday and Tuesday were test days. I hope I passed! First was the biopsy-not fun! They take bone morrow fluid, and bone from the hip bone by the lower back. You are given the option of having pain killer or just a local. I always opt for the drugs but it still hurts! I also had an EKG, heart scan, and PET/CT scan. It is hard to lay still on your back when they just drilled a hole in you. I also had a Pulmonary function test. I am always a slow learner on this one. You have to do certain breathing exercises correctly into a tube. It took me seven tries to get it right! I go to see Dr. Tricot tomorrow. I think we are getting smarter at this. The first time we didn't know what to ask now I have a list of questions to ask him. If everything from the tests I had this week look good I will probably begin the next treatment on Monday the 6th. This is round two. The first round knocked the cancer down. We are counting on this next round to knock it into a long, long remission. This has been quite the journey-one that I would not wish on anyone. However I do wish everyone to have the opportunity to feel the love and support that I have felt. I have received so much love and encouragement from so many friends, family, and aquaintances. I am so blessed to have had such good friends throughout my life. It is very humbling to know that so many are praying for me and my family. May you each have the opportunity at some time to feel the overwhelming love and support of others in your life. Thank you and may the Lord Bless you, Love Kris

March 23, 2009

Speaking to Me

My reprieve from chemotherapy, IV's, transfusions, lab work, etc. for the past two months is quickly coming to an end far too quickly. Although I have not had to deal with the daily physical treatments involved (but a few strange side effects); I have had to deal with the equally challenging mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of this journey. Am I learning the lessons I am supposed to learn? Am I strong enough and prepared physically and mentally for this second round of chemo and a stem cell transplant? Is it working? Is my family ready to do this all again? The questions are endless and my emotions are riding a rollercoaster. My children can tell I am getting stronger because I am on top of checking on the chores and homework. I just feel such an urgency to prepare them for the next two months when I am not avaliable to keep things running. I even sorted the dreaded sock basket! Saturday evening I was able to attend the Adult sessions of our Stake Conference. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke. It was so good! I felt like he was speaking directly to me. He titled his talk, "Hard Times" A few of the highlights were; *We are part of the plan that begin before the earth was formed. *God Lives and Loves each one of us. We are His children. *He knows the beginning from the end. *When hard times come don't bale out in the 2nd act. *Don't Panic. Broken things can be fixed. *Broken clouds bring rain and rain brings flowers. *God loves broken things. He can fix them. He loves broken hearts. He can fix them. I knew and believed in my heart before that these things were true, but it was so wonderful to hear them spoken so eloquently from an Apostle of the Lord. I am ever-so-slowly learning to replace the fear with faith and pray daily to do so. Elder Holland's closing remarks were, "We all must learn to replace fear with faith in our Heavenly Father and His plan for us." Once again he was speaking to me!

March 16, 2009

Nappy Days

Just an update. I am continuing to get stronger and regaining my health. I ran a few errands with my daughter Saturday morning before the crowds started shopping then came home and took a nap. Sunday I went to an hour of church. Went late and left early- then came home and took a nap. It is so nice to get out of "my bubble" once in a while. I have two more weeks at home then head up to Huntsman for tests on the 30th and the games begin again!

March 07, 2009

Fourteen, Yikes!

My son Trent turned fourteen yesterday. Wow where did the time go! It seemed just yesterday that this beautiful, small, brown -eyed boy joined our family. He has always been an easygoing, content, happy kid. Great things come in small packages and Trent fits this description. He is a serious thinker, a great wrestler. (He took 4th place in Jr. State Wrestling Championships.) a Black Belt in Martial Arts. A good student (when he gets all his work turned in!) and two merit badges away from being an eagle scout. Okay so I had to brag. Trent has a wonderful imagination. He has edited and produced several movies for school. He is trying his hand at claymation right now and has made a whole little world of clay figures. He never ceases to amaze me with his patience for detail and his ingenuity. He is having a party in our studio right now. This is a building we have behind our home. It has been a karate studio and is now used as a preschool. It comes in handy for the kids to have friends over. One of the hardest things about being sick right now is not being able to be involved in some of the details of my kids lives. I'm usually the one who would have shopped for the birthday presents, made the cake, planned the party etc. This year, my husband and daughter have taken over-and done a great job, but it still hurts. Hopefully in time I will regain my energy and health and be able to enjoy and be involved in all the wonderful little details of motherhood. Happy Birthday Trent. I Love You!

March 04, 2009

Six weeks down

It has been six weeks since my first stem cell transplant and I am finally starting to feel a little energy and strength, Yeah! Just in time to enjoy some sunshine and the promise of Spring. I heard some birds chirping outside my window this morning and went on a walk the other day (before the wind started blowing around here.) On Saturday, Joe and I actually went on a date to Wallgreens to pick up prescriptions the first time I have been out of the house in weeks. I am still extemely germaphobic-Lysol and hand santizer continue to be my best friends. My goal now is to continue to regain my strength and prepare myself mentally and physically for the next transplant the first part of April. This has been quite the journey for our family. One that has brought many challenges but also many opportunities, experiences, and blessings. We have great hope for the future!

February 23, 2009

I am blessed

It was a long weekend. I have had a slight cold, some weird eye infection, and various other strange symptoms, but never did get a fever -thank goodness. However it did knock my energy level and my attitude back down. By Sunday morning I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. That afternoon my family came home from church and we ate a great dinner prepared by my great husband. After dinner we gathered around the livingroom and my husband and oldest son administered the sacrament and my 13 yr old son passed it to me. The sacrament has never meant so much to me as it did yesterday. As I listened to the words and the promises we make and those we recieve- to have His spirit with us, I felt very blessed! After the sacrament, my son, who holds the Melchezidek priesthood, the same priesthood held by Christ and then restored to Joseph Smith by Peter, James, and John, gave me a blessing. He spoke beautiful words of comfort, peace, and direction-words that came from a loving Heavenly Father. I felt very blessed! I am feeling much better today. Ready to start climbing that mountain again. I am not climbing alone. I have a wonderful family, many amazing friends and neighbors, prayer, and the power of the priesthood in my home. I am blessed!

February 18, 2009

I am Fortunate

My son brought a fortune cookie home for me today. My fortune said: "You will overcome difficult times."

February 15, 2009

Choosing the Better Part

I've always been a doer. You know the one who is in the background getting things done. Folding up the chairs after a meeting, Sewing 26 pioneer bonnets for the Youth pioneer trek, Clearing the dinner dishes as soon as a meal is finished. I tend to get caught up in the details of life. I'm a list maker. No fun shall be had until the house is clean. My how things have changed! As I lay in bed or shuffle around the house, I am trying to learn to ignore the little things. The dishes in the sink will eventually get done. The floor will eventually get swept. It's hard! My kids and husband have really pitched in. When we had our fifth child a friend told us we needed to lower our standards (on clutter) and have a sense of humor. Well that advice seems to fit perfectly right now. I guess it won't kill anyone that my 13 yr old son had ice cream for breakfast the other day and my ten year old went to church without any socks on. What matters is that I am here and can hug them as they go out the door to school, and talk to them when they get home. I am learning to put things in prospective. I have always been like the woman in the New Testament. Martha and I are so much alike. Like me she worried about the little things. In Luke 10:42, Jesus speaks of one thing being needful: “And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Have I chosen what is good, lasting, and eternal? Have I separated the trivial from the important? I am learning, as I go, to decide how I use my limited energy and what I worry about. It is a long process. We can learn from Mary and Martha to prioritize our lives-to put the things that are most important first in our lives. May we each gain an eternal perspective in our everyday lives and choose the better part. Love, Kris

February 14, 2009

Play the Song "Keep Holding On" while you read this.
A couple of weeks ago as I moved back up to Centerville to began treatments, My husband gave me a box. On the outside was a note saying I was to wait to open it until I was really missing him. It only took a couple days; I couldn't wait anymore. Inside I found a small CD player with ear phones and a CD. A note, and the words to this song.We have been married for over twenty four years and my husband is always surprising me with candy, cards, and gifts. This is probably the most touching gift he has ever given me. He truly is my Knight in Shining Armour, My eternal companion, and my best friend.We are climbing this mountain together, just as we have lived, loved and raised our family. I could not do this without him! I know you will always be there to "fight and defend" for me and our family. All My Love, Kris

February 10, 2009

Two steps forward, One step back

It's been two steps forward and one step back the last several days. On Saturday I felt extremely achy, fatigued and developed a fever. We ended up going to the emergency room that evening where I was given some IV antibiotics then sent home. The next morning we headed up to Huntsman, They ran tests and could not find any signs of infection. We decided I needed to stay at my parents for a few days while I grew stronger. I went in today for a Dr. visit feeling much better and was given the clearance once again to go back home. Things could have been much worse and I feel blessed that whatever caused my fever left quickly. So tomorrow I will head back home and attempt once again to regain my health and strength. To take some time to rest and regroup before I start climbing the next mountain in this journey. Thanks Jill for the great quote! " If there is anything good to be said about cancer, anything at all, it is this: the battle to overcome the mental and physical harm being done is the ultimate wake-up call, the ultimate focusing lens, and the final impetus to prioritize life." Johnom

February 04, 2009

I'm Home!

After meeting with my doctor on Monday and finishing up some tests on Tuesday, I was given "clearance" to go home. It feels so good to be here with my family even though I am not up to doing much yet. My orders from my Doctor are to stay away from sick people and crowds, eat only cooked foods, exercise, and get myself as healthy as possible over the next two months so I can do it all again. In April I will have a second stem cell transplant. My posts might not come as often as I concentrate on getting myself healthy, regaining my strength, and enjoying my family and everyday life. Once again Thank you for all of your support.

February 01, 2009

Engraftment

I went in to Huntsman yesterday, after lab results came back, I was informed that my stem cells have engrafted. They are now working within the bone morrow, growing, and doing what they are supposed to. My body is slowly regaining strength. There are a few lingering side effects, but I feel extremely blessed to have gotten through this relatively easy compared to most of the other patients. I never did get a fever, or have to be admitted to the hospital I can feel myself starting to come out of the fog I have been in and I am able to think beyond the next hour or day. I meet with Dr. Tricot on Monday. He will access my lab results and then most likely give me permission to return to my home for two months. I am excited and relieved to have made it this far. I am also quite apprehensive. I thought when I got to the top of this mountain, I would be ecstatic and jumping for joy. I am finding that just like anything in life-When You reach a goal, life doesn't stop right there. (I will be happy when I graduate from college, get this new job, make a certain amount of money, etc.)Happiness does not come at the end of the journey, but along the way. Everyone of us are climbing mountains, dealing with challenges, facing disapointments, some through our own choices, others as a result of another's choice. How we deal with them as we go through them is just as important as overcoming them. I have learned so much as I have attempted to "Move this Mountain" but what I find now as I reach the top and look out over the horizon is that this is not one mountain standing alone. There is a whole mountain range ahead of me. This startled and shocked me as I first realized this. I have been so focused on getting through each day-thinking if I could just get to the top, I will be okay. This thought process is probably the only way I could have got through this, but now it is time to look ahead and realize that my challenge is no different than those facing all of us. The Lord did not just give us one trial in life and then a nice little valley to settle in for the rest of our life. He continues to give us opportunities to stretch and grow and then when we ask He helps us Move our Mountains one at a time. God has promised us that He will not desert us. The Prophet Isaiah speaks, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10) "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying, unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." (Isaiah 41:13) Each of us have unique trials and challenges. Through these the Lord gives us opportunities to stretch and grow. I just happen to have cancer which gives me time to examine my beliefs and study, learn and grow. May each of us turn to the Lord as he blesses us through our adversities.

January 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Jace

Happy Birthday Jace! Today my son turned seventeen! He has been a joy to have in our family. He has always been my superhero. When He was two and three he used to run around the house with nothing on but his underwear and a batman cape saying, "watch me mom, watch me." When he was fifteen he made a batman design out of duct tape and stuck on his bare chest. He layed out on the trampoline to get tan lines in the shape of batman. Jace is always keeping us entertained with his latest creation. Whether it be a new song he made up on the drums or the piano. A new design sprayed painted on a t-shirt or a new hair style. I tell him he is going to be the next Dick Clark (he says who's that!) He likes to hold dance parties in our studio in the back yard. He decorates the studio with lights and a disco ball and has his friends DJ. For Christmas he held a "Wear your Ugly Christmas Sweater Dance" He has a dance for his birthday tomorrow night. I wish I were there! Happy Birthday Jace, I love You!

January 28, 2009

Counting the Days

I am just finishing day eight. Yesterday-day seven was a difficult one. I spent most of the day at the hospital. I had a lot of stomach pain. After a CT scan and blood work they found I had an infection. So I am now on powerful IV antibiotics which I can administer to myself every 6 hours. My platelet count was also really low. A normal person has 100,00. Mine was at 10,000. So I was given a platelet infusion and saline for dehydration. Needless to say I was extremely weak, and could not even walk. I made it through the day and woke up this morning feeling a little better. Hopefully that was the low point. When I went for an appointment this morning, I walked into the waiting room with my mom and there was Joe! He came up to spend the day with me. What a great surprise. I was at the hospital again for six hours getting two blood transfusions and saline IV. It was wonderful to have Joe there with me, holding my hand as I keep on climbing this mountain.

January 26, 2009

Battle Zone

I am in a battle right now. Every inch, every cell of my body is at war. On the outside my bones and muscles are extremely weak. On the inside every fiber of my body is tight and fighting. The enemy of my enemies-chemo is killing the cancer and the foods and proteins it feeds on. There are casualties as I deal with side effects. Which I have been able to control so far. I am at day six a critical point where the stem cells should start engrafting and bringing new life to this tired body. I try to stay focused and positive. Taking it one hour at time. My mantra is "I am Young, I am strong, I am healthy."

January 25, 2009

Sunday Blessings

On Friday afternoon, I was able to come and spend the weekend with Kris and give her parents some time off. We are go grateful to them and so blessed to have them take care of her at this critial time in her life. Kris is very tired and weak today from the treatments and stem cell transplant. She has asked me to write on her blog and update it for her. A normal persons white cell count is 14 or higher. Yesterday, Kris' was at .14 which means she basically has no immune system. This will continue for the next several days. By this comming Thusday or Friday her white cell count will begin to increase as the stem cells go into her bones and begin to produce white blood cells. This is a very critical and dangerous time for her. We need all off our friends and family to pray extra for Kris this week. Today, as we went to the Huntsman center we passed several homeless people. We discussed how each of us has unique challenges and trials in life. We do not have to look very far to realize our blessings. We have each other and our childern who we love and cherish very much. They are a great light right now in our lives. We also great family members who have supported us in so many ways. The support from our friends has also been overwhelming and awesome. Thanks to everyone who has touched our family by bringing a meal or providing a ride or an act of kindness to our family. Heavenly Father can answer prayers through His agents here on earth. So many of our friends and family have been his messengers and agents for our family. Thank you. Now Kris was well enough to correct me and help edit this entry so she still has some fight in her. This sabbath day we want everyone to know that we have a firm testimony of the gospel and of our Heavenly Fathers plan. We are blessed in so many ways. Love, Joe and Kris

January 23, 2009

Day Three

Just finished up day three after my transplant. I am now staying in a Hotel 5 miles from the hospital. So far so good, I am just really weak. My immunities are almost down to zero so infections are big concern right now. Joe came up to spend the weekend and take care of me. I have been looking forward to him coming all week!
Thursday afternoon my daughter Mallory came up and spent the night with my mom and I at the hotel. It was refreshing to hear all about her life and times in college. We got in our PJs and watched a movie then slept in in the morning. She helped us pack up and move back to Centerville. She is an amazing person and a great strength to me at this time

January 21, 2009

Happy REBIRTH DAY!!

There they are 7 million of my stem cells.
Checking twice to make sure these stem cells belong to me.
Tuesday was a day of celebration. Our country was getting a new President. Many said it was a rebirth of our nation. And I was getting new stem cells to rebuild my body. As we watched the inauguration news on TV, I was hooked up to an IV. Several bags of Saline and my own stem cells were transfused back into my body. The process took several hours. After the stem cells are infused, the bloodstream carries them to the blood and marrow. The body's own chemical signals direct the stem cells to say there, where they start to produce new stem cells and blood cells. About a week after the transplant engraftment occurs. This is when the bone marrow makes new blood cells. Pretty amazing stuff. It is great to live in a time of such modern medicine and technology. I am told this next week will be one of the roughest as my body deals with the side effects of the chemo and begins to engraft the stem cells. I am already feeling pretty wiped out. But this was a day for celebration. As our new administration begins to rebuild our nation my body will be rebuilding too.
Celebrating the big Day.

January 18, 2009

Angels Among Us

It's Sunday and since I haven't gone to church for weeks now. It's time for my own devotional. It is hard at times to know what exactly to write on this blog or how deep and personal to get. This morning as I was praying about this, I was inspired to open up the Book of Mormon and read the first things my eyes turned to. I found the scripture 3 Nephi 7:18 It is talking about the unrest in the land, The Chief Judge is overthrown and Nephi begins to preach repentance to the people. "And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power, than they, for it were not possible that they could not disbelieve his words (now that's power!) for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily. (Wouldn't that be wonderful) As I read this scripture I realized that I have been administered to by angels. When I was able to go back to my home a couple of weeks ago, Joe quickly made preparations for my return. My neighbors cleaned the carpets-Thanks Giles! and my friends cleaned my house-Thanks Melissa and Lettie! Joe washed all the bedding and put an old quilt I rarely use anymore on the bed. A few days later I woke up feeling really ill. Joe gave me a blessing as I sat in bed. In the blessing I was told that there were many people here to help me. Some from this side of the veil and some who had already left this earth. He had the distinct impression that my Grandmother who died 20 years ago was there with me. It was a beautiful blessing and I strongly felt the love of my Heavenly Father. After the blessing I opened my eyes and looked down on my bed I was covered with the quilt that my Grandmother had made for me for our wedding. It is old and worn and rarely used but I felt my grandmother's love wrapped around me and her spirit with me the rest of the day. My dear sweet Grandmother Rosella Mallory Crook is one of my angels watching over me. I truly believe each one of us have angels in our lives. Maybe we don't always notice them, but they are there. In October General Conference Jeffery R. Holland gave a talk Called "The Ministering of Angels." He speaks of times throughout the beginning with Adam and Eve when God has sent angels to minister to people. "usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near." Elder Holland also said, "I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But 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, everyday. 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." I am so blessed to have angels watching over me. Some from beyond the veil and many right here. Providing meals for my family, cleaning my house, carpooling my kids, sharing the twelve days of Christmas, emailing me with encouragement, calling me, sending me cards, gifts, and picking up the slack at home. Thank you! My Angels. Love Kris

January 16, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby

Well here I go again. Today was the first day of Chemo for this round. I went into the Hospital at 9:30am and finished three and half hours later. First they did labs-they always do labs! which means blood tests. Boy do I have a lot of blood! usually they take from 5-6 to 14-15 vials at a time! After that I was given an IV of Saline for an hour. After the first half hour the nurse brought me a big bucket of ice to keep packing in my mouth and then swallowing to keep the chemo from burning the linings of my mouth and throat. I had to do this for an hour and a half, also during the chemo, and then again for another round of saline. (I just kept thinking of that stupid rap song, Ice, Ice, Baby- the only words I can recognize from it.) Needless to say a fun time was had by all. So far this evening I have not had any side effects but I am sure they will come over the next two weeks. I will continue with high doses of heavy chemo both IV and oral over the next three days. On Tuesday I will receive my first stem cell transplant. Horray! This will also be given through an IV. On Monday my parents and I will be moving into a motel in Salt Lake to be closer to the Hospital. My body and immunities will continue to weaken next week and there is a great concern for getting infections. The Dr. has told us that 80% of the patients do end up in the hospital at this time. So we are keeping our fingers crossed and our prayers frequent.

January 12, 2009

"Shaking out my Shoes"

Sometimes when you climb mountains you have to take time out to sit down in the dirt and shake the rocks, pebbles, and sand out of your shoes. Sometimes while I am climbing this mountain I have to "shake out my shoes," with a box of kleenex by my side. This is a pretty steep mountain and there are times when I don't feel like taking another step. Sometimes this upward climb becomes more of a mental than a physical challenge. During those times my cousin Jill, who is a cancer survivor, gave me some great advice-"The twelve and a half minute rule." On bad days I can give myself twelve and a half minutes to cry and fall apart. When the times up, It's time to get back to living. To being a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a fighter. This rule comes in handy. Sometimes I can store up my minutes for several days, or cut my allotted time in half. Sometimes I can't take another step until I get that tiny irritating pebble out of my shoe. I know I am not climbing this mountain alone. I have many friends, and family cheering me on. I have my husband and my parents who not only cheer but occasionally help me "shake out my shoes" and offer a kleenex and a cold glass of water. And I have prayer and priesthood blessings which give me comfort and strength to keep climbing. Today I had two biopsies, when I got home I had to "shake out my shoes" and sit in the dirt for a while. Tomorrow it will be time to put back on my shoes and head up the mountain one step at a time.

What I Needed Someone to Tell Me

  Painting "Hinds Feet" by Daniel F. Gerhartz Two women I know were diagnosed with cancer this week.  My heart goes out to them an...