New Chemo and Relief

Quick update, Brad was approved for and started Lonsurf which is a chemo pill, well multiple pills but he will have the flexibility to take them at home and not have to sit in the Cancer Clinic multiple days during chemo week. He’s had issues with his Blood Pressure dropping and the latest drop was 42/24 during his most recent “lung drain.” He thinks it is mental so he’s trying to work on relaxation and trying not to let the needle phobia affect him. We have the next one set for Thursday 12/10 which is 6 days from the most recent one. We are trying to stretch out the time between drains and so far it is going well.

Family trip the The Plaza for happy hour and shopping

Brad had so much more energy these past two weeks and was able to get some honey do projects done. We hosted a big Christmas treat and crepe making party for my family. It was a loud, busy and fun day! We had mimosas and appetizers while we worked and celebrated with a Mexican freast and margaritas for dinner. Somehow we lucked out and got to keep a lot of the goods!! Our neighbors and friends will be the happy beneficiaries of all of our goodies.

Girl Gang: my sister Marci, cousin Jacque, Aunt T, my Mom, me and Whitney…so glad we could gather and have fun!

So far Brad doesn’t seem to be affected by the chemo drug but it is hard to tell until he’s had a few doses. Thankfully they gave him good nausea drugs and their goal is to keep him from feeling bad. His CEA is at 8.2 which has slowly creeped up since October, we are hopeful that comes down with a positive reaction to this brand of chemo.

Prayer requests: please pray that his fluid stays under control with the goal of not accumulating at all. We need this chemo to work on his active cancer, he needs to gain weight so he can fight through the days he doesn’t feel well or doesn’t have an appetite.

Please pray for our kids, it is so hard for them to focus on school and it stresses me out big time! I’m trying to stay focused on work so I totally empathize with them but schools and future employers don’t give any hall passes just because your dad is fighting cancer…good grades are a must in this competitive world! This is my prayer over and over for them to find their focus, motivation and clear minds. We trust God’s plan, I know he is actively working in our lives and guiding us through this journey. Some days I wonder if we can power through the hours and other days I KNOW we can. I find great comfort in Isaiah scripture these days. I definitely need God’s Firm Grip!

More fun picture from our treat and crepe day.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We feel it on the best and worst days.

Love the Woods

Chemo Repeat and Research for next steps

I realize it has been since Christmas that I updated, my meal train link is updated more regularly. https://mealtrain.com/g475e8

Quick version is Brad was on Lonsurf the last 5 months. He had a hospital stay in January after his “lung drain” thoracentsis resulted in a punctured lung and infected fluid. He had a chest tube for a week and was on high powered antibiotics. It was a mess with covid restrictions, trying to work and take care of Russell plus the Big kids were still at home and not back at KU until the beginning of Feb 2021. We all made it through and Brad came home after 9 days. He took a break from chemo until he gains some strength and it showed signs of leveling out his CEA (cancer markers) but in recent months it has been jumping by about 20 points each month.

In May we stopped the Lonsurf and went into research mode. We sought second opinions from Mayo and MD Anderson but they agreed KU was doing everything they would do and didn’t have additional recommendations. We then turned to the KU Research department which has been an amazing group to partner with in the whole body decision making process. Dr. Baranda has been amazing and her big concern is the lung situation. She is pushing the team to come up with a solution to stop the fluid going into his lung so it will stay in his abdomen and be easier to deal treat. A tap to the abdomen is much less invasive than pulling fluid between ribs and the lung every 4-5 days. The risk of infection and complications is high. He’s had complications and hospital stays but the team in Interventional Radiology has been terrific and incident free the last several months.

We celebrated Carter’s graduation with family and about two weeks of visitors. It was a lot of fun and we’ve been working on purging and organizing ever since. Having 5 of us back in the house with ALL of the college stuff in tow makes for crowded storage spaces. The weather in May was pretty chilly and rainy so we took advantage of better weather Memorial Weekend to do some cleaning.

3 ceremonies cancelled…we make the best of it and celebrated and took pictures on campus with all the other graduates without rules and distancing, it was great! We spent the weekend getting to know Carter’s super darling girlfriend, Mackenzie. They are such a great match and she was a joy to have around.

Research Mode: Brad has had scans, a new liver biopsy and currently is going through DNA testing to see what else they can seek out to treat his cancer. He is receiving the most in-depth research possible. Dr. Baranda, didn’t want to wait any longer so she and Dr. Chuda agree to put Brad back on a chemo that has worked for him in the past. Dr. Baranda has been amazing and is “a big deal” an KU, when she speaks people listen and react. We know she’s working behind the scenes getting appts set, testing done and pulling together high level doctors to look at his case.

Brad will start Folfox on Monday, 6/7 (tomorrow). This is a pump he will wear for 3 days and causes hand and feet pain. We will meet with his Nurse Practitioner, they will do labs then his treatment. We will go for his lung drain at 1pm then off to Russell’s soccer tryouts. It will be a busy and mentally draining day. We need prayers for the side effects of the chemo to do more good than bad to his body and for the drains to continue on a normal and incident free track. We finished Russell’s soccer season so no more trips to St Louis.

After tryouts this week they are going to Minnesota by the Canadian border for a fishing trip 6/16. We have the drains and chemo scheduled so that he will be primed for a good trip. The boys are looking forward to it and I plan to have some relaxing time and maybe some GIRL time as well. I turn 50 on 6/13 so I’m celebrating all month properly with my various circles of friends.

We are having a backyard bask “Sunday Funday” at our house. Can’t wait!

We are going to California in early July and look forward to spending time with my sister’s family and some of Brad’s high school friends. It should be Epic!! I can’t wait! We hope to sneak in another trip before school but need to get through these next 5 weeks.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! We are constantly reminded how big our TEAM is! This weekend we saw some old friends from past teams and the warm smiles and hugs were priceless! God has brought so many people into our lives through sports, dance, our previous school and work lives…we try to keep them close no matter where life takes us. I keep this blog going because I know there are other parts of our support system out there praying for us that we don’t get to see. On my heaviest days I think about everyone that tells me regularly that they pray everyday for us. It is such a comfort and never ceases to touch my heart. Seeing old friends from YEARS ago playing little kid soccer, giving us the most heartfelt love and support is priceless❤️ Thank you for being apart of our story and cheering us on. OXOX

Win or Lose we just really love watching Russell play soccer!

Happy New Year! Let’s make 2021 great…but first a hospital stay and tune up.

**our friends set up this meal train. It has been an easy way for me to update people and you can receive emails when I post anything new. https://mealtrain.com/g475e8 I’ve been posting more on Facebook but Brad doesn’t like all the attention.**

I’ve been meaning to get on here to send out some updates but things have just been so dang busy! We had a great Christmas with Brad’s family and had our neighbors over for New Year’s Eve which was great to catch up with everyone. Brad’s sister’s family had a ski trip planned but our nephew Blake ended up with a broken arm that had been hurting since he arrived in KC. Our Children’s hospital was great and got him in a cast in a matter of hours. Since he was unable to ski we convinced Paula to leave him with us while she met up with her fiance’ and friends in Colorado. Russell and Blake loved having some extra time to hang out. Paula came back to fly home with him so we had lots of family fun over the holidays!

On Monday the 4th we kicked off our week with a Thoracentesis, lung drain, and while Brad was there I was fighting to get his oral chemo as there was a glitch and we hadn’t received it yet. He was supposed to take it Monday morning so I was urgently trying to locate it so he wasn’t thrown off his schedule. It is very specific dosing with 5 days on, 2 days off and then two weeks off. Thankfully KU Med is very good about pushing past approval and financial obstacles so they made it happen and I picked it up right before picking Brad up from the procedure. Here is a God Wink #1 in this whole situation. We try to make chemo be the first thing that is billed in the new year because they have grants that will pay for our deductible. I worked with the financial dept to push through the chemo so it would all bill correctly. If the drain was billed first we’d have to pay 100% of the deductible. There is more to that piece I will come back to it.

I had given Brad some calming tea and CBD and had high hopes of his blood pressure to hold but when he texted me after he said it was awful, the most painful procedure and his BP was 45/24 at first then 65/45 during the whole procedure. I picked him up and he did not look good at all and was in pain. He rested while I ran some errands with Russell, when we got home he and Whitney said he had been confused and wasn’t tracking on conversations. At bedtime he was in a lot of pain in his back and chest but a pain pill helped him sleep. The next day I had planned to go to my office but he just did not seem 100% so I worked from home. By mid-day he wanted me to call the cancer clinic and see if they could see him. We went in at 1:30 to talk with Dr. Chuda and thankfully they let me attend. It was a short appt, he opened up his xray from the day before and said he lung had been punctured and collapsed. We were shocked because Brad was not in extreme distress. I think he’s gotten so used to one lung being compromised so it didn’t stand out as a big difference except for the pain.

We were sent to the downtown hospital for Xrays and likely admittance. We waited for an hour to get into the ER and tried to stay away from the other sick people to avoid germs. They put in a chest tube which was extremely painful! Eventually he got moved to a room which was in the overflow section and very sketchy accommodations but the nurses were absolutely incredible. They fought for him to get answers and were very smart with information they shared with us.

We laughed at first about this contraption and how cutting edge it must have been when it was installed, that quickly turned to desperation to get him away from the toilet 3 feet from his bed.

I utilized patient advocacy to help push the doctors to see him and help us find out the plan. Finally at 3pm we had a literal parade of specialists coming in one by one to tell us their piece of the situation and what they will be doing. At the time we were desperately pushing for him to get his chemo drugs approved. We had them, they were sitting on the counter but the pharmacy had to verify them before they’d allow him to take them. That was so frustrating after I had push so hard to get them approved and through the system on Monday! The cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. V, was amazing and so positive! He brought us an article to read about a procedure he wanted to do that involved putting mesh on his diaphragm to help block the fluid from going into his lung. It would still go in his abdomen but that was a much easier process on him to get drained than these lung drains. We were so happy to have been seen by everyone, ended up getting the chemo approved and were feeling so accomplished!

I went home to be with Whitney and Russell and get some items Brad had requested and attempted a good night’s sleep. I woke up to a very disappointing text from Brad that said he had infection in his lung fluid and the surgery was cancelled. His liver doctor came by and said she was against the surgery now or EVER and didn’t want anything foreign in his body because there would be a very high risk of infection if he had the mesh or a permanent drain inserted. Disappointment turned to worry as we needed that infection to be cleared. My level of urgency to get him in a new room was elevated and escalated with Patient Advocacy. My husband with infection flowing through is body did not need to be in that grungy room 3 feet from a disgusting toilet! By bedtime he was moved to the cardiac floor which is quiet, clean and there is a well equipped real bathroom.

On Friday we had follow ups but nothing new. It was a relaxed day settling into his new room with the new rhythm of the staff. We knew the weekend would be quiet but hoped he would get the chest tube out before Monday. There is a massive volume of fluid coming out because there is no resistance to the fluid’s path. It had to work hard to find the easier path into his lung and now that it can just drain out the liver and kidneys are not taxed with backed up fluid and resistance. His labs are showing that his organs are less stressed as they’ve all come down from a peak on the 5th due to infection and stress.

I had some friends come by on Friday evening to drink some wine and catch up. It was so nice to laugh and share stories with my girls. I think it was good for Whitney to let lose a little as well. Russell went to his soccer friend’s house for the night and enjoyed a steak dinner and a workout with his buddy. It has inspired him to set up the weight bench in our basement and work on strength training. This kid is growing up so fast this year, mentally, physically and maturing in how he attacks his goals.

On Saturday I spent the day with Brad and we treated ourselves with a yummy meal from a local asian restaurant. The hospital has some amazing restaurant within walking distance so that is nice change of pace from hospital food. He was pretty tired and I had plans to go to dinner and the Heart of America Youth Ballet with our dance friends. It was an absolutely wonderful night and break from the grind of the hospital stress. The ballet was Sleeping Beauty and was wonderfully choreographed and performed. I loved watching Whitney and her friends enjoy the show from the audience for the first time.

Sleeping Beauty, performed by Heart of America Youth Ballet
Rite of Passage, these ladies came to support their beloved HAYB and cheer for the younger dancers performing. We had so much fun and were able to catch up with friends before and after the show.

On Sunday Whitney had planned to hang out with Brad while I took Russell to his soccer game in the morning and had some cleaning and food prep to do for the week. I was so exhausted I didn’t get everything done but did enjoy a lettering class by one of my favorite ladies, Gale Nation. She has been a crafty friend for a long time and I’ve been wanting to take a class from her for a long time. The plan was for Whitney to take the class with me but it was a good time for her to go hang with her dad. He requested her to bring dominos and candy. I loaded up a bag of snacks, banana bread from a friend and sent $50 that was given to us for a good lunch. They had a good day and I got some much needed rest.

Late last night a nurse said something about surgery today to separate his organs. We were like “WHAT SURGERY?”!!! I told Brad just relax, she was probably reading about the mesh surgery and got confused. This morning the doctors confirmed, no surgery and want to keep the fluid draining and monitor how the diuretics affect the fluid if at all. It is looking like the chest tube will come out tomorrow and we will work to get him released. With his lab numbers looking really good we hope all meds will be tweaked and a schedule for fluid drains will be established. While it is a hassle and his blood pressure drops “Vagal Response” are scary and uncomfortable we will try to manage our way through them. Anything is better than being in the hospital so we will just have to power through and accept this as the best option.

Please pray for Brad to continue to *heal, *maintain a positive attitude, *enjoy the good in his days and for all of us to *keep our stress level low, our *hope high and remain *strong in our faith that God is holding us close and carrying out his plan for all of us. We are juggling work, school and activities along with these medical appts and situations. I’m sure we will continue to grow in strength as a Family and in our Faith.

God Bless, thank you for your prayers! Kim and the FamBam

Heat of the Battle

Hi everyone, if you don’t follow us on Facebook I’ll update this blog with our battle scars from the last few weeks. We were dealing with the fluid build up by scheduling twice a week thoracentesis “lung drain.” That didn’t feel like the best option and was honestly exhausting for all of us but mostly Brad. It was a lot to manage along with the chemo schedule biweekly. On Friday, November 13th we were waiting for my Brother and family to arrive for an early Thanksgiving and weekend fun watching Russell play soccer in a tournament. Brad’s parents took him to the IR clinic for the “lung drain” and on the way home he was coughing uncontrollably and spitting up the yellow fluid that is normally in the drain bottle. Brad was texting me telling me what was going on and I was calling every nurse line and possible live person to get them to answer on a Friday afternoon.

Brad walked in the door and did not look good so we jumped in the car with his dad driving and drove straight to the closest ER at Truman Lakewood. His oxygen saturation was in the 70% range and his BP was very low. After what felt like an hour on hold I got through to a nurse who said to take him to the ER and suggested an ambulance but we were so close it was faster to just go right then. Those ER people were freaking rockstars! He was in a bed in less than 2 minutes from walking in the door and hooked up to high dose oxygen helping him recover from these coughing spells. It was TERRIFYING! I felt like I was watching him drown before me and he felt the same. Fast forward to 10pm that night, they transferred him to KU Med ICU that night. The first xrays looked like he had pneumonia but the KU Med people put together that the IR department took out too much fluid and it created a vacuum that pulled the fluid into his lung. Of course this is a rare occurrence and one of his nurses had never seen it in 15 years. We didn’t care about all of that once he was diagnosed correctly and they used a special mask to push the fluid back out of his lung.

The next day Brad fought hard to get released so he could make Russell’s soccer game and our family Thanksgiving meal. He organized the menu and prepared the turkey, made sure all ingredients were purchased and edited my list of assembly and cook times…sadly his parents and Whitney ended up pulling off the amazing spread. The next day I went to the hospital to hopefully break him out and our urging moved things along so that he could make the 2nd half of Russell’s game on Sunday. In this wicked battle we find ourselves thankful for things like 30 minutes of a soccer game despite missing the previous two games on Saturday. That day it felt like a freaking miracle!

The best 30 minutes of our weekend! Brad made it to soccer straight from KU Med!
Nothing like a belly laugh after a scary and frustrating weekend!

Between Sunday, November 13th and Wednesday, November 25th we tried to cover every base, make every plan and cover every scenario so that we could still go on our trip to Brad’s sister’s new house in Seabrook, TX. It was pretty dicey coming down to a signature by his doctor on the last day at 3pm. The trip was worth the stress, we got in some fun, relaxation and fun family time together. We did a little shopping and site seeing but mostly stuffed our faces with delicacies from the Gulf. On our way home Brad had a hard time keeping his blood pressure stable. His oxygen helped but it was very scary for him and us to make sure we got down with him in one piece.

This week we have appointments daily with the IR lung drain starting at 8am on Monday, December 1 and oncologist appointment at 11am. We expect to discuss a new chemo pill treatment and further discuss the lung fluid situation and how we can best manage it. The increased diuretics has helped a lot but then we worry about dehydration. This thing is like “whack-a-mole” one thing gets better and something else pops up. But we just keep going, what else are we going to do but fight and figure out the best ways to deal with the almost weekly changed symptoms.

I also wanted to mention while Brad was laying in the ER on 11/13 he “outed” himself on Facebook and let everyone know he was in this fight. While he is still reluctant to share too much he does really enjoy the comments, prayers, encouragements and most of all stories from “back in the day” and notes. I’m posting our mailing address here: 5929 Ne Hidden Valley Drive, Lees Summit, MO 64064. He reads every single card and note we receive. I brings him strength, comfort and entertainment. Our soccer parents also created this meal train to help us with meals and expenses. https://mealtrain.com/g475e8 With all of this crazy our work is suffering, we are doing ok, we are stable but hospitalizations wreak havoc on our normal lives and I’ve felt like I’m running in quicksand trying to keep up. Thankfully the natural slow down of the holidays will help us right side our personal and professional lives so we are ready to go in 2021. I have faith this is just a little speed bump…Brad has been through many of these downturns and comes back fighting harder than ever.

Thank you as always for your prayers, we count God’s blessings and hope you are counting yours as well. For now we are focused on clear minds for work and school and learning how we can best navigate this newer version of Brad’s treatment plan.

God Bless, Kim

Quick Catch Up

Sorry it has been so long but things have seemed so middle ground I didn’t know really how to report anything. I think I need to just do little updates more often but honestly we also have to make sure all of our family and friends are updated before I broadcast anything new.

In general the starting point was a switch from one chemo that made Brad feel gross all the time and was hard on his liver to 1 of 3 he was on 2 years ago, 5FU. Since I can’t go I have very bad date and sequence recall. When I was there for all of it I knew dates and details of everything…so frustrating but God has kind of pushed Brad to speak more for himself and be more honest about symptoms. From Day 1 he has been the “I’m fine, no symptoms I can remember” guy.

Last week he got a bone marrow booster on Monday, chemo on Tuesday and another booster on Thursday at unhook. That morning I woke up to Brad coughing a very weird cough. Coincidentally we were waiting on a Covid result from Russell being exposed and on quarantine (1st test negative, cold symptoms prompted a 2nd test) so I called the pediatrician and thankfully it was negative. I jokingly told Brad he didn’t have covid so stop coughing like that. I went to work since I wouldn’t be going to the unhook appointment and carried on. At 2:30 he said his breathing was weird and that he didn’t say anything at the unhook appt…”I’m fine” and NO to every symptom question. I called him and he could barely talk so I rushed home. He demanded going to the closest ER which is super unlike him.

I’ll try to condense this as much as possible but know from Thursday at 5:30 pm to Saturday at 11:00am I was in a freaking rage trying to get him out of that damn hospital! What should have been a 3 hour procedure that has been conducted since in a drop off, do the damn thing and pick up situation was a freaking nightmare. On top of ALLL of it we had plans to spend the weekend in Lawrence celebrating Carter’s 21st birthday. I had reservations, plans, big ideas and hoped to show the kids a great time in the weirdest year with them being so awesome to adapt. Sparing the details he was in the ER for 23 hours, barely fed, barely info reported out to me, I pretty much yelled at everyone I could and begged them to let me come get him. He was begging on his end too so we were able to pick him up at 11am and only be an hour late for lunch with Carter, friends and family for his birthday.

Carter, a few of his fraternity brothers, Russell and Brad.
I love this boy, he healed our broken hearts and keeps us on our toes. I pray for him daily and trust God’s path for him as he graduates this year.
Soaking up all the time we can get with the Banes before they head west to Cali.

We threw a big party at Johnny’s which is the bar I worked at in college and where Brad and I both celebrated our 21st birthdays so it was a fun full circle kind of moment. The college kids thanked us over and over for hosting and the fraternity boys seemed so happy to be able to gather outside of their house. It has been kind of rough, big spotlight on the greek community and they’ve been so strong to just deal with it.

We watched our last High School soccer game for Russell’s freshman year then had the great enjoyment of watching him play with his Club team KCSG Academy 06 and they won 7-0. Russell usually plays midfield but coach put him in at Center Back on defense and he did great despite not being his normal spot. He said, “it can be scary because you have a guy running full speed at you and you have to get the ball from him.” Russell is fierce, he owned that new position and performed for his coach. He played almost the whole game so he was a happy boy!

We were watching soccer rather than giving out candy but enjoyed some time with cuzzies Michael and Rory who both dressed up as Trump in 2016 and this year. So funny! Whitney celebrated Thursday through Saturday as a school girl, “Pink Whitney” and the last night she was a bachelorette. I’m hoping when she is back in KC we can revive Halloween and go bigger than in years past. I love dressing up!

So the Brad update. Between one drain of fluid from his abdomen and three from his lung he had 7.7 liters taken out in one week. Clearly that is a lot and will be hard to manage at that pace. His doctor has a few ideas on how we can help relieve that fluid production so we have a referral to a new liver doctor and hope he’s a candidate. BIG PRAYER #1!!!! Ideally that will solve a lot of this issue and give him a better quality of life. He’s very tired, any kind of outings wear him out and a big day means the next day he will be reclined in his chair and resting. His CEA and bilirubin rose so BIG PRAYER #2 is for his cancer to stay stable as we fight to get his liver and symptoms stable. Thankfully he was open to having a home health nurse come visit with us. She will serve as the safety net between the Cancer appts and everything else. To qualify for this you have to talk about your struggles and of course Mr. Sunshine was “fine” not troubles and very little pain. He just doesn’t want to burden anyone including home health! BIG PRAYER #3 that this is approved so he can have PT at home to gain strength, have a watchful eye on him to make sure he’s doing ok and not have to constantly guess how he’s REALLY doing and social work support so I know what forms and approvals need to be established so that he’s protected and we are ready for anything.

I want to give a show out to my company, they remain so supportive both professionally and personally. God knew what he was doing when I made the switch to ECCO Select 4 years ago. I literally could not do any of this without their unwavering support! I also want to thank our church, Woods Chapel Methodist! They have carried us through this battle since DAY ONE and send us very sweet notes of encouragement weekly. My biggest and most important thank you is to the youth ministry for covering my children and especially Russell this year. I can see the light of his faith shining brightly and the comfort he has from his faith. He seeks answer in scripture when he struggles and gives his worry to God.

Today is election day, BIG PRAYER #4, that our nation can find some common ground and move forward with more hope and peace than what we’ve seen this year. I pray hard that the mainstream media will get their act together and report in a more even manner which is how I learned journalism in high school and college. It is so clearly slanted towards division which is not doing anyone any justice at all. I don’t care what your views are, people are being brainwashed into thinking such negative things and if they had all the information to choose their viewpoints we wouldn’t have so much frustration. I think everyone can agree to that.

Sending out much love and light! Thank you for praying for us, they are felt, they are needed and appreciated!

Ready, Set, Go! School Year 2020-2021

This is definitely NOT how Russell feels about his brother and sister leaving.

I remember feeling like we were stuck in time back in March when everything was shutting down and getting cancelled.  Now I’m like “WAIT where did our Summer go?”  I know Brad really appreciated all of the extra family time but as with anything it started to feel like too much.  Not because we don’t love our kids but when you have young adults at home who don’t really want to help vacuum or unload the dishwasher for the 1487th time it creates conflict.  I enjoyed cooking for everyone and got to experiment a lot, especially Vegan recipes for Whitney.  I have always cooked in a deconstructed way so I have a low carb option and the boys had high carb/protein/fat option (all the things.) This has turned into a no meat/dairy option with the proteins on the side for me and Whit.  Russell has been super helpful and when I begged Whitney she would trade chores for me buying her necessities.  Carter really likes going to the gym and will not change any sort of plan if it got in the way of his plan for the gym.  I find myself thinking a lot about how the Big kids will have a big fat reality check when it is time for them to take care of their own home.  I guess that is just life and someday they’ll understand. We’ll revisit the *sharing of the chores* when they come home over Thanksgiving-February break.

We said our goodbyes, Carter in the driveway which is what he prefers and Whitney’s has been going on for a month.  Her grad parties morphed into goodbye parties with a few teary hugs in the driveway just before she took off for Lawrence after her busy day of recruitment on Thursday.  The Big kids are settled in Lawrence for the school year and we are enjoying a quiet house, less dishes and trash with more time to clean out the pantry, fridge and cabinets for an upcoming Kitchen spruce up.  Whitney is figuring out how to more easily eat vegan without the comforts of home and learning in college it takes some effort to eat well.  We’ve hardly heard from Carter but he’s ready to go back to his job and be more busy.  The fraternity had some positive Covid cases, including Carter so they have been laying low and quarantining in the fraternity. Several houses have been quarantined and we hope dealing with this early will help the year run more smoothly. Whitney is loving her waitress job, especially the tips for quick cashflow! We are proud of both of them for soldiering on.

Aubree and Whitney on Pref Day!
A teary but happy goodbye
Whitney and Lindsay both pledged Gamma Phi Beta! It seems like a great fit!
Lindsay and Whitney in their beautiful dorm room.

Russell started high school on 9/8/2020. He was nervous but had a great first day so all of the nerves settled. He’s been playing hard for his JV Soccer Team and we are so thankful for a progressive district that has given us the choice to be in-person or virtual. We feel really good about the choice to send him to school! He’s happy, he’s learning and isn’t having the tech glitches some of the virtual students are dealing with. We are hopeful, positive and looking to the future!

As for Brad, we are waiting for insurance to approve the new chemo plan. I can’t express the rage I feel about this…I don’t understand why we have to wait on insurance to approve what a skilled specialist is prescribing. Meanwhile he feels more and more “cancery” and no doubt his numbers are rising. He rests in bed and in his recliner as much as possible and has been doing his honey dos around the house fixing my new Keurig, Whitney’s brakes, the front glass door and all of the other annoying things that pop up. He’s been working when he can but the pace is definitely not the same crazy level as the last few months. I’m so proud of him for working so hard and taking advantage of low rates to bring in some extra money these last 6 months. Brad needs lots of prayers for strength: mind, body and spirit. This battle is weighing him down as we approach the start of year 3 on 9/14/2020. He turns 50 on Friday, 9/11/2020 which is a huge milestone but doesn’t seem to be as exciting with him not feeling good. We pray the chemo and immunotherapy will fight for him and give him more energy and time in his day to feel some sense of normal. His major battles are gaining weight, a weak liver and the growing cancer. It is a conscious battle to eat, watch his salt and not succumb to the urge to lay around and rest. Cancer sucks. It feels like a slow burn, always there, sometimes the burn rages and we struggle to contain it…right now is that time for him. It is strange, the last two years this is when he felt the worst, dx in 2018, liver struggles in 2019 and this year the rising numbers and low weight are the biggest battles. Forget Covid! Seriously…that is the least of our worries. I won’t go political here, it isn’t worth it but we are ready for the choice of normalcy and decide how we want to protect ourselves. Brad is so adamant about the fact that he doesn’t expect society to keep him safe from covid. It is his job to avoid situations, wear a mask and wash his hands. Healthy people need to work and go to school and enjoy life again. That is all I’m going to say about that.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We are hanging in there and excited to celebrate Brad and Whitney’s birthdays together this weekend. We are so blessed and God is working in our lives, the kids are happy and healthy, we have everything we need. God is GOOD all of the time.

Ready for Launch!

FINALLY!! Whitney got her day to walk across the stage and officially become a high school graduate! I have to brag on her since this is my space on the internet and doesn’t feel as “braggy” as it does on social media. She finished with a 3.962 overall GPA! Poor girl tried so hard to get that 4.0, she had a 4.8 GPA both semesters her senior year with mostly college classes, we proclaim her effort a major victory. She also is taking 26 legit college credits with her to KU and a terrific starting GPA (over 3.5 just not sure if the official number). I’m hoping this will give her the opportunity to get a minor or at least a concentration with extra room in her schedule before she transitions to Nursing Schoo in 2022. Whitney finished 109 out of 442 in her class. This class of seniors is full of extremely brilliant kids who take stacked schedules and do so very well! We are proud of all of her friends and especially her bestie, Abby, who was in the top 1%, had a 4.3 (I think) took all AP classes and worked so darn hard to get that distinction. My very favorite thing about Abby is that she encouraged Whitney to do her very best and never, EVER compared or looked down at her for her path that was hard, but not AP hard. Whitney too a lot of college classes and high level math and science along the way. Abby 100% respects other people’s paths and truly loves our girl. When Whitney struggled on the ACT Abby told her she was proud of her for trying her hardest. **cue the tears…so sweet to support a friend with so much on her plate.

Whitney and Abby at her GRAD party, she is headed to TCU for a Pre Med Honors program.

I’m beyond grateful for Abby’s unwavering friendship. They’ve been friends their whole lives and it makes me want to cry I’m so thankful for th their bond. Who would think they’d meet their ROCK in the baby room at daycare?

Abby and Whitney, age 3
Touch of Silver Dance Team, Co Captains leading their team through a monumental and successful season!
Our family minus Russell because he was in Minnesota fishing.
Whitney, Abby and Mackenzie, the best of besties!
Super Proud of Abby and that 1% medal! Whitney is very proud of her accomplishments including NHS recognition, nearly a 4.0 gpa plus 26 college credits and pre-admittance to Research College of Nursing after two years at KU.

While we were on vacation we got the notice that graduation had been moved up a day and to Sporting KC’s stadium. It was supposed to be a scorching hot day but thankfully we got a little break, shade and a breeze. It was a terrific day, a beautiful ceremony, and Whitney said it was so fun and much better than expected. It is so strange that she will move into her dorm in less than a month and just graduated but we’ve been celebrating all Summer. She deserves the longest graduation celebration in history! #classof2020strong

We only had 6 tickets and were clearly socially distanced. The Bane family joined us in Whitney’s cheering section. Her TOSDT heads from state came in handy again.

So many people ask me about college and what it all looks like. I’ll let you all know that right now Whitney has a mix of in-person and online classes including hybrids. With technology the way it is most classes are somewhat hybrid compared to when Brad and I were there. She feels really good about her schedule and has already landed a server job at Jefferson’s in Lawrence. My kids are so different….I begged Carter to apply there and he flat refused the idea. Whitney applied, interviewed and had the job lined up two months before school starts. One wants to carve his own path without mom, the other takes into consideration my ideas and then chooses to take the advice or not. Hey, at least she considers it. Carter’s classes were all in-person before they did some shuffling, not sure how they ended up just yet. He’s busy finishing his Summer classes and is on track to graduate next May! We will have a HUGE PARTAY with LOTS of people and PLEASE LORD can we not social distance by then??? May 2021 will be off the chain!

Day1s are headed to LFK!

Sorority Recruitment starts the week of August 16th and will be all virtual. This time has taught us patience, flexibility and trust. We trust that KU will do their best in all aspects and leave it at that. Carter and Whitney just want to be there no matter what it looks like. I hope this also changes their expectations for it to be *PARTY PARTY* all the time because that WILL NOT be the case. There will be restrictions that will be tight and hopefully loosen but raging across campus will not be the case. I remember those semesters when campus would be more locked down due to police paying extra close attention to underage drinking. We hated it but didn’t want to get busted at the bars and in turn the bars and staff suffered from minimal business. This reminds me of those days. As a kid who wanted to go out and a bartender who suffered financially. Anyway, we are on track for LAUNCH and they will be moving in the weekend of 21st.

Brad and the Bonnet Head Shark we caught in Sanibel FL

Brad update: The short story is his tests look good but he feels like crap. We had a short meeting with his new oncologist as his previous doctor retired. I think we were pretty encouraged because he had some new ideas about treatment. After two weeks of thinking about that appointment, we are ready to explore new things to give him a better quality of life. There are just too many side effects that really don’t seem to be worth it right now. The cancer looks quiet/dormant so it might be a good time to take a break and heal from the treatment. We’ll see how the conversation goes but first he has a scan on Monday, 7/27 then appt and treatment on 7/28. We celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary on 7/29 so it will be quite the series of events next week. Whitney’s Graduation, our 25th Anniversary and Brad’s 50th Birthday are 3 very big milestones that had been on our minds when he was diagnosed. As we approach year 3 of this battle we are so incredibly thankful to be celebrating these milestones together. God is with us in this battle, we are sure of it!

Prayer requests would include continued bold prayers for our children to stay strong, stay focused and continue to enjoy life. They are normal teenagers…frustrating at times, responsible, helpful, selfish but always loving. This extra long Summer break has been wonderful but we are ready for LAUNCH the weekend of August 21st! Brad appreciates continued prayers for his health, his treatment and all of the support we receive. Recently I had a really hard day keeping everything in check, doing a lot of heavy lifting and dealing with some bad moods amongst my tribe. The next day a book for caregivers was on our doorstep from our church. Brad took a picture of it and sent to me. He said “the Lord has spoken.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry but that gift came at such a perfect time…like really, really perfect! I will update this blog when we know the results and where this path will take us in the near future.

oxox, Kim

Our Happy Place, on a boat near a beach!
Whitney’s Senior Trip Highlight Video

Safe at Home and Staying Positive

So much has happened in our Nation the last few months it seems like a dream…some bad and some good. A bright side is that Brad’s chemo and immunotherapy treatments have remained mild. His tongue gets numb during treatment but they’ve been administering it slowly so he manages it by waiting out the numbness. The first 3-5 days can be rough with loss of appetite, major grouchiness, short temper, frustration and fatigue. If things are quiet and he’s able to rest all is well. Brad has always been an early riser so he is full of energy and ready to go every morning. His energy fades as the day goes on. The first few days he can’t sleep because of the steroids they pump into him so that is annoying. I tend to sleep where my head falls which is the couch, guest room or our room if I’m not worried about waking him up. I’ve had even more insomnia than normal during SAH. Much of it is lack of physical activity and too much brain activity so I work on both to move my body more and relax my mind.

We finally got to meet new cuzzie Baby Rory Preston Bane! OMGosh this baby is the most chill, sweetest, cutest and snuggliest little baby! What a blessing during a time when we are forced to be still and quiet. Each of my kids are completely smitten and we all have “fought” over him during each visit. Holding a newborn just does something to your soul. He is a representation of new life and a future with all of the opportunity and happiness God has to offer.

Give me that baby! Whitney said, “Mom I love watching you hold babies.” I’ve loved babies since I can remember and didn’t mind the challenges of the baby phase with my 3. Some call me the baby whisperer and even though I don’t sing well babies seem to like the songs I sing them.
This big cuzzie LOVES holding Rory and thinks his toots and poops are HILARIOUS!
Happiest Day Meeting Baby Rory #rpb Whitney definitely shares my love of any and all babies and little kids. She is a terrific babysitter and finds fun things to do with the kids.
Carter seemed very smitten with little Rory as well and enjoys a good baby snuggle.

Covid Haircuts were a big deal! The boys held out and didn’t let me give them a trim. Whitney and I were quite a sight with our outgrown roots but honestly my hair has never been healthier since I don’t “fix it” more than once or twice a week so that is a bonus! My hair was usually on top of my head but I’m trying to fix myself more so that when I go back to my office it doesn’t drive me crazy to have my hair down. I swear it has felt like a working weekend for months. Jammies or athletic gear all day with only the occasional normal clothing. I don’t think I would fair well being remote 100%.

Carter has an unfortunate haircut his sophomore year in high school…it was more like a revolt against haircuts and this is as close as it has come to that hair mishap.
WOAH Holy Birdsnest!
All cleaned up and ready for the big Grad Party!

The best part about having a big gathering at your house is it ends up cleaner than usual. We had our carpets cleaned, had some house cleaners come help deep clean and were ready to enjoy some family fun! Aunt T arrived on Thursday, she’s a gem and so dang helpful! We are the family party hostesses and really enjoy throwing a party or family gathering. I just told her my vision, made some lists and she got to work. I can’t wait to pay her back for all of the time and help she gave us! Aunt T gifted Whitney with a very special inspiration present as she pursues a degree and career in nursing. So, so special!

This is Aunt T’s Student Nurse cap from her days in Nursing School. What a beautiful inspiration momento to keep our future nurse focused and a sense of connection to the nurses in our family. My Nana was a nurse and one of the first TWA Stewardesses, Aunt T was a RN and served as a nurse for a children’s home, church camp and I’m sure the go to at her church. Our cousin, Vicki, has been a flight nurse and RN in California for 30+ years.
Aunt T and Whitney, two of the most nurturing people I know.
Aunt T and the kids in front of our gorgeous photo opp wall

I’m going to organize my next post to properly show off the awesome party we had. The funny thing was that I don’t remember Whitney and I having many discussions about details, I just knew and she knew and it all came to be. I borrowed a lot of items from friends which was awesome so we didn’t have to recreate the wheel. I have friends with cool stuff haha!

Stay Safe, God Bless America and Please Pray for the unrest and solutions for unequal rights for our black citizens. It is truly heartbreaking and confusing to think about people who have racism in their hearts. I just don’t understand where they are coming from but don’t deny it is in our world. I pray anyone that knows me never doubts my love for all people no matter their race, religion, who they love or how they look. I could not be more honest in that statement. Do I disagree with people’s beliefs, yes. But I in turn hope they respect that I can make decisions for my life without aggression towards me. The thing is I have a widely diverse family and appreciate different opinions that can help guide my children to make their own decisions. #exitingthesoapbox

Update from the trenches

This Stay At Home thing is such a multi-faceted happy and devastating situation.  I’m not going to list the things that Whitney has lost because she is thriving.  I will update you all that she did not make the KU Rock Chalk Dance Team which was extremely devastating in the beginning but we have adapted and see very clearly why God’s plan did not include that adventure.  She will only be at KU two years so we are embracing the idea of her being a regular college kid and sorority girl enjoying the big school college experience before she moves on to Nursing School.  Don’t get me wrong, my heart drops every time I see something about Rock Chalk Dance but then I remind myself that my girl can just go and do fun and important things without a big spotlight for the first time in her life.  I’ve so loved watching her transform into this newest, current version of herself post-dance.  Oh and her recital was cancelled so her last day of dance was a normal day…which I’m also appreciating.  Some endings weren’t major, big, tear jerking situations, they were normal, happy days.  One thing that has been constant is her amazing support system at her dream job, Stephanie’s Bridal/Perfect Dress. They brought her dresses and took pics of her to promote a sale. Dang I love those ladies so much, they pour goodness, beauty, strength and more than I know into Whitney!img_5283

 

Carter has thrived as the “bowling ball in the basement” (the kid barrells through life knocking down things and people, he hurt his toe and finger recently because he just goes and doesn’t think so we have come to realize we need to say “don’t knock down xxx when you take out the trash” or whatever the situation is. He is totally my brother Kyle in that respect. (Must have to do with big muscles) and his biggest disappointment is that the gym has not opened yet.  He is so disciplined in his exercise and works out almost everyday.  I’m so thankful for that passion in him as I know it will carry him through life and sustain his physical and mental health.  So far it looks like he will have 4 As and 2 Bs this semester which we are so proud of!  “College is hard without teachers,” was a pretty devastating comment to his big hearted mama!  I offered help but he wanted to forge ahead and I am so proud of his effort and results! We let him have his college buddies over this weekend and it was so good for my soul to see him in his element since he’s been robbed of the end of his 2nd/academic junior year.  He’s feeling very robbed of a 4th year since he is set to graduate next May.  I hope and pray in time he will be ok with it. Right now it feels like a loss but a $35k saving in the long run!

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Whitney has one more test and is pretty much guaranteed an A so she’ll end the semester with her dual credits as a 4.8 and 4.0 cumulative gpa from high school. When Brad got diagnosed she struggled big time…we all did…but it affected her gpa and she has focused very well this year knowing these dual credits could not only raise her high school gpa but give her a very high college gpa starting out.  We’ll see how it all shakes out but I think this time has given her a glimpse into how life will be in college with all the time in the world and a MUST DO organization so it doesn’t just slip by.

This girl…in a flash!

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Russell Spencer Woods is living his best life!  He is such a hard worker and this situation has shined a spotlight on his inner focus, drive and organization.  He has been trying to eat more to grow, works hard at soccer skills, has stayed super organized in school assignments and is set to get all As as well.  He’s so annoyed with his one B in middle school that will cause him to have slightly below a 4.0 for the middle school career gpa.  Personally I’m happy he felt the sting of a B now so maybe he’ll keep that drive for As in high school.  This week he started trying to train our dog, Shadow, to close the door.  I just have to laugh…he is relentless…Shadow loves it, he gets lots of treats and attention and so far Russell has been successful in teaching him. Now the challenge is to get Russell back out running to make up for lost training.  His skills have improved but obviously hot having multiple training days each week has taken a toll.  The good thing is he has grown taller and gained weight so he’s staying focused on his nutrition. This kid…he really amazes me.  He is also super obsessed with getting a 2nd dog after a visit to a friend’s house where everyone had a new dog!  He is the dog whisperer!  He would already have a new puppy if it was up to me but Brad is the voice of reason and reminds us that when life is back to normal we’ll never be home.

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So my biggest news is we have all MOSTLY enjoyed our time together.  Moods flare and we sometimes have a hard time with attention spans which can be annoying to the person talking.  We are so excited for Whitney’s Grad Party on the 23rd and hope people will feel comfortable coming.  Everyone I know is ready to bust out and be careful but stop with the crazy.  We Will Be Careful for Brad’s sake but we HAVE to get this economy going again!  Don’t @ me with anything…we HAVE to start this economy.

So Brad had his 2nd Chemo today.  The administered it slowly which helped and he had a little reaction but found that sucking on candy helped make it go away.  He bargained with his Nurse Practioner to not get Benadryl and it worked.  Thankfully.  That was not a great result last time. Our prayers today are that he will feel better this round.  He felt yucky for a week and we need him to feel good for Whitney’s party and our family that are coming to visit.  We hope all will go smoothly and all Whitney has dreamed as her senior year as been unlike anyone could imagine.

AND we all worked hard to spruce up our deck.  Brad did the heavy lifting in design and replacing boards.  I wanted to scrap the whole thing but he saw value in a sprucing plan and it turned out great!  Everyone helped, I put in some backbreaking work but it was so worth it!  I’m proud of us for upcycling because there are so many fancy patio sets out there but we were all in agreement that we liked most of what we had and just needed a few upgrades. So lots of upcycling happened which is so in line with our family vibe and we seamlessly found to new chairs to add.  Carter talked me into keeping two old rockers that are falling apart so everyone is happy and we have a beautiful multilevel space to enjoy.

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Who would have thought a pandemic would be the ultimate gift?

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RCD tryouts, LET’S GOOOOOO! #RCJH

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our beautiful senior with so much good stuff on the horizon

Hi everyone! I’ve thought about updating but honestly our life the last 7 months has felt very normal so I just kind of skirted the idea of updating a blog that deals with cancer. The treatment Brad has been on has helped him feel the most normal since diagnosed. I say that but I’m not him and I know he battles tiredness, low appetite and doesn’t complain as much as he could have.

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living the comfy clothes life

We’ve had a great “coasting” feeling for several months but with recent test results his numbers are starting to show some instability so on April 28th Brad will add Irinotecan chemo to his Vectibix immunotherapy treatment. New treatments always bring anxiety because we have a huge unknown of new symptoms and this one is supposed to have some pretty bad GI issues that are untouched by over the counter meds. The other tricky part is I have only been able to attend appts by speaker phone due to Covid 19 quarantine so that is a challenge considering I’ve gone to 99.% of his appointments. We are making it work.

The ying and yang of this Covid situation is almost unfathomable! The gift of time with our family all together is unmeasurable. We normally would only have this if Brad was in a dire situation. To have everyone at home, healthy and thriving and working through this crazy situation together is a gift that no one would normally have. The moods pop up when there is frustration but for the most part we have all been in check, patient and positive. We’ve missed A LOT! We are sad for our kids but thankful everyone is home, we have 3 floors to retreat to and have food to eat, (don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of toilet paper) and all that we need.  I LOVE COOKING so that has been a terrific outlet for me to love on my family through good, healthy and fresh food.  I’ve been experimenting with vegan recipes for Whitney and gave up dairy and red meat to see if I felt better and I do.  It is hard, cheese is awesome! BUT I feel like a lighter version of myself and enjoy making yummy, healthy food for me and Whitney then the usual action packed food for the boys.

So as our city just imposed 3 more weeks we hunker down, reassess how we can do better in these circumstances and move on.  We are beyond thankful for our jobs to remain stable, our finances are stable if not better for all of the hotel stays we cancelled due to events and games getting cancelled.  I’m holding on tight to Whitney’s grad party and senior trip, if we can do it all safely we will FREAKING DO IT!  I’ve dubbed myself Positive Polly because I refused to get sucked into the long term cancellation of life as we know it and as unpopular as it sounds I’m dumbfounded at the local devastation on our economy for not even 2000 local cases.  I get it…I get that we’ve done a good job so far but my GOD we are NOT New York and we need to get back to work asap.  We comply but the financial devastation has to be addressed and thoughtfully tended to.  WE ARE NOT NEW YORK.

The prayer list is long…I’ll list it below.
– For Brad to gain weight so he can handle the brunt of chemo with no margin of extra weight to lose. He eats like Buddy the Elf…candy and sweets, the good stuff is a negotiation so I need him to bulk up.
– For Brad to not have the severity of GI issues expected and have the strength of mind to do the things needed to combat the issues.
– For our Whitney, for her to be her best self during Rock Chalk Dance Tryouts! The virtual format is hard but we have no doubt she will give it her very best. We pray she keeps her motivation strong to move her body, stay strong physically despite the closed in nature of this quarantine.
-We pray she can finish strong with her classes and achieve her goal of 4.8 gpa and all As in her dual credit college classes.

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– For Carter, he’s missing his friends and college life. He found out he will be able to graduate next May and to him it feels like he’s getting robbed rather than an accomplishment. We pray the shift can come where he will appreciate the fact that he will be done early and not have to be burdened with more school debt and will find a great career path and young grown up life! I don’t know about you all but Brad and I had a great time in Kansas City living the good life as 20-somethings.
– We pray for Carter to be successful in his grades this semester as it is a critical time with only 3 semesters left including this one.

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– Our Russell. He has thrived during this time and is living his best life! He had a bad stretch of getting teased at school for being small and wished everyday to be homeschooled. We’ve seen him grow into a more happy child, with a more positive outlook and loving this format. If it wasn’t for the high school sports opportunities we would consider homeschooling him and just playing club soccer.  We know that he needs to branch out and grow personally through stepping out of his comfort zone. BUT you’ve never seen a happier 13 years old. We are mourning the loss of a tremendous soccer season and missing our soccer families but they do a good job of staying in touch. They have homework weekly and get props from the social media posts.
– As for me, I just keep doing my thing and am trying to adjust to the plans we had and make new plans for our girl to celebrate her properly. Her party is set for Saturday, May 23rd and with the new stay-at-home order lifting May 15th we hope her party will just be the best EPIC gathering allowed after the lift. I appreciate her attitude but do wonder how that girl can stay in her 12 x 12 room for days on end. I guess it is practice for dorm room life.

Thank you for all who read this. Leave a comment if you’d like so I know I’m not talking to myself. I should update more often but in a way I was thinking it felt like a jinx with such a good schedule we were on.

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Recent dinner and gift drop off to my sister Jessica, she has baby boy #2 on 4/20!

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Led a Birthday parade for my awesome Sister in Law Rachael who is leading the quality efforts at our local Childrens Mercy Hospital. Can’t wait to gather and celebrate in person but the car parades are pretty fun!