1 down, ready for more

The thing about cancer is every day is different. One symptom pops up and one disappears. Anxiety plays wicked mind games that lead the patient and caregiver off track. Brad felt like he couldn’t eat for three days and I practically begged him to eat. Complete polar opposite sides with one agenda. I think lessons were learned and I’m still not sure if I’m supposed to push or wait for requests All I know is nutrients and protein are fuel to help him fight so that is my focus.

We head into Chemo #2 with more experience and hopefully new ideas for helping him smooth out the rollercoaster. All in all this process seems to be manageable. Time will tell what highs and lows we have in store but for now it’s one day at a time and we celebrate the victories.

Here is my thankful list:

1. That cough is gone! Praise the Lord! “Big Nancy” his NP is very happy about that and seems to mean the liver is shrinking.

2. Since Day 8 post chemo there have been no drenching fevers.

3. Since Day 8 he has been able to eat again so that is Job #1 to gain strength and weight before Chemo #2. Nurse Nancy suggested the BRAT diet so we will try that during the downslide after chemo—Days 4-7.

4. Everyone is on more level ground, getting used to new things and trying to keep life as normal as possible.

We made these “Battle Bands” to give the kids and our support group a way to feel useful in a helpless situation. The kids have been sending the most awesome support pictures and Snapchats. I love how kids give a Rally 100% and will stand up to support each other when it’s really needed. As a mom I often feel like I have no idea if I’m handling this correctly but I find truth and hugs to be healing. Thank you for your prayers they are working and we feel the support whole heartedly! ūüíô

Laugh when you want to cry

I’m so thankful for my shared sense of humor with Brad.¬† In the most awkward and maybe stressful situations we find a way to make each other laugh even if it might seem inappropriate to others.¬† When he went in for his colonoscopy it was the first real medical procedure we had been through and we knew at the end of it someone would be telling him he definitely had cancer in his colon.

I took my work bag and had prepared for a long wait and lots of time to get work done while he was getting his procedure done.¬† I ended up feeling like an idiot with way too many big bags hanging off me for tiny tight places so I just took the unnecessary gear back to the van as soon as I could.¬† I also forgot to put on mascara and looked like a crazy person so Brad felt free to remind me of this whenever possible. Since Brad hates doctors, hospitals, needles etc. he is pretty naive to the process so I kept reminding myself that he didn’t really know what to expect.¬† They got him all hooked up and sent me on my way…after he told me I needed mascara one more time.

One bad cup of coffee later they called me back to be with him while he woke up.¬† He was drinking some water through a straw and had his puckered lips stuck way out and looked pretty loopy.¬† He told me how they asked if he wanted water or Sprite and he said, “water and Sprite.”¬† The nurse responded, “water?” “Yes, water and Sprite,” he said again.¬† “Sprite?” she asked.¬† “Yes, Sprite and Water,” he insisted.¬† Omg….he was retelling this and I was like oh boy, he’s being ornery.

The nurse started talking about how she knew a Kim Woods from a previous job and Brad said, “did she go by Diamond?”¬† The nurse and I looked at each other…she said, “um no I don’t think so.”¬† Brad pointed to me and said, “Her stage name is Diamond.”¬† In that moment I knew we would be ok during this process.¬† He would throw curve balls and try to make everyone laugh.¬† He reminded me of my dad in that moment.¬† My dad flirted with nurses and made jokes that were not always taken so well because the particular nurse was all business.¬† I loved that, it made me feel like we could have fun with this in any situation.¬† Multiple nurse encounters that followed were similar.¬† Brad found ways to make them laugh and I inevitably asked them about their education to get ideas for our future nurse Whitney.¬† We talk a lot about how she will love being a nurse and her patients will love her back for the care she will give them.¬† I like to think how comforting her pretty face and sweet disposition will help patients feel at ease and enjoy whatever situation they are in the best they can.

This year has been a true lesson in how to handle stress.¬† It just isn’t worth the energy to let yourself get so wrapped up in the stresses of life or even worse, other people’s drama.¬† My friend Heather wrote this to me soon after I told her our news.

“Gotta get out of God’s circle of responsibility.¬† It’s your responsibility to pray.¬† It’s God’s job to answer.¬† Leave it in His hands.”

I have tried to go back to this whenever things start to get overwhelming.¬† I think this applies to everything that stresses me out.¬† I could worry myself sick over my kids right now and I do a little but I just try to talk to them as I always would normally and stress the importance of staying focused.¬† This is a blip in their lives.¬† If they can keep their world going the way they want it to there will be less stress on them and they can use the rest of their energy to make sure they are contributing to the positive support system we provide their dad. Getting crushed by all of this won’t do anyone any good…in the end we move forward from this space of time and I want them to feel like their trajectory has stayed on course.¬† Kennedy is the best role model for them as she pushed through all the BS she went through and is now living her dream and enjoying the life her mom wanted for her.¬† It is so strange to think of the lessons I was being taught during the 3 years I knew Heather.¬† My only regret is not knowing her longer.

We are keeping on keeping on and looking for ways to keep laughing.

 

It has been awhile…Let’s Catch Up

Wow it really has been awhile and the last time I was on here life was very different.¬† I am happy to report that I now have the most awesome job with the most amazing leaders that make me excited about not only going to work but about being apart of a company that makes a difference….shout out to EccoSelect!¬† I’m an IT Recruiter and can be reached for anything business related at kwoods@eccoselect.com¬† My very favorite day is when I can help someone get a new job!¬† It is so rewarding and I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity for this career path. I’m extremely thankful for that life change that seemed scary at first but was definitely God’s plan for me! #workplug

So in a nutshell the last two years we were super focused on our oldest son.  I am the Chief College Get-It-Done Girl!  I do the research then offer ideas to the kid involved, my most recent customer being my son who is now a freshman in college and a pledge in Sigma Nu Fraternity at KU.  Carter is living the dream but also realizing college is a lot harder than high school and learning how to utilize the resources available to him.  I feel pretty ripped off to have gone to college before the internet.  I want a do over!
Carter closeupDSC_3910-f

Here is what I learned from living and surviving my first child’s senior year, graduation and launch.¬† I created more drama and stress for myself than what was necessary.¬† The anticipation of all of it and how I would feel and maybe a little bit of what is expected of a mom in my shoes played a big part.¬† I love this boy so fiercely, he has turned out to be one of the most loving humans I’ve ever met and his love of Christ is unwavering and so special.¬† He overcomes the challenge of focusing on not-so-fun stuff and balances it with seeking fun every day.¬† He knows when he needs quiet time to refuel and has gotten into a great routine of working out so he stays fit, strong and healthy.¬† I’m so happy he enjoys it because it will help his mind and body to fend off stress and keep him healthy.¬† I don’t even cry anymore when he leaves because he is having the time of his life.¬† I’m so happy for him.¬† I might scream inside “take me with you” but there is no sadness, only appreciation for how well he handles himself and the awareness that he needs to figure out this college academic thing.¬† ¬†Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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It’s Russell’s World and we are just living in it.

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Family Day September 15, 2018–a monumental day in our lives.

So here we are today, October 5, 2018.¬† I will tell you what happened between college drop off day on August 15th to Family Day on September 15th is still unfathomable.¬† If you told me all that would take place I wouldn’t believe you in 100 years.¬† We were busy getting into a routine of sorts with lots of back to school events, so many exciting games to attend, lots of meetings and crazy juggling.¬† By the end of August my husband was very sick.¬† I was frustrated because he didn’t want to go to the doctor so I stopped nagging.¬† Finally after weeks of crushing fatigue, an annoying cough, upset stomach, extreme weightloss and daily fevers he decided he would go.¬† ¬†Cutting to the chase…he started with the walk-in clinic and they sent him straight to the ER because of his extremely high blood pressure.¬† A half day ordeal and probably $2000 bill resulted in “you need to see a doctor.”¬† I called 20 places to find someone taking new patients immediately and found one who would see him the day after Labor Day.¬† I felt some relief but what would normally be a fun filled weekend was plagued with him just not feeling right and the rest of us standing by wondering what was really wrong with him.

Fast forward to our yearly birthday week with Brad celebrating on the 11th and Whitney on the 13th.¬† It was a busy week so it was the usual hustle but we made time for a birthday dinner at home to celebrate Brad and had Carter on Facetime so it felt like the FamBam was all together.¬† We laughed and listened to Carter’s stories.¬† Brad had gone to a few doctor appointments and was treated for his stomach issues and high blood pressure but the doctor was concerned about his labs.¬† She ordered an ultrasound of his liver to see what was behind his elevated liver enzymes.¬† So on his birthday…which being 9/11 is hard enough…he was told he had lesions that could be cancer.¬† A CT of his torso was scheduled for Friday.¬† He had been pushing me out of this whole process so I begged to go with him to the appointment after the CT to discuss the results.¬† I knew things were getting serious and it was time for him to let me in.

We met for breakfast to kill time before the office opened.¬† It seemed like a big day but we tried to enjoy the quiet time together since that is rare.¬† The appointment started and the doctor seemed to just be checking in with him.¬† Since he had almost fainted a few times during blood draws she knew she needed to make sure he had gotten the scan and needed to stay close to the situation.¬† He told her the scans were going to be sent over right away so she went to check to see if they had arrived.¬† She came back in with two sheets of paper with wording, no images…I wanted to see images.¬† She read the analysis…and then summarized…this is colon cancer that has spread to your liver.¬† I looked at his face to watch his reaction.¬† It reminded me of the time we had a hard landing on the way to Key West and his eyes got so big and I laughed and laughed at his reaction.¬† Today I didn’t laugh but saw that child like, wide eyed reaction.¬† She stated that none of this was from drinking.¬† He had worried he had done all of this to himself since his first blood draw on August 27th but it wasn’t.¬† There was no guilt here, he just got cancer and it wasn’t his fault.¬† She stumbled around with her words and said she was calling an oncologist and that she would be in touch.¬† It was a fuzzy day, by the end he had an appointment for a liver biopsy the following Friday.¬† This sent me into orbit!¬† We can’t wait another week…he needs action now is all I could think about.

So you wonder how people act in these situations.¬† I think my head has been separated from my body since that moment.¬† We walked outside and were like two zombies getting into our cars to go to work.¬† He said he’d call his parents but was very much in denial and not convinced of the diagnosis.¬† They were images, they weren’t factual.¬† There would be testing and more things to come.¬† I drove away and my bulldog tendencies kicked in…who could I call to get him into a specialist and away from the primary care doctor who seemed to have never had a patient with cancer.¬† She did nothing wrong and in hindsight did her job to go through the steps of discovery.¬† But I wanted him seen right now, let’s get this started and get him medicine to get him better.¬† I think we both googled what we could.¬† I didn’t as much as him just because I’ve seen cancer up close a few times and followed the journey from diagnosis to treatment, recovery and demise.¬† He searched and looked for loopholes, any he could find that would make it not be cancer.¬† That night he asked me, “what did you hear that doctor say?”¬† It was a weekend of back and forth, denial and realization and I begged him to let me take over.¬† He agreed then said no and then agreed again.¬† I was dying for Monday morning to arrive so I could get him help.¬† But first we had family day.¬† We had to tell the kids.¬† It was going to be awful.

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FamBam adventures are my favorite

I bought us all bracelets with a tiny metal emblem that had a cross on one side and Mother Mary on the other.¬† Brad’s was a little bigger.¬† They are a little girly but the boys wore them anyway.¬† I told them they could keep them close by if they didn’t want to wear them.¬† Brad and I have worn them everyday since we told the kids.¬† It reminds me of our bond no matter where we are we are together.¬† We didn’t have a lot of detail but told them there would be testing and they were in charge of doing well in school and being positive and supportive.¬† Leave the rest to the doctors and God.¬† We enjoyed the day even though it was super hot and Brad was not having the best energy day.¬† We sat under the big old trees enjoying the view and quiet.¬† Russell hated the bugs but loved playing basketball.¬† We tried to enjoy each other despite the heaviness.

Monday morning arrived and I was ready to get the show on the road. Thanks to my good friend Brian I was given the “red carpet hot line” to the University of Kansas Cancer Center.¬† I later learned it was the number for people who are employees who get the inside track.¬† However, I think anyone who is cared for by the employees of KU Med get the red carpet treatment.¬† They’ve been amazing.¬† Brittany listened to me, while we talked she gathered every file she had access to and said she would call me back with next steps.¬† By the time I got to my office I literally was skipping and feeling so accomplished.¬† By the end of the day his primary and KU Med had worked together to line up a colonosopy/biopsy, liver biopsy and an appointment with an oncologist the following Tuesday.¬† The wheels were in motion THANK GOD!

 

 

 

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Beautiful sky at our soccer game on September 22, 2018

The thing about our family is no matter what we still do our thing.¬† We run and run and love every minute.¬† Brad busted out of that last biopsy and we headed straight for the soccer field.¬† It was a busy weekend and he was determined to go to every single game.¬† We had beautiful weather and Russell’s team got 2nd place in a Division 1 tournament.¬† It was a great way to kick off the first week of this journey with continued focus on positive energy and normalcy.

Week one would consist of a great meeting with his oncologist Dr. Kelly Pendergrass and then a major hustle to get him the right vaccinations, a PET scan and Port installation.¬† I felt terribly guilty about missing so much work but my new role as Project Manager was very important so that Brad had all of the information and instructions written down and committed to memory.¬† I found myself retelling parts of the process to him and reminding him of steps and procedures to make sure he was caring for his port and doing what he needed to do.¬† During this time of fasting for procedures and trying to recover those missed meals created his an anxiety and resistance to proper nutrition.¬† I’m quite used to this as my boys are big food negotiators so I will battle that resistance with authority.¬† In the end he knows I’m right.¬† He got a game plan from his dietitian and his Nurse Practitioner so I will be the enforcer and stay flexible for when he needs it.¬† People… I am here to say he will not be eating Burger King chicken sandwiches any time soon! (like over my dead body)¬† We had a major standoff in the middle of the chemo pit 30 minutes into his infusion over a BK sandwich!¬† I’m happy to report he ate what I got him and it was a healthy sandwich that accounted for half the calories he needs in a day.

Chemo started on October 3rd and on Day 3 I am happy to report he is already seeing signs of his cancer symptoms subsiding and feels really good.¬† He is still weak, still needs to feed his body so it can work properly but it is not a terrible situation.¬† Between the amazing medicines to ward off nausea and the cancer killing chemo he is reaping the benefits already.¬† The NP said the chemo will fight the cancer so his depleted body doesn’t have to.¬† 24 hours after starting he didn’t have a fever, didn’t need a nap and only coughed a few times.¬† I would say that is the first victory in this process!¬† I don’t need a scan or blood work to see that incredible improvement!¬† If he can act more like Brad I’m happy and know God is working his plan.

So now that is all caught up I want to blog going forward about funny things involved in this journey.¬† We’ve preached normalcy and I feel that is the only way to go.¬† We can’t all give in to what tv or society makes you believe is the way you should act.¬† I now understand why friends who have suffered this disease seemed to go about life so normally.¬† In fact they showed us the only way to do it.¬† It would be too exhausting to do it any other way.¬† Carter designed some rally bracelets for the kids to give out and people are asking to buy them.¬† While I think that is awkward it is a sweet sentiment and everyone is excited to wear one.¬† We just want support, prayers and love showered on Brad so he can be as strong as possible in mind, body and spirit!¬† I’ve already been reminded of ways he has impacted kids’ lives just by being the funny dad and giving a kid a little extra attention.¬† He has a sense of kids who might need some extra dad love and just naturally, without thinking makes that little joke with kid who may not have that with their own dad.¬† Kids that have been around over the years have likely heard his playlist, heard his favorite joke #onetime and eaten a great breakfast, lunch or dinner served up by Chef Brad.¬† I’m looking forward to his energy to get back to that place where he can feel good enough to cook and do things he loves without the heavy weight of fatigue. #Battle4bRad¬†¬†https://coloncancercoalition.org

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Photo Season is here!

I’ve had so much fun taking advantage of the beautiful weather and can’t wait for the leaves to change so I can take even more!  I’ve been lucky enough to be hired to take pictures of families, dance teams, sports teams, babies and seniors. I’m working on some options for the Winter months and working on my flash lighting skills.   If you need pictures taken send me an email kimwoods0@gmail.com (0 is a zero)


GM diet–the struggle is real

Like most of us I have made half hearted attempts at losing weight and getting fit which usually entails a trip to the gym, eating salads and blowing it all in the evening.  So Brad and I decided to really take a big leap. The GM diet is very strict and whether you lose weight or not you realize what bad habits you have without even thinking about the caloric intake.  I did this diet in college when I was a camp counselor and the kids called me the “Little Green Giant” because I would eat plates of cooked frozen broccoli, green beans etc.  It was very hard to execute at a camp with limited access to groceries but we did it. I remember how great I felt afterwards!

So we bought everything and kicked it off on Sunday which was ALL fruit day. Thankfully the berries were amazing and was my favorite part!

  
By the end of the day I was sooooo ready for some non-sweet veggies! I made some legal vinegar and lemon zest salad dressing with garlic and other favorite spices…it was ok.  The best part about day 2 is the baked potato for breakfast and the spaghetti squash with homemade sauce for dinner.  It was all veggies and spices and will replace any form of sauce we have made in the past!!! So tasty and the freshness really made the difference. I pur√©ed about 6 tomatoes, peppers, onion, fresh spinach and a jalape√Īo. I added fennel, basil, oregano, cayenne (because it goes in everything), pepper and probably others I’ve forgotten.  I cooked it at a med-high heat so everything cooked together and the flavors blended nicely. The spaghetti squash was just cut in half, removed seeds, laid cut side down on metal pan with a lip and added about a half cup of water to the bottom. I baked on 350 for 45 minutes, forked out the spaghetti and YUM! Warm yummy goodness! Brad said, “Spaghetti Squash is so cool” and requested a Phad Thai experiment for next week.

  
On Veggie/Fruit day we mostly just had more of the same and my favorite was a spinach salad with fruit and legal vinaigrette (never knew it was spelled that way, I’m a reformed ranch girl).

So we get the banana and milk day with veggie soup on Day 4. I did ok on this day but Brad was pretty hungry. Breakfast felt like cereal and I love the soup so I made it through. I was pretty hungry at bedtime and I cooked all of the meat in the evening so I was busy and smelling the yummy garlic and meat cooking which helped my cravings.

  
MEAT AND TOMATOES DAY! This clean cooking requires a new pan so between trying it out and devouring a hamburger for breakfast I felt pretty satisfied. Thankfully I had a lunch and at at HuHot so I got a big treat, grilled sliced steak and tomatoes! It was amazing! I felt bad for Brad so I made him some for dinner.

   
 
Today is Friday, day 6 and Veggie/Lean Protein day. I’m enjoying the cabbage soup and threw in some hamburger from yesterday.  I’m feeling good going into the weekend and think I’ll distract myself with cleaning projects that have been ignored. Clean body, mind and house! Maybe I’ll have my shit together by mid-February?!?!

Tomorrow we plan to make stir “fried” veggies and rice with pur√©ed fruit juice for a treat. SuperBowl Sunday we will experiment with new legal Paleo minded appetizers and plan our attack for the next week. I have no interest in celebrating our success by wrecking our willpower!  I do look forward to a glass of wine or beer which is actually suggested! Haha! Cheers!

This is the most comprehensive site  GM Diet I’ll report my results when we are all done and arrive at Day 8 “celebration” day! Honestly, so far it feels like I’m pre-Royals World Series/Nutcracker/Christmas shape and can start my quest at a more “normal” weight for me. My real goal is to feel beach ready by June.

 Mexico July 2015 

A truly fresh start for 2016

Last year was insane and I found myself overloaded. I tend to take it too far then hit the wall and feel like I’m not doing anything right. I had a successful year with all of my ventures but was left stressed out. So I decided to streamline.

Although I’ll always love crafty projects I found that the sport and dance schedules were too demanding to do it for a commitment of selling product. It was hard to let go of my booth at Bella Patina in the West Bottoms but it was such a liberating exercise to purge items I had been holding on to hoping they’d find their way into someone’s home. I had a “Fire Sale” the last month¬†and went out with a bang earning¬†money to Christmas shop! ¬†I’ll miss treasure hunting but will be able to do it for fun and not guess if anyone else will like the finds.

Bella table

I’m still full steam ahead with photography and hoping to book some Spring shoots and Seniors in the coming weeks. I had the honor of working with some great families this last Fall and some amazing¬†Seniors as well. ¬†I was also honored to take team pictures for Russell’s baseball team and Saint Teresa’s STARS dance team! ¬†Lord knows I have lots of practice when it comes to sports and dance so that has been fun to mix it into¬†the family and kid photo assignments.

January 2016 was blah… not to be negative out of the gate but just being real. I think I was figuring out how to transition from an exhausting Nutcracker and Christmas into a productive schedule. I was tired and¬†felt like doing absolutely nothing on the weekends. At the end of the month I was ready to dust off the funk and start fresh.

The Hubs and I decided to start a very difficult diet/cleanse. I’m already feeling a huge difference. We are breaking bad habits and I hope will have a new addiction to feeling awesome. I can already tell this will help me be more committed to working out and staying motivated. I’ve been wanting to make big changes for awhile and just didn’t have the spark, I guess it took a month of “meditation” to get me in the mindset to go for it. Sometimes it is easy to talk about making healthy changes…then you grab a cocktail and make nachos…and that all goes out the window. Thankfully my husband is on board and not making nachos and other yummy food while I’m trying hard to keep my will power.

Cheers to a healthy and awesome 2016!

Woods Fam Xmas 2015

 

 

Let’s Get This Party Started!

In February I hit my stride that will quicken to a sprint until some time in July. ¬†Whitney’s dance team has an annual “Showcase” so as a dance mom I’m frantically getting all of her costumes altered and “blinged” so she is stage ready. ¬†This year didn’t seem to be as frantic as I’ve remembered in the past. ¬†I think I was more mentally prepared because I spaced out the shoe and accessory buying, some were included in her Christmas stash. ¬†I’m ready with three days to spare! ¬†Yay Me!

People Help The People--Lyrical

People Help The People–Lyrical

New York, NY Line

New York, NY Line

Let's Be Bad-Musical Theatre

Let’s Be Bad-Musical Theatre

These are a few of the highlights from her Dress Rehearsal. ¬†I took over 900 photos to share with the team to help them see corrections and because I love getting the first look at our dances as a trade off to freebie action shots. ¬†This year is no joke! ¬†My 13 year old girl is turning into a woman before my eyes which brings so many other issues to deal with and weigh heavy on my protective mothering heart! ¬†I’m thankful it is all happening with grace and a little at a time. ¬†Her dad is in denial and he’s fine to just stay there about 10 more years.

And this bring me to the BOY MOM side of the equation. ¬†Big Russell is our busy guy juggling soccer and baseball seasons simultaneously. ¬†We used to get bothered by the busy-ness of three kids and three schedules but now we just kind of put on our big boy/girl pant on and go with it. ¬†So far there are only a few overlaps and we just make it work. ¬†We strive for 100% performance but will take 95% and be thankful. ¬†Russell is such a grateful child and is so excited when he has a practice or game. ¬†He’s ALL IN 100% of the time! ¬†He has never waivered, EVER! ¬†I’ll ask him if his uniform is ready and usually it is laying on his floor like a chalk drawing with all pieces accounted for. ¬†Bless his sweet heart!

Carter is enjoying being a superfan in high school and follows his team stats closely. ¬†He’s still playing some sports but this has been a transition year for him. ¬†Baseball tryouts are in a few weeks, fingers crossed! ¬†There are 40-50 guys trying out for 15 spots. ¬†UBER competitive where we live.

I’ve been lucky enough to round up some Senior Portrait requests and was blessed to photograph a fresh crop of babies in January! ¬†Along with my kid cheering I’ll be booking lots of photoshoots as the weather warms up and mamas need their babies documented. ¬†I’m super excited because I bought myself a new portrait lens! ¬†I can’t wait to use it and think it will give me better results and require less editing time. ¬†I’m a slave to light so this lens will give me more to work with when I am shooting indoors. ¬†My mind is buzzing at all of the options and opportunities I want to tryout!