Settling into 2022.

We’ve all been back to work and school for a month or so now and the routine is forming. This month has been busy with paperwork, filing claims, closing accounts or changing names. Nothing could really be done until the new year so I’m glad I wasn’t bogged down with ALL of it at once. The final disputed medical bill was cleared by insurance and paid so I have that off my plate. I was never going to pay for a test he had done routinely with his chemo treatments so it was good they conceded. Nothing makes me more mad than a denial of a test that is done at a Cancer Center…hopefully I have a reprieve from fighting over medical bills. In the end we were very well covered and two years of deductibles were paid by grants from the chemo companies so that was a welcomed blessing.

Russell is doing well in school but still playing catch up from his soccer trip to Florida with the ECNL travel team the weekend of January 21st. This kid, who told me he didn’t like to travel, has been to Vegas and now Orlando in one month! He had a great time, I’m so glad he was able to go and the families looked out for him. I already had a weekend planned with my bestie Kappa Delta sister, Justine, who was coming in from Sun Valley, ID. It was a busy fun weekend and I got a big dose of Lawrence and got to see my BIGs a few times and treated them to dinner. It was also nice to have a 2 day break from being a dog mom and getting up at sunrise with them.

Russell on the left and Cooper on the right double teaming their opponent.
So far I think Brad’s signs to me are sunflares and orbs in photos. They are always there and feel like a little wink and hug from heaven.
Besties for the Resties! Thank goodness for technology, we lost touch for the in between years but have been able to reconnect and stay in touch the last 15 years or so. Spending time with people who knew you when you were 18 is a treasure.

My sister sold us her 2007 Volvo to give to Russell and my step mom drove it to Wichita from the Bay Area, CA! We were able to get it to KC on Friday and Russell loves it. He is feeling a little less nervous about driving and having his own car here gives him incentive to practice. That is a huge box checked to that taken care of getting him a car but managing 5 vehicles is a lot!! Thankfully mine are low maintenance and under warranty so it is just the trio of old cars that require more attention. I started keeping track of it all a few years ago so I’m pretty used to managing the household/family top to bottom already.

He really is very happy just not with my picture taking to document this big moment.

Whitney has ramped back in at KU and loves her new roommates and room. I haven’t heard too many complaints about classes so hopefully those are smooth sailing this last semester at KU. She keeps herself very busy doing things with her GPhi sisters, her boyfriend, Jagger, and Sigma Nu “brothers.” Carter is there every weekend so he still gets to hang out with her at times when their paths cross. He is working towards completing his training program at TQL to become a freight broker. He’s landed some great accounts and is doing well. He got kudos from his boss recently and likes to come home and tell me his war stories. Besides being tired from the early alarms it is all going very well. He and his friends went to the epic playoff game against the Buffalo Bills when we drove the ball for a touchdown in 13 seconds. I’m so glad he saw that game live, it was amazing!

Jagger and Whitney at their 80s workout theme party.
Carter and his high school buddies at the Epic Chiefs game.

We are anxiously awaiting our final travel plans for soccer and have Spring Break booked for Jacksonville, FL. It will be really nice to have a relaxing trip and break from work. Carter and his girlfriend, Makenzie, are joining me and Russell mid-week. Whitney will be in Padre with her friends for Spring Break. She missed a friend trip to Austin last semester because of Rock Chalk Revue (a fundraiser with musicals that compete against other fraternity/sorority teams) so she’s excited to be in the action this time. Her group didn’t make it in the show so I think she’s realizing how much work it was first semester and enjoying more free time. Padre will be a great opportunity to make some memories with her KU friends. Thankfully Jagger and friends are going so they’ll keep her safe and watched over.

So I guess we have life planned through Spring Break so far. I have my own travel bucket list and unfortunately the only road block tends to be days off from work and schedule alignment. Some of my wish list places will have to happen in 2023 but I will definitely be spending my PTO very well the next few years. I’m also purging closets and drawers that have been ignored for many years. Definitely #bradapproved when corners and piles get cleared out. Russell didn’t have his car a whole day and was asking about parking in the 3rd spot in the garage. Hopefully we can make that happen for him. I think he’s talked about that 3rd spot for at least 5 years! Always picturing what it would be like to be the only kid at home…well that didn’t last very long haha! It will be a full house in May again until Carter gets his move out plan in place. Of course I love it and will count my blessings whenever all 3 kids are home. It is my favorite!!

I’m about to kick off a Master bedroom and bathroom update. Brad and I had met with our favorite contractor in September and while Brad didn’t want to hear about the financial details he was happy I was getting it done. I’m getting super excited to get it going and hope the updates will freshen up our space and feel a little brighter and fresher. I’m sure I’ll have before, during and after pics to share.

January was also busy watching KU and the Chiefs! Since the Chiefs didn’t make it back to the SuperBowl I have my Sundays back and much less stress! What a fun ride this year! Next up will be March Madness watching our Jayhawks and Gamma Phi Beta Mom’s weekend. Quiet weekends at home have been nice and relaxing but I definitely love having something fun on the calendar to look forward to. Russell has kept buys playing rec basketball, soccer scrimmages and practices or hanging out with his friends. Quiet weekends also give me extra time to sort through Brad’s things that we don’t need. My friends have been a big help with some of that, I’m so blessed to have them. Somedays I feel accomplished doing it and other days I just can’t make another decision. I haven’t turned off Brad’s phone yet. There is a lot to still go through on it and make sure I’m not losing information or photos. Whitney likes to text him so I don’t want her to lose that comfort just yet. We have barely scratched the surface of recovery but I think we are all facing it head on and trying not to push it down to resurface later. The waves still come, songs are a big trigger for me. I felt Brad very near while in Lawrence. Justine and I talked about the good ole days and rehashed date parties we went to and some fun KU memories. I think I could easily move to Lawrence and be 100% blissfully happy there. I love everything about it. Who knows maybe that is in my future. The kids always joke that I’ll be a house mom someday. I just might. For now we will Rock Chalk our way through the rest of Winter.

What a weekend! 2 great KU games and an unbelievable Chiefs game. Phew it was a lot of work to be a fan!

Thank you Jesus for dogs! These angels have gotten me through every single day.

They give me all their love sun up to sun down.
And save a little for the boys.

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. 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

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!


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!


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.


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.


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




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.


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.

– 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.

– 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.


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


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!


The Tsunami has passed…

Well it has been almost two months.  Crazy how fast time flies.  We were headed into a tailwind the last time I posted and sorry for anyone who looks here for updates but the truth is it has been confusing.  Brad had fluid drained, had a scan that looked pretty good from a cancer perspective.  Lots of tumors gone but his liver was really struggling to work.  We met with the Liver practice…to be honest we aren’t a fan.  Not that it is lacking on their side but I feel like liver people aren’t the best to work with cancer patients…I’ll leave it at that.  We met with Palliative Care and LOVE them!  It is like rainbows and sunshine in those appointments.  They want to focus on the good things, how to make things better and goals.  We feel great when we leave there and they do the heavy lifting regarding medicine adjustments and sorting out what the cancer people and liver people are not saying.

The truth is Brad felt horrible in July and August.  In September he worked hard to rally for Whitney’s Senior walk, his birthday, her birthday, soccer games, bachelor party trip to Louisville and helping me juggle the nuttiest month of our year.  Russell and Whitney provide such joy and distraction for us.  They give us family time and we make the best of memories doing the most fun things!  Brad was SO incredibly proud of Russell watching him run his first Cross Country season.  Very quickly he went from top 3 to the #1 runner on his team.  His coach was so beyond impressed and proud of him and can’t wait for him to run track in the Spring.  To top it off Russell was named “Citizen of the Month” in September by his teachers.  When he said goodbye to baseball we never thought the positive impact would be as great but he is so much more balanced and loves his down time.  He likes to read which warms his parents hearts to see him doing something that has nothing to do with technology and using his brain.  God sent.

So here we are, in a “coasting” period.  The bottom line is Brad’s liver is too weak for chemo or surgery and his weight is very low.  He’s in a catch 22, gain weight so when they can do chemo his body can handle it with the extra weight to withstand the chemo beat down.  Otherwise we are at a standoff with the cancer and the liver situation.  Thankfully Brad has been trying hard to each well, gain weight and stick to a low salt diet to help his liver.  He has learned how to rest to do things he wants to do and pushes through extreme exhaustion to make it to everything he wants to attend.

Here are some pics from Brad’s adventures:

Plus and Minus Teeter Totter

Today we met with the Liver Team at KUMed and they were very helpful in making us feel like he has a safety net for this new piece of his journey. While the Cancer Center didn’t have much to say about his Ascites and said it would build up again with no encouraging of getting it drained the Liver people are like “yes if it builds up call us and we will get you in 24-48 hours and don’t wait until you are in so much pain”…yes thank you Jesus! I have no ill feelings towards our cancer team and am just learning how specialists stay in lanes and FOR REAL I feel like the Head Doctor in this game because I see the whole picture.

So in a nutshell they said Brad needs to be in a REEEEAAALLLLY low sodium diet…like 2g/2000mg! Anyone that really knows me understands that food is my love language so I’m excited to make yummy low sodium food for him. I’m usually a low carb eater but maybe I’ll try out his diet and see if it helps me too. I’m just thankful someone put the CLAMP down in his junk food heavy diet. It’s so hard to be healthy when half the Fam is eating all the things that I have sworn off. I’ve gotten used to it but am glad we are all closer to being in the same page. So anyone out there who has a good low sodium recipe send my way! So far I’m liking this site 12 hours into this new game plan.

The next steps are “hiring” a new primary doctor because the current one is in over her head and confirmed that thought process today with the Hepatologist (I looooved that she totally agreed he’s tricky and needs an experienced PC). So we meet the new doc on Tuesday. Working on a new lab appt for the following week, an Endoscopy at the end of September and more appts to come I’m sure. I really understand lately why retired people feel so busy with so many doctor appts managing various health management issues. I’m so thankful to be healthy and am trying to shift to taking better care of myself so I can keep this train moving!! 🚂 💨

Brad in his somewhat forbidden but totally smart choice and worth it trip to St Louis for soccer and to stay with the Sly’s. He rested, was doted on, had a mental break from his stuff etc.

Quick Update

So the scans looked so much better and the Y90 did an amazing job but Brad has been so sick, can’t eat, super swollen abdomen and in bed. Dr P referred him to a Hepatologist to address the issues his angry liver is causing.

We went in Monday expecting to be sent to the hospital to be admitted and got sent home with the suggestion that he just needed to let the diuretics work. Poor Brad was soooo miserable so I got on the phone and worked my way through the system telling everyone that would listen that he was so sick and needed help. I got a call from a scheduler saying the one and only appt for the rest of 2019 was Sept 3rd! Omg devastation!!! I sent Brad that text…

About an hour later I got a call from a really great nurse saying she had begged and moved things around and got him an appt on Thursday 8/15. Thank You Jesus! Then she called to say he could go to the hospital today to get his stomach drained. We literally rejoiced! He told me he was ready to go to the ER so I’m so thankful it fell into place to see our people and not get all dramatic and dragged out in an ER.

Today was a long morning waiting to drive over at 12:30 but worked out because it was Whitney Jane’s first day in her nursing program. I was able to take some first day pics.

So off we went and thankfully the staff at KU Med is top notch! I’m so proud of my alma mater for employing amazing people and obviously providing incredible training! We have the opposite experience at his primary care doctors office which is getting fired this month. I DO NOT HAVE TIME for rude ass people or people who can’t make a simple action happen that I KNOW can happen in billing. Come on people!!!!! I’ve been dealing with a visit from January 18th that was coded wrong and I’m down to a $50 prostate test. I’m here to tell you I will NOT pay that bill! Those people are going to wish they had a new job when I show up the next time I get a bill. Just sayin….

So today went well, Brad went home feeling great with Pep in his step and we even went on a quick dinner date during soccer practice. As with this whole process we are so thankful for good days and right now GOOD stretches of time.

Please continue to pray mostly for comfort as I think that’s the number one need! Mind body and spirit, we see God’s hand in all we are going through and are so thankful. ✝️💙