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!


Ready Set Go…new treatment, new battle

We are thankful for the treatment break since June and the last few weeks of multiple appointments has given us huge perspective on what we’ve missed…in a good way!  Pet and MRI scans, Hepatologist, Oncologist…even a Dentist appt was piled on last week.  We were left with a “now what” feeling after all of it was over.  Today we met with Big Nanner Brad’s Oncology Nurse Practitioner.  Thankfully Brad loves her but honestly…her sugar coated delivery makes me a little crazy.  I much prefer Dr. Pendergrass’ black and white delivery but that is why they make a good team.

Brad starts taking Vectibix tomorrow.  So far it will be the only thing he is given and the hope is it works on its’ own.  There are two chemos they can add to it and they are researching another drug that is a targeted therapy for his kind of cancer DNA.  While it seems great to not be exposed to chemo which causes all kinds of side effects the list of symptoms this new drug offers is quite concerning.  Big Nanner promised she has ways to help get rid of the rashes/acne and the crazy carnival freakshow looking eyelash growth can be easily handled at home unless the growth is on the inside of the eye…google it…I’m not posting gross pics here as they have burned into my brain.  My husband was great at saying “I’m fine” with the other treatments that could only be detected by his weight, coloring, energy level, hand/feet pain and stomach condition.  People say all the time he looks great.  Well…this could throw him for a loop and the fact that they said, “the worse the rash the happier we are because it is working” well that is super unsettling.  But, we believe her when she says she can make it go away.  Hoping for the best.

If tolerated well this treatment can be given for a long time so we are facing the inevitable fact of clinic visits at least every other week and if all goes well that will be it for awhile.  We were able to shed the Hepatologist visits with the warning that treatments can cause irreversible liver failure.  The only other option is to leave his tumors alone to grow and attack so this is the best option for both his cancer DNA, full body side effects and liver health.  We trust Dr. Pendergrass and God’s plan so we will renew our amour and get ready for the new battle.

Thank you for your continued prayers, we rely on them and feel your support.

**Please pray for mild side effects, no further liver damage, his stomach side effects to be minimal and for him to continue to feel well enough to gain weight.

**Please pray for the kids and I to be the best support system we can offer him and to stay strong and productive in our own paths.

Family Fall fun included lots of football, soccer and dancing. It is bittersweet to celebrate Whitney and the 8 senior dancers’ last year together but we are beyond proud.  She is co-captain of the team and leads them well.  Next up is Competition Season…but first let the Nutcracker festivities commence!


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. ✝️💙

Update on Brad Aug 2019

The last month, really since the end of June, Brad has gradually lost his energy. We expected it because baseball season is hard on healthy people but he has continued to need more naps during the day, had stomach pain and issues etc. He didn’t want to go to his doctor until after our vacation with Brad’s family in Florida. Once there he battled through the week and had some rest but vacationing can be some work too.

Brad is really good at putting on a show. He smiles through pain and fatigue. By the end of our amazing trip he was exhausted, feet and legs swollen, belly swelling each day and couldn’t eat much. I called his Nurse and told her what was going on and they got him right in. They are very good at talking about positives and dance around negatives. Blessing and a curse in my eyes. Since he’s not getting any treatment right now we are kind of on our own to determine if something is *wrong enough* to make an appointment. They ordered at CT for today and we meet with his Oncologist on Monday. I called again on Thursday to beg for a diuretic to help his swollen belly. I’m hoping he starts to get relief from the swelling soon.

Dear Friends, we need your prayers for the doctor to have a plan to relieve his growing symptoms. His liver is not happy and all we can hope for is intervention to help him push past these latest symptoms. He continues to work from home when he can but the kids text me with nap reports. Whitney and Russell see him struggling like he did last year at diagnosis. It seems so weird for this all to be escalating again at the same time of year. I am here to tell you….my children are the strongest humans on the planet!! They work hard to keep their responsibilities in check and their attitudes are amazing. They make their dad laugh, give him their full attention when they are talking and little Russell is always by his side. It’s been a wonderful Summer for them to all get more time together. I’ve been working at much as I can and we’ve been crazy busy. I feel like I’m juggling chainsaws some days and just trying to not miss a meeting or to do with the busy days of school enrollment. We are forever grateful for that stolen week away as a family having fun in Florida and forgetting the heavy reality we face every day. Our dear friends, the Davis Family came to spend a day with us in Daytona which was so good for our souls. We started our lives together in KC, having our babies almost at the same time and always wished the kids could have grown up together but they don’t miss a beat when we get together. Yvette and I say “first best friends are the best friends”.

How do these kids grow up so fast? And how did our families get so lucky to have smart, kind, talented, beautiful and super fun kids! I’d choose to vacation with this bunch any time anywhere!

13 years ago Yvette and I were talking in the phone and both tried to interrupt the conversation with big news…”I’m pregnant! Me too!” Miles apart, oblivious that we both were blessed with Caboose babies! Trent and Russell are two peas and so cute with their opposite dark and light hair. They both are excellent soccer players on the top teams in their conference. They have big plans to try and play together in college. Hey it would surprise me in the slightest if they made that happen.

Whitney wants to keep Trent so she can “have two Russell’s” she adores them both! We are already planning our next trip back to Florida. We are good and easy travelers so that makes all the difference. Everyone is happy, helpful and appreciative. 🌞🌴 if only we had more time, money and less responsibilities we would do it all and more!

Thank you for your continued prayers, please lift up my children as they will struggle to stay focused at school and I can only pray God will help them balance the worry they have for their dad with learning. Please pray hard for Brad’s mental, emotional and physical strength. As for me, I ask God to give me what I need because I don’t know where to start when it comes to specifics. I trust him and his plan and ask him to give me the words, the actions and guidance to carry out his beautiful plan for our lives.

God bless and I’ll update here on Monday after our appt.

September 29th and where we are today.

I’m sure lots of families have interesting numerology milestones in their family but I feel like we have a LOT of interesting coincidences. My favorite is that my birthday is 2 days before my dad’s and Whitney’s is two days after Brad’s. I love that they can share the Virgo daughter/daddy birthday bond and celebrate every year together. Some other fun facts…my sister, Jessica and brother, Kyle were born on the same day 3 years apart and are 13 and 16 years younger than me. Even though we didn’t really grow up together and started our real life relationships after they had both graduated, we are just as close as my sister Marci who I grew up with. Sadly Marci and I were separated quite a bit after I graduated when she was 12 so similarly our strongest part of our relationship started after she was a grown up and graduated.

Carter was born 4 days before Brad’s mom’s birthday and Whitney was born 4 days before Brad’s dad’s Birthday. While we planned having them the timing was just a coincidence. Our first baby was due the day before my sister Marci’s birthday. So that brings me to my thought process I had today about the fateful September 29th.

Brad and I went on our first date which was a “Date Dash” in October 1989. He had seen me and my bestie, Kelli, in a grocery store and was with our guy friend from HS who said he knew me and could introduce us. The Date Dash came up and we were set up. It was a blind date for me so when we met I was glad Chris picked well and must have paid attention to my “type” in high school. Brad was tall, cute and funny. We had fun dancing and a little underage drinking and I even got a kiss goodnight. We continued to be party friends but since I was a freshman and he was a pledge at Pi Kappa Alpha we both wanted to just have fun and not start anything serious. We went on dates throughout that school year and when Spring came we were both kind of sad we’d be apart over the Summer but planned on staying in touch. He wrote me funny letters and it was almost impossible to call because I was at camp and only had a pay phone to use. Do you remember how hard it was to call long distance back in the day???? So we wrote letters and when we got back to school he invited me over to his fraternity to catch up. I was so busy with my first year in the sorority house that I didn’t really have much time to hang out but we both settled back into school. My sorority had a party on September 29th, 1990 so I invited my party buddy Brad so we could finally spend some time together. The details are fuzzy but I remember an awkward conversation at The Wheel about becoming boyfriend-girlfriend and being exclusive. I think he started to not like me going to other fraternity parties and let his guard down so we could actually date for real. We were both very guarded in the dating department so we had to break each other’s walls down during those dating years.

Brad and I celebrated 9/29 as our dating anniversary the rest of college and after I graduated we ended up moving in together and had to live in a little town called Spring Hill, KS near my new job. We saved money by living together which was somewhat scandalous (haha!) but necessary since we were poor and just starting out. After a successful run at the Miami County Republic selling advertising and enjoying the old school way of producing newspapers I dipped my toe in the big city job market (found an ad in the newspaper) and landed a job at the Kansas City Business Journal. We were moving back to the city and needless to say I was getting restless with our status and had kind of given up on getting engaged. I started my new job on 9/4/94 and we headed to Vail, Co over Labor Day weekend for a friend’s wedding. On the way up the mountain Brad FINALLY proposed on 9/6/94! He did a great job, the ring was perfect, setting was amazing at a restaurant overlooking Denver. That was my first indication of how Brad ticks. He likes to surprise me and does things on his time table. He has told me NO many times over the years then surprised me with what I wanted or wanted to do. ❤️

So fast forward to 1998. We decided to start trying to have babies, I had wanted to wait but decided I didn’t know how easy or hard it would be and moved up our timeline. We had some medical delays and had to wait a little longer but the first month we got the green light to start trying we got pregnant! We were excited but so blissfully naive. We weren’t going to find out the sex so when we went in for our 20 week sonogram we brought my besties, Julie and Erin and used Julie’s giant old school video camera to capture the moment. The tech was really quiet, we were looking at the baby’s profile, cute button nose, chubby tummy and he looked perfect to us. The tech kept pushing on my tummy to get the baby to move around and I finally asked if something was wrong. She kind of mumbled, I started crying, my friends left the room in disbelief and we were told to go over to our Midwife’s office nearby. Before she turned off the machine I asked her if we could know the sex. It was a boy, we later nicknamed him Tyler. Our baby’s brain didn’t develop past his brain stem and was diagnosed with anencephaly. While I felt a little movement during my pregnancy I would learn how different that was with my future pregnancies. I had a dull uneasiness during those 20 weeks and that day I realized why. I didn’t feel comfortable sending my maternity letter out to clients and hadn’t planned any showers, my intuition was right. Our Midwife connected us with a wonderful doctor who would perform the DNC. I was thankful I didn’t have to get induced or have a c-section. So on September 29th, 1998 our baby boy went to heaven. It was 8 years to the day that we decided to “officially date.” I remember wondering what those little college kids would think about this huge heartbreak if they knew what was coming.

Our broken hearts were healed on baby Tyler’s due date February 17, 1999 with the wonderful news that we were pregnant again with Carter. We were comforted by the extra sonograms we had with the rest of our pregnancies and found out the sex each time. No more surprises! Every year I honor Tyler by thinking about him on 9/29 and the kids talk about their big brother in heaven. They understand the order of things and that if he survived maybe we wouldn’t have each of them as they are now. I’ve also talked to Russell about how he could be that lost baby and might have gotten tired of missing out. Who knows but with each healthy baby we felt immeasurably blessed! They are so perfect and bring us such joy in their own and very different ways!

So our next encounter with 9/29 was my first colonoscopy. I had pain and unexplained bleeding that led me to an emergency colonoscopy. I was 38. I had 4 polyps removed and was so thankful for my symptoms and doctor’s swift actions. I had follow up colonoscopies and paid $1000s of dollars for them to make sure I was free of any additional pre-cancerous polyps. That was 2009 after too many deaths in our life so a cancer scare was very terrifying.

I’m sure there are other 9/29s that are notable but the most recent, 9/29/18 was THE turning point in our lives. After a month and a half of being sick, losing 30 pounds and having pain in his stomach Brad was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to his liver. After two full exams in the ER and a Primary Doctor I found online after getting told numerous offices weren’t accepting new patients. He had a month of tests and finally an ultrasound that showed lesions on his liver. The doctors didn’t notice is enlarged liver during either of his two physical exams.  Our oncologist told us it was enlarged at least double the size and extended 4 inches under his rib cage.  This was causing his cough that he had for over a month and caused him to not be able to say a full sentence without coughing.  I still don’t understand why a doctor didn’t notice that int he beginning and START with the liver tests. But I am thankful his Primary kept searching and discovered the colon tumor in a CT scan and confirmed the metastasis to the liver. His ultrasound was on his 48th birthday 9/11/18 and his diagnosis was on September 14th. We were in shock and had a lot of phone calls to make. I told my boss I would have to be at a lot of doctor appointments and needed flexibility to figure out what was going to happen next. Against Brad’s privacy wishes I reached out to a friend to see if he had any “INs” with KU Med. I needed action fast and wanted him to see an oncologist immediately. That night, Brad after the CT scan revelation, went with Russell to his soccer game and I went to Whitney’s football game at South. I felt like a zombie. I floated through the night.  I watched Whitney on the sidelines smiling so big and my heart broke.  I knew she’d be crushed by the news we had to tell the kids the next day. I had a busy morning planned getting Whitney from her parade to Lawrence for Carter’s first Family Day at KU. Brad and I had agreed we would tell the kids while we were all together as a family. Whitney and Russell had watched Brad decline so fast and get super skinny. We all knew something bad was going on.  The cough wouldn’t go away, he laid around a lot and that just was never him.  He didn’t take naps and had fevers every day around 1pm.  He would shake under a big blanket until it broke.  When the fevers started I knew it was cancer.  Carter was blissfully oblivious and we all protected his ability to enjoy his freshman year and not have any of the stress we were feeling at home. We were also still getting used to being a family of 4 most of the time so being the FamBam 5 was always very special.  I got all of us some little thread bracelets with a little silver coin to symbolize our unity in the situation even if we weren’t all together all the time. Brad’s is bigger and has a coin that symbolizes Serenity. He has worn it every day since. So….on August 15th, 2018 we dropped our oldest Son off at college at KU and on September 15th, 2018 we had to deliver the heartbreaking news that their dad had cancer and would start fighting it immediately. It sucked. I learned to compartmentalize my life with cancer and everything else. I encouraged the kids to keep their grades up so they wouldn’t add that kind of stress on top of worrying about their dad. It was bumpy at times but all 3 ended the year reaching their academic goals and will head into next year with the ability to cope while keeping everything in check.

We got home from Family Day and I got the number I needed to call Monday morning. By the time I got to work that Monday the KU Med Nurse Navigator had all of Brad’s files, was coordinating biopsies, a colonoscopy and helping us pick an oncologist. I was so thankful the ball was in their court (KU reference intended) and on September 29, 2018 my husband had biopsies done on his liver to scientifically determine he has Stage 4 colon cancer metastatic to his liver. That day sucked, he couldn’t eat forever, the process was slow m, the medical waiting room before surgery was so frigid and his patience was beyond tested. Honestly, the rest of everything has been way more pleasant than that experience and I won’t mention the hospital but it wasn’t KU Med and their billing has been the most messed up of them all.  I’ve been strong, I’ve been a disaster and I have no choice so I just plow through and keep things going. I’ve battled with a lot of doctors offices over miscoded invoices and billing mistakes. It’s my least favorite thing but I’ve learned a lot and am less emotional about it. It usually works out in the end.

Today he had his second Y90 procedure which is really cool science involving shooting the tumors in his liver with radiation beads that choke off the blood supply and dose them with radiation. It is an outpatient procedure done in 3 parts-> mapping and test run -> right side which is the hardest as it is 2/3 of the liver -> then the left side which ended up taking twice as long because of the anatomy and they had to basically do the whole thing twice in two spots because if the arteries. So far the pain isn’t as bad as last time so we are thankful that. Dr. Collins and his nurse Elizabeth said their goodbyes and wished us well. It’s weird…you establish a relationship and trust then they are done with their part and say goodbye. All we know is there will be a scan in two months and a visit with Dr. Pendergrass at some point. While it is SO nice to have a lot of normal feeling days it is weird to not be so closely watched. It has felt like the stress level has been dialed way back enjoying the non-treatment weeks.

We would love your continued prayers for God’s grace to continue to guide and lift us up. We feel happy as a family of 5 and are cherishing this Summer all together ❤️