Humor is the Best Medicine

Getting through the Christmas Clean Up and back in the saddle at work and school felt like swimming through quick sand in some ways.  While we look forward to 2019 and have so much hope for miracles, success and lots of fun we felt a little weighed down by the enormity of what the new year could bring.  We have a lot going on over here and fighting cancer on top of it takes a few deep breaths to take the next step into a new year.

We made time for lots of friends and family during the holidays and still didn’t get to see everyone.  Brad dazzled everyone with his positive attitude, funny “but I have cancer” jokes and for a guy with cancer he is looking pretty darn good.  With only one treatment in about 6 weeks he definitely felt the cancer creeping back in which equates to him feeling like crap.  He is bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning always but about 1pm he starts to wear down and if we have a busy day he’s headed for the chair or bed by 7-8pm at night.  If you ask him he says he feels totally fine, isn’t tired and all is good. We know better but you’d never hear him say it unless it is a particularly yucky day.

Video 1: Brad loves making up silly songs about his symptoms and other cancer stuff.

Video 2: We all love spontaneous dance parties!

We have an appointment scheduled with the Nurse Practitioner on Wed 1/9 and treatment following.  We don’t expect anything major and hope it is the smooth start to routine treatments as prescribed on 11/28 after his good scan.  I saw someone mention a book about “being in limbo” and that is exactly what this is.  You just take every day, new symptoms and tackle them.  We continue to count every single blessing and are thankful for all of the prayers, meals, watch parties, holiday invitations, gift cards and food deliveries!  I know when I make a good meal for him or even my newly famous Vitamin C smoothies I feel empowered to be helping heal him in some way.

We have started to fill up the calendar with kid activities and have several trips to St. Louis on the calendar.  We pray he will be strong enough to do all of it and well enough to enjoy it.  My biggest prayer always is for the kids…they have such a burden on their little hearts and minds it makes me worry endlessly.  I pray hard and often about it and God tells me all will be ok.  They are resilient and they are fighters and will succeed no matter what this life throws at them.  People ask how I am doing and I feel like things are going pretty well, all the balls are in the air and I’m working as hard and fast as I can at work to keep the ship afloat.  I can’t express how thankful I am for my awesome company, EccoSelect for supporting me without question– (for IT job hunters).  Brad’s company, BNC Mortgage has been so incredible to let him work from home when he can.  I hope when Spring comes and people are buying or refinancing he will have a busy season of his own.  He’s kept busy talking with customers and keeping his workload up to date.  Here is the link to apply with him if you know anyone needing help with a mortgage loan:  Apply with Brad Woods for a Home Loan Having the usual slow mortgage lending over the holiday season hasn’t been such a bad thing so he could rest, spend time with family and he especially enjoyed being the Christmas Elf getting everything put together.

I’m all over the place today, just feeling thankful, determined and hopeful.  I see God’s hand and where he has maneuvered us through his plan over the last 12-24 months and while I always had faith it is pretty cool to see the wonderful re-directing he gave us.  Even on the hard days I know he will guide us in places we couldn’t imagine with better blessings than our minds could dream.  I’ll keep this blog updated as we move through the next few months and while we hope for a boring ride (no downturns) we certainly hope for some excitement too.

For those who have asked to help here is a link to our food calendar, I set aside Mon/Wed as designated sign up days but we are flexible.  A text works too.

Prayer Requests:

*For the kids to stay strong, prosper, focused on school and enjoy each day right where they are in their lives.

*For all of us to stay healthy mind, body and spirit.  Please no more injuries, they need to be rockstars.

*For Brad to stay strong, positive and funny as he fuels our strength.

*For God’s hand to continue to guide us through this treatment and bless us with the miracles of medicine and healing.

*For 2019 to be an inspiring year of growth and happiness for all we care about.

God Bless You all and Cheers to an incredible year ahead!

Don’t wish away the hard days


All We Want for Christmas is Chemo

I thought about updating everyday for three weeks but wanted to see how the cliff hanger ended first.  After the peak of good news from Brad’s scan on 11/28 we followed that up with “flunking” the blood test on 12/12 due to low White Blood Cell counts.  Brad had a rough ride during #5 and ended up with a sinus infection.  Apparently it is true that antibiotics kill the good stuff and the bad stuff.  I had always heard that but we saw it in action.  We tried on the 12th and the 19th and his count was even lower the second week.  We didn’t let the news put a bummer on our holiday celebrations and Brad won’t miss an event so we just kept going.  They told us to come back on Christmas Eve and we’d try again.  There are definite pluses to missing a chemo treatment since he didn’t have to deal with the side effects and had a decent amount of energy.  BUT that was a catch 22 since he felt good enough to be my Christmas Elf running errands all over town he was also with lots of germs.  After getting kicked out of our second try I started making him Vitamin C drinks with pineapple coconut EmergenC packets, pineapple and orange juice.  I’m not sure if that had anything to do with his rebound but I told him I’d take credit.

The morning of Christmas Eve with lots still to do we went to the clinic with not an ounce of hope that he would get the treatment.  It was quiet, only a few people were there and from neighboring conversations it sounded like many of those patients were the ones who had gotten booted out in the previous days and weeks. Brad commented that all the “derilics” were in it together.  I stayed busy until it was time for them to tell us whether he was staying for treatment and my mood was declining by the minute.  Our very nice nurse came walking towards me with the report in her hand and gave me a thumbs up so I was instantly relieved and got to watch him get the good news.  We were totally shocked and immediately started texting friends and family to let them know he made the cut.  His levels had tripled in five days! Everyone celebrated with us and I think Christmas Eve and Day were spent much happier for all who are rooting for Brad.  His fatigue reminds us of his reality but we are thankful for it at the same time.  Cancer is so weird.  It makes you thankful for the craziest things.

We had a wonderful Christmas week spent with family out and about a little bit, celebrating our friend’s 50th birthday, enjoying time with our teams and truly feeling the holiday spirit.  I used to hate Christmas…it was hard on me as a kid so it took a long time to peel that damper off and remember to make my own new way.  This year truly felt like the holidays were intentional and the presents were second to the time spent with each other.  For anyone who contributed to group gifts given to us I can’t fully express my appreciation but please know you all are life savers!  Our church brought loads of presents for the kids and seeing their faces as they opened each one was pure magic.  We’ve been given so many gift cards for restaurants, grocery stores, QuikTrip and Visa cards.  All of this has been amazing and definitely eased the pressure on me to find ways to make this all work.  Friends handed us cards or venmo’d money to help out and while I feel weird accepting the gifts I know it helps them feel like they are helping.  I know that feeling of helplessness when a friend is having a hard time so I’ve learned to accept help with a grateful heart.

So now that the inlaws have gone back home I hope to be productive, get organized and be ready to roll in 2019.  I have so much hope for a great year no matter what is in store for us.  The gift cancer gives you is the blessing of being present and appreciating very normal days.  We say sorry quicker, try to be happy as we can and I’ve been really trying to stay tuned in to how the kids are doing.  That is the hardest part. Please pray for Brad to stay healthy enough for chemo and for his hope, faith and sunny attitude to remain intact. This is a long road and we feel weary many days but are reminded we have to keep going! I plan to be more organized and focused so I can keep my stress level in check. Cheers to a wonderful New Year!

Be Strong and Be Happy


When we received our good news about the scans I sensed something in the air.  I had asked our doctor about future treatments as I had heard they get harder at #5 through #10 since the effects accumulate.  I wonder if the cancer clinics know what is coming for each patient and if it is perfectly timed with an UP before a DOWN. It is as if they knew the scans would show something to celebrate right before a MACK truck of chemo hits.  It would be interesting to be behind the curtain and know what they REALLY know.  I think Brad is getting more brave and interested in knowing more rather than just floating along and hoping for the best while blindly trusting the medical team.  Blind denial is ok too, no one can predict what will happen so we just have to keep doing the good things to get through each day.

During chemo #5 I received a wonderful and big surprise of a gift to help make the kids’ Christmas brighter.  A long time friend gave us a super generous gift which is allowing us to say yes to three things the kids otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive.  I think these three gifts are the ones I look forward to seeing them open the most on Christmas morning.  I want them to know the value of friendship, staying true through many years of ups and down.  Also the value of giving when you can to lift up your friends when they really need it.  She has also given many other offers of generosity that will hopefully give us the opportunity for adventure in the coming months.  I can’t divulge too much but as we sat there during chemo #5, unnerved by all of the beeping machines going off at once, sympathetic for a patient next to us who had to move chairs because of an “accident” and the sweet old men talking about being proud dads across from us…we received this gift.  God’s perfect timing at work.

Brad and Russell enjoyed a Sporting KC playoff match with our neighbors on the Thursday after chemo which was a great night and memory despite the loss.  It was well timed as this chemo cycle has been rough and is requiring a lot of rest.  Brad’s nephropathy in his hands got bad one day but he was able to just rest his way through it.  The fatigue has been a battle but he has been able to eat and get some things done each morning.  Saturday and Sunday were rough so I took the opportunity to get my own to do list done while Brad rested and the kids did their thing.  Whitney and Russell are super troopers but it is a heavy burden for them to see their dad wiped out and barely able to stay awake.  He has kept us laughing when he feels good doing all kinds of crazy things.  He has a cold and grossed them out with talk of giant boogers that could barely go down the drain (TMI) and bragged about how he got a senior citizen discount without being asked for ID.  Brad is 48 and passing for 55…perks of being bald I suppose.  He is going to the doctor today for his high blood pressure and cold so I hope they sort him out so he can be better for chemo next week.

Quick shout out to our church and the organization Cancer Connection for literally showering us with Christmas Blessings and making Russell see and experience the magic of Christmas and Christ’s love and perfect timing.  He said he’s going to go crazy looking at all of the presents under the tree wondering what they are.  Such a pure example of the spirit of Christmas– a little boy, who acts so big, getting excited about a bunch of presents that drive his curious mind crazy!  God sent this distraction for sure!  Brad and I will be reminded of how good people are all month seeing them under the tree and honestly relieved that the kids have a little extra to be surprised by since they usually give us one or two ideas.  Well, Russell has rewritten his list on 3 1/2 x 5 cards at least 20 times since the end of October.  He also looks at  every single day and asked me to sign him up for the customer loyalty club to get discounts.  People are good and Woods Chapel Methodist is an amazing church home!  Those people work tirelessly to surround people battling cancer with love and remind us constantly that they are praying and lifting us up.  It works, Brad is so appreciative of the cards from strangers.  It touches his heart like I’ve never seen.

I want to take this time to remind everyone that each of us has a battle to fight.  I have friends fighting medical battles that aren’t cancer so they don’t get the attention we are getting but certainly are having some of the same struggles.  There are people with job loss, depression, trouble in school, bullying, heartbreak from not making a team or aging out of a sport.  There are plenty of struggles families face that don’t have the attention of cancer so I hope we all take care of each other and at least make an encounter or opportunity to listen mean something.  My friend told me about her kitchen makeover troubles and it was so refreshing to hear about the ins and outs and mishaps.  She commented that it wasn’t as deep as a cancer fight but I loved hearing about something BESIDES cancer!  In fact I seek out those opportunities to learn and almost feel more opened up by all of this so that I don’t focus so inwardly and pay attention to what is happening around me.  We don’t want to get so bogged down by the details of this fight that we miss out on interesting opportunities to learn, serve and do for others.

See this beautiful baby…this is Brooklyn, my niece who was murdered 10 years ago.


Three days after she died my friend and mother of 3 passed away from cancer when her daughter was just 4 months old at the age of 34.

A year later…to the day…my dad was buried on the same day as Brooklyn, December 5th, 2009.  This was the darkest hole of despair in my life.  I lost myself, I was not myself, I was pretty much helpless and useless.  Today, I know God put me through that heart wrenching, soul ripping, rock bottom despair so that I could rebuild into a stronger, more genuine and appreciative version of myself.  While I wish I could go back and have a do-over for pretty much all of my 30s… my 47 year old self is doing pretty damn good.  I’m still learning and trying to do better especially with my health as I see how fragile and important it is.  The abuse we put our bodies through is unnecessary and we don’t have to fall into bad habits as we can be strong and healthy for each other.  I know Brad is battling hard to get through this so he can feel good to enjoy some adventures this Spring and Summer.  Cancer is unpredictable and the budget isn’t vast enough to support something lavish but we can find some good family fun just being together.  During this cold part of year I dream of beaches, boats, lakes and baseball fields.


Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for the Big Kids as they come into finals and need to do well to feel good about this semester.  Pray for focused learning free of distraction and rock star knowledge to get them through their tests.
  • Belief and trust in the Lord that he will carry us through the bad days and remind us of the good days.
  • Ability to put together a stressfree Christmas and enjoy our days off from work and time spent together.
  • Productive work and praise for companies that care about their employees and allow flexibility. Thank you especially to my EccoSelect family as they are incredible.
  • Good health for the rest of us and ability to stay focused on priorities and accomplishing our goals.

God Bless oxox




Great news today PTL

God is teaching us extreme…like EXTREME Sports level patience in this journey and along with that serious focus on each day as it comes.  Brad and I were both pretty quiet and tense as we got ready for our appointment today.  I knew it would be good news but seriously, with this thing good news doesn’t fill you all the way up.  That sounds very selfish but we just can’t get too high or too low.

Dr. Pendergrass walked in and as he was shutting the door he quickly said “Everything looks good, let’s get that out of the way.”  I had caught his eye as he passed our door earlier and he smiled and waved.  The care team is very straight forward but they are definitely cheerleaders in this. They don’t over promise and don’t predict or get too far ahead but they root for us in each stage.  It is so strange to think about the depth of sickness, progress and near misses Brad has had in two short months.  Only 4 treatments in and he’s come soooo far!

Scan Results: The liver tumor shrunk from a lime to a strawberry in size.  I asked to see pictures but they weren’t available so I hope he can get them when he gets the pump taken off on Friday.  The colon tumor shrank in half which we suspected  since there was less of a sensation of blockage the last month.  The liver has shrunk, not to completely normal size but a lot better.  The fluid that had built up is gone and the blood levels show it is functioning at 100%.  That liver was struggling and was making him SO sick when we started treatment.  Brad has gained some weight back which is giving him more strength and better footing for the medicine to do its job.  He has been very fortunate to be healthy so his body can just focus on the cancer and not be sick with other things.  His high blood pressure seems to have settled down and he even talked about trying to eat a little healthier.  Not holding my breath on that one and I’m just glad he’s gaining weight!

We are so thankful for our support network.  We have thousands of people praying all around the country and I can’t describe the kind of peace that gives us.  Carter’s favorite scripture (that is tattooed on his arm now) “If God is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us” is one that carries us through.  Brad has a very long way to go and we can’t get too high because we don’t want the fall to be too far but we will enjoy the next three months fighting hard until the next scan.  We’ve made it through two months and they seemed very long but we know how to fend off symptoms so hopefully we can make the next three months stress free with him feeling normal most days.  Brad has gone from almost being embarrassed and bummed out that he had to give people his bad news to being so humbled by the support.  We’ve had our dance people bring us gifts and messages of support, our old baseball team handed us a bag of gift cards the day after he told them…it is pretty amazing what people are willing to do for others.  We will pay this kindness forward however we possibly can.





Chemo #5 and headed into month 3

I was in Detroit today for work which started at 3am and won’t end until I fall into bed at 11:00pm tonight. We had our second snow day so Whitney went with Brad to his CT scan. Carter made it back to school on Monday and while it was nice to have him home it felt good for him to get back to his new home and get settled to buckle down for finals. I think all three could use some prayers for some extra focus going into the end of the semester. Focus and fending off distraction is a big challenge for them. I just want them TO BE and FEEL successful. No Regrets!

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving Break and cut loose a little. We had beautiful weather followed by a blizzard so we enjoyed some time outside in our crazy warm and then cold Missouri weather. The house is decorated for Christmas and I feel like we are ready to buckle down and tackle the season and celebrate the birth of Jesus and all the blessings God has given us this year.

Tomorrow we hope to get the results of the CT Scan from today and will meet with the oncologist. We’ve been pretty consistent with getting good news each visit and think he will be happy with Brad’s weight gain and hopefully have a good report for the treatments success so far. We did find out that one of Brad’s genes is half broken. It basically raises his chance of getting CRC – Colorectal Cancer from a normal 5% to 12%. We are able to do testing for first degree relatives so Carter gets to be the first guinea pig for that since he’s 18+ and also his parents and sister if they choose. He has a few instances of pancreatic, breast and bile duct cancer and all of that came out fine in relation to broken genes. The best news is the kids can get tested as early as 38 if the insurance companies don’t make it even younger by then. I had polyps at 38 so I will be comfortable with that goal and hope for 35 to be the new age. In all of this knowledge is power but cancer is an asshole and strikes with no rhyme or reason.

Prayer Requests:

  • For Brad’s scans to show us good progress.
  • For Brad to continue to gain weight and add healthy and strength building habits back to his schedule.
  • For his hands and feet to not hurt as bad this round so that he can enjoy our usual weekend hustle.
  • For his blood pressure to come down so he can get treatment.
  • For our ability to keep working effectively through this Winter and maneuver through financial challenges.
  • Please pray for our children’s hearts and minds to be calm and filled with love this holiday season.

❤️ updates to come tomorrow

Super Thankful This Year

In a world with so much noise I love this time of year when we turn our focus in and look forward to spending time with our family.  My perfect holiday is one where I don’t put shoes on all day and I might end up with a messy bun by the end of the day…or even all day long.  I’ve actually become quite the holiday snob in that I really don’t want to leave my house.  Our normal mode involves early alarms, racing from place to place, hauling lots of equipment, uniforms, costumes, coats, blankets, chairs, coolers and stressing about being on time, remembering everything and WINNING!  I admit I have some stress over making sure my house is clean and lost every ounce of time I had to do it over the weekend but I’ll work some magic after work this week to get it all done.

So in a year when some might think we are looking inward at problems, health issues or other things I find myself counting my blessings and thanking God for everything little and big.  The thing with cancer is you have the same exact problems you do normally but with a big heavy layer on top of everything that can either suffocate you or force you to see through it and find a better outlook.  I think in some instances I feel like I should be treated better than normal because I’ve got so much to hold up, keep on track and manage…in reality, I’m the same mom/wife/sister/employee doing the same stuff as always.  The same thing applies to the person with cancer, the kids of the dad with cancer, the mom of the guy with cancer…and all the other people feeling weighed down by the diagnosis.  I find myself taking inventory a lot because I start to get lost which turns into a bad mood or feeling down. I stop myself and have a moment of prayer and reflection to get back on track.  It isn’t easy to stop that train but if I don’t stop it the end result is not good and no one wants crabby mom walking in the door ruining everyone’s mojo.


This brings me to my sweet kids.  Middle and High School (and College) are hard enough without extra stress.  These last few years I’ve felt like Russell is getting an extra dose of BS from kids about being small and over the weekend he got made fun of for playing soccer…while everyone was playing soccer…he got made fun of for being good.  WTF?  I’m really just OVER the way kids treat him and want to post on every social media possible how EFFING mad it makes me.  But this brings me back to being treated “normal”…kids aren’t going to stop and think “I shouldn’t call him short or tell him he’s dumb for playing soccer because his dad is sick.”  So while my blood is boiling and I want to get on the phone and start texting moms about how mad I am for the way their kids or kids in general treat him I make myself stop.  I screw down that filter and do what I CAN do which is coach Russell on how he can act or what he can do and say.  With God’s perfect timing he learned at his church retreat a great lesson about this exact thing.  Kids that say those things or act like that are “not your people.”  It is that simple.  It takes out the heat of the situation and he can just step back and be like “these guys don’t matter, they aren’t my people.”  Same thing applies to Whitney.  She went through a big thing and friends were mad at her for mistakes they made.  I talked to her about how she just had to sit back and wait for them to get over it and come back and be reasonable.  They all did as far as I’ve heard but the reaction was BS and that is also something that can teach her about leadership before a situation gets out of control.  These little lessons are the same whether someone is sick in your family or if everyone is A-OK healthy.  I hope by not making cancer the focus or using it to treat anyone differently we will benefit in the long run.  We are all just trying to make it work day after day.  Many days we are all OVER it but just have to regroup and keep going.

So today while we are savoring this family time we are also a little anxious about getting the results of a new CT Scan on Tuesday 11/27.  We also have a genetics appointment on Monday but that is more informative and interesting rather than current results we can use today.  I planned a quick one day, work trip to Detroit on Tuesday and while that will be a great distraction I will be super worn out and maybe a little stressed that I’m not with Brad for the scan.  However, it is also a good time for him to go on his own and is at our clinic so he practically knows everyone there.  We should get results from the scan and Chemo #5 on 11/28.  We will have TWO MONTHS down since his diagnosis and two full months of treatment.  Brad’s Nurse Practitioner “Big Nanner” was super happy with all of his blood test results and said his liver function levels are one of a 100% healthy person.  UNBELIEVABLE!  He gained about 6 pounds from his lowest point which is a great start.  These last two rounds he has had increasing hand and foot pain.  This is common with 5FU chemo.  It gives him a chance to rest so that they don’t get worse but he doesn’t much like resting.  On Friday after his chemo he changed the brakes on the van and was hurting pretty bad that night.  We learn each time what to avoid and what to prevent.  I don’t like to see him suffering from any symptoms so it bums me out but I’m able to do extra running around to keep him quiet and give him time to rest.

Brad had a very boring weekend at home while I drove all over two states (not really just 300+ miles) running kids to stuff.  I enjoyed my first Sigma Nu Mom’s Club event decorating Carter’s fraternity for Christmas.  The other moms are so fun and enthusiastic.  I loved hearing them gush about their sons and think we all SEE each other and know how much we love our big boys.  I hope Carter doesn’t mind me making new friends because I think I definitely will!  The current president was talking to me about serving as an officer and I think I just might do it.  Why not?!  He has found a wonderful tribe in the Sigma Nu Fraternity and makes me so extremely proud in how he owns responsibility and has fun but can be the voice of reason at times too.  He’s grown so much in so many ways and I’m grateful for his inner compas guiding him in mostly the right directions.

Whitney attended the Rock Chalk Dance Clinic the next day so I was back in Lawrence again and thankfully was able to help Carter fix his SUV Black Betty while I was there.  We were pretty proud of ourselves for jumping it on our own and getting it to the shop without help from Dad.  It was a good learning experience for us both.  The day worked out perfect as I was able to help decorate my sorority, Kappa Delta, down the road while we waited on the car repair and Whitney made it home in time for her high school dance practice.  That GIRL…she’s so busy, we need to reign her in over the holiday.  She needs to rest and organize as she’s left a path of madness in her wake over the last few weeks.  I’ll be glad to see that pretty girl relax over the next few days and we are all counting the minutes until Carter gets home!

Until our next report…Go Chiefs!

Russell Arrowhead


Month in and a Marathon to Go

While October seemed like the longest month ever it was a good learning month and for the most part successful.  We ended the month with Chemo #3 on Halloween and the clinic was kind of quiet which was nice but were amused by a fun loving “Rod Stewart” patient who was super nice and happy to be there because he was too sick to get treated last week.  This experience makes us appreciate the spectrum of sickness and varying challenges.  Much older people are usually hanging out at the clinic which gives us perspective on the fact that they’ve enjoyed 20-30 more years than Brad and I have.  What will we change in those 20-30 years?  Our new goal is to be “them” when we grow up and have 30 more years of memories to make so that we are facing health problems later in life when they are more expected.  I wonder if they think about how fortunate they are to have had extra years and not be the “young” people in the clinic.  These are the reasons we end the day from Chemo Day so mentally exhausted.  We are thankful for our own good fortune and for those around us while hoping we all come out winners at the end of these days we spend together.

Being silly sending a SnapChat pic to the kids and some friends. Woah give me a filter…this is all us, wrinkles and all.

“What do you need?”  “How are you doing”  These are common questions and the hardest to answer.  Some days feel 100% normal, others feel like we are on the edge of a cliff.  While I’m always open to answering because I know the people asking really want to know and am always happy to give an update.  We are very optimistic people so our answers are usually shiny and bright, they are truthful but I’m not going to focus on the things that weigh me down.  We are SO incredibly lucky to have good doctors and miracle drugs to help Brad in this fight.  It is pretty amazing what medicine can do and I’m just in awe of the brilliant minds behind the strategy and execution these drugs deliver.  I’m also EXTREMELY proud of every single caregiver who has ever been given this load of responsibility because the mental stamina it takes is unreal.  I fall into some nasty moods and honestly just try to hide it from everyone and find ways to go be by myself to sort it out.  Then a shift happens and everything is different and I feel amazing and optimistic again.  It is a wild ride people!!!

While we ride weeks of highs and lows I’m also really trying to focus on long term.  We will be fighting this battle forever.  The middle ground goal is for Brad to be labeled “NED” No Evidence of Disease.  He will always be cared for by doctors looking for cancer or treating cancer.  This situation is 100% polar opposite from how his healthcare habits were before but I think he is seeing the benefits and will take full advantage of a healthy life…won’t we all?  We saw Dr. Pendergrass before chemo on 10/31 and he has planned for 2nd PET scan for November 27th.  Of course I planned a business trip for that day…but thankfully it is at our KU Med clinic 3 minutes down the road so I’m cutting the cord and not stressing about not being there.  He will be in and out and we’ll get the results the following day before Chemo #5.  I also put the weight of being a good employee squarely on my back so making sure I’m keeping up with my responsibilities at work is very important.  I feel good about doing the best job I can since they’ve been so incredibly supportive and flexible.  Plus a work trip with mom away for a day will be good for my people.  I’m going to Detroit and am kind of excited, I’ve never been and love watching Rehab Addict on HGTV.

Below is a link to a calendar app people can subscribe to for bringing food over, coming to visit or whatever they can think of.  Brad blew out the sprinklers the other day so that Fall HoneyDo is checked off!  He’s been doing more of those things lately so that is nice going into the Winter so I don’t have to stress about thinking like the “man of the house” regarding what needs to be winterized.  We are cooking up some house new projects and I have a major urge to repaint most rooms in my house.  I’m trying to redirect those crazy ideas into more attainable projects like organizing storage areas which gives me equal satisfaction.

On this calendar I hope to add prayer requests.  You should be able to click on the days to see if I have any notes in there.  I feel like people want to focus on certain aspects and it helps me stay focused on the big and little picture when I break thoughts and the schedule into pieces.  We closed out October with a very fun Halloween night hanging out with the neighbors like every other year before.  Brad had fun talking to everyone since we are all so busy with every day life it is nice to spend an evening talking and watching the kids have fun.

Enjoy some pictures from a few good day adventures: including a spontaneous day trip to Springfield, MO to watch our high school softball team win STATE!  Our friends, the Seib family, enjoyed seeing their daughter pitch her team into a State Championship!  Incredible family, incredible athlete and wonderful young lady!  Go Easton!  You are amazing!  We also stopped by to watch some HS Volleyball and support those ladies.  You could call us Super Fans!  We are a sports loving family that is for sure!

Apparently since Halloween was on a Wednesday the students at KU celebrated by dressing up for about a week and a half!  I got some Snapchats of Carter as a tree and as a secret service agent “guarding” the President.  They looked cute and I was jealous of their good time…college life is awesome!  Last night he texted me while I was handing out candy in the dark saying he needed a sheep onesie from Amazon STAT for a party this coming weekend! Of course I dropped everything and ordered it for him and made him promise to send me pics.  I’m just so proud of that kid for balancing everything and pray for him every day to be able to keep up his focus and succeed.  “You need a sheep costume?  Sure you can have a sheep costume because you got an awesome grade on your Psyc paper.”  This is how my mind works when it comes to my Carter. oxox

Short Fuses and Winning–Ying and Yang

With caution I’m super excited about our progress after Chemo #2 on 10/15.  We set goals and made sure to take advantage of energetic times and get Brad the rest he needed when his energy needed to be refueled.  Going into the weekend without any experience after Chemo 1 and knowing what to expect and avoid after Chemo 2 is night and day difference.  For now we are just focused on nutrition and rest and enjoying a week with no appointments.

I’ve been reflecting on everyone’s needs and how they collide at times.  I think everyone sees when I’m at my breaking point.  My typical solutions is to pretty much run for the door to go run an errand or anything outside of my house to get some non-cancer related fuel in my body and mind.  I hope soon I’ll incorporate weight training and stretching because I feel like my muscles have shortened from the stress pulling on them from head to toe.  Ugh I need to release that stuff asap and get rid of these aches and pains!

So with the kids…I’ve been trying to watch for trouble signs and they pop up in different forms and different times.  I remember seeing moods and behavior in other families dealing with cancer and now see similar behavior around our house.  I remind myself that they are suffering from the weight of all this along with normal trying to grow up kinds of things.  I just pray they aren’t impeded by this stress or thrown off their trajectory because they were all on a really good path prior to 9/15/18.  My main objective is to keep them as close to that same path as possible.  I try to remind myself, Brad and each of the kids that it is ok to feel “off” or have to have some mental health breaks however they need to get it but then also get back to that place of focus.  I remember being a teenager and how hard and stressful it was.  The thought of putting all of this on top seems suffocating.  I had my own suffocating circumstances and came out strong than I ever would have so I know they can too.  Bad moods aren’t such a bad thing and we need to give each other time and safe places to release that negativity so it doesn’t stay bottled up.

Going into this week I’m hoping for less short fuse situations, more Zen time and using this seemingly light week to get some rest.  We also have to do list items to get checked off before the whirlwind of family visits starting with Whitney’s Alice In Wonderland ballet and then the holidays.  Brad spent a lot of Friday picking out a new vacuum so that should help out with the to do list especially since everyone has actually been excited about using it!  GENIUS!!  New Vacuum = People Using it Besides Me!  Write that one down in your book of tricks!

We had a beautiful Fall weekend and took advantage by taking a few pictures when we went to visit Carter for his 19th birthday which is coming up on Thursday!  I wanted to take a bunch of photos all over Lawrence among the beautiful trees….but energy, moods and lack of showering for some made it not the ideal time for a photoshoot.  Whitney and I literally jumped out of the van on the way to the grocery store on Sunday and took some on a side road that I’m pretty sure isn’t really supposed to be driven on but we made it work.  So, check that off the list…fall pics with pretty trees CHECK!



1 down, ready for more

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

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

Here is my thankful list:

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

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

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

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

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

Laugh when you want to cry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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