Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seriously! Chemo stinks!

Here are a few conversations I've had recently:

Officer: "Hi, where are you off to in such a hurry?"
Me: "Chemo"
Officer: not a believable look on his face- "most women say they are in labor"
Me: nervous chuckle.
Officer:  "Can I see your license and registration?"  "What are you receiving chemo for?"
Me: "Colon cancer"
Officer: "give me a few minutes"
Me: "OMG! Really Becky!"
Officer:  "You need to slow down so you can make
 it to your appointments in one piece."  "My grandpa
 died really young from colon cancer so you
 can thank him today for me letting you off"
Me: GULP "thank you grandpa"???
What a nice officer- he knew I needed a break! 


Max: "Mom, do you need a hug?"
Me: "Yes, I do!  How did you know?"
Max: "I just know because I know when my mom
needs hugs and because I'm your favorite."

Hug, Hug, Hug- I love that kid.


Me: "Whitney, you and I need to run and go to.........."
Whitney:  "To what?"
Me: "ummm"
Whitney: "mom, I hate it when you do this"
Me: "wait, it's coming to me"
Whitney: "you really forgot?"
Me: "yup, sure did"

Brain fog


Patient sitting next to me during Chemo: "How's your husband handling this?"
Me: "He seems to be doing well.  He has his brave face on."
Patient: "Mine is really worried about me and makes me feel anxious at times."
Me: "sounds like you might need some ear plugs."
Patient: "Did you know that 75% of all marriages that involve cancer end in divorce."
Me: .....................................

If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all.  Right?


Last week was fun, I went to lunch with Dari and went with Yancey to go visit Chrissy and Matthew up at Primary's.  Matthew is waiting for a heart and has been in the hospital for a long time.  I think he's at like 120 days now :(  He is the sweetest little boy EVER!  I love that kid.

I had lunch plans with Mindy and Sam yesterday so my goal was to get up and get ready and go to lunch.  I was able to eat and have some good conversations.  We had fun!  Too much fun because it wiped me out!  I came home and flopped on the bed!  I was beat!  Those girls know how to PARTY!  I do feel a lot better when I'm up and moving around and not laying in bed all day.

My mom was here yesterday and today- thank goodness!

Tonight I'm going to dinner with Suzy, Liz, Bonnie and Cindy.  I'm sure I'll be ready to get out of the house by the time night rolls around.  Suzy will take care of me if not.  I joke with Brandon because I have been on so many dinner and lunch outings with friends and family lately.  I feel so loved ;)

I have spent so much time trying to stay positive and upbeat that I don't think I have really allowed myself to be sad or ticked off with the truth. I have cancer.  I have a disease that I did not plan for.  Now I have to make arrangements in my life for this intruder.  This has, and will, change my life.  

You won't see me getting negative a whole lot during these blog entries.  It's not the type of person I am...  In order for me to stay upbeat I need to be upbeat.  However, I do know that there is a reality to all of this and this is a place for me to vent and when I feel like venting then I will ;)

Thanks for reading everyone!  I took another picture the day before round two.  I think I still look the same :)  If I don't then don't let me know- ha!


PS- get your colon checked!  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Feeling Great!

It's a new week and I'm 5 days out from my treatment.  I'm finally able to drink my Sonic, I was in their drive through this morning at 10:30.  What?  I guess the shards of glass feeling only lasts 3-5 days- WHEW!  I do feel a little weaker and I'm really noticing the "chemo brain".  If you have short or long conversations with me then please don't judge if I start giving blank stares.  That's just me trying to figure what in the heck I'm trying to say.  "blah, blah, blub, blub, blah"  That's how I feel.


This week is going to mainly be appointments with my Oncologist working on getting my INR's at the right level.  This measures the time it takes for my blood to clot.  This is to watch things so I don't get anymore blood clots.


Super excited to be back working at Camera Shy.  Went outdoors scouting out new locations with Mac and Ray.  Ray loves taking pics of me in awkward positions- I'll get her back one of these days.  Really I fell on the sidewalk and quickly grabbed my camera from my pocket and pretended it was meant to happen.  JK- I was totally embarrassing Whitney by yelling "jump", "jump higher", "now be funny", "not that funny", "stop, now dance".  AHAHAHA!  Here's some of what I got.

A lot of people ask me how they can help me right now and one thing that I know everyone can do is to tell your family and friends about my awesome studio!  or !!!  Really, you'll be doing them a favor by sending them to us.  Our prices and quality are awesome!  AND the photographers work so hard and they ROCK!

Back to School pictures are a must right now and it's time to stop with the same old boring ones!  Be different!


This is the last week of summer for my younger kids and Max starts all day kindergarten this year :(  It'll just be me and Katie now- she'll be my little side-kick.  I'm sure that between her and the studio I will be pretty busy- she's kinda crazy.

It doesn't feel like we had much of a summer, 2 months of mine was spent all doped up.  They are seriously the best kids EVER!  Alex, Whitney and Jessie have really stepped up and have been so much help with Max and Katie.  Love them so much!

I hope everyone is enjoying their last few weeks of summer!  If you get bored just go get a colonoscopy!  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Just Adjusting My Sails...

Just for starters I want everyone to know that the television commercial STOLE my theme song!  Clearly I had it first.  No respect!


Today was the big flag on the calendar.  I think I had it in my mind that EVERYTHING had to happen before today.  Why?  I don't know, maybe I've heard too many chemo horror stories.  I wanted to be stylish, yet comfortable so I bought a bunch of new clothes.  I wanted some sun on my skin before I have to go in to sunblock mode for 9 months.  I wanted a vacation for my family since I was in the hospital while we were suppose to be vacationing.  I wanted to see family and friends.  I wanted pedicures, hair colored and cut and I even wanted my free set of fake eyelash extensions :)

I figured that if I went into this as a fighter then I'd most certainly try to remain a fighter the entire time.  Brandon, that's the best way to explain all the new purchases!  He loves me :)

With the approval of the oncologist, Brandon and I (mostly Brandon) packed the kids up and headed to Saint George for a week with his parents at their own little mini resort in Entrada.  The kids had so much fun!  They had a bit of mud issues after the floods a few weeks ago.  Scott and Diane worked so hard to get everything looking perfect again for our family to come down.

You have to see the pictures to believe this place.

Diane makes some pretty killer meals in this kitchen.  We even had blueberry dessert!

There's Grandy, trying to take Katie's floaty away again ;)

Coolest theater room with a stage and karaoke. 

Can you tell I like the pool??


One of the best part about being diagnosed with cancer is that you get to physically see SO many family and friends.  Brandon and I were able to go to dinner with my brothers and uncle and spouses.  We had a lot of fun!  I have so many siblings that it makes it extra hard to see everyone, but no more excuses!
Added a little bling to this one.  Don't my oldest brothers look like my body guards?

Don't let the white pupils throw you off, we really are incredibly good looking.
Saint George was a blast!  Thanks Scott and Diane for providing us with so many fun things to do!


The following week meant lots of appointments.  Before chemo was to start I needed to make sure I got in to see a dentist ASAP.  During chemo they don't like you to have any dental work done because of the risk of infection.  I had a crown repaired and passed with flying colors on everything else.

I had appoinments to have my INR's checked to see how well my blood thinners are doing, etc...

Max had his kindergarten check-up.  He was super cute, but not happy about the shots.  I kissed it all better with a trip to Kmart and a new toy and a slurpee.  I'm the best mom!

I managed to squeeze a staff meeting in on Tuesday before I had a very important hair appointment.

Met with my surgeon and was given the go-ahead to wait until after chemo for my second colonoscopy.  Let's not forget that the cancer only allowed them to make it half way through on the first colonoscopy.  I get to go back and see what might be lingering on the other side.  I'm certain it has been behaving well and still looks nice and pretty :)  Yes, there are ugly colons and pretty colons- trust me!

I had a chemo class to go to that was pretty boring and I had already been told most of it all.  One thing I didn't know was that drinking anything cold would feel like glass in my throat!  Were they serious?  Don't they know I need my diet cranberry limeade with extra ice from Sonic DAILY???  Ergh!  Crampin my style I tell ya!  I can live with the port and the tubes and the pricks and injections, but really?  A girls gotta have her Sonic!

On Thursday I had my port placed at the big IMC hospital or the "mothership".  I was pretty nervous about pretty much nothing.  They had me higher than a kite while I was in the surgical room.  I really think they thought I was crazy- I'm sure you'll probably hear recordings of me being passed around on youtube soon.  I thought I was pretty hilarious....  The port itself is sore and very foreign.  I'm sure I'll get use to it.  She already has a name- it's Purdie Porty.

The large incision is where the port lies under the skin.  You can't really see it, but a small line runs upwards towards that smaller incision in my neck.  They make that small incision to access a large vein and they feed the line through the vein and down to my heart.  Easy Peasy!


Whitney went to her first year of girls camp and had a blast!  She tried to take me down with the "Miss Camp" award, but it looks like I still hold the title in this house ;)   Whit, you'll make a pretty bride and I have proven to make a beautiful woman who wears trash bags under her swimsuit.  What you don't see are my dad's shoes I was wearing from like 1940.  Oh yeah!  Maybe next year you should take your dad's shoes..... lol!  I love you Beaner and I am so glad to see your face again!  Muah!


Just when Brandon thought he had his whole family back and could enjoy a quiet weekend....  I decided to be spontaneous :)  My four older siblings had a brother who just got married in Alabama and was having an open house in Saint George for the cute new couple.  I decided to drive to Saint George with my sister's BFF on Saturday morning, help at the open house, and drive back home on Sunday.  It was nice and it certainly got my mind off chemo.  Here's some pics we snagged.

Suzy's boys chose to drive with me... I have better music!

Everyone's doing it.  Get dressed up and take a snapshot of yourself!
This was right before the open house.

Taking Kelly on a tour of the in-laws mini resort.


Chemo started today!  I got mad at Brandon for taking this, but I'm sure I'll like having them.  I didn't feel much at the clinic, now that I'm home I'm feeling the glass shards even with luke warm water.  I learned that sitting on a cold toilet was NOT going to be happening again.  I'm very sensitive to anything cold :(  My ears are ringing, I feel irritable and I DO have nausea- that's as far as I'll get into it.  

All Hooked up for 46 hours and even got my fanny pack  just like they promised :)  I was thinking I might throw on my "mom jeans", strap on my fanny pack and go to Smiths-  Just for kicks :)

Last but not least....  I'll be taking a picture every time I go in for treatments so I can see what's changing with me.  I say that on my first treatment day, let's see if I really end up doing this :)

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!  I love hearing from everyone and having the opportunity to see many of you.  I'm so motivated by everyone's kind words, thank you for the support!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fighting Like A Girl!

I met with the oncologist on Thursday and I had a few moments where I was trying to hold back the tears.  I realized I had a lot of anxiety building up in me while I laid in that hospital worrying about what my treatment would be like.  I hate the unknown- I could google anything I wanted, but I knew that there would be a plan specific to me.  After  many days of waiting, I finally know what to expect.

I didn't realize that chemotherapy could be administered in so many different ways.  Of course the way I'll be receiving mine is not the one I would have picked out for me, but I'm fighting like a girl and I'll do what it takes to get this over with!  On August 2nd I will go to IMC to have a port placed in my upper chest.  The port will be installed beneath the skin and a catheter connects the port to a vein.  Under the skin the port has a rubbery center where my treatments can be injected and blood can be drawn.  They gave me numbing ointment to put on the port area so I don't need to feel the needle pricks.  I realllllllllly hope I'm getting some serious drugs before this procedure.  I think I'll feel a bit Star Trek like- I'll post pictures of it when it's healed.

If you are not interested in all the technical information for my treatments then skip a few paragraphs.  I'd really hate to bore anyone, but I'd love to scare all of you into getting your colonoscopies :)

I'll be receiving a kick butt cocktail of chemo treatments called Folfox (poison).  Folfox is made up of three different chemo drugs- 5-FU, Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin.  I'll go to the oncologist to get hooked up and receive two hours of the Oxaliplatin and then I'll be sent home with a spiffy little fanny pack and remain hooked up to the rest of the Flofox 46 hours.  I'll do this every two weeks for a total of 12 treatments.  (I think that's all correct)

Side-effects that I MIGHT have:

•Heart attack in patients that have a history in heart problems.  Hmmm, I wonder if my dad dying from congestive heart failure and multiple heart attacks places me in the "at risk" area.  We'll just not think about that :)
•The Oxaliplatin can cause nerve damage.  Things like picking up a cold glass or being in the cold can bother me.  Looks like someone will have to hold my Sonic cup for me.  After about 3 months of this drug I can start to lose the feeling in my toes and fingers.  At this point they will stop that medication (poison) because apparently the feeling might not come back.
•The rest of the symptoms are: Nausea/vomiting, mouth sores, muscle cramps, loss of balance, difficulty picking up objects (shoot! can't clean up after myself), difficulty hearing (HUH?), cracked nails, loss of hair, appetite loss, etc.....

My surgeon and my oncologist both ensured me that I would not be losing my hair.  Brandon is a bit disappointed- he was looking forward to being the bald twins.

A lot of people act differently to chemo, some get sick and some feel great.  I have no idea what I'll experience, but I've been given a good list of things to watch for.  The oncologists are not stingy with their drugs either, GOOD!  Chemo patients are kind of the bomb and deserve every bit of help they can get.  I'm wondering if I should move to San Diego for the next six months so I can get me some of those medical marijuana brownies ;)

Thursday was a lot to take in, but I was able to stop by Camera Shy and I couldn't believe it- my staff is amazing!  They have really done such a great job.  I don't know how many bosses could just up and leave for 4 weeks and have their entire staff come together and make it their own.  I love them to pieces, they are like my best friends and it's hard being away from them.  Love you girls!

Right now I'm working on absorption.  I'm really trying to find a place for all of this in my head- sometimes I find myself getting upset and sad.  I just keep telling myself that      •THIS will not define me!       •THIS will not be my life!       •And THIS won't beat me!


PS- PLEASE share my blog with all of my friends, family and neighbors.  I'd really like everyone to read what's happening from me.  I'll keep everyone up to date on everything as I feel like sharing.  My poor kids are having a really hard time escaping the question "how is your mom"?  Mom is fine :) Please help me with the difficult challenge of keeping life "normal" for them.  I know everyone means well, but I want them to be able to escape this as much as possible.  Hugs and "how are you" are great.  Thanks a million!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A lesson from ME!

The most frustrating thing for me is the fact that I’m 35 years young and I have stage 3 colon cancer.  Never would I have ever thought I should be screened before the age of 50 like you see being advertised on television and on billboards.  I knew the rule- GET A COLONOSCOPY AT AGE 50!  Where is the awareness for people like me?  People who still have young children at home who need their parents raising them. 
I guess instead of being mad about it I can take this anger and channel it into something positive.  I’m going to teach you the signs of colon cancer :)
When I found out that the problem I had was inside my colon I was a bit embarrassed about it.  Who wants to talk about their bum issues to doctors over and over again?  Not me!  I especially felt silly telling family and friends- something must be very wrong with me to have colon cancer at age 35.  This is how I felt last month.  Now I feel a bit more knowledgeable about it, enough to understand that this isn’t something that I did wrong.   

Here is a list of the most common warning signs of Colon Cancer:
  • Pain in the lower abdominal area
  • Abdominal mass or hardness in the abdomen
  • Change in the consistency of stool for more than a couple of weeks
  • Diarrhea lasting more than several days
  • Significant change in bowel habits including diarrhea or constipation   
  • Chronic colon problems with bowel movements which would include abdominal pain during bowel movement
  • Obstruction of bowel movements
  • Narrow stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain or discomfort, such as cramps, gas pain
  • A feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Iron deficiency anemia (may indicate bleeding in the colon)
  • Depression from anemia
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool   
  • Significant and or unexplained weight loss
Out of all of these signs I have to admit that I had at least 8 of them.  One of the signs was actually dismissed by a doctor I had 5 years ago.  Here’s a great interview that they did with my surgeon, Dr. Tae Kim, in February
Colon cancer is some pretty serious stuff that should never be taken lightly.  Most people don’t even recognize the signs until it is too late and the signs are severe enough to seek medical help.  I hear this a lot, but I’m here to tell you that I DID have early signs and I DID notice them, but I didn’t notice them and think that I needed a colonoscopy.  Why?  Because I’m not 50!  

I feel that the awareness for colon cancer is a bit  misleading, but I can’t sit and place blame somewhere else.  Only I know my body and I know from now on I’ll be paying a lot more attention to my health and any unusual signs.  I hope that anyone reading this will as well. 
All of this stuff that I get to go through actually has some happiness in it.  I can tell you that today I feel better then I have felt in almost a year.  I was very anemic and being so anemic was a normal way of life for me.  I really felt horrible a lot of the time and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around.  Today I feel great!  And...... I’ll be leaving the hospital this morning.  I have my first appointment with my cancer specialist this afternoon and I’m super excited, anxious, and nervous to finally get to hear how this whole chemo thing is going to work for me.
PLEASE get a colonoscopy if you are 50 or older!  PLEASE meet with your doctor if you are not and you have ANY of the signs listed above!  Don’t avoid having this conversation with your doctor, you could be saving your life.  
Thanks for listening to me while I was on my soapbox, I’ll get off now :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First off I want to thank everyone for all their prayers, well wishes, texts, FB messages, visits, etc.  I read everything that is sent to me and listen to every voicemail.  It feels really good to know that so many people love and care about me and my family.  Thank you!

Last week was pretty eventful.  I was released from the hospital with a picc line for IV nutrition and home health coming in.  I was on clear liquids only, but was being given 2000 calories from a bag into my picc line that had to run for 18 hours a day.  Receiving the picc line was a horrible experience, but it meant I was going home so I was brave... kinda.

Home and anniversary 
The first few days of being home was nice.  Brandon and I had our 17th wedding anniversary on the 12th, he bought me a new iPhone and I think we had ice cream :)  I seriously can't believe we have been married for 17 years, I feel like the luckiest girl to have such a great husband.  I know that Brandon has a lot on his mind right now as he's trying to understand all my conditions and treatments and still be a father to 5 children AND make sure Camera Shy is keeping things up to my standards.  He does all of this and still finds days that he can spend the entire day with me at the hospital.  Love you Bran- I'm sorry this is happening, but thank you for everything.  

On Wednesday I started having a pain in my stomach that wasn't something I had ever felt before.  The pain was then followed with a fever and chills.  I called the doctor and he figured the pain was from the surgery and he worried the fever and chills was from a blood clot by my picc line.  I went in and and had an ultrasound done on my arm and sure enough I had a blood clot in my upper arm (smart doctor).  He sent me home and began treating me with blood thinners.  I had a bunch of blood drawn and the next day found out that my blood was showing that I might have an infection.  The end of the week Brandon and I spent the majority of our time going back and forth from the hospital, meeting with the doctor, and having blood drawn.  

Sunday came around and I was feeling pretty sick and I was maxed out on my Tylenol.  Suzy and Kelly came to my house and drove me to LDS ER and I was prepped for a CT scan.  Luckily my doctor was on call that night and was able to give orders to the ER doctor.  My scan came back showing that I had a blood clot near my surgery site.  I was then admitted back into the hospital and now I sit here trying to get rid of these blood clots.  My dreadful picc line was removed from my arm last week because my doctor thought maybe I had an infection from it- I was soooo excited when the nurse showed up at my house to take it out.  I swore up and down that I would never get another picc line ever again....  I got my second picc line the day I was re-admitted.  ERGH!  This line was a lot easier to have put in, I'm thinking the request for Valium was a good idea.  I just gave my doctor the death stare- I'm sure I'm super scary :)

So now I'm just waiting here at the hospital trying to get my blood levels stable.  I may have to get another blood transfusion,  but we'll see.  The doctor doesn't want to send me home on IV nutrition this time so I need to eat before I can leave.  I'm not much of a food person lately ( I wonder why ) but I'm willing to do anything to get the heck out of here.  On the plus side- the doctors and nurses have all been wonderful.  Everyone here remembers my name and apparently I'm an easy patient to care for :)  I'm sure I'm going to make a lot of new friends on this journey to wellness.  

Thank you everyone!  I love you all!  I hope you enjoy my pictures :)
My view 
We're cute :)
This is a picc line- not scary at all.  Ha!
You know you're jealous of my
breakfast, lunch, and dinner
I'm out of my mind bored!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Finally!  The news we have been waiting for!  We got our pathology report back!  They diagnosed me with stage 3 colon cancer, but my surgeon informed me that they were able to get all the cancer out of me.  I will have to start a pretty aggressive chemo treatment as soon as I'm healed up from the surgery.  Bring it!!!

While the doctor was in surgery he ended up having to remove 2/3 of my colon and then he removed a bunch of lymph nodes.  He actually found a lymph node that didn't look good at all and while removing it he had to actually shave it from my pancreas.  This lymph node was later categorized as pure cancer.  The cancer had taken over the entire thing and it was no longer considered a lymph node.

I feel so lucky to have such great medical care on my side and I feel very confident in all that they are doing for me.

The pancreas problem ended up extending my stay until about the 5th :(  BORING!  I have not been feeling the best until today.  I'm finally eating food!  I wasn't sure how much longer I could stand to have sips of water and ice chips.

Tomorrow they will move me to solid foods and if I handle it ok they will let me go home on Thursday.

I'm super tired right now so that is all I'm going to add for tonight.  If things sound weird just remember that I was on drugs when I typed this up ;)