June 2017

She beat it again!

Written on Thursday, June 8th @ 9:50am

Our hearts are filled with joy. She is a miracle. She has beaten the odds. And I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and your positive thoughts. Your stories that you have shared, the cards you have sent and the gifts you have given…We are blessed.

One of the snap chats I got!  Look at these two...

One of the snap chats I got! Look at these two…

My morning started out beautifully, the weather is just perfect, the sun is beaming and I am receiving snap chat’s from Crystal. She is really not a morning person so I am thinking she is liking the late afternoon appointments the last two days. She is smiling, she is scared but she has a plan in her mind for good news and bad news.

The ride to Mayo is nice and with the weather being gorgeous, it makes the ride even better. To top it off, I thought I was going alone but Rod found way to break away.

My mom had sent me a text earlier that morning wishing safe travels, saying her prayers, she also reminded me that her mother has been gone for 38 long years ago today. When we learned about Crystal’s appointments and the dates. Knowing she was getting her news on this day, we felt it was a sign. We felt my grandmother was going to be our angel for the day and for all of us. I miss her too mom.

I was 9 years old when my grandmother passed. I kept reliving that day, that night as I drove to Mayo. I tried listening to the music and choreographing like usual but that wasn’t working. Then I would start thinking about Crystal and the news, good or bad. How we will handle it, which thinking about it made me sick so then I thought maybe I should chat with God and do some thanking. Ask for prayers for not only Crystal and my family but others that I know need them. But I found my mind wondering back to my grandmother again.

Our day....

Our day….

Now that I am older, I look at that day so different. I remember her putting on a black coat and never thought anything about it until now I think, wow it was June, was she cold? Wait she had her pajamas on, maybe that is why, just to cover up her pj’s. It was my brother and me home with her until my aunt came home from a softball game. I can still hear my aunt screaming when my grandmother collapsed in front of us. It took me years to get over her not being here anymore but there is one thing I do know. If I could visit with anyone today, it would be her. I know she is the reason I dance today. I know she is the one that has guided me.

As we arrive to Rochester, Crystal and Gage are full of smiles, they have found a place to eat. Which was amazing! And Courtney would love the decor! It was a Mexican restaurant “hefe rojo”. After that we walked to the Mayo building. I could already feel my heart racing but Gage is so funny, which really does help things go by. Gage is our entertainment. Rod, he is so quiet. Crystal and I, we keep smiling.

Sitting on that floor, I was wishing I had not eaten lunch. My tummy was starting to hurt, my heart was racing and I just wanted to know the news now.

Time to enjoy the evening...

Time to enjoy the evening…

Going back to the room and waiting again for her doctor is a long wait. We walked right into this little room just like always. Crystal sits, Gage then sits, I sit and then Rod. I was even thinking the last time I was not here and it was hard to wait but I had two friends pampering me as I waited which was nice. Hmmmmm I guess both ways is hard. Then you hear those footsteps and the door handle begins to move…it’s time.

This tall skinny doctor with his glasses on walks in the room. Smiling, happy to see Crystal, asking about her vacations, asking her about dancing and as I stared at him, I was thinking gosh could I tell if it was back or not in his eyes. He is one of her teams doctors and I have met him before. He is personable, nice looking and is just a surprised about her news as we are.

There are two spots in her liver that have not changed. They feel they are scars basically but they continue to watch them. Other than that they found no evidence of cancer.

I can’t even describe how I feel. It is such a relief. And then I hear Crystal’s words. “Mom, I really thought it was back. I guess I just thought things were so good and I know the odds are against me”. I hugged her so tight! She will be going back in September. Crystal gets to enjoy her summer being a Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Survivor!

Now let’s video your sisters since they are working to tell them the news. By the way, we did post the short clip but it is on Facebook even though it was only suppose to be for her sisters. And just so you know, I did not care for that video of me. My daughter loved it and said, “Mom, get some confidence, you look fine and I look cute! I just beat cancer, post it so everyone knows the news.” Gotta love the younger generation they keep you on your toes.

I thought I would post some facts about Pancreatic Cancer so you can see how crazy it is that she is beating the odds.

Pancreatic Cancer Facts
• In 2017 an estimated 53,670 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and over 43,090 will die from pancreatic cancer.
• Pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States surpassing breast cancer. It is expected to become the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in the US by the year 2020, surpassing colorectal cancer.
• Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years.
• Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 91% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 9% will survive more than five years. 74% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.
• Few risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer are defined. The risk for cigarette smokers is nearly twice that for those who have never smoked. Family history of pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis, alcohol use, obesity and diabetes are risk factors. Individuals with Lynch syndrome and certain other genetic syndromes, as well as BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, are also at increased risk.
• Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague symptoms that could indicate many different conditions within the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include pain (usually abdominal or back pain), weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and diabetes.
• Treatment options for pancreatic cancer: Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are treatment options that extend survival or relieve symptoms, but seldom produce a cure. Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in less than 20% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer because detection is often in late stages and has spread beyond the pancreas. Adjuvant treatment with chemotherapy (and sometimes radiation) may lower the risk of recurrence. For advanced disease, chemotherapy (sometimes along with a targeted therapy drug) may lengthen survival. Clinical trials are testing several new agents for their ability to improve survival.
• Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death largely because there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible.
*Source for statistics: American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2017

Looking for some prayers and positive thoughts…

Written on Tuesday, June 6th @ 11:30am

The weather is absolutely beautiful here in Iowa. As I sip my coffee and have Calvin laying on my lap, I prepare mentally for the next two days.

Vegas! And my dear friend Joe surprised Crystal for her birthday & me Mother's Day with a Meet & Greet with Britney Spears!

Vegas! And my dear friend Joe surprised Crystal for her birthday & me for Mother’s Day with a Meet & Greet with Britney Spears!

Crystal and Gage are off to Mayo. She begins her tests this late afternoon. We will know her results by late afternoon tomorrow, the 7th.

The biggest question I have had lately is, are you going this time? So funny, I have not asked and she knows I will go at the drop of a hat. Crystal had me over to her home for lunch last Friday. She asked if I would come to the doctor’s meeting when she gets the results. I think my eyes were huge, I smiled and said Yes. Yes. So, I will be driving to Rochester tomorrow for lunch and her appointment with the doctor’s, Crystal and Gage.

Crystal has had a busy May. She turned 25, she traveled to Vegas, she traveled to California. She looks beautiful, relaxed and of course smiling. Now does she worry about the cancer coming back? Yes. Is it in the back of her mind? Yes, at all times. I believe it is in the back of everyone’s minds, we just don’t say it.

Crystal & Gage with their good friends getting ready for the two week adventure!

Crystal & Gage with their good friends getting ready for the two week adventure!

At lunch we talked about many things. We talked about all of her blessings. We talked about her vacations. How lucky to be surrounded by a confident team of women in Vegas and then turn around and see God’s creations in Yosemite. I was telling Crystal that I needed to write an update and if there was anything she would like to say or write. She thought for a second and said, “Well, everyone is saying I look good. Lot’s of people are asking me how I am feeling. And as I tell them, Thank You and I am really feeling great. I think to myself. I always feel great. Except for the first time. And of course when I am on chemo or have had a surgery. But every time it has come back, I have always felt great. I believe that is why it is called the Silent Killer.”

It made me sad to hear her say that. I guess the truth sometimes hurts.

As for me, I have prayed, I have been thankful, I have asked for guidance. And I have begged to let us have a summer with our kids grown, no schooling, no activities, no wedding planning, just us living life. No cancer, no chemo, no procedures just us living life. But when I say, I realize that is what we are doing, living life. And living life is not always blissful and worry free, it is how we personally look at our own life stories.

As for Crystal’s sisters. Courtney is loving where she works. She is a darling dental assistant. She has moved into a townhouse with her boyfriend and his brother. Three’s Company. When we were in Vegas with the dance team and ready to come home, Courtney said, “I am ready to come home because I love my life in Iowa”. I can’t tell you how happy it was to hear that, it made me smile and think about myself. So, the sad thing is when I am on vacation… I never want to come home so what the heck does that mean? Oh wait, yea I have bills, three children, one fighting cancer, and marriage… yea that is work. So reality sometimes doesn’t look so much fun to come back to. lol

As for her little sister Cassidy, she has bought her 1st home on her own. It is amazing. That was something she really wanted to do, so she did it. She is very fortunate that she loves her job. Plus she has been working and saving since her senior year in high school. She never enjoyed school, she even tried Kirkwood but it was not for her. It is amazing how people can judge, even your own peers when you are not doing what society thinks you should be doing but like I tell her…just wait and see how their lives turn out when they are 50 years old.

National Cancer Survivor Day was Sunday, June 4th! We did celebrate, we will continue to fight and raise awareness. We will remember that life is a gift and we need to continue to live it.

Thank you for the love you give my family…

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