Monday, October 25, 2010

I love October!!! November, however...

October is my favorite month - hockey and basketball are underway, football is almost halfway through, the world series has begun and Kelsey's fall league softball games are played in beautiful weather with the gorgeous fall colors surrounding our mountains! It is also breast cancer awareness month. I personally am getting a little sick of the color pink this month but am thrilled that cancer awareness is everywhere.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of the ladies from our church came over to our house bearing a gift - they had sewn a beautiful pink and black quilt, with quotes of inspiration on various squares throughout the front of the quilt. They asked if I would please give it to someone they thought would benefit from the comfort it could offer, made with love. I happily accepted it knowing how much comfort our friend Lisa found in the prayer blanket made by Nick's aunt and the prayer blanket and quilt Nick received, also from his aunt and from family friends.

Today we were inspired to meet a new friend, Joann, who is also undergoing treatment at Huntsman. Our nurse, Katie, introduced us and as we handed Joann the quilt, tears streamed in surprise and thankfulness. I admitted I had nothing to do with making the quilt, I can barely sew on a button - I was just the happy messenger. It was a good day for all of us.

Nick, meanwhile, went through two types of chemo all of last week - one in pill form, the other by iv in the outpatient clinic. This week he is only one one - the iv - again daily through Friday. He seems to be doing very well, just fatigued. Next week on Nov 3rd, he will have a ct scan of his abdomen, mri of his head and neck and finish with a chest x-ray. The following week on Nov 10th, we will meet with Dr. Andtabacka to discuss the results and all the details of the surgery in Boston (he is the Huntsman surgeon coordinating with the other surgeon at UMass). We have a lot of questions.

On Monday, Nov 15th, Nick will have a laproscopy to see what an actual camera can pick up in that tummy of his... if the cancer hasn't gone crazy, we will head to Boston the next day or so. We should have an idea when we have the results from Nov 3rd so we'll have a little time to make some tentative travel arrangements.

This is why I'm not too crazy about November this year. The good thing is that Nick gets to take a break from chemo for awhile. Hopefully, we hope to be back home before Thanksgiving, take off to Newport Beach for some much needed r & r the week after and then Nick has plans to go to Vegas the first week in December for the national rodeo finals.

That's it for now! Thank you all for the love and prayers!


Monday, October 18, 2010

In the streets of Philadelphia

Nick here...

So as many of you know... I like to have things to look forward to after every round of chemo to help me stay positive and remind myself why I keep fighting cancer. Its because of the wonderful moments in life that that put a smile on your face.... at least thats what it is for me.

Anyways, during my previous round of chemo I realized that I didn't have anything planned for my good week which was this past week. I soon started to look up the Pittsburgh Penguins game schedule online and saw that they were playing the Philadelphia Flyers on the 16th, and I knew that my Mom and Lee have some connections out in Philadelphia. One is Michael Rouse and he has always been extremely nice to my family and I, as well as help out with Wacky Warriors when we came out to Philly last year and ran the Broad St Run. The other is Matt Rosenberg, who is also a great guy and friend of Lee's.

Soon after planting the seed in their heads that I wanted to go out and see my favorite professional sports team play out in Philly, I heard from a close friend of mine that they had arranged for a chance to ride a BULL if I still wanted to do it (it is something I have wanted to do for a while). I told them I sure did and wanted them to do it as well (4 of them). Unfortunately those plans fell through at the last minute, but it seems this was a good thing because my platelets were pretty low (I found this out the day after the scheduled bull ride).

Even though the bull ride didn't happen, my family and I did make it out to Philly to see the game. Lee, Mom, Kelsey, Carly and I all flew out Thursday night excited to see a good game of pro hockey on Saturday night. Matt made hotel arrangements and also provided us with tickets to the hockey game - CLUB SUITE!

Tour bus - notice Carly & Nick in the background...

In front of the Ben Franklin Museum Kelsey & Nick in a cockpit
We spent Friday doing bus tours and seeing the city which is full of history just like Boston. We then finished off the day at dinner with Michael. Did I say he is a great guy? We then woke up Saturday and were off to visit the Benjamin Franklin Museum, but not before we had a Philly Cheesesteak. The museum had a flight simulator, which I had to do. Carly decided to be my co-pilot which she found to be a little more than she expected. Everyone outside the simulator could here Carly's screams and my laughs but it was all smiles when the doors opened back up. People were laughing when we came out..... it was great.


And after...We then took off for the hockey game........ which was amazing. Why, you may ask? Well let me tell you:

1. The Penguins won 5-1
2. My favorite player had 3 pts (2 goals 1 assist)
3. I got to go in the Flyers locker room after the game. Now about #3..... I found out the night before from Michael that I would get to go in the locker room after the game. So I made sure I didn't wear Penguins clothing to the game. Anyways, just before the end of the game, the PR guy (Zack) for the Flyers grabbed us and took us to the locker room. My sisters and Mom never made it in till after the players had left due to a good chance of nudity... HA. However Lee and I did go and it was very easy to see the loss in all the players faces. They weren't happy at all. I was able to witness how the post game interviews work with all the press and journalists with the players. Chris Pronger (a soon to be Hall of Famer) had his interview last because he had to ice his knees. I was told that I would get to meet him, but expected it would happen after the interview. Oh no.... not with Pronger.

Pronger: He simply told the reporters to "MOVE" as he walked over to me and shook my hand. At 6'6" and 220 lbs, he towered over me. I honestly don't remember the words he said to me.... probably due to his intimidation factor (he is also known as one of the most "aggressive" players in the league) but he was a super nice guy and even took a couple pictures with me before talking to the press, which he called "vultures". He then waved and said "good luck" and was off to ice his knees some more I assume. Soon after, I took pictures with another player on the Flyers due to his ironic name.... Kimmo (Chemo) Timonen. He was a nice guy, too, but didn't say much. It was a great experience and I definitely won't forget it.... especially Pronger. Thank you, Lee, Michael & Matt for making this happen!

Hope you like the pictures!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A few things

Last Tuesday, we received an email from our nurse, Katie, saying they received confirmation the surgeon in Boston has agreed to take Nick and perform surgery - the one where she will open up his tummy and apply chemo directly to his abdomen. Katie wanted to know if she could set up an appointment with the surgeon at Huntsman who is coordinating the surgery with the surgeon in Boston. He would explain all the details. But first, Nick would have to have a laproscopy, where they place a camera right in his tummy to take a peek at exactly what is in there. They would want to do that once he has completed his next upcoming round of chemo (two week treatment) starting on the 18th. This was much for us to take in. I forwarded on to Nick so he could decide if he wanted to go further (I, at least, wanted to get the details first before making a decision). Nick declined to discuss it, saying he'll think about it later.

By Thursday, we were up at Huntsman getting labs done. He asked to talk to Katie. I reminded him he doesn't have to do any treatment/surgery, especially when this is all experimental anyway. We told Katie we thought surgery was only an option if the chemo wasn't working, but she explained it was an option they were all waiting for - a very hopeful and preferred treatment. She also explained Nick will have to have a laproscopy, regardless if he has surgrey or not, probably another CT scan, too. Nick thought about it and said, "Well, I really like Boston..." so she'll go ahead and get some appointments set up so we can get all the information on the table and see if it is something he wants to pursue. If he decides to go with it, he could have surgery next month.

On Friday, Katie called to let know his white cell counts were at zero again, to which he promptly packed his bags, took off to his dads for the night and then drove to Wyoming to visit his best friend, Rob, and Rob's family. Well, just know where the closest hospital is and take a thermometer, I advise. Rob has a new baby, Paxton Nicholas, who is about 6 months old, bursting with cuteness. Rob also took Nick fishing and yes, after 21 years, Nick finally caught his first fish on his very own merit. It was a proud, manly moment.

Yesterday, Nick and I drove to go get labs done again and he played me his new theme song, by Rebelution - "Bright Side" (you can listen if you go to: Here are the lyrics...

Don’t trip you know I’m always by your side
You'll be fine for the ride just be calm
Take a breath and don't cry, look on the bright side

Rise up now make an impact
Now get your bags packed
Think about your life, the thrill
Don't you cry look on the bright side of life

Somebody told me everything is alright
That life's too short to be afraid
Which is leading up to what I want to say
Living should be giving in a way
Contemplating every single day
And learning so we educate and be positive, it is what it is
Come and set examples for the kids
I don't want to scare you no I don't
It's time you be a role model so open up

Don’t trip you know I’m always by your side
You'll be fine for the ride just be calm
Take a breath and don't cry, look on the bright side

Rise up now make an impact
Now get your bags packed
Think about your life, the thrill
Don't you cry look on the bright side

Be kind and keep a smile
Keep your head up and try to find a friend or a child
And encourage their life, look on the bright side

Rise up now make an impact
Now get your bags packed
Think about your life, the thrill
Don't you cry look on the bright side of life

Well done, Nick. Our family takes off on Thursday to Philadelphia to see the Flyers vs. Penguins game. We are all excited for the trip! We get home on Sunday and Nick will be back at Huntsman on Monday for chemo. Til then, we'll all look on the bright side of life!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Round Done!

The fishing and steer roping Nick experienced prior to last week's chemo helped him sail through feeling pretty good. Nick had two different chemos every day for 5 days last week; in the outpatient clinic from 8:00 to 12:00 daily. He had a lot of company - his fairy godmothers, Dean, Uncle Bill and Andrew. The fairy godmothers were in fine form, wearing stove top hats with smiley faces on them, matching Nick's pj bottoms. It is so cute to watch everyone in the outpatient clinic - patients, nurses, caregivers - all can't help but smile, too. The fairy godmothers really are magical.Nick felt good enough to go watch his buddies play on the Univ of Utah hockey team both Friday and Saturday night,earning two wins!

Nick invited us to watch a documentary on ESPN last night - about an amazing young man named Terry Fox, who ran across Canada to raise money for cancer. It was inspiring and emotional for us. Terry's pace was a marathon a day - all while running on one healthy leg and one prosthesis, losing his other leg to cancer. Terry pressed on as he knew it wasn't about him, it was about all of the young ones with cancer. His vision carried him through 3,300 miles in 143 days; his foundation has raised over $500 million.

I am always in awe when we have the courage to step outside our own situation and serve, how powerful our impact becomes, just as God promised. Nick has also been motivated to serve and his impact is starting to be felt. At Kelsey's softball game on Saturday, the commissioner of the ASA for our district saw me and said, "You are creating some problems for me." Why? "Because you don't have just a small tournament with a few teams getting together for charity anymore. You hosted a full-on tournament with a great reputation that should be on our calendar every year and we won't be able to waive the sanctioning fees anymore." I grinned from ear to ear - "Jerry, that is a terrific problem!!!!!"

On a more serious note, I should also take a moment to clarify a couple of things. First of all, we don't discuss prognosis because Nick hasn't initiated it. This isn't our question to ask, this is Nick's alone, although we are all going through this together. He has never been one to dwell on statistics and focuses only on living. He has weathered some interesting comments made to him about his prognosis and it made him uncomfortable. He said, "Mom, I know what the deal is, but I'm in for the fight and plan on being around for a long time." I'm with him 100%! I told him that the time he has here on earth is ONLY between him and God, we are just here to support his journey, to pray, to learn, to share, to love. There is tremendous power in living in the present. I have observed many, many children and young adults go through their battle with cancer and they ALL are in the here-and-now - let's go play! Their attitudes and perspectives are so different than adults, as it should be.

Secondly, we appreciate the enormous amount of suggestions for alternative treatments. We also respect Nick's opinion and allow him to discern what sounds right intuitively. There are so many treatments, both mainstream and complimentary, that are showing amazing promise. We all wish these new studies would HURRY! I personally acknowledge Nick's own therapy - giving back, embracing a grateful and positive attitude and always having something to look forward to...

Speaking of, we are now booked to go to Philly next Thursday through Sunday so we can enjoy the Penguins vs. Flyers game. We know Nick will be feeling good and it'll be something we'll all enjoy before he begins chemo again on the 18th.

With humble gratitude,