Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008: "Normal"

I know it's been a while since we've updated but to be honest, we didn't really have much to report. That's a good sign though - we're normal! Nothing out of the ordinary happening. I did go for bloodwork on Monday and talked to my nurse today and my levels were good.

I'm really enjoying this time of things being back to normal. It's been six weeks since my surgery so my lifting restrictions are gone too. I was on the floor with Emily playing airplane the other day and it was so much fun! I feel like I'm a real part of their lives again, not just a limited part.

Please keep Brian in your prayers as he is still struggling with his CPAP machine. It was going well for a few nights but last night he had problems again. He also isn't feeling like it is helping him with his energy levels. Thanks.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008: Do You Like Snow?

We thought we would post some pictures of all the snow for our warm weather family and friends. This past week over a foot of snow fell. The kids had 2 snow days last week. Here are some pictures:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008: Quiet Weekend

Not much to update tonight. We are doing good here. Emily came down with a cold yesterday but is doing pretty good considering. We don't have any plans this weekend and are enjoying the quietness. Speaking of quiet, it's time for me to go to bed. Good night!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008: Happy Anniversary?

January 23, 2007 is the day that changed our lives forever. It's a day that we will always remember. I suppose you could call it an anniversary, but I like to think of anniversaries as days you celebrate. This isn't a day we wish to celebrate. I went back and read the e-mail I sent out right after Kristi was diagnosed. Then I went on to re-read most of the blog. It's hard to believe it's been one year. I'm struggling with the fact that she still has cancer. One year later and she still has cancer. All those surgeries and she still has cancer. Over a dozen doses of chemo and she still has cancer. All that nausea and she still has cancer. All that suffering and she still has cancer. All that praying and she still has cancer. I'm struggling with what we studied Sunday night. This book said "answers to prayer are the result of the confidence with which we ask, not how hard we ask." I think the author made a gross error in this statement. Where is God's will in that statement? Actually, I find that statement insulting. That statement has had me down for a couple days. Am I a 'wimpy' prayer?! I don't think so. I'd like that author to meet some of you...Kristi's prayer warriors. I'm not sure about you, but I've been struggling with how to pray. Who am I to ask God to change His will, whatever it is. I don't know what God's plans are; who am I to ask God to change His plans?!

It's been one year. What a year. I think another reason I'm a little down is because Monday night brought back memories of 2007. I thought we were past this. Apparently we're not. It was like I got clobbered over the head with a 2 x 4. Apparently the chemo fatigue and the nausea will still be around. Maybe I was just being naive.

Well, on the bright side this next year can't be as bad as this past year...can it?! I don't think so. We have made a lot of tentative plans for this year. We have some making up to do. This year will be a year of building family memories. We look forward to: Double J Ranch in 2 weeks, a weekend at Holiday Inn in March, hopefully a family mission trip with our small group to somewhere warm (Georgia?) for Spring Break, the Grand Canyon with Kristi's sister and husband in May/June, maybe Disney this summer (June/July) with our family, and since this Spring will be our 15th wedding anniversary (yikes!!!) we talked about possibly a cruise in the fall. That's what we look forward to this year. We're hoping the cancer doesn't interfere with these plans.

As far as Kristi goes, she is doing much better. The wave of nausea has passed. She is as beautiful as ever. Thanks for supporting us for the past year!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008: Heavin'

Kristi was doing so good. Yesterday she started getting a bit nauseous and this afternoon starting about 5:00 Kristi started dry heaving. The way this chemo works is it will stay in her system for 2 - 3 weeks - it's more of a continuous release type of chemo. All of her other chemo's up to this point have been faster acting, but after about a week the chemo was out of her system. Not the case with this chemo. Please pray that this wave of nausea will pass quickly. She was feeling so good I hate to see her this way brings back memories of last summer. It's also hard for the kids to see her this way again because we told the kids that mommy was almost all better. So when they see her like this they worry. Thanks for the prayers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008: Count Your Blessings

Remember the old hymn . . . .

Count your blessings, count them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done. (I may be a bit off on the words but this is what I remember from years back).

This song was running through my head today and it started me thinking . . .

I have a warm house in this freezing weather. I have a reliable car (with a heater!) to bring me to church. I have a church home that I can freely go to. I have an abundance of food in the house (which has in great part been provided by friends and family). We are all in good health. I have three weeks of "normal" before my next chemo treatment. I have a soft cat who will curl up in my lap and purr simply because she loves me. I have a fire in the fireplace right now that looks, sounds, smells and feels wonderful! I have a loving family who supports me. I have the best husband of ever! I have the most adorable children who listen to me all the time (okay, they're adorable anyway). I have friends that will go out of their way to help me. I am a part of the best small group ever! I have doctors that I trust. I have a computer that I can update my family with, stay in touch with friends and Google just about anything I need to know! I have so much more than I need or want. Mostly though, I have God who is all I will ever need. And He forgives me when I mess up and mix up my "needs" and "wants" and when I look to other things than Him to fill them.

Count your blessings . . . and you will be blessed.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008: Baby It's Cold Outside!

Brrrrr! I can't believe how cold it is! Despite this crazy weather, Brian and I braved it out for a date tonight. We went to dinner and did some shopping. I stayed in the car for a lot of the stores while Brian went in. I'm feeling a bit nauseous today (I think from the chemo) and with that and the biting cold, it was just easier to stay in the warm van. I think this was our first date since before surgery and it was so nice to get out.

I didn't seem to get hit too hard with side effects this round. I had a sore throat, stomach ache, headache during the week and nausea that started today. It's hard to say if it's chemo related or just a bug. I'm tired quite a bit too which is frustrating. Overall though I'm thankful that we've made it this far.

Some prayer requests:

*That the chemo will kill the cancer and not cause damage to anything else

*Continued good health for the family

*Brian is sleeping better at night and has been running again - pray that he will have the willpower to keep that up. He is quite tired because he is so busy with work and doing many things around the house that I am not able to do yet. Please say a prayer for extra patience for him.

*Lori & Eric and kids are beginning their second week in Florida. They are having a great time. They've posted a lot of pictures on their blog which is and then click on the "text blog"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008: Time Flies

Where has this week gone? I can't believe it's almost Thursday. Things are going well. I'm a little bit tired and have a sore throat but other than that doing fine. Sorry this is such a short update! I was heading up to bed and realized we didn't post anything last night. So in a nutshell, life is good!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008: Listening

What a long day! This morning I started out by reading my morning devotion from Joyce Meyers' book Starting Your Day Right. (It's a great book that I highly recommend). She has a short devotion for every day and it's so easy to just read that little bit before I even get out of bed. In those paragraphs my mindset is changed from "I just want to sleep more" to "I wonder what God has in store for me today".

This morning was about not just spending time in God's word but also listening for Him afterwards. As I got out of bed I had the words go through my mind "help is on the way" which I know is from a song but I don't remember which one. I could hear those lyrics go over and over in my mind. Then on the way to chemo the song There's A Light at the End of the Tunnel was on. Both of those hit me because I was tuned into listening to God. It was so encouraging.

Unfortunately, as I spent the day at chemo I stopped listening and started noticing how behind they were at the clinic. They started a new registration process today and had three patients show up that were not on the schedule. After the chemo was finally started I started feeling a bit nauseous. The smells that go with the chemo tend to make me feel sick and the thought of these chemicals running through me tends to overwhelm me at times. So, I became quiet and a bit down and frustrated again.

As I look back at the day I can see when I stopped listening for God. So, my prayer request tonight is that I will stay focused all day long on what God has to say. When we are in His presence and tuned in then life just makes more sense. It won't be any easier but it will be easier to handle.

On another note, this chemo has some strange side effects. Most of them are skin irritations and sores which are most common on the palms of my hands and bottom of the feet but all the skin is susceptible. For the day before and 3-5 days after chemo I have to be careful. I can't take hot showers or have contact with hot water or drink hot beverages. I also have to try to avoid pressure on my skin which means loose clothes and shoes, no chopping hard vegetables with a knife (because of the pressure on my hands), no standing or kneeling for long periods of time on hard floor. Also, no eating hard foods or hot foods. I also have to ice my hands and feet a couple times a day - brrrrrr! All this is supposed to help prevent the side effects from coming.

Speaking of side effects, I just noticed some red spots appearing on my hands. I just also thought that typing is putting pressure on my finger tips . . . .ugh! The limitations! I think this will be easier than the nausea and fatigues though. Definitely.

Well, now that I've just written a book, I'm going to ice my hands and get to bed. Thank you for your prayers for us!

Monday, January 14, 2008: The Results Are In

Kristi's CA125 level is 62. We weren't surprised by this nor's pretty much right where we were thinking it would be. Kristi will update the blog again later. Thanks again for supporting us in this journey!

Monday, January 14, 2008: Another Blog Make-over

We thought with the new year and the successful surgery in December that we would start with a new blog look this year. It's a new year, therefore, a new beginning. This new blog template looks much more like Spring. With Spring comes new life, new hope. So, it's appropriate that our blog looks like Spring flowers and grass. My posts will be in this greenish color and Kristi's will be the reddish-pink color.

No news on the CA125 count yet, hopefully by the time we're done we'll have it. They are running waaaaay behind at the chemo clinic today. But, one bonus is that they now have wireless internet at the clinic. We're just sitting here (well, Kristi's lying) waiting for the "OK" from Kristi's oncologist to begin chemo.

Kristi says hi. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008: The Countdown Begins Again

Well, tomorrow we start chemo again. Kristi's last CA125 level was 45. Her oncologist indicated that it will have gone up since the last check...he just didn't give us an indication whether it would go up by 5, 10, 50 or 200, so we have no idea what to expect tomorrow. But whatever the case, the CA125 countdown begins again.

Remember, we need her CA125 level to be 35 or below - so that's what we'll start tracking once again. Each time we go in for chemo they will check it - so once a month. Please pray for Kristi tomorrow as we have no idea what to expect with this new chemo. Also pray that no matter what her new CA125 level is that we won't be too disappointed. Like I said, we have no idea what it will be and for how long she will have to do chemo again. Towards the end of last year she was really getting quite tired of the chemo please pray that she will have the strength to endure an unknown number of rounds of chemo.

Also, as a reminder, we no longer have the prayer pager. Rich and Mary Elling now have the prayer pager. It works the same way. Whenever you say a prayer for Rich and Mary, call the pager.

Thanks for the prayers and we'll update the blog tomorrow night with her new CA125 level.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2007: Eric's Blog

Many of you have asked about my brother-in-law and wanted me to let them know when his blog is ready . . . . well, it is! If you would like to check it out, the link is It has pictures of him and his family, a bio of the journey that has led him to where they are now and updates. I continue to be amazed at Lori and Eric's strength and know that God will use Eric to help many people. Thank you for your prayers on their behalf.

I continue to make a little progress every day. As Brian said in an earlier post, my "plumbing" is working well. He's such a comedian :) Right now I just struggle with the pain in my incision which is simply the scar tissue and the continued healing. It is getting harder to limit myself as I feel better. I have had many times that I over-do it because I am feeling well and then end up paying for it later.

I'll end with a verse that I came across the other day that was very encouraging to me.

I didn't die. I lived! And now I'm telling the world what God did. God tested me, he pushed me hard, but he didn't hand me over to death. Swing wide the city gates—the righteous gates! I'll walk right through and thank God! Psalm 118:17-19 (from The Message)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008: The Torch Has Been Passed

This past Sunday we had the privilege of passing along the prayer pager to Rich and Mary Elling. I say it is a privilege not because we wanted to get rid of it, but rather that the pager has been such a huge blessing over the past year we wanted to share it with someone else. We have had it for a year and with Rich and Mary just starting down this adventurous path, we just felt the timing was right for us to pass it along. So please, keep paging it. Rich and Mary have started their own care page. It's web address is:

When you pray for the Elling family call the pager (same number 772-0110). Having the pager was one of the few bright spots in some of our darkest days.

And again, thank you for all of the prayers over the past year and calling the pager. It meant a lot to us.

Brian & Kristi

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008: No Plumber Necessary

Since five different people have built up the nerve to ask us we figured there are more people wondering the same thing. So, we thought we'd take a minute and address something that a lot of you are thinking about but don't dare to ask...and well, it's more of a topic a man would talk about so I'll address it versus Kristi:

Kristi's new "plumbing" is working just fine!! :) People are so funny when they ask us. Her system is still trying to figure things out a bit (false alerts), but for the most part she's passed the test. Haha, get it?! "Passed" the test. Wow, sometimes these things just come out of nowhere.

Anyway, like I said, a little frustrating at times, but overall she's pleased with how things are moving along. Oh my, I did it again. I better quit.

Have a great night!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2007: God's Will

Well, the news we received today wasn't what we were hoping for but we know that God's plans are the right plans for us and find comfort in that.

The good news is that the microscopic cancer that was found was only in one spot. They took tons and tons of biopsies and all but one of them were clean. The spot that was found was in my omentum. This is a fatty organ that hangs over the abdominal cavity and I really don't know what purpose it serves, if any. Most of it was removed during my initial surgery last January. There was a small part left (which is not uncommon) and Dr. Downey biopsied it. He said it didn't appear to have any trace of cancer but biopsied it to be safe. Thank goodness he did!

So, I begin chemo again next week Monday. I will be on a new type called Doxil. This chemo will have different side effects than my earlier types. I shouldn't lose my hair (yea!) and the nausea and fatigue should be minimal if at all. The most common side effect is sore hands and feet. They can become red and painful and in some cases have open sores. This typically doesn't happen until the 3rd or 4th round.

I will receive this chemo once a month and it should only take a few hours at the chemo clinic in Grand Rapids. They will check my CA125 level at the first visit and as soon as it is normal (the magic number 35) I will need three rounds of chemo. If my level is normal at the first visit then I'll only need three rounds. He said not to be surprised if the level is elevated at the first appointment as it's not uncommon for that to happen after having surgery.

This morning the title in the devotional book I am reading was called "Rejoice Today". Initially I was quite excited thinking "what a great sign - I'm sure the cancer is gone". As I read further I started thinking that this may not be the case. Here's a paragraph from the middle of the devotion:

David the psalmist talked a lot about mornings, saying "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). David didn't always feel like rejoicing, but he decided to rejoice in God's new day.

I realized that I need to rejoice in today no matter what results we are given. I think reading that helped me deal with the news that the cancer was still there. I'll admit I'm disappointed but I am dealing with it much better than I would have anticipated. So, our journey continues.

Wow, lots of information. I hope it made sense. We had a lot of information given to us this morning and it's still a bit jumbled in my head. Thank you as always for you continued prayers!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2007: Waiting For Results

Well, tomorrow is the big day. We meet with Dr. Downey at 9:45. I haven't been thinking about it much until tonight. Both Brian and I feel in our gut that we will be told that there isn't a trace of cancer to be found. We have to consider the possibility that there is cancer left yet and have talked about that. We have a lot of questions for the doctor tomorrow and hopefully will leave the appointment with answers and a good sense of direction.

Obviously our prayers would be that there is no cancer to be found. I am also praying that we remember, whatever the results, it is God's will. I find comfort knowing that God already knows the answers. He knows the plans he has made for me. I find myself saying that verse over and over in my head a lot.

Lately I have been overwhelmed by these plans though. Brian mentioned in an earlier post that I have been depressed. Prior to cancer I was going through depression - taking medication and talking to a therapist. I find it very odd that I can endure a year of cancer battles and yet something like depression can knock me down. The devil knows that this is a big weakness of mine and that scares me. It scares me quite a bit that the devil considers me a threat!

I have so many weaknesses such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Now that our physical battle seems to be coming to an end I feel like I'm starting an emotional battle. I should have posted this earlier and asked for prayers but instead I found myself hiding in bed and sleeping as much as I can. Brian has been so supportive through this. It's a fine line of laying in bed to recover and laying in bed to escape.

So there it is. It seems so strange baring my soul to so many people but if I'm in for a spiritual warfare battle then I definitely need prayer warriors on my side!

Specifically, I ask for:

*the strength to pull myself out of depression

*the ability to overcome my negative self-talk

*the courage to go where God calls me

*for Brian - extra patience and love (as living with a moody woman recovering from surgery isn't an easy task!)

*Brian is having a lot of trouble sleeping at night and dealing with his CPAP machine

*We continue to pray prayers of thanks for the miraculous news of no visible cancer!

*We are all healthy right now - woohoo!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008: International Day

This is kind of neat so I thought I would share it with you. We can't see 'who' is visiting our blog, but we can tell 'where' people are visiting from. Once in a while I will check just for curiosity's sake where people are visiting from. So I checked today and I thought I would share it with you because it was really cool.

Not only have people visited all over from Florida to California, but people visited our blog today from France, Ontario, Japan, Nigeria, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, and Honduras. Nigeria?! Rio de Janeiro?! The internet is an amazing resource. Today we got an e-mail from a person in Kentucky who found our blog by doing a Google search for "for I know the plans I have for you…Jeremiah 29:11". She sent a very cool e-mail. Amazing!

Kristi is getting pretty depressed. Depressed for many reasons. Please pray that her spirit is picked up and that her pain starts getting more bearable...SOON!!!!!

Thank you!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2007: Slow Progress

I just thought I would give a quick update on Kristi's progress...with each day she gets a little bit better (emphasis on little bit). I'll use this analogy: if she had a mile to go to get better, she advances about a millimeter a day. For those of you that aren't familiar with the metric system...I like John Madden's description of a millimeter best (said during a nationally broadcast football game) "a millimeter's like an inch, except smaller...I think". The point is she's getting better each day, just agonizingly slow.

Your prayers for her continued recovery are appreciated.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January 1, 2008: Happy New Year!!

Wow, what a year!! 2007 started off pretty typical for us then BANG, January 23 changed everything. To be honest, I'm glad 2007 is done and we're looking forward to a calm and uneventful 2008!! I've had several people ask me "so what's next?"

Well, next Monday, January 7 we meet with Dr. Downey (Kristi's oncologist). We're guessing that he will have the results of all of the biopsies at this appointment. People have asked "aren't you going to call to find out the results?" Why? Why would we do that? Tomorrow is already Wednesday. If we called tomorrow and the results aren't what we're praying for then we'll just sit around and be anxious all weekend. We don't want to do that to ourselves. We've been enjoying the good news we received on December 18. We're praying that the results all come back negative. He took dozens of samples from all over her abdominal area as well as her liver. If they come back positive, then we start down another path of unknowns for who knows how long. This will be a huge appointment for us. As Monday gets closer, our anxiety will grow. Please pray that we can just focus on today and the good news we received 2 weeks ago and not let the anxiety overtake us.

We had one miracle on December 18, please pray for another one and that all of the test results come back negative. We're not sure what the next steps are. I think either way he will want to do 2 more rounds of chemo. My request for tonight's posting is that everyone pray just as hard as we did for the December 18 surgery and that all the tests come back negative and that the CANCER IS GONE...FOREVER!!!

Thanks for praying!!!