Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Normally Don't Do This...

... But I had to make an exception after what I came home to today.

Let me explain. Lately I've been noticing all of the very romantic shout-outs to significant others. While an occasional expression of love is nice and sometimes completely warranted, it does tend to go a little overboard. Between facebook and blogs I get to read about lots of bouquets of flowers, perfect dates, candlelit homemade dinners... blah, blah, blah. Don't get me wrong, I love love. I guess I just love love that's understated on the internet. And I've tried really hard not to be one of those bloggers.

If you share this same frustration, please stop reading now. We will return to our regular programming on our next blog posting.

That being said, let me tell you about what I came home to tonight.

Our place was clean (obviously the first thing I notice). The unruly trash can was taken care of, laundry done, kitchen clean... and not just clean but cooking some food, too! Chicken quesadillas. Then I look at the table and see these...

Two lemons reading "Rise Above est. 2007". This is a reference few will understand. Before we were married Dan came over to my apartment one afternoon and gave an impromptu motivational talk to me and my roommates. It became infamously dubbed "The Rise Above Speech". It was a really funny pep talk that had us all laughing... and also actually had us really excited about life (He has a way of doing that). He talked about making lemonade out of lemons and how great it was to be in school and how we have to "rise above" the dreary parts of school, winter, etc...

I actually found a picture from five years ago on a road trip we all took to California. Dan is holding the original lemon that he used for the speech. Ha!

So I guess Dan looked back at journals and found that the rise above speech happened to be on January 31, 2007. Exactly five years ago today.

Seriously cute.

Then, I found a card. A thank you card. Here's part of it:
"When I first gave the rise above speech 5 years ago, I never imagined that you would be the one who would literally help me rise above my greatest challenge yet. Thanks for being by my side and helping me rise above cancer. I couldn't have done it without you."

Oh... my... gosh.
Now do you see why I had to make an exception to my mushy rule?

He's the best.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The "Did I Mention" Post

So did I mention that Dan had clear scans last week?

And did I also mention that the doctor seemed to think the nodules look smaller?! This is great news because he hasn't been doing any treatment. If they truly were cancer, there's no logical reason they should be getting smaller. Except for the fact that Heavenly Father loves us and is looking out for us.

Did I mention that there was a film crew following us to this appointment? That was cool. Dan won that "search for incredible friends & family" contest... or I guess the official title was just "search for incredible", but you and I both know the truth. So because he won, it means that a film crew came to film us for a couple days so they can make a short (5-7 minute) film to be played at Sundance. It was actually really cool. I'm not too keen on being on camera, so the first day was really awkward. But as we got to know them better and they got to know us better, it was actually really fun. they were incredibly respectful, especially at our appointment to find out the results of the scan. I'm grateful they were there to capture that moment, because it is such a big part of our life.

Did I mention that Dan had a clear scan? Oh, I think I really did. I am just so excited I thought I'd say it again.

Did I mention that we happen to live in a place with incredible sunsets? Too bad the camera couldn't fully capture it. It was awesome.

One of the camera guys took this. They were all from the UK and were amazed at the mountains and snow. Things that I sometimes take for granted.

Some of the crew

This is the director. His name is Asif Kapadia. Kind of a big deal I guess. More importantly, an EXTREMELY nice person.

Did I mention how much I want to thank everyone for voting? This is an awesome experience and I am so happy we are blessed with it. It's crazy to think of all the good that has come from something as "bad" as cancer.

We'll try to keep you updated with Sundance. It's this weekend. Should be fun!

Did I mention that Dan and I just finished making our coffee table? This is the before...

And then the after!

We painted it then put wallpaper on top.

Did I mention how cool it is that Dan likes this kind of stuff? I totally lucked out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Some Thoughts

I just found out that a good friend I work with has cancer again. We will call her Kim. She ='s in her early 30's and is not married and has not yet had kids. She's battled cervical cancer for about 7 years on and off. The bad part is the more she fights it, the less likely it is that she will be able to have kids.

It got my wheels turning.

First, my heart always twinges at the "C" word. Anytime anyone talks about cancer I am glued in. It's this crazy family you never want to be a part of, but once you are, you end up finding the best and most inspiring people.

Second, watching Kim's devastation as she expressed the fears of never conceiving children. I guess this is a fear a lot of us younger cancer "patients" share (I use that term loosely, because Dan has the disease -- but it feels like we both do). I step back and I have two thoughts, tremendous sympathy for her and her struggle, and gratitude that my situation is different. I am so grateful that my "plumbing" is okay. It is so much harder when a woman struggles with post-cancer infertility than when a man does. I hope and pray that she will be okay.

Dan and I have our own road ahead. Sometimes it looks really bleak and sad. Sometimes it looks as though it's the worst thing I could possibly think of. Then Heavenly Father gently reminds me that I still have so much to be grateful for. There are so many options for us, and so much hope. I am grateful today for Kim giving me a "it could be so much worse" talk today. She was so frank with me and I appreciated her perspective on how I have been blessed in my situation. She was just the reminder I needed.

Please don't take this as a "Feel Sorry for Dan and Mel Moment". Rather, it is a great reminder to me to be thankful for the MANY hopeful and happy aspects that make up the FANTASTIC life Dan and I have. We truly are so happy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Goodbye Summer!

It's been a while since I've posted... time flies when you're having fun! Summer time always seems to fly by. I never thought that I would be living my adult life in terms of the school year, but that is what Dan and I find ourselves doing. School starts for him on Tues. It has been a great summer, and then a mad dash trying to get everything ready. This is the first time Dan has officially started the year teaching on the first day of school. He has always come in mid-year, so he is excited to start like a "real teacher".

His health is good. He has bounced back wonderfully, and we are so grateful and happy with life right now. Once again, we live in 3 month cycles. As we await scans every three months, we have a chance to breathe and enjoy healthy life.

Here are some things we've been up to!

4th of July in our matching shirts. Dan loves to match! Match, match, match... he wants to do it all the time. Did you catch that sarcasm? He HATES matching, so I'm always grateful when he lets me :)

For my birthday this year he took me on a shopping spree. Amazing! The best part is he shopped with me!

Then we went to the American Idol concert.

Our two favorites, Scotty (of course!) and Casey

Goodbye Summer! See you next year!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Well, I thought that it's about time that I give an update. We seem to be concluding this treatment. It's good news. I'm so happy that healthy life is once again in front of us.

Dan is done with chemotherapy! Woo hoo! So the next step is to take care of those two nodules. We were originally thinking of doing lung surgery like we have done in the past. This is when the surgeon makes about an 8 inch incision between his ribs in the back and feels through his lungs, taking out anything that feels suspicious. To be frank, this is just going in and hacking away at his lungs. This was a great method when he had 45+ nodules, but now that there is only two, we have decided on a different procedure. It's called radio frequency ablation (RFA). RFA is an outpatient procedure (another big woo hoo!) in which the surgeon basically sticks a needle into the two nodules and heats up the tip. This will cook the tumor and kill any remaining cancer that may still be there. This is a great thing because it saves a lot of precious lung tissue. You can only hack away so much!

We are excited about this procedure and the fact that Dan is pretty much a perfect candidate for it. This means that there is only one minor outpatient procedure to go and then we are home free! They will then watch him with scans every three months and we will pray and pray ... and pray that it never comes back.

I haven't really felt motivated to blog much about chemo. Sorry for those of you who love Dan and live far... I promise he has been and is currently doing well.

Dan has had three bouts with cancer. I feel like I have learned something very distinct each time. I have had experiences that have helped me to come to different conclusions. I think I can sum up the three conclusions I came to with each occurrence of cancer in three sentences:

Faith if He doesn't.
Faith that He can.
Hope that He will.

All three have been very important in my progression through this experience. First, having the faith that things will be okay even if God doesn't heal Dan. Second, having the faith that it's totally within His power to heal Dan. And third, working to develop the hope that He will heal Dan and we will live a long life together.

Here's to many, many more birthdays. Happy Birthday, Dan! I love you! (This is him with his birthday cake yesterday)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Transfusion Time

Dan is tired.

Very tired.

So worn out that he has to take a break on his way to the bathroom. Now for some of you who have not been to our house let me assure you that our apartment does not warrant that response. It takes roughly fifteen steps to get from the couch to the bathroom.

No, it cannot be blamed on our huge apartment. Its more likely that it is caused by Dan's low blood counts. He has so little red blood cells that his doctor has decided to give him not one, but two units of blood. I did some quick math ... (ok it wasn't quick at all... It took a few google searches and the use of a calculator app) to figure out that they are giving him about ten percent of the blood volume that he is supposed to have right now. Please leave me a comment with the correct amount if I have made a huge miscalculation! But suffice it to say that he is really low right now.

I'm sure that this is going to make him feel so much better! He probably won't be melted into the couch anymore and could possibly be back to normal by the weekend... Well a relative normal, at least!

Now go and thank your bone marrow for doing such a good job making your blood and supplying you with energy and a healthy immune system :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011