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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Picture Update

With all of these gloomy postings lately I though I would spice things up a little bit. After all, our life isn't ALL about cancer. Quite the opposite I think. It is important to take care of Dan's health the best we can, but when he's feeling good we party... well, sorta :)

Dan at his sister Mallory's wedding in Denver

Jeff and Mal. Welcome to the family Jeff!! (I've never seen so many googly eyes as I did between these two during their wedding. Love it)

Mal was so sweet to let her brother leave her reception early to go to BYU's second basketball game in the NCAA Tournament.

Let me just say, everybody needs to go see the Justin Bieber movie. Preferably with sisters and nieces... screaming nieces.

Oh, and don't forget to bring his #1 Fan...(my sister)

I don't think this requires any introduction. Picture in your mind the best steak you've ever had and multiply it by ten. That's somewhere in the ball park of Ruths Chris. Unfortunately, you can also multiply the price by ten, too.

Now do you see why I say life is good? It really is.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So it seems we are through the woods... at least for this first cycle.

Dan spent five days in the hospital and then came home to recover. This is when we watch his counts carefully (by getting blood draws every couple of days), and take the necessary precautions depending on how they look.

He did very well with the nausea as soon as he got home. He struggles with the "worn out" feeling. He gets off the couch, walks down the hall, and gets in bed, and his heart is pounding. He feels like he has just run a mile. I guess those red blood cells of ours are important!

Yesterday Dan had to get a platelet transfusion. Other than an allergic reaction that kinda slowed things down, all went well. His blood is now clotting normally (which is comforting).

I know that we have been through this many times before, but it still amazes me that Dan's body is able to come back from this! It seems that there are too many things that take such a big hit. I am also amazed at our bodies in general. I guess it takes watching a body that DOESN'T work for me to appreciate when they DO work.

I'm sorry I haven't updated sooner. I guess lately I have found that this feels strangely normal. Or familiar... maybe that is a better word. I have not had the desire to write, because I don't feel like there is anything to write about! But I know that there are many people who love Dan and want to know how he is doing. Thank you so much for that. It means more than you know.

I will try to be better next cycle! But for now, please know we are doing well and Dan is almost feeling normal again.

Oh, PS... Dan's hair started falling out today, so he shaved his head. My bald husband is back! I'm so excited... I forgot how good he looks bald.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dan just posted this on our other blog ( So I guess there will be more updates to come :) We love you all.

"Wow. I got away with not needing to update this blog for a solid seven months...not bad, right?

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

On my most recent set of scans, they saw that two of the nodules have grown in size which means that the cancer isn't quite done with me yet. So I'll be starting chemotherapy on the 23rd of this month (which will officially be my 17th round of chemo) and after three or so months treatments I'll have another lung surgery (which will be my eighth surgery). Then we get to start this whole remission song and dance over again (though I've come to learn that remission is kind of loose term).

My first reaction to the news was, "I'm tired." I think that after three years of chemo treatments, surgeries, and doctors appointments, I was just tired. I wanted a break. Now that I've finally started my career and settled down I was ready to be "done".

But since the news, I've had time to think and digest a lot of things. I went back and read "My Story" on this Website and found the following statement:

"We know this will be a difficult time, but with the support of family, friends, and lots of help from the Lord, we know this will be a positive experience and we'll learn so much during the course of it."

That's the understatement of the century. It's too bad I can't make those kind of predictions this March in my bracket. If there's one thing that I KNOW, it's that not only have we been blessed during the past three years, but we've come out ahead of where we would have otherwise been. What I mean by that is that we learned things and gained experience and grew in ways that would have been totally impossible to do through our own efforts.

As horrible as one would thing things have been the past year, I can look at the collective experience and say that it's been overwhelmingly positive. And I don't think that's just me trying to "look on the bright side of things". Had you all experienced what I've experienced and felt what I've felt, you would say the same thing without hesitation.

I feel so blessed to have gone through the things I've gone through and I've reached a point where I can say I'd do it again given the choice. If going through cancer was the only way to get to where I am today, then I'd do it again without looking back.

So with all those things in mind, please don't feel sorry for me or bad for me that I have to go through this again. In a strange sort of way, I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for me this time. What lessons He'll teach me. How He'll stretch me and school me. And most of all, what He will turn me in to.

Where I see myself going and who I see myself becoming are very different from where God sees me going and who He sees me becoming. But each step of the way, I can see that where He has taken me is a much better place than I ever thought of for myself. It reminds me of a great C.S. Lewis quote:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

I love you all. Thank you for your continued support and prayers."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You've just been


No need to thank me.



Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm so happy that this is behind us

It's been about 3 1/2 weeks since I took this picture. It seems like 3 1/2 months. It's crazy how life can just pick up again so quickly after a major surgery like this. Someone must really be looking out for us.

I'm grateful today for health. And for happiness. Cheesy? Maybe. But we are sure healthy and happy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas... (and other fun stuff)

Christmas was great this year!! I loved it.

It started off with caroling at Dad's rehab facility.

Then back to mom and dad's to exchange gifts

The two injured boys...

And then it was off to Kansas!!
This was Christmas Eve with our Santa shirts. (Dan is such a good sport)

Christmas morning was so much fun! We loved watching Mady open up her presents. This is her opening her dress up box.
She loved the shoes...
... and playing in her new tent with Uncle Dan.

Then suddenly it was time to ring in the New Year. Dan surprised me with tickets to "Eve" and a stay at the Radisson downtown. It's an event that Salt Lake City puts on to celebrate New Years Eve. There were tons of events to go to and shows to see. We saw lots of local bands, went to improve comedy, and saw a U2 laser show. It was SUCH a fun night!! The best New Years EVER!

Our favorite part was the "ballroom". It was a big dance where they had 2,011 beach balls. We felt like kids... this was the best McDonald's ball pit ever!

The famous midnight kiss. Though, it was really the "I'm freezing, it's literally 3 degrees outside, what on earth are we doing?" kiss.

Lovely, Lovely Holidays!!!!

oh, and P.S. - Dan's plan to get the holiday weight gain off again? Surgery tomorrow.

Just kidding, it's not a surgery to lose weight (but he will admit he doesn't mind that side effect:) It's a surgery to repair the broken plate in his leg. Since it's still not growing in, they will once again pack some bone from his hip in there to try to stimulate growth. We are so hoping that this will fix it and he will be able to have a functioning femur. I hate surgery days, but we know that he is receiving exceptional care from his doctors and from above.

Hope you all had a great Christmas!!