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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A good day at the cancer center

It is very cold for Arizona right now--you who live anywhere but here would probably laugh at how cold we've been...but it's all relative, right?! Remember we have summers where it reaches 115--so 40 is cold to us! (Tonight we are supposed to go below freezing).

Today I went to the cancer center, and I just want to say again how much I respect and love the people who work there. They are just the best--so encouraging, so positive, so supportive. You couldn't ask for anything better. I have tried to work out this week, so I can be physically strong for next week. The work out center is not a very big room--has some different equipment, but what makes it special are the two fabulous people who work with all us patients. And what is even more amazing are the people who come in there to work out. They are in various stages--some still with cancer, some long-time survivors of cancer, but all who want to improve their lives...and do as much as they can to conquer the big C. (that ugly word that we all hate--cancer). There was a lady in there today, who had her last chemo in January. She was a larger woman, but had determined that she would really get into an exercise routine. She exercises 3-4 times a week for 1 1/2- 2 hours a time. It is so inspiring to be in that place, because these people are fighters, and are determined to fight this nasty disease. I love being in there and watching them. There was a much older man, who had tubes connected to him--he was just working on standing up and sitting down--to watch his determination at a task that would be so easy for most of us, was also inspiring. I was just sad that I hadn't brought my daughter, Emily, who is visiting, to see what goes on there.

Then I went to get my PICC line changed (I do that every week), and the lady in there was great also. She was very concerned about my surgery, but wanted to encourage me to get moving as fast as possible...even if it caused me great pain. She told me that I should drink champagne before I went in to the hospital. When I told her I didn't drink, she told me she would drink champagne FOR me!! I love the way all these different people show love and support--with so many people cheering me on, I will make it through this next challenge!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting ready for the big day...

I haven't written for a few days. That's because there is not much to report. :) I am enjoying the distractions of having my family here. Sometimes in my quieter moments, I start thinking about my upcoming surgery, and get nervous. But most of the time I can put those thoughts away. I have had some preliminary tests--some blood work and an EKG, and been checked out by my primary care doctor. I have been okayed to do the surgery...now I just have to keep myself well. I can't have any infection or cold, and so I have babied myself this week. I am trying to work out every day, so that I can be in as good of shape as possible. I go to the hospital on Friday to do some lab work. I'll tell you--you sure see a lot of doctors when you're going through something like this. It makes you appreciate what people go through who are doing this all the time--we just take our good health for granted, that's for sure. I feel like Spence could use your good thoughts and prayers. Of course, he's the most nervous about this, and worries about all the possible things that could happen. I really feel like situations like this are hardest for the main caregiver...so keep him in your thoughts. I love you--I just want to be sure that you all know that. Feelings are pretty tender at times like this, and I want you to know that I couldn't do what I'm doing without your love and support. May God bless you in all that you're doing and feeling for me. Have a good day, Louise

Sunday, December 26, 2010

We survived...and enjoyed Christmas!!

Hello everyone. How was your Christmas? Ours was terrific, but exhausting. Spence and I spent a good part of Christmas Eve wrapping--we are always behind schedule. About midnight on Christmas Eve, my girls, Emily and Kelsey, finally convinced me that I shouldn't stay up any longer (I was really dragging), and they finished up my wrapping (I still had a couple of things to wrap), and then put my presents under the tree. They were both great helps to Spence as well, because they helped him put bows on presents, and put more things under the tree. It was a crazy, fun Christmas morning, with many gifts for everyone. We had a great time, and then a very fun, but also spiritual time at Spence's dad's house--he is a wonderful, caring grandfather, and we love him. He spent time (a couple of minutes) with each of his children and grandchildren who were there, giving us advice for the coming year. It was a very sweet experience. He is a great leader for our family.

It has been good to be with family. Needless to say, not every minute has been perfect, but we've had a lot of fun laughing and being together. The kids have been great helps around the house--picking up, doing dishes, etc. They have been good to us.

I am feeling pretty well--I do appreciate naps and breaks, but it has been good to be with everyone, and to especially enjoy our grandson. The only problem is that I wish I could eat with everyone. I still sneak things, much to Spence's despair, and usually I'm able to keep them down--at least that's the goal! :)

In a week, I'll be heading into surgery. People ask me if I'm worried, but I am trying to put those thoughts aside, and just enjoy this time right now. I'm grateful to have my family here. As I've said before, good things come out of challenging times. One of my "good" things is to be surrounded by my family. Love to all, Louise

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!!

Well, you now have all the medical news from Dr. Spence--he's getting quite good at explaining all these different procedures--at least he sounds like he knows what he's talking about.

We were surprised at how soon the surgery is going to be. However, we had just heard the day before that there was a "window" of time that we needed to do the surgery in. I think that Spence explained this, but I will repeat it just in case. The scarring from the radiation can get so bad that it would make it a very difficult surgery...so we needed to get in sooner rather than later. We both felt calm and good about the surgeon. He took quite a bit of time with us and explained things very well, and was willing to answer all of our questions. We will be at Good Samaritan Hospital, which is a very good hospital. Of course, we realize what a big surgery this is...and that is scary...but we feel like we are in good hands...and know that Heavenly Father is very aware of what we will be doing, and He will be there to comfort us and inspire the doctors.

Just a word about Christmas, since I probably won't write again until after the big day. In spite of all the craziness associated with the season, I truly do love Christmas. As I told you a few posts ago, one of my favorite things is Christmas music...but I realized something also this Christmas. One of the reasons I love the Christmas carols so much is because of my mother. She loved music, and shared that love with her children. I love the words of the carols, and know many of them, and I attribute a lot of that to her. So, as we give gifts this year and in Christmases to come, let us share the beautiful carols of Christmas with our families--they truly sing praises to the birth of our Savior and can bring "joy to the world." May the Lord bless you in the coming days--thank you for all the "gifts" of love, comfort, inspiration and hope you have given me this year. I love you all very much, Louise

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After all the previous torture they will now slit her throat??

Just call me Dr. Price. I get to post all of the technical stuff, not because I know anything about it, I just try to remember what they say.

Anyway, Louise and I have been talking to every doctor in town trying to find the right surgeon referral for her esophagectomy surgery. We appreciate all of the referrals that we have received and I think we know the top 5 in town who could perform this detailed surgery. We have ended up selecting Dr. Richard Perry who was referred by our GI doctor. We met with him yesterday and were real impressed. We were frank in the interview process that we were looking for the very best surgeon who had done many of these specific surgeries and had a very high success rate. He was honest back to us and told us the names of the very few who had his type of experience. One was a doctor we had received 2 other referrals for. But this doctor, Dr. Perry, spent a lot of time with us and showed us with pictures and props the alternatives to this type of surgery and what the advantages are for what he is going to do. We have prayed for divine inspiration to know the right doctor and both Louise and I felt the Spirit telling us that he was the one.

One thing we did not know was there was only a relatively short window of time after radiation therapy in which this surgery could be the most effective. I guess that after radiation there is maybe a 3 month window before the scarring really starts increasing. This window of time was closing right now and he encouraged us to get this done as soon as possible. His calendar and his 4 or 5 man team of doctors performing the surgery, put us at Monday, January 3rd at 8 am. He anticipates it to be about a 4 or 5 hour operation. It will be done at Banner Good Samaritan in Phoenix. Its one of my favorite hospitals because that is where I entered this world in 1950.

So here is the scoop on the surgery: It is called a transhiatal Esophagectomy (THE). Only about 1/3 of the upper esophagus will remain and only a part of the stomach will remain. Part of the reason for that is because the surgeon wants the margins from the cancer to be big to insure that all the tissue that might have cancer is eliminated. In layman's terms, they will make a vertical opening to the abdomen from the breastbone down to the belly button. They will also make a 2 inch incision in her lower neck (slit her throat). They will then free up her stomach from all attachments, cut the upper half off and slide it up the track where the esophagus once was. They will pull the lower 2/3 of the esophagus out of the neck and cut it off at that point. Then they will attach the stomach to what is left of the esophagus with staples (which are supposed to be much better than suchers). I hope their staple gun works better than mine. The stomach will then kind of serve as the lower esophagus from that point. I forgot to ask what will serve as the stomach from that point. They will then try to put all the plumbing back together. Yikes!

If you are like Louise and me, we were a little overwhelmed by the description of that operation. Double yikes!! They say though that it has been effective for removing cancerous tumors and surrounding lymph nodes. By the way he will be removing all lymph nodes in that particular area. They are certainly trying to eliminate all cancer in the body. This doctor was very encouraging that Louise had already responded so well to the chemo and radiation. He was also encouraged that the one lymph node that was cancerous initially was so close to the tumor and had not spread to other lymph nodes even inches away. He felt like this operation was a very necessary step to her total cure.

This posting is way to long and I have probably lost most of you by now so I won't go into other details about recovery and quality of life. She will probably be in the hospital for 10 days. They need to make sure the new connection heals properly--no leaks and no infections. She will be forced to do a lot of walking in the hospital and once she is released. That will aid in the recovery.

For more details of the surgery and even a doctor explaining everything in more detail, I refer you to a link at: http://surgery.med.umich.edu/thoracic/clinical/what_we_do/esophagectomy_faq.shtml. I see this doesn't link by clicking. Highlight this link, click the arrow that appears and go to "search by google" and it will be the first entry. Or highlight, copy and paste to your browser.

Thank you for your interest and keep those prayers coming. Those of you who would like to shed some of those Christmas pounds, can join with many of us who will be fasting for Louise again on Sunday, January 2ND. All are welcome to join in. The September joint fast by so many of you was a huge success in behalf of Louise.

Thanks for enduring this,

Spence

Monday, December 20, 2010

some words about wigs...

This is not going to be an earth-shattering entry. In just a few minutes, Spence and I go to meet with the surgeon. Knowing Spence's abilities to communicate so well, I will probably let him tell about that visit...and our feelings. So I just thought I would say hello and tell you about my experiences with my wig at church yesterday. People were very complimentary about it, and the ones who didn't like it were kind enough not to say anything. So it wasn't an emotional, traumatic thing for me.

However there are some things you need to know about wigs. They are itchy, and sometimes you feel like they are puffing up and are going to just fall off. I had my girls constantly checking for me to see if it was too far off my forehead or puffing up, where it looked like I had some bouffant style. It wasn't the easiest thing, but again, it felt good to have something on top of my head! Plus when I was shopping with Katie on Saturday, all of a sudden I had a headache, and it was because my wig was too tight. She loosened it as much as she could, and it is working much better now. When I am home, I take it off, and try not to scare my grandson with my weird "real" hairdo--black sprouts all over my head, with a few wispy hairs coming out from the side. I am truly a vision of loveliness! NOT... Until our report from the surgeon...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shop until you drop...

That totally describes our day around here. It has been crazy. I went out about noon, thinking I could get all kinds of things done (this is when we are sure the tumor has left my esophagus, and entered my brain). In the first store, I was so tired that I barely made it to the second store--it was crazy. Then it was home to help Spence put up the last of the decorations that we decided to use (for once we decided not to put everything up that we have...which is just fine, and our house still looks Christmasy). Of course, I fit a nap in between all that, and felt much refreshed. Then Katie and I went on a speed shopping trip. Katie is fast, and makes quick decisions, and we got a lot done. Again, there was some resting time...and then Spence and I went out after dinner. See, I told you, I really am brain dead! I can't wait to get into my pjs, and just relax for the rest of the night. I probably couldn't have done all that if I was feeling 100%...needless to say, it wasn't the smartest of decisions to do that when I am still not up to full strength. Oh well--we made it, and have lived to tell the tale.

Brian, my son, and his wife, Keri and son, Logan, arrived yesterday. So did Katie, our daughter in college. It has been fun to have them here. I keep telling them I'm playing the "cancer card," so they have to feel sorry for me, and help me in any way I need them to. So far, they're going along with it--we'll see if it continues. No, truly, it is wonderful to have them here--we laugh a lot, and it is just so nice to spend time together. Have a good Sunday tomorrow. Love you lots, Louise

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Hair--New Me!


Well, I finally broke down and bought this wig--they have had it on hold for me ever since August. My hair has gotten so wispy (practically non-existent on the sides), and lots of bald spots. Kelsey and I do a hair dance when we discover little black sprouts on my head...but we thought it was finally time to try something other than hats to cover my head. I like the feeling that I have something on my head again...even if it isn't truly mine. :) So here is a picture. Spence and I are pleased with it, and I feel like a person again. I always put something on my head when someone came to the door--I didn't want my looks to scare them. Yes, I know it is vanity...but it is a hard thing for a woman to lose her hair.

I had another doctor's appointment today, but that was pretty routine, and I am doing fine. Last night we went to see "A Christmas Carol" with our friends, Jim and Candace Hazar. It was so much fun.

Well, I finished my Christmas cards, and that is something to cheer about. I also have my gifts ready that need to be sent...so hopefully that happens tomorrow. Our house still has about 1/2 of the stuff that we have...but you know, we are surviving, and Christmas will go on...even without all the extra decorations! I hope your Christmas celebrations and preparations are going well. Listen to lots of Christmas music--there is nothing that puts you more in the mood for Christmas than the music. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carolers make my day!

Today was another pretty busy day...however, it did include a long nap...so I'm hanging in there. I told my son tonight that I just wish I could keep going, but I'm still in the "pacing myself" mode.

I went Christmas shopping with my friend, Candace Hazar, and we had such a good time. We were gone the whole morning...that's why I was ready for a "long winter's nap!" I appreciate people being willing to take me places and help me get errands done.

This afternoon came the highlight of my day. Our Primary children (children in the ward ages 3-11) came in a TROLLEY and caroled to us. It was the BEST!! Those children have meant so much to me during this whole cancer battle--they give me hugs, and do thoughtful, wonderful things like caroling today. That was truly a highlight of the season. Bless them and their wonderful leaders for doing such a nice thing. I was truly touched. Again--the little things are the BIG things!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday's "Musings"

Hello. It is Monday, and I am determined to write a little more this week. Our appointment with the surgeon has been changed to Monday, the 20th. He is sick this week (imagine that--I thought that doctors and mothers weren't ALLOWED to get sick!). We have still been talking to friends, and trying to get some insights about possible surgeons.

I have eaten a couple of things--a peanut butter cookie yesterday and another cookie last night. I complained to my niece, Melanie Wellman, that I was eating junk food and not good stuff--and she asked me how smoothly I thought a piece of celery would go down. She does have a point there! I am funny--I was also able to snack on some Fritos with Spence yesterday--it's funny how chips and crackers go down, but there again I am missing out on the nutrition.

I had another busy Sunday yesterday--the whole block, and then back for a fireside--getting there early to try to get a good seat, and then there for about 2 1/2 hours. I just crashed when I got home! I have done a little Christmas wrapping and some more cards (the never-ending Christmas task).

When people ask me how I am, I actually feel pretty good. I just still am working on building up my energy, and that is a day-to day thing. I am thankful for breaks that I take...and for music and for my family that can often make me laugh. Laughter is one of the best ways to make you feel better. May you have much to laugh about today, and may you remember like my sister says, every day is a gift. Love to all, Louise

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Back in the saddle again...


Wow--I have gone a whole week without writing anything. Spence comes through again for me. I didn't have a whole lot of things to write earlier in the week, although I WILL share a picture of me Christmas shopping--actually WHEEL CHAIR shopping! My friend, Eileen Allred, rented me a wheelchair, so I could actually last TWO hours rather than one. :) We had a great time, and I was exhausted when I got home! (typical me!)

On Wednesday when we met with Diane, the nurse practitioner, I was crushed when she said there were more malignant cells. I kind of hibernated for the rest of the day, and tried to process news that I guess I was hoping that I wouldn't hear again that there were still cancer cells. I KNEW that I wasn't cured, just because the tumor was gone, but I just didn't want to hear that ugly word, malignant, again. By Thursday morning, I was in better spirits, and could see the more positive side of everything. We really have planned on having surgery all along, and hopefully, this surgery will not only enlarge the opening in my esophagus, but it will also take care of any other malignant cells. Spence has been good about emphasizing the positive in this news...and I appreciate that.

We are now scheduled to meet with a surgeon on Thursday morning. I think one of Spence's biggest concerns from the beginning was to get the very best surgeon we can to do this surgery. The one that has been recommended by our GI doctor is a general surgeon...and so we are talking to some of our doctor friends and see what their thoughts are. We are kind of tending to want a doctor who pretty much specializes in thoracic surgery (don't know if I spelled that right) and has done more work in that area. It is hard to know, but we are praying for inspiration. I feel like Spence has been inspired to be so concerned about this surgeon, and so hopefully we will be led to the right person.

I have actually had some pretty busy days this week...and have survived. I've done Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, some crocheting (my favorite diversion!), and even been to Brady's band concert and our ward Christmas party. Thanks for all your thoughts and comments on my blog--I will be writing again more regularly. How thankful I am for all of you who read and follow the blog...and who just are my friends.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Meeting with Oncologist

Yesterday Louise and I met with the oncologist for a follow-up appointment to discuss the results of the recent CT scan and the endoscopy and to firm up the direction we will go from this point in time. We met with Diane who is the physician's assistant and who had discussed everything with Dr. Donovan who is the actual oncologist. Dr. Lewkowitz, our GI doctor who performed the endoscopy had called Dr. Donovan the day before and had discussed everything with him in detail.

The first news that Diane gave us was that the cytology report from the endoscopy showed that there were malignant cells remaining in the tissue of the esophagus where the tumor once had been. That test result had surprised Dr. Lewkowitz because the tumor was gone and this area at the base of the esophagus had appeared so clear of any remnant of the cancer. Diane emphasized that the upper 2/3 of the esophagus was unaffected.

Diane also went into further detail with us about how "normal" the rest of her body appeared from the CT scan. She said there was no enlarged lymph nodes and no other evidence of any other even small tumors in her body. She said there was also no need for a pet scan at this time because there is no evidence of cancer anywhere other than the cancer cells found in her lower esophagus.

Both doctors agreed that surgery was necessary at this time to remove the lower third of her esophagus to eliminate the current cancer and to remove the tissue that could lead to more cancer later. Surgery would also connect the good 2/3 of her esophagus with her stomach, allowing her to eat normally again.

When we first met with Dr. Donovan before the chemo and radiation began, he told us that there would be three possible scenarios that might happen. This was the second scenario where all evidence showed that the cancer had not spread anywhere in her body and that the tumor would be essentially gone but that remnant cancer cells might still be found in the esophagus and surgery would be required. For some reason, Louise and I have always felt that surgery would be necessary. I am pretty sure we would have opted for surgery even if no other cancer had been found. It made a lot of sense to repair the esophagus permanently so she could eat solids again and removing the once-infected portion of the esophagus could prevent that cancer from ever coming back. Though the results of the cytology test were discouraging to us, we know that there is a solution. That solution is the direction we were headed for anyway--surgery.

A surgeon has been recommended by our GI doctor and we probably will meet with him in the next week or so. We are exploring other possible surgeons also. We anticipate the surgery will take place in early January. It is major surgery and will require a fairly long hospital recovery time as well as a long home recovery period. But Louise is very hopeful that she can heal quickly. She seems to be getting stronger every day. She is going in for an ultra sound for an unrelated matter today, but otherwise she is doing well. Many of you were inspired by her like me, when she bore such a strong testimony in Testimony Meeting on Sunday. She gave such a strong witness of how merciful Heavenly Father is and how He was the reason for this miracle to take place for the ongoing cure to her cancer. May we all draw from her great hope and faith and testimony of a great and merciful Father in Heaven.

Love, Spence

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Night

It is Sunday night, and I've been able to go to Church for our full 3-hour block, and also go back this evening for a Christmas broadcast from Salt Lake City, and our leaders there. It is my favorite way to start the Christmas season--I love the music and the talks. At least it gets us off to a good start...and hopefully we can keep that spirit with us, at least for some of the Christmas season.

I am feeling pretty well, but I still get tired. Friday night I didn't go to our high school football game. If I do some fairly major activity during the day, I need to pace myself...so I can't go to every activity that I would like to. Sometimes I just want to wrap myself up in a cozy blanket and take it easy...or take a nap! So that's usually what I do! I often have Brady or Kelsey join me during that time, so I'm rarely alone.

Wednesday we meet with the oncologist, so we'll know more of what we're doing in the future...and maybe know more about the surgery.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday's News

It is Friday afternoon. In just a few minutes I go to the cancer center to get my PICC line flushed--happens every week. People ask how long I will have this in--but I guess until they aren't planning to draw blood or give me more chemo (if they decide that's what I need), they're going to leave it in.

Spence has given you the bulk of our news for the week. He does such a good job of explaining things--I'm always glad when he can do that. It's because he asks SO MANY questions, and that's how he learns so much.

We are thrilled that the endosocopy went so well. We are glad too, to know the real reason why I can't swallow. Spence has strictly forbidden me from eating anything but very soft foods and liquids...but still I cheat sometimes and eat something. Like today Kelsey had some chips from Chipotle, and I ate two...and loved them (AND kept them down). Spence says I'm a rebel, and I know I am. Not only does he have to put up with taking care of me, he has to deal with my attitude too!

On Wednesday night we had a Relief Society Christmas party (sort of a party). We had a short program--a musical number and a Christmas message, and lots of food to eat. Of course, I got to look at all the food, and it all looked wonderful. I had to depent on others to sample it. :) We had lots of women attend. It was the first time I've been able to conduct a meeting like that since I've been sick. I had no idea how it would affect me, but it brought me to tears...to be there with those women whom I love, and who have been so caring to me. I broke down, and just felt so grateful to my Father in Heaven who has allowed me to come so far...and to be able to do some of those normal things again. I have those moments of just overwhelming gratitude. The goodness of God to me and to my family is just almost more than a person can comprehend.

Today I was able to go with a dear friend to the temple again...and that is always a huge lift for my spirits. I truly have so very much to be grateful for. Have a good weekend. Love to all, Louise

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Endoscopy brings mostly good news

I'm Spence making this post at the request of Louise...not because she is sick but probably because she was mostly sedated when we talked to Dr. Lewkowitz after the endoscopy. Dr. Lewkowitz is our GI doctor who originally did the endoscopy when the esophageal tumor was discovered. He said that the good news was that the large (1 1/2 inch long) tumor he found 4 months ago, is completely gone. He saw no remnants or evidence of that tumor. Isn't that an answer to the many prayers you have all made for Louise?! But the other news is that bottom third of the esophagus had been really ulcerated and scarred by the radiation. That left the opening at the base of the esophagus, as it enters the stomach, to be about the width of a pencil. He showed me a picture of it. The normal size is 2 or 3 times that size. It looked like the walls of the esophagus were just swollen from the heat of the radiation. The doctor could not get the scope through the opening to inspect the stomach. The upper 2/3 of the esophagus were normal and looked healthy.

So this answers the big question of why Louise could not swallow. She can swallow but the solid food hits that pencil-size opening at the end of her esophagus and can go no further. That is why she has been throwing up most of the solid foods she has been eating. I think that she has not had much larger of an opening in her esophagus than she has now since probably back through May or June of this year. We are pretty sure that the tumor was shrunk in size after about 7-10 days into her radiation. That is when she received the complete relief from her year-long chest and back pain. Maybe at that time, before the esophagus became so damaged as it is now, could she eat some solid food.

So where do we go from here? Dr. Lewkowitz didn't feel like the small opening would would get much bigger on its own. He has a dilating procedure that he could do about 6 to 8 times that would open it up somewhat but would take a long time to do. I felt like his first choice as a solution was surgery. He told me right up front that she probably should have surgery to remove the bottom third of the esophagus to remove the area of tissue that had the tumor attached, so as to further insure that the tumor would not return. He then said it would also be a solution to opening up the esophagus since the upper 2/3 was in such good shape and would then give a normal size ending. The procedure would be to cut out the lower third of the esophagus and maybe the upper part of the stomach and then pull up and reattach the stomach to the upper esophagus. He didn't feel any intestine transplant to the esophagus was necessary. Though it would be a difficult surgery, it would not be as radical as originally conceived. Louise has so much courage and she, right off the bat, said she thought that was the best solution. It would prevent any cancer from coming back in that area and would again give her the ability to eat solid foods.

Dr. Lewkowitz did a "dusting" of the area where the tumor had once been which he is sending to the lab. The results of that test will be like a pathology report (he called it cytology) telling if there is cancer still there. He also said we needed to get a pet scan which tells of any cancer remaining in the body. We knew that and it is set to be done in early January. When Dr. Lewkowitz gets the cytology report next Monday he will call Dr. Donovan, the oncologist and discuss the next steps in this journey to good health. We meet with Dr. Donovan next Wednesday, the 8th and that is when we might get more answers.

The one question that still didn't get answered is what kind of shape her stomach is in. We were warned that the upper part of the stomach would receive the effects of the radiation. We feel the radiation and probably the chemo also caused Louise's stomach at week 5 no longer to tolerate much food volume at any point in time. That is why she was put on a pump to dribble in the nutrients only as fast as her stomach could cope. We have moved that pump speed up recently and had no effects. So we are going to continue to increase the volume to see if it has now healed to the point that she could go back to the gravity feed bags or even getting all nutrients from 5 bottles of Ensure per day taken orally. That would improve her quality of life to go from being tethered to a food bag 24 hours a day to drinking her nutrients most of the time.

So that is the long version of the story for now. Louise and I are still absolutely thrilled that this second test (endoscopy) confirmed the CT scan that this big bad ugly tumor is gone and with it hopefully all cancer in her body is gone. What a fantastic gift. We rejoice with you that she has been so blessed by Heavenly Father and by modern medicine! Thanks again for your prayers and positive thoughts. They are all so important and each one cherished.

Love, Spence

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday's Update

Hello again. THere hasn't been really too much going on in the past few days. Unfortunately, I'm not keeping food down like I would like to...but I probably just need to be patient, and realize it's all a process.

I was a little more tired after Church on Sunday--and I slept quite a bit. Whenever I sleep a lot, we worry that I might be getting the C-Dif infection again...but I think it had just been a big weekend.

Tomorrow I will have an endoscopy--a scope of my esophagus. That is what we did in August where we first discovered I had the tumor. It is a more precise test than the cat scan, and so if there are still parts of the tumor there, it will show that. We are not done with all the tests yet, and even though the cat scan results were terrific, it is STILL a process. :)

I have been able to do a little more of my Church responsibilities...and it is so nice to be able to do something for someone else. You feel like you are contributing again, and that is a good feeling.

I can't believe tomorrow is December 1st. Christmas will certainly be here before you know it. I am learning to order things online...and hoping to simplify that way. The trick of life is always to try to learn to focus on the important things and not get caught up in the "thick of thin things", but it is a lesson we have to keep re-learning. Have a great day! I love you, Louise

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Update

I have taken a couple of days off from writing. I hope you all have had a relaxing weekend--now the Christmas craziness begins!

I have done quite a lot (for me) this weekend. The biggest news, however, is that I have been able to swallow more things. I think that a lot of it is in my head--and that hearing that the tumor was gone has made me think that maybe I really CAN eat. Last night I had a thin piece of pizza, and some squash. However, we did go to the movies, and I ate POPCORN! (and quite a bit of it). I would still do my normal thing--take really small bites, and chew it slowly...but I ate POPCORN! Wow--that was a treat! When we got home from Thanksgiving dinner, we had some leftover turkey, and I ate some of that. From time to time, I still do lose my food again, but I am very encouraged that I have been able to keep most things down. I even had 1/4 of a turkey sandwich for lunch. I guess this is another case of achieving "baby steps" that we can celebrate.

On Friday my niece, Hillary, and her mom, Marti, came over and cut my hair. Hair has become quite an issue around here, as it has gotten thinner and thinner...and as I have more bald spots. I'm sorry to admit my vanity, but it has been really hard on me emotionally. However, this hair cut helps, and then my girls have been buying me cute little hats to wear so it is not so obvious. It's pretty amazing how much having hair means to you...or at least to me! I may even post a picture in a coming post. :)


One thing I did learn is that I still can't do much shopping. Kelsey and I tried to go out Friday morning (not a smart idea) and find me some hats. However, standing in line to buy two very over-priced hats, I felt like I was about to pass out. Thank heavens Kelsey was there...and believe me, I didn't venture out again the rest of the weekend. :) That just wore me out too much.

Most of all this weekend, we have just been very thankful for the news about my tumor. We have more tests this week, but we have felt really blessed that the radiation and chemo really did their jobs. Hopefully, the cancer will be gone too. Have a nice Sunday--may we all be thankful for the "little things."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Very very thankful Thanksgiving Day

What a great Thanksgiving this has been. Thank you all so much for all your comments. It is amazing to have this many people rejoicing with us. I think this morning the impact of last night's news hit me more...and made me very emotional, and so very thankful--thankful for each one of you who cares so much, for every person in my family, and just for the goodness of my Father in Heaven. I feel overwhelmed by His goodness to me.

There were just so many good parts of this day--first of all, I felt better than I did a few days ago when I was struggling with my third bout with this C-Dif. We were out in our neighborhood and talked with some of our neighbors. Their genuine joy at our news was so very touching. I feel so loved in this neighborhood, and my neighbors have become such dear friends to us.

Then we spent about 3 hours at Spence's sister's house, and had just the most delightful time there. Spensce's sister, Barbara Anderson, gave the blessing on the food, and it was such a sweet, thoughtful prayer. The dinner LOOKED delicious, and everyone said that it was--I got little bites of roll, mashed potatoes and chocolate pie. I was tired and laid on the couch for a while...but everyone else was in there, and we had such a good time visiting. It was one of the most pleasant Thanksgiving dinners ever. I DID eat some turkey when I got home--so I ate more than usual today. (I'm wondering if the fact that we found out that there is no tumor has made me more able to swallow things--at least I didn't have problems that way today).


We got to talk with both Emily and Brian tonight too--so it was like spending time with all our children. WE missed having them here, and feel so very thankful for them and their families.


Then tonight we watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, "It's a Wonderful Life." I love the message of that movie--that every life touches so many others, and we mean so much to so many. That's how I feel about all of you tonight--I even got a comment from a friend of my sister's--so there are a lot more people out there who we don't know who it would be nice to know. :)A big thanks to all of you for your love.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy, happy news!

WOW--today we got the best news! We found out that the cat scan showed that my esophagus is CLEAR. There was no sign of tumors or masses or growth anywhere, including my lymph nodes. Can you believe that? You probably all can--because you all have had so much faith and hope for me. It was me who became the doubting Thomas in the last several days...so thank you for believing. There are still tests to come--an endoscopy which may show more details than the cat scan did...but for now we have GREAT reasons to rejoice! I have been so afraid to hear the results of the scan, so it has taken me some time this afternoon to actually digest these results. Spence and I are so relieved and so thankful. Truly we have many reasons to rejoice at this Thanksgiving time. Thank you again for caring so deeply, and for being there to support us through this nerve-wracking time. I know there are other tests to come, but for now, we are just WAY happy! :) Love to all of you and a very happy Thanksgiving, Louise

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tough Tuesday

Well, unfortunately, it was kind of Black Tuesday. I spent the day in bed, and struggled with this infection all day. It really knocks it out of me. My daughter, Katie, just got home from college, and I have barely spoken to her all day--just because I haven't felt so well. I fall asleep, and basically am totally out of it. I will have had 4 doses of my antibiotic when I go to bed...so that should make things better for tomorrow.

Because of feeling so badly today, I didn't call about the cat scan...but we'll do it tomorrow. I need to find out before the Thanksgiving weekend. I just have struggled today with feeling so crummy, and I just couldn't put finding out about the scan on top of those bad feelings. It's been a tough day, but hopefully tomorrow will be MUCH better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sick again...BUMMER

Can you believe this? I have that dumb C-Dif stuff again. I went to the doctor, and he said that it is really hard to get out of your system, and he suggested at that time that I go back on antibiotic (twice daily for 2 weeks and then once daily for another month), but at that time of the appointment, I was feeling fine--I was a little bit tired (which goes along with this infection), but then I got home and was full-blown sick with the diarhhea, exhaustion and everything else that seems to go with it. Luckily, we just got a hold of the doctor, and so I will start on the antibiotic tonight. This stuff is crazy, but it is NOT easy to get rid of.

I spent the afternoon after the doctor's in bed--just so tired and cold. But once we get this antibiotic going, I know I'll be feeling better. Hopefully this time we can get totally rid of it! Still no news about the cat scan either--maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Pleasant Sunday

Today I stayed for the whole 3-hour block at church--that was great! I took a nap when I got home, but I didn't feel too tired or anything. I AM getting more energy! It was good to be there. As usual, I talked to a lot of people--they are still very interested and very concerned. They are awfully good to me.

I am branching out a little on my food--tonight I had some tomato soup from Trader Joes, and it tasted good. Tomorrow we see the internist, and he may be able to give me some tips on how to improve my swallowing. I'm still mostly tethered to my "tree," and "eating" out of my feeding tube.

I am able to do more around the house. Tonight I even did the dishes--it feels good to be getting back into the swing of things, and to be able to do more to help out. Kelsey made dinner--she has done that a lot. She has become quite the good shopper and cook. However, Spence still does the lion share of the work around here--so many errands, lots of "honey do" things, and just a lot to make all of our lives easier. He took Brady shopping this week to buy warmer clothes, and even bought him some Church clothes. I am thankful to have him around. Well, tomorrow may bring news of my cat scan--we'll have to see.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Insights

This morning we went to the funeral of our friend, Judy Andress, who died last Monday (who I wrote about). It was a sweet service. She did not have any children or any family left...and yet everyone who knew her became her family. It was quite a tribute to someone we had lived courageously and joyously in spite of her huge challenges. She had cancer for so many years and had so many different rough experiences. I felt like many of the words of the funeral went straight to my heart. Funerals are always a time to reevaluate your own life...and this was no different. A dear friend who spoke gave this scripture from the Book of Mormon,which we regard as another testament of Jesus Christ, and it really touched me. It is from 2 Nephi 31:20, and it reads, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." It seemed to touch on all the things that I should be doing and feeling...and I'm so glad that I was there to be reminded of all that.

Other than that, it has been a pretty normal Saturday--with chores and wash and errands. I am thankful there are glimmers of inspiration in the middle of our mostly-ordinary lives. Love to all, Louise

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Getting back to the temple...

Well, I survived the cat scan. It actually was a "piece of cake." They had me swallow some water with berrium in it, and I was worried that I would have problems swallowing, but it was just like drinking water...and that is something I can do. I guess we'll hear results in the next few days. I am just going to try not to think or worry about it--not always the easiest thing to do. But I guess there is no need to worry until we know there is something to worry about.

I also went to the temple with Spence tonight...and that was wonderful. I have missed being there so much, and it was just great to be there and to feel the peace that I do when I am there. We have been worried that I would get too tired when I went, but I guess I was feeling well enough so it worked out well. So I have much to be grateful for.

Also my kids got to go to an early showing of "Harry Potter," so they were very happy about that. So, all in all, it was a very good day. Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sleepy Morning

I had a crazy start to today. I wrapped myself up in this darling fleece blanket that my sister and her family made for me, and just was dead asleep. Spence woke me up to give me medicine, but then I was dead asleep again. I woke up 1/2 hour later, and went right back to sleep. It was like I was drugged. When I woke up at 9:15, I really wondered what was wrong with me. My sister, Laura, who is pretty practical, just said, "It looks like your body just needs some rest today." So I went with that--took it easy this morning, and was able to work out and walk the dog this afternoon. So I guess she was right--I just needed to listen to my body, and sleep when I needed to. (Do you ever think I'll get these simple lessons down?!)

I did get a phone call from Diane who works with Dr. Donovan, our cancer doctor. The tests show that I DON'T have that C-Dif infection that I had, and that is great news!!

Tomorrow morning I have a cat scan. I am a little nervous about what it might show. I don't think we'll have any results for a while. It's always that fear of the unknown, plus the waiting that just gets to you. I need to be as positive as my son, Brady, who is very sure that I'll be just fine. He's a good one to have around! Well, that's just about it for today--have a happy Thursday. Love to all, Louise

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It is Tuesday night, and there really isn't too much to tell. Even though I can't swallow practically anything (my 3 staples are water, Gatorade and applesauce--FUN, huh?), I still burp way too much. It is disgusting, and my kids think it's hilarious since I have always told them that burping is rude. With kids, you always have to eat your words, don't you?

Today I went on a walk with my dog--it was hard to dodge all the sprinklers, so we really didn't go that far. Then I worked out for a few minutes at the Piper Center gym. Keith is the guy in charge there (kind of like a personal trainer for all those of us trying to get back into some kind of shape after dealing with chemo and radiation and other fun stuff like that), and he is just the nicest guy ever. One lady in there told me that he even does some of the exercises with her when she's having trouble doing them herself. :) Kelsey goes on quick errands while I'm in there, so she did grocery shopping for me while I worked out. It worked out great.

I also did some reading today. I really thought I would read more while I was recuperating, but for so long I didn't feel like doing anything except sleeping. I am starting to do more now. I've even been doing some things on the computer. Still, I have to admit I get tired of being hooked up to my "tree" (where I get all lovely instant breakfast through my feeding tube). Oh well--I guess it's giving me nourishment and I should be glad about that.

I am going to post a picture of me with my grandson, Logan, at our Church's trunk or treat the night before Halloween. And that's how I'll end it for tonight. Thanks for all your posts today--they were so fun to read.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts on Cancer

This morning I found out that a friend of mine from church had passed away. She died after battling cancer for several years. She never gave up, and she kept trying new things, hoping that her situation would change. She had an incredibly positive attitude and was always a fighter. Cancer is such an awful thing. It seems like we hear every day of someone else who has some type of cancer. I think for all of us hearing the words,"They have cancer," is just so devastating. It too often sounds like a death sentence. But there are many cancer survivors and people who have been able to overcome it. We need to take hope from that. There are also many ways that cancer helps us to purge from our lives those things that really aren't important--things we think we HAVE to do, or goals that we feel we have to meet. Still, life goes on, and it is hard to watch people we love suffer, and it is hard to feel helpless when it comes to doing something for them. So cancer (or any other hard challenge we face) can help us care more about those around us, and help us become more spiritually in tune so we can really focus on our relationship with our Father in Heaven, and feel His love. It can help us just enjoy each day a little more, because each day is a gift. So, thank you to all of you who share this journey with me and with others who are suffering for various reasons--you help me laugh and enjoy life...even when it seems so uncertain. I love you, and thank my Heavenly Father for every one of you. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sabbath Snoozing

Hello everyone. It is Sunday night, and I was wiped out today when I got home from church. This was more a result of yesterday than it was of today...but today I had planned to take it easy this afternoon. I kept waking up from my nap, and then falling back asleep again--3 hours worth of napping! WOW--that's a lot of catching up to do!

I loved being at church, even though I have to say 2 hours this morning and 2 hours last night wore me out quite a bit. I saw so many people that I love there--and they were all so loving and welcoming to me. What a blessing friends are to me--they truly bring love and joy to me.

I am still struggling with swallowing. I can barely keep anything but liquids (water and Gatorade) down. That is frustrating. I should be getting better with that, and yet I'm not. I take little bites of things, but often I throw them back up. I would like to get off this liquid diet of instant breakfast, but until I can keep things down, I need the nutrients from the instant breakfast. I hope I can start eating things better--my whole family feels so bad watching me struggle with that.

Let me tell you about yesterday. Spence was gone the whole day--from way early in the morning until midnite. He went to the Bay Area to go to his uncle's funeral, and so we were on our own. Kelsey was feeling miserable with a cold, and so she was pretty incapacitated. Brady was trying out for his school basketball team, and had 3 games during the day when he had to play. So I went to those 3 different games, and came home to rest between the games. Kelsey and I also went grocery shopping--I was like a kid in a candy shop because it was so much fun to be in a store again! Wow--you do start to appreciate the little things! Then last night I went to that Church meeting for 2 hours--so I came home and crashed after all of that. So that is probably why I was tired today too--remnants of yesterday. But I made it through...and that was a good accomplishment. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A step at a time...


Thursday was a quiet day, but I didn't sleep as much. I worked out for a few minutes at the Piper Center--I'm taking it really slowly these days, but I am doing something. I even cooked dinner for our family--a real milestone, so I am doing a little more each day. :) My infection seems to be getting better each day...that helps me have more energy also. I even drove myself over to work out--I guess each of those "accomplishments" are steps on my road to recovery.

I wanted to share with you a picture of our cute Logan, our grandson. He looks like he is about to pray in this picture--he's pretty cute!

I am hoping we can go over for a few minutes of our high school football game tonight--first game of the play-offs. It's all a matter of how much energy I have--so we'll see how I do today. Have a great Friday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letting people help

One of the things that you learn when you are going through this kind of experience is how fiercely independent we try to be. We try to always take care of ourselves and never ask for help. It is not bad to be independent, but sometimes we need to recognize our need for help, to ask for it, and then be grateful for it--not an easy thing to do. Today I am thankful for my neighbor, Heather Huth, who asked me if she could pick up some groceries for me while she was at the store. She was going to be out running errands, and so I agreed to let her do that for me. I think we both felt good--I felt good because it really was a help, and she has wanted to do something to help me and hasn't been sure what the best thing was that she could do. We need to be willing to accept service as well as give it--and that is not an easy lesson to learn. I know that I am not always one that is good about accepting help. Thank you, Heather, for helping me and reminding me that it is good to get help. :)

I am feeling somewhat better today. Spence and I went to see the doctor. We will be setting up a cat scan in the next week or two to see how I'm doing. It was a beautifully cool day in Phoenix--practically perfect. Have a happy Veterans Day! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More ups and downs

I was challenged by a friend today to write more of what I am learning from this whole experience.That is a good challenge for me because I feel like I am just trying to survive each day...and maybe thinking about the whole thing would give me a better perspective.

Today I was hoping to go to the temple, but I had some more diarhea problems, so instead I spent the day in bed, and got back on the antibiotic. This seems to really wear me out, so I mostly just slept. This C-Dif infection that I have is what wears me out so much. I get frustrated by the ups and downs, because it seems like I am getting better...and then I have another set back. I guess that may be one of the lessons I'm supposed to be learning--to have patience during this whole ordeal, and take what comes with more trust in the Lord. I guess I would like to "call the shots," and have things go the way I would like them to. It is not easy for me to submit to the will of the Lord, because I want to do things my way. Maybe I'm going to keep having these setbacks, until I start learning how to really let the Lord lead the way in my life. Many people tell me that I have faith, but what I really need to learn is to have more faith in the Lord, and that his will will be the best thing for me, what ever that may be. Love to all, Louise

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not quite what I thought...

I was sure that I was going to church today, but when I had a rough night with a sore throat and a cough, I just felt like I couldn't go...and possibly expose myself to more germs. (I have never been paranoid about germs, but right now, with a lowered immune system, I have to be more careful.) So I was bummed out and couldn't go to any of Church. I always feel like I'm missing out big time when I can't go.

I also struggled today with swallowing a pill for my cold--it seemed like it took me most of the afternoon to finally not have any more repurcussions from just trying to swallow it. I kept gagging on it, and kept feeling like I had an obstruction in my throat. I think part of it is my swallowing problems, part of it is my stomach, and part of it is my own mental attitude. I am so paranoid about taking pills right now. I am so afraid that I won't be able to swallow them. I feel somewhat better from my cold--hoping that I can beat that right away.

Brady and Spence served me the sacrament, and my friend, Charlotte Portanova, came to visit. Jodie stayed with me all afternoon to make sure that I was okay! Thank heavens for my kids--they help me so much. Thank heavens for Spence also--yesterday he had the craziest day--everything broke on him here, he took Brady to his basketball game, he had all kinds of things to get ready for Sunday, and he had to go out and go grocery shopping for me at 11:00 last night. He deserves an award every day! Have a good Monday. Love to all, Louise

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Simple Saturday

My life isn't too exciting these days. I am trying to do a little more each day. Last night Spence, Brady, and I went to see the movie, "Secretariat," and we loved it. However, even sitting for nearly 2 hours made me really get restless. I was glad to get home where I could stretch out and be more comfortable. I just can't be out away from home for too long.

Today we went to the baptism of this darling Hawaiian girl in our ward--then we went to the "luau," that they held for her afterwards. It was a really nice thing to do. As soon as I got in their house, I found a place on the couch, and just planted myself there. In big groups like that, I just find somewhere to sit, and let others come and talk to me. It works out, and people are very nice to not just leave me alone. :)

I did some jobs around the house today--little jobs, but I hope they help in a little way. Kelsey and Brady are so good about helping out here, I felt like it was MY turn to do something to help them. Brady and I are both starting to get colds, so I hope we can get over them soon. Poor Spence--Saturdays are really busy days for him, with all he has to do around here...plus a bunch of errands for me. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I am looking forward to going to Church again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Another day in the life of...

I have just woken up from one of my several naps during the day. I try to do something (wash, dishes, a walk), and then usually I am ready to rest for a while. People keep reminding me that I am healing...so I will accept that. This has been a good week. I am so thankful to be feeling better. I have gone walking with my dog every day, and try to go a little farther each day. I am hoping to get back into working out at the Piper Center next week.

Since I am not being dehydrated by my sickness, it is amazing how much better I feel--more energy, not so tired, etc. I am thankful for medicine, and hope I won't have that nasty sickness again. I have actually gotten some reading done this week. Even with a bunch of books to read, I have not had much desire to read--it even takes energy, and I didn't seem to have that.

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day. I had to go to a meeting for my oldest daughter, Jodie, who is handicapped...and it went for 2 1/2 hours. That just totally drained me. Then we had another one that night--all I wanted to do was get home and relax. I really do need breaks.

Well, the great news of last weekend was that we are going to have another grandchild. Our daughter, Emily, is expecting in May--and we are thrilled at the thought of another grandchild! I still haven't downloaded my pictures--but the weekend was wonderful, and it has been fun to think of the happy memories of that time together. (It is also very nice not to have to keep any more surprises from Spence--that took a lot!!) Love to all, Louise

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hello from Scottsdale

This has been a pretty normal Tuesday--normal for when I'm feeling well. I went to hydration--amazing difference from last Thursday when I needed hydration so desperately. I actually stayed awake all during hydration. I've done some crocheting today, and some reading, and went for a walk with my dog--so it's been a pretty good day all in all.

I spent a lot of time today working on getting ready to vote--nothing like leaving it to the last moment. Spence delivered our early ballots.

I am still feeling better--don't know how things will go in my roller coaster recovery, but am thankful things are on an upswing right now. I am still thankful for this medicine that I'm on for the C-Dif--glad it's working. Well, that's it for today. Have a good Wednesday.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Monday

Well, that might be a little bit of a misnomer, inasmuch as my family all left today--the ones who live out of town. But we had a wonderful weekend together--we totally surprised Spence, which is a huge feat!! I will post pictures--probably some of Kelsey's since they are really good. We really planned for all of this to come off, and it DID!! Spence didn't suspect a thing, and was totally blown away when the whole family stood on our front door step, and yelled SURPRISE! :) It was the best. My kids really seem to love being together, and it is fun to see them have such a good time together. We have our one oh-so-cute grandson, who entertains us non-stop...and makes us all happy. We are so thankful for our Logan Boy!

We had time to laugh and talk and play games--we even had time for a car accident. Our car got rear ended, which took a few hours out of Saturday afternoon, but no one got hurt. However, Emily (our daughter), her husband, Michael, and our daughter-in-law, Keri, all were in that car--and felt the pains of it for the rest of the weekend. We hope they all will be feeling better soon. We played games and just had fun together.

It is a miracle that I could make this weekend. On Thursday I was so sick and so out of it--couldn't stop sleeping and felt terrible...as you know from some of our last posts. However, they did diagnose my sickness right, and got me medicine that has actually helped. I am so thankful. It was touch and go on Friday morning as to whether or not I would have to go to the hospital. I really didn't want to, with everyone coming into town. I think lots of prayers went up at that time, and I was so blessed to feel better and to be able to stay home. At night, when I got tired I would just put myself to bed...and let the kids keep enjoying themselves. I got the sleep I needed, and they were able to "play" like they wanted to. I do have many things to be thankful for on this Monday, especially for a great family. They not only were way fun to have around, they helped me so much with dishes, clean-up, etc. They are the greatest! Have a good day--thanks for all YOUR good thoughts also. :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Better News

I am so sorry to leave you hanging...even for a day. Things have gotten much better. I'm sorry--we seem to be taking you on a roller coaster ride. Spence went with me to the doctor's on Thursday, determined to find out answers, and determined to get me feeling better. The doctor said they were going to treat me for a condition called C-Dif (short for some long medical name), which can cause diarrhea. They wouldn't know for 3 days if I had it, but then they also did some blood work on me which showed that I did have it, so the medicine was right. I have felt much better--haven't slept 24/7, had energy, etc. So I just wanted to let you all know that I am doing better--thank heavens.

Then, the best part of all was that I didn't have to go to the hospital--and all our kids arrived here to spend the weekend with us and celebrate Spence's 60th birthday today. So glad I'm feeling better so I can take part in the festivities! :) Things are looking brighter, for sure--hopefully it can last.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Louise hits another pot hole on the winding road to recovery!

When it is Spence posting you know there must be trouble. Louise is having another one of those down times in her road to recovery. She has some kind of new infection in her body which has left her very miserable. She has had non-stop diahrrea for three days which has left her dehydrated, weak and looking for answers. I took the day off work and we went down to the cancer center to get help. They could tell by looking at her that she was so dehydrated. She spent about 6 hours there getting hydrated. They gave us stronger medication to clear up the diahrrea and another antibiotic to attack the infection they suspect is causing the problem. They won't know until Monday, after the cultures have bloomed, what the infection specifically is. The blood tests they took today will tell them more tomorrow. They do know that her white blood count is pretty high, giving them evidence of infection. The doctor was so concerned that she is giving it 24 hours to see improvement or Louise will have to go into the hospital tomorrow. This can get very serious.

She has spent the last 3 days in bed with zero energy to do much else. It is late right now. She has spent the whole afternoon and evening asleep. She doesn't feel much better but there is improvement in the diahrrea attacks. We are crossing our fingers that the medicine is finally working. Cross your fingers and say your prayers for her. She is learning what being sick is really like. We will let you know how tomorrow unfolds.

Spence

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Morning

For some reason yesterday, I was just really short on energy--I'm not sure why, but things really seemed to wear me out. I'm having a better start this morning, and hope that means that I WILL have more energy today. I am trying to hydrate myself--drink more water than I normally do--tomorrow is the only day I'm going to Piper Center to get hydrated. So I need to do better on my own. I know that drinking water is really important, so I need to keep doing that.

This is my favorite time of year in Arizona--the days are beautiful, and it is just perfect weather. It makes it a good time to walk too--but it is just so nice to finally have a break from the heat.

I think one of the things that tired me out yesterday is that I spent quite a bit of time on the phone. Isn't it funny how things that have never tired you out before can now make you tired? I feel like a wimp--because it's like I have to rest after every little thing that I do. Still I loved talking to people--so I guess it's the price I have to pay.:) Anyway, I really don't have much to say today--but I wanted to say hello and tell you all thanks again for writing so much on my blog. I love you all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to Church...FINALLY!

I was able to go to church today. I only made it through sacrament meeting (so I made it one hour instead of 3), but that was just so nice. I loved being there--I loved taking the sacrament, I loved seeing people, and I especially loved hugs from some of my younger friends (the little children). What a blessing to be back there. I still find I can only do one thing a day--I was hoping to go to a fireside tonight, but I just couldn't make it through another activity...but my strength and energy will increase, and I'll be able to do more. When I think of how much better I feel today than a week ago, I am thankful.

I am still having challenges with my eating--it's not my esophagus as much as it seems to be my sensitive stomach. My desire for things with a little more flavor needs to be curbed by the fact that my stomach just can't seemm to digeset those things. So it is more the jello and applesauce that I should eat...and go slower with the other things. Slightly BORING, but oh well!

During Church I experienced almost like a hot flash--and it may have been a bit of anxiety. However, the moment passed, and the rest of my time there went well. I still have to sit to talk to people--it wears me out to stand for too long. But all in all, it was a good day...and I am so very thankful I could go back to Church. I have missed it for the last several weeks--it felt like coming home to be there. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How Cool is YOUR neighborhood?


My neighborhood is the best, just in case you were wondering. I have known that for a long time--super nice people, friendly, caring, fun to be around...but today they have outdone themselves. Several of them showed up at my door this morning with this huge fall basket FULL of stuff--cards from their kids, all kinds of goodies, candy, fun Thanksgiving decorations, a beautiful fall wreath, a pumpkin carving kit, even a knitting magazine and yarn to make something (I think we might have to start a knitting group--they think I can teach them!!), candles, movie tickets...the list just goes on and on. One of them had decorated some pumpkins (so I can carve them if I want...or we can just let me stay decorated and call it good.) There were 3 different types of sparkling ciders--it just went on and on. Then they gave us a banner, which each of them had signed--expressing their love and hope and prayers for me. Talk about making me feel so special. I couldn't believe they all did that for me. These are people who have already brought me over dinners and goodies and taken Brady to basketball practices, and have been willing to do anything else that we might need. So it's not like they haven't already been doing a ton of stuff for us. But more than all the things in the basket was the feeling behind it all--showing their love and concern for me. They have been terrific. I have walked in the last couple of days and every one that I have seen has been so genuinely pleased to see me out walking. Everyone should be as lucky as I am to live in such a wonderful neighborhood. These are all very caring, loving people, and I count myself very lucky to call them my friends. I love and thank each of my friends on Lippizan Trail. You are truly the BEST!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Coming out Party

Last night I actually had a party at my house...and saw people!! It was wonderful. It was actually a book club for our women's group at church, but people came to my house...and I got to see people I haven't seen for a while. It was awesome! My family helped me get everything ready (and then cleaned it up too), so there wasn't a lot of work for me to do. It was good to visit with people. I can't stand for long--I don't have that much energy, but it was great to see people and to talk with them...and to feel like I was part of the world again. :) PLus it was a great evening. We were discussing a book that my brother-in-law, Greg Cootsona, wrote...and we fixed it up so that we could skype with him...so it was like having him there--he was actually projected on a screen and we could talk with him. It was so incredibly neat!! Of course, he's such a great guy and did an absolutely fabulous job. The women just loved him, and he opened it up to questions, and so it was very personal. So the whole evening was just terrific...and I was very thankful for my friends who were there, and for Greg, who is just the most awesome guy ever! :)I felt good during the evening, but I was very tired and slept very well last night.

Well, it is Friday. I go to the Piper Center to get hydrated, and then Kelsey and I have to go back so I can get my PICC line flushed out and cleaned for the week. I hope you all have a good Friday, and that this will be a good weekend for you. I love you, Louise

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What is HUGBOT...



WEll, I am ready to turn in my computer badge tonight. I just spent nearly an hour writing a blog entry only to have lost it. I posted pictures and the whole nine yards. I will try an abbreviated one, but if it doesn't work, I may give up for the night.

A hugbot--well, it's this cool thing that my nephew invented for me so he could send me a hug, since he can't give me one in person right now. It is this little person he made (and he sewed it all himself) which has long, spindly arms and a big smile, so he can brighten my day. I am posting a picture of him and then of me holding him (The pictures tend to be a little yellow because we were trying to take pictures without a flash--plus don't worry about me, I definitely look tired!). But he has always been a very cool nephew who is very thoughtful--I am thankful he would do such a nice thing for me. You are the best, Michael--thanks so much!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Normal Days are...GOOD!!

I lied. I promised pictures, but I still haven't downloaded them...so hopefully tomorrow. (Always manana, manana--is that spelled right for Spanish?!) I am sitting in my study, so that my ever trusty "slave" (sometimes known as husband) can clean my carpets and do my dishes. I DO have it "made in the shade," and we are all concerned that my re-entry into real life may have some very real adjustment problems!

Today was another good day. I went to hydration at Piper, and then came home to take a nap. Kelsey, my daughter, is always good to share that nap time with me. My cousin, Ginna Baird, came over to do a facial and put some make-up on me. We had such a good time--she even gave me a hand massage too, and that was wonderful. We had a great time, just talking too--she is very sweet. So that was a good thing. Brady and Kelsey ran errands, so I just had a quiet afternoon...and now tonight I have been hanging out here at home. It is so nice to be up more (I even helped some with the dishes!), and not be so out of it. I tried some jello and guacamole (YUM!) and some roll. So far I've kept everything down. I'm making baby steps, but every step to normalcy is a big one for me. Have a good Wednesday! Love you, Louise

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Night

I would like to thank all those who respond so often to my posts. That really means a lot, and it's nice to know that people are reading. :) I read and reread the things you write so it's all good. Thanks a lot.

I had another pretty good day. I am trying to slowly eat some things...and sometimes the things I eat don't exactly agree with my very sensitive stomach. Today I tried string cheese--my stomach rebelled on that one! So it was kind of a rough afternoon...but you live and learn. Tonight I have felt much better.

I was in the family room all morning (even though I was by myself). I did some crocheting and also some reading...and talked on the phone. I am trying to keep myself from atrophying so I do some exercises in bed. They are pretty wimpy exercises, but hopefully even the little things will help. So you can see it was a pretty non-eventful day, but I felt pretty well, and was up more...and didn't just sleep the whole day. Here's to a better tomorrow, and I'll post pictures tomorrow. I have some cute ones! Love to all, Louise

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Things are Looking Better

Wow, we've put you through some pretty discouraging blog posts. It's been a tough week, but things are getting better. For one thing my fever has gone down--that has made a huge difference. We think that it is the antibiotic that they put me on that has made that improvement. The nausea has been better too. They have tried a different formula which seem to make me feel more bloated, but we now do it at a lower rate so that seems to help too.

Probably the biggest difference has been prayers--they have been coming stronger than ever. Spence gave me a blessing on Thursday night, and it reallly seemed to help. However, another huge difference has been the care of Spence and my friend, Sharie. She has been here since Wednesday night, and has really helped me through some very tough days. She just lovingly cares for me--I can't describe the loving way she takes care of me. It has been a tremendous blessing. We have been friends since we were 9 years old--and her love shines through every little thing she does. She has been a great help around our house--does so much for each of us, but mostly it is just her gentle way of treating me, and caring for my every need. She is one of God's angels on earth--there is no doubt of that.

I am up more these days. I think it's important to get off of my bed and out of my room--and it's nice to be more a part of things. I am even eating very teeny bites of applesauce...and trying to do more of that. I just can't even tell you how good it has felt to return to the "land of the living." Thanks to all of you--I can't make it through this fight without your love and support and prayers and hope. I am blessed to have such a support system. :) Love to you all, Louise

Friday, October 15, 2010

Her body is in a state of rebellion

This is Spence again. Louise has been attacked by 33 radiation sessions and 7 chemo therapies. We thought she was going to make it through with just a few bad weekends but her body is now thinking otherwise. She made it through the weekend in isolation until the shots she got on Friday and last Monday brought her white blood cell count up to 3.7 on Tuesday and 7.4 yesterday. But, for some reason, her body has hit the wall. She really felt like she had the flu Monday and Tuesday... very weak and totally exhausted. Her diahrea was worse and her nausea and vomiting also got bad. Then Wednesday night the fevers started. They have been 99.4 to 101.4 with only a few breaks since then.
The doctor thinks it could be an infection of some kind, not necessarily brought on by the chemo, but one that the low wbc couldn't knock out when she was infected. She is as miserable as I have seen her. So they ran several tests on her yesterday (blood tests, lung x-rays, etc.) They hydrated her yesterday and are doing so again today. They are running more tests today. We are meeting with the dietician today to probably change her nutrient formula and slow down the pump. She will also be getting a stronger diahrea medicine that works. We are trying to do all we can to change her quality of life. Right now it is the worst!! We are very thankful that Sharie is here being the nurse and home manager. It is a big job. My second career will definitely be in medicine. I'm finishing up my internship right now. I am specializing in a little bit of everything.

So, if she isn't returning phone calls or emails, you now know why. She is still the loving people-oriented upbeat person who is struggling very hard with her rebellious body which is saying, "Enough is enough!" Keep those prayers coming, specifically that she can endure this latest setback.

Thanks,
Spence

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Day

I haven't written in here for a couple of days. I have actually felt pretty bad--running a fever and just feeling basically yucky. I go to the doctor today, and hope that he can give me some ideas to feel better. I was running a low-grade temperature, but now it is a little higher in the morning, which has us a little worried. I guess it is frustrating to me to feel like I have no energy and can't do anything. I was hoping that I would just start feeling better as soon as treatments were done. Things are never quite like we expect them.

The good thing is that last night my dear friend, Sharie Johnson, arrived from Salt Lake. She is wonderful to have around--and so comforting and soothing. Together we'll get me better. She's the best medicine I could have. :) So send good thoughts, and we're going to lick this infection thing. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

36 Years--WOW!


Rather than talk about cancer or recuperating today, I want to talk about one of the greatest blessings in my life...and that is being married to Spence. You see, today is our 36th wedding anniversary, and that is BIG NEWS! Marrying Spence was probably the greatest decision I made...besides joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both have blessed my life incredibly...and truly made all the difference.

Nothing in life is just perfect or goes just perfectly...but I would say that Spence and I are a darn good team. We have fun together, we laugh a lot, we share similar spiritual goals, and we love our children as well as the two great families we come from. We have a lot of awesome memories, and most of them center around great times at the beach.

Spence can appear to be very serious but he is very silly and crazy...and makes us all laugh. He can keep a very straight face, but you know he is laughing his head off inside. :) He is good at keeping a balance--between church work, family time, leisure and his job. I always have known that family comes first to him...and our kids know that too. They know he is someone they can come to to talk to about anything, and they all trust him and love him very much. He has been an incredible example to them of what a father and husband should be--what a blessing that is to them...and to me.

As you know from my many posts, he has been an amazing support to me during this cancer time. He will do anything to help me out...and he does. He is positive and encouraging and a huge spiritual support when my spirits lag. We probably won't DO anything fun today--wanted to go to the temple or the movies, but will probably just be home. But you know what--it doesn't really matter. We are togther and that is what has been the best about the last 36 years. Besides that he brought me the MOST beautiful roses--he keeps on spoiling me!! :) I love you, Spence--truly Heavenly Father blessed me by bringing you into my life. Here's to many more years together!

Sunday, October 10, 2010




Well, here are those pictures I promised you--you can see the Roxey logo, and then me with the "Zappers." All 3 of them were so awesome, and so supportive, and became my friends. Another cheer for the cancer center!
My entry earlier today was a little bit boring...sorry about that, but you know that's how life is. I've had a pretty good day. I didn't go to church today because of my "isolation order," but I have listened to some conference talks, labeled some pictures...and (wouldn't you guess it)--had a nap!!

My Saturday was all right. It's just about late afternoon that I start feeling a little bit bad. However, I just took an anti-nausea pill so hopefully that will help turn things around.

This week is my kids' fall break. Brady is actually looking forward to going to the cancer center, since he has never been there. I'm glad he can go. I'm going to explain a few things now. A friend thought that Spence and Kelsey did the Congratulations banner...but they didn't. That is something that the Piper Center does on your last day of chemo. They also give you a certificate of achievement that many of the workers there sign. I looked forward to my "graduation day!" Spence and Kelsey did bring me gifts though--a movie and flowers...and I loved those too.

I have an extremely clever friend who designed some t-shirts for the people who did the radiation for me. My sister, Laura, had named the 3 (a girl and 2 guys), Roxey and the Zappers, so my clever friend, Tracy Richards, designed shirts for them. i'm going to post the pictures and let you see how cute they were. I brought them to them on Friday (Roxey has the day off on Thursdays), and then we had to pose in them. Of course, I needed one too. :)That's about all for now--I hope you enjoy the pics!! :)

Sunday Morning

It is fairly early on Sunday morning. I thought I would write in here for sure yesterday, and I was doing pretty well. Then late afternoon I started feeling kind of yucky...and mostly just slept on and off for the rest of the evening. In fact, Spence had done way too much yardwork, so the two of us were fairly worthless. Thank heavens for Brady, who put together dinner and cleaned it up. He held us together! :)
I may download my pictures later today, but just wanted to do a quick update this morning. I had a few phone calls yesterday, and really enjoyed talking to my sister, Susan, who lives in France. We talked for an HOUR! As I have said before, she has been very attentive to me, and I really appreciate that.

This has been my time to practice saying "yes to no." I have had some phone calls from people who wanted to come see me. Because of my low white blood cell count, I really have to say no...and stay isolated. That is way HARD for me...especially when dear friends came in from out of town and wanted to visit. But I did it, and hope that alll of this isolation will rebuild my immune system. I like to be with people, and I hate to miss out on anything fun! :)So, for now, I'll just say good morning, and hope that you all have a very pleasant and uplifting day. Love you, Louise

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Slight Glitch in the Plans...




Well, here are a few pictures of the day. You need to celebrate every little victory. Sometimes we wait for EVERYTHING to work out right...and then we miss out on celebrations along the way. That's no good. :) Spence brought me the movie, "Pollyanna" (fun stuff!) and Kelsey brought me my favorite flowers, Stargazer Lilies! I just noticed for the first time as I walked into the building this saying. They live those words at the Piper Center each and every day.


What did I tell you about anticipating? Things just never are quite the way you think they're going to be! Every week before I do chemo, they have to run blood tests, to make sure that my white blood count is high enough. Every week they have been just fine to do chemo...except for today. Today my white blood cell count was low. That could mean that they would postpone doing chemo because it might be too hard on my body. However, they consulted with the doctor and went ahead with the chemo. Because of my white blood cell count being lower, they know that I am in a "compromised" position, to fight infection. So, I am now in lock-down hibernation, imposed on MYSELF! (also imposed by a few other key people in my family and some of my most protective cancer helpers at the Center) I can't have visitors or go places, except to the Piper Center. I could feel pretty yucky this weekend, but am praying that I won't feel too badly.

I have had another pretty good day at home. Even though things didn't go quite as planned, we had fun celebrating at chemo and radiation, celebrating the last treatment, we hope, for forever! SO I'm going to include some pictures, and hope they work out. I think you should at least VISIT a cancer center--it is incredible the love and outpouring of genuine concern that you feel there...and it's for everyone. They're all pulling for you! Love to all of you wonderful people!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010



Tonight is that much-anticipated night before the BIG DAY! Sometimes anticipation is much greater than the actual event. Since I don't know HOW I'll be feeling, I'm just very thankful that I'll be THROUGH. When I think of the agonizing hours and days and months that others go through, I know mine hasn't been as big a trial...but it has STILL been a trial to me.I know there is still suffering and yucky days to come, but I am thankful that tomorrow is the last day of treatments. HOORAY! :) I get teary-eyed over "leaving" the people who have helped me through each day. They are amazing people...and bless lives constantly. I feel like I have a whole new group of friends that have experienced things with me that I've never experienced before. Again, in another way I am richly blessed.

Kelsey and Brady are normal children, don't get me wrong, but they are also fabulous helps. They help me through taking medicines that I don't want to. Tonight, Brady had basketball practice, and I got a little faint before he left. He told me that he would be totally fine to miss practice, just to stay here with me. He's a sweetheart. I am including a picture of each of them in here, since I was talking about them. Here am I several weeks ago with Kelsey, and then here is crazy Brady, with my college roommate, Suzy Jensen. CUTE KIDS!!

Chad Cherrington, who has been my neighbor for all our life here in Scottsdale, went with me to treatments today. I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Chad and I are very close, and can talk and laugh about just about anything. We had a great time being in the chemo room. Chad even asked if he could have an IV bag, so he would look like he belonged there. :) We never run out of things to talk to--he is a wonderful friend and so close he is like family too. My family is expanding...:) Well, until tomorrow, my party day, good night, sweet dreams and I love you all!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hail on Tuesday!

Hi Guys! Pretty soon my days are going to be like today. I was in and out of radiation, and that was all I had. I loved it! (I willl REALLY enjoy the days when I have nothing to go to!) My sister-in-law, Marti Jones, took me today...and it was very nice to be with her. We sat and visited for quite a while afterwards. I loved being with her. I like being able to share with so many people how they do the radiation, etc.--I think it helps people to understand better what I'm going through. I am so thankful they are so interested in it all!
I played the piano today, did some reading--I got this really cool book called Anti-Cancer, and I think I will learn a lot from it. Hopefully I can improve some of my habits...and live a healthier life. Never fear all you who know me too well--I will ALWAYS have several vices!!
I also went somewhere other than the Piper Center--that was a definite YES!! Kelsey and I went to JO-Ann's, and did a little shopping. It felt wonderful to actually drive on the freeway, instead of driving the same old way to Piper! :)
We had the craziest day of weather here in Scottsdale. Arizona can be pretty much the same--dry, hot days, but every now and then nature bursts through with quite the surprising and dramatic weather. Today we got golf ball sized hail really coming down. Then it rained quite a bit, then it hailed some more. We love any change in weather, but this caused quite a bit of damage. That is when it is nice to be safe and sound (or so you think) in your home.

Well, that was my Tuesday. I felt pretty good, I am thankful for the things I could do...and I am so very thankful that I only have 2 more days of therapy. Didn't Spence do a great job last night describing what's going on with me? I have always admired his ability to explain things clearly. :) Love to all, Louise

Monday, October 4, 2010

My "Superwoman's" medical status and longer vacation!

Hi! Superman here (more like Stupidman). We had just watched an old "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy dressed up as Superman to appear at little Rickie's party because the real Superman couldn't make it. She tried to jump through the front window from a ledge 3 stories high but didn't do so when she saw the real Superman already at the party. So I guess I tried to do the same dumb thing unintentionally but only the ladder made it through the front window. I watched it go through as I was laying on my back.

Anyway, I wanted to give you a medical update and a brief idea of where Louise is headed once the chemo and radiation finish up this week.

Many of you wonder why she is still having it in week 7 when it was only supposed to be 6 weeks. From the beginning she was supposed to have 33 radiation sessions. She skipped labor day, so that meant that in the 7th week she would have a make-up session. The chemo department said she should not have 4 sessions of radiation without a chemo treatment so they scheduled a final chemo session for Thursday. They have told us all along that the chemo enhances the radiation and vice-versa. They tell us that the radiation will continue to radiate in the cancer cells after radiation is over because of the set-up of the chemo on the cells. I don't understand how all that works but then I also don't understand why 33 days of a radiation gun doesn't burn a hole right through her either. So I work by faith that they know what they are doing.

Today Louise and I met with Dr. Racine, the radiation oncologist, with whom we have met every Monday. She told us that she would not have just 6 weeks after chemo and radiation to heal, but more like 3 months. They would not give her the pet scan until 3 months later. She said it would take that long for the radiation and the chemo to completely leave the body and it would give the body enough time to repair itself and get the immune system functioning at full strength again. She felt like the petscan would pick up inflamation and even the radiation as "false reads" for cancer if they had the test any earlier. She did say that other scans could be done after 6 weeks like a catscan or an MRI. She also thought the GI doctor should do another endoscopy some time in that 3 month period to assess the size or existence of the tumor. But she said the surgery would not be done for at least 3 more months (if it is needed) because Louise would need to be full strength for the surgery. She emphasized how difficult this surgery is and how many risks there are and she is really hoping it won't be necessary. We were very pleased to know that Louise would be able to go through Thanksgiving and Christmas without surgery to ruin it. It would more likely be the end of January. I asked how safe it was to go that long without chemo. She said that the effects of the chemo and radiation would go well into the 3 month waiting period and this type of cancer was not a particularly fast growing. We should not worry about that at all.

So that is kind of our new schedule to look at. This Thursday will be the last day of radiation and chemo and I would also think she would not need to be hydrated 3 times a week either. We look so forward to this "vacation" period coming up where she can now totally recover from fire and poison she has so courageously endured.

Let me give you my "caregiver" view of her present state. She endured almost 5 weeks with mild effects of the treatment. Saturdays were always tough days for her but Sundays would get better. In the last two weeks, Fridays were tough days and she'd hit the worst time on Saturday evenings and nights. Last Saturday night she was up feeling crummy most of the night. She has been really zapped of energy most of the days now. Almost two weeks ago I think the radiation (that does hit part of her upper stomach) and the chemo did a job on her stomach lining and peristaltic muscles that move the food along. If she put any amount of food in the stomach she would get violently nauseated and would throw up. The doctors ordered a pump for her that would take her carnation calorie formula and would drip it into her system at 50 mil per hour for 20 hours per day. Overnight it gives her half of what she needs in a 24 hour period. The slow drip fakes out the stomach so it never feels like it is getting loaded up. This also means she takes almost nothing in orally except water with a little flavoring. With anti-nausea pills and the drip system, she has avoided most nausea for the last 10 days. She is dealing with many other problems though. She still has diarrhea, thrush, a painful esophagus, a gag sensation at swallowing anything and for the last 4 days a new pain in the back right at the level of her tumor. We give her liquid advil in her food tube for that 3 times a day. It does eliminate the pain but the pain comes back every time it wears off. The oncologist assured us that pain was not cancer in the back. She said if the cancer were spreading through the lymph and blood it would be too much of a coincidence that it would loge in the back at the very level of the tumor. She felt like it was more likely to be from the effects of radiation on back tissue since that was where the radiation was aiming.

I know this is getting long so I will quit. I just want to say again how amazing Louise has been through all of this. No one really knows but her how miserable it has been for her. How would you like to have double or triple flu for 7 weeks and be tethered to a pole and bag of formula for so many weeks. How much she wants to bite into the chicken and jello that the Barnetts brought us tonight but can't even try a morsel. But she just goes on enduring with hardly a complaint. I love her so very much. It has taken a lot out of me to see her suffer like she has. Sometimes I lay by her side and don't sleep. I just watch her enduring and worry about her next run to the bathroom. But she smiles and tries to reassure me as well as possible.

Thanks again to all of you who have flown in and stayed with us and done so much for us physically and emotionally. Thanks to so many who have brought so many meals we can't keep up with them all. Brady was bemoaning all the weight he has put on lately because of these meals. Thanks for so you that have taken her to therapy each day. Thanks for the many wonderful visits. You all have won a place in heaven for your love and thoughtfulness. Love to all, Spence