Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mom Genes

Hi everyone, this is Nicole's lesser half Derrik. I'm going to help keep this blog up to date with the latest cancer trends and hottest medical gossip. 

I have a lot I want to share in general (because sharing is caring) but I'm going to keep this post short and to the point. We received some great news on Friday! Nicole's genetic testing came back and her cancer is not a genetic mutation which means two things:

1) Nicole shouldn't have increased risk of getting other cancers like ovarian cancer. This also means they don't have to take additional preventative measures like removing her ovaries and other various inside parts.

B) Our kids shouldn't be more at risk of developing cancer in their lives than other kids.

I'm sure our kids will be grateful that they don't have to deal with those mom genes. #NoMomJeans

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Good and Bad

Last Saturday we woke up to a little surprise and by little I mean the best of my life. Our families had set up an Easter egg hunt in our back yard. They said to open one egg. In that egg was a few hundred dollar bills. We just stood there crying.

We collected all the eggs then opened them inside. They were full of money, notes, gift cards, treats, and toys. I was so emotional through the whole thing. To be on the receiving end of such a wonderful surprise was so humbling. There were donations from our closest family and friends, to old neighbors and acquaintances, and people we barely or didn't even know.

After that day I hate to say it but this week has been a little tougher. On Monday night we stayed at my sister, Angie's house in Orem to be closer to the doctors appointments. We woke up on Tuesday, went to get in the car and realized the car had been towed. Great. We didn't realize you couldn't park on the street over night. That wasn't the worst thing ever but I was already feeling a bit down and that just added to it. Also my guilt was hitting really hard. Angie was watching the kids ALL day, though she says they were good and she wanted to help it is still so hard to watch others care for your children when that is all you want to do. I should be taking care of them, not sitting in some doctors office.  Also my wonderful sister-in-law set up a go fund me to help us cover some medical costs, the guilt I felt as I watched people donate money was a bit overwhelming. I can't even begin to express how grateful we are that so many people are so generous but again, that should be something we should take care of on our own.
I was texting a friend about my pity party and she responded "..the last thing in the world you need is to feel guilty about anything. I think that is a tool of the adversary..." Boy did that speak to me. All of these people are trying to ease our burden and make life a little easier for us. I should be nothing but grateful. Satan is tricky and knows just how to bring you down.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; 
but of power, and of love, and of sound mind"
2 Timothy 1:7

I know all good comes from God and I can see Him helping me through this trial. I am still functioning because of Him and the people that are praying for us. It is not a coincidence that the weekend I was told I have cancer was Conference weekend and the next Sunday was Easter. The power and love I have felt over these last two weeks has been incredible.

We also moved the surgery date up to May 3rd just to keep this thing up to date. 

Back Yard- Before and After

When we moved in this house in 2013 the backyard was completely over grown and had not been kept up. The yard itself was a good size but you would never know because it only had grass on about half, the other half was huge bushes and trees (dead and alive) and weeds as far as the eye could see. We knew what we wanted to do, but landscaping totally intimidates me so we focused on one area per summer. The first year we worked on the front yard, but I'll save that for another post. The next year we worked on what the homeowners were calling the "garden". We laid sod and built raised vegetable garden boxes. Then last year we decided to call in some professionals to help us level the lot and get rid of the trees and huge rocks. We also had to put in a completely new sprinkler system.

This is the house looked like when we moved in. If you can see through all of those weeds straight back there was a large berm up against the back fence. Also notice that huge holly bush sitting just behind that tree. It was covering what we thought was a small rock, once we pulled that out we realized the rock was about 6 feet wide.

Here it is now. Obviously they were taken at different times of the year. That tree doesn't get leaves till almost June, he's a late bloomer.

This is standing on the back patio looking at the detached garage to the left.
We pushed that garden area closer to the garage, took out the overgrown and dying trees. I planted some euonymus in the hopes that one day they will be a beautiful hedge. We also added the shutters to the window.

Again, on the patio looking at the back of the house on the right. This is what the previous homeowners were lovingly calling their garden.

Here you can see our raised beds, and the new sod. I just planted all of the box woods last year. Hopefully soon they'll fill the space a bit more. But I'm loving the clean simple garden

These were taken the spring after we moved in, after we had cleaned out the yard a little. Behind the garage there were piles of wood, lots of trash trees and more berms

 We built this shed last summer, we love it! It is big enough to fit our lawn mower, snow blower, and all out tools with room to spare. We still need to landscape around it but considering where we started we are feeling pretty good about it.

 At this point we had taken out that HUGE holly bush that covered the rock and got rid of 3 enormous piles of rocks.
After 2 years in the house we knew we couldn't do it alone so we had to hire some help to come in to level the property and to move the HUGE rocks
Such a difference! We are wanting to add a peach tree back here since they are my absolute favorite!

I cant believe how far the backyard has come! I cant wait to enjoy it this summer. Also the fact that we did so much last year is such a blessing because this year we don't have to worry about it with everything else going on. We just get to enjoy our time together! Just like everything else in our life we couldn't have done it on our own, friends and family helped us lay sod, guys there was so much sod. Also the day we received our Easter fundraiser family and friends came to help us clean it up. What a wonderful surprise!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Plan, as of today

I've been hesitant to write out what the plan is to get rid of this stupid cancer because it is always changing. But the reason for this blog is to keep everyone updated and I'll just update it as much as I need to. It has been one hell of a week. When the week is over we will have had 6 Dr appointment (one of which is for Baby Jude's 6 month appointment.)
As of now this is how it's looking:

I'm starting IVF to freeze and harvest my eggs today. This is something that we are praying we won't have to resort to using when the time comes but we won't know until we're trying to have more children. This will be about a two week process. I'm not fond of needles but I think by the time this is all over I'll be a little more used to them.

Bilateral Mastectomy: 
On May 8th I'll have a double mastectomy. In this surgery they'll take out all the tissue from both breasts, check to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and put my port in. For anyone not familiar the port is something inserted in my skin, right below the collarbone, this is used for chemo so they don't have to stick you for the IV every time. I'll have that in for about a year. They will use that port for antibiotics after the actual chemo treatments are over. 

If the cancer has NOT spread to the lymph nodes, which we won't know fully until surgery, then I will receive chemo once a week for 3 months. They say this treatment is not too intense.  Hair loss is still a side effect but nausea, fatigue, and body aches aren't as big of an issue. However, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or beyond, I'll be doing chemo once every 3 weeks for about 5 months. But because this is a much stronger dose the symptoms are hair loss, fatigue, nausea, body aches and pretty much ruining your chance of having children naturally. Fingers crossed it hasn't spread. 

Recovery then Chemo: After surgery I'll have a 3-4 week recovery period before I start chemo. My goal is to have this all over with by October. It's my most favorite month EVER! Also I will be turning 30 and Baby Jude will be turning 1! So lots to look forward to.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Temples and how they changed my life

The temple has literally changed my life. Growing up I always knew I wanted to be sealed in the temple. The thought of being with my husband and children, that I had yet to meet, forever seemed very appealing. If you chose to be with someone for this life wouldn't you want that to carry on for eternity? Um, yes please! So when that beautiful sunny day came in late July almost 8 years ago, my world changed. I knew that no matter what happened in this life we would always be together. Through the last 8 years we have visited the temple for so many reasons; to support friends or family going through for the first time, to support someone who is going through a trial, for date night, for a girls night out, to witness two people being sealed for time and eternity, to witness an adopted child be sealed to their family. Each and every one of those experiences was special, but my most recent experience is one I will never forget and changed me. Last Tuesday night some friends organized a night we could all go together. Being there with some of the people that I love most in this world lifted me and made me feel so loved, I think more then I have ever felt in my life. Pure love, sacrifice, support and heart ache. Through this process sometimes I need people to tell me I got this, I can do it, I'm strong and other times I just need someone to cry with me. This was all of that.

I know that no matter what this life brings my way I can handle it, I know it will be hard but I also know I'm not alone. Heavenly Father has blessed me with the most loving family and friends. I also know that I can do this with His love. Through prayer, scripture study, attending church and the support from those I love most and from those I have never met are the things that will keep me going.

"The tests of life are tailored for our own best interests and all will face burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Unpleasant Surprise

When I first got the news of course I was devastated but my initial reaction was "I can do this" Yes it will be hard. Yes this is not something I want. But when this is all over I can hopefully get past and see the positive that came from it. But when I heard that I might not be able to have children after chemo, that is when my world came crashing down around me. Just recently I was talking to a friend and I had mentioned I felt like my family wasn't complete and I can't wait to meet our future children. So this news was the cherry on top of the turd I was just handed. Immediately I was told if having more children was something I wanted then IVF and freezing my eggs needed to happen. It's hard not to think if we just started having children sooner then this wouldn't be an issue but then I think about Penny and baby Jude and I know they wouldn't be here if that was the case. I was meant for this and the timing is exactly what it is supposed to be. But man oh man this just ads fuel to the fire.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This is not what we expected

photo cred: Ciara Richardson Photo

To have to write these words down is so sickening. I have breast cancer, (breathe) being 29 and getting a diagnosis like that is all sorts of shocking. It doesn't run in my family, I am healthy, active, and I didn't do anything to tick off the big guy upstairs, at least I don't think so. The days have been a blur. Friday was just shocking, Saturday was doomsday, Sunday and Monday were pretty good, but  Tuesday and today have been OK, I could be better. My emotions are all over the place. Please bear with me through all this. I'm going to try to be as honest as possible and I'm hoping that when I have a good day and I'm optimistic about something, anything, you won't hold that against me when I'm feeling like my world is crashing around me. I pray that by being honest it will help someone, or heck help me.

This whole journey started just over a month ago. I found a lump in my right breast and immediately thought, oh this is nothing. I called my OB to have it checked out the following Monday. My Dr. wasn't concerned, neither was the Radiologist that I saw right after. He did suggest getting it removed since it was growing fast. I got an appointment for the next morning to see the surgeon, there I got another "this is nothing". There is about a 1% chance these lumps turn into anything. I scheduled the lumpectomy for 2 weeks later. After that surgery I felt great. The surgery went well and it didn't slow me down in the slightest. I went in for my followup on Friday, March 31st. The Dr. asked me about the scar and I blabbed on about how great I felt yadda yadda. He then said that the results came back and it wasn't what they were expecting. At that moment my heart sank. He then proceeded to tell us I have breast cancer and it is aggressive. My world changed forever in that moment.

At this time we aren't sure of so much. We do know I'm at least at a stage 2 considering the size, but we won't know until the MRI is done. We also aren't sure if I'm just so unlucky as to be that 1% that got it randomly or if it's genetic, my family doesn't have a history so we are hoping that is not the case. Those 2 things will make the path a little clearer. We do know another surgery is something that will need to happen as well chemo.

These past few days have been so incredibly hard as well as such a blessing to me. I have seen more love then I ever thought possible. So many family and friends have done so much to show they care and I can not say enough how much it has meant to us. Endless notes, texts, hugs, and tears have been exchanged. I also have to share with everyone how incredible Derrik has been. He has pretty much had both kids non stop, woken up with baby Jude about every hour at night while he has been sick. Derrik has made appointments and taken notes at them. He has cleaned the house written me notes and organized pretty much every aspect of my new normal. He has been so strong and kept me afloat, I honestly would be lost without him. Man oh man, if you see this guy please tell him you love him, he is pretty much the best thing around.

I'm going to try an keep up with this blog through my journey. They might be quick little updates but this is a great way to keep family and friends in the loop. And just so the posts don't get to depressing I'm going to add photos or maybe quotes that are helping me in that moment.

He will not always take your afflictions from you, 
but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.
 -Thomas S. Monson