Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's My Birthday and I'll Cry if I Want To

I'm all smiles and strength. That's what people need to see. That's what my kids need to see. That's what I need. 

Putting on a brave face does help me stay positive and hopeful even when times are hardest. It's like you can "trick" your emotions into being happy when that's definitely not the first emotion that you feel. You can say "things are going well" enough times and actually start to believe yourself. I know this is important in my path to becoming cancer free. A positive attitude can, and has been what I rely on to get through each day. I try to see how much I do have. 

My beautiful kids, my fairytale true love that I get to be married to, an awesome support system in friends and family, and so much more. I think the key to having a sunny outlook is gratitude. 

Even with all that said. I am sitting alone, on my 32nd birthday, in my hospital room (it has practically become mine because I've been here so often) and I'm sobbing. Not just getting teary, but sobbing uncontrolably. Tissues are all over the place in my dimly lit room. It doesn't happen often, and especially not when people are here. Just when I'm alone. 

I'm not ashamed of this because I feel like this is also a healthy behavior. It is cleansing. 

So because I don't break down often, when I do I do it right! I cry until my eyes are ugly puffy and my nose is red and hurts from blowing it so much. I just let myself get it all out and I usually feel better. 

It only takes a few minutes of this and I'm "cured" of my blues. I think the process of my treatments just start to wear me down and I don't realize it right away. My life has so many wonderful distractions (my kids and husband) that I don't get sad often anymore. 

Being in the hospital is a rude awakening to the seriousness of my situation though. I think I minimize it to help me put good energy and love into my family. Like I said, you start to believe yourself! 

Even as I am typing, I started out not even being able to see the screen through my I'm not crying. Writing is very therapeutic too. It helps me control my mind. 

Sometimes if I'm left alone with my thoughts too long I start to now. So I start to type and it helps me realize that yes, I am crying and it is a major bummer to spend your birthday in the hospital, but I am grateful for so much.

So again I have changed my emotions through intentional actions and positive words and thoughts...until next time. And next time will definitely come, but I know I can get through this. Not only physically, but emotionally.

I am stronger than I think. Well more accurately, I am strengthened when I need it. I know that my faith in Jesus Christ is the rock I need to stand on. I know He suffered and died for us. I know that He knows my physical and emotional pain and He is there to send his angels to comfort me, and that I am never really alone. That is my testimony, in His holy name, amen.

Oh...and Happy Birthday to me!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Last Radiation Appointment...

I walked into the office alone. I felt well enough to drive myself and I was proud of that. It was my last scheduled radiation therapy for the ever shrinking tumor in my brain, thanks to Dr Flores' expertise. After today the plan is just to get an MRI in 3 months. 

I am in the waiting room for what feels like 2 minutes before they call me into the radiation room with the Novalis machine in it. I had met with Dr Flores the day before, so I didn't need to see him today. 

Just my final radiation treatment.

Dr Nick Flores (far right) and the Novalis radiation machine

I knew the routine well. I have come out to Scottsdale everyday for the last few weeks. After a friendly greeting from the tech I remove my earrings and lay on the hard, narrow table. Making sure my head is cradled just right in the plastic head-shaped holder. She gets my "mask" and pins my head down to the table to ensure the correct position. 

"Is that okay?" She asks. 

"Uh-huh" I answer...trying to sound like I'm content. The sooner we start, the sooner it's over.

Me in my mask while lining up the laser

I now cannot move my mouth or jaw, only make throat sounds. Even though I say that I'm ok, putting that mask on my face seems to take my breath away for a split second every time. It is just so tight and fits my face exactly. I would think that having your face trapped and your head pinned down to a table would never  become a comfortable experience. No matter how "used to it" you get.

She lines up the laser lights on my head and says, "okay, here we go." Then she leaves the room.

Laying completely still the room is quiet for a few seconds, then the machine turns on. A series of buzzing and beeping sounds start up. There is a part of the machine that actually moves around my head, buzzing and I can see a flashing a light. 

This lasts about 6 minutes.

Finally the tech comes back in and starts to undo the latches that are holding the mask down. 


I grab my purse off of the table and give the girl a hug. She is sweet and we've developed a nice relationship.

"Alright, you're all done! You can take this home if you want." She hands me the mask.

I grin and say "why not" and take the weird contraption. Unsure if I really do want it. 

Wow. I'm not just done for the day...I'm done, done. 

While walking out of the office, I felt happy and proud of myself for completing this huge task. But I really had no one to share it with...because I drove myself. 


To remedy this I was sure to talk to some unsuspecting people in the waiting room and proudly tell them it was my last day. They eagerly congratulated me and wished me well.

I stepped outside, into the parking lot and immediately stopped in my tracks. I had a thought that made me want to run back inside and ask if I have to be done. If they are sure radiation is over. Maybe I needed a few more just to be sure.

I started to tear up. 

What in the world would make me want my radiation treatments to last longer? 


My oncologist was waiting for radiation to be over so we could start chemo. All of a sudden I was scared...and still alone. This part ending meant the next part had to begin. The worst part.

I guess I hadn't really dealt with my fear...despite the strong faith of my last post.

I slowly walked to my car and sat down. I cried as I texted my husband, Jess. The surprising feelings that seemed to dump onto me came out in my message. He promptly texted me back that he would call me as soon as he could get away from his work.

He is my rock and my strength. We we are not only still in love, but are the best of friends. 

I wiped my soggy eyes and got on the road. I had to move forward. It was the only way to reach my goals. I do feel like the finish line keeps being moved farther away, but I will never stop moving forward to get across it.

I got home fine. I got a chance to talk to my Jess. I cried more, but I was okay. I wasn't alone anymore. I was safely tucked into his arms and I never wanted to leave. 

He said he was proud of me. I knew we had to move on to the next step...scary as it may be. But we will do it together. We are a team.

Isn't he so cute? ;)

Jess and Val forever 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Familiar Road

Today Jess and I met with my oncologist. I had a PET scan done about a week ago and it showed more lymph nodes affected by the lymphoma. I heard the phrase "just one chain of lymph nodes on the right side" (of my chest), but past that I am unsure about size or exact location.

Bummer. (understatement...haha!) 

This means what he is suggesting is more chemo. 

I don't know why exactly (I have an idea), but I felt so well prepared for this news. I am not upset, sad, mad, confused...or anything like that. I just feel ready to do this and complete the task ahead of me. I know this road. I've been here before. It's not a nice journey, but I can find the beauty in the scenery along the way. Good and happiness are all around. Sometimes life just puts you in a situation where you  need to work a little harder to find it. Bring it on because I am as stubborn as they come and I welcome a challenge...just ask my patient, loving husband of 12 years! Hehehe! :~D Plus I know that I am never going to have to travel my road alone. I have my friends, family and my faith in Jesus Christ to comfort me.

A long, windy road. Glad I don't travel alone!

I do have to get another MRI of my brain to see the progress of the tumor in there. My radiation oncologist is hoping for the best and possibly only having to do 5 more sessions of the radiation. Radiation has to be done before we can move to chemo.

Well, that's all I've got for tonight. I have been sleeping better since I've been off the steroid, so I have been feeling much better. I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts!

Good night and may we all be blessed by God's wisdom and feel His love.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Get THIS Song Stuck in Your Head!

We just recently watched this movie as a family. Beautifully done.

When Joseph's trials seem to come to an unbearable peak, this is the song of his heart.

It has been stuck in my head for days and is serving as a blessing to my spirit. A great "theme" to be running through my head during tough times.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Brain is Beautiful

I found this picture of a brain and I just love it. It is alive, active, it is giving and receiving information, like it should. A beautiful picture.

I am big into using visualizations, so when I found this I knew how to exactly picture my healthy brain, as I want it to be! I use a few visualizations actually. Jess and I were finally able to SEE the growth in my head on Wednesday, and seeing it really helps me to visualize it shrinking with every treatment.

...on that note...
We knew there was a tumor in my brain. We knew it was big enough to cause problems...we even knew the approximate size in cm...but when you see the actual picture from inside of your head...having something in there that doesn't're never really prepared. It is never as small as you pictured or hoped. 

It was too big.

Of course I'm going to say that though. I want there to be nothing in there...well...good brain You know what I mean.

We are currently working on getting good images of the scan to put up and update our website...

...but in the meantime, picture this:

Place a 1x1x1 inch mass about at the intersection of where the red, green and blue colors meet in this digram. Central to the back of the brain. It isn't on the "edge" or outside. It is embedded pretty well into the healthy brain matter. No  real "short" route to get there for the radiation beam.

Fortunately (with that as crazy as it sounds) all I'm struggling with is vision loss and balance problems. Physical things. Not memory loss, personality changes, problems with names, faces, or other even tougher things lose.

So grateful for that too!


Here is what it looks like when I am on the table getting my brain back to normal (as "normal" as I ever was, lol) . Kind of creepy. Kind of barbaric looking too. 

But I look strangely at peace here too. 

Having your face secured down onto a table forces you to find an instant happy place to be. That's when I use my favorite healing visualizations. It is a power my mind has that I want to let have full reign.


"My brain is a beautiful, complicated machine that is going to heal and fully function one day soon. The mass is shrinking everyday. My progress is growing everyday."


Friday, September 7, 2012

"More Of Me To Love"

...more of me to love?!??
This was my radiation Dr's cute (and actually kind of funny) comment as he and I were discussing the weight gain and swelling in my face and body. Due to the steroid that I have to take until the tumor is under control, I am dealing with this very uncomfortable feeling. I hate it.

Being very fitness-minded since I was 13 years old, sometimes the mirror is a hard foe to face.

I guess I am more vain than I like to I'm a girl! ;)

I'm only comparing myself to myself of course. I know my body. I know how it should feel. Even post baby, when I've had extra weight to loose, my body NEVER felt like this.

I'm short, and have a small frame, so an extra 15-20 lbs (I hope not more...ahhh) is very noticeable.
I often feel like I have a layer (or two) of bubble wrap around me. I have actually lost muscle weird. I hate drugs...

So this is my venting post for today, BUT HERE IS MY POSITIVE SPIN...

Yes. I'm getting bigger and self-concious...but I'm ALIVE!

Yes, I've gained weight...but we are shrinking the tumor!

Yes, I may be wearing workout pants all the time...but I'm going to LOVE shopping when this is all over!

Yes, I struggle with it emotionally...but the beautiful thing is that Jess makes me feel no less beautiful. He is the glue that holds me together.

"More of me to love" is ok while we shrink the tumor.

I accept it and I embrace my life with gratitude everyday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Such Early Mornings! My Spiritual Rise and Shine!

In waking up way too early (again) this morning I had to find myself something to do.

Yesterday I thought cleaning toilets and scrubbing floors was a good way to spend my early-morning energy... but this morning I sought out a spiritual message to set the tone for my day.

Yesterday it did work out quite well though!!! I cleaned in the quiet of a sleeping, peaceful house...then got to spend the rest of the day being able to focus on getting to doctor appointments, taking care of my kids and spending time with my family. Which made for a nice day! (Besides the fact that I got up at 3am!)

*sigh* Here is another early morning...might as well try to take advantage of the energy that I DO have when I have it comes!


So 3am rolls around again.  Awake probably because of my medication. There is much more cleaning to be done...but, no thanks. I decided to sit at my computer and go to

There is so, so much on that site that I knew that I'd find something to "speak to me" and provide the words of inspiration and encouragement that I needed. My "tank" needed to be filled...and guess what...

...I was right! (I love it when that happens!!!)

With a few "random" clicks, this talk from the last General Conference (of the LDS church) just fell out of the screen at me.

No matter your denomination, the spirit when you feel when you hear/read good men speak of Godly things is undeniable...and I really needed to hear this talk at this moment.

I've actually listened to it twice from minute 9:45 on...touched and softened my heart.

I blog about this because, in the future, I want my children to know who real strength comes from. I want them to know that I had faith and worked everyday to learn to trust in God. It is my hope that if I grow my faith, I will be a better example and give them that much of a "head start" in their search for their own faith that can help them endure the struggles that will come in their lives.

It feels like one of my most important jobs as a mother and it is my prayer that I can do so adequately.


Joshua 1:5 "...I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.
 8 But because of the faith of men He has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.
 Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fundraising to Come Soon...I Hope!

I like this logo that my sister, Natalie, designed for me last year. I'm not too crazy about a shirt with my actual name on it (instead of an awareness ribbon or, something) but it was put together so beautifully, I really do like it!

The reason I bring it up again, is that we have some left over from the last you can figure out...medical expenses are once again getting out of control and hard to manage. In some cases we have already gone into collection. who wants to buy a t-shirt? :D ;)

Jess is also going to re-do our info/donation site so it is up to date.

Maybe this will help spread the word a little better about how much we could use a boost...

It is crazy how just a few dollars from a few people can start to help  out with bills and take huge,financial stress off of us. Parents know that it is already though paying for "normal" life with 4 active kids! Then we add all of my (what I call) "no fun debt", and it  just rains on our parade.

Anyways. Be on the lookout. For some new stuff. If you are comfortable with it, and find it appropriate, help us spread the word around by sharing the link we will have up and running soon.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Full Heart

I've been doing very well recently (thinking if my mental state). Right now I feel at peace.

I've been making an extra effort to feel God's spirit in my life. It is amazing that when we just put a little bit of effort in, our Heavenly Father blesses us with unmeasurable blessings. Both to our mind and to our heart.

I am still going to do more. Read more from the scriptures, get on my knees more...but I love the hope in my heart. I'm so grateful for it.

Not that the tears have dried up, or that our worries have disappeared...but I feel lifted up. A miracle in my heart.

And the amazing thing is, I know there is more for me to learn and experience.

Just wanted to share my full heart.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

End of The Day

I am so tired. I need sleep!!! I hope that's all I need...

I'm feeling unsettled because my back is still very sore (I promise I tried to take it easy today). It is a very strange, painful, stiff feeling.

And... eyesight is acting screwy right now. Not good, in that I need to drive myself to radiation in the morning. I like being able to see! I am having to close one eye in order to focus on typing. My vision is getting "crossed" again. I hope this isn't a bad sign.

Hopefully a good night's rest is all I need.

Prayer. I need to talk with my Creator, and after that I hope to have a good night.

(This is a very "hopeful" post...haha! I just noticed that I typed it 3 times in about 4 thoughts.)

A Necessary Evil: Steroids...A Necessary Blessing: Friends

I woke up at 2:45 am. *sigh*

I do take comfort that I am in  my own bed...but I am jealous of Jess as he rubs it in my face by  sleeping so peacefully next to me. Show off. 

I am on Decadron (Dexamethasone). It has been a blessing. It has taken the swelling down in my brain enough to where my vision is near normal now and I don't really have headaches, but as with any medication, the side effects are no fun. I've had to be on this drug before when the last tumor was crushing my spine, so I now it all too well.

The one bugging right now is that it isn't letting me sleep (obviously). Plus it upsets my stomach. 

Want more info? It's fun stuff. Lol. Decadron (Dexamethasone Oral) 

What I mostly struggle with is insomnia. upset stomach (yet increased appetite...figure that one out), edema (swelling of my body), weight gain, and over all body soreness...oh...and I almost forgot my favorite one...facial hair. Ugh!!!

So if I get a little chubby and am sporting a few sprouts in my chin, hold back the chuckles.   OK?

Of course they gave me Restoril (Temazepam) to sleep, but I'm trying to avoid another medication if at all possible. I'm kind of stubborn like that.

To add to the fun of tonight too, my back is sore. Hurts to do any bending in my lumbar spine because of the Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture)  procedure I had done yesterday. I took some Tylenol, but that's as much as I'll take. Having to get off of prescription pain meds was extremely hard last time, and I don't want to feel those awful withdrawals again! 

The procedure itself went well and my Dr was very skilled. (An answer to my prayer right there!) I did cry...of course...but I didn't have to be alone. 

While I had great friends (and husband) helping me with the necessities of running my one was lined up to be with ME! (Again I'm exposing how needy I am.) Then a hospital angel flew to my side. 

Yay Brandi! Bless her sweet heart for driving the hour just to come and hold my hand...then "girl talk" for an hour afterwards to keep my mind off of the crappy stuff. 

We met as neighbors, I recruited her mad skills as my hairdresser, we've moved twice and never lost contact. She's helped me through al the emotional trauma that a woman goes through when she finds herself having to be bald. Her husband even raffled off his Harley Davidson Motorcycle to help us pay some medical bills...who does that??? 

Amazing people and a blessing in our lives.

Now she is an up-and-coming tattoo model and has an idea to use her "pretty girl" influence, and my "pity girl" pull (I call it that, she doesn't) to try and help us with more of our mega costs. Her and her husband really have hearts of gold.

So my heart was happy.

Shortly after she left, Jess came by to to take me home! The hour ride in the back of the car (laying down) wasn't even bad. I think the joy of going home just took over. I wasn't disappointed at all once I was reunited with the kids. They were so glad to see me! Especially Lily...she would't leave my side. *special*

So that's where I'm at. 

This has taken me forever to type because I am laying on my side, typing with one hand. Necessary to keep my back straight. Now it's almost time to get up and Jess left for work an hour ago...oh well. Once I get the kids off to school I can rest.

Wish me luck on m first day trying to be a mom!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Face Twin

The brain my creepy face twin.

(Alright. Putting my vanity aside and posting this pic even though it is extremely unflattering.)

First they warmed this piece of plastic. Mind you that it had no shape and was completely flat. Once it is warmed, they press it hard onto your face while you lay on a not-so-comfy table and you have to wait for the plastic to harden. If you look closely at the pic you can see the indents in my forehead and cheeks from the mold.

They press hot plastic into your face and secure it to the table!

So you are laying there, feeling like you are being suffocated, while you head is bolted to a table. It was a crazy feeling. I don't recommend this if you are even a little claustrophobic.

Then once the mold is dry, they keep you down and pass you through the scanning machine a few times to take some pics of the old noggin. They do this to make sure you are in the same position each time and that the radiation is going exactly where it needs to go.

This whole time I am trying to stay calm and breathe!

It was overall painless...just no fun. Boy was I glad when they peeled it off of my face.

Now they are able to start radiation tomorrow.

Be Brave...Easier Said Than Done

I found this picture and it fits perfectly how I feel this morning. I have part of me "shut down", so to speak, and yet I am forced to keep one eye open. I need to see and understand what lies ahead, but so much of it is unknown.

 If I think about the unknown too much I am uncontrollably emotional. So I just feel like I can only peak through my fingers and know one thing at  time. Handle one thing at a time. What scares me most is my anger. Through all of this I have never felt this before. 

Fear, determination, sadness, confusion...all familiar feelings. But I am actually angry

I think it is being angry that scares me the most. I have a hard time feeling close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and even (sadly) to think a prayer for the last few days. I thought I had faith. I actually know I do...somewhere...but it is buried I guess. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's just a huge struggle right now. I feel a bit scared and uncomfortable even sharing these personal feelings.

I think in the eternal perspective of things I'm probably acting like a spoiled child. A child who keeps asking for something, and when she doesn't get exactly what she wants, how she wants it, she throws a tantrum. Maybe even giving her parents the silent treatment for a while. That's how mature I feel.

Again, as I write, I start to think clearly. You are literally reading things as they come to my mind. (Proof to me that I haven't been forgotten by our God, as he is constantly forgiving me for my shortcomings. Even in this moment he is enlightening my mind.)

I have been waiting to feel comforted. To feel like everything is going to be ok. I guess I just wanted it to fall out of the sky and into my heart. No effort required.'s not working like that. I am committing right now to our Father in Heaven, and myself, that instead of waiting to feel my strength of faith again, I will fight for it.

I will seek it out. Study and pray. Even if it feels hard. know...I have felt like this long ago. It is coming back to me now...

When I was struggling through my teen years I made decisions and choices that pulled me away from the spirit of God. I felt separated and distant. Similar to how I feel now. Not that this cancer stuff is anything due to bad choices of mine, but I can't help but notice how similar I feel.

When I was struggling with repenting back then, my Bishop told me that Satan was working hard on me. Trying to place my guilt as a wedge between me and the Lord. He told me that I had to push past it and know that Heavenly Father wanted to hear from me and help me, despite how I felt inside.

I remember the struggle as I tried to draw near to him., but felt so distant. 

Now I feel like Satan is trying to use my anger as a similar wedge.

I must fight it.

I overcame before and I will do it again. Seeking out His word and drawing on the strength of Christ's atonement. I will stop letting myself be tossed in the wind, and instead reach for the Iron Rod that will lead my heart back to Him.

Being brave and full of faith is easier said than done...but I know it will be well worth the work.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Not Home :(

It has taken me a while to come to a place that I am able to blog...but I am better now. I just really had my heart set on the first plan. Then when that plan was changed (in my fragile emotional state) it took me a while to come to grips with things. 

So here is what's going on.

Like the title says, I was not able to go home today like I had wanted. It seriously broke my heart. I was looking forward to tucking my kids in and being held in my husbands arms. But three of my doctors are concerned about how many times this situation has recurred and want to do an extra test tomorrow. They are going to go into my spine and get a sample of my spinal fluid to look for anything off or cancer related there. If it is there, then it will add further treatment to my plan to try to cut the head off of this beast. If it is not there...well then we are throwing a party! Hehehe...seriously! 

I am very, very scared of this procedure. It is very delicate and has to be exact, or there will be very negative side effects. One thing I am glad that is not being discussed anymore is a biopsy of the tumor in my brain. While I am unsettled about the idea of them going into my spine, I am frightened at the thought of them going into my head! That would be way worse. So I'm trying to focus there. 

I also want to thank you for your love, concern and prayers.

I do have to admit that I blog for selfish reasons though. I blog for me. To keep my head straight. To figure out what I am thinking and to be better able to organize my thoughts and the facts. I tend to blog when I'm most scared or things are unknown. Kind of how I cope.

To know that I am not alone and that others are out there pulling for me, and thinking of us, helps me a lot. So know that I need you. I have always been the kind of person that loves to be surrounded by friends that feel support and love me. I've tried to be the kind of person that people want to love in the first place! But I just had to thank all of you for caring.

This is very scary. It never gets any easier. But I am strengthened by you. <3 div="div">

I will post an update as soon as I can as to how tomorrow goes. 

Good night!

Monday, August 27, 2012

So Far...

So far it is certain that there is cancer in my brain. Most of my symptoms (headache, double vision) were brought on by the swelling and are being controlled with a steroid right now. I will start radiation tomorrow and if it responds as well as they hope, I will be able to side step having any surgeon's digging in my head. That is what we are praying for!


This is possibly the same tumor that was in my spine that paralyzed me. It may have snuck it's way up my spinal chord, into my brain and made a home.

I am doing better emotionally now that we are pretty sure that I won't have to have brain surgery. That was freaking me out. Also there is a very good chance I can go home tomorrow and do everything out-patient...that is wonderful! That means I get to go home and be a mommy! :)

So, besides the crappy cancer news, we are very optimistic and hopeful that the radiation alone will do the trick this time. We will see. This cancer sure does like to jump around a lot and sneak into places it doesn't belong.

Thank you for caring about me and my family. I don't understand this trial. I don't understand why the cancer won't just go away. I have been considered to be in "remission" twice now, and neither period of time lasted for more than 3 months.

One thing being in the hospital does for me is helps me to re-prioritize my life. It is easy to be good at getting tasks done with the kids, and jobs completed around the house...but completely miss the meaning of it all. To loose the "why" behind why us parents do so many small, menial tasks looses the purpose of our daily lives. Doing small things, everyday, for the people we love is what this life is all about. Right?



Boy have I neglected this blog lately. I guess I go through phases of wanting a certain amount of privacy. Writing is sometimes a very vulnerable thing to do. So, oddly enough, it is when I feel vulnerable and scared, that I need to write. It is like writing keeps my mind clear. When I write it reminds me of how I feel...and that I really do have faith! Those things are sometimes easy to forget when fear is running things. So I'm going to try and be better to blog even when things are going good. I'm sure I'll get much joy out of sharing my life as it gets more "normal".

Thank you for being patient with me!

Ok...I didn't even look at my last blog to know where I left off. Basically things were gradually progressing, I was getting better and just a few months ago I got a clean PET scan confirming that I was in remission. I've been regularly attending physical and occupational therapy and making great strides. I even have started skipping!

I was gaining my life back as a mom and wife...and even a pilates instructor! I even have plans on the table to "assist" in a Zumba class to get me dancing again!!! And just so you know, so far those things are still happening. Just hit a speed bump I guess. here's how it all started.

One week ago I had a strange thing happen while I was doing some grocery shopping. Suddenly the isles and people were blurry and I had to stop walking. Not sure what was happening, I immediately stopped walking. I experienced large blind spots were I couldn't see whole carts until I was looking straight at them. Basically I hd no peripheral vision. While it was scary, I still had to finish what I was doing, then pick up the kids from school. I waited...waited...then it gradually improved. So much so that I saw normally, and had no headache! I could do all the driving that I needed to do and was fine until Jess got home from work. Then it happened again. An hour or so passed and the symptoms left.

We did lots and lots of reading and what kept coming up was "ocular migraine". We'll take it!

So 3 days pass and then it happens again, except my vision started to look cross-eyed this time. This was Last Thursday. Again with a mild headache. I rested. Again it went away.

But we did MORE research. Sudden loss of vision is always concerning, but "ocular migraine" kept popping we waited...and hoped and prayed.

Friday. Started off fine. I got the kids to school without a problem, but come time to pick them up was a different story. Bad headache and double vision. I saw fine out of one eye at a time, but not both. Cross your eyes slightly, and that's how I saw. Out of necessity I picked them up. I figured out that if I put my hand over my nose and up to my eyebrow I could get rid of the double vision. I must have looked silly driving. :) But I wouldn't have put my kids lives in danger, so know that I was safe.

The rest of the day I spent resting. And all of Saturday too. Having Jess with me was so nice. But by the end of they day we knew we were going to the emergency room. We planned it for Sunday morning while the kids were in church and I would go to a nearby hospital. We hoped to be back home in time.

The ER was empty so we got taken care of right away. Blood tests and  a scan. Blood good! Scan not. From that first scan they were saying "cancer" already.

Tears flowed. Many tisses were sacrificed. Jess and I know nothing about cancer in the brain. It sounds so scary. Still does.

By know we knew that I had to be hospitalized and we had decided to go where we had a good experience before, and where my background was known. Scottsdale Shea.

Jess brought the kids to the hospital to say bye. That was hard. Especially for Lily. She was fighting tears the whole time. Seeing her mommy put into an ambulance...again. Last time she saw that I didn't come back for over a month. I held it together for her. At least until we were out of sight. Then I could hold back my sobs no more.

So now I am admitted. I saw a Dr (that was very optimistic) and I've been having all kinds of tests done. My prayer is that they can treat it with radiation and not have to do surgery. Oddly enough no mention of chemo yet.

So that's where we are at. Emotionally, I am a mess. I am scared and I just want to go home. Distraction  is a great thing right now. I get to see my kids in a few hours, and that will be awesome!

Monday, April 16, 2012


I feel so lucky to have sisters. My mom  really tried to instill in us that having a sister was like having a forever best friend. I remember her saying something to the effect of, "friends will come and go, but your sisters will always be there for you." Which is an interesting thing for her to say because she doesn't have a sister. How did she know? She didn't know this from experience, but she was trying to instill it in us to make it our reality. To make it our experience as sisters. Well mom, job well done.

I am the oldest of 3 girls. My parents had 3 babies in 4 years. So we are really close in age. Of course we fought as kids, like any normal siblings, but we mostly played and had fun together. We were good kids.

As we grew up, I wouldn't say that we grew appart, but we were all doing such different things in our lives. We all had different directions that we were going in. None of us really being able to relate to what eachother was doing. Being married young and having kids, going off to college, living in New York to pursue a dream, are just a few examples. All of us seeming to be caught up and busy with our lives. I feel like there was a period of time where we just gave eachother space and did our own things.

Now that we are a little older (not I really feel my mom's wish for us to be forever best friends coming true, and I know it comes from the great foundation that was laid for us to be friends when we were little and the  experiences that we had that bonded us together as a unit.

My sisters are so special to me. Being diagnosed with cancer and going through the things that I need to do to heal from it is hard on me. But I try to put myself in my loved ones shoes. They have to watch someone they love go through something that they wish they could just take away......I'm not sure which would be harder. I simply can't imagine the other side. But I'm glad my sisters, my husband,my best friend, my parents, and many others are there for me. Especially those who have to witness the most unpleasant parts of what I'm going through.

Both of my sisters live in a different state than me, but both of them have made great effort to be with me. To make sure I knew that they were and are always there for me. Love u guys so much. I'm lucky to have you as sisters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Big Day

I woke up this morning in the best mood! I'm going home today! I was admitted to the hospital on March 2nd and today is April 10th. That is 38 days. 38 DAYS!!! I know that a lot of people are in the hospital for a lot longer, but this was a long time for our family to endure. It really tested not only us, but our friends and family. And let me day that we are blessed with the most amazing support system ever. The things people did (and continue to do) for us is humbling and inspiring. "Thank you" doesn't even begin to express my gratitude to those who have helped. Especially those that took my kids into their houses, fed them, helped with homework, and just basically treated them liked one of their own. There are really no words.

Thank you to those who took time out of their lives to visit me. I really found that I looked forward to the social interaction with good you guys. 

It is surreal that I'll be packing my stuff up and finally go back to my family. I kind of won't believe it until I'm in the car driving away from the hospital...kind of doesn't seem real right now.

I am most excited to just be a mom and a wife again. To wake up with my kids, in my house and to be there for them. To wake up next to my husband and take on the day with him together. I miss everything about it from breaking up kid fights and helping settle arguments, to kisses, hugs, and kneeling in prayer together before bed...and I'll try to remember that feeling when the kids drive me crazy...because they will...haha! I need to remember that is it better to be there than to not. No matter what.

I am most grateful to my Heavenly Father. I have worked very hard, but it is because of his tender mercies that I have come this far. We take so much for granted in our lives. This has been a great reminder to be grateful for everything and to give thanks to our God for all that we have.

I have to wait until this afternoon to leave the hospital, but it will be a wonderful thing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Is it Tuesday yet?!?

While I still have more pictures and videos to post about my rehab progress I had to share this amazing looks like I'll be released from the hospital on Tuesday the 10th!!! I can't believe it. I'm actually going top wake up in my own house on Wednesday morning! ***happy dance***

I have a ways to go yet until I'm completely well and fully recovered, but I'm well enough to do it all at outpatient facilities.

I will come to Scottsdale once a week for things relating to the chemotherapy, and I will also go to rehab a few times a week somewhere still too be determined (preferably somewhere closer to my I obviously have no problem traveling a bit to receive good care, so if any of my AZ friends have any experience with a great rehab office, let me know!

It is so FUN to plan my big homecoming!!!

My 7 year old son, Andrew, and his friend, Tommy, made me this poster. It is so cute and thoughtful...but the best part is that it is true...I am coming home soon! So very soon!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Walking without equipment.

This is a big deal for Val! This is the first time that Val walked without the use of walker or a cane. It was a very emotional day for her.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Radiation Done!

I was admitted to the hospital on March 2nd. It was a Friday night. I was experiencing so much nerve pain in my arms and neck that people could hardly touch me without sending me writhing in pain. The next day was a Saturday and the radiation center closes on the weekends...but I needed help. The amazing Dr Flores came in on his day off and gave me my first, much needed, radiation treatment. That was a crucial step in saving my life. I am forever grateful to him. Forever.

So that started my next 15 treatments with Dr Flores and his angelic staff. From March 3 until yesterday, March 27 they took me from barely being able to wiggle my walking with a cane. Nothing short of a miracle in my eyes.

Did the radiation have side-effects? Yes, of course. But no mater how my skin, throat or fatigue level was no denying the benefits were far outweighing the few side effects.

Dr Flores and his staff will forever hold a special place in my heart. I truly love them for what they have done in my life.

Yesterday was my last radiation  treatment. I am actually kind of sad. Radiation has been such a wonderful part of my recovery that I'm almost scared to have it end. I had no idea what to expect from radiation, as I had never done it before, and I am so grateful that they were able to help me so much.

Now I have to start the chemo part. It will start tomorrow. Bleh. I know what to expect there. Although...I've never been in an inpatient situation and had nurses watch me through it, so maybe they can help me control the symptoms's hoping!

Once I get my first chemo and recover enough from it, I am making a big move down from the 5th floor to the 4th floor. This is exciting because this is a floor dedicated to rehabilitation and getting me HOME! They even have a gym! Lol. Right up my alley for sure. ;)

So that's where we are at. Cancer is shrinking and I'm getting stronger. Chemo is going to tear me down a bit, but with all the love and encouragement that I have I know I can make it through.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Morning

Good morning! I had a decent nights rest last night, though my standards on that are kind of low right now. If I can get 3 straight hours of sleep I'm delighted! Last night I almost got equivalent of two sets of those three hour sleep times, so that's pretty good...even though there was 4 hours or so in between them I'll take it! Not exactly sure why my body doesn't just zonk out at the end of the day, I feel tired...might be one of the meds keeping my brain awake.

So it's Sunday morning and I wish I was going to church. I miss church. I will have to remember this feeling in the future when life gets more normal and it may get easier to slip into not appreciating this special time to worship and be with family and friends. I try my best to make it feel like a sunday though. Try to separate the Sabbath from the other days of my week. Tricky to do in a hospital, but the mighty laptop makes it so easy to watch/listen to talks and hymns, I really have no excuse not to feel the spirit and be uplifted sometime today.

Enjoy your Sundays with your families today. Remember to thank God for all that you are blessed with could change in an instant...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pinwheel Fun

The guys in transport see Valerie everyday and have fallen in love with her. One of them bought her a set of pinwheels. Here's a cute video of Val on the way to her radiation treatment.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Video Blog 4 - I'm walking!

Reflective thoughts of a sleepless girl:

Keep the love and encouragement coming! It means so much to me and strengthens me. Little successes everyday supported by a lot of love really keep me going.

I have a lot of time to reflect right now. One thing that I am having fun doing is strengthening family and friend relationships. Not my husband and kids so much, that is strong, but the ones that could be better. I don't have tons of ingenious advice on how to do this, but all I am doing is making a more concious effort to connect. Even with those I feel are harder to connect with. Because there is a VERY good chance that the reason a certain relationship hasn't reached it's full potential is because of ME and my mindset, not theirs. (I've fallen into the trap before that it its them, not me. Such a helpless place to be.) So...i change my thoughts, my actions are more proactive, and I'm thrilling in feeling more connectiions and more love. It works! Easy? Comfortable? No, not always, family relationships will always be far from perfect. They will always be a lot of work. But as I put even the tiniest bit of effort in, the rewards are amazing.

I just wanted to share what was on my heart. I'm grateful I have this time to better myself.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

PT starts today!

just a quick note to say how excited I am today to start physical therapy! I'm excited to get this body of mine moving again. I never realized how much I took for granted before. how amazing our bodies are and how everything connects with the brain. my muscles maybe weak but my will is strong... I will walk, run and dance again. I don't know if it's too ambitious, but I want to be walking before the end of next week. as of right now I cant sit up in bed on my own, so it is a lofty goal. thank you for your prayers, they strengthen me... and I can use all the extra strength I can get right now!

( I am using "talk to text" on my phone to be able to blog, so please excuse any spelling or punctuation that may seem a little bit off. :) )