Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 26, 2012 And All That Led Up To It

Beginning early 2011,
my mom had been feeling low abdominal pain.
Really low. She says the pain would come and go and to her,
felt like it could be gas pains.
She would feel tired and not as energetic as she normally is.
Feeling tired like that was not exactly an alarm.
My mom is known to be deeply involved
with various projects and, well, it can make you tired.
Not exactly a red flag.
In December of 2011, which is also the month she turned 45,
she very quickly developed
a lump on her neck the size of a walnut.
My husband and I were living 5 1/2 hours away while he finished his last year in college. He graduated in December and we came home for 4 or 5 days before leaving for Christmas with his family on the east coast. We left and returned home January 3, 2012.
That was the first time I had seen the lump.
I was shocked it was so big because
I did not notice it when we were with her last.

Other odd signs came up in December.
A few times she would become so exhausted while showering
she had to sit down in the shower to rest.
She felt like she would pass out and
did not have energy to hardly stand.
Suddenly every time she brushed her teeth
she would gag and to the point of sometimes throwing up.
She would feel nauseous when her stomach was empty
and at the same time her appetite was decreasing.

January 4th
The first doctors appointment.
Our concerns were the lump on her neck,
the abdominal pain as well as some side pains.
Her doctor was leaving for France so they set up appointments to run tests and then
they would meet again after she came back from overseas.
The doctor suspected a cyst on her thyroid.
It did not seem life threatening.
At the time we were unsure if all of her pains were related.
The doctor ordered an ultra sound and some blood tests
to look further into it.
Life went on...a little too fast if you ask me.

January 6th
She was diagnosed with RP. Retinitis Pigmentosa,
a degenerative eye disease
that has no cure and leads to blindness.
Her peripheral vision is narrowing.
At the time this was the most devastating news we had ever heard.
My mom loves to quilt and create things and has a very artistic eye.
She has a real talent for design in a variety of areas.
The thought of her going blind was unimaginable.
It is because of her sight that she has developed into who she is.

January 9th
She went in for her blood tests.

January 10th
My parents 25th Wedding Anniversary,
and the day she went for the ultrasound.

January 11th
Her son, Ian, my brother, left to serve a two year mission
in San Diego, California for

She received the results from the tests.
Blood test showed slightly elevated liver function and iron deficiency.
Ultra Sound found that the lump on her thyroid to be a solid mass.
It also showed that her liver was covered in lumps
the largest being 11 cm (4 1/2 inches) in size.

January 12th
She went for the CT Scan.

January 13th
Results from the CT Scan
The CT Scan confirmed the lumps in her liver and her thyroid
and also showed several lumps in her lungs.

January 23rd
She went in for Biopsies of the liver and lump on her thyroid.

January 26th
The world stopped.
She was diagnosed with Cancer.
They do not know which kind yet. They are suspecting colon cancer.
From the biopsies, the tissues pulled from the liver and thyroid
exhibited characteristics like tissue found in the intestine/colon area.

We go in Wednesday, February 1st to meet with an oncologist.

I am humbled and overwhelmed by the blessings I have already seen.
The most important, to me, being,
Garrett and I, living here with my family.
THAT is why we are here. I have no doubt.
The timing could not have been more perfectly aligned.
No other time would we be living with them, for this long.
Garrett graduated in December and begins law school in the fall,
giving us a good 8 months to be in "limbo"
giving us time to be here.
Through that I feel our Heavenly Father's love.


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  2. Thanks for putting this up, Valerie. Did you take the pic of your mom and dad that's up there? The sepia one? I really love it!!

  3. Please know that we are here for you! Please don't hesitate to ask for anything you may need. It was only 6 years ago that our Allex's was fighting cancer as well as my father at the same time. Aarons mom has just finished her chemotherapy too... we are all too familiar with this roller coaster and know that you need more than just love, support and prayers... you also need a shoulder to cry on, a strong set of hands when the work is overwhelming and ears that can listen, just listen! I know asking for help is also one of the hardest things. But please know... you need to have many friends and family who want to help and just don't know what you need. So call, email or FB anytime! With hugs and love to All of you! Sharon & Aaron Snell

  4. Having cared for a cancer patient, my husband, if there is anything I can do...ESPECIALLY giving what we did to keep him "eating" and upbeat, please don't hesitate to call me! I know you don't know me very well, but we used to live one house down and adore your mom. (and dad ;)) You definetly have a road ahead of will be your OWN road, but any 'tips' might help.
    My phone number is 425.387.6301. Please call!!

  5. I am so sorry to hear this. Your mom is one of the sweetest, strongest women I have ever met. Has she gone to a specialist in Seattle yet? Please don't wait around. At these local hospitals. There is much better care so close by. Call UW medical right now. Or Fred Hutchinson. The doctors here are not equipped for anything that isn't absolutely obvious.

  6. Just to let you know that my heart is breaking knowing this news...I have always thought of Dawna as a wonderful, loving and caring sister in the gospel. She has been a great example to all of us that have had the privilege to know her.
    My prayers are with her and all of you! If there is anything that I can do, please let me know...We love you so...!

  7. I am so sorry to hear this, Valerie. We will keep you and your family in our prayers!

  8. Thank you for sharing this with us, Valerie. My heart aches for your whole family. I love Dawna and I want to help in any way that I can. Please don't hesitate, ever, to ask. I will always be praying for your Mom and your family.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this difficult experience with all of us! Just know we love your family very much and you are all in our prayers! The Lord will be with each one of you ...he already has! Send our love to every member of your family.

    We love you,
    Chris and Becky LeBaron

  10. Thank you so much for doing this blog. We are so concerned. We wish you were still here in NY so we could be close to you. You are in our thoughts and prayers constantly. We know the Lord will help you through this. We're pulling for you. We love and miss you.

    Dale and Bill

  11. What a blow. Dawna is an amazing woman, and we all look up to her. She is in our prayers.