Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Dear Readers,
    Whether you have come to this blog on purpose, by accident, because you have been affected by cancer in a loved one or yourself, recommended to read this, old reader, new reader, whatever your circumstance, thank you for visiting this site. This is a journaled account of my Mothers experience with stage four colon cancer. Stage four means that it has spread to other organs. It is that last stage of cancer. She passed away July 16, 2014. The posts talk about treatments, test results, the cancers progression and her physical status as she endures all that comes with cancer. The part that I like to look back on is her account of faith. Not everything was posted on here that she, or our family, went through emotionally or spiritually, but it reminds me of the experiences we had and what I have learned and continue to learn from her strength. I love her perspective here and what she says. I pray this leaves an impression on you and helps to lift you and give you the strength you need, cancer related or not. I encourage you to read her book "Hurdles" that is where her more personal stories are shared. Thank you for letting her touch your life. She was an amazing woman!

This link will bring you to the first post. Be mindful of the dates if you wish to read in order. Unfortunately with 'blogger' the posts are displayed in reverse.

With love,
Her only daughter. Oldest out of four children.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Missing Her

This is my last planned post.

The past 11 weeks I have had constant flash backs from any given moment in time with my Mom. She is dead, but still very much alive. At night, in my dreams, I can even smell her. I have never lost someone close to me before. It's a shame she had to be my first. I sometimes think of what we would be doing if she never had cancer. Right now, she would be on her way to Charlotte to squish her cute grandson and help me make our new house a home by decorating and, well, you name it. How we both looked forward to that, and so many things.

Between the memories and clinging thoughts of her, I can hear a distant voice so clear "'s cancer." My heart sank to the point of disappearing. I spent over two years pulling my heart back up only to find she's taken it with her. It feels gone forever. Somehow life goes on. It really is odd. The day she was diagnosed and the day she died. Those two moments changed me forever. They literally altered my being. I am able to see others who are going through this, with so much understanding. I know that is how our Savior sees us. He suffered for us so that He can understand us and know how to comfort us. The atonement goes so much deeper, but I have experienced His pure love for us, charity, because of this heartache. I have a deeper understanding and love for others because I know what it feels like. I am so grateful that I can turn to Christ in my trials and feel peace. Also, for those around me who have shown me love and understanding during this.

Watching my Mom breathe her last few minutes, I can not express to you the way she showed me such strength. It was scary and it was painful, for us both. But it was also in a way, beautiful. Knowing how she lived her life and imagining her welcomed home with open arms. I can not wait to see her again.

I feel like she is very present in my life. I love that. It's not how I pictured it, but nothing can break our bond as family, not even death. For however long I have left in this life, I hope I can endure it well, like she did.

_ _ _

Thank you to all of our friends and family who helped with the funeral and graveside services. And for all of those in attendance. It was heartwarming to see so many people. My family and I have certainly felt loved.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Family Formals

A few pictures my Uncle Lee took throughout the few days of funeral arrangements. Thanks so much to all the family who came to Washington and Utah. It was wonderful to feel supported by your love for my Mom and us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

For you, Mom.

Creating is cultivated,
in your selfless heart.
Brush strokes, sewn hems, beautifying,
your life produced much art.
The talents that you magnified,
touched lives of all around.
As "Mother," your teachings to us,
were something quite profound.
You filled your life with endless purpose,
it goes beyond the grave.
How do I begin to thank you
for the example that you gave.
It is in the things you did,
and what you chose to say.
I know that your love for Him
is how you found your way.
Unwavering faith, endured much,
a broken heart, made whole.
Until the day we meet again,
you'll be here in my soul.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Her Eulogy

Dawna Golden
Anyone who was blessed to know Dawna during her lifetime was well aware of her creative spirit. She would not hesitate to dive into projects that were beyond her knowledge or skill sets. She had an impressive aptitude to learn and to teach herself, adding to her ever-growing list of talents.
Dawna worked hard to make her home a place of comfort and refuge. As a talented piano player, she believed that music was one of the fastest and most efficient ways of inviting the spirit of the Lord into the room. She blessed the Golden home with countless hours of beautiful music and even taught her children, and others from around the neighborhood, how to play the piano.
As a young mother, she nurtured the imagination of her children through drawing, reading, singing and more. She valued family traditions and loved to create new ones. Making memories has always been very important to her. Being spontanious was thrilling to Dawna and it was enjoyable to see her face light up when she was having a good time. Her laugh is a priceless trait, it was like non other that made you feel lighter and happier just from hearing it. She was very good at spreading happiness.
Dawna looked at obsticles in life and found lessons to learn from them, making sure to share her experiences with her children. It was important to teach them to recognize God's hand in their lives. The experiences that have shaped her and caused her faith to be tested and to grow have made her an amazing woman, and a wise Mother. Only four will be so lucky to call her "Mom."
Dawna believed that it was possible to lose sight of one’s own difficulties and burdens through the selfless service to others. She never refused a church calling, or the chance to help someone in need, regardless of how many things she had already undertaken. Her hardworking, selfless nature was exemplified in her service to everyone she came in contact with. As a friend, a neighbor, a Visiting Teacher, and as a daughter of God, Dawna always put others before herself, whole heartedly.
To quote her husband, Eddie, “The Golden family was always at the top of our game with Dawna’s guidance and direction.” She possessed a tenacious drive to ensure the success of her children and her husband. Supporting her husband’s difficult work schedule and preparing her four young children for school, church, Scouting and Young Womens events, she lovingly steered them in a righteous direction. She truly was a Liahona to her family. 
Throughout her life, Dawna was a beautiful woman, with a matching spirit and personality noticed by all. Despite the sickness she suffered from, she seemed to shine brighter and emanate more beauty with each phase that she entered into. The sparkle in her eyes was a testament to the strength and beauty she embodied.

Dawna will always be remembered as a loving wife, mother, and sister. She was patient. She was spiritually in-tune. She was the paragon of a loving, righteous, and faithful daughter of our Heavenly Father. She was an example of strength and perseverance. Throughout her sickness, and even in her final moments, Dawna was able to teach us of humility and submission to Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. Her creating will not stop, she will be continuously moving closer to her full potential. Dawna will be missed and forever loved. We are grateful to know that we will see her again.
--Written by Corey Golden and Valerie Isham

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Wednesday, July 16 at 6:15pm our Mom passed away. She was awake and alert when she left. We were there to watch her go. How badly I wanted to stop her suffering. It was difficult to watch, but I knew letting her get through it was the only way she would be pain free and with her own Mom again. I miss her so much. Words do not even come close to explaining the feelings we all felt, and still feel. She was an amazing woman. How grateful we are to call her "mom", our family's sweetheart. There is a hole in our hearts, until we see her again. My dear dad has been a rock for us and handled her passing with such grace and faith. Her battle with cancer is lost, but not without a few good kicks from Dawna and all who love her.

Please join us in gathering for her funeral services in Monroe, Washington.
The funeral service will be held Monday July 21st
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
17332 Tester Road
Viewing will be 9:00-10:30am
Funeral service will begin at 11:00am

There will be a graveside service in Brigham City, Utah on July 24th at Brigham City Cemetery at 9:00am, where we will lay her body to rest.

Thank you for the love and support extended. Keep the love coming!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear Family and Friends

At Valerie's request, I am writing to give you an update on Dawna.

She is living her last days at home with her family. She has loved ones with her at all times. She has excellent medical care. She is peaceful and comfortable. The Goldens ask
 that you respect this intimate and treasured time together. 

The family welcomes expressions of love and support; they also respectfully 
ask that there be no visitors. There is a mail holder next to the front door, if you want to leave a card or a message. Please feel free to comment here or send email messages.

As a friend,
 I thank you for your love and support for Dawna and her loved ones. 

With love and respect,

Rhonda Petersen

Monday, July 7, 2014


I am so sorry for the lack of posts. I suppose I kept the hospice experience more intimate. The purpose of this post is to show the change my Mom has endured over the past few months, and to note a more substantial decline in the last few weeks.

Since our visit to my mom in April, my brother Corey made it out in May to see Mom. I love this first picture of them. It makes me want to jump inside and hug them both! This will be a treasure for Corey to have to look back on.

This weekend, baby Kurt and I returned home from a week long trip to see my Mom again. It is so fun to see her face light up when she see's Kurtis. Here are some photos from our trip.

I could probably list off all of the not so pretty things about how cancer is treating her, but I won't. Just know she is in a lot of pain and discomfort, and she is loved and taken care of. The hospice nurses that come are very sweet and helpful. My Mom has such dear friends who have stepped in a carried her through this significant trial in her life. The support, help and love extended to my family makes my heart swell. The countless meals, treats, flowers, cards and more, brought over strengthens the foundation of faith we stand on as we approach the end. Mom you are the sweetest and most selfless person I know. What an honor it has been to help and serve you, even if it was only a few days. I am so grateful for those who are still helping. We love you Mom!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

My mother is still doing well. I expected complete bed rest when I heard hospice. She is up and about, but not as much as before. Garrett and I wanted to bring her grandson, Kurtis, for a visit while she could still enjoy him. Not to mention we were a bit homesick for the pacific northwest. So we booked the flights and had one spend as much time with my mom, and family, as possible! (Corey, we missed you!!)
While we were there we had some last minute family pictures done at home by Chantel. ( They turned out so beautiful!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear Friends and Family

This is Valerie again, my family and I have appreciated feeling your love and prayers on our behalf. It feels good to be lifted and supported throughout this experience. This post will be the hardest to share since the news of my mom's diagnosis.

After the last CT scan decisions of what to do next faced us like a dead end street. There was one last treatment option, a targeted therapy, technically not chemotherapy. Weighing the pros and cons of the treatment, at first it seemed automatic to just get started on it, because what other choice did we have? Well, it comes down to quality of life. We knew in the beginning this was terminal. It is not about chasing treatments, it's about making my mom feel as comfortable and as pain free as possible while enjoying time with family and friends. With this last treatment came side effects that would have given her more bad days than good. It was not worth it to continue treatment, so she has stopped them. We feel this was the best decision! With nothing else to be done she is now on hospice.

I remember getting the call, I was looking out of my bedroom window. Everything went blurry for a minute and my heart sank. As I was holding my 2 month old son, I felt so sad. A kind of sad I have never felt before. A flood of memories came over me and clashed with moments I had envisioned in the future with my mom. After it sank in, that she will be passing soon, I felt an overwhelming sense of strength and peace. I feel so loved by God and I know He wants me to be happy. I know without a doubt that she will still be part of my life. She will be with me in spirit and I will see her again. I love her so much.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cancer Spreading

Last week was not a good one. The effects of chemo felt particularly awful. The next day started getting better but then my neck became very sore and tender, right near the area where I had had the lump. My neck has not been an issue. The tumor seemed to melt away quickly in the beginning and hasn't been a problem since, but I couldn't ignore this new tenderness. I called into my nurse to let her know about it and ask what I should do. I was waiting for her to speak to the doctor and call me back. As time passed I felt increasing worse, not in my neck but my stomach felt horrible. I called again and added this new symptom. They wanted to see me. I went in the next day and they couldn't tell anything from the blood work so they sent me in for a CT scan. Rather than just scan my neck I suggested he do a full scan since we were only a few weeks away from my scheduled scan anyway, so they did. The scan showed that my tumors are growing and the cancer has spread. They saw several tumors in my abdomen around my intestines, not in an organ. There was a fuzzy area in my neck that they think is nothing but aren't 100% sure. My doctor was definitely more concerned with the new tumors than he was with the growth of the old ones. Treatment needs to change so we are stopping the folfiri and going to the next and final chemo option called regorafenib.
Several months ago my daughter posted the following on her Facebook. I was so impressed by her ability to put into words such a vivid discription of her feelings (and the feelings of all of us) that I wanted to share it here.

"Bad days are expected. It's what you prepare for when you first hear "cancer". It's sort of like standing at the edge of a cliff with a blindfold on. You know you're at the edge but to look would be too scary. When you stand there long enough, you get used to the idea of being at the edge of a cliff. Then the wind gets a little stronger and pushes you, and you hear rocks fall as your balance slips, your stomach sinks, and all the scary feelings come back." -Valerie

Along the way we have experienced good days and bad, blessings, miracles and hard things to handle. It is human of us to have fear and anxiety when things are not good. To use Valerie’s analogy of the cliff, it is clear that at some point we must go over the cliff. We see that going over the cliff is going to bring pain and suffering and our fear and anxiety build. But if we know where to turn for peace we can feel peace even in the middle of our trials. There are several things that bring me peace. 1) Knowing that I have friends and family to help, comfort and lean on during these times. 2) Knowing that there are many on the other side who love us and watch over us as well. 3) Knowing that my Savior, Jesus Christ, is aware of me and loves me and His sacrifice made it possible for me to be forgiven of my sins, have peace in my heart, be able to return to Him, and with His help I can bear all things. Knowing these things helps me to see the cliff a little differently. I think when the time comes, we will find ourselves not falling but being carried by angels and placed gently on the other side.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lots of joy!

Today was an awesome day! Ian came home from his two year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on January 7th. He spoke in church today and shared with us how he learned to recognize and follow the Spirit. He shared how his understanding of the gospel grew as he studied. And how when he learned of my cancer just as he was beginning his mission he studied harder and learned for himself the plan of salvation and spoke of the peace he felt when he understood it. His testimony is firm. I can't include everything he said here but it has brought me great joy to see his growth, and to know that he knows.

On the evening of the 7th, after picking up Ian, I wasn't feeling well. I went to lay down and when I woke up a couple hours later, I had a fever. I'm supposed to call into my doctor any time I have a fever. I haven't had a fever in a long time. But I know that because they only seem to happen at night, it means a trip to the ER. Sure enough we found ourselves in the ER. I was so afraid that I was neutropenic and that I would be admitted and our trip to Atlanta on the 9th would have to be postponed. But as sure as everybody seemed to be that I was neutropenic and would be admitted, it turned out not to be the case. They determined that I had picked up some kind of virus and would be fine to travel. Yay! So by the end of the next day I was feeling back to myself again and we were anxiously packing to go and see our new grandson!

Our trip was awesome! We stayed with my son-in-law's parents who are also friends of ours. They were very gracious for putting us up and putting up with us for over a week. It was nice to see them and catch up. I had all of my children together in one place and seeing my grandson was amazing. He is adorable and already you can see some if his personality.  It was incredible watching my daughter be a mother and seeing how my sons adored their nephew. We were exited to see Eddie's brother and his wife an their daughter. They flew down for a day to see everyone. It was nice catching up with them. Between Valerie and I we couldn't go out and do as much as we would have liked but the boys did a few fun things like going shooting and visiting the aquarium and playing basketball together. My favorite was going to story corps. It is free and their mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. What an awesome idea! You get to go into a room, record your story and they preserve it and you get a copy! We originally were going to go in and have my husband record his 9/11 experience but at the last minute we decided that I would go in with my three sons and we would talk about this cancer experience and how it has affected each of us. What a special time that was. I enjoyed that conversation and the time spent with them so much. It was the right conversation to have.

So, now I'm back home ready to settle into a routine again but feeling so blessed with life's greatest blessings. A grandson. A son who has come home a man, ready to do what the Lord wants him to do. A daughter who has become a mother and her husband who is good and patient and helpful. A son who is serving his country and has such high ambitions and goals for his life. And another son who is preparing to go out on a mission and serve. I am grateful for all these things and more. It's a wonderful life!

Now back to January 6th and the ct scan results. There are two things they look at when making a determination on how treatment will go. The first is the tumor markers and the second is the ct scan. The scan is more heavily relied on than the tumor markers. This scan showed that right now things are stable meaning things are not growing  (they're not shrinking either) but the tumor markers have gone up. This chemo has been a hard one on me. He reduced the chemo a couple of rounds ago and I have done better. But he's thinking that the reduction is what has caused the numbers to go up. So he is going to increase the chemo back to 100% but take out the 5FU part of the chemo which is what is in the pump that I bring home for two days. The thought of not coming home with a pump makes me want to jump for joy and may be the only reason I agreed to go back up to 100%. We'll see how this goes. Hanging on till my next scan in a couple of months.