Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer plans at the Johnson house..... also known as.... A mother of four, working around a cancer schedule.

Here is how my week has gone on the cancer front. I know you all know what is going on with the kids, etc.... but here is a cancer update to top you off.
Monday: I had a PET scan and an MRI on my brain to see if things have changed or gotten any better, etc.
Tuesday: The next day was my surgery day.
Wednesday: I tracked down my PET scan results and MRI results so I would have them at the Mayo clinic the next day. I also spent the day on pain pills sleeping and resting.
Thursday: Thursday came and four of us headed off to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. The car included Morgan and I and both our moms. When we got there, just like we had kind of assumed, Mayo hadn't recieved my records like they were supposed to. So, we handed over our hard earned copies and watched the doctor try his hand at radiology as he looked at my head and PET scan on his computer in front of us. What we learned: He is DEFINITELY not a radiologist. He tried to read the results and conduct the visit at the same time, but all we eneded up learning is that I am going to be in the Mayo study that I qualified for. Which of course, is good news. The bad news is that we didn't learn much from the tests. I did get a brief call from my other oncologist and he did tell me that he thinks he sees additional cancer in the liver. Gee, thanks for that. Oh, but he could possibly be wrong... awesome!!!  And they can't quite tell if the brain tumors are getting better.... they don't seem to be getting worse though.....hummm.
I'd have to say that I don't feel ultra informed at this time. Especially because I had to track down the records myself even though the daignostic place was supposed to send them to the doc's. Enough of my frustrations with the healhcare system...
So, back to the story.... Mayo wanted to start me on the study next week, but we are going on a family vacation, so I told them that they can wait until we get back. I am sick of putting our lives on hold because of my cancer. And my kids are sooooooo excited for our trip to California.
 Oh, and things got a lot better when I got back and saw this in my front yard.....

How cute is that????? You probably can't see me... I am hiding in the V. My good friend in the ward, Leann Brock and her daughter made this for me. She said it is better than a card. How true!!!!! It is now saved in my garage for a day when I need another pick-me-up!!! thanks Leann!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Upstaging the talent show..... Otherwise known as... A day in the life of Will!

This past Friday was the talent show at Cassidy and Lund's class. I really wanted to see it, and so I came with my camera and my five-year-old boy in tow and we sat in the back of the class. Well, Lund and Cassidy are in the same class. It is a 5th/6th combined class and all the kids are at the age where they don't want to stand out or do something different. I was soooo proud of my two kids in the class who both decided to be in the talent show, considering only 2 other kids were brave enough to be in it.  Lund went first and did a routine from a Brian Regan comedy sketch and he did a great job. I recorded it, but I didn't do a very good job. I am still learning how to work this camera stuff. Cassidy also was very brave and sang a Selena Gomez song tremendously!! Again, I goofed with the camera recording thing..........sooooooo a big sorry there.
About the time I got the camera working, the talent show was over. All the kids were still kind of staying to themselves and being scared pre-teens, and one of the kids said, "Hey Will, you should get up there and sing a song!" I thought for sure Will would hide under his chair.... but alas.... see the proof of what happened next.....
video

Thank you Lund, for being willing to be the backup dancer for your brother!!
video
Then, it was such a big hit that they all wanted a oncore and some additional back up dancers!!!! I was agahst, but laughing so hard that I could hardly film him. What a ham!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meet Oophy!

It is tradition that when I go into a surgery, I know that Morgan will be waiting with a new stuffed animal for me on the "other side". This week, after coming out of my surgery, I was awarded with an adorable old-fashioned looking pink pig, that we comically refer to as "Oophy!" (Due to my oophorectomy). I have quite a few stuffed animals now that I have collected: Bosom Buddy, Sad Dog, Ardie, Arnold, and Hair Bear (which is actually not a surgery bear, just a loss of hair bear).
So welcome to the ranks Oophy! I hope you like it here.
This is Oophy and the flowers that my mom brought over. They make a cute pair! Also, my mom brought over a to-die-for taco soup yesterday that was a big hit and my Visiting Teachers brought over an amazing dish tonight that was again, all the rage. Maybe I should just stop cooking because the kids seem to like everyone else's meals much better than mine. Hummmmmm.....that's a thought! Smiles!


Now, i would like to write a letter to pain meds....

  Dear pain meds,
 I think that you are wonderful at stopping pain. I just wish you weren't so wonderful about "stopping" everything else. Like my brain cells from functioning correctly. Like my eyes from staying open. And like my bowels that have come to a full and complete halt. thank you for your loveliness.
 p.s. I do still need you for the pain though, so don't be too offended!
                    From, Your faithful user for a day or two more.

And A Letter to Bill Cosby.....
    Dear Bill Cosby,
 I am sooo glad that your Cosby show is on netflix and that I will have the opportunity to watch all 201 episodes from the comfort of my own couch. I am currently on 29, but have learned a lot of life lessons thus far, such as....... Dads can actually be fun and nice and respected by their children, Children can show their parents respect and realize who is in charge of the house. Grandparents love being involved in their grandkids lives.  And working together as a family is funny and also fun.
        P.S Please send this letter onto the Disney Channel, because they seem to have lost ALL concept of family and respect in their shows.
        p.s.s. Luckily I have over 150 episodes left to go....so my kids are learning about true comedy and respect and maybe some of it will wear off on them.
    From, A grateful mom!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just writing...


Today I had my PET scan and an MRI to see if the brain tumors and all the other tumors are behaving theirselves. I will know in a few days, when I go to the Mayo clinic for my next appt.
  Also, I have surgery tomorrow. We have to be there at 5:30am (don't they know that is my best sleeping hour??!!). I will be having my ovaries and tubes taken out because they are only causing trouble.... Good riddance, I am done with them. They served their purpose. Now I have four beautiful children!!
   Someone asked me if I am nervous about another surgery. Here is my answer. I don't get nervous.... I know it seems weird, but I am a bit used to it by now. So, as I said, I don't get nervous......until I am laying on the cold metal slab and all the doctors and nurses are looking at me and I realize that any minute they are going to cut me open. Then I get really nervous, and I am about ready to get up and bolt, but a mask comes over my face and all goes black.
   So now you know how surgeries go for me. Now it is time for me to head to bed with my beloved Kindle... I mean husband!! he he he

Friday, May 20, 2011

Morgan and I go on a date.... wahooo!!!

I have been bugging Morgan to go with me to Body Worlds at the Phoenix Science Museum since they came here for their limited engagement. Finally, he agreed and my mom was nice enough to watch the kids as we went on our date. We met at Morgan's office this afternoon, which is walking distance from the museum. We paid our gazillion dollars to go see the exhibit. I thought in my mind that I would be able to see cancer, and how it worked and stuff like that. In reality, Morgan and I didn't like it at all. Morgan put it perfectly when he said, "It's like a sickening circus. How many crazy ways can we cut up the human body." It wasn't what I expected at all and we flew threw it and then we were out of there. It was crazy to see parents with young children and even babies there. Do they understand what kind of nightmares these kids are going to have???? Morgan and I just felt that they didn't seem to appreciate human life much, as they artistically splayed open bodies left and right.
  But what we did like was the rest of the museum and the "kids version" of how our bodies work that they had downstairs. We loved looking at x-rays of human arms and feet and even animals. We enjoyed figuring out how everything works without the gross bodies everywhere. It was definitely more enjoyable!!

 This is close to Morgan's heart..... A huge copper slab! This is what he deals with at work...copper, copper, copper. In fact, I think the slab was donated from his company.
 Then we had fun in the kids zone stretching our bodies and learning all about our muscles. (Don't you all remember this test way back in junior high? You had to see how far you could stretch your arms on a board. I think it is a little bit unfair if you aren't blessed with long arms.)

This was more my style... A fake skeleton driking milk. Now that is science!! And I don't have to think about anyone losing their lives to become this display.
 ha! ha! O.K., so this was in the gift shop at the Phoenix Musuem. I was laughing soooooo hard. A piggy bank for "leaner" times!!!
 And any date is wonderful (according to Morgan), if you end it with a "Salsa Bar". We had a wonderful dinner at Baja Fresh before we walked back to Morgan's office and our car.
This picture was taken as we walked back to our car and it just shows that the middle of the Phoenix, in the middle of the desert, it can actually be pretty. (especially when the weather is being cooperative as it has been for the past week.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Preschool Graduation.... Let's send the cardboard mom to attend..

Will graduated from Preschool today! I am sure it was a lovely ceremony and I hope he behaved and knew that he was loved by his imaginary mom who wasn't really there. Where was I? Oh, at another medical appointment. Imagine that! For some reason today it was hard for me to let him go, knowing that he would see all the other parents there and wonder where his mommy was. It was especially hard because I knew I didn't have any "replacements" today. Usually if I miss something special due to a medical appointment, I have a "replacement" go for me. But, Morgan was out of town for work, my in-laws had an appointment at the same time, and my mom was required to go with me to my appointment so the therapist could instruct her as well.
I wrote a letter to the teacher, letting her know that I would not be there and would she please  help him to feel special. I included a Sees Dark Chocolate candy bar to seal the deal and watched him get on the bus. I know I am really being over-dramatic about this, but for some reason.....today, it was hard to not be able to be there for my kiddo because of cancer.

 As you can see, I made him pose for a few pictures before he left...
 
 
    By the end, he was rolling his eyes at me!
 And there he goes.....off on the bus with a candy bar and letter for his teacher in his pocket.
 And I was waiting for him when he arrived home from school, all smiles. He only mentioned once that there were a lot of other people there and not me. But, the very first thing he told me was that the candy bar that he gave his teacher is her very favorite and she was happy.
Will decided that getting his "preschool diploma" warranted standing ON TOP of the couch for his final picture!!! What a silly boy!!

 The rest of the day was wonderful. Morgan came back from his trip, we all played in the backyard in the beautiful weather, we had Mesa Frozen Yogurt together, we jumped on the trampoline in the rain, and the kids even played  "Kick the Can" with the coul-de-sac kids before going in for the night. All in all it was a beautiful day.  Sometimes things pull at my heartstrings though, and it really helped me to sit here and write about it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Addicted to animals.....

Sarah has loved animals since.....well, as long as I can remember! She will try to love, hold, and save any animal she can find. This includes snakes, and other creepy crawlies and I don't feel need saving. But for Sarah, any animal or bug needs saving and love.
I thought I would capture some Sarah animal moments from the past week....
 Sarah and her friend Jenna, who is also an animal-lover, caught this huge butterfly....
 The way to get the biggest smile out of Sarah... just get her to hold a butterfly!!! Sarah, you show us all how we should love other creations from our Heavenly Father. Love you!
And this is the cutest thing..... Last month, Sarah found a baby bird that didn't make it after he fell out of his nest. She asked if she could bury it and we agreed. This is what she came up with.... this beautifully done memorial to the bird. Then later, a baby bird that couldn't fly decided to live right there on top of her grave. It makes it look like she stuffed the baby bird and stuck it on top of the grave. Crazy, crazy.......gotta love it!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints!!

Sarah turned 8 this month and yesterday she was baptized into the church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. In our church, we believe that you should wait to baptize children until they are 8 and can be accountable for their choices. She was glowing all day and it was such a beautiful memory that I will never forget. Not only because Sarah was baptized, but because her older sister and brother gave talks, which were soooo awesome and they told Sarah in their talks how much they loved her and were excited for her. I couldn't have been prouder of all my children! Also, her grandpas got to be the witnesses at her baptism and her Grandpa Lund performed her confirmation. It is so great to have family close by. It simply makes life WONDERFUL!!!
 Sarah and her daddy before the baptism.
 I couldn't decide which picture I liked better.
 Oh yes everyone... I have been inspired by William and Kate's royal wedding and am wearing a very British hat. Anything to cover up that bald nogin'! I love my Sarah!
 The whole family before her baptism. I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!

 Sarah and her buddy from school, Chloe. They are so adorable together!
 After the baptism, we had a luncheon in our backyard. It was great to have family and friends and neighbors all milling around. And when we wondered where the kids all ended up, we just had to look towards the lake. Yes, there they all are fishing in their Sunday clothes.
 ..............and yes, that is Will right at the edge of the lake. Don't worry....I'm on it!!
 Canyon and Lund celebrating their fishing catch. We feel so blessed that Becky and Canyon made a trip from Bagdad to be here for Sarah.
And they aren't just pulling fish out of the lake lately. Don't worry, they have to put everything they catch right back into the lake.
Oh yeah, did I mention Becky Brim was there? Of course she did something amazing...she always does! This is her jar of cake pops for Sarah's luncheon. They was amazing and a HUGE HIT with grown ups and kids alike.

We feel so blessed have so many great family, friends and neighbors. I can't tell you how much we appreciate you!!!!!

In other news: Morgan threw his back out, so I think he will be out for a bit. He just did to much manual labor over the last week or so, and it caught up with him. Bummer!

In other, other news: I have an outpatient surgery next week and a visit with Mayo clinic and a PET scan and MRI to see if the whole brain radiation was a success. So if you could throw me into your prayers, that would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My New Way of Living....join me!

So, here is a bit of a cancer update. A couple of weeks ago, I had my first appointment with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and before we left, Morgan asked the doctor if there was anything we could do to help our chances with the cancer. He told us to go get the book "Anti-Cancer: A new way of life" by Dr. David Serven-Schreiber.  Here is the thing about cancer books. I have read a lot of them! I have a whole shelf dedicated to them and although they were a bit helpful here and there, I wasn't too impressed with them on the whole.
  This book is TOTALLY different than any of the other cancer books I have read. First of all, it inspires you that you can take control of the things you can control, like your diet, lifestyle, etc. Then, unlike all other hollistic ideas out there, he also tells you to use these tactics in conjunction with the medical world. I finally feel like I HAVE CONTROL over something!! For a year and a half I have felt like I haven't had control over ANYTHING in my life. Now the tables have turned, so WATCH OUT CANCER!!!!
  p.s. I just found out this week that I qualified for a study they are doing at Mayo Clinic over the summer that has NO SIDE EFFECTS!!! Wahoooooooo! I was a bit nervous because you had to have the exactly right proteins on your tumors to qualify. But, it turns out... I do!
  Since I have started this new lifestyle and diet, I have lost 12 lbs (it was just steriod weight though) and I feel good. The hard thing is..... finding recipes that go along with the diet. I will just keep learning as I go....


Here are the Rules in case you were wondering........


20 New Anticancer Rules


By Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D.

FOOD RULES

1. Go retro: Your main course should be 80 percent vegetables, 20 percent animal protein, like it was in the old days. Opt for the opposite of the quarter pounder topped with a token leaf of iceberg lettuce and an anemic tomato slice. Meat should be used sparingly for taste, as when it used to be scarce, and should not be the focus of the meal.

2. Mix and match your vegetables: Vary the vegetables you eat from one meal to the next, or mix them together -- broccoli is an effective anticancer food, and is even more effective when combined with tomato sauce, onions or garlic. Get in the habit of adding onions, garlic or leeks to all your dishes as you cook.

3. Go organic: Choose organic foods whenever possible, but remember it's always better to eat broccoli that's been exposed to pesticide than to not eat broccoli at all (the same applies to any other anticancer vegetable).

4. Spice it up: Add turmeric (with black pepper) when cooking (delicious in salad dressings!). This yellow spice is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent. Remember to add Mediterranean herbs to your food: thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, mint, etc. They don't just add flavor, they can also help reduce the growth of cancer cells.

5. Skip the potato: Potatoes raise blood sugar, which can feed inflammation and cancer growth. They also contain high levels of pesticide residue (to the point that most potato farmers I know don't eat their own grown potatoes).

6. Go fish: Eat fish two or three times a week - sardines, mackerel, and anchovies have less mercury and PCBs than bigger fish like tuna. Avoid swordfish and shark, which the FDA says pregnant women should not eat because they contain a high concentration of contaminants.

7. Remember not all eggs are created equal: Choose only omega-3 eggs, or don't eat the yolks. Hens are now fed on mostly corn and soybeans, and their eggs contain 20 times more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than cell-growth regulating omega-3s.

8. Change your oil: Use only olive and canola oil in cooking and salad dressings. Go through your kitchen cabinets and throw out your soybean, corn and sunflower oils. (And no, you can't give them to your neighbors or your relatives... They're much too rich in omega-6 fatty acids!)

9. Say "Brown is beautiful": Eat your grains whole and mixed (wheat with oats, barley, spelt, flax, etc.) and favor organic whole grains when possible since pesticides tend to accumulate on whole grains. Avoid refined, white flour (used in bagels, muffins, sandwich bread, buns, etc.) whenever possible, and eat white pasta only al dente.

10. Keep sweets down to fruits: Cut down on sugar by avoiding sweetened sodas and fruit juices, and skipping dessert or replacing it with fruit (especially stone fruits and berries) after most meals. Read the labels carefully, and steer clear of products that list any type of sugar (including brown sugar, corn syrup, etc.) in the first three ingredients. If you have an incorrigible sweet tooth, try a few squares of dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa.

11. Go green: Instead of coffee or black tea, drink three cups of green tea per day. Use decaffeinated green tea if it gets you too wired. Regular consumption of green tea has been linked to a significant reduction in the risk for developing cancer.  (I am not doing this step.... Word of Wisdom comes first)

12. Make room for exceptions. What matters is what you do on a daily basis, not the occasional treat.

NON-FOOD RULES

1. Get physical: Make time to exercise, be it walking, dancing or running. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. This can be as easy as just walking part of the way to the office, or the grocery store. A dog is often a better walking partner than an exercise buddy. Choose an activity you enjoy; if you're having fun, you're more likely to stick with it.

2. Let the sun shine in: Try to get at least 20 minutes of daily sun exposure (torso, arms and legs) without sunscreen, preferably at noon in the summer (but take care to avoid sunburns!). This will boost your body's natural production of Vitamin D. As an alternative: discuss the option of taking a Vitamin D3 supplement with your doctor.

3. Banish bad chemicals: Avoid exposure to common household contaminants. You should air out your dry-cleaning for two hours before storing or wearing it; use organic cleaning products (or wear gloves); don't heat liquids or food in hard plastics; avoid cosmetics with parabens and phthalates; don't use chemical pesticides in your house or garden; replace your scratched Teflon pans; filter your tap water (or used bottled water) if you live in a contaminated area; don't keep your cell phone close to you when it is turned on.

4. Reach out (and touch someone!): Reach out to at least two friends for support (logistical and emotional) during times of stress, even if it's through the internet. But if they're within arms reach, go ahead and hug them, often!

5. Remember to breathe: Learn a basic breathing relaxation technique to let out some steam whenever you start to feel stressed.

6. Get involved: Find out how you can best give something back to your local community, then give it.

7. Cultivate happiness like a garden: Make sure you do one thing you love for yourself on most days (it doesn't have to take long!).



So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, my new lifestyle. If ya' want to join me, and help me find some good recipes, I would be VERY excited!!!! you can either buy the book or just go to the website http://www.anticancerbook.com/.

Mother's Day Lunch

The day before Mother's Day, I had a lunch date with my sisters and mom to celebrate Mother's Day. It was at Paradise Bakery and my chicken salad sandwich on Rye was to die for!!! Thanks for the fun. (Not included in the picture is Kayla and Candin at a different table watching Raelynn so we could eat and talk. Thanks girls!!!)

 My mom and my older sister Alisha.
My younger sister and me with my "rock star" wig. Please ignore the swollen face, I am still trying to get the steriods out of my system. It doesn't help that neither of my sisters are bigger than a size 4.

Mother's Day was also really great this year. Cassidy and Lund wrote me a poem and framed it at school. I was VERY touched by their words. Sarah made me a beautiful pot holder that she colored all by herself.  Will made me an adorable shrinky dink keychain. And, to top it all off, Morgan gave me a pedicure and it was magnificent! Oh, and on Sunday after church I took a nap!!!! Wahoooo!! I am a very spoiled momma!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Day After Mother's Day...

My favorite holiday: Mother's Day
My least favorite holiday: The day after Mother's Day!
Look what awaits me when I wake up tomorrow!! Actually, it was a tremendous day, I am just not writing about it until tomorrow because I am taking the day off.....It is Mother's Day!! Instead, I am relaxing in front of the TV watching the Cosby Show, now that is good times!!! See you tomorrow, I will be the one typing with pruny fingers after washing all those dishes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things.....

Today I decided to show you a few of my favorite things from the last couple of weeks....
The true expression of awe as Sarah experiences 3D glasses....

When Will puts on one of my scarfs and says, "Now I am strong!" and then roughhouses with his siblings.

Aren't you scared of my scarf boy?!
When HairBear wrestled with Cassidy and wins! This reminds me of when the house fell on the Wicked Witch of the West.
See how strong Will is in his pink bandana!
When Lund found a snake in our backyard and was sooooo excited!

Then Will had his turn with the snake, keeping it in a tupperware and carrying it around everywhere....

I love looking out the back window and seeing my hubby and son spending time fishing together.

This dynamic duo, Will and Brody, who are always up to no good.

This is where Morgan and Lund have Will stand right against the fence so that they won't hook him or have to fetch him out of the lake constantly. He doesn't care as long as he can be there with the boys.

I love that we can fish this close to home. The messy backyard behind Lund is our backyard.

When Will gets really excited to catch "Lake weed" Oh, the simple pleasures!

When Will decides that it is HIS job to rake the sand pit in the golf course behind our house. Don't worry, I never let him go out there by himself. We just walk the golfcourse in the evenings when all the golfers are done.

When Will tells me that his snake can do "tricks" like pulling himself back up to his hand. He was really excited that he taught this skill to his pet snake.
When Lund caught his first fish in our backyard lake.
       When Cassidy reads to Will. Notice that this is a Calvin and Hobbes book. My kids are all loving Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield cartoon books lately.

I love it when Will came outside in his sisters' skirt and says, "Look, I found a kilt!"  We let him wear it for about an hour before confiscating the "kilt".

I love it when I look out and see these two (Mother and son) sitting out enjoying a sunset and talking about life.

I love it when the kids get along because they have a hobby together.

I love how serious Lund gets when he gets into something. This is his serious face.
And I love it when I catch a picture of my dad playing with the grandkids. He is ALWAYS playing with them when he and my mom come over.