Sunday, November 24, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I had my WORST.  DOCTOR.  VISIT.  EVER. on Thursday.  I thought I was going to be starting immunotherapy, and according to Dr. Lewis, my nice oncologist, it was going to zap my cancer with very little discomfort.  But nice Dr. Lewis was out sick, (very very sick, as in they’re not sure he’ll ever come back) and his partner, a lady from India, is very hard to understand.  Also very cold and blunt.  She said she was going to go over my lab results with me, and I said no, I was there for immunotherapy.  She said the lab analysis showed my cancer won’t respond to immunotherapy, and because it metastasized from my colon, I’m automatically at level 4, and it can’t be cured, but they’ll start me on chemo.  All that in a couple of sentences!  I was reeling.  I wanted to yell, “Get me Dr. Lewis!” but she read my thoughts and told me Dr. Lewis would tell me the same thing.  I’m sure she’s right.  Long story short: I have to get another CT scan to have a baseline for my tumors’ sizes, and have a port implanted in my chest, and then they can start the chemo.  Each time I have chemo, I’ll wear a pump for 48 hours at home.  They’ll do that four times, over 8 weeks, and then give me another CT scan to see if the tumors are responding.  If they aren’t, we’ll re-evaluate.  She said they won’t keep me on chemo and make me miserable if it isn’t doing any good.  I asked her,  “Do people sometimes cry at this point?” and she said, Oh, yes, go ahead and cry.  But I didn’t.  I still think I have a lot of years left.  My patriarchal blessing says “your days will be lengthened, to fill your mission with joy and satisfaction.”  I have a lot of faith in that.  Also, a ton of people are going to be praying for me, including you kids and your children.  And my brothers and sisters.  And our ward.  And dozens of other people.  I got a funny text from Bonnie that said: “Maybe the immunotherapy would have been a waste of time?  The chemo will kick your cancer’s a**!  You’ve got this, and I’ll pray hard for you.”  With such a big wonderful family pulling for me, I’m going to make it!
         Let’s see, what else is going on?  We’re looking forward to Thanksgiving! We’ll just have Donna’s and Tom’s families on Thursday, so for those of you who are going to the in-laws, I hope you have a wonderful time!  Oh, our cabin is looking really good.  They’ve moved the furniture back in, so we’re almost there!  Sharon, you can definitely stay there over Christmas! 
         What else?  Our kitties are always wonderful.  I was sleeping in Dad’s recliner because my neck was hurting, and Scout came walking down the hall and into our bedroom.  I grabbed him and laid him across my chest, and he started purring loudly.  Cat therapy! It’s the best.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Dad had a great time at the BYU game yesterday, and he enjoyed the sunshine and good weather. I hope the rest of you had fun, too.  Thanks, Nora, for arranging things.  23 tickets!  That’s almost like the opera nights we used to have!
         While Dad was at the game, I drove down to Lehi to visit Jana McGettigan.  We always have a lot to talk about.  I went shopping at Walmart and JoAnne’s fabrics, too.   Since I hardly ever go anyplace by myself, it was a real novelty for me.  Normally I let Dad be the chauffeur, but it was fun to break out.   
         I was supposed to start immunotherapy this week, and I was all geared up for it, but on Wednesday I got a call from my doctor’s office.  The lab hadn’t sent them any information yet about my lung tissue. What!  People’s lives are at stake, and the lab diddles around?  Their analysis was supposed to be finished last Monday.  It’s not that I’m eager to have the treatment, because I might have nasty side effects–some people do. I just want to know how it’s going to be.  And I want my cancer stopped dead in its tracks.  So, I hope the lab hustles and finishes their work on my lung tissue.  If they’ve lost it, and I have to get another biopsy, I’ll really freak.
         I got another text from Mario Gonzales on Friday.  He said that Christine had died that morning.  I totally believe the gospel, and the plan of salvation, but it seems like too many people have died recently!   James’s dad.  Mrs. Marriotti.  I’m not afraid to die, and I know these people have gone to a wonderful place, but it sure is hard on their families!
         Well, let’s talk about something more pleasant.  Politics.  You all know that Dad and I really support President Trump, but I’ve learned it’s not always wise to say so.  You can lose friends.  One of my piano ladies said she’d never dare to go to a Trump rally because she might get beaten up, or have her property vandalized.   Maybe she’s right, but we have a guy here on our street who’s not afraid of anybody:  Bronson Butler, the body builder. He lifted a dirt tamper into Dad’s truck for us once, and it weighed hundreds of pounds.  He looks like an action figure on steroids.  But he’s really, really nice.  Anyway, he has a flagpole in his front yard now, maybe 20 feet high, with an American flag at the top, and a Trump flag underneath it.  Go, Bronson.  If we were all body builders, maybe we’d all have more courage.
         Hopin’ you’re all doing great!  Love, Mom 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Dear Kids,
         James’s dad passed away last Sunday morning, probably about the time I was uploading my letter.  We’re all really happy for him, but of course it’s really hard for his kids and grandchildren.  He didn’t want to have a funeral, just a graveside service and a lunch.  Nora had talked to us about going, but I was in a lot of pain this week and never checked back with her.  I’m sure it all went well. 
         My shoulder and neck have been killing me, but it probably isn’t related to my cancer.  Yesterday it seemed to finally be getting a little better, and today is better still.  I’ve got to feel OK for the start of my immunotherapy!  I feel like my whole life is on hold right now.  But at least I’m going to stay alive.  I got a text from my friend Christine Gonzales; she was one of my missionary companions who married a Bolivian and ended up teaching Spanish and German at the SLCC. Anyway, the text was actually written by her husband, Mario, who said: “Let you know Christine develop ovarian cancer advanced we sorrow much.”  Mario never learned English very well, but his message was pretty clear.  If I felt better I’d try to find out more so I could at least go to her funeral, when it happens.
         There’s been lots done on our cabin!  The carpet was actually being laid by some Mexicans on Thursday when the power went out.  They say they’re coming back tomorrow.  But you can see how close we are!  After everything’s cleaned up, and our furniture is moved back in, there will be a final inspection.  I’m still planning on doing Thanksgiving here at our house, because time is so short, but the cabin should be open for business pretty soon!
         Tina’s breathing has been really raspy, especially at night, when you can hear it clear across our bedroom. Last Tuesday we took her to the vet. She yowled very loudly and put on quite a show, but when the vet examined her and listened to her breathing, he couldn’t find any problem at all.  So he said it’s probably seasonal asthma.  By then he was petting her, running his hand down her back and pointing out what a beautiful cat she is.  She was strutting around on the examining table, head-butting his hand and purring very loudly.  The vet especially admired her black and brown coloring, and the wide black streak down her back.  She was in her glory.  So the visit was great for her self esteem, even though it set us back a few dollars.
         We won’t be home this evening because of the Messiah practice, and we’ll be gone every Sunday night until after the performance on December 14.  I’ll have more about that later.   
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Well, the weather isn’t my top story any more.  It got down to -3 on Wednesday night, but since then the temperatures have wandered back toward normal.  We even had pretty decent temperatures Thursday night for Halloween.  A lot of kids came by, even though our ward had a trunk or treat last weekend.  Most of the kids in our neighborhood aren’t LDS, anyway, so that didn’t affect them.  I always like to see kids in their costumes, and Halloween night is still magical for me.
         Even though winter has backed off, the deer haven’t received the message.  They walk through our back yard every night just at dusk, on their same path as last year.  Our next door neighbors aren’t putting out food for them (yet), so they cross the street beyond our house, and go who knows where.  Tina doesn’t like it at all.  She glares out the window at them.  Scout wants to go out and fight with them, but we don’t let him.  Sonia grooms herself and pretends she doesn’t know they’re walking by.   It’s a very entertaining show.
         Most of you know that James’s dad, Bill, has been living with them for a little more than a year now, but he had a stroke last Monday night.  James and his brothers and sister have decided to put him in hospice, since he didn’t want to be kept alive artificially, especially if he couldn’t walk or talk.  So they’re just giving him comfort treatment, and it won’t be long now.  Suzanne has been gone since Isaac was a newborn, so Bill is probably anxious to be with her again.  It’s funny–when he moved in, he said he would live with them for about a year and a half, and then he would die.  He was pretty close.  I wonder how he knew?
         The Messiah practices are starting next Sunday night, Dec 10th, and we’ll be leaving here about 5:30 pm, so we won’t be having our usual Sunday night rendezvouses for the next several weeks.  The performances will be Saturday and Sunday, Dec 14 & 15, at 6 pm at Tom’s church.  I’m guessing we’ll have some kind of before-party or after-party, probably Sunday night.  I’ve missed singing in the Messiah for the last two years because of my health problems, but nothing’s stopping me this year.
         I hope you’re all enjoying your extra hour of time this morning.  Tonight, though, it will be pitch black by 6 pm.  It’s all good, though, because the holidays are coming up.  We’ll have more fun than ever!
         Lots of love, Mom