Monday, September 29, 2008


I cant get rid of the blue! I am so proud that I found a fall background for our blog. I can change all of the font colors and everything, But I can't get rid of the blue!!! I know one of my blogger friends out there can help me! I can't stand the no matchie....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week of treatment #2

*Due to the graphic discriptions in this post. Reader descresion is advised.*
Its time for me to sit down and pound out another blog. I have known that I need to do this for a couple of days but I actually have been a little hesitant. As I said in one of my first blogs I am not someone who likes or wants ANY sympathy. That is not why we are doing this. We are writing this all down for a number of reasons: 1. It will make a good journal for looking back on this whole situation someday. 2. Keep our family and friends posted. 3. As kind of an education for others that have not been through this.
That is really why I am am going to put down all of my feelings from this last week. And, I have learned that unfortunately that I don't even share my feelings and thoughts enough with Shelly. I'm sorry. I just am not good at placing any of my weak burden on anyone. Even my terrific wife.
Anyway, back to the post. As we said last week was great. The cancer is really shrinking and I was feeling better than I have felt in months. I didn't realize what a toll the cancer was ravaging on my body. I went into this round of chemo, on Tuesday, in pretty good spirits. The chemo went pretty good. I noticed that this time my sense of smell and my reactions to the taste of some of the drugs was really heightened. The taste is a lot like the aftertaste of straight lemon juice. While that does not sound that bad, when it is combined with the nausea and the drugs going crazy in your body, even the thought of it right now makes me a little ill. Other than that the chemo went pretty smooth. I had a nice visit from Jimmy and Karen and I was really grateful that I took the time to shave my chest. The tape coming off wasn't bad at all.
Wednesday started out OK, but at about 3 I started puking my guts out. It went on for hours and it wasn't just little gags it was clean absolutely everything out my system. I couldn't even keep water down for more than a half hour. I actually got worried enough that I called my doctor to see what I could/should do. He told me to add some benadryl to the nausea medicine and if it was still bad in the morning to call him back. I really don't mind puking. I am the kind of person that if I eat something that doesn't sit right I will go in the bathroom and take care of it. I figure it is a lot better to do it that way then to be miserable while it works its way through my system. My biggest concern was how complete the episodes were and how I couldn't even keep anything down. I really was scared we were going to have to take me into the hospital and I was going to get hooked back up to the IV. I think even harder then that though was the psychological part. If it was going to get this bad how was I going to make it through this. Wednesday was REALLY hard on me that way.
There was really nothing at that point that Shelly was able to do for me, the kids were getting very restless, and we had been given tickets to the circus so Shelly loaded up the kids and the took off. I got a call about a 1/2 hour later that they were coming back home. As you have already read they all came home and they ALL were sick. It was a very long miserable night for all of us. Actually by about 10:30pm I was able to keep a little down and was feeling a little better. Oddly enough it brought my spirits up a little to have everyone sick because I realized that I wasn't sick from the chemo but I was sick from a bug.
Side bar: I learned this week that chemo sick and bug sick are VERY different. When I had the bug once I had the urge to throw up there was no stopping it and once I started I kept going until there was not a drop left in me. With the chemo the nausea comes in waves. There not so bad that you can't get trough them most of the time. If you do end up needing to get sick its not that bad. I usually retch a few times and most of the time it never really even produces that much vomit. It is never to the point that I am worried about getting dehydrated or malnourished etc. For me when it hits it is easier to excuse myself to the bathroom, let myself take care of it, and then I feel better and I can go on with what I was doing. Sorry about being graphic, but I thought it was an important distinction for me to make.
Thursday turned out to be pretty much a lay around day. Stomach cramps/bloated, very tired, and waves of nausea. Again Shelly was giving me a hard time about being pregnant. Friday I felt better and I had stuff that I HAD to get done at HotShots. So I went in and took care of a group that had a big reservation for a meeting, lunch (as good as Olive Garden normally is, even the smell of it was pretty bad), and a team building exercise. It went good but about half way through I really realized that I was not going to be able to make it out to FT Rucker for a BIG advertising event that I had scheduled for that night. I was already to whipped. I REALLY struggled with that. With HotShots struggling like it is right now HotShots NEEDS any and all advertising that I can come up with. So I went back and forth with getting someone to go with me to getting someone else to take my place...... But when it boiled down to it I could send a couple of guys out there to take space but that would be all they would be able to do (along with car troubles and a couple of other variables). If I wasn't able to go our time out there would not be very effective and it wouldn't be worth it. Unfortunately I was not able to suck it up so I had to cancel our participation in the event. This was another BIG psychological blow for me for the week.
Saturday was pretty good. I was able to put in a pretty good shift and felt decent all day(only a couple of waves of nausia and my stomach wasn't aching to bad). By the time I got home I was tired but able to hang out some with Shelly and the kids. I had been asked earlier in the week to teach a lesson at church and I really do enjoy teaching and it usaully pretty easy for me to throw something together. But as hard as I tried on Saturday I could not get my brain/thought together enough to do anything. I figured it would be better in the morning but it wasn't. Even through Sacrament meeting I couldn't get my brain to work. Again this was really hard for me. I felt like this is something I should/need to be doing and I can't. I really don't do well with that. Then as Sacrament went on it was Fast Sunday (for those of you who are not members that means that once a month our church sets aside a Sunday to fast, or to go with out food for 2 meals which we donate the money that we save as an offering to help those who are in need) Also on Fast Sundays during Sacrament meeting the time is set aside for the bearing of testimonies. This is an open format in which any one can stand up and bear a short testimony. One on the Sisters in our ward Sister Stinson has been battling cancer for the last couple of years has spent basically the last year and a half in Houston getting many treatments along with stem cell transplants. She has gone through so much more than I have. She is truly an inspiration for me. I don't know if I could do what she has done. Thankfully she is currently in remission and was able to come home this last week. As she stood there and bore her testimony of how blessed she is and how she would do it again because of the blessings it has brought here I got very emotional. I guess I really threw myself a pity party. I know that I have had it pretty easy so far. I know that I am going to beat this. But if I am getting this down over having an upset stomach, a little nausea, mouth sores(oh yes, another wonderful treat), and not being able to work as hard as normal this early on, and she is so strong after ALL that she has gone through. How in the world am I going to make it. More than physically, physiologically this week has been really tough. I know some how I am going to get through it what other options do I have.

All of that being said. Tonight I am felling much better. I have talked about all of this with Shelly and my parents. I know I need to better at that. This is not something that I can handle as an island. I need to talk. I am also thankfull for all of the kind thoughts and prayers. They really do bouy me up. I also am feeling much better today, no real nausia, and I was able to eat pretty normal. Hopefully the same pattern that I had last time holds true and I should wake up tomorrow feeling good and have a really good week.

Enough for one night. Good night

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh what a night.......

What a fun night we had last night! Burke was not feeling good all day, just kinda "Bleh" again. We figured it was because of the chemo the day before. Towards the evening I started to feel a little yucky, but we had free tickets to the circus so supermom took the kids. Burke stayed home because he had started vomiting(sorry bout' the graphics). Off we went to the circus, got our seats, cotton candy and sodas. We were there about 20 minutes when Aden said "Mom I don't feel good, I don't think I can do this". So we left the big-top and headed home with the promise of "we'll try again tomorrow". We had to make a stop for gatorade, and a thermometer for Burke on the way home( if his temp goes over 101 he gets a trip to the ER). As soon as we got home Aden ran to one bathroom and vomited, Ellie ran to the other and did the same. We got the kids settled down and to bed with their buckets beside their beds and about 45 minutes later I figured it was my turn and I started in with the vomiting. Meanwhile Burke is still at it. I got the chills, Burke seemed to stay away from the fever somehow. I have to say I do believe clorox wipes are straight from heaven. Everyone is back to normal today, and yes we made it back to the circus tonight! Oh what a night!!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nothing big this week.

I know it has been a few days since I posted. I think the main reason is there really was nothing to post. On Monday I got my appetite back and have felt better then I have in a couple of months. I haven't felt tired and I have had good energy. I guess before the diagnosis I thought I was worn out with the stresses of life, but it turns out the cancer was taking its toll.

So I spent most of the week trying to get stuff done for HotShots. Me not feeling well, and all the time spent taking test etc., has really taken its toll on HotShots. Our numbers have been pretty bad this month. The good news this last week I was able to get some good stuff done and made a great deal with the ITR (entertainment sales office on FT Rucker) on FT Rucker to do some sales for us.

The other fun this week was it was the Learn-a-thon at Aden's School this week. This is the big fund raiser for the school for the year. Shelly was in charge of one of the groups so it was a VERY busy end of the week for us. Thursday and Friday we both spent about 8 hours a day at the school. Luckly this is only once a year!

As I said there was nothing on the cancer front but a very busy week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's been a couple days....

Still doing good. Burke is a little bit tired these days and has to take frequent naps(I wouldn't complain on that one). I tease him because all of the symptoms he has remind me of morning sickness. Is this payback for what a baby I was when I was pregnant? He has to have his nausea meds and some food before he gets out of bed. He is not really eating large meals, more just grazing all day on whatever he fancies. We went through an entire family size box of Chees-Its in one day between him and Aden. Guess I'll go to Sam's club next time! Ellie is still in heaven keeping Daddy fed and hydrated. All she says after school is "Where's Daddy?" and if he is at home she goes straight to him and assess the situation. If he is in bed, so is she! Aden's best role in all of this is to just keep us all laughing. Some of the stuff this kid comes up with is amazing. He is very quick witted. Definitely still mama's boy though. Any chance he gets to ride in the passenger seat of my car he will hold my hand as we drive down the road. I wonder how long that will last? Overall we are all holding up pretty well. If this is as bad as it gets we are in good shape. Burke is still able to go to work. He might not be as productive as usual but he is still there and feeling useful, earning his paycheck! And I am just trying to be Superwoman and pull it all together. So far so good! SJB

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First T-Shirt Order

We are going to make the first order of Cancer Sucks shirts on Monday the 15th. If you would like to get one please let us know size and color. They are $15 if we have to ship them the shipping is $5.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's shrinking....

Today has gone amazingly well. Burke has felt no side effects at all. In fact the tumor on his neck that we could feel growing has already started softening. He woke up this morning and was like " Oh my gosh I can breath!" He also has a tumor above his left lung that has been causing him to cough and have little bit of a hard time breathing. He has had a ton of energy today and has been on the go all day. He has not been able to go a full day without a nap or some kind of rest for at least two weeks now. We know that it is the 2nd and 3rd day that are usually the worst as far as the nausia goes so we will see what the next few days bring. So far so good. We'll keep you updated! SJB

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chemo day #1

Well it all began today. I got to the hospital at 9:30 am. After the initial regular check in stuff the nurse went to access my port. They said that there is not to many nerves in the skin in that area, while that may be true, when you are accessing it with a framing nail it hurts. I got the numbing cream for next time so hopefully that will make it feel better. After the needle was in she flush the port to clean it then tried to draw blood. She was unsuccesfull so we hooked me up to an IV bag to see if we could flush it. In the mean time she had to draw the blood out of my arm so we could get my blood tested to make sure all of my levels were ok to get the treatment today. The Port never would draw so they sent me downstairs to run some dye through it to make sure there was no problem with the placement. I was told that I must have a good immune system because it had formed a clot and basically turned it into a one way valve. So it works to put stuff in but At this point it looks like we wont be able to make draws. (what was the point of the port again:))

Since the Dr. gave it the OK we went in and did the drug treatment. The nurse gave me some pre-drugs (pain, nausea, ...) then the 4 chemo drugs. I actually fell asleep for about an hour during the treatment. I got wrapped up around 3:30pm just in time for Mom, Dad, and the kids(Shelly had been hanging around and supporting me all day) to stop by. I really wanted the kids to see me with the line in and to see that it didn't hurt me. So the nurse did the final flush and disconnected everything. By far the most painfully part of the day was removing the tape on my chest. I think that she removed about half of my chest hair at the same time. I will definitely shave that part of my chest before the next treatment.

Since I got released I have felt pretty good. I feel a little floaty like I took a bunch of cough medicine and my stomach feels like it is a little upset but really nothing major today. We will see how I feel tomorrow. I have been told day 2 and 3 are the worst.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Our life outside of cancer......

Although the main focus for our family right now is getting Burke healthy, believe it or not we have a lot of other things going on too.
Burke has gotten HotShots on a really good track with the help of our amazing staff. We are so incredibly thankful for them especially at this time when Burke is not able to be there all the time. He can actually take time off and not feel like the business is going to go under. They have stepped up BIG TIME in the last month. So if you all are reading this THANK YOU for making at least this part of our life a little easier.
But for the most part you all know what is going on with Burke.

Aden is in second grade(I swear he was just born yesterday). I just had a conference with his teacher and she said he is a joy to have in class. He learns very quickly, and doesn't have to be told twice when learning new concepts. He is very positive in class, and is always happy to do what he is asked to do, but...........he talks too much! You would not believe how much this boy can talk. He wants to know everything, or he knows everything and is going to tell you about it. He has recently become an expert on Hodgkins Lymphoma! He is a REALLY good diver and we recently signed him up for the local swim team, he is pretty excited about that. He thinks Michael Phelps is the coolest.
E.J. is in preschool 5 days a week this year, and on to Kindegarten next year. She Looooves school. She is so social and has reports of what she and all of the other kids in her class are doing everyday. She is Daddy's little princess. On the days he has a surgery or is not feeling well she loves nothing more than to climb into bed with Burke and watch TV, or get him some water, or make him some tomato soup with Mamma. She is his own personal little nurse, and she is in heaven. She starts dance class on Monday and is so excited to be in a class with two of her friends from church. Her latest hobby has become painting. I will sometimes get between 5-10 paintings in a day. My fridge is FULL!
And then theres me! Before we found out about Burkes cancer, I was a foster Mom for the local animal shelter. I have had 3 pregnant Mama dogs, and helped them through birth. We keep the dogs at our house until the babies are 6 weeks old and ready for adoption. We have also fostered a few young dogs that just needed to get out of the shelter for a while. All in all, we have had around 40 dogs through our house in the last 6 months. I will definitely pick this back up when Burke is healthy again, but for now we need to keep our house as sanitary as possible. I will hopefully be starting an online course, and getting my associates as a veterinary technician soon. For the most part right now I am just doing the best job in the world and being a mom. Oh Yeah! We are going to Disneyworld in October so I have that to obsess about. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Burke thinks I might have a little OCD when it comes to Disney. What can I say it's the happiest place on earth! AND we get to bring my niece Makaila this year, which makes us all Sooo happy! I have some awesome friends here in Dothan that are so helpful when it comes to all that we are going through. I still have the same best friends from home that I had 15 years ago +1 and they are my sounding board for when just need to vent. Family is Numero Uno in my life, and I am so thankful for My parents and Burkes parents, and our brothers and sisters. I am very blessed for all of the amazing people that have been put in my life, and for the way I was raised. Sometimes you just dig your heels in and bulldoze your way through whatever life throws at you. I am realizing I get that from my mom. Thank You for all of the love and support!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More Good News

I met with the oncologist today. The bone-marrow came back perfect, mugga was good, the Pet scan looks like I am at a stage 2. I have some cancer on both sides of my neck and in the upper part of my chest. All and all really good stuff.

The best news is he said the 8 courses of chemo is out the window. He thinks we are going to go with 4 courses (possibly 6) and some radiation. I like the sound of cutting my chemo treatments in half.

I am scheduled for chemo on September 9th and 23rd and the next Dr on the 23rd to see if the doses are right.

He did forget a test. I have to get a Pulmonary Function Test. I guess one of the Chemo drugs can do damage to lung function so they want a base line.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You can call me "Radio-Active Man"

Today I had my first PET scan. It was rather interesting. The radio-active isotope that they use only has a life span of 110 minutes, so it is made everyday and delivered from Birmingham. The shipment was late so I had time to get to know the techs and learn about the procedure. Basically they gave me a very small IV (no they didn't use the new port, why did they install it again?) and injected me with a sugar solution laced with radio-active materials. The solution is absorbed by active organs (ie. heart, brain, kidneys...) and the cancer. I had to sit around, holding as still as possible, for about an hour while it all processed. Then they put me in the scan machine (it is the same scan machine that they use for CAT scans) for about 25 minutes and took pictures. They then can overlay the CAT and the PET scans so they can tell exactly how much and where the cancer is. Of course the techs can't officially "read" the results but he did let me look at all of the pictures and showed me how they were layered. I could easily see the cancer on both sides of the neck and in my chest. The really good news is there was no "hot-spots" anywhere below my heart. That means that it has not spread below my diaphragm or in other words it really looks like I am at a stage 2. Great news!

The one thing they told me that I had to avoid children and pregnant women for 24 hours because of my radio-active levels. So basically I had to semi-quarantine myself for the day to not expose anybody else to me. Ellie and Aden had a hard time not getting their standard hugs and kisses this afternoon. They were both very sweet and painted me pictures and brought them to me at work. They brought them in and set them on the desk next to me and blew me kisses. I promised them that I would give them a goodnight kiss and tomorrow everything would be normal. That seemed to help but Shelly said it definitely was hard on them tonight.

This has a scary/pain scale of a .5 Yes there was a needle involved but it was a VERY small one and everything thing else was rather relaxing.

Port update. All I took was a couple of ibuprofen and I was fine today. The stiffness in my neck is all but gone. The site is still a little tender and sore but really not that bad. The worst thing that I have found so far is that a seatbelt shoulder strap goes right over the top of it so I can't wear it properly.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Infusa Port

What a day! Burke had to be at the Hospital at 5:30 this morning to get his port put in. He drove himself so that I could stay home and get the kids up and ready for school. As soon as I dropped Ellie off I went to the hospital to pick him up. This might sound a little gross, but this is how a port is put in: they make a slit and insert the port just under the collarbone above the heart. It looks like he has got a marble under his skin. Then they make another slit and insert the tube that is connected to the corroted artery in the neck(thats the gross part). As soon as everything is in they connect the two and we are ready for business. Now every time he goes to have his chemo they just tap in to the little marble area and he won't have to have an IV every time,which he is very happy about. The best thing about a port is that in about two weeks, when the cuts from inserting the port are healed, he will be able to go swimming with the kids and stuff. The doctor said everything went really smoothly, and they can use the port tomorrow for his PET scan instead of an IV. His neck is very stiff, he actually took one of his painkillers today after we got home(amazing!) That kind of tells you how painfull it is now, he actually took a painkiller! He said he is already starting to feel better tonight though, so hopefully this one won't take too long to recover from. We are really hoping to start Chemo on thursday and start getting this thing out of his system and get on with life.