Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yipee! One year cancer free!!



Merry Christmas and Happy South Dakota snow storm to you all! It is so hard to believe that exactly a year ago today, I was saying good bye to “my girls” and hello to life! This morning, I started to read my caring bridge from start of journey to present day…I wasn’t able to finish reading, the journey still seems too ???….

With the remembrance and celebration of Christ’s birth tomorrow, I can’t help but compare it to my surgery a year ago and the rebirth of me…I would like to share a few of the outstanding memories of surgery day…

When I was in the “foggy” portion of coming out of surgery, I remember hearing one of the nurses say, “don’t use her left arm for blood pressures.” As a nurse, I knew that the only reason they couldn’t use my left arm was the fact that the surgeon had to remove my lymph nodes. I had failed the test. My sentinel node biopsy was positive for cancer. (there is a special test they do for breast cancer patients…a dye is injected to light up the sentinel node, the surgeon removes this node, if there is cancer than they have to remove the rest of your nodes, if no cancer than they leave the your nodes: the thinking is that the sentinel node is like the “keeper of the gate”. Before surgery, I had signed a consent form that if the sentinel node showed cancer, the physician had permission to remove the rest of my lymph nodes.) I remember the instant tears and my first thought was “God, you could have prevented this and you didn’t!”…I was a bit surprised at my initial sadness and anger. After thinking about my response, a joy filled my heart. There have been times in my Christian walk; I wondered how deep my faith is? Do I really believe, or do I just think I believe? Well, my response, even while I was still “foggy”, was a great affirmation to myself that my faith and belief that God is truly GOD!! I knew (and still know) in my heart that God is in control. Yes, I was sad that I had a positive lymph node, but I also knew (and still know) that God is the great physician!

My children and husband continue to share about all the support and love that was given to them while I was in surgery…you were all vessels that God used to help a hurting and very scared family. Thank you for your caring and love, not only on the day of surgery, but throughout this journey.

Since it seems at Christmas there is much talk about presents, I thought I would share with you a few gifts that I have received through this journey:

The gift of knowing that God is ever present, He knows our needs and
always provides…

The gift of love, this has truly changed my whole my life…through
almost losing my life, I learned to not only love myself, I
learned how to receive and believe in the love from others.
My family and I have been so blessed by the love of so many.

The gift of life, need I say more…

The gift of family….

The gift of friendship….

The gift of meeting some really remarkable women who happen to be
on the same journey as I....

The gift of joy and laughter…

The gift of health…

The gift to dream…

May you also experience the gifts of God, love, life, family and friends, health and dreams this Christmas Season!

Thanks again for your prayers and love!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One year ago today I heard the fateful words....You have cancer!

Since I am short of time and energy, I am going to post my caring bridge entry here:
To think it was a year ago today that I heard the words that started my family and I on a journey that has forever effected our lives. A journey that is still being traveled, with still unanswered questions…a journey many of you have walked beside us with, blessing us with your love, care and prayers.
I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on this anniversary day.
BLESSINGS: I am alive! I am loved! I have the greatest family, friends, faith community, and medical community!
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED: I have learned that I am a very blessed woman. I have learned that there can be peace amongst challenges. I have learned that courage doesn’t come from an absence of fear, but an abundance of faith. I have learned to trust in God. I have learned there is no sweeter sound than the laughter of a grandchild. I have learned there are so many beautiful women who are also being challenged by breast cancer. I have learned to dream!
CHALLENGES: Pain is a constant nuisance that challenges my days, thankfully not really limiting my activities…just a bit wearing. Fear is my companion that I carry in my back pocket. Most to the time I am able to sit on this fear and keep it contained…however there are times when the fear escapes from my pocket…mainly at night when I am all alone and the house is quiet…I work hard at reminding myself that 33% chance of reoccurrence is actually 67%chance of being cancer free. So, I take this ugly word “fear” and put it in a box, wrap it with some pretty paper and a big pink bow and give it to God. So, thankful that He takes the gift from me and gives me a gift in return—peace.
Speaking of peace, recently I was reading a novel by Lisa Wingate called Word Gets Around, here are a few segments from the book that really touched my heart…
Have you been battering the same barriers over and over and over, thinking the answer lay in breaking through and leaving the past behind? Maybe the answer isn’t getting beyond where you come from but in learning to accept things that went into your making. Maybe the secret is in looking at the end product and figuring out what its good for…maybe the point of life isn’t in getting past it, but making something of it! In the last paragraph of the novel…Peace doesn’t lie in all that we run to, in the independence we struggle to maintain, in the things we embrace that don’t embrace us in return. It is not in the noise of the world, but rests in the quiet place we last look. It waits until we stop running, stop battling the fences, stop searching outside and look toward the center. There in the very heart of who we are and what we were created to be, we find it-the greatest thing in this world or the next, the very essence of God.
On a quick end note, the other evening Ferlin and I were blessed with a gift from some friends to go see Glenn Beck’s Christmas Sweater Performance. I will admit, I was only going to please my husband, as I am not into politics, etc…so I didn’t really think I would get much out of it. WRONG: Mr Beck did a wonderful presentation on redemption. I walked out of the theatre wishing that everyone could receive the blessing of the Christmas Sweater. So, if you’re a reader, check out the book and let me know your thoughts. I have to share one quick last note…this was kind of an “oh my goodness moment”—At the end of the show Mr Beck says “V is either for victim or victor—we get the choice!”…a year ago, when I went to the front during church, announcing our breast cancer journey and asking for prayers, I remember stating that I was not only a breast cancer survivor, but a VICTOR, as in Christ we all can claim VICTORY!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Today is a day of great thanks to our great God. I am so thankful for another day of life. A day to share, a day to love and a day to be loved. A special thanks to everyone for continuing to share this journey with us. With all the turmoil in America, today especially seems like a great day to give thanks for our freedoms we are able to enjoy! May God continue to bless America and all of you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Speaking Out

Well, chemo must have affected my brain cells, as I did something the other day that was definately out of my box. With the new recommended guidelines on self breast exams, mammograms, etc, I contacted our local news station, which ended up in an interview. If the interview helps even one woman with early detection, it will be worth going out of my box. In case your interested, here is a transcript of the interview.

For a woman, getting a mammogram can be stressful and now new guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are making the checkup an even harder appointment to schedule.

The new government task force recommendations say that most women don't need mammograms in their 40s, rather in their 50s and not as frequent. They're guidelines that are getting mixed reviews and causing women diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age to speak out.

In May of last year, Kim VanderPoel turned 40. And it was that exact month she had her very first mammogram.

"I had a little abnormality then and had to have a biopsy on the right side but that came back fine," VanderPoel said.

A follow up six months later in October also showed no sign of cancer. But just before Thanksgiving, she found a lump.

"Actually had just taken my shirt off, was hopping in the shower and I was like, 'Oh, there's a lump.' And I called my doctor and I said 'I don't need to do anything do ?' And she said, 'Oh yeah, we need to get it checked out.' Then we moved from there," VanderPoel said.

VanderPoel was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

"Typically us younger women that get breast cancer of this type, it does grow fast and it's not uncommon to have a normal mammogram and six months later, something shows up. That's why it's important to do self breast exams to know what your differences are," VanderPoel said.

But a government task force now says not only do women in their 40s not need a mammogram, self breast exams are no good either and women shouldn't be taught to do them.

"It makes me just very sad. Kinda feels like we're taking a step backwards with women's health care," VanderPoel said.

Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends that annual mammograms start at age 40 for the general population. VanderPoel says if she would have followed the new recommendations, she may not be here today.

"If I wouldn't have found my breast cancer when I did, that in two years my children probably wouldn't have a mother," VanderPoel said.

But the government panel of doctors and scientists found that getting screened so early and so often is harmful and causes unneeded biopsies. VanderPoel says the tests and weeks of treatment she went through was worth it because it saved her life.

"I understand some of the recommendations as far as mammograms cause anxiety or repeat tests. No amount of anxiety can take away the fear of recurrence of breast cancer and when you find it small, you can treat it," VanderPoel said.

VanderPoel had a double mastectomy, went through chemo and radiation. She is currently cancer free but says she has a 33 percent chance of recurrence.

It's worth noting these new recommendations are just that; they are expected to be revised and debated.

Here is a link to the video

It is my hope that these guidelines will be changed!
Ps. I survived going out of the box...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thoughts on new guidelines

This Thanksgiving, I will be giving extra thanks that the United States Preventive Services Task Force new mammogram and breast self exam guidelines were not in place when I found my breast lump last Thanksgiving. Through self breast exams, I was aware of my breasts and any peculiarities that were mine, so when I felt a lump, I knew there was a difference. Six months prior to my diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, my 40th birthday gift to myself was getting my baseline mammogram. By having a baseline mammogram, the radiologists were able to compare my films. When I heard the words “you have breast cancer…” I was stunned beyond words. Except for being female, I had no known risk factors for breast cancer not to mention the fact that I am a nurse, wellness educator, and a mother who was living an active, healthy lifestyle. I had never smoked; I had my children before age 30; I exercised regularly; I nursed my children and ate a healthy, nutritious diet. The task force mentions the “anxiety” women face with false positives, well after the year that I have had fighting this beast, any anxiety you may face with additional testing is worth not having the constant fear of metastasis because the breast cancer was found at an advanced state. It would be interesting to see what data this task force was researching. From any research I have read, the earlier the detection, the easier and least expensive the treatment. Unfortunately by the time I had my bilateral mastectomy on Christmas Eve, cancer had all ready spread to a lymph node, making my fight all the harder. Even after enduring multiple surgeries’, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation my chance of reoccurrence is at 67%. According to the American Cancer Society Facts and Figures 2009 an estimated 40,610 breast cancer deaths are expected in 2009. Breast cancer ranks second as a cause of cancer death in women. Death rates for breast cancer have steadily decreased in women since 1990, with larger decreases in women younger than 50 (a decrease of 3.2% per year) than in those 50 and older (2.0% per year). The decrease in breast cancer death rates represents progress in both earlier detection and improved treatment. It is a shame that America is taking such a step backwards in preventative care.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


When I was challenged by the physical burden of cancer treatment, I couldn't wait until I was able to rejoin life. Fortunately I have been able to rejoin the living fairly quickly, this week it struck me though....I have joined the race a little bit too much. I find it amazing how even though I have been trying to guard my schedule, I soon filled it up with so many events. While these events are all good things, my schedule has allowed very little time for inner healing. As I reflect on this past week, I am ashamed to admit that my busyness has allowed me to fall back into the pattern of making unhealthy lifestyle choices. I had very little time for meditation, God time, exercise, skipped meals and made unhealthy selections when I did eat....urrrrggghhhh, I promised myself I wouldn't do that on my road to healing. So, I am taking a stand and making tough choices. I am going to eliminate some of my obligations, delegate some of my household responsibilites and purposefully leave gray space on my calendar.

For the most part, I have been blessed in my healing journey, as I haven't been too oppressed by fear of reoccurance, but last night, I was struggling with the thought just a bit (probable do to my unhealthy choices of the past week) I took my fear, wrapped it up in a box (used pretty pink paper and a huge bow) and I handed this gift to the Lord. I let Him take my fear, so I no longer have the burden of carrying a load not intended for me. It makes me wonder how many other things that I am carrying unknowingly, that I need to give to Him.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and that you will find some time in your day to something that brings you JOY!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Journey Into My Soul

News breaks, my journey begins
Unlike other journeys I can find no map
Confused by networks of roads,
My destination unknown.

Exhausted by the magnitude of my journey
I enter dark tunnels,
Blinded by darkness,
The dim light of hope beckons.

Crisscrossing roads go in every direction
It is a bumpy road with many travelers
Stories of mirages, miracles and stark realities
Stories of journeys that end.

Afterm many months of travel
The road still goes on forever
I recognize that this is an endless journey
This is a journey into my soul.
--mixed media. Patricia Roden Bartels, Indiana

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time to Heal Program tonight

Tonight was #8 of #12 of our time to heal program. We had a lymphadema specialists visit with us about lymphadema, precautions we can take and the risks involved. I guess since I have had many lymphnodes removed on the left side and had radiation to both sides, I am at an increased risk, so I will be wearing a special sleeve when I am doing repetitive activities or lifting heavy objects. We also had a mind/body specialists talk to us about ti chi and breathing. I do believe that there is our body has an incredible capability to heal, if only we slow down enough to allow the healing to take place. Another topic we discussed was the importance of exercise in our life. Boy, was I glad that I had all ready had my walk in for today, so I didn't feel unnecessary guilt about not exercising today. I actually did my walk in the historical district by McKennan park, such a beautiful area. I even satisfied my "inner" child and ran through the fallen leaves.

One thing I have been thinking about lately is seems as if we have so many labels that we have: wife, mother, sister, daughter, coworker, employee, friend, etc...that when we ask the question who am I? And we exclude our labels, what is our answer? Something to think about.....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Oncology appt update and ponderings

For those of you who don't have access to my caring is my latest post.

Hi everyone! Just a quick update from my oncologists appointment this past week along with a few pondering thoughts.
I had a great check up from Dr Krie. We are still waiting for one lab result to come back, but all others were good. My weight stayed stable through the whole course of treatment, I guess many women gain 10-15 lbs, so I feel very fortunate. We discussed a bit on how I was feeling, fears I may be having, etc. I was happy to report to her, that I have been so busy living life that I don’t have much time to sit around and worry about reoccurrence. I am blessed that I have trust in God and the faith to know that He is directing my journey. (Of course, I pray that I never have to go down this road again…)
My days find me back in the office full time and trying to squeeze in a cancer rehab program through Avera. I actually am part of two programs. One program is a “time to heal” program which meets once a week on Tuesday evenings from 6-9 for 12 weeks. This program is a group program comprised of women who have recently traveled the breast cancer journey. We are learning about different areas on how we can incorporate healthy healing, everything from meditation, physical exercise, nutrition, aromatherapy, etc. The other program is through Avera Fitness Center and it is an 8 week individual program meeting with a personal trainer and a mind/body specialists once a week. These programs both have great value, but by Friday evening I am really tired.
Now for the ponderings:
Before I share this story, I want to explain that I have never been one who looks for meaning of their dreams, nor would I have the audacity to stay this dream is from God, however the lesson I took away from the dream is so profound, that I feel compelled to share it with you all. My dream from the other night went like this:

I was presented with the opportunity to win a large sum of money, if I completed the items on the list given to me but I only had 45 minutes to complete this list. I was thinking no problem, I am an organized person who loves lists and the sense of accomplishment when crossing off items on my 'to do' list. I remember crossing off the first item and then I lost my list. Found the list and was starting to work on the next item and got interrupted to fill a baby bottle. Oops, lost the list again. Found the list and was able to do cross off one more item on the list. Thirty minutes left to go and still 5 things on the list. The door bell rang, answered the door for the Boy Scout selling pop corn, chatted a few minutes, put the pop corn away. Now where is my list? I found the list and started working on the next item...boy, I need to relax a few minutes...played a quick game of farkle on facebook. Oh my, only 20 minutes to go on my list and still have the same five items to go. I once again start working on the list and beginning to feel panicky that my time is running out. Awesome, crossed off two things on the list. 15 minutes to go, I think I will throw in a quick load of laundry. Shoot, I lost the list again. Now with only 10 minutes left and still three items to go, I read the items that are left on the list, what?? The last item was one that required 30 minutes and I only had 8 minutes left to complete list. Feeling really frazzled I decided to check the internet for time saving tips on how to get the last item done in less time. Lose 5 minutes of time doing research, lost the list again....Buzzer goes off....list not done and I didn't win the money. I am exhausted. Oh, how life is like that...upon thinking of this dream, I realize that our lives are comprised of unique lists for each of us. This dream was such a real reminder to me that I need to take the time to seek and ask God to show me the list He has for me, along with the strength and wisdom to stay on task. Even though, as in my dream, the things that distracted me were all "good" things, God may have "better" things for me to pursue and that I have been given the gift of choices and it is up to me to be responsible how I spend my time on this journey. Before my cancer journey, I had a hard time giving myself permission to say no to others, especially if my children, husband, family or friends had a request that I thought I could easily fulfill. I have now had time to stop and really evaluate where I chose to invest my time. I could easily chose to run here and there, but I am finding out that by choosing to do so many other things, I literally have no time to invest in writing, exercising or even time to read; now, don’t get me wrong, I still am very committed to serving, but now I stop and ask God to direct which projects in which I participate. I hope that through reading about my journey, you will have the time to stop and look at your path, your list…time to think and ponder…time to choose.
Hope everyone’s week is a good one! I will be stopping in every now and then to give quick updates. Thanks for your continued love and support! Interestingly enough, I came across a t-shirt the other day that stated…”I kicked cancer’s butt”…I thought to myself, I couldn’t wear that t-shirt as I didn’t kick cancer’s butt by myself however I could wear a t-shirt that states “My Awesome Support Team and I kicked cancer’s butt!” Thanks, y’all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Hi everyone!

Just a quick post before I leave for my "Time to Heal" program tonight...wanted to share a video that a friend of mine posted on facebook.
Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It was interesting tonight we had our Time to Heal class (breast cancer after care program) and we talked a bit how our cancer has changed our lives. I so remember how when I was first diagnosed, thinking I am not changing who I am because of cancer...oh, I was so wrong! Cancer has changed me...and I think for the better. The whole breast cancer experience has been a refining and redefining period of my life journey.

Prior to cancer, I was challenged with low self esteem and self worth issues. It amazes me how when you are stripped down to nothing, you gain everything. It's like some where in the depths of the pit, I was able to find ME!!! And the climb out of the pits has given me strength to take on challenges and goals that I would have never had the courage to explore.

Just a few minutes ago, I was so blessed from an entry on a fellow breast cancer survivor's blog on giving. This is the quote on her blog by author, Isabel Allende "Give, give, give—what is the point of having experience, knowledge, or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine." Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that so true?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Transitions and morning walk ponderings

Hi everyone! Well, it had been my hope when I started this blog to be a bit more attentive with posts a few times a week, but life kind of got in my way. For the last 6 weeks we have been blessed with having our oldest daughter, her husband and her little guy living with us. What a treat. There is nothing like hearing the giggles of a 4 month old in the morning. Yesterday they took off to follow their dreams. Although our hearts are sad at their leaving, we support and encourage them in this new exciting journey! Our house is quiet! Kelsey had the unfortunate luck of getting H1N1 and thankfully is recuperating nicely. Ferlin and I have the sniffles and scratchy throat, trying like crazy to not succumb to any of the "bad" bugs. As promised (or warned--depending on how you look at it)...I will be sharing short little stories on my ponderings through this healing journey. Here is something I came up with after my walk the other morning. It is a bit "rough" and needs some refining in the writing department--but wanted to share with you, so here it always I would love to hear your comments.

It’s hard to believe that when I took our dogs to their kennel the other morning our calendar said October, as we were having the most beautiful snowfall. (Yes, I did say snow and beauty in the same sentence.) I quickly put on my walking gear and set out for my morning walk. I was in such a hurry to enjoy the snowfall that I forgot my IPod at home. It was the stillness of the morning that helped me to hear God’s whisper to me. After walking a few blocks, I noticed I was leaving a path of fresh footprints; I couldn't help but think how these footprints reminded me not only of my breast cancer journey, but also the path of life. Along my breast cancer journey path, like my path that morning-- there was only one set of prints, a journey only I could walk. On my walk I soon came across a spot where there many sets of footprints together—a reminder of walking along the path with the support of many friends and family. My walk gave me time to think about how at times during the breast cancer journey my footprints were invisible, for I was being carried, too weak to walk by myself. By the time I returned home, the footprints that had started my journey were being covered by some fresh new snow. A reminder to me that at the end of life all of our footprints will be covered, yet what an amazing impact and opportunity we have NOW to let our footprints not only walk our path but also touch the lives of others that God has along our path. The footprints you and I leave will be cherished forever. Where have your footprints been today?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Welcome to My Blog

Hi everyone! Well, I finally did it! I really have no idea what I am doing with this blogging, but I am sure going to give it a try. At this time, I am unsure how often I will be updating, but hoping to update it a few times a week. While I was going through the breast cancer journey, I found I enjoyed journaling and sharing my thoughts with although I am hopefully done with the health issues for a long, long time, by request--I am going to be using this blog to just share my random thoughts. Please feel free to add comments at any time. For those of you who know more about blogging than I, please accept my apologies if I goof; for those of you who know as much as I do about blogging, guess we will learn together.

For those of you who are reading this and didn't follow along in my caring bridge journal, I did post all the entries here...

Caring Bridge Entries

Monday, August 31, 2009 9:14 PM, CDT
Today is a long anticipated day….radiation was completed!! Since December last year, we have actively been fighting a disease we never thought would hit our family. After all, we were trying to live a “healthy life.” But as you all know, cancer shows no favoritism, one just never knows…
So, now what? Well, the radiation oncologists said the two weeks after radiation can still be a struggle with the fatigue and skin burning, so I plan to continue with the resting and applying creams to my skin. I have a doctor’s appt with my oncologists this Thursday, anticipating that I will then go to every 3 months follow up. The greatest chance of reoccurrence is within the first three years, so I appreciate your continued prayers. Currently I have tissue expanders in and will need surgery this next spring to exchange the expanders with my “new girls”. (We have to let the skin heal for 6 months after radiation before we are able to do surgery.)
So that’s the physical update, the emotional and spiritual is a little harder to put in words. I believe it will take many months for us to process how this journey has and will affect our lives. Cancer has dominated every aspect of our lives for 9 months, how do we find our way back to normal life? Do we even want to find our way back? What is our “new” normal going to look like? How do we conquer the fears of a reoccurrence? Is there a way to prevent a reoccurrence? How can we use our challenges to help others? How can we use this journey to honor God? So many questions, with only one answer—I am going to continue to trust in the Lord and believe in His promise in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
It is with smiles that my children have advised me that my caring bridge journal will no longer be needed--as I no longer have cancer! So after tonights entry, I will only be updating my caring bridge after my oncology appts or if there are changes in my health. Through this journey, I have found I do enjoy writing, so my daughter and son-in-law are going to help me set up a blog, hopefully this next weekend. So, for those of you who enjoy reading blogs, I will notify you of the address when my blog is created. Words could never be enough to express our thanks and love to all of you who have supported us on this journey. We appreciate you all so much! A special thank you to my family—I am so blessed! Also thanks to my great team of coworkers—your willingness to let me take the time to heal and your support is so appreciated! Above all, thank you God for giving me the chance of another day to love and share in all your lives.
Thank you for sharing this life changing journey with us! Blessings to you all!!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:20 PM, CDT
Hi everyone! Well, it has been a few weeks and I haven’t had a chance to create a blog yet, so thought I would give a quick update on my caring bridge on how the healing process is going. Physically I am slowly regaining my strength. I am learning how to pace myself and very thankful for the patience of my family and coworkers. The last two weeks or so I started having a lot of pain in my upper rib and mid back area, so Monday I had xrays. Thankfully, the xrays just showed inflammation; nothing a little Aleeve and rest won’t heal. (Side effect from radiation and possible overdoing it—not me?) I met with my oncologists a few weeks ago; we discussed the stats of reoccurrence rates with the triple negative diagnosis. My cancer was staged at a 2b (our of 4) and has a 33% chance of reoccurrence. To be honest, I would love those numbers to be higher, but it is what it is…think I will just turn this fear over to the Lord and trust Him. I was forewarned that after treatment is completed can be the hardest times for some patients. So far, I have been so busy living life and resting, that I haven’t had time to even think about being done. Saturday morning as I was reading a magazine, I came across an article called Lessons I Learned from Living with HIV/AIDS by Shane Stanford. Although Shane’s journey of being a hemophiliac, who discovered he was HIV positive at 16, is much different than my journey with breast cancer, some of his thoughts sure hit home with me. Shane states…“No, this is not a path I would have chosen, for I am no martyr, and I certainly don’t qualify as the perfect Christian. But, oddly enough, so many miles now into this journey, I wouldn’t trade what I have learned from the disease either.” (Every day it seems as I become more aware of the lessons.) Shane goes on in his article to state that he has come to view his medical condition, as the doorway through which he takes hold of something more valuable—something that affects his view of others, influences his relationships, and frames how he sees God. What a great visual for us all to remember. He also said “Life is learned not from studying or spending time in a classroom, but from living, sometimes with blessings and opportunities, but more often with struggles and challenges. And it is not a one-time thing. No, the learning does not stop; we just have to keep showing up.” (A special thanks to everyone for helping me to continue to “show” up, especially when I didn’t think I had the strength or energy to go on.)
On Christmas Eve when I had my mastectomy surgery, I had a chaplain visit me and say that someday I would think of my cancer as a gift. Recently I shared my struggle with this thinking with Pastor Allen. (I just couldn't say and still can't say that any cancer is a gift.) Allen helped me understand that I didn’t have to think of breast cancer as a gift, but seeing God and trusting in Him through this journey was the gift. God’s hand in our journey has definitely been one of the best gifts we have ever received.
Well, my bed is calling my name…thanks for the continued prayers!

Caring Bridge Entries

Sunday, August 2, 2009 4:31 PM, CDT
Hi everyone! What an absolutely beautiful morning! The sun is shining with a slight coolness in the breeze, the birds singing their melodies and my gardens are radiating their beauty. Wouldn’t it be so cool for you to be joining me right now with a cup of chia tea instead of reading about my ponderings on line?
Sorry I haven’t been a bit better about updating, I have been struggling just a bit about what to say regarding my radiation treatments. Have you ever known that you were going to do something and yet, when you experienced it, it wasn’t at all what you imagined it to be? I don’t know what I was thinking radiation was going to be like, and although it is easier physically than chemo, for me mentally it has proven to be a bit more of a challenge. The first few days were the most challenging…I lay on this thin black table, naked waist on up (bald headed, too), my hands positioned above my heads and my feet strapped so I don’t move. The techs had to mark different places on my chest with a marker for proper fields, etc. I had all kinds of x’s, dots and line--think treasure map design. The first few days I had to lay there for quite a bit of time (1 to 1 ½ hrs). Thankfully this past Friday the time is down to about 30 minutes. When I had done my research, I was under the impression it would only take 5 to 10 minutes, but I guess since they are doing both breasts, there are more fields to radiate than usual, thus the 30 minutes. My radiation schedule is 730am daily Monday through Friday for a total of 28 treatments. Only 20 more to go…
Fortunately I can continue to work, but have eliminated many other social activities at this time, due to fatigue. As I believe exercise equals energy, most days I push myself to walk 1 to 2 miles and do a bit of yoga for stretching. The bone pain has been replaced with mild muscle stiffness and just occasionally some neuropathy that comes and goes, definitely an improvement. My nails are starting to grow out, still gross looking and tender, but they too are rebounding. Ferlin came up to me this morning and recited “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Kim is starting to grow hair!” We still have to have a magnifying glass to see it, but it is coming! Last week was a bummer as I lost my remaining eyelashes and have just a few hairs left on my eyebrows…it is a bit more of a challenge for me to want to be out in public as I think without eyelashes/brows I look like a cancer patient. (Before I just looked bald…) Thankful that the summer has been cool, as if I am out in the sun or even get a bit warm, my skin feels prickly and like it is on fire.
I have shared the physical dynamics of my recovery, I am still pondering the emotional and spiritual…getting diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, surgery, chemo and radiation has been like climbing a mountain. I am almost to the top, now how do I come down? (I am terrified of heights, so I know I won’t be jumping!) I think I am going to hop in a hot air balloon, spend time pondering and praying and let God slowly bring me off the mountain, enjoying the scenery and the gift of life!
As we have said before, we can’t express enough thanks to all how have helped us climb the mountain! We appreciate and love you all very much!
Sunday, August 16, 2009 10:20 PM, CDT
A garden, like its creator, should have its secrets and surprises. It should contain delights within delights and paths that make you want to follow them, even though they may not lead you anywhere in particular. On the other hand, they may lead you somewhere wonderfully unexpected!
This quote made me think of not only my gardens but of life…sometimes it feels like our journeys aren’t leading us anywhere, yet when we stop long enough to enjoy the paths we are on, we find such wonderful surprises! I so needed this encouragement today as the last few days have been a bit tough for me physically. I have completed 17 radiation treatments with 11 left to go. By nature, I am not a quitter, but to be honest, quitting radiation sure is tempting. Up until this past Friday, I had been doing really well with treatments, my energy was returning and I was up to walking about 2 miles a day. BAM, energy is gone and the weekend found me once again on my chaise lounge. Not only did the fatigue hit hard, but also some shortness of breath and tenderness/pain in the radiated areas. On top of it all, the hot flashes and sleeplessness from chemo still continue. I just feel crappy. (I did go for a small walk this evening, but only managed ½ mile and had to quit due to shortness of breath.) Urghhhh! Maybe tonight wasn’t a good night to update this site. I think what is so frustrating is that radiation is supposed to be so much easier than chemo, yet it comes with a whole different set of side effects and new challenges. (it probable doesn't help that most women's treatments are 10-15 minutes and mine takes 30-35 minutes.) I keep reminding myself that there’s just a bit more to persevere through and then I am done with this piece of the cancer journey. Please be rest assured that although my physical body may feel yucky, my heart continues to focus on the Lord and His plan through all this…giving Him praise and glory that I am alive. (and so very, very blessed.)
Otherwise things are going very well in our home. Ferlin’s work is staying steady, Brett is getting ready to move back to Vermillion next weekend (tears) and Kelsey starts 8th grade tomorrow! Steven and Kalina are doing a great job parenting our precious grandson. I wish everyone could see Apollo’s smiles…heart melting for sure! Some exciting news on the work front…a few of my coworkers and I are now certified wellness coaches. I still feel a bit silly trying to help others with wellness, since I am the one who came down with cancer, but hoping that my example of continuing to try and practice wellness while going through surgery, chemo and radiation will be an encouragement to others.
Thanks to everyone for your continued well wishes and prayers. We appreciate you all!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:44 PM, CDT
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Have you ever had it where you kept banging your head against the wall so much that you created a big hole? Yup, guess that’s what I’ve been doing regarding “take it easy” & “let your body rest and heal”. For some reason, I kept thinking “yippee, you have NO cancer; surely you can get back to the land of the living!” Oh, wait, I’m still going through treatment. Radiation is the killing of any stray “bad” cells, but also kills some of my good cells. Oh, did I mention, my treatment is at 730 am every day?? So, duh…I wonder why I ran into a bit of trouble this past weekend. I met with the radiation oncologist yesterday to discuss my fatigue and shortness of breath. She referred me back to my oncologists, who promptly did lab work. YIPEE!! Labs came back great!! God sure made our body with marvelous healing capabilities. So, I asked why the shortness of breath??—both docs feel that it is my body saying “SLOW DOWN!” The radiation doc did say that since I am having radiation to both sides, the fatigue will probably be worse for me—oh goody! So, I guess I am once again going to be on “house rest-arrest!” My plan for the next month or so is to finish my 9 radiation treatments and work. I guess the cells continue to die for a few weeks after radiation and some women actually have the worse fatigue when treatments are finished. Today I worked at the office a few hours, came home, rested and worked from home the rest of the day. Although my energy is still extremely limited, over all I feel better. I sure hate it when I have a stinky attitude and am a “debbie downer.” I really miss connecting with everyone, but I am truly so thankful for this gift of life, so I’m not going to complain about another few months of healing. (hopefully there will be no more banging my head against the wall about slowing down.)

Ponderings on “house rest-arrest”—when I first started this cancer journey I really struggled with the reality of pulling out of the life I was living and even though, I recently forgot about staying at a slower pace, I find that I am no longer fighting this gift of time. Sometimes it is so easy to get so busy with life that we can’t hear the direct line from heaven as our lives are too noisy. Taking the time to heal is allowing me to turn down the noise. The other day I was sitting on the front step at our home and I could actually hear a bee buzzing in a nearby flower. What a treat to be able to sit peacefully, drinking a cup of chia, appreciating the blessings all around me!

So do you want to know how I am using visual imagery during radiation? When the beams of radiation are beaming you there is buzz type noise. (think bug zapper noise) So I imagine lots of little men with really big boxing gloves shooting out from that beam knocking out all the bad cells. You should see them cells fly! After the buzz sound there is a “shooosh” sound—so I imaging that as the vacuum cleaner sucking up the mess my little boxers made all over the place. I just got to have a little fun! On a not so fun note, my skin is really starting to turn red and itchy from the radiation, so I am requesting prayers that my skin will hold up for remainder of the treatments. There is some pain, but nothing like I had during chemo.

Well, that’s about it for tonight…thanks for hanging in there with me on the good and not so good days! Thanks also for your continued support for my family and I. We appreciate you all and pray that you are living your dreams!

Caring Bridge Entries

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 4:31 PM, CDT
Throughout this journey I have tried to be very honest about what our family has experienced; the joys, the sorrows, the triumphs and the setbacks. With today’s entry, I am taking a risk…I am sharing some very personal thoughts and ramblings…

When I was first diagnosed many people encouraged me by saying, “You can beat this!”, “Your strong”, “Your positive attitude will pull you through”, etc…but in my mind I seriously doubted if I could pull through surgery and chemotherapy, none the less eradicate cancer from my body. I just didn’t know if I had the strength or stamina. Reflecting back on the journey, it brings such comfort knowing that I did make it through, but not on my strength, but through the strength of God and others. Although it really saddened us that relationships with some of our family and friends wasn’t able to withstand the storm cancer brought into our life, we continue to be so incredibly blessed by the family and friends who are our ships bringing us safely to shore.
F: False
E: Evidence
A: Appearing
R: Real
As I anticipate my PET scan tomorrow, I am once again facing the fear of the unknown. Is there more cancer? Will I have to do more chemo? Or will I go on to do radiation? (Radiation which of course, brings it own set of worries.) On Sunday when our pastor’s wife was sharing a story with the children, I was reminded that like with so many things in life (this includes fear), I have a CHOICE. I may not have a choice about having cancer; however I do have a choice about conquering my increasing fears. It is a reality, we all die. The diagnosis of an aggressive cancer makes the reality of death just seem so real. What about my husband and children? What about my friends and family? What about my dreams and goals? What if I don’t get everything done? Gosh, it sure is a good thing I don’t believe in living by the what if’s?! Yup, I am a bit anxious about tomorrow, but my choice is to honor and trust in God, knowing that as is written in Jeremiah 29:11, He has a plan for my life. The challenge that is going to be for me is if I do have cancer elsewhere, am I going to be able to believe that God still loves me? Please don’t send me emails reminding me of God’s love….I know He loves all of us and I believe it 100%, however understanding that love when we don’t get the answer we are hoping for can be a struggle. (Maybe you don’t struggle with it, but I admit there have been times I have…) So, I’m sharing this challenge of mine with you all, so that you know specifically how to pray for my family and I tomorrow…that we are able to remember the love that has been so evident by our Lord and we remember His love is always with us, regardless of the test results. We sang a song by Casting Crowns at church on Sunday that really hit home….
Who am I
Not because of who I am,But because of what you've done.Not because of what I've done,But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,Here today and gone tomorrow,A wave tossed in the ocean,A vapor in the wind.Still you hear me when I'm calling,Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,And you've told me who I am.I am yours.

Thank you for your prayers and if all goes well we will have results and a plan tomorrow, so I will try and post a quick update in the evening!
Thursday, July 16, 2009 7:43 PM, CDT
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
When I woke up this morning I could feel the prayers and my anxiety was greatly lessened….
I truly believe that although it would have been tough to find out there was more cancer, with everyone’s such gracious support….we would have found a way to overcome….but THANKS and PRAISES, I am cancer free-----yippee and yahoo!!!
The PET scan came back clear with the only things being highlighted were my brain, heart and bladder—which is a good thing. Dr Krie took a lot of time answering questions regarding continued side effects from chemo, expected recovery time (5-10months), and future testing. Unless I have symptoms of a reoccurrence Dr Krie doesn’t do any special testing, etc. From my research with triple negative breast cancer the highest rate of reoccurrence is within the first 3-5 years…if I can make it past the five year mark my chances greatly decrease. I am truly thankful for just being given the chance of another day.
It looks like I will be starting radiation next week…will try and update my caring bridge over the weekend when I have more details.
Thanks for all the kind guest book entries, emails and calls. You all are such wonderful friends and family! Our love to you all!
Praises to God for His faithfulness and His love!
Ps. A special thanks to my mom for sitting with me all day today, to Ferlin, Kalina, Steven, Brett and Rhonda for the support at Dr Krie’s office. Also a great big hug and thanks to a very special couple who treated us to supper tonight—what a fun treat!!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 7:26 AM, CDT
Good Morning Everyone!Last evening my son and husband had the television on watching the replay of the Espy awards. Typically I wouldn’t be watching this type of program, but my interest was piqued when I heard that a coach from South Dakota was getting the Jimmy V award. Don Meyer, a basketball coach from NSU in Aberdeen was in a head on collision with a semi this past fall. He was not expected to live from the trauma and while in the hospital he was found to have cancer in his liver and intestines. Ten days later he had to have his leg amputated below his knee. After 55 days in the hospital, he returned to coaching full time, never missing a day. This past basketball season he won his 903rd basketball game, the most games won by a male college basketball coach. There are a few highlights from his speech that really inspired me, so thought I would share them with all of you.
1) Don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses!
2) He has been using the F word a lot this year: Faith, Family and Friends
3) Faith that God has a reason for sparing my life at this time, so I can try and serve others for a few more years. (This one really hit home with me…)
4) Peace is not the absence of troubles, trials and torment, but calm in the midst of them.
5) Live each moment to the fullest, be “high” on life.
It looks like I will be starting radiation on Wednesday. From my understanding the main side effects from radiation could be skin reaction and fatigue. Since I have sensitive skin, we will be monitoring the areas very closely. I have started a light exercise program, so hoping the fatigue will be minimal. When we were at Dr Krie’s office last week, she informed that if an award was given to someone with the most nail damage from chemo, I would get the second place award. (I don’t think this is one award I wanted, but since I really like cancer free…bad nails is a small price to pay.) Unfortunately I did get an infection under the nails, so I was on an antibiotic for the past two weeks. The biggest restriction I have regarding the nails is that they are not to be in water….awww shucks doesn’t look like I will be doing dishes for awhile. Otherwise, I am doing very well. I still pace myself and am limiting activities, but most days I find myself with a bit more energy and less pain.
We continue to appreciate all your prayers and loving kindness!!

Caring Bridge Entries

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:57 PM, CDT
As I was driving home from work today, this song from the disney movie, Aladdin came to mind...
A whole new worldDon't you dare close your eyesA hundred thousand things to seeHold your breath - it gets betterI'm like a shooting starI've come so far I can't go back to where I used to beA whole new worldEvery turn a surpriseWith new horizons to pursueEvery moment red-letterI'll chase them anywhereThere's time to spareLet me share this whole new world with you
A whole new worldThat's where we'll beA thrilling chaseA wondrous placeFor you and me!!!

After these past months, I truely do feel that every day there is a whole new world waiting for all of us! Hard to believe that 6 months ago I had my, this Thursday we are anticipating my last chemo. What a journey it has been climbing this mountain...I will admit the last few weeks has had me feeling like I am barely hanging on, maybe even sliding back down the mountain a seems as if each chemo treatment is bringing on more and more side effects. However, I am so thankful that with this breast cancer journey I have learned God really does carry us when we are too weak to carry ourselves. This past week I have been encouraged by something Paul wrote to the Philippians... “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” So although we still have some more of this mountain to climb (testing, radiation and more surgery’s), conquering chemo has brought us closer to the goal of reaching the mountaintop!! Thanks to everyone who has helped carry our bags, brought us meals, cleaned our home, showered us with prayers, etc...We couldn’t have made it this far (doing this well) without all of you!
Make every day a “funfetti” day!
Ps. My family and I still would appreciate your prayers for this last treatment: 1) that my labs are good so I can have chemo 2) side effects don’t get any worse and 3) that chemo did its job and there is no cancer remaining!—thanks!!
Monday, June 29, 2009 5:41 PM, CDT
As most of you know, last Thursday was the last scheduled dose of chemo! Towards the end, I was beginning to have my doubts if we would be able to finish…but prayers were answered and we crossed a very important finish line! With triple negative breast cancer, chemotherapy is the best weapon…without chemotherapy I had a 60% chance that breast cancer would reoccur, since we did chemo that dropped our number to 30% chance of reoccurrence. Our next plan is to meet with the radiation MD on Wednesday along with doing a CT scan to line up the radiation. I guess they tattoo the areas to be radiated…hmmm…will keep you posted on this process.
Although I continue to be challenged with the side effects of chemo, it just tickles me to be done!! We were having such a good time in the infusion center on Thursday that I hardly even noticed I was getting chemo…we had such a fun celebration—thanks everyone! On Friday morning, I was surprised at work by a little celebration—what fun! On Saturday, I went to Luverne with Ferlin, as Ferlin helped my brother with a landscaping project—I sat in the chair and relaxed, while they all worked, and we received a bonus—my brother cooked the most delicious supper! Thanks, bro! On Sunday, the fatigue really hit me…but Kelsey and I were able to go get groceries—first big grocery trip in 7 months (this is something I did not miss doing!) Brett’s birthday was also on Sunday, so we had little family supper…Ferlin and kids all watched a movie while I was able to spend time holding my little guy, Apollo!! I was able to work today, but did find I need many frequent naps. Dr Krie cautioned me that it would take months before my energy returns to normal.
Hope all is going well with everyone! Many thanks again for all your love, support and prayers!**pics of celebration are in photo journal.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009 8:43 PM, CDT
Hi everyone! Hope you had an awesome 4th of July weekend! On Friday, as DAKOTACARE was closed, I worked from home. On Saturday, Ferlin and I went to visit Bobbi and Jody’s family at the lake —wish you all could have tasted those BBQ ribs Jody cooked up for us—I don’t even like ribs but these were delicious—yummy! On Sunday, Ferlin, Kalina, Apollo and I had a little breakfast picnic at Falls park, which we enjoyed greatly—than I went home and took oh, about 4 naps. I find myself getting a bit impatient with having to rest so often, but know that someday I will look back and long for the days of naps… Last week I did have a CT sim with the radiologists office, I found out my implants were expanded a bit too much, so Thursday I went to the plastic surgeons office and had some fluid removed. Next Wednesday I will have a repeat CT sim and hopefully find out the schedule for radiation. (A CT sim is where they line up everything to make sure they radiate the right areas.) Next Thursday, I have a PET scan in the morning and an appt with my oncologists for the results in the afternoon. This week is the first week since this journey started that I don’t have a medical appointment. I am beginning to wonder if all that extra running to doctors along with working, etc. isn’t contributing to some of the fatigue…going through cancer treatment is almost a full time job in itself.
So, the other day, as I went through Starbuck’s drive thru with the top down on my mustang getting my favorite (chia tea), the barista says to me “Your living the dream!” My immediate thought was “yah, right, I have just got done with 16 treatments of chemo, double mastectomy and multiple hospitalizations and feel like a frumpy, bald headed mama with no energy…more like a nightmare, if you ask me. Then I got to thinking….the barista was right—I am living the DREAM!! I have my health, a fantastic husband, the best children, the cutest grandbaby, terrific family and friends, the best job, a great church family, a free country and an awesome God! Can’t get much better than that!!!
Thank you to everyone for helping me fulfill my dream of LIFE! Your support and prayers continue to be so appreciated!

Caring Bridge Entries

Monday, June 8, 2009 8:00 PM, CDT
Blessing! Blessing! We got a Blessing!
I am so excited to share with everyone the extraordinary miracle we have received in our family…..Apollo Althoff joined our family early Saturday morning! A great big welcome to our special little guy!
Friday evening, I received a phone call from my son in law asking if I would come to the hospital and help him coach my oldest daughter through labor and delivery. What an honor! What an experience! As I held Kalina’s hand through each contraction and whispered sweet words of encouragement to her, I was thanking and giving praise to God that He has allowed me life to share part of this special miracle. Throughout the birthing process, I was amazed at Kalina’s stamina and perseverance as she was determined to have a “natural” child birth. As the labor pains grew stronger, I often had to turn my head to shield my daughter from seeing my tears. Oh, how I wanted to take the pain from her. So after 30+hours of labor (with absolutely no drugs—amazing), we were blessed with a 7lbs 12 oz very active and healthy little boy. A very special thank you to Steven and Kalina for letting me share such a precious experience with you all--your little guy has all ready melted all of our hearts. (check out the pics)
Upon reflection of the experience, I wondered if this is how God might feel…does He (like I did) cry when His children are in pain and hurting. As I continue on this cancer journey, trying so hard to push through the pain and fatigue, I personally find great comfort to be able to climb up into my Father’s lap and let Him hold me, coaching me to keep going, quietly reminding me, that like the birthing process, when my cancer treatment is completed there will once again be a new life….MINE!!
Thankfully only three more chemo treatments left to administer…Dr Krie warned me last week this a tough marathon and that I really need to slow it down to be able to finish the race…so, as frustrating as it is, I am once again hitting the couch—anxiously waiting for my body to heal. (Thankfully, I am able to continue to work full time, but with a flexible schedule and adjusted hours, however I am really limiting any other social obligations or activities.) After all, I need to heal quickly as I have some serious grandma duties waiting for me.
Thanks again for all who continue to walk with us…praying for us and helping to take care of our physical needs…we so appreciate you and are so thankful for you!!

Ps…on a completely different note: As most of our close friends and family know, I do the “bald” look often. The other evening when Ferlin and I were visiting with our neighbors, I noticed our neighbor holding this chubby, bald looking animal…naturally I inquired about this creature, it turns out they had shaved their cat…I couldn’t help but state “I hear bald is very “vogue” this year!”…Since I have never been into fashion or beauty, it tickled me that it appears I am setting a new trend. Isn’t it fun to find the humor in this journey!
Monday, June 15, 2009 8:56 PM, CDT
Mr. Braxy strikes again!
In case you hadn’t heard, Mr. Braxy really knocked Ms Kim out last week. We even heard that Ms Kim had to use some of her sick time from work (which we know she hates to do). We spoke with Ms Kim today and she stated she’s just thankful that the injuries weren’t worse and she could recuperate at home with her family. Don’t know if this is a for sure thing or not, but apparently boxing can be hard on finger nails??? Well, so is Mr. Braxy…Ms Kim’s nails are uggglyyy…and painful. (Looks like some of them may fall off.) Good thing, Mr. Braxy only gets two more punches at Ms Kim. However, Ms Kim was heard saying “Come on Mr. Braxy, bring it on and punch that cancer out!!!!!” This week’s match had to be moved up a day earlier (Wednesday) because of the referee’s (Dr Krie) schedule. Stay tuned for an update after this week’s match!

Hi everyone! The road is getting a bit more challenging as I find that I need more and more rest…I am so blessed that Ferlin and the kids (and everyone else in our lives) have been so understanding and helpful. Last week the bone pain was at its highest since starting chemo, but thankfully the last few days advil has been working well. Can you believe it? The chemo journey is almost over. As I sit and ponder over the last 6 months, there are so many life questions I find myself asking, a few fears that are surfacing, and lots of praises I find myself giving!!! Also lots and lots THANKS I want to give!!! Your words of thoughtfulness written on the guest entry, sent in cards or emails, telephone calls and selfless acts of service really have helped encourage my family and I!!! (Warning: For those of you who continue to keep reading my caring bridge after the chemo journey ends, I will be sharing my thoughts on some of those life questions and also on how God is using His Word to help me with those fears.)
Here’s a pondering thought for you all that I came across in a book I was reading this weekend:
Many of us spend our time driving along the road of life using our review mirror. We’re disappointed in what we did. We’re afraid of decisions we made. But, just like driving a car, keeping an eye on the review mirror isn’t a very successful navigational tool. There’s a reason the car’s windshield is so much bigger than the rear view mirror.
Thanks for continuing to pray for my family and I. As the psalmist says in Psalm 107… “The Lord sent out His word and healed them”… We love you all and so appreciate everything!
Ps. Grandbaby and his parents are all doing well!
Sunday, June 21, 2009 2:20 PM, CDT
Happy Father’s Day! Happy Birthday! And Happy Anniversary to the guy I have been blessed to share 23 years of marriage!
Ferlin, thank you for being a man after God’s own heart and leading your family through the paths of life. We are so blessed to have you as a father and husband. I know our road has been a bit bumpy at times…thanks for helping to repair the potholes of the past and supporting me through this season of road construction. I am so proud and honored to call you my husband. All my love today and always.
Also, Happy 3rd Anniversary to Steven and Kalina! You both bring us such joy and blessings. Your love for each other is a beautiful reminder to all the blessings of marriage. Little Apollo is one blessed little guy to have you as his parents.Ps. I am updating this while the sweetest little guy is resting on my tummy....doesn't get any better than this! One positive thing about going through treatment at this stage in our little guys life is that grandma has lots of time to just hold her bundle of joy!!

Caring Bridge Entries

Sunday, May 24, 2009 3:42 PM, CDT
Hi everyone! Hope you are all enjoying the Memorial Day holiday! Unfortunately this round of chemo hit me a bit harder…I have been taking many naps and thanking God for pain pills. Last evening as I made myself go for a walk around the block, I saw so many neighbors grilling with friends…I can’t wait to partake in this simple outing!

This past Thursday we were able to have a “future” discussion with my oncologists. Since I have continued to have back pain throughout my chemo, I will be having a PET scan when finished with chemo. (PET scans look to see if there is cancer any place else in the body.) I have also started having a side effect from this chemo, called neuropathy (basically numbness in the hands and feet). If this worsens, I may have to take a week off from chemo to try and let the nerves regenerate. (I really wanted to try and stay on schedule, but also don’t want to end up permanently disabled…so I will be a good girl and listen to what the doctor advises.) This Thursday, we will be meeting with the radiation oncologists to discuss if I need radiation or not. My family and I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and guidance on this next phase.

I came across this quote yesterday—thought I would share:

"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion."
- Mark Batterson
Hope you all have a great and safe Memorial Day! Thanks for the love and prayers! We appreciate you all so much!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 1:55 PM, CDT
Come One! Come All! Welcome to Thursday’s lightweight boxing championship!
Before we begin today’s event, let me introduce you to our competitors in the ring. In one corner you have the almighty Braxy (also known as Abraxene, a super strong chemotherapy agent). In the other corner you have Ms Kim (the MIGHTY BREAST CANCER WARRIOR.) We have now watched 7 weeks of competition between these two opponents. As the past few weeks have shown, Mr Abraxy is one tough dude! Ms Kim knows that when she steps in the ring, she’s going to get punched and knocked down. However, Ms Kim has learned to lean on the strength of others and a mighty God, so she is able to pick herself up and step in the ring one more time. We interviewed both contestants before this week’s match.
“Mr. Abraxy, why do you have to punch so hard? Ms. Kim’s a nice young woman, just doesn’t seem right.”
“I am one TOUGH dude, knocking out them BAD cancer cells, so me don’t got no choice but to knock the kind lady down. From what I have seen though, Ms. Kim’s a pretty tough chick so I know she will win this CHAMPIONSHIP!”
“Ms. Kim, why do you keep stepping in the ring? We have heard that it takes you days to recover, that you’re in a lot of pain and sleep your weekends away.”
“I keep stepping in the ring because I LOVE life and a few knock downs are a small price to pay for the CHAMPIONSHIP title. Besides, I have such a great team that keeps cheering me on, I can’t let them down!”
So, folks there you have it, with just ONE HAND of treatments left to go, Ms Kim is going to make a fist and punch out that bad ol’ cancer!

Thanks for letting me have a little fun sharing my thoughts the day prior to chemo treatment. Sometimes it is hard to keep stepping in the ring, but I keep reminding myself of the victory at the end of this journey! We appreciate your prayers as we meet with the radiation oncologists tomorrow, that God will direct the best possible treatment for me! Also, our grandson is expected to make his arrival within the next few weeks…please pray for a safe delivery!! What an exciting blessing in the midst of a “fighting match”—he’s going to make a great mascot for his grandma’s team!!
Have a great week and my love and prayers to you all!!!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 8:54 PM, CDT
Happy Tuesday!!
As everyone who reads this knows, my family and I have fought many different battles since we were drafted into the breast cancer war. At our strategic planning meeting with the radiation oncologists last Thursday, it was suggested that we bring out the heavy artillery and radiate multiple sites on both breasts. Of course, Dr Erickson will be presenting our battle plan to the other officers, but at this time we are planning to start our attack 3-4 weeks after our current battle in chemo land. To be honest, I did shed a few tears when I heard that we must fight in one more battle before this war can be won. It was hard not to ask God how many more wounds must I endure before a victory over breast cancer is declared. I couldn’t help but think, isn’t it enough I have lost both breasts and my hair, suffered through nausea, aches and pains, without having to do radiation, too? In her book, Warrior Chicks, Holly Wagner gives this definition of a warrior: A warrior is one who is engaged aggressively in or experienced in battle. A warrior possesses the dedication money can’t buy. A warrior is someone who fights, not because of what she is getting out of it, but because of what she can give. A warrior is a solider with a “died for the cause” attitude. A warrior will do whatever it takes to ensure victory. A soldier signs up to join the fight; a warrior stays until it is finished. So, I wiped my tears, put on the armor of God and decided that I am a WARRIOR!! I am going to continue to fight this ugly enemy (cancer)…knowing that God has a great plan for my family and I. After all, He is the greatest General around!
This weekend I was blessed with a furlough…Ferlin had a landscaping project in Luverne, so I was able to hang out with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. What a great dose of medicine! Speaking of medicine, so far the advil continues to control the pain and the neuropathy hasn’t worsened. Unless something changes, I will be having treatment #9 this Thursday….only 4 more to go!!!
Thank you for your continued prayers, support, love and encouragement!
Ps…Ferlin and I are getting so excited about being grandpa and grandma real soon!!! Thanks for the prayers for a safe arrival of our grandbaby! Kalina continues to do well, just anxiously waiting!Our battles can either be a ceiling in our life or stepping stones to our future!!

Caring Bridge Entries

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 9:12 PM, CDT
Many memories were created Saturday morning at the Avera Breast Cancer Race. Before the race started, all breast cancer survivors were presented a beautiful rose and invited to participat in the survivor walk. What a humbling moment, to be walking with so many sisters afflicted with this dreadful disease, while family and friends stood on the sidelines cheering and clapping for us. It made me wonder what exactly it means to be a survivor. Did I become a survivor when I was diagnosed with breast cancer? When I had my mastectomy? Or when I am finished with chemo? According to Webster, the definition of survivor means to remain alive, to carry on despite hardships or trauma, to persevere and to remain functional and useful. Hmmm, guess this does describe my family and I…and so many others. Our family’s battle may have been breast cancer (notice past tense), but I believe that there are so many “unsung” survivors…people just trying to make it through today…I wish I could give you all a rose…

Back to the race day memories, I don’t know how many of you have ran a 5K, but there is just something about taking on a challenge and conquering it. We had many on our team who ran their first 5K—my mom (thanks for stepping out of your comfort zone to show your support—I hope that I am as physically fit as you when I am your age). I knew that my brother Jody would love the competition of the timing of the event…now we all know what time we have to try and beat next year. I wish you all could have seen the pride on the faces of my sisters, Bobbi and Annie…I am so proud of you both! My sister in law, Sharla (Jody’s wife) and brother in law, Jamie (Annie’s husband) were also runners on our team—thanks to you both. Congrats Rick, Lori and Ash, race day wouldn’t be the same without you three! Also, a special thanks for our walkers Kalina, Brett, Rhonda, Mike, Amanda, Wyatt, Deb, Terry, Nick and Sandy…every step you took reminds us that researchers are one step closer to finding the cure. A very special thanks to my husband and sister, Tammy, for standing along the side lines cheering with our nieces and nephews…while I had the fun job of snapping some great pics with my early mother’s day gift! **check out the pics in the photo section

All of your support really helps encourage me to finish the chemo race…concentrating on the finish line so that next year, I will be able to run the 5K and show everyone what their “big sister” has in her!

We were able to attend Kelsey’s recitals on both Friday and Saturday night—thanks sweetie for such a great performance! We are so proud of you!

Many of you have asked how I am doing. As I don’t like to complain, I am unsure at how to answer…emotionally and spiritually I am doing very well, physically it is getting harder with each chemo treatment. There’s this thing called fatigue that is an unwelcomed guest in my body…thing is, he won’t get the hint and leave…so I have been taking more and more naps. (This is challenging as I have never been a nap gal.) I have also been started on a stronger pain pill for the bone and muscle pains. We have been warned that the side effects of this chemo treatment are accumulative, so I may be bringing a sleeping bag to work before treatment is finished! (smile)

This week will be treatment number #6 out of 12!

Thanks so much for your prayers!

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending!” author unknown
Sunday, May 17, 2009 8:00 PM, CDT
Surprise!!!! And what a surprise it was! A special thank you to my hubby and children for my surprise birthday party last night! I am such a blessed wife and mom! Thanks also to our family and friends who celebrated with us! Just when I was wondering if this journey was going to get too long for all of us, my stamina and spirit is reinforced by all the love showered on me!
Last spring, since I had very few risk factors for breast cancer and our life was crazy busy, I was going to cancel my first mammogram appt, however, I kept hearing the words of an elderly woman I had recently phoned for my job. (Part of my responsibilities at work includes calling members and checking on them to see how they are doing and if we can help them with any health concerns.) We were discussing mammograms and she made a statement to me that I would like to share with you all…she stated “a mammogram is the gift I give myself every year!” So I thought to myself, how sad it was that life was too busy to give myself this gift...hmmmm…I kept my appointment. This mammogram showed a few calcifications in my right breast, I did a biopsy, it was benign...6 months later in October I did a follow up mammogram…normal….1 ½ months later I had a painful lump in my left breast, which unfortunately was a highly, aggressive, invasive breast cancer. I share this story because one of the reasons I am able to celebrate this birthday (and plan to celebrate many, many more)… is that I gave myself the gift of a mammogram and breast health awareness. Ladies, please, please, please…give yourself this gift and gentlemen; remind your special lady of the importance of the gift of awareness.
Cancer brings on a whole new awareness of celebrating every breath of life….
Here is a prayer that I came across in my reading yesterday morning…
Father in heaven, heal me, I pray. Not because it is in my best interest, but because it is in Your nature to do so. For You alone are the Great Physician. Grant me the grace to remain faithful in the face of pain, suffering and fears. Guard me from the temptation to resign to passivity, negativity or anxiety. Thank you for surrounding me with people who care about me and who pick me up when I fall. (This morning as I reviewed my notes from yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of my surprise party)
Thanks again for everything—there is no more blessed than I!!
The more I learn, the less I know - Good thing God is in the lead!
Thursday, May 21, 2009 12:45 AM, CDT
6 down! 6 To Go!!!
Just wanted to take a few minutes to let everyone know that we are doing good and anxiously waiting for Thursday’s treatment! As long as I pace myself, I have been doing okay this week. Fatigue and bone pain are still a challenges, along with some hand and feet numbness, but all tolerable. I, personally think that all the love and prayers from everyone is what is carrying us through this stretch! Many thanks!
We were able to attend my niece’s 8th grade graduation tonight—congrats Amanda! Graduation is such a great time to reflect on accomplishments and share in the excitement of future dreams. On the drive home, I started pondering about dreams and what can we do to keep them alive for our children and ourselves? Remember a month or so back when I talked about my dream of writing and I challenged you all to think about your dreams. Have you had the chance to think about your dreams? Have you been able to take any steps in making your dreams a reality? (Sometimes the first step is always the hardest.) I know two of my brothers added a four legged member to their families. (Fulfilling their dream of owning a certain dog breed.) Some of my family members completed running a 5K. (I don’t know if that was exactly their dream or not…but what a great accomplishment!) I will admit that even though I seem to have more time, I really haven’t done anything about my writing either…except maybe realize how important it is to still have dreams and goals!! (I am very fortunate though as I have accomplished many of my dreams: wife, mother, relationship with my parents, siblings and many friends, and great job!!)
At my niece’s graduation, I did have the pleasure of meeting two breast cancer survivors…hearing their story’s and journey gave me hope and encouragement! Speaking of which, thank you to all who write in the guest book, send me personal emails, cards or call me…I am so encouraged by each and every one of you! At night when I can’t sleep or when I get a little weary—I reread the guest entries and my cards—helps reminds me of all your love, support, and prayers!
Most people don’t know that there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life!

Caring Bridge Entries

Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:25 PM, CDT
Happy Sunday!Hope this was a great day for you all!Last Thursday's infusion went well and I have been able to stay out of the hospital! Praise!!! Actually didn't feel too bad on Thursday and even worked on Friday. Didn't trust myself to drive yet as my vision was still blurry from chemo, so thanks goes to my brother, Jody, for picking me up from work and bringing me home (and treating me to lunch too!). Saturday and Sunday found me with a lot of bone and muscle pain, with numbness and tingling through out body. Real bummer! If whining would have helped, I would have been calling many of you on my list. Saturday I actually spent the afternoon and evening on the couch watching TV (discovered the Hallmark channel.) For those of you who know me well, know that I don't watch tv...or go to movies (unless I am really trying to be nice to Ferlin). Now, reading a book is another story...definitely my favorite past-time (besides conversing with loved ones). Anyways, Sunday, (with the help of Advil and many prayers) we were able to attend church...I was blessed by being able to connect with so many of our friends and hear a great sermon too! After church, Kalina and her in laws (Deb and Terry) came over for lunch...we so appreciate the time and blessings of family and friends. Hoping the pain lets up by Monday, so I can go to work. Hope all of you have a great week and will try and update Wednesday night!Thanks for your continued prayers and support on this journey! I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! can still sign up for the Avera Race against breast cancer! Kim's Angels with Attitudes!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 8:03 PM, CDT
Hope everyone enjoyed this wet Wednesday! As they say April showers bring May flowers…I can hardly wait!!
The fatigue part of this new chemo is starting to catch up with me, so if we are unable to attend events, please accept our apologies. Thankfully (due to a flexible schedule and understanding supervisor and coworkers), I have been able to continue working full time. This blesses me, as I absolutely love my job. When I first was diagnosed with breast cancer, I questioned my ability to continue working in health and wellness. How could I educate and encourage others on their health when I had cancer? After much research and lots of prayer, I now believe that sometimes you can do everything right and still get an illness/disease. (When you think of it, sometimes it is so silly that we put such guilt on ourselves.) As I continue in the health and wellness field, I am excited to use my breast cancer journey along with my research on nutrition and exercise to help others in their walk towards a healthier lifestyle.
Tomorrow’s treatment is #4 out of 12. Thanks to all who are praying on my behalf.
Sunday we sang this song at church that captured my thoughts:
All I KnowAll I Know Though I feel afraid of territory unknown I know that I can say that I do not stand alone For Jesus, You have promised Your presence in my heart I cannot see the ending, but it’s here that I must startAnd all I know is You have called me And that I will follow is all I can sayI will go where You will send meAnd Your fire lights my way What lies across the waves may cause my heart to fear Will I survive the day, must I leave what’s known and dear?A ship that’s in the harbor is still and safe from harmBut it was not built to be there, it was made for wind and storm.
We are praying for all who read this…knowing that some of you may be in a storm, some just getting gentle rain and others enjoying a sunny day…our prayers and thanks to you all!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 11:40 PM, CDT
Happy Wednesday!
Hope everyone’s week is going well! Thought I would send a quick update your way! Chemo day last week actually didn’t go too bad; however the weekend was a bit rough. Thankfully, I don’t have the nausea with this round of chemo, but the bone pain and fatigue really knocked me down. Saturday afternoon we went to a baby shower for Kalina and Steven, we are all so excited to be welcoming this new little one to our family! The majority of the weekend was literally spent on the couch. Kelsey and I watched six movies… that is more movies than I have watched the last few years all together. I was able to get my work hours in this week, but limited any other “extra’s”.
This cancer stuff is tougher than I originally thought it was going to be…the challenges of trying to make every day life work and fighting the fatigue is proving to be a bit of a struggle. (It is so hard for me not to feel like I am being “punished”…I have always prided myself in high energy and getting lots done.) Plus, it’s garden season…until this journey began, I hadn’t realized how much our working in the gardens have been a part of our marriage…most people take vacations, we play in our gardens. This year, though, Ferlin is doing all the working and playing. (I am trying to see the positive, but not being as involved really brings on the tears). I keep reminding myself there is next year and many more years to come!! (When Ferlin isn’t looking, I do sneak outside and snip a few flowers for my table or to share with others!)
Tomorrow is chemo #5 out of 12…almost half way there!
I hesitate to ask this, but prayers for a bit of energy this weekend would be appreciated! Kelsey has her dance recital on Friday and Saturday nights at the Washington Pavilion. (I am hoping to be able to go both nights.) Saturday morning is the Race against Breast Cancer—thanks to all who joined our team—although I am bummed by not being able to run/walk this year, I am so excited to see everyone! (I will be cheering on the sidelines with my nieces and nephews!) On Sunday evening, a very special young lady, who is like a daughter to me, has her graduation open house.
As I prepare for bedtime, I am thanking God for my overabundance of blessings! There isn’t a more blessed person than I…great husband, wonderful children and awesome friends and family! Thank you everyone!!
PS…a special Happy Mother’s day to my mom! Thanks for walking this journey with us and showing me the example of love for your children and grandchildren!
PSS…Kalina, although your little one hasn’t arrived yet, mother’s day seems like a great time to welcome you to a very special calling…motherhood is one of the greatest blessings God shares with us! You’re going to be a great mom and I am so proud of you!!

Caring Bridge Entries

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 9:55 AM, CDT
Happy Wednesday! Hope this week finds everyone doing well. The weather sure has been a gift! This morning I was working from home and had the patio door open, listening to music of the birds…they were singing “good morning, today is going to be a great day!” The only thing better would have been if you were all here to share a cup of chai tea with me!

Well, round 2 tomorrow, 1/6th of the way done by tomorrow night! Can you tell I am grasping at whatever encouragement I can find? I believe the plan is that I will be getting Abraxene, which is like Taxol, but hopefully with less allergic reactions (so I won’t have to take all the premeds I did with the taxol). Abraxene does have the same side effects as Taxol—bone pain and numbness in hands and feet, so far I haven’t experienced the numbness, but I did have a lot of bone pain on Sunday. (Just keep praying this is kicking the cancer!)The last few days have been better and last night I was blessed by being able to go to a church service project! I couldn't really do anything, but just being there was such a great encouragment! Okay, back to tomorrow, my brother, Nick, is taking me to my infusion—bonus for the day! My mom will join us when she is done working. I will be admitted to Avera after the infusion to monitor my heart and potential side effects. Hopefully just a one day stay, but am very thankful that we live in the US and have access to such great health care.

As many of you know Ferlin’s company is lawn maintenance and landscaping, so he is really getting busy…yippee!!! However, I find that I am going to have to depend on the help of others, just a bit more, especially with transportation…thanks to you who have volunteered to help us!

Yesterday a very dear friend emailed me this….thought I would share….

Do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be a stronger person.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers,
Pray for powers equal to your tasks.
Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle,
But you shall be the miracle.

Thanks for praying for me as I once again start a new chemo med with all the unknowns. I literally can feel the prayers on Thursday morning pushing me into the infusion center, especially when my mind is saying “RUN! RUN!RUN AWAY!”

REMINDER: The 21st annual Avera Race Against Breast Cancer will be held Saturday, May 9, 2009 at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center.

Only 5 more days to join!!!! Come join our team!
Team: Kim’s Angels with Attitudes (need to know the name to register for the team…we need 15 people to be an official team, so everyone is welcome to join!)
Captain: Jody Reisch (Kim’s brother)
Info: email Kim or Jody at
Deadline: April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009 8:48 PM, CDT
Happy Sunday!
Okay everyone hold up both hands….count your fingers…10 more treatments is all I have!! The countdown has begun!!
Although I did have a slight reaction to the new chemo on Thursday, it was reversible with some IV meds. Spent the night at the hospital and was able to go home on Friday morning. Thanks to Kathy and Brittney for picking up Kelsey. Thanks to Nick for hanging out with me the whole day. Thanks mom for everything—she even did our laundry! Saturday and Sunday I did have some bone/muscle pain, but able to find relief with Advil. Kalina and I were able to spend some time together on Saturday morning which was great fun—we made a funny pair—cute pregnant mommy and bald headed grandma! Spent Saturday afternoon working from home and Saturday evening Ferlin and Kelsey and I relaxed in front of the fire place. Tried to go to church on Sunday morning, but by the time we got there, I was too tuckered out to go….bummed! I told Ferlin I was tired of “doing sick”…but, I am not going to complain. A dear friend of mine’s sister is in hospice for stage IV cancer, I am humbled as that so easily could have been me. I am so blessed and thankful that I have been given the chance to fight this ugly disease! Last night I found out that a 10 year old girl was diagnosed with the same type of invasive breast cancer that I have….how challenging for her and her family. It seems so unbelievable.
Counting my blessings….and giving praise to God! My body may be weakened, but my spirit is growing! Hope you all have a great week and I will touch base with you on Wednesday night.
Remember to sign up for the RACE!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:40 PM, CDT
Well, we did it! We took a drive this evening with the top down on the Mustang and my hat didn’t blow off! Last summer one of my most favorite pasttimes was to take a little convertible drive and let the wind blow through my hair…and for those of you who don’t know me….I’m not even a car person. (Typically if someone asks me what kind of car is this or that, I will say “I don’t know it’s the blue one or the black one…” ) Anyways, it was sure nice to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather!
After tomorrow’s treatment, I will be ¼ of the way done with this round of chemo…yah! I couldn’t have made it this far without the Lord carrying me and all of you holding my hand. I am humbled and very appreciative. So far the side effects of the Abraxene have been some numbness in my feet and general body aches and pains (thankfully advil has worked for the pains). If all goes well, I will have my chemo in the morning and can come home after the infusion. Ferlin will be working, so my mom is going to spend the day with me…blessing! The last few days have been really busy and pretty exciting at work, which is good, as it helps put “cancer” on the back burner.
This past Monday, one of my chemo partners finished her chemo—praises, while at the same time a woman who is very dear to my heart—started her chemo journey. Although chemo creates such havoc on our bodies, we are so fortunate that there are treatments available for us to attempt at stopping the disease that has found its home within our body. Speaking of chemo, with this round I have started to lose my eye lashes and eye brows…yuck! As an eyelash fell yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, one more thing being stripped from my body. Kind of reminded me of my Christian walk….as I continue to grow in Christ, having my “ugliness” stripped away, so I can become more like Him. I know that I have a long way to go, but am so thankful that He loves me and has the patience to teach me.
Special thanks to Sarah for the “mini” pizzas, Kelsey squealed in delight when I told her you supplied us with some more….yum! Thanks to Kyle and Lynn for picking up Kelsey after school so she can go to youth group—you both are great and we appreciate you so very much! Thanks to all who write such encouraging words on caring bridge, who email, send cards and call to check on us! It makes our day!!
Ps…I think that even if the team deadline for the Race is done, you can still sign up on our team. So, please, if you would like to join the Angels with Attitudes, we would love to have you!!

Caring Bridge Entries

Sunday, April 5, 2009 11:07 PM, CDT
Thank you all for your prayers. I was able to stay out of the hospital and no evidence of infection! Although I still am fatigued pretty easily and have some stomach issues, the last few days haven’t been too bad. On Thursday, I was able to see all of my children…Brett stopped by for a quick hello and Kalina and Steven met up with us at Coffea…we had to check out the beautiful new building (and cool floors Mr. Ferlin stained). Spending time with my children just tickles my heart and I am so proud of all of them!
All my life I have had a love for words and books... Well, Saturday I went out of my “box.” I attended children’s writers and illustrator’s conference (even had a children’s story I had written critiqued.) At first I felt really out of my element with all these talented and gifted people, thankfully though, I was able to find a dear friend, who welcomed me to her table and was so loving and encouraging that I soon forgot my fears. Due to fatigue, I wasn’t able to stay for the whole conference, but the time spent was a great learning experience and helped reignite some buried dreams of mine. Let me encourage all of you, take some time for yourself to ponder your dreams and take just one step in the next week to make your dreams a reality!!
Over the next few entries I would like to share with you all some of my ponderings and thoughts about the cancer journey. (I was hoping to be able to share some thoughts this weekend, but ran out of time, too busy trying to catch up and get things done before I start my new chemo treatment this Thursday.)
If you have some extra time, I posted a few pics: some of Kelsey and I, my mustang and some of the benefit. (I have more pics coming on the benefit that my wonderful son in law took, but couldn’t figure out how to get the disk to work tonight and since he works at 4 am, I didn’t think I would get the greatest mother in law award if I called him tonight at 11)
Thanks again for everyone who is walking with us on this journey. Your love, support and kindness definitely make this a bit easier. One last thought: We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow. And that is enough.
**caption under cartoon states: Somehow I don't think they are ready for the babes of breast cancer.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 8:22 PM, CDT
Hi everyone! Hope this week is filled with many blessings and lots of laughter!
Well, tomorrow I start my 2nd step in the “chemo” journey…my new chemo drug is called Taxol. From the research that I have done it is supposed to work well on triple negative breast cancers. (praying so!!) To be honest, it is hard for me to not be anxious about Taxol…so I am going to be bold and ask for specific prayers regarding this med: 1) some people have severe reactions to this medication when it is being administered (like breathing difficulties, etc…)…so would appreciate prayers that this isn’t something that happens to meJ 2) the side effects: should be less nausea, but greater potential for bone pain, numbness in hands/feet, and greater fatigue—so of course, minimal side effects would be great 3) that the Taxol will work to get rid of any stray cancer cells 4) I trust and have faith in God, but I am very human…so some calmness on the nerves that are starting to jump inside of me would be much appreciated. Thanks for the prayers! I will keep you posted on my response. Kicking cancer one step at a time!
Ponderings: Well, as warned, I thought I would share a few thoughts about my journey with breast cancer. I love Easter and the promise’s it brings! It’s the Good Friday before that is a bit harder to get excited about, especially since I (like I believe most people) try to avoid any type of suffering. However, who has ever heard of victory without sacrifice? Christ’s example of suffering and the victory in His resurrection brings such great hope and encouragement to me, especially when I experience the trials and sufferings of life. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I went through a time of wondering if I wasn’t doing faith right and I certainly didn’t consider it “pure joy” that my faith and health were being tested. Left to my own, I would have liked to skip this “good Friday” experience. But if I had skipped this part of my journey in life, I may have missed understanding 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4… “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” God has given me strength, encouragement and hope while walking this road. (Also, last week, I was able to encourage 3 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.) I know that there are still many unknowns regarding my journey with this ugly disease and there might even be a time when I cry out like Christ did and ask God “why have you forsaken me?”…I pray that I always remember that without Good Friday, there would be no Easter morning!
One of the greatest blessings of this journey: the unique opportunity to feel the love and support of family and friends! Thank you so much for giving my family and me this gift!!
May you all have a wonderful Easter filled with much joy!
Sunday, April 12, 2009 9:09 PM, CDT
Happy Easter! I hope everyone was able to share some time with their loved ones on this special day!
Did you know?
· Breast cancer incidence in women in the United States is 1 in 8 (about 13%).
· 120 women in the US die every day from breast cancer.
· For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer besides lung cancer.
· About 90% of breast cancers are due not to heredity, but to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general.
· A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

What can we do?
The 21st annual Avera Race Against Breast Cancer will be held Saturday, May 9, 2009 at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center.
Each year, the Avera Race brings together family, friends, cancer survivors and others - all racing toward a common goal: to enhance cancer care for people right here in Sioux Falls and surrounding communities. Every penny stays local to help your families, friends and neighbors get the treatment and support they need.
Come join our team! (we can have as many team members that want to join...and if you come by yourself there will be other team members to walk/run with you and if you are of the competitive type...and want to go solo...those of us cheering will cheer you on as you run.)
Team: Kim's Angels with Attitudes (—will need this name when you register.)
Captain: Jody Reisch (Kim’s brother)
Info: email Kim or Jody at
Deadline: April 20, 2009
The fun thing about this race is that there is something for everyone: walkers and runners and even spectators! I unfortunately won’t be able to walk in the race, but will be cheering on the side lines with my nieces and nephews!
Update on my walk with chemo: Well, as many of you know, I hit a “bump!” The actual infusion of my new chemo medication—Taxol, went good…the afternoon was spent with family and friends visiting. However by early evening, my mom had to take me to the emergency room with rapid heart rate and tremors. (Didn’t know my heart could go from 100 to 188 within two minutes of standing.) So, I spent a few nights at Avera and was able to go home on Saturday afternoon. As of right now the plan to continue on my scheduled dose of chemo (with some adjustments to the meds) this Thursday with a planned admission to Avera following administration of chemo. If all goes well, I will just be there overnight! The Avera staff has been great, but there is no place like home! One of the hardest parts about this journey is that it is so hard to keep up with life…I miss being a wife and mom, friend and coworker… My prayer is that chemo will kick the cancer but be just a bit easier on my body.

Thank you everyone for your continued help, support, love and prayers. This journey has been made so much easier with all your love! We are blessed!