Monthly Archives: November 2011

So…remember that one time I had cancer?

Days 15-17 away from home – Days 8-10 of treatment – I am finally HOME!!!

Friday I sewed like a mad woman on the project for the kids which turned out awesome but required more hours than I expected.

Saturday I slowly and meticulously wiped everything down and packed up.  I had to wipe down anything I had touched while the radio-iodine was still in my system and able to pass through my skin.  I was careful to only touch what I absolutely had to during that time and wore rubber gloves as much as I could during the more crucial 72 hours.  We had washed all my clothes and linens during my stay and now I just needed to wipe down the stuff.  It took me all day on and off working and resting but that night we loaded most of my things in the car.

Sunday morning was technically between day 9 and 10 but the boys Primary Program at church was that morning and I really wanted to go.  They had both practiced so hard to memorized their little parts.  So I left my isolation one day early and went to the program.  I sat in the back of the meeting, and I even sat 2 rows behind my family totally away from people.  Miriam spent the entire meeting trying to get through the chairs to me because I literally came home 10 minutes before the meeting, grabbed a skirt and rushed over to the church.  So the first hour I spent with my family was at church.  Miriam was so excited to see me and Tom had to be creative to distract her and keep her away from me.  I wanted to be as careful as possible until I was sure I was in the clear.  The boys did so well and I was so glad I had gone! I slipped out of the meeting trying not to get close to others.  We had a lovely first day home and I even took a giant nap.

CONTINUED MIRACLES!!!! – Monday morning I went back to the Dr and stood in front of a Geiger counter to measure any radiation I was putting off.  The Technician stood 3 feet away and couldn’t pick up any radiation.  She stepped closer and closer and then put the sensor next to my neck and was able to pick up some radiation but the alarm didn’t go off so it was within safe amounts.  She looked up and said “Go home and enjoy your babies!“.  I was so thrilled.  I wanted so much to be home and care for the kids again and so Tom could go back to work but I was nervous until I knew how much radiation I was subjecting them too.  If Heavenly Father can build an entire Universe he can do anything.  He blessed the surgeon so much and because there were little to no thyroid cells left in my neck there wasn’t a lot for the radiation to sit and work on so most of it had left my body.  YAY!!!

This is what the Geiger counter looked like, except theirs was brown – seriously I felt like a character in a Star Trek episode being scanned, or some kind of mutant under observation.  The lady was super nice but it was still weird.
Geiger Counter

I am so excited to be normalish again.  I got in the habit of moving away from others and now I don’t have to be afraid of harming them.  I just loved rocking Miriam before her nap today and carrying her to bed and tucking her in, all while knowing it was safe for me to do that.  I’m a happy mama.

The past month has been a strange sort of time warp but I think we will quickly adjust to all going back to normal.  Tom worked from home Monday to give me a day to ease back into things.  I needed it.  My mental state is a little delayed due to being so hypo and my muscle strength is not top notch.  Having just the noise of three kids and the physical demands is way more than it requires to sit and quietly sew all day.  I am much more tired this week than I was last week.  I’m so glad to be home but I am also so glad the ward is still doing dinner this week.  Today was my first day back to regular life and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about dinner tonight.  In about a month I should have my strength back and until them I plan to just cover the basics around the house and take lots of naps.  This all happened so much faster and easier than we anticipated.  I am in awe of all that happened and how fast it was.  I love being able to laugh and joke and say… so, remember that one time I had cancer!  I’m glad this phase is done and I think it was the biggest part.  If I need to do more treatments down the road I am confident the Lord will see us through that as well but for now I think I can safely say it’s all done and now I just need to return to routine.

There are so many people who have helped us and I am so grateful.  Especially to my parents, my brother Michael and to Tom for all the things they did to provide for me and my family.  THANK YOU!!!!!

I am eternally grateful for the love and support that Heavenly Father poured out upon us and it has changed me forever.

– Julie

Ode to My Tom

Days 11-14 away from home – Days 4-7 of treatment

I dedicate this post to My Tom – may your crown in heaven shine even brighter because of the week you’ve had.  I love you!

If you’re in the mood for a good laugh keep reading. :)

This week  had a few surprises that started with Miriam throwing up through the night Sunday and into the morning Monday.  At first we thought it was just something she ate.  Then Tuesday Josh threw up so we knew it as contagious.  There seems to be a flu running through my family.  Mild congestion and body aches and the 2 little ones have upset stomach.  My sweet Tom is holding up well enough but he didn’t get much sleep in the early hours of Monday.

I just have to describe how the day went for Tom on Tuesday.  It needs to be recorded and shouted from the roof tops that I married the most WONDERFUL man and he is even better having survived this particular day – ALONE!

At 3:30am Tuesday morning the phone rang.  It was Tom’s work with a serious server problem.  Over the next two hours he and a coworker problem solved over the phone and on their computers.  They figure it out but he was pretty tired in the morning with very little sleep two nights in a row and he started feeling under the weather himself.  He still hasn’t called in back up because he doesn’t want to expose others.

Then, at 3:30pm Tuesday afternoon I got a text from a friend asking about the MASSIVE layoffs at Adobe, Tom’s company.  WHAT!!!!!  MASSIVE LAYOFF???  So I called Tom.  Considering he’s still on sabbatical he hadn’t heard anything.  He checked his email.  The CEO had sent a company wide email confirming the layoffs and the game plan for the company.  We thought “No news is good news right”, so he quickly called his team lead and we were RELIEVED to hear he was safe and all of his team was safe as well.

At 4:10pm he called me with the good news.  While we were talking we realized Caleb was 10 minutes late to piano lessons.  Caleb was devastated because he had just made plans to play at the neighbors.  Tom somehow managed to calm him down and got everyone out the door.  The chaos seemed to be over – but OH WERE WE WRONG.  As they waited at the end of the lesson Josh started throwing up in the back seat of the van!  Tom said Josh caught most of it in his lap and hands so they ran home to deal with it.  They got in the house and he put Josh in the tub, finding another surprise messy accident in Josh’s underwear (poor Tom).  Meanwhile, Miriam was screaming at the top of her lungs just outside the bathroom door because she wanted to take a bath too and Tom shut her out.  He called me for moral support and was a little frazzled but over the next 20 mins and thanks to dry clothes and a movie everyone settled down.  He distributed “barf bowls” or as he called them “Mr. Bowl” to each child and explained how to use them.  The night started looking up.  The boys were in bed, and Miriam was in our room with Tom when she started throwing up again all over our bedspread.  That evening Tom declared he was ready for me to come home.  I agreed, we sighed, and proceeded to recount the blessings of the day and tried not to give too much energy to the negative.   Poor guy had so much stress in 1 hour it’s a wonder he didn’t collapse from exhaustion.

So the pics below are what I worked on all day Tuesday while Tom surfed through bodily fluids.  I told him it felt rather strange to think I was peacefully crafting away while he was in chaos, but we both agreed that one of us might as well get something done.  In honor of that afternoon I plowed through even though I was tired I finished the top of the quilt and earlier today I finished the back.

My days are all kind of running together and are fairly similar.  I am so grateful for all the good that has come of this experience.  I’m anxious to get home and rather than focusing on that I’ve had to keep busy.  I’ve sewn a lot and spent 5 hours today on another project.  I can’t post pics of the other project because it’s a Christmas surprise for my kids, but it’s WAY cute.

Thanks again for all your love and support, I am inspired by all your kindness.  Thanks for reading through this post, I hope you laughed a few time because it was the kind of day you just have to laugh at or we’d all end up crying.

The Lord is watching out for us and saw us through yet another hurdle we didn’t see coming.  We are being so blessed and as a few of the medical bills arrived today I felt peace in knowing we will be fine and that Tom still has his job.



Unfinished quilt top
work in progress

Finished quilt top
All done! - at least the top

Back of the quilt
the back

Back of the quilt up close
up close

Days 9 and 10 – Days 2 and 3 of treatment

Yesterday and today have been similar:  study, eat, drink ridiculous amounts of water, chew lots of gum and suck on sour candy (to keep my salivary glands cleared out so the radioiodine doesn’t collect there – I’m planning a strike against gum and sour things after this), projects and a LONG WALK was the highlight of each day!  Amy stopped by after work Saturday and she and I walked and walked and talked and talked.  It was so good for so many reasons.  I loved hanging out with her.  We are both out of the house now but our schedules and responsibilities are so different that it’s hard to get good quality time with each other.  It was so great to talk with her.  Then today it was Michael’s turn to take me for a long walk and talk.  I seriously love that all my siblings are basically grown up.  It’s so different now.  The last time I lived at this house Michael was 7 and Amy was 9.  I have children that are 8, 5, and 1 1/2, our lives have all changed so much in the last 10 years and it’s fun in a totally new way to hang out with them now.

Anyway, I actually had a few symptoms of being sick today, WEIRD.  I have just been sailing through this so well it kind of caught me off guard.  Lame huh, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  I had slight tenderness in my neck and glands and tear ducts through the evening last night and some this afternoon.  I actually started getting nauseated and felt a little worried it was going to get worse but then I realized I was only hungry.  I ate and it went away.  I’m so glad I had a touch of symptoms today because it humbled me to remember most people going through this feel terrible and are ill.  I guess I should remember that my body was really sick and I can’t just expect all of this to be easy just because the cancer is gone.   I do however thank Heavenly Father multiple times a day for all my blessings especially the blessing of feeling well right now.

I know I am being aided by all your faithful prayers and support.  I feel it all around me.  I recall a similar feeling just after my brother died and I knew there were many praying for our family and a few months later as everything had settled out I could actually feel that it was time for many of those praying to shift their prayers and support to others in need.  I felt a difference and remembered a prompting telling me that it was good all those people were praying for all of us because we needed to be carried through the roughest part but it was time for me to learn to stand on my own strong foundation.  I needed to stabilize of my own strength and reliance on my Savior.  What a beautiful experience.  There were times I think I was rather grumpy about it and longed for the faith of others to lift me up again but in the long run I stabilized, built out my foundation, adjusted and learned lessons critical to my eternal progression.

Now I am being lifted up again.  I  need all the strength available for myself and my family.  We FEEL you lifting us up by your faith and I thank you.  Our troubled waters are rushing by under our feet without carrying us away because of you and the power and love of our Savior.  He knows of your love and faith and has granted us miracles.  I look forward to seeing just how much better my foundation will be after all of this is done.  The Lord has blessed me so much and I am excited to see what fruits will come of all this.

Now some pictures:

Did you know its hard to take a good picture in a mirror or by yourself? Ya, it’s hard.  I do LOVE the new cut!
New hair cut!

Props to Haley for the super cute cut and being willing to let me in your house. THANKS!

My little set-up and some things I’ve been working on.

Days 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 – I’m back on the grid and full of gratitude.

Well, I realize I have neglected my updates and I am sorry if I have kept you all wondering.  I had so much fun this week and I was too tired (and or lazy) at night to do any posting.  All is WONDERFUL and I am happy to report everything is going well and my news from Dr.’s just keeps getting better and better.

Day 4 – Halloween

I went for my scan in the afternoon and it was a pleasant enough of an experience as I think a person could make of it.  I laid down on a very narrow “bed” table thing and they wrapped and big velcro thing around me to hold my arms perfectly still against my sides.  It looked like a 18 inch wide blood pressure cuff that went around my middle and arms.    I asked the tech, “I am going to go flying off this and hit the ground?”  He just said, “Don’t wiggle and you’ll be fine.”  Turns out he was right, once I was settled I didn’t feel so much like I was hanging off the end of a cliff with no arms to catch myself.  The scan moved from my face to my knee and that took 30 mins.  It then sat just over my neck area for an additional 10 mins to get a good look at the thyroid area.  He said I was safe to be in public now and only needed to keep my distance now that most the radioactive iodine, being such a small dose, had made it’s way out.  I hopped up and was on my way.  I drove straight to my house and surprised my Tom and the kids by bursting into the house unannounced.  We packed up in costume and drove to my parents neighborhood and trick-or-treated to about 15 homes and called it a night.  I stayed at my parents and Tom and the kids went home.  It was SO GOOD to see them and give quick little hugs.

Day 5 – Tuesday

Since it was safer to be with people I went home just after lunch.  I prepared all my food before I left so all I had to do was heat it up and didn’t contaminate our kitchen at home.  I didn’t hold the kids and wore disposable gloves the whole time.  The boys were in school and Miriam was sleeping so that way I could be home more with less exposure to the kids.  Tom and I did house work and paid bills (super fun) then had nice family time during the evening.  I came back to my parents just as the kids were going to bed.

That afternoon I also got the results of my scan.  NO RESIDUAL THYROID CELLS!!!  Amazing, unheard of, NOT typical, remarkable, and another DIRECT MIRACLE!  My surgeon did a wonderful job and with the support of a loving Heavenly Father he was able to get it all out.  So my Dr may not have recommended to go ahead with the treatment, but I did have a blood test show elevated Thyroglobulin levels, which is used as a cancer marker.  It was 9 and it should be 2 or less, so they decided to do a smaller dose of radioactive iodine just to be careful and as proactive as possible against future problems.  So the dose is 50 rather than 100 or 150 (to give reference the scan was only 4).

I am thrilled that the results were so good and that the dose is smaller.  The precautions the dose do not change at all, it’s is still 10 days of isolation, but I am pleased to have less of that stuff running through my system.

Day 6 –  Wednesday

I went home again that day for the afternoon and early evening.  It was wonderful to be home and I had TONS of energy and I couldn’t hold still so I got to work.  While the boys were at school and Miriam slept we swept and cleaned the porch, took down the Halloween decorations, packed up all the costumes, cleaned out the fridge, scrubbed down the kitchen, mopped, de-junked the desk, and hung up some art work that I’d been meaning to get to for months.  After the kids were home all 5 of us went to the back yard and winterized the entire yard.  Even Miriam pitched in.  Her job was to gather up all the tomatoes that had fallen off the vines when we ripped out the plants.  I edged the lawn and Caleb mowed and Tom and Josh raked and cleaned up the last of the plants.  It was SO FUN and so refreshing.  We quickly had dinner and tucked the kids into bed and I headed to my parents.

Day 7 – Thursday

I was feeling lazy after working so hard and from staying up WAY to late with my parents and siblings too many times this week.  It has been so fun to visit with them.  So, after being lazy that morning I quickly got ready and went home.  Tom took me to get a hair cut I was in major need of and then we went home.  I LOVED that entire day.  The kids were so sweet and I think it was seriously one of the days that is just a gift from heaven.  No arguing from the kids, everyone was happy, we finished up a few small project while the kids were gone and Tom went to Costco.  We all talked and laughed our way through dinner and everyone was just content.  Then we enjoyed a quiet evening together and got the kids in bed.  I am so BLESSED!

Day 8: Day 1 of treatment – Friday, 7:00am

If you look closely you can see my name on the pill bottle below – CRAZY!!

I had the treatment this morning.  I was more prepared this time and took pictures.  It is so surreal and feels straight out of the movies.  She went over all the instructions and protocol especially because it is a bigger deal this time.  Then she brought in the Titanium cylinder, placed it on the tray, and backed out of the room!!  She continued instructions from a good 10 feet away in the hall.  I snapped the pictures and swallowed the pill.  I then drove to my parents, settled in, made breakfast, studies scriptures (I love studying without interruptions!), sewed 5 rows to a quilt while watching an old TV series we watched when I was a kid.  Now I’m updating the blog.  Today has been delightful and I can’t express my gratitude for feeling so good and gaining strength everyday.  After years of not feeling well and sometimes just surviving  I have trained myself that if I had a good day I would work and work and work because I didn’t know the next time I would feel that good.  I just keep getting better each day right now and I want to just work and work.  If this is an indication of what my health and life is going to be like I will have to readjust and learn to have moderation.  What an awesome thing to have to adjust to, ENERGY!!!  It’s been so long!

THANK YOU to all of you for your kindness and support.  Thank you for all the emails and comments it means so much to me.  Thank you to my ward for feeding my family.  Thank you for reading this blog.  Thank you to my family especially my parents and my Tom for all you are doing to help me and provide for me.   Tom, you are my hero and best friend.  Thank you for taking on all the responsibilities of the kids.  I  love you!

Thank you to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior Jesus Christ for all I am.  I know this miracle has been a work and a wonder from them.  This is so much bigger than I can do alone and they are blessing every moment of my days.