Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm Back!

Wed., Oct. 8th--Hello Friends and Family! Saying that it has been a long time since I have made a post is quite an understatement! Well, I'm back! I don't know for how long though so enjoy it while you can! :) I have always had good intentions on keeping up on this blog, but life gets crazy and sadly (don't read the next line for those of you who are faithful, daily bloggers) making a post hasn't been top on my list of must-dos. So a few days ago, my dear friend Shawna revived my desire to keep up on my blog. Not to mention her twin sister who, not knowing I had a blog, flat out told me not to start one because I could never keep up on it--I have to prove her wrong! So I'm kinda crazy and have to finish my story before I can move on to what is happening today. So picking up where I left off...After Michael's second treatment, we had a really good idea of what the next four months would be like! Looking back, I remember feeling like it would be an eternity before we would make it past the chemo phase. Mikey's second treatment was a smaller dose of the mix of chemo because after his first treatment his counts were very low. He felt that his lump in his neck went down initially after the first treatment, but during the next two weeks before the second chemo it seemed to be a little bigger. Dr. O'Donnell felt that it would be better to give him the chemo in a smaller dose to keep it from growing than to wait another couple of weeks until his counts were up. After getting the second treatment, Michael spent that week trying to get over the nauseous feeling and build back up his appetite. On Friday that week, we went on a date. During chemo, Michael was always so sweet and would want to set aside time on Fridays for a date even though he was often feeling far from normal. We would spend the time together watching a movie or sometimes getting out and doing something if Michael felt up to it.

Wed., Jan 30th--Today was my little brother Jason's birthday. Happy birthday Jason! Michael came over to participate in the birthday extravaganza! Jason opened presents and then we all went out to dinner. Later that night, Michael pulled out his guitar and sang songs to me. I love the picture below because I love to watch him play his guitar. He looks so happy. This picture was taken only a week an a half after his second chemo treatment. He looks pretty good, if you ask me!

Here is Jason and Jamie getting ready to blow out the candles on his cake. My mom makes the most fun and tasty cakes!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back At It For Round Two!

Mon., Jan. 21st--Today Michael was scheduled for another chemotherapy treatment. The whole gang came with us this time because it was a school holiday. Marie, Michael, J.R., Madelyn, and I headed down to Pasadena the night before to visit Dori and her family before Michael's appointment. In the morning, we went to Roscoe's House of Chicken N' Waffles for breakfast. That was quite an experience! Everyone should give it a whirl at least once in their life. I mean, seriously, when are you ever going to choose to eat chicken with a syrup covered waffle at the same time! Mikey and J.R. had a pretty fun time after breakfast seeing who could slurp the most water out of their tiny cups using just their tongues. They had to lap it up like dogs without tipping their cups.

After breakfast, we headed over to City of Hope in Duarte for Michael's second chemo treatment. This time he brought his DS to help entertain him while he got the infusion. This was a pretty good distraction except that the machine kept beeping and we think it was because his arm was raised up so that he could see the screen. I think the cord was getting kinked. The nurses had to come in a few times to fix the problem. Mikey's such a cutie that they didn't seem to mind!

What a little pretender! Michael is not really in pain in this next picture!

Ah! Now there's the handsome face and smile I just can't get enough of!

During this treatment he did pretty well compared to later ones that he has had, but after the treatment was the hard part. We left City of Hope to pick up J.R. and Madelyn at Dori's house and the extra long car ride was hard because Michael felt so nauseous from the chemo. We got him home though and into bed to rest.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Sat., Jan. 12th--Here are some pictures from when Michael was recovering from his first chemo treatment. He came over to my house to hang out for a while and Jamie dressed him up with clip-on earrings and a scarf! This picture is so cute and just makes me laugh! I bet this is the first time most of you have seen Mikey decked out in earrings. After this first chemo treatment, he felt pretty tired right away. He could definitely feel the toll that it took on his body. He often needed to lay down and take it easy.

These next pictures are from Tues. Jan., 15th. My mom, little sister Jamie, Michael, and I went down to the park at Lake Harveston. It was nice for Michael to get out and remember the good old days as a kid! He is all wrapped up in a blanket because he gets really cold easily now because of the chemo.

Here are some pictures of my little sister Jamie from when we were at the park. I can't believe she is 4 1/2 years old now!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just the Beginning

Wed., Jan. 9th--It has been two days since Michael's first chemotherapy treatment and what an eye opening experience it has been. Before starting, I really had no idea what we were in for and what to expect. Honestly, I didn't even know how people got chemo until I asked Michael's doctor at one of his appointments. When we went in on Jan. 7th for Mikey's first treatment, he was his usual self. He was happy and I'm sure a little anxious as to what was going to happen. As you can see from the pictures from that visit (see end of first post) he was all smiles. Each visit after that has been more and more difficult. After getting chemo we drove back to his house, which can take a couple of hours. We didn't know how soon his body was going to react to the chemo. On the way home, we decided to drive through Green Burrito to get some dinner and just the smells of the food made Michael feel nauseous and he ended up throwing up! The reaction was definitely pretty quick. When he got home he was still feeling gross, but I don't think the full effect of the chemo had hit him yet. Since it was his first treatment he didn't have the build-up of chemo in his system that had been wearing him down. He was still in pretty good spirits and wanted to watch a movie so we watched Amazing Grace and I think he ended up sleeping through most of it. He had to take anti-nausea medicine because of the immediate side effects that chemo has and this medication makes him very sleepy! This is a good thing, though, since he doesn't feel well after getting the chemo. The next day he slept a lot and Marie and I would try to wake him up to eat and take his medicine. He doesn't like to eat, though, because it makes him feel nauseous. Each day after getting chemo seems to get better. By the third day, he was feeling a little better and wanted to get up out of bed and play Wii and watch movies in the family room. It is really hard to see Michael like this because he has always had so much energy and desire to be active. These are some pictures that I took of Mikey recovering after his first treatment. He really is a trooper and I'm amazed by him more and more each day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bike Riding in the Rain

Sat., Jan. 5th--Michael and I love to go bike riding. It is seriously one of my favorite things to do! I had forgotten until a few years ago just how much I love to ride my bike. When I was younger, I stopped riding because they made the law in California that you had to ride with a helmet until you were eighteen years old. That just didn't work for me because at that time I had big, fluffy bangs that were sprayed to the max. Big bangs and helmets just aren't the perfect combination. For all of you California girls out there you can relate, I'm sure! Anyway, so before Michael went in for his first chemotherapy treatment we decided to take a bike ride together since we knew it would probably be awhile until Mikey felt up to riding again. So we decided to go for a ride despite the fact that it was raining. We almost wore ponchos, but when we left it was just drizzling. I wanted to post these pictures because I especially love the second one where Michael's backside is covered in water that was sprayed up from the tires!

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Whole Story...(in a nutshell)

Hello Everyone! The long awaited Michael and Jenae blogging is finally getting underway! I have been so busy finishing up some deadlines for an independent study class and living the day to day life that I haven't really had a chance to do much else. I really wanted to share with everyone the whole story of this adventure we are on right now. So I thought I would start at the very beginning which for this story starts a few days after Thanksgiving...

Fri., Nov. 30th--Michael noticed that the left side of his neck was looking swollen. He showed me and I thought that it did look quite large and different from the other side. I thought that he probably had an infection and urged him to go to the doctor right away. I didn't want him to be sick for finals week.

Tues., Dec. 4th--I set up an appointment for Michael at the BYU Student Health Center for today. I was at my apartment getting ready for the day and was planning on picking him up after his appointment. I remember we were going to get lunch after because we both thought that the appointment would be pretty short and then he had to go to a group meeting for one of his classes. He texted me saying that he had to get some more tests done and that he would be a while longer. I asked him why he had to have the extra tests. He texted back and said that the doctor thought that he had cancer. I was totally and completely shocked and really thought that he was pulling my leg. I was thinking this is not something you joke about! He said that he wished he was joking, but that it was true. I was in complete denial--it just couldn't be true! My dear Michael having cancer! I wanted to be down there with him so I went over to the Health Center. He had an x-ray of his chest which showed that there was a growth in his chest. He told me that the doctor thought that he had a kind of cancer called Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He said that this kind of cancer has a very good success rate. We then made an appointment to see a surgeon who would examen him and then do a biopsy of his swollen lymph node. The biopsy would confirm whether he had cancer or not. When we left the health center we were both in total shock. The rest of that day was very difficult. I dropped him off at school because he needed to finish up a project that he had to present that day. There really wasn't a moment to let everything sink in. I wanted to help make his day a little better so I made him a special dinner and we had a picnic on my living room floor.

Mon., Dec. 10th--Today Michael went to get a CAT scan of his chest. This would give the doctors a better understanding of what was growing in his chest. Over the past week from the time that we first found out to the time that he met with the surgeon felt like forever. We were pretty anxious to confirm if he had actually had cancer. This week was full of a lot of ups and downs, to say the least.

Tues., Dec. 11th--We met with Dr. Thomas, the surgeon, who examed Michael. He said that all of Michael symptoms matched those of Hodgkin's Disease and that he thought that that was what he had, but that it couldn't be totally confirmed until the biopsy. The syptoms that he had been having were unexplained weight loss, itchy skin, night sweats, fevers, tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes. Those are all the classic symptoms of Hodgkin's. We scheduled another CAT scan--this time for his stomach to see if he had any canerous areas there. This would help determine what stage of Hodgkin's he had. We also scheduled a biopsy of his swollen lymph nodes in his neck for the following week. Later that night, Michael and I needed a little diversion so we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants Brick Oven! Here is one of the pictures we took. We had a fantastic time! The calzones there are just heavenly!

Wed., Dec. 12th--Today Michael went to get the CAT scan of his stomach. This wasn't as easy as the first CAT scan because they were scanning his stomach and he had to drink some contrast material. It is an orangy colored liquid that is thicker than water, but a little less thick than yogurt. This helps to show all of the insides of the stomach. Anyway, so later that night we met up on campus and Michael felt rather warm so we decided to get a thermometer. He had a fever and started not feeling well. That evening he was laying on the carpet bundled up in blankets because he was so cold. He was having pain in his stomach and chest. We debated whether he should go to the emergency room. He didn't really want to go, but his mom thought that he probably should. Around midnight, we decided to go to the emergency room. We made it as far as the parking lot though because he had started feeling better and decided he didn't need to go in. That was a bit of a scary night because I had never seen him so miserable! Later when we talked it over with the nurse, she thought that it probably was a combination of the CAT scan along with the Hodgkin's Lymphoma symptoms.

Sat., Dec. 15th--Today was my birthday and Michael was such a cutie with everthing. He made me an amazing birthday cake and we went ice skating at an outdoor skating rink in Salt Lake! It was so much fun!Michael has quite the ice skating skills--the little dare devil! It was great to be able to go and do something fun like this before his biopsy/surgery.

Mon., Dec. 17th--Surgery Day! Today we got up bright and early and headed over to the surgical center at about 5:00 A.M. Dr. Thomas got his schedule confused so we waited for him for quite a while. During that time they got Mikey all prepped in his little gown and cap. They even put socks on and these leg wraps to help with the circulation in his legs because he was being put to sleep. He looked so adorble. I remember how calm and content he was with it all. While he was in surgery, I ran to the grocery store to get him soft foods because one of the nurses said that he woudn't be able to eat regular foods. When I got back they were just about done with the biopsy. The doctor came out and talked with me about how everything went. He said that he took out a chunk of lymph node that was about a quarter size all around. He said that it was pretty pussy and that the lymph node wasn't getting proper drainage. He also said that by the how the biopsy piece looked it didn't look too good for ruling out cancer. After I spoke with Dr. Thomas, I got to go in and see the little sleeping angel. He was pretty out of it and said some really cute things that just made me smile! He eventually woke up all the way and we got him ready to leave. We came back to my apartment and he felt really wiped out the rest of the day. Neither one of us realized how taxing the biopsy would be on his body. We thought we would get some studying in for finals, but that never happened. He could hardly keep his eyes open during the next three days. He would go home and sleep at his apartment at night and come and hang out at my apartment during the day. Poor chap. We found out that is was so taxing because the doctor had to dig down under the muscle to get to the lymph nodes. A lot of tugging and moving had to be done.

Dec. 17th-21st--Michael spent this week recovering from his biospy and trying to get everything taken care of for his classes before the Christmas break. He was able to take a couple of his finals and finish up some classes before his biopsy, but after he could hardly stay awake enough to study for his last three tests. For those classes, he worked it out with the teachers to take those tests in a few months once he got everything figured out with his cancer.

Thurs., Dec. 20th--A call came today letting us know that the biopsy report came back. We sat there holding our breath as Vicki, Dr. Thomas's nurse, told us what the pathology report stated. It was so ambiguous and didn't confirm or deny that Michael had cancer. We were a little discouraged because by now we were ready to hear what he had so we could focus our attention on his treatment and getting him better. The report made it sound like he had some form of lymphatic cancer, but that they were unable to say anything definite. Vicki told us that this was pretty unusual. She said that most of the time the reports come back definite one way or the other. We were told that we would have to wait and have everything looked over by an oncologist because they would be more familiar with everything and be able to tell us what the report said. So the wait continued...

Fri., Dec. 21st--Vicki called again! Today Vicki called to say that the pathologists had run some further tests and that they had concluded that Michael did have Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We were glad to hear that they were able to come to a definite diagnosis. We were also glad that it was Hodgkin's rather than Non-Hodgkin's because that is a worse kind of cancer to get. Here is a picture of the recovering surgery spot. It got a little infected so we went back to see Dr. Cook at the Surgical Associates of Utah County. He ended up draining a bit of milky white fluid from the incision site. They sucked it out with a needle and seringe. Mike just laid there watching what they were doing. What a brave guy!

Sat., Dec 22nd--Today we left Utah ready to face what ever adventures awaited us. We had received a definite diagnosis that Michael has cancer and we wanted him to have his treatments in California so that we could have the support of our families. We had to wait to go home until today because his doctor wanted him to make sure that the infection in his biopsy site was going away and not getting worse. We completely packed up both of our apartments into Mikey's car. It's amazing that we got it all in there! Michael has some stellar packing skills. We started out later than we had wanted because of all that we had to do so by the time we got down to St. George it was getting late. We stayed the night at Michael's Grandma and Grandpa Evan's house in Enterprise, Utah. We got to go to church with them and see them sing so beautifully in the choir. It was wonderful to see them and get to spend a little time with them!

Tues., Dec. 25th--Merry Christmas!!! We were able to be at home for Christmas and we had a wonderful time even with all the craziness that had been going on. We had been so busy with school and doctor apptointments that the only day we could do any shopping was on Monday--Christmas Eve!

Wed., Dec. 26th--Michael, Marie (his mom), and I went to City of Hope in Pasedena today for his first appointment with the oncologist (cancer doctor). We feel that Michael is very lucky to be able to be seen at City of Hope. It has a wonderful reputation and we were immediately impressed with how smooth everything went and how friendly and caring the staff is. His doctor, Dr. Margaret O'Donnell, spent over an hour with us talking about Hodgkn's Disease and the course of treatment that he would most likely have. She was still waiting on the the biopsy slides to come from the surgical center in Utah so that the pathologists at City of Hope could confirm the diagnosis that was already made. At this appointment, she examened Michael and acknowledged that he most likely had Hodgkin's Disease. She also said that to determine what stage he was in that he would have to have his bone marrow tested. This required drilling a needle into his hip bone and sucking out some bone marrow as well as taking some of the bone from there too. She said that she could do it right then or that we could come back. The drive to City of Hope takes at least an hour and a half on a good day so Michael decided to have it done right then. This was quite the experience. Michael said while she was doing the procedure that it didn't hurt too badly. I think it was worse for those who were watching then for Michael himself. I don't think that I will ever be able to think back on this experience without cringing. What they do for a bone marrow test is prep the area with some topical numbing solution as well as give the patient some Demerol to relax them. Then they drill a needle into the bone with this tool thing. The doctor has to twist it to drill it in. She then sucks out some marrow with a seringe. They also get a part of the bone as well. While Dr. O'Donnell was drilling into his bone you could just see the force that she was applying as she twisted the needle down into his bone. Michael really did fantastic and the doctor said that he was doing great during the whole procedure, but that his fiancee (Me) was turning green! I think I really was! The rest of that day Michael was pretty sore on his hip.

Mon., Dec. 31st--Today we went back to City of Hope because Michael was going to start his first round of chemotherapy today. Dr. O'Donnell was not there so we met with her colleague Dr. Leslie Poppelwell. She talked over everything with us and answered all our questions. She also confirmed that the pathologists at City of Hope said that the biopsy showed that Michael has stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She also presented an experiemental course of treatment that she wanted Mike to think over. The experiemental treatment would consist of giving the same four chemotherapy medicines Adriamycin, Bleomycin,Vinblastine, and Dacarbazine (ABVD) that he was already scheduled to get as well as adding another medication called Rituximab to the mix. If he didn't go with the experimental treatment he was told that he would most likely have four cycles of chemotherapy and then radiation. Each cycle of chemotherapy is a month and you get two treatments of chemotherapy per cycle. After the four cycles of chemo he would have a month off to recuperate and then he would have radiation for three to four weeks. If he decided to go with the experimental treatment, he would have to commit to six months of chemo and then possibly radiation after that. This was a difficult decision because he had to decide if having four months of chemo and then radition if that would be better than an automatic six months of chemo and possibly no radiation. The whole purpose of the experiemental treatment was to see if it would have a longer lasting benefit of preventing the cancer from coming back. Michael didn't end up starting chemo today because he was starting to get a bit of a sore throat and some people in his family had been sick and Dr. Poppelwell wanted him to get over anything that he might be getting before starting chemo. She also wanted him to think over the experimental treatment to see if that was the way he wanted to go.

Wed., Jan. 2nd--Today Michael had an a pulmonary test and an ecocardiogram to test how his lungs and heart were before starting chemotherapy. They wanted him to have the tests, but they weren't too worried about his heart and lungs, though, because he is young, healthy, and such a handsome hunk! The tests came back posivitely stellar! We were so happy because he has a healthy heart and lungs. The technician who performed his lung test said that he had an amazing lung capacity that she hadn't seen in anyone in years. She asked what he did to get such great lungs and he said it was probably from swimming in high school. She couldn't believe the amount of air that he could breathe in or blow out. She was also shocked at how long he could hold the air in. She told him that with those lungs of his he should be an olympic swimmer! This is one of my favorite pictures of Michael. It captures him perfectly--his cute smiling face in front of one of his favorite places to be--the temple.

Mon., Jan. 7th--One down, seven to go! Today was the first day on the road to cancer-freedom! We went down to City of Hope for Michael's first chemotherapy treatment. He started out by getting his blood drawn so that the doctor could check his counts to make sure that they were OK to start chemothrapy. Everything was good to get started which made me anxious and a little scared. I have never been so close to someone going through chemotherapy. We didn't really know exactly what to expect and what his side effects would be. On this first visit, the nurse took her time and explained what each of the medicines were and answered all our questions on what she was doing. The process was started with getting Michael hooked up to an IV in his forearm. The nurse started him on a saline solution. Then he got a medicine called Zofran which is a 24 hour anti-nausia medicine. He also gots Benadryl and two Tylenol which are to help prevent any side effects that can occur from one of the chemo medicines called Bleomycin. After all the pre-meds then he started on the chemo medicines, ABVD. Michael got very tired while getting the chemo because of the Benadryl. We were reading a marriage prep book and he fell fast asleep! Here are some pictures from his first visit.