Monday, July 28, 2008

Home from Mayo

My parents and I were able to make it back to AZ from MN on Saturday evening. We were a few days later returning home because we had a small bump early on Thursday morning when we were scheduled to come.

A little backtracking...I was told by the nurse in the cancer wing when I was receiving chemo last week that I’m not ‘ordinary’ anymore. What she meant by this was that if I had any infection like symptoms or extended periods of vomiting, the runs etc that I needed to not be shy about making my way to the ER to receive treatment. My body won’t just ‘get over’ things like it has in the past. So we’ve been on a slightly elevated Susan Security Alert (now at level ‘orange’).

We were scheduled to have the pump administering the rest of the chemo removed on Thursday afternoon, and then we’d rush to the airport to make our 5:30 flight home to Arizona. On Thursday morning I woke up at about 4:00am with some pain in my side in the same place like I’d had before, only I couldn’t get comfortable, and I had just had a pain pill. After a few minutes debating whether to wake up my parents, I did and the debate ensued on whether or not this pain was warranting a dreaded trip to the ER. After ½ or so longer of no relief, the decision was made to head in. Luckily for us, the hospital was right across the street, and there was absolutely no wait for me to get in, be seen and get on some stronger pain medication.

A battery of tests were re-ordered, CAT Scan, Chest X-Ray, blood work to rule out that I was having any major complications with my tumor, liver or anything related like we’d been warned about; blood clots these types of things. After initial tests came back negative for any of this I was admitted and transferred over to the larger hospital connected with Mayo where they wanted to keep an eye on me and the pain. My first ride in an ambulance...I wasn’t nearly as coherent as I’d always hoped I would be though L

The doctors in the ER room told my parents that there was a good chance that the pain I was experiencing was actually a ‘good’ thing in that it may be a sign that the chemo was working and doing its job on my liver tumors! Awesome news all though not fun at the moment...

To make the long version of the story short I ended up having to stay in the hospital until Saturday afternoon, so we had obviously missed our scheduled flight home on Thursday. As if this couldn’t get more creative...and she may not like me for telling everyone mom had a flare up of a recurring problem she’s had related to diet and had to be admitted to the ER on Friday evening. Luckily she caught it all in time and had only a short stay, some pain and antibiotic medications prescribed and was able to lay low and rest for Saturday morning while I was being discharged. I have to include it in the update though, because it just shows on a very very very small scale the sacrifices my parents made for me being on this trip. My mom was putting her own well being aside and had this happen, so for Friday night my dad was bouncing back and forth between the hospitals caring for the two women in his life :)

The doctors advised me on discharge to wait a day before trying to fly home, but I was feeling good and didn’t want to risk getting stuck any longer than we had to. So we made the call to jump on a flight home Friday at about 6:00pm. I couldn’t wait to get home and see Justin.

We were quite the sight to be seen traveling through the airport, my dad and his two women in wheelchairs :) The flight was mostly uneventful and we were home!!

A quick update on other happenings...I’m very pleased with how I feel on the chemo. It’s had it’s ups and downs, but ultimately I feel blessed that so far the side effects are minimal for me. This will probably change over the next cycles, so I’m enjoying it now, but I’m mostly just very tired and fatigued. I KNOW that these minimal side effects are due to all your prayers, so thank you all once again!!

We have an appointment with an oncologist at Mayo Scottsdale on August 1st. This week we will be looking into insurance options, if I haven’t already mentioned it Rochester Mayo is a preferred provider on my plan, but Scottsdale is not. Chemo is not cheap obviously, so we’ll be seeing what options are available for future treatments. I’m tentatively scheduled right now to head back to Mayo on the 5th for my second cycle in MN.

Can you believe how far we’ve already come in just 2 weeks time? It’s been a rollercoaster at parts, but I really just feel so blessed by all that has seemed to fall into place, and how smoothly it’s been going over all. I know that God is responsible for this, and I thank you all for your prayers and the asking of blessings for us. Know that it is doing good.

Have a great week!


Kyle said...

Susan you are amazing! I am so sorry to hear you had a little "bump" but I am glad that everything went well and things are going smooth! I will continue to pray for you and your family!

Adriana said...

"Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad."

I laughed and cried when I read the part about your dad in the hospital. I had mental imagery from the Movie Father of the Bride II :)
I know I'm not supposed to be the one crying, but I cried, because I could feel just how much your dad loves both of you!

Glad you are home and please let us know how we can be helpful!

Anonymous said...

Susan - I am so glad that you are home. I have been "stalking your blog" for updates all weekend.

The love and prayers from our family are with you constantly...

Aunt Gail

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home Susan!
I've been a little slow to realize people have been posting comments to your blog- but I'm up to speed now!

It's so great to know you are home and you've gotten a smooth start to your treatment. In no time at all you will be in Patty's (was that her name?) place and giving hope and encouragement to others who will find themselves in your position.
You will be great!!!!

Ann Marie

Anonymous said...

Justin and Susan,
Sorry I finally found the blog. I just dedicated the last hour to reading all of them plus comments. I have been pumping everyone for information. I hope you know I love you guys. We sent out an email for our whole ward to also participate in that first fast for you. I think there were many more people involved than you may ever know. I'm glad you have felt that strength these last few weeks. I have been using less toilet paper, thinking that must be the risk/factor that these doctors haven't discovered. You don't fit any of the other ones, and those conversations of all the rolls you use came straight to my mind. Summer may also be at risk.

I would do anything for you guys. Susan, if you need some of my liver or colon - it's yours. Justin, if you need me to hold you or take you out on a date, I'll be your sugardaddy for a night. I'd love to come visit whenever you feel up to it - cause I don't want to be an annoyance. You're in my prayers, every day.

Your dad is amazing. I've always known that. And it was really cute when you said how excited you were to see Justin again. Ahhh! Thanks for sharing all this personal information. You have such an amazing attitude. It's not easy to see, feel and believe that this is but a moment when you are in the middle of the storm. But it is only temporary. I love D&C 121 and 122 in those times. Sorry this is longer than your blog. Again, I love you guys and hope to see you soon.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so you'll be in Debbie's position, not Patty's. But I'm sure somewhere, sometime there was a Patty who was in Debbie's position too- so maybe I wasn't totally wrong after all.
Oh brother! :)

Ann Marie

Kelly said...

Your attitude and sense of humor continue to inspire and amaze me, Susan. We're here - waiting to help in any way we can. We love you and are sending you thoughts of courage and healing. Keep it up, because you're doing great!

Aunt Kelly

Lauren Porter said...

I am so excited for you to be home. There is nothing like your own bed. Please let us know if we can do anything- even cleaning your house!!

laura said...

You are amazing! What a week you have been through! I am praying for you, I know I told you my mother-in-law has had colon cancer for 11 years, but I want you to know she would be happy to talk to you if you need any advice. I am sure you have other people you know going through similar issues but just thought I'd throw it out there! Hang in there, one day at a time! :)

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear you're back. Welcome home.

hlmortensen said...

Hey Susan!
Hope you know we are all thinking about you A LOT! :) We all want to just jump in and do anything we can to help, but realize that there isn't a whole lot we can do right now besides keep you in our prayers and give you the gift of space and time to allow you to get the rest that you need. :) Hope you are getting a lot of TLC, R and R, and I really hope your pain pills work like magic today! :)
Love Always,

Mike Steph and Brooklyn said...

So glad you are back, there is NO place like home! Know I am always thinking of you will continue to pray for you both!

Hamblin Family said...

I am glad you are home too! You are still so positive. I started laughing when I was trying to picture your Dad with his two women in wheelchairs. He is a great man! You still have your sense of humor! Hopefully you can rest and relax and enjoy your own bed. We love you!

Betsey Lee said...

Susan - pretty random how I found your blog. A friend Brian Lee told me to look you up because we have a little thing called cancer in common. I don't know if you know me or not, but my name is Betsey (Arnett) Lee. I was 7 mo. pregnant with my 2nd when we found out my husband had brain cancer last January. I know I cannot relate to a lot of things as I was not the one with cancer, but it was quite intense as I watched him battle for his life. I could say a million things to you right now. Probably 2 million. But I'm sure you have other things to do than read my 25 page post. A friend who also had a cancerous brain tumor a few years back and was given 2 months to live, is now a return missionary, a wife and now a mother told us the most profound statement of our "cancer year". She said, this is the best thing that ever happened to me. As I picked up my jaw from the floor, I disagreed. But now, as we have gotten through the most challenging time, we can both say that we have gained far more than we lost. I know miracles can happen. I am so glad the treatments are not so harsh right now. That was the worst part of it for my husband and spent the better part of the year in the hospital on morphine just to get through the treatments. Susan, you are now a part of a whole other world called cancer. I truly believe that those who get cancer are special amazing people. You'll find in the future, once you hear of someone getting cancer, you feel like you know them because you share something so intense.I have said way too much, but know there are people you never thought of that are praying for you. I will be checking up on you to see how things progress. Feel free to ask for anything. Good luck, Betsey Lee

The Ball Family Connection said...

We have quietly been reading your blog and keeping ourselves updated on your events. Please know of our love and continual prayers for you, Justin, Bruce and Janet.

Love, Larry and Laurie Ball & family

Anonymous said...

Everything I want to say to you has already been said by those much more eloquent. However, I do want you to know how much your blog has meant to me and I want to thank you for sharing your journey. I am an avid reader and frequently look for books to give me a boost and the energy to "keep on truckin". There is nothing I have ever read that has touched me as much as your story and the comments of your friends and family. It is easy to see why you are so loved by so many people! Although I am over twice your age, I consider you my role model and hope that when I grow up, I can be more like you!
Zach's Favorite Mother-In-Law

Los Peña said...

Susan your courage and honesty is inspiring. I love to read your posts. You have a wonderful family and amazing parents. I hope to be that kind of parent and be able to show that kind of courage. Jose and I are expecting our first baby, I know that you are the kind of child I would be grateful to have.
You are in our prayers and thoughts always, I have faith that you will win this battle, you have so much to share with the world, with your future children and grandchildren. Keep it up...I know a lot of people are rooting for you!

Gabby and Jose Pena

Tamra said...

Susan welcome home!! I am so impressed with your courage and want you to know how much I care for you guys and have you in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

Susan welcome home!! I am so impressed with your courage and want you to know how much I care for you guys and have you in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

Susan, you are absolutely amazing! I'm glad you made it back safe and are doing so well on chemo so far, tender mercies of the Lord. Thank you for sharing all of your personal thoughts and stories. It is absolutely inspirational and helps us to say specific prayers for you, Justin, and your entire family. We are all behind you with prayers, strength and a casserole (if necessary). Lots of luv and prayers to you!

Andréa Morrow said...

I am ready to bring dinner over when you are up for it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Susan! We are praying for you. It is great to see your positive attitude shinning through the blog -I love the name. My husband and I will be in Rochester to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday over the weekend of August 16th. If you are in Rochester then we would love to drop off a gift or if you are able to go out, we can take you (and your family) to the country club for dinner/lunch if you wish.
Julie Stillwell Culp (

Anonymous said...

Hey Susan! We are praying for you. It is great to see your postive attitude shinning through the blog -I love the name. My husband and I will be in Rochester to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday over the weekend of August 16th. If you are in Rochester then we would love to drop off a gift or if you are able to go out, we can take you (and your family) to the country club for dinner/lunch if you wish.
Julie Stillwell Culp (

Nielson Family said...

Susan! I haven't had the internet for the past week because we just drove across the country (ie moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan). It was hard for me NOT to check your blog this week. We are thinking of you all the time and praying for you too! Thanks so much for all the updates. We are amazed by your strength and hope you will know we are cheering for you across the miles!
--Jenny "Dustman" Nielson--