Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where have I been???

I am somewhat embarrassed it has been since mid August since I have posted. One thing you will learn about me is when all is good, I rarely post. When things are NOT so good, you will be kept up to date no matter what my status is. My stats are up to 108,544 hits on my blog.....crazy to me but also makes me embarrassed I have not been better about blogging.

Let's start with the wedding...Samantha (my daughter) and Chris Foust had the most perfect wedding as you can see from a few of the pics. They honeymooned off the coast of Aruba......and are now back to work and settling in as the cutest couple! See for yourself~~

AFTER things had settled from the wedding, I had an appointment with my oncologist from Effingham. Just to check my blood consistency and all of the normal bloodwork. I also requested a CA 19-9 to see what my cancer marker was. My platelets were in normal range which hasn't happened for over a year. My CA 19-9 (DRUM ROLL) was 9. Yes, I can sigh a little bit of relief but it doesn't mean everything is hunky dory inside me. Sometimes my intestines feel like they are just fighting inside of me. My dr thinks it could be a little bit from the radiation the first round that I had. Pain?  I don't have any in my liver area (except the night I went to the E-room when I found out I had cancer)......I never have....maybe if I did....I wouldn't be writing this boring blog.    So....as far as the bloodwork, it was kind of like cheating before I go to Houston to see Dr. Javle.

I used to take a "girls trip" every year until I got cancer. We have not taken one since.....but when I received the news last time I was in Houston, I decided after Samantha's wedding, it was time to get away. There were 4 of us....smaller than usual, but we had the best time in Gulf Shores. Pat was gone on a hunting trip with friends so it was perfect timing. Nothing lets you "let go" like the ocean does....or so that is how I feel.   It was a great trip and I thank God I was healthy enough to take it all in and enjoy every single moment. There was singing....everyone knows I like to sing outloud.............."What A Wonderful World" is one of my favs and has been for several years.  I tried to do a good deed every day on vacation....take an old lady's cart from her after putting her groceries in her car, telling a lady on the beach how great she looked in her bathing suit, scaring atleast one of the girls in our bunch ATLEAST once a day......I mean, it wouldn't be ME if I didn't do cannonballs into the pool just to drench a couple of my room mates. One set of ladies were very snobby and offended one person in our group...thinking they were rich old snobs. So....I went over and struck up a conversation and after a while, I was told where the best place was to eat. AND IT WAS SUPERB!  After that, they were very friendly. I refuse to believe that I can't get someone to talk if you just give them the chance. They were charming, nice old bats and had bought their stay at The Beach Club at a church auction.  I have truly missed The Beach Girls trip....and plan to do it more often.....maybe one in the spring for the right price!

My next visit to MD Anderson is October 6 &7. I have faith God is with me. There have been many "God-winks" and I have gave thanks over and over again for His graciousness! I am not perfect and I am not worthy....BUT....I also know I would be lost without Him. I pray for so many cancer patients going through alot right now......I pray for a patient getting ready for a resection....how blessed they are!!  I ask for prayers for my Uncle Dutch in NY getting ready for surgery......he's been through a lot and I pray God heals him soon!!  I pray for everyone from one corner of the world to the other. I pray for the many people who loved a lady so dearly in Olney. A lady with more grace, more inner beauty, more love for mankind than most of us can even dream of!  R.I.P. Laura~~  I ask God to be with this family as they try to put one foot in front of the other until some sort of inner peace comes along....if that's possible.

Patty Corcoran

Here's a few pics of us "old bats" on vacation ;-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All Good Things Must Come To An End......

I was on vacation in Ft. Walton Beach near Destin a few weeks back. It was a family affair with 5 daughters, 3 son-in-laws, one son in law to be, 3 granddaughters, 2 grandsons, 2 friends, and my husband Pat and I. That's 18 if you were not counting. This is our second year at "Coco Cabana" and we just love "our" house. It is kind of how I came up with the house for Irene and The Crooked Little House Book that I wrote and illustrated. It's NOT REALLY crooked but that's the fun of adding my own touch to the house.  I am planning a  second book with "Irene Goes To The Beach".   Our vacations basically consist of waking up....eating breakfast, beach time, suppertime, pool time, bedtime.....oh...I forgot about Outlet Mall shopping time. YES, we made a dent there also.  Everyone is home safe now and there really is no place like home!

While at the ocean, several times I would be in the ocean alone and it was so peaceful, so calming to the soul. While snorkeling, I could hear the ocean "talking" and I just thanked God for letting me be a part of this journey called life. The wildlife I saw when snorkeling..... the fish, a stingray, some saw a giant sea turtle, flying fish, small tuna while canoeing with Pat, and then the voices of small children running from the waves. It's all apart of MY life and I am just taking it all in. The best sound was my own grandchildren running along chasing waves....babbling under the shade....it doesn't get much better than "family time"!!

Yes, there were the occasional "snorts" and cries from the children...and some adults. :-)  But all in all, I would say it was a GREAT vacation. One I am ready to go on every year....and one I am ready to end every year!

Besides swimming and walking some with the grandchildren, I really did not get in enough exercise. Today I am back on track, juicing my breakfast, I had hot lemon water instead of coffee. Something new I am trying to continually do to take caffeine out of my diet.....slowly. Or atleast slow it down to an occasional cup in the future. I wish I had the strength to go all out cold turkey and eat nothing but fruits/veggies/nuts...and water. If anyone has an overabundance of garden produce, I am more than happy to take it off your hands......preferably as organic as possible.

I am doing well. I visited my local dr right before vacation. All labs look good....my platelets seem stubborn to crawl much (they went from 112,000 to 114,000). That is low but not too bothersome. Just goes along with the poison and radiation that I have received. My next visit to Houston is not until the first week or so of October.....it will be four months in between my checkup.  I must have faith that it will all work out in God's time....not mine.

My last biological daughter gets married in less than 1 week. I feel like I should be running around with my head cut off....but everything is in order. About 3 days before the wedding, things will pick up.....but until then-it's a sit back and wait time.....and that's all good with me!!

L.I.F.E.    Yes, life is good on Suntone Beach. Yes, I get an occasional pain in the stomach area and I just look at my belly and ask..."What are you doing?"   It doesn't answer (of course) but it is scary when you know there is a little monster inside your stomach. That is when I ask God to give me strength and my faith brings me back to reality. Besides taking good care of myself, exercising some, eating better, giving back to the community as much as I can, letting my faith carry me through on those days when the devil tries to get into my head and tell me how sick I am. NOPE......I will not, can not, have not listened to the devil....and that is why I am still here today. I have faith. I believe. God is right beside me all of the time. Amen!

God is GOOD ALL the time........ALL the time God is GOOD~~

Enjoy a few photo's from vacation :-)..........and Wedding Pics  to come SOON!

Pat & I

Bill &b Debbie Weiler

Rhett and Leslie Funk with McKenna and Kinnick  (Leslie is my daughter)

Rhett and Kinnick

Leslie and McKenna

Rhett  & Leslie Funk

Braeda Rusk and McKenna Funk after a trip to The Disney Store.

Debbie Weiler and I

Pat & I........I this is his mean "Cop smile"

The Future......Chris & Samantha Foust.   Wedding is Aug. 23!!  Samantha is my daughter

Rylan holding Madden & Amy holding Braeda Rusk.  Amy is my daughter.

Bartley Zuber & Jennifer Cummins-Zuber holding their daughter, Amity Zuber.  Jenn is my daughter.

One BIG Happy Family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ja~Ja and Madden Rusk (3 months old).

Samantha, Chris, and Niece Amity Zuber

Amity Zuber getting a little slobber kiss from Madden Rusk!

Amity always has time for a smile~~

A little pool time. 

Amy and Braeda Rusk with Jennifer Cummins Zuber and Amity Zuber.........just hanging out~

Bart entertaining the girls........Amity, McKenna & Braeda.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This is mainly for my CC friends.....

Somewhere....someone asked about Trametinib and I said I would ask my doctor about it. He said it is VERY promising. VERY.

Then I asked about Immunotherapy and he said "IT IS HUGE!  HUGE!"   and that it's going to do great things.

That's all I've got! Hope.......Pray......that a cure is on the horizon for all cancers!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Life on Suntone Beach..............

This morning started out at my daughter Amy's, for coffee with her, my mom, Debbie Weiler, my daughter, Jenn....and three of the cutest grandbabies ever!  We have kind of started a Tuesday morning coffee group....or atleast until school starts and Amy has to go back to a real job....teaching!
This is our time to share what's going on in our lives, etc. After almost everyone was gone, I received a message from a girl from another state. Her mother also has IHCC. I am not going into details but I ask that everyone stop right NOW and say a prayer for Betty. That she fights and wins this CC battle. To Betty's family...I will continue to pray and please know you can contact me at any time.

I just checked the stats on my blog....I am at 101,855 hits. They come from several countries. People are looking at my blog from all over the U.S., Russia, Canada, U.K., Sweden, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Estonia.   A couple of those places I couldn't even tell you where they are on a world globe!  ;-P

When I was diagnosed 3 years and 5 months ago, I prayed to God that he gave me time....time to see my girls all happily married, time to praise HIM for being so intertwined in my life after being diagnosed. I prayed to HIM that if He gave me more time with my daughters, I would praise His name every chance I got. I would "Pay It Forward" every chance I got. I would help any cancer patient who needed help...get help.             Life is....all about time.  

Well, speaking of time, my last daughter gets married August 23rd and I couldn't be happier with the man she has chosen to marry.  So, with less than 8 weeks to go, invitations are in the mail and our list of To Do's is getting smaller and smaller.  It's the 4th wedding after all...a piece of cake!  Heck, after this wedding, I wont even be able to afford a crumb off the cake!  ;-)

I visited my local oncologist, Dr. Dy (Dee) who was super excited with my reports from Houston. He said he is also amazed with my stability. He told me I was lucky and I corrected him and said "NO, I'M BLESSED"!  I believe God truly is working thru me to give people hope, to let them know there is life with CC......there are a lot of factors whether you have a giant struggle or maybe you don't. Some say I have had a big struggle....but I don't remember it being that much of a struggle. I may not be eligible for a transplant but I am ok with that. I may not be eligible for a resection....but I am ok with THAT, too!  I am A-OK with cooking that nasty big tumor in there so if it wakes up....we will cook it OR maybe do immunotherapy if it's approved. Wouldn't that be exciting.  I might not get to be the poster child for Immunotherapy but maybe I could be right beside Amity on a billboard!  I'm ok with that! For you who do not live close, you do not know that my granddaughter is on billboards in a few surrounding counties plus the county I live in for Richland Memorial Hospital.  It makes me smile every time I go by one.....I just want to wave at her like she can see me.....AND, if I am the only person in the car, I do wave and smile at her!!  Now the secrets out!

The RMH food program for chemo patients is still going great. Lots of greatful people who are hooked up to needles/tubes/I.V. poles and just enjoy some of Richland counties good food.

So, for now, life is good on Suntone Beach. I will be working a lot at the fair starting this weekend....and enjoying all the day lilies blooming, hosta's big as flying saucers, a momma raccoon in a tree hole with three babies...  L.I.F.E.   It is all around us.  I have learned the hard way to enjoy it and take it all in. Respect it and give thanks!!  These are my thoughts for today.....I am calm, I am blessed, I am thankful! I am a survivor!! Many hugs to my CC friends....and to the Cholangiocarcinoma.org website. The best place ....well...besides my Dr at MD Anderson, to get real and correct info on this terrible disease. I believe Wikipedia should be burned with the devil...because it can sure scare the H out of a person with cancer! Stay away from it......bad bad stuff!

That's it! Good night!!


Friday, June 20, 2014


Greetings friends;

Last Sunday morning we set out for Houston, Texas as most of you already know. It had only been two months since my last visit but since I receive no treatment of any kind.....I wasn't complaining too much!  I got my blood work done on Sunday evening as soon as we got to Houston at The Rotary House (where they have a lab from like...3 to 8 pm.)....this saved me from being at MD Anderson at 6:45 Monday morning for blood work. Then I just had to be there at 8 a.m. the next morning. Kind of spoils a person....and it also meant after my scan, I could go to medical records and get a copy of my blood work. Kind of like cheating a little because it gives you a peek at your blood work and what you hope your scans will be the next day when you see the Dr. So....when I saw My CA 19-9 dropped to 9.2......I felt a sigh of relief!!  The rest of my blood work was good...even better than two months ago!
Dr. Javle stated I was just doing amazing and that I was doing great. He stated someone sent my Relay For Life speech to him and he got to see my speech!  He was impressed but who has his e-mail?? Not I!  I approached Dr. Javle about Immunotherapy and if he thought it would be approved for CC. AND, if it was, could I be one of the first lab rats (he laughed when I said that) when it was approved. He said I was stable and my cancer is not active. You would have to have an active tumor to be eligible. He stated he knew it didn't really make sense .....you would think it would be like the Measles shot....you get it before you get the measles.....but with Immunotherapy, you have to have an active tumor to get the therapy.....WHEN it gets approved. He states it has already been approved for melanomas and I think lung cancer. He thinks it will hopefully be no more than a year before it is approved and able to be used for CC. Dr. Javle totally agrees he thinks Immunotherapy WILL work for cholangiocarcinoma tumors. This is some of the most positive news I have heard in a long time. And to think the cure to cancer just might be right inside your own body!! Who'da thought!!

The "Feeding for Healing" Food Program that I played a key role in getting started (along with Eric Tolliver and Jennifer Emmons from RMH) at Richland Memorial Hospital that helps make it a little more easier for our chemo patients is going really good as far as I know. I wanted to be the first to take food (along with my mom's chocolate chip cookies). Roll With It Bakery was there for the next week of chemo. Right now, I am filling up August. I always went to Effingham for my chemo but it doesn't mean I can't do something right here in my own hometown!!  Some days...after you get home, you start losing your appetite for a few days so some mostly healthy food the day of chemo really means a lot!! Any one who wants to donate food, even if it's just muffins, cookies, fresh fruit....we can add it to a day that is little short on food...... You can even be a prayer group, 4-H group, a group of close friends, or maybe you had a family member who had cancer and want to give back. Donations go to buy food for a day and we post whoever donates money/food that day on the wall in the chemo room for everyone to give thanks to that person/group/business.  It may not seem like much....but it is a lot to a chemo patient!!  Feel free to call me at 618-843-5367 if you would like to Pay It Forward!!

Pat has some hunting trips planned throughout this summer/fall, I have planned a girls beach vacation with friends, we have Samantha (my daughter) and her fiancĂ© getting married in August. A family beach trip in late July....just three weeks before the wedding. And then there's the wedding planning!!!!!  I am not using my kayak as much as I would like but it IS getting used some and the kids got us a spiffy NICE lifejacket for Pats' Father's Day present. 

In closing, I  just ask that you breathe in this summer air, you enjoy the splashing of a grandchild in a pool, sip your coffee ever so slowly as you enjoy a morning cup with a friend. Life is so precious, so unpredictable, so underappreciated. Slow down and enjoy the special people in your life....and for the ones you might not know.....smile...!  Pay It Forward!! God is good...ALL the time!   

All the time.....God is good!!!!  


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Good News Abounds

Hello everyone:

Mom & Pat are driving home from Houston now, but she asked that I post a few words to let everyone know the results of her PET scan yesterday and appointment with Dr. Javle today.

Her cancer remains stable! No metastasis to any other organs. Her CA19-9 value went down from 12 at her last appointment to 9.2 on Sunday evening. Her liver and kidney function is great, and Dr. Javle thinks the healthy tissue in her liver that was collateral damage from radiation is regenerating.

Dr. Javle told Mom that she is doing amazing, and he expects her current break to last awhile (maybe months longer!).  Thus far, Mom has been without treatment (chemo or radiation) for over seven months!

Someone emailed Dr. Javle the speech that Mom wrote for the Richland County Relay for Life, and he said he loved it! :)

Thank you for your continued prayers. God is good all the time!!


Jennifer, Samantha, Amy, and Mom at Samantha's bridal shower

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Short Trip But One That Meant SO Much!!

My daughter, Samantha had a short business trip (last month-forgive me for not posting sooner) to Ohio so I asked if Debbie Weiler and I could tag along as I knew it was close to where two people I consider friends since starting the cholangiocarcinoma journey lived!!  Pam Kunklier and Lisa Salem-Craine whom I have talked to and visited through Facebook or the Cholangiocarcinoma website.....but meeting them in person was just so much more as far as connecting and just having fun!!
After Samantha finished her business, we freshened up at the hotel and went for supper at David & Lisa Salem-Craine's house. What a wonderful evening and a super delicious Italian supper.....lots of CC talk and telling our stories.  I felt like a bad guest as we stayed until 10:30 Ohio time but my clock was showing 9:30 (which is Illinois time). Sorry guys!! 
I was super pumped all day.....SOOO excited to meet Lisa and her family. Lisa,  David,  and their son were all simply delightful.....AND we all shared a bottle of Berryville White Squirrel wine ....so we took a little bit of Richland County to them.

The next morning we met Pam Kunklier and Lisa Salem Craine at Panera Bread for coffee and a bite to eat. I have known Pam for appr. 3 years but never met her......it was sheer pleasure to give her a giant hug today....such a beautiful lady with a lot of poise. Thank you both for starting our morning off on a great start!!!

Back to Illinois we drove and made it home around 7 p.m. I just wanted to share that the only good thing about having this cancer is meeting some of the most giving and wonderful people ever......I have already told Samantha I want to go next time she goes to Ohio......I think we could get into some shopping addiction problems (in Ohio with Lisa) if we were together for more than a few hours. :-)
As I walked up the walkway of my house from getting home....everything seemed so much greener, all the flowers just smiling at me......As Dorothy from Kansas says..."There's No Place Like Home"
So...thanks Samantha for dragging two old ladies along....and taking us to meet my CC friends.....

Sam~"to the moon and back"!!    :-)

I also wanted to share my Mother's Day present. I have been a huge fan of the band Chicago..... my husband and I spent the night in Evansville and saw them in concert....IN THE 1st ROW!!  Oh yeah!!!!   Thank you~ Thank you ~Thank you to all five of my daughters!!  We even went backstage at intermission and met privately with the whole band.   J.U.S.T. U.S.!!!    They gave us free shirts, hats, signed a jersey Pat bought for me, and also some posters of the band that they all personally signed. The extra special poster was the advertisement poster for that night and they also signed it. It was absolutely wonderful and a night I will remember til the end of time!

My blog is now over 100,000 hits. It is at 100,397......that is crazy!  I had a visit with my doctor in Effingham (Dr.Dy) and he did blood work and checked my blood thickness/thinness. He says platelets are good, white count is good....everything is looking fine. Kidney and liver functions are good. I feel like something is ajar....but I also know my kids say I do this every time it starts to get close to the time to go to MD Anderson. That's not until July 14 & 15.....and Dr. Dy says my lungs sound fine so I must pray for more faith and to trust in the Lord and hand it all over to Him. He is leading me on this journey....so what am I worrying about?  I think it is natural and I just tell myself that the more I worry, the less I live.   I have been slacking a bit on exercising...and I am not proud of it. I plan to join the pool program for adults only before the pool opens everyday for the kiddos to enjoy.  Even if I walk laps instead of swimming every lap....  I truly believe keeping active has helped me in the cancer battle. So I best get a marching (or swimming)....right?

I have started (with the permission of Richland Memorial Hospital) a snack/lunch program for chemo patients on Wednesdays. That is the long day for chemo patients at RMH. It does not benefit me as I go to Crossroads Cancer Center...and I am not getting any treatments right now. But I want there to be food brought in for the cancer patients and their caregiver/spouse to enjoy.  It does get expensive and if I can help Pay It Forward to some cancer patients...I feel God is calling me to help implement this program. I have had some businesses sign up to provide food and by word of mouth, I believe it will blossom into a great program. TOMORROW is the first day they will get food delivered to RMH. I am providing food tomorrow.  I am taking doughnuts and fruit for the am snack. For lunch, I am taking ham and turkey subs with Colby jack cheese on them. I am also taking my momma's homemade chocolate chip cookies and some gingersnap cookies, plus a variety of small bags of chips. The hospital provides tea, coffee, and water throughout the day.   The girls from Citizen's Bank has signed up to do like 3 times in a year, Susie Trupiano and Joe's Pizza has signed up, Lauren McClain with State Farm Insurance, Sandy Hahn with Hahn's Carpet, Zuber Law, Roll With It Bakery.....and my mom is going to pitch this program to her church ladies to see if they would like to provide food. Please feel free to PM me if you or your church bible study group or if you are a business or even a group of friends who want to do this. I need to hit up Mayor Ray Vaughn......I know he has a big heart and it would be so great to have him involved and backing this worthwhile project!!  Believe me, something like this is huge for a cancer patient who may not have an appetite by supper. This is something I CAN do for my community and all donations/people who help provide food are helping people in our area...people you might even know. There are only 52 weeks in a year....and there are already 3 weeks there will not be chemo, so if a group did it 3-4 times a year, it wouldn't take long to fill up my calendar. AND....you never know when it might be YOU who is grabbing a banana or roll with a cup of coffee while you or a loved one is getting chemo. Think it will never happen to you?  Neither did I when I had just turned 46!! 

So, as I close this blog, I apologize that it has been so long since I last posted. I am doing well and living life like a champ. Babysitting a lot, getting pulled over for speeding.....just got a warning (must be my good looks and charm.....choke- spudder- puke!  And it was only 18 miles over the speed limit! :-)  There's been wedding showers, baby showers, shopping for wedding supplies....ahhhh!

To my CC friends, know that I pray for you all each night and for all cancer patients everywhere. I pray for a cure soon...or more time for some who have less time than I do to live. Dr. Dy said he diagnosed 3 last week with CC IN EFFINGHAM!  That is a lot in one week since it is so rare.  What spaceship is this "crap" coming from.  (Excuse my language mom).

May peace be with each and every one of you who reads this blog.