Thursday, January 26, 2012

Planning a trip or two......

First off, I received chemo this week with all my lab numbers looking good and "in range". My blood clotting factor is also good. I am tired today and kind of nauseous but I have pills at home if I need one this evening. I also get chemo next Tuesday then Pat & I will leave for a trip to Costa Rica on Feb.2 (we will spend the night in St. Louis as the plane leaves at like 6 a.m.). we will be gone until Feb 8th and get in late to St. Louis so we will spend the night in St. Louis that night also and come on home the next morning. I have been fighting a cold but I feel it is better and my Dr in Effingham says it is not in my lungs. YEAH!
Then, we will fly to Houston, Texas for my 3 month checkup (PET scan and bloodwork) and to see my cancer doctor (March 13-16). I will also see a radiation oncologist......I guess to talk about radiation options. Dr. Javle said if the tumor had not shrunk in one year, we would try something has died some but that is not the same as shrinking. To be able to ever take it out, it needs to shrink......alot! It has almost been a year and it has went so quickly. We will see what the radiation doctor has to say....then I will go back to Effingham and discuss it with Dr. Dy to see what he thinks. As long as we still have options, I am encouraged. But there might come a day when the dr says.....we can do no more. That is the day I refuse to accept at this point.
I thank God for every day I wake up and I thank Him every night when I go to bed for letting me live another day with my family. Giving thanks every day is something I have learned is very important in life. May you have a super weekend and remember to buy your Relay for Life T shirt from our team.
Hugs & Prayers~

Monday, January 23, 2012

Less Than A Lifetime

At Mom's request, I'm posting a small portion of the photos we scanned for her party collage. Enjoy!
 Patricia Margaret Stoltz 1965; 6 months old

 Age 6; First Grade


 Senior Picture

 ~1986 With Amy and I

 I can't resist putting this photo up (even though Mom isn't in it). 
It's one of my favorites.
Amy, Leslie, me, and Samantha 1987

 1998 with her girls

With Leslie and Samantha at Pat's Welcome Home Party in 2007 

Mom and Pat, the day Pat returned from Iraq in 2007 

  Mom and Mimi on a rafting excursion with me - Colorado River, 2008

On a "Beach Girls" trip ~2009

 At Leslie's baby shower - 2010

With Leslie at Amy's wedding in 2009 

 Walking me down the aisle - 2010

 With Amy, before the MS 40-mile bike race - 2010

With Pat on family vacation in Tybee Island, Georgia in 2010

With Samantha on family vacation in Nags Head, North Carolina - 2011
(I'm sure Mom would like me to point out that she's drinking a virgin daiquiri :)

There are a million other awesome photos, but these are a few of my favorites. :)

Written/Posted by Jenn.


About three weeks ago, Amy, Leslie, Samantha, and I decided to organize a surprise birthday party for Mom. We look for any reason to get together and celebrate, and I don't think Mom had ever had a surprise party before. So, we planned the party for Friday, January 20th at 7 p.m. at The Gypsy.

First and foremost, I want to apologize if you didn't get a personal invitation to join us. Because it was a surprise party, we found it difficult to find contact information for many people (without just calling and asking Mom). We did try our best but are cognizant that we likely forgot many people. Please do not feel slighted (instead just send your contact info to, and I will add you to future lists :).

So, after much planning and preparation, Friday arrived, and, with Pat's help, we got Mom to The Gypsy. I don't think she knew ANYTHING was awry until she pulled up to The Gypsy. Regardless, she definitely wasn't expecting 50+ people upstairs! We had some of the best cupcakes in this world (try them yourself at Eat Sweet Treats - and no, we are not getting paid to endorse Mrs. Julie Hill!), Mom's favorite punch, a few hors d'oeuvres, and various photos of Mom from 1965 to now. 

When the girls and I decided to plan the party, I texted Donita Schrey on the off-chance that she was going to be in town (Re-read Donita's influence on our/Mom's lives here: A Visit With Dr. Goswami or here: You Finally Get To Hear From The Patient). She quickly replied that she wouldn't be able to make it, so you can imagine my surprise when she called Thursday evening. The conversation went a little like this, "Jennifer, Dr. Goswami and I have been trying to figure out a way to get down to Olney to surprise your Mom for her party. Unfortunately, I'm on call in Springfield, and he's on call in Decatur. We are so sorry we can't be there, but Dr. Goswami would like to Skype with your Mom to wish her happy birthday...Do you know how to do that?" My reply was, "I don't know how to do it, but I will figure it out!!" My mother-in-law, Karen, brought her laptop in town, and after some minor issues, Dr. Goswami was live on the computer at 7:30. Mom walked in and was totally taken aback. Amy captured her reaction on video, and it was priceless. Yet another reason we love Donita and Dr. Goswami so much. :)

In spite of the weather (which was incredibly icy), a good time was had by all, especially Mom. Thank you to everyone who was able to get out and be a part of the surprise!!  

You can see Amy's blog post re: Mom's Party here:

 The cupcake, punch, and photo table

 Momma and her Cummins Girls

 "The Beach Girls"

Mimi and her 'children' :)
(Sheila, Larry, Lisa, Richie, Sarah, Mom, Pat, and Mimi)

 McKenna, Leslie, Momma, Braeda, and Amy

 Mimi and Momma

47 candles are too many for one cupcake, but not for a lifetime. 
Here's to MANY more birthdays, Momma.

Written/Posted by Jenn.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the Upswing

I'm happy to report that Mom is feeling MUCH better today. She is less congested and is experiencing less coughing! She's even discussing going back to work tomorrow or Friday! Wooohooo! :)

She is continuing to take Lovenox shots and a medication to help with her congestion. All other medications have been stopped to alleviate her allergic reaction. It does seem to be better today, which is also good news.

Thank you for your prayers, good thoughts and vibes. :)

Written/Posted by Jenn.

Walk & Roll 2012

Mom, Amy, Samantha, Leslie, and I are happy to announce that preparation and fundraising for the 2012 Richland County American Cancer Society Walk & Roll is in full swing. Tee-shirts have been designed and are being printed this week. We will be hosting a 'Night Out at The Gypsy' in March, similar to what we did last year  (tended bar all night, with tips going to ACS & The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation). This year, since Ophelia's Cup no longer makes tacos, we will be making, selling, and serving Italian Beef for dinner. We will keep you updated as our plans progress.

For now, the shirt designs are below. We have sizes S-XXL! We will again be selling them for $20 a piece, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society and The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. Please call Samantha at 618-843-5012, email Amy at, or Facebook Samantha Cummins or Jennifer Cummins-Zuber to place an order. We will happily deliver them to you!

The front of our 2012 shirts.

The back of our 2012 shirts.

We had SO much support from everyone last year - please continue your support this year!!! 

Written/Posted by Jenn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Still Battling

Since last Tuesday, Mom has been battling a cold. It started out as congestion. By Friday, she was coughing some and went to see Dr. Houston. He gave her antibiotics in case it wasn't a virus and hoped she would improve. By Saturday, Mom had a fever of 101.2 degrees. She continued to feel worse, but was taking Tylenol, the antibiotic, and her other daily medications. She called Dr. Houston again yesterday morning, and he sent her to the hospital for an influenza test (which came back negative). Yesterday evening, a rash began forming on her stomach, on the back of her arm, and on one hand. This morning, it is worse. Dr. Houston has suggested stopping the antibiotic since it is probably a virus, and he doesn't want to worsen the allergic reaction. At this point, Mom will try and 'wait it out'.

As such, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone that Mom's immune system is compromised. Though you cannot always know when you are sick, please take time to wash your hands and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. If you think you may be sorta, kinda, a teeny bit sick, have a child, parent, or spouse who is sick, or have a child, parent, or spouse who might be sick, please keep your distance at all costs (okay, I'm being facetious, but, really, PLEASE be diligent). With her body working so hard to fight the cancer, a sniffle for you can turn into a hospital stay for Mom.

As many of you know, today is Mom's 47th birthday. Please continue to keep her in your prayers and send up good thoughts & vibes. As you might imagine, being sick on her birthday is frustrating and discouraging. We are praying that Dr. Houston and Dr. Dy determine what is causing her allergic reactions, and that her cold/sickness is fought off quickly. And, ALWAYS, please pray that her tumor is responding to treatment and continues to be stable (and even shrink!!).

 Pat and Mom: last year on her birthday at a Japanese Steakhouse
Mom: celebrating her 'Japanese Birthday' last year  :)

Written/Posted by Jenn.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Well....Monday afternoon the rash was back. I noticed it after lunch. So, Tuesday when I saw Dr. Dy, he was for sure it was the Xeloda- YEAH! It is a chemo pill I was taking 1500 mg in the morning and 1500 of the evening. Not alot of side body just doesn't like change.....why did it have to like that tumor for almost 4 years before it let me know about it?
So, no more Xeloda but instead of the current regimen of getting Gemzar two weeks in a row on Tuesdays, I will get it 3 weeks in a row on Tuesdays, then off a week. My platelets were down a bit as was the white count, this usually happens the second week of chemo so a third week might really play havic on my blood work. We will see and adjust accordingly. Then I will have the one week off to help build the numbers back up.  I also still take the Tarceva daily at the highest dose it is available. Maybe the Xeloda was starting to damage other organs like my kidneys so God made the allergic reaction happen to let me know it was time to get off of it. It's a possibility.  My Anti XA (Anti-Ten A) is at a perfect number according to Dr. Dy so that is super. My headaches have dissipated and I think it was a side effect of the Xeloda.
We were in ON TIME to see the Dr yesterday and it was a much calmer day at Crossroads Cancer Center. AND the nurse found my vein on the first stick. There is one nurse and even though she states it is a real joy to find a good vein on me, she seems to be the best at doing it. We were out and ate lunch with my sister Lisa at noon. I went home and took a nap for about 45 minutes. I was just exhausted from the weekend. Supper was furnished by Lisa Cummins-potato soup and no bake cookies....two of my favorite! So many thanks to Lisa!! Back at work today and feel pretty good. Going to go out for supper Friday night with all the girls and significant others besides Rhett who has to work (He belongs to Leslie). This coming Tuesday is a free day with no chemo so I am excited about that!!
Next month, it will be a year to when I was diagnosed with this monster tumor and I have changed mentally, physically, and spiritually. This past year wasn't so unbearable that I ever wanted to die but I hope things are as stable if not more stable in the coming year. BUT I am taking one day at a time and counting the blessings each day brings me.
If anyone knows how to get four free tickets to Walt Disney World or Sea World (donated), we are wanting to raffle them with a 4 night 5 day stay at the Fountains Resort in Orlando Florida for our Relay team. OR if you are feeling really giving and want to donate them (maybe need the tax write off or something?) just let Amy or I know.
God Bless you all!
Hugs & Prayers,

Monday, January 9, 2012

Still stable......

Well....Monday is here and it has been over a week of being back on the chemo drugs and Lovenox shots. No rash as of yet.......
I go back to Effingham tomorrow for chemo....I have been having some double vision that is bothering me (just when reading something on the computer. But when I drive I do not have it)...but haven't called the Dr about it. I will see what the Dr thinks tomorrow. I also woke up with a stuffy nose but nothing terrible. I wouldn't call it a cold yet. Pat and I did get some masks to take to chemo since there are so many coughing hacking people lately.
Friday evening when I got home, Pat and I walked two miles and it felt good to breathe in the fresh air. Then on Saturday, Amy and Samantha (along with Rylan and Chris) took down my X-mas tree. I just held Braeda as much as possible. Then, Amy and I took Braeda on a 1 1/2 mile walk. Braeda was all enclosed in the stroller so she was pretty protected. Sunday, I met my mom, sisters Sarah and Lisa (and her husband Richie) for lunch at The Holiday. Then I went home and collapsed in the chair with the remote where I spent alot of the rest of Sunday. I think between chemo last week, walking 3 1/2 miles in 24 hours, and church/supper Saturday night, lunch on Sunday....pretty much wore me down. Today, I pick up Braeda at 4 and keep her at Amy's house till her or Rylan get home from work. Amy teaches at ERHS but also does the after school program so it is 5:30 before she gets home. Rylan teaches at West Salem and it is usually 5 or so before he gets home. I don't mind the alone time with Braeda :-) . 
Please continue to pray for me. I need  strength from above to keep fighting this fight. I can never have too much faith, so I ask that you pray that I have additional faith and patience, as this disease is slow to get rid of, in my case. At this point, I am stable. That's about all I can say to sum it up.
Have a great week!
Hugs and Prayers!

Friday, January 6, 2012

No rash yet.....

It is Friday and so far so good. It has been about 5 days since I was on the steroid for the rash/allergic reaction. It might take a couple of weeks for the rash to show back up so it is a waiting game. Then, we just have to decide which drug I am allergic to. Dr. Dy is suspicious of the Lovenox (blood thinner) but I am praying he is wrong. We control my blood and how it clots by this drug. It keeps me from getting blood clots AND from the blood getting too thin and getting a brain bleed again.
ALL of my bloodwork was in range except for one test. It has to do with anemia. But my platelets, white count, alkaline phosphatase (SP?), everything was in check. Usually I have 6-8 tests that are high or low. I am getting to the point that I do not like to get my chemo. Not because of the actual chemo or because of slight side effects but because of all the sick coughing, hacking people there ( I am going to buy some masks just to protect myself). PLUS, it is really depressing to see all the people (90% are alot older than me) that are struggling to stay alive. That are being brought to chemo in an ambulance or wheeled in by wheelchair. The ones that are really jaundice....some days it is all I can do to keep from crying for all of them.  Or the realization that someday I could be that person being brought by ambulance.  Until then, I will stay positive (try my hardest) that my mass will not grow as it has not grown in the past ten months. I will have four chemo treatments in on this coming Tuesday. I will only need two more before I make my trip to Houston. We will talk to a radiologist in Texas so I am not sure what Dr. Javle has up his sleeve. My tumor is slowly dying but we need it to skrink (to be removable)so maybe we will do a combo of radiation/ that'll be a fun ride.
I am glad this week is over as it has not been the best week news wise for me. I will pray for God's strength to carry me through the months ahead and hopefully give me lots of patience and understanding to keep my attitude at its best.
Looks like the girls are getting ready to get the Relay for Life team going at full speed. We are making new designed t-shirts and sweatshirts (and boy are they cute this year). Amy will post a sample for ordering in the next week probably. We are doing a western theme this year. We have the same person donating the chicken and noodles again this year which we ran out of last year (I heard they were really good!). We are potentially going to sell raffle tickets for a 4 night/5 day stay at The Fountains Resort in Orlando, Florida just minutes from Walt Disney World (Donated by my brother Larry & his wife, Sheila). Maybe gonna throw in some free tickets to Walt Disney World, too. We have to check and see if we can legally do the raffle without approval/or a license from the city. I was full of blood clots last year (but didn't know why I was blown up like a blowfish) and missed the Relay last year so I am really excited to hopefully be there this year!
God Bless you all. Have a blessed weekend and enjoy this weather!!
Hugs & Prayers!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas 2011

For those of you who do not have Facebook, here are a few more photos from Christmas at Mom and Pat's house.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back At It

I just talked to Mom. Her appointment to see Dr. Dy was at 11:00 a.m.. By 1:20 p.m., she was finally in a room  to see him. He agrees that the medicine causing Mom's reactions could be Zoloda, Tarceva, or Lovenox. He suggested going back on both chemo pills today, as she may not have a reaction this time. We are praying that Lovenox isn't causing the problems, as it is the only blood thinner that can be detected and/or tested using the Anti-Xa test. We are also praying that the reactions occurring last week will not reoccur this time. If a reaction does occur, Dr. Dy thinks it will be similar to last week, in that it will likely be limited to hives.

Mom is getting her IV chemo drug, Gemszar, now, but she will probably be in Effingham until the clinic closes, as they are extremely busy today.

All-in-all, good news. Keep your prayers coming. :)

Written/Posted by Jenn.

Christmas Braeda

Momma and Braeda on Christmas Day

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year......2012

Well.....2011 came and went. My New Years Eve consisted of going to Mass then babysitting for grandbaby #2, Braeda. Amy & Rylan were home by 10 so I was still home in bed by 10:45. Today is my last day off before ending my 4 day weekend. I return for chemo tomorrow and see what changes the Dr will make. Since the rash, I have not taken the Tarceva or Xeloda......I am anxious to see which one he thinks I am having the allergic reaction to. I think it is the Xeloda. I pray it is the Xeloda. Although it is a chemo drug, there are lots more to try but there is only one Tarceva to help my cancer from producing new cancer cells in other parts of my body. It is not a guarantee but it is suppose to I hate to lose that drug.
The rash is all gone and I feel really good.....only because I am not on any chemo right now and because the Tarceva has been halted. It seems alot of people in my family have a cold or flu like symptoms right now, so I am staying close to home.
I went back to my very first blog written in April of last year and the first few after my first post. So much has happened since then but I am still here! I might look different as a client in my office pointed out last week. I took this client back to my office and I could see he was looking around at my office. He finally said "Where is the lady that was here last year?" ....I said that would have been me......He said"No, this lady had a desk just like this but her computer was under her desk with a glass over it AND she was really nice looking."  OUCH!  I started laughing about that time to keep from crying. I told him that I had been in that room for atleast the last ten years and it was me because I am the only one who had a desk like he described. I told him it was called cancer that changed my looks so much. He just gasped and looked a little closer at me. Then, of course, he apologized. TOO LATE.......the damage was already done. I can laugh about it because cancer does change you inside (health wise) and on the loss, rash from drugs, and a fatigue look with dark circles under your eyes. On another note...............
We booked our Summer Vacation Home last week in South Nags Head, North Carolina. We booked the week starting July 22-29. So.......I must think I'm going to feel good enough to make the trip and have a good time (as we have for the past 10 years). We take all the kids and their spouse or a friend. It's alot of people BUT alot of fun! We have not always went to N.C., but have also traveled to Gulf Shores & Tybee Island, Georgia, but our heart keeps leading us back to North Carolina.
Pat & I are also scheduled to travel to Costa Rica next month. For five nights and six days at the Marriott Resort. I am a little sceptical as when I googled things to caution, they listed Hepatitis A, Malaria, Yellow Fever, and some other scary diseases you could get from a mosquito bite. Guess I will just lather up good with some Deet and not go into the rainforest. Just a nice rest and relaxation type of vacation.
This CANCER has awakened my faith in so many ways. In the beginning of this journey, I thanked Him for giving me this cancer as it made me so much closer to Him. I thought it was wrong for me to ask Him to take it away. Then when talking to a co-worker, she said she prayed daily that God would heal my cancer. I asked her if it was ok to pray for that and she said of course. I thank Him for the closeness I now feel but I also ask him to take away my cancer and I promise to stay close to Him.  No matter what happens in the year ahead, I know HE is right beside me.
I promise to update tomorrow, or one of my girls will, as to the changes being made about my treatment plan. If you don't get a call from me, please don't take it personally. I sometimes can't remember who I have and have not called. The phone goes both ways, so feel free to pick up your own phone and call OR check back on the blog.
May God be with all of you starting this new year. May you also strive to be a better person, to help someone in need, to not only talk the walk BUT walk the walk!!

Hugs & Prayers!!