Epilepsy, M.S. and Cancer! Oh my!

I know that many, many people felt as if 2016 was a doozy! And we’d have to say we agree!

You’d hardly believe it but in the course of three months time, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy (you can read about that here), my sister, Kristin, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my mom, Cindy, with Breast Cancer.

Can you imagine that?

This past summer my sister began experiencing vision difficulties; in particular she was having double vision. This symptom alone was puzzling (and annoying) and so she worked with her primary care doctor and eye doctor to determine a cause but they weren’t successful. Over time her vision problems improved but didn’t entirely resolve.

In early December Kristin mentioned to me, while visiting one day for lunch, that she was experiencing some numbness on one side of her body. She dismissed it as an injury or pinched nerve; but commented later that she could even feel it up her neck and into her head. We decided that didn’t sound as innocent as a pinched nerve.

A few days later, after her symptoms did not resolve, Kristin called her doctor and shared her symptoms; her doctor’s response, “Go directly to the ER.” So Kristin cancelled the hair appointment she was running late for and went straight to the emergency room where she met her husband, Brian. The rest of us prayed and tried our hardest not to text her too often and worry too much. While at the emergency room Kristin shared her symptoms with the doctors, who ordered a MRI of her brain. The neurologist on call that night (coincidentally the same neurologist I see) told her that the symptoms she is experiencing as well as the results of her MRI indicate that she has Multiple Sclerosis. Since that day Kristin has had several visits with her neurologist, further testing and imaging, and a confirmed diagnosis of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.

Kristin has a great attitude about her diagnosis and continues to be upbeat. She is doing what she can to educate herself about the disease so that she can take care of herself in the best way possible. Of course a diagnosis of MS is frightening and worrisome, but Kristin has a great outlook. She also has a great support in her loving husband, Brian, who is taking care of her and living up to the his recent vows of commitment “in sickness and in health”.

Not long ago, her neurologist commented, “Wow! You guys are like the calmest couple ever! It makes meeting with you really easy.” Kristin attributes this to living life in such a way that you don’t give way to fear, instead trusting God, who has cared for us so well and will continue to do so. She also finds peace in believing that life on Earth is not everything, instead understanding that God has so much more in store for us.

Kristin is forming a team to walk in Bellingham on April 8th for the MS Walk. If you’d like to join her team and walk that day, she’d love it. Check out her MS team page here. 

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My mom, Cindy, and my sister, Kristin, on Kristin’s wedding day this past September

Shockingly the same day in December that my sister was diagnosed, my mom, Cindy, was informed that the results from a routine mammogram were not favorable and the doctors suspected that she had breast cancer. Further testing confirmed this suspicion.

What a week!

My mom spent much of December determining, with her doctors, what course of treatment would be the most effective in battling her cancer. One day in early December while we were all attempting to wrap our heads around these two new diagnosis, but before we really knew what it might mean for my sister or my mom, she said to me, “Can you imagine how panicked and fearful we might be if we did not have the beliefs that we do, if we did not have our hope in Jesus?” And that was just it, even though we’ve had times of sorrow and times of fear (or in my case mini tempertantrums because I can’t drive) we’ve all had a sense of peace about each of these health issues; Epilepsy, MS and Cancer.

After some testing, it was determined that my mom’s cancer was found early, giving her a good prognosis. My sweet mom has now undergone two surgeries; both lumpectomies. She is currently recovering from her most recent surgery and awaiting lab results that will determine the course of treatment as she moves forward; most likely 5-day-a-week radiation for a yet-undetermined number of weeks.

We know that a diagnosis such as cancer is scary and of course it is natural to feel anxiety or fear about the uncertainty it can bring, but my mom is doing her best to keep her eye on her recovery to wellness, trusting that God will walk with her each step of the way. We are so thankful that she has a loving, dedicated husband, my dad, who has been along side her each step of the way. And of course, my mom is doing just what all moms do, not worrying about herself as much as she is concerned about all of her children and grandchildren’s well-being. We love her so much.

I am doing very well, as far as my epilepsy is concerned and otherwise. My anticonvulsant medication is doing it’s job and I have been both seizure free and side-effect free for many months now. I am becoming increasingly excited to have the freedom to drive again, now only a little less than a month away.

It was a big year for us, filled with a lot of stress; both good and bad; much of which continues right into 2017. But we are looking ahead and praying for health and well being as we move forward. Of course we never know what we will face in life and so we must remember where our hope is found and treasure each day that we have together.

Thanks for following along.

Note: This post was shared with the permission of both my mom, Cindy, and my sister, Kristin. 

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November, December and January in Review

It has been a few months since I have posted anything to the blog. It has been a slow few months at home but at the same time so much has happened. We have not been out of the house much due to illness (having a kindergarten student has exposed us to so much sickness this year). It is also very difficult for us to go places with my new diagnosis and subsequent inability to drive.

We spent the beginning of November staying close to home so that we wouldn’t pick up any new illnesses in order to keep Callie healthy for surgery.

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Morning snuggles
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After school reading on a warm(ish) November day.
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She loves the kitty shirt and kitty pants!
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She also loves the kitties. Here she is watching them in their natural habitat while studying from her cat book. :o)

On the 20th of November, Andy took the boys on what was originally supposed to be a special day for the boys and I in Seattle. We couldn’t figure out a way to keep Callie away from illness other than to keep her home and since I cannot drive right now, she and I stayed home to play together and the boys headed to Seattle.

Andy took Eli and Luke to the Pike Place Market, where they had donuts and later Mac and Cheese at Beecher’s. They loved spying all the tower cranes (apparently Seattle has the most of any city in the US right now). A big highlight of the day was riding on the South Lake Union Streetcar. The day culminated with the Raffi Concert at the Moore Theatre.

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At Pike Place Market
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Mini Donuts
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Waiting for the Streetcar
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Riding on the Streetcar
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Looking over the balcony while waiting for the concert to begin

A few days later we were counting our blessings that everyone was healthy and heading to Seattle Children’s Hospital for Callie’s palate surgery and ear tube placement. Our experience there was really phenomenal this time and they took great care of Callie. Her surgery began early in the afternoon and lasted 5 hours! We finally got to see her at 9pm and she was sleeping peacefully. She handled everything very well.

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Awaiting Surgery
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Comforting Callie as she falls asleep following surgery.

We celebrated Callie’s third birthday with fun birthday decor, birthday gifts, a visit from Grandma and Grandpa and ice cream! Callie had a blast opening presents of her very own. Her favorite gift was a big book of stickers; and she went through them all by the day’s end.

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Happy Birthday Callie!
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Happy Birthday Callie!
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Happy Birthday Callie! She could even blow out her own candles because now that her palate is closed and she can force enough air through her mouth.

In early December, a few weeks following surgery we took the family to find our Christmas tree. Grandma and Grandpa joined us on the hunt.

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Christmas Tree Hunting
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Grandpa and Callie
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Decorating the Tree

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Christmas Crafts

We were all hoping to have some snow this year since the last few years we haven’t had much (if any). So far we haven’t been disappointed. The boys love to play in the snow and Andy has been a trooper spending lots of time playing, pulling sleds and taking them sledding locally. Callie and I love the look of the snow but prefer to be inside watching.

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Playing in the first snow of the season!
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Eli looking like such a big kid.
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Luke’s first snow experience. He is thrilled.
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Snowy ride to school

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We had a great Christmas celebrating together. We spent time with both sides of our family. We all had a fun time opening gifts, visiting with family and eating good food.

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Merry Christmas

For each of our kids’ first Christmas’ we have purchased them their very own sleeping bag so that we can camp together in the summer. The boys got their sleeping bags when they were just babies and now that Callie is a part of our family she has one too. She has a little growing into it to do, but she seems to like it. :o)

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Callie’s new sleeping bag.

Andy took the week off between Christmas and New Year so we headed to Seattle again as a family to do some exploring and to visit the Flight Museum. There was so much to see!

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Seattle Flight Museum

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Sleepy girl after a long day!

This January we didn’t get out much either, but we did have fun together at home.

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Next Year’s Halloween Costume?
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Exploring WWU on a Winter Day
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WWU
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WWU
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This boy speaks my love language; Fixer Upper.
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During the cold weather, the cat Rocky, got to join us inside. Eli has finally reached an age where he can be calm around the cats; the three year olds, not-so-much.
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In Blaine at Marine Park
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Winter Walk
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New Glasses Frames for Callie
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Xi’an Noodle after a pediatric Doctor appointment at UW Medicine in Seattle
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She is so proud that she gets to use chopsticks to feed herself!

Thanks for following along!