Thursday, September 29, 2011

Post Surgery- day 3

The third morning in the hospital was spent getting things lined up for Anna to head home.  The stream of medical students and professionals continued as in the previous two days.  Huntsman is really an amazing place full of very caring and supportive staff.  We really appreciated the help of nurses who helped Anna with any kind of issues or concerns she was having.  Thanks again Nicole, Amanda, & Bridget!

I was taught how to help take care of Anna's drainage tubes and things to watch for that might indicate a problem.  Anna was a little nervous to go home because the nurses did such a good job of meeting her needs and helping answer her questions.  They gave us numbers to call and helped to alleviate Anna's concerns.

We headed home on what Anna probably thought was equivalent to a logging road given her reaction to the various bumps and jostlings along the way.  We made it home and it was nice to be able to relax and be in familiar surroundings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Post-surgery day 2

The first full day after surgery was pleasantly uneventful.  Anna rested and visited off and on throughout the day.  There had been such a big build up of trying to get things done the previous two weeks that Anna said how nice it was to finally be able to sit and not have anything to do.  Anna's incisions are looking good and the doctors have said they are very pleased with the way things look a this point.

Anna was doing so well in fact that they talked about possibly discharging her that day, the 27th.  She had a little bit of trouble sustaining her oxygen levels but otherwise was doing amazing!  We were trained on how to maintain and take care of Anna's drainage tubes and talked about things to look for that would indicate problems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Surgery Day One

Anna and I arrived at Huntsman around 5:45 am to start the surgery process.  We were taken back to a small room where they placed Anna's IV and she was dressed in her hospital gown.  The various doctors came in and talked about what was going to happen.  Anna's parents came up to sit with me as we waited.  They started around 7:30 and it seemed like we were in a time warp in the waiting room.  It seemed to go really fast while dragging on forever!  A family friend, Shirley dropped by and brought bagels for us in the waiting room.  Her and her daughter have both had breast cancer so they are kindred spirits to Anna now.  It was so nice and thoughtful of her to come and spend time with us.  We have truly been blessed by people's goodness through this experience.

The surgery went really well as both doctors came out and talked to us about each of their parts.  It was a two part surgery in which they removed all of her breast tissue and some lymph nodes and then tissue expanders were placed to prepare her for the reconstruction process.  Anna said she had a hard time waking up in the recovery room.  She was eventually brought into her room around 4:00 pm.  The night went well as Anna was able to rest...kind of.  It seemed like there was a steady stream of medical staff coming through Anna's room to check on her or observe how she was feeling, etc., etc.  Being so close to the U we had a lot of residents and medical students come and see Anna.  At one point there were 7 various medical staff in the room at one time.  It got to be a little too much at times.
Anna has had some knots in her shoulders and back from being on the surgery table for so long; it was a challenge to relax.
Resting peacefully

As a side note, Anna has said that many of you have e-mailed her that you have been unable to post comments on the blog.  I have gone in and changed some settings; if you have tried to comment in the past and it wouldn't let you please try again we love hearing from you all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Circus & Family Celebration

On the 22nd we were able to go to the circus with my brother Matt & his family.  We were really excited because it was kind of like our last hurrah before surgery.  The kids loved it!

Daphne was a little unsure of the clown, as was Ryker

It was a late night, but well worth it as the kids loved watching all the different acts.  Daphne was a little concerned about the tigers and Ryker was all about the elephants.  
Daphne & Joel loved the noses that were given out

What would the circus be without the elephants?

On the 24th Anna's family asked all to come together to have a 'Celebration of Life' as there were a lot of events coming up during the week of the 26th.  Anna's aunt Debbie planned the activity and talked a lot about being a united family.  As part of the activity there was a balloon release that was to represent hopes and prayers that the family has offered and is offering on behalf of each other.
Daphne LOVED releasing the balloons
The balloons stayed together as they rose into the sky 

Sunday, September 18, 2011


It was a very emotional day. Our usual schedule on chemo day was first to get the port accessed. Then we would meet with our Doctor and would have a detailed discussion about blood counts and how the previous round of chemo went. Last we would head to the Infusion room and sit for 4 hours on a drip. The infusion room consisted of many chairs of others having infusions too. Anna really enjoyed meeting so many people and having a chance to talk with them and share their stories with each other.

Daphne had been asking to be able to go to the Huntsman again to see what 'Mommies chemo' is like. We decided to let her come with us for most of the day. Daphne went in with Anna while she was having her port accessed. The nurse had her wear a mask and Daphne thought it was the greatest thing ever. Daphne was full of questions and the nurses were so great to answer them. She didn't want to watch Anna get poked. As we have gone through this experience there are a couple of words and phrases that just about break our hearts at times some of these things are; 'My mommy is tired because of the chemo', 'Look Ryker that's a cancer ribbon', 'My mommy has cancer', and probably the toughest of all 'When I grow up I want to be a mom without cancer'. She says these things so matter-of-factly that we realize she will probably never remember her life before her mommy had cancer.

The nurse put a bandage on Daphne just like Anna had, she thought it was pretty neat. Here they are sporting their matching bandages. We took the opportunity while we were alone each chemo to have lunch at the Point Cafe on the top floor of the Huntsman. This time Daphne got to join us.

We overwhelmed the nursing staff as our 'on call support team' (aka; family) all came to check out this chemo thing that Anna has been going through (the nieces and nephews were especially curious). Everyone was so great to let our family come in and see how chemo works. This was very emotional as you can see in the video. Chemo was a hard time for us. We had so much help from so many people to be able to make it through it; THANK YOU. We just couldn't believe we had made it to the end. On your last chemo the nurses sing a song right before you leave. This moment will always bring a tear to Anna's eye and CHEMO IS DONE!!!

PET Scan Round 2

On Friday September 9th Anna went in for her PET scan post-chemo to see how the cancerous cells responded to the treatments. We were a little nervous but mostly curious about what the results would show. Prior to the scan during various exams the doctors were unable to find the lumps under her arm and so we knew something was happening.

On that following Tuesday the nurse called and told Anna the results of the scan. She told her that our Oncologist, Dr. Cohen and the surgeon, Dr. Neumeyer both saw the scan and were 'thrilled with the results, we couldn't ask for a better result than this from chemo' our understanding was that there was no sign of cancerous cells. Anything from the first PET scan that was of concern or questionable was resolved and put to rest after the results of this second scan.

Since Anna was diagnosed with cancer this was the most excitement and relief she has had at the results of a test and she feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She is ready to beat cancer.


A family Anna grew up with, the Palmers, asked if they could do something to show support for Anna. During her childhood Anna would go around with this family at different times and watch them participate in an activity they really enjoy; horse-pulling. Their idea was to dedicate one of their competitions to Anna and ask for support from the audience. They asked if Anna would be present that night to 'cheer them on' as they competed. Anna was really honored and excited to be able to join the Palmers during this time.

Finally when the night came we had asked our families to come to the horse-pull and as a way to show their support we asked them to wear pink shirts. Here are a couple pictures of the crowd of family that came that night.
The Cousins (Fun & Trouble all in one convenient place)

It was a really fun event!! The Palmers all wore pink t-shirts that read 'Tough Enough to Pull Pink' on the back while they were out on the track. They also went throughout the stands and collected donations after the announcer explained what they were doing. It was a truly humbling experience as we came into contact with these great people. Not only did the Palmers donate their winnings to Anna but a few of the other teams did as well and even the announcer gave his pay for the night to Anna. It's amazing to see the goodness of others as they generously gave of themselves.

For Ryker the highlight of the night was watching these HUGE horses work.


Tough Cowboys in Pink

We would like to express the deep sense of appreciation we have towards the Palmers for helping to create such a nice memory.