Monday, November 15, 2010

Balance or balancing act...

Peace be with you all.

I have a free moment and thought that I should update the blog -- it amazes me that we're soon to be 4 months past Ann's death. I must say that every day Zoe, Grace and I and so many of you too miss her in so many ways.

Yes. There are moments of joy in our struggles too -- Grace has had her 8th birthday with much pageantry and fanfare. She has also received her 1st reconciliation this past weekend and was happy as she is one step closer to her 1st Communion.

Fall sports are over -- Zoe's volleyball team took 2nd place in an end of year tournament and Grace finished up soccer. I must admit that I am relieved of some of the burden and busyness of practices and games. Often with the girls needing to be in two places at the same time, I am thankful for many of you that were so generous to help.

Mostly, these past months have been all about the daily school / work activities that test our virtue of perseverance. I remain in search of a new employment opportunity as the expectation still is that the office I work at will be moved to Denver.

I feel we are still in survival mode on most days and am pleased that no one has gone hungry, dirty, or unloved. We trust God to care for us and as long as we keep our focus on Him rather than the trivial, self made, expectations we give ourselves to carry the day is good.

I took the opportunity to attend a talk on Saturday put on by the Apostles of the Interior Life where the speaker's meditation was on "Balance". She reminded me of how backwards our culture has it when it comes to creating that holy balance in our lives. My typical approach in the past has been to give a slice of time and talent to a lengthy list of to-do's and expectations -- a balancing act; I covered all the bases but not with the holy care they deserved. The reality was that many of those items really were of my own creation and not God's will for me. Nothing that was evil or bad per se just busyness. Sister Elena reminded us that we need to be properly ordered first for God then for relationships with others and ourselves. Way down the priority list would be the acquiring and care of material things. How strange this approach is in our world. How liberating to not chase after things that will not pass with us to heaven.

I am guilty of many years of not seeing God's beauty in His creation - including the creation of His people. I tell you that I have witnessed many beautiful sights in nature this fall, but I am really enjoying this new ability to enjoy each of you that I meet and interact with daily. Of course, this seems easiest to see in my daughters -- how beautiful, how wonderfully made! It amazes me how many times we can be awe struck by an impressive sunset -- do we find the same awe in a friend, a family member or perhaps a stranger? Mother Teresa would call this finding Jesus in disguise of others. I endeavor each moment to soak in the beauty God has put in this world in the others that I meet.

I pray for you that you too see this beauty and can work on balance.
God Bless

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day by Day

Peace be with all of you.

I am sorry that it has been so long since I've posted an update. We have had many ups and downs -- usually many times a day and we take each as they come. School has started back in full swing and I've learned that coordinating the activities and all of the school & household chores is a lot of work. For you married folk out there, I pray that you appreciate the gift of each other. My girls are learning to chip in more and more and become helpful and responsible (or at least some of the time).

We have forgotten a couple of lunches and bringing Grace's class a snack to school but I must say that for the most part the kids are where they need to be and completing their school work. My hat is off to all of the single parents out there -- I never knew how much relentless work you experienced. I have learned to take a break from many of my own personal activities in favor of providing more of me to my kids -- at least for now.

We continue to experience His love around us and we spend more time simply appreciating a beautiful sunset that God provides as an amazing display of His beauty through nature. I notice the beauty of my girls much more and try to be conscious to soak in them to be with them in the moment. I pray that being busy (Martha as Ann would say) does not take me or you over. We are finding the blessing of rest on Sunday -- no chores just time together. These girls are such a precious gift and I wish I was able to do more for them. In the end, I know that His love is sufficient for them as well as myself. I pray that I can draw them closer to Him.

We have completed the burial of Ann's remains -- she is in Resurrection Cemetery if you want to stop by the grave. We have attended many Masses offered for her and prayed countless prayers. The girls both have different grieving activities as I know many of you do as well having talked with some of you. I myself struggle at times too - I miss her smile, her laugh, her eyes, ... you get the idea -- but, at the same time, I do not feel that she is not with me. We truly knew that God brought us to our soul mate and that has not ceased even in her death. I continue to be hopeful and want to encourage you to keep focused on the life to come, to trust God in all that you do, to seek His will over your own, and to share your gifts with each other in acts of love / charity.

I do have two other news worthy topics to share with you.

First, Ann's mom died last Friday. August 17, 2010 -- two months to the day later than her daughter. I pray they are together in heaven. Please pray for Glendore McLaughlin.

Second, the CEO of our company informed us a couple of weeks ago that the long term plan would be for the corporate office and accompanying services where I work will be relocated to Denver within the next 2 years (or sooner). For the good of my girls, I will not be able to make that transition -- so, if you know of any good companies in need of an IT guy (Project Manager in Healthcare) please let me know.

Yes - some days it does seem like the book of Job has much to offer for reflection. Perhaps its best said by Mother Teresa ... "Do something beautiful for God today".

My prayers will be with you all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How Beautiful

Peace be with all of you.

I must start by saying thank you to everyone who has called, written, attended the visitation, and the funeral. Thank you; Thank you; Thank you.

It was apparent to all just how much you all love Ann and our family with an estimated 500+ people at the funeral. It is also apparent how much that God loves us and how touching it is as you care for one another as well.

I have witnessed many beautiful scenes of nature, the birth of my children, my wife on our wedding day... I must say the way that all reached out through the visitation and funeral transformed that time into something sacred, holy and beautiful for me. Odd as that may sound, I felt the Father's love through each hug, kiss, and tear shed with you. He is surrounding us with love the way that only He can. I have learned that when God decides to show you His love that it will be through a broad array of people, nature, sounds, smells, and touch. Without taking a moment to step back to see He is at work, we may write something off as a coincidence -- I try not to if I can.

The funeral itself started with the same song that Ann walked down the isle last year for our 10 year wedding vow renewal -- "How Beautiful". It was an emotional moment for me as I followed the casket into church all the time refecting on the joy I felt last year versus the pain I was feeling now. It was hard -- as the Mass proceeded I was touched by all the ways that many of you contributed to having this be a beautiful goodbye for Ann. I was very touched by the homily from Fr. Craig -- it was spot on. Perhaps I will be able to get the text and post it here for all to read. The music was beautiful (many of Ann's favorites) the readings seemed written specifically for the occassion even though they come straight from scripture and I couldn't have hoped for things to have been any better.

I have had many prayers in these past few weeks -- God is gracious and merciful to us and has answered many of these prayers -- we are so blessed. Now, my family is pursuing a new "normal". We are working through getting setup for school and the logistics that are involved. My parents have been so helpful -- as well as many of you too; thank you. I don't think Zoe, Grace and I really know what "normal" looks like ourselves -- other than that the 3 of us are closer than ever before and we have learned to slow down and enjoy each other. Sure there are struggles each day -- we are working through them; the greiving will certainly be long and at times tough but know that our trust remains in God and He will provide the graces to us that are needed in just the moment that we need them.

To all that wonder what is next, I pray this motivation you feel to help via the Holy Spirit continues and that you seek a way to reach out in love to those around you wherever that may be and share the gifts that you have been given. Do not dispair. God is faithful and good - He loves each of us beyond all measure.

Sounds simple huh? Perhaps, but I believe that is exactly what we are called to do each moment of our day -- I just need not to make it more complicated... How beautiful is the body of Christ...


Monday, July 19, 2010

Ann's Goodbye Ceremonies

Peace be with you...

I wanted to get some quick information about visitation and funeral out to you that are wise with technology.

Her visitation will be on Wednesday night from 6-8 pm with a rosary following. The funeral will be on Thursday morning at 10 am. Both of these events will be at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Shawnee, KS.
5501 Monticello Rd, Shawnee, KS 66226

The funeral home taking care of all of the arrangements is Alden Harrington Funeral Home (913)422-4074

We are asking that any donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Sacred Heart of Jesus School Endowment Fund.

With love and prayer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We all miss Ann!!!

Zoe here - At 4:00AM was probably the worst goodbye and crying and emotions shared in room 21. My mom died with love and hope & some memories to carry with her to heaven. A double rainbow that Mike talked about that appeared right out on our front doorstep on Friday after the storm welcoming her to heaven.

We Love You Mom!!!

Ann Elizabeth Schierts 1966-2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In the arms of Jesus

Peace be with you all -

Ann passed on to our Lord at 4 am today. She passed in peace while I was holding her hand. I love her so much and there is certainly an emptiness in the house today. I know that she is in the love of God with all of her pain removed. She will remain connected to us all and we now have a beautiful soul in heaven advocating for us.

The day she passed while a blur was at the same time sacred - I was by her side doing my best not to be the Martha but instead witnessing the love being poured out on her by our heavenly Father through the double rainbow Mike mentioned as well as so many caring friends and family. She spent many moments of prayer through the weeks and days leading up today. She witnessed rosaries being said for her on our driveway -- what a witness to the children. She had the opportunity to be well prepared for her death by Father Craig and she was at extreme peace.

If I were to have a message in this it would be twofold. 1) I heard Ann say it many times; slow down be open to how God is working around / through each of us; we have such a tendency to rush to fill the void of needs with our own skills / approaches that we, at times, prevent God from doing the work that is His -- when God answers it is elegant and flows with love; 2) Focus more on the hope of heaven rather than the challenges of this earthly life. As I said to Zoe and Grace, its ok for us to have boo hoo's (down moments) but we need also to looking for the woo hoo's (up moments) as well. Please, please, please, let Ann's passing not become a stumbling block for you with God. This disease, cancer, was the culprit not some uncaring or sadistic action of God. God is good and I am very comforted by the knowledge that my dear lovely Ann is with Jesus.

Zoe, Grace and I now take up the process of grieving as I know many of you will do in your way as well. Please know that we will forever trust in the Lord and in His goodness.

Ann -- save that dance for me when I join you.


The Double Rainbow

Mike Book here, filling in for Hal, who has not left Ann's side for several hours. Ann has been moved to the Hospice House. We do not know when her Father will call her home, but it will likely be soon. She has said goodbyes. There have been tears, smiles, kisses and laughter. We were reminded today that God is not in the thunder, He is not in the wind, He is not in the storm. No, He is the slightest whisper. He is the double rainbow that appeared over Ann's house today after the tempest blew over. He is the "I love you" that has been repeated so many times today. I have witnessed His beauty in the selfless love poured out by friends and family, and by Ann and Hal as they openly share the precious gift of allowing us all to participate in these moments. There is no greater love than to give your life for your friends. I love you Ann.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sneaking Away

Hi All, it's me Ann giving Hal the break this time. I am up in my room listening to the all the sweet sounds of all my nephews and Zoe and Grace having fun blowing up a 2 second firecracker. Oh do you remember those days?
My three brothers along with their families are all here enjoying memories and creating more. even though i am exhausted and in some pain, I continue to ask God to keep me in the present, to let me hold on to this present that he has given to me. I keep reminding the girls that this is so rare where we can come together and celebrate our lives and to see each other in this atmosphere for the last time. How many people get this? How many people just leave this earth in an instant? Truly a blessing is all I can say.
Hal has told you all about the miraculous angels that flutter about all day and I think about how this is just an average day for the heavenly angels though we are too busy to stop and take notice.
You should see my beautiful room that I have. all you ladies have such talent and my peaceful room painted a serene blue with hints of pinks and whites so much remind me of my heavenly mother who awaits me. I can' t tell you the peace and serenity I feel each time I take the moment to rest in there. I am not ready to make it my full time residence just yet but oh how good it will be when I do. This past week has transpired into such a fantastic love fest and Jesus awakes me every morning with a smile on his face and a sort of slant in his neck saying "ready yet"? No lord, I'm not. Then he sends one of his angels named Sarah and we begin our day reading scripture and worshiping his name.
Thank you all for respecting our privacy, I know this is hard on you and that you only wish to see me and make sure I am ok but it does take a lot of energy for me each day to talk as my voice has gotten much weaker and I rely on my oxygen throughout the day.
I have read each card and feel your love, know that I am goood and dressed and even showered each day! I receive communion every afternoon and just watch and listen to the day.
The girls are so smart and so helpful. They understand as much as possible and really show their faith by talking about what is to come and what is troubling them. Although nothing is wrong in their world this second as their older cousins help them turn into little pyromaniacs.
Until the next time my friends, keep this love for me and spread it others who have no one to pray for them. I can share I can share.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Showered by love

Peace and blessings to you.

Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Ann and I are overwhelmed by the love of God being showered on our family -- such a great abundance of graces being poured out by heaven. It is so beautiful and humbling. I have said to Zoe and Grace many times that if they wonder just how much God loves mommy they simply can watch the flow of blessings coming through our front door. So too, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My gr attitude to our Lord and all of His helpers.

We are blessed with good care from the hospice team and the house has been made ready for the anticipated events to follow. A big thanks to all of the ladies from the painting crew who did a beauty make over on the room that will be used by Ann. Of course, this is one of the many touching acts of charity which also include: prayers, flowers, food, gifts, cards, hugs, and the list goes on. You are all wonderful.

Physically, Ann has had a bad day and a good day since the last update. I find that she tires easily and we simply out of our own frailty not able to keep up with all of the calls, e-mails, text messages. We both wish we could have the energy and want you to know we are praying for you too. Knowing how easily she tires I would ask all to consider sending or leaving a card. For those that do stop by, I would suggest that early afternoon is the best time for Ann and we have created a stop-light code on the door to let you know if she's accepting visitors (red means she's pooped out or feels like poop; green means its ok to stop). If you do stop, I would ask that we keep visits to a short 15 minute duration with limited number of people at a time.

Ann's spirits remain good. She has received Confession, Anointing, and daily Eucharist. She has a prayer partner come by each day to be with her and Zoe and her even together do the daily Mass readings. I would love to see that habit continue for Zoe (and perhaps a few of you out there too?). In addition, some of the Little Sisters of the Lamb came to the house today to pray with Ann and the family. They are such a blessing to Kansas City - I pray that each of you can meet them yourselves too.

I opened with the words of Mary as I often reflect on her witness of the suffering of Jesus as a good source of learning and application in my life as I witness Ann's suffering. Mary was remarkable. In her Yes to God's request, I learn that each action in every moment is our opportunity to say Yes to God's request in our lives. Mostly, they are little requests for me as I am little compared to Mary and certainly more so compared to God. But, think about the love that is unleashed when all of us choose Yes together -- for me, I see some small portrait of that at my front door each day. Being the mother of Jesus was not Mary's goal in life. Neither was cancer Ann's goal -- how beautiful the painting becomes when God combines all of our Yes choices both great and small to His will?

Keep the faith -- God loves you and desires your Yes today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Letting hard to do.

Hal here again ---

Today's visit with Ann's oncologist brought us to the realization that Ann's valiant fight against this disease has not been successful. The growth of the cancer in her liver has progressed and so rather than to have her final days filled with chemo and hospitals -- we instead opted for signing up for hospice. I must say a sincere thanks to all of the wonderful doctors, nurses, and others that have cared so well for Ann.

The time remaining is unknown -- we are led to believe that 3-6 weeks is likely. I have such mixed feelings between deepest of sorrow to relief that her pain will end and she will be soon able to see heaven.

Of course, my greatest concern about Ann's parting is, has been and will be for our two beautiful children that God has given to us. I know that the Lord will provide -- I wish God in His infinite mercy can ease their pain. I also know that I can count on so many of you acting as his angels will be with us in this tough times ahead to help.

To you the readers of this blog, I will with Ann's permission continue to post her beautiful transition from this life to the next. I fully trust that God still has many wonderful blessings that He intends to shower on all of us through this process.

I so love you my dear and will be with you every step of the way.
God Bless.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It was the best of times and the worst of times...

Hal here -- guest writing for Ann to everyone.

Ann was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday as she indicated in her last note -- though she was weak and tired. I thought we were headed back to the hospital for a while on Wednesday and Thursday with her pain pretty severe, shortness of breath, and nausea. She is now on oxygen and the effects of chemo seem to be waning some. She goes back in to seek Dr. Fabin on Monday to discuss her liver biopsy results and plan the next steps in treatment. Our understanding at this point will be continued chemo of some kind. We did find out that the experimental drug will not be a good match for her based on the early indications of the biopsy -- as always we are in His hands and we feel that we've reached a cross roads in the journey.

The girls have had the blessing of my parents here to spoil them for a few days followed by my aunt. It was great to see Zoe, Grace and Aunt Susie having a squirt gun fight on the back deck -- wish we had that one on video. The girls have also enjoyed sleep overs, going to theater in the park, and the laid back days of summer. Zoe, our traditional early riser, has even found that sleeping in has its benefits.

The gospel reading for today (Mt 8:5-17) brings us the story of the faith of the centurion and several examples of Jesus healing the possessed and sick "to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases." I ask Jesus several times a day to take away this disease from Ann if it is His will. I realize there is so much of His love and graces being poured out on Ann at this time -- I feel it in the prayers, cards, meals, flowers, and love you send to Ann -- thank you.

I pray that Ann and I remain open to His will and to love each other, our children and you with the grace of His love. We know of so many of you that have your own crosses too. It is important for you to share those hardships with the rest of the body of Christ -- that is, you see, how His love is made present and real -- it is in each of us caring for and taking care of those in need around us. It is a two part equation: 1) someone in need, one afflicted with suffering of some form; and 2) someone with a gift given by the Holy Spirit to give or offer others.

So, if you are in need and hurting (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and you don't seek His help through your neighbor -- that is going to keep His graces from reaching you -- it takes humility and that is hard. If you have some gift to give and you don't seek out opportunities to make those available to those in need -- it may be judgmental or selfish; it takes acts of charity which lead us to love of God's people. So, both kinds of people are needed and often both parts (needs and gifts) are present within each of us. I know its hard and we allow the devil to trick us so often on both parts but in your heart you know that you feel the God's love when both parts are exchanged with His will at the core. You see, in the exchange, God's love is made present to both persons -- its a beautiful thing.

Jesus, you know us. You know what we need. I pray that you help us to be open, to be vulnerable, to be willing to be loved by You through others. I pray that you give us wisdom to become more aware of the gifts that the Holy Spirit has provided to us AND that we use these gifts each day to benefit your creation.

I thank you for the blessings of my wife and family. I pray that I may be a worthy channel of your love to to others.

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back In KU

Are you following me because I am having a hard time following my whereabouts these days.

Yes, judging by my tiredness and beautiful pajamas along with lack of sleep, I can say that I am back in the hospital. After my liver biopsy on Wednesday I began experiencing the same back and stomach pain I had on Sunday evening. I called Dr F. and they got me in immediately to the cancer center for another ct of my abdomen and liver. Turns out that the fluid around my liver had increased even though we had just drained it and that I had a bit in my left lung and a bunch (2liters) in my abdomen. Got the abdomen and lung drained and will now put in more permanent drain i my liver and abdomen tomorrow. The fluid will continue to grow until we can get the liver tumor under control so this way I can drain it as needed rather than come in here every other day and have them do it. We also started some chemo yesterday. The non approved FDA chemo that we feel confident will help is a process to receive since it not yet approved so in the interim, we will start this other chemo until we are approved. Very fast and head spinning but trust trust trust faith faith faith day by day byday. I blogging to you at the super nice resource center here on the cancer floor so need to just get to you the basics of what is going on. After pseudo permanent drains placed tomorrow around ten a.m. I should be able to go home. Please say special prayers for my mom.She is on her way to the ER with heart pain and has a hard time breathing over the past few months. Please pray that they find something to help her once and for all. For Hal's dad as he is experiencing pain from his side affects of diabetes. For Judith who takes care of us all, for Hal well you know the directions he gets pulled. Please pray for strength and for a relaxing Father's Day for him and all of our dads. For Joe Bidnick and Mike O'Connor may they feel the love of God pouring over them. I will keep you posted as usual.
Love, Me

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Have Learned To Be Content Whatever The Circumstances I Can Do Everything Through Him Who Gives Me Strenghth

I can't believe that it has been a month since I last blogged. Crazy and fun past few weeks is all I can guess. The girls were let loose from school on May 24th and we were off to Florida the next day. Wish I could post some pictures but my computer sucked them away into cyber land and I had already erased them from my camera. Our memories will have to do and what memories we have! Grace was enamoured with the fact that everyone in Florida has pools in their backyard and that's the first thing they did every morning was dive in. My nephews Alex and Nick were confirmed along with about 250 other kids. Watching each of them receive the Holy Spirit was very cool. I pray that they felt the love that was being poured out to them and that they understand the gift that they have received. Okay on to what my scans revealed..... some good some bad news. The good is that my bone mets has significantly decreased in size the bad is that the lesions in my liver have significantly increased along with my tumor markers doubling in the past two weeks. What does all this medical talk mean? Hell, I don't know and I'm not sure sometimes the professionals even know! But what we think is that the cells in my liver are perhaps not the same as that are in my bones. Still considered breast cancer but maybe not fueled by the estrogen that my original biopsy to my sternum showed. I will have a liver biopsy next Wednesday. If the cancer in the liver is not estrogen receptive, then my doctor feels the best plan of action is to try a new chemo which has not yet been approved by the FDA but is very promising with results in the liver. Both Hal and I knew that the results would not be good but just hearing that the cancer is still not under control sent me downhill. I am just tired .....physically and emotionally drained and at the point where I say to hell with it. You win cancer!!! But once again God sent to me an angel with the message of the holy spirit saying YOU DON"T KNOW THAT!!!! and poof I'm back on the Let's kick some ASS campaign. Thank you Linda for hearing the holy spirit and turning your car into my driveway. It's late (now 12:30am) and it's time to Relay for Life here tomorrow. What a perfect time for us to raise the money to find a cure for this $#@$ disease. "Do not get discouraged- it may be the last key on the ring that opens the door" Please continue to pray. We love you so much!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The rain here just keeps a coming which is nice because everything is so green and beautiful if you can see through the downpours! Much like life I suppose. Amongst the midst of trials still lies so much good to be thankful for. My weekend with the girls was so much fun. The tea party taught us proper manners and I think the girls both know how to place their pinkie out when sipping tea or in their case lemonade. I was awoken by Grace holding a huge cup of coffee in her hands on Mother's Day morning. She even had the right amount of cream in it!
My second round of increased chemo was to begin yesterday but i was sent home because my platelet count was too low. Platelets help your blood clot and since I am on blood thinners as well, it just didn't seem like my body had fully recovered from the last round of chemo so we will try again on Monday. My tumour marker test was not back yet and my doctor would like to do one more increased round of chemo and then do more scans to see if the increased dose is doing anything. Also we will be able to determine if the high doses of estrogen is doing it's job of preventing the cells from forming in the first place. So for those of you who are tracking all of this I will do chemo on May 17th and 24th then have my scans on June 4th and meet back up with my doctor for results and the next plan. Meanwhile i am fairing pretty well. The secret is to keep busy. School gets out in two weeks and I think I am ready. We have plans for most of June and are hoping to get some visits in to Minnesota and Colorado. As usual, it's all day by day around here. God's way of letting me know that I need not get too ahead of myself and to slow down and listen to what his plans are. He and I are back on track and he has been talking non stop. Of course he talks and acts through all of you. Much love and admiration to my friend Lori P. She also is going through treatment and has a devout faith and peace an aura around her. We talked the last couple of days and she brought me such comfort and self assurance. Thank you Lori!
I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Philippians 4: 13

Friday, May 7, 2010

You are my friends. (John 15:14)

You are my friends and I have felt you all so much lately physically, mentally, and spiritually. Not that I ever doubted for a minute that you were not there but when you sometimes exclude yourself from the world it can get lonely. My fault entirely, needed and necessary.
Today's gospel along with the last few days have brought me back to life and what is needed to get done. Seeing friends and getting caught up in what is going on in their lives and not having the attention solely on how I am feeling is really nice. Directing a good day that I have been given and redirecting it on to someone else who is in need is such a good feeling too. No wonder all of you give so much and no wonder that's all God asks of us. love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. To my Este girls in Jax, I missed you last week so much. Thank you for the serenade. To Terry in Salt lake for always calling at the right time. To my posse here in our Shawnee bubble for always calling, stopping by, and even sneaking into my bedroom and leaving me notes when I am out cold! Thank you all for listening to the Holy spirit and letting him guide you on your days! To Hal, Happy Birthday. Thank you God for bringing him into this world (and thanks to his mom for having a part in it too)
My first cranked up dose of my chemo cocktail was two weeks ago Friday. I was down about three or so days afterwards and back at a lower dose the next week. The second dose was very tolerable and I had a great weekend and then had a day on the couch and then back to life. I forget how crazy we can make our lives and how time really doesn't move as slow as I once thought perhaps watching the clock can do that. Anyhow I am off from cancer land this week and have plans with my girls. Tonight will be movie night tomorrow is the great mother/daughter tea, a brownie bridging ceremony and a pajama birthday party to bring the day to close. Mothers Day will be spent listening to Zoe Rae sing the psalm in church and a soccer game from the G ster. God is good!
This I command you: love one another.” Now go out and do it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

As tears run down my face from reading Hal's beautiful writing, I ask God why. Why can't he just take it all away? why can't he just heal me? Why can't I just go back to the way things were? Why do my girls have to ask me every day how I am feeling? Why can't I be like other moms who do such a good job at taking care of their families? Why does Hal have to work so hard?
But I also give thanks. Thanks for the great time I shared with Grace and her daisy troop to Omaha. It was so much fun and such a wonderful time spent with Grace and her friends. I hope she always remembers that trip we took together. I am thankful for all the people who continue to help our family and are always there for us at a moments notice. And I am most especially thankful for Hal. What can I say about him? He gives me peace and has always placed us as priority. His love and devotion is true and intense and he puts up with my frustration and grumpiness and still loves me. His life is dedicated to us and I just wish that he could get a break, I wish there was something I could do for him to take him away from his daily grind. When I mention this to him he just smiles and says there is nowhere else he would rather be and then rattles off all the things he is grateful for. How blessed I am to have such a man!
Anyhow, Hal posted the latest on my results. I am down and frustrated and really wanted a break. It has been almost three years since I was diagnosed and I am just down and out tired. Today I asked God to either let me stay to or take me now. I can't do this much longer. I want to be the mom wife and friend I used to be. I miss the old me as do most of you I assume.
Thanks for letting me vent and feel sorry for myself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bloom where you're planted

Greetings to one and all. Hal here.

Don't be afraid. Ann is fine - she's on field trip with Grace and asked me to fill in for her so that everyone would receive an update.

The news we wanted wasn't what we received today -- the CT scans showed no changes from January/February (good); the PET scan showed some increase in activity in Ann's liver, bones, and pelvic area. The doctor indicated it was a slight increase - so please don't be alarmed. Just it shows that things aren't completely under control. The bad news is that the summer break that Ann was wanting doesn't look like is possible yet. She will need to continue with chemo. However, before she does that she will have a minor surgical procedure next week to remove the filter that was previously put in and then next Thursday its back to the infusion room -- sorry honey.

Ro 8:28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose

Ann, I wish I didn't have to watch you suffer. How Mary must have felt to watch Christ. I do know and see the immense love God daily pours out on you - its humbling to see His love in action and know that my fumbling attempts pale in comparison to what God can do. I know that God is working good through this suffering. I also know that it was God's purpose for me to be all that I can be for you - to be your gift. I love you my dear.

So, as Mother Teresa says "Bloom where you're planted" -- choose to trust God that you are right where He needs you. Be open to the good however small that you can do for someone else each day.

May the Hope of the Easter Season be with you all.
He is risen!!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Laying Low

Not much to report which is a good thing. I had chemo last week and will have it again tomorrow. Next week I have a cat scan and PET scan scheduled which will tell us where we are with the cancer. Last month my doctor gave me the indication that I could take a break from the chemo for a while provided their was no growth in tumours and no added activity. Please pray for this. I would love nothing more than to take the summer off and have energy to keep up with the girls.
We have had a great time visiting with both sides of the family for spring break. The McLaughlins came over from Tampa where we celebrated by nephew Alex's 16th birthday and they got to see hopefully our last snow. Aunt Susan got a makeover from Grace (sorry Susan but I just had to post the picture) and the girls learned some new wrestling moves. This past weekend we met Hal's sister and her family in Des Moines for a short visit to the Science Center the hotel pool and some swimming. I am off to Jacksonville the end of April for my yearly girls weekend with my friends from way back. Always such a great time and lots of laughter. Our summer trips include Tampa Minnesota and Colorado. Hence the reason why I want to be rid of chemo and not even think about a doctor's appt!!!!
Please pray for my friend Lori who was just diagnosed with breast cancer and will have surgery on April 15th. Also for Wendy who was admitted to Hospice care and for all women suffering form this dreadful disease. The robins are chirping and I saw some daffodils this morning. Life is good Christ has risen and you are exactly where you need to be. Be good to one another and spread the love.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Are You There Spring?

What a great way to be welcomed home! I had so many cards from you that it took me three days to open them all. Even Zoe's class and the other third grade class inundated me with such creative and loving cards. Thank you Sacred Heart students for all your love! You rock
It's about that time where we are all at the point of being oh so over winter and the cold that it brings. It seems as though it has brought more to our household. Since I got out of the hospital I have been on the couch with little energy and terrible nausea. Today is my first good day and I am so very grateful for it. Along with my dilemmas also comes that of the rest of the family. Grace has missed another week of school due to a sinus infection which is not a huge deal but the antibiotic they put her on has given her severe stomach cramps and is just not comfortable at all. There is nothing worse than to hear your child cry in agony and there is absolutely nothing you can do. On top of that a nice little round of head lice has infested the school and yup, the girls got it. My prayers have been for Hal to stay healthy but God had other plans and because of all his running and taking care of EVERYTHING he has now battling a cold. Of course he is blowing if off as no big deal. Anyhow, things can only get better and they will. I know I sound hopeful now but I have to be honest and say that my trust and faith in my God was taken aback as I did nothing but ask him to help me and rid me of my pain. Once again my time frame and his are not quite synched and I was angry. For some reason it is hardest for me to pray and draw closer to Him when I am suffering. You would think it would be opposite. But when I did sit down and read my bible of course He answered me and made the words literally jump right out at me....
Isaiah 49; 14-16 The lord has forsaken me my lord has forgotten me. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget i will never forget you. See upon the palms of my hands I have written your name your walls are ever before me.
I do believe at times that God has forgotten me, that he doesn't see nor hear me... why doesn't he just do what i ask when I ask??? Because he has different plans- plans which are mysterious and hidden from me. I will continue to pray for the grace I need to bear my suffering patiently which he has now heard and given me. I am feeling so much better and can now understand a bit better what he has in store for me. I know that his plan includes telling you about my story. I need to share with you what I 've learned about Christ through our challenges and our thanksgiving for all that he has given me and my family. Al thought we undergo our trials we wouldn't change what we have learned about our faith and our God.
The sun is shining and the month of February is almost over. Soon we will see little bits of green popping out and perhaps some flowers. I will wait patiently for the change in season because I know it will come, that's how He has planned it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Goodbye KU Hospital

I was told today that tomorrow I will be discharged. YAHOO is all I can say to that! Oh and AMEN. It has been a long 15 days here at KU hospital and although the entire staff is nothing but fabulous, I am ready to go home and see my family and sleep in my oh so missed sleep number bed.
Let's see what has happened since Hal last blogged for me (and what an incredible job he did. He has such a great way with words. I told him that he could take over for me anytime. Thanks honey I love you). Last Friday I had a simple procedure done in the radiology department where they inserted a filter in my chest which does just that, it filters any clots that may produce and catches them before they can gather in my lung.
Yesterday they put me under and did a laproscopy to my right lung. The CT scans were still showing strange nodules and so we decided the laproscopy could tell us more. Well it did, it told us that there was definitely no cancer in the lung and that the most probable reason why I began bleeding in the first place was because of the blood thinner they had me on. Such great news!!!! The new plan of action is to put me on a very low dose of coumadin (a blood thinner) and send me home. I am feeling pretty good, a bit tired but good.
I can't wait to get back to Shawnee and see all of you and personally thank you once again to seeing that me and my family were taken care of. Your love for us shows in all the little and great things that you so unselfishly take on.
Hal's parents are here and as usual have been a huge help. They got here and immediately took charge of what needed to be done. It's so nice that they know the kid's schedule and can just take over at a moment's notice. I see the Holy Spirit surrounding us and teaching us the value of family and closeness. If it wasn't for my illness we wouldn't have the opportunity to spend so much valuable time together.
My family starts to arrive soon as well. My mom will be here for Zoe's birthday next week (weather permitting) if the snow is too bad then she'll just come when my brother and his family arrives for Spring break. I sense a Wii rock band tournament happening. We weren't able to get together over Thanksgiving so I just can't wait to see them in March.
Well, my time is almost up as I am using the resource center in the cancer unit and I can't hog the computer. I just wanted to give ya'll a quick update and to tell you that I love you and can feel the prayers that you have so lovingly said over and over again. This was yet just another bump in the road for us and our plan is to continue on and battle whatever comes next. But for now our plan is to be together and appreciate one another and put this behind us.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Home away from home

Hi everyone -- Hal here -- still filling in on blog duty.

Quick clinical update...With a week at KU Hospital behind us, Ann is much improved. She is out of the ICU and is doing well in a peaceful room -- it took time to get there but all of the monitoring wires and IV's are out. The chest tube remains to drain fluid from her right chest cavity but the amount of fluid has dramatically dropped off (which is good). Next step will be a PET scan on Monday to provide the physicians the benefit of additional information and then a plan forward will be established.

To clarify any questions for the detailed oriented folks out there...the current understanding is that a nodule in the lower right lung lining began bleeding last Thursday and partially filled her right chest cavity thus causing the shortness of breath and pain. The chest tube was inserted and the fluid has mostly been drained. The key question at hand is the cause of the bleeding and if possible a permanent remedy so that this situation will not reoccur as Ann needs to continue with treatment.

Ann is being well cared for by her doctors and nursing staff at KU. Great people that care deeply about their work and their desire for the best possible outcome for Ann. All options are being considered and it is reassuring to witness the level of cross specialty consultation occurring. At times, it is a test of patience as one simply wants the magic wand to be waved and all to be well; however, we know this is complicated and it is important to exercise good prudence in each decision.

Ann is of good spirits but certainly would rather be in her own bed. Our thanks to the many friends that have gone out of their way to stop by for a visit or help the family. Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist, visits her each day and we even were able to get permission for Zoe and Grace to visit her tonight and have a family dinner together. Due to H1N1, the hospital rules are that kids under 18 are not allowed in without her doctor's permission and an quick exam prior to entering the nursing unit. All good precautions as she is on the oncology floor at the hospital and no one on that floor need any avoidable illness to be added to their plate.

As you all know, I love Ann so deeply. I pray for her many times each day as I witness her joys and sufferings. Through God's grace and the care of her health care team her burden was eased this week and we offer our thanks to God for the relief from the pain of a week ago. As always, the next step is not as obvious and clear as one would like it to be but isn't that what faith is all about?

In a recent reflection, I heard faith beautifully described. Imagine, you reach the edge of a cliff of what is visible and stare into the darkness before you with no assurance that your next step will touch solid ground. Taking that next step boldly anyway knowing that God will either catch you or give you the wings to fly -- this is faith.

Perhaps we too seldom admit in our modern world that we don't know the answer; that we are limited by our collective understanding of the "science" of things; that, scary as it may sound, we are in control of much less than we ever thought; that God is bigger than we can imagine and we, the created, need to stop trying ourselves to be god's and let the true God of the universe work through us and show His stuff.

May His peace be with you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not so romantic getaway

Greetings everyone - this is Hal filling in for Ann on this post.

On Thursday, Ann returned to what seems to be our retreat destination - KU Hospital. She had a sudden fluid build up in her right lung. After a long night of wonderful care they were able to insert a tube into her chest cavity in order to drain the fluid. Ann endured the most pain that I've seen her go through ever but thank God it is getting better and she rested comfortably in the ICU last night. Next step will be to rehab her lung via breathing exercises and get the chest tube out when the fluid subsides - plus manage her "normal" side effects from the chemo she received on Wednesday.

On the up side of treatment, Ann's oncologist, Dr Fabin, indicated that Ann would probably get a reprieve from chemo after 5 more weeks! We are praying for the blessing of some time off.

Speaking of blessings, I would like to take time to thank you for your prayers and help. Always, always remember that good can come of every situation if we cooperate with God's will. So "when bad things happen" consider it an opportunity to enter into that situation to become His gift to our sister or brother in need. I love you all for all you do.

Thank you God for this "getaway" with Ann and for your mercy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back To The Grind

It was back to the my full time job of fighting cancer yesterday. The girls got a snow day but evidently cancer doesn't so Hal stayed home while I tretched through the snow plowed streets. Actually it didn't really get bad till today. Blowing snow and about a foot on the ground leaves us home bound another day today.
Like i said it was back to chemo yesterday. it started with an ultrasound on my neck and left arm as i left out in my last blog that they found a clot in my neck most likely caused by the estrogen I was on. So off the estrogen I go and on to blood thinners. It was unchanged which was to be expected. should take another week or so to clear up. My lungs still show something funky so I got to take part in some really fun pulmonary function tests and see how my good friend Dr. Tim Dwyer spends his days. Diane, I was very impressed and found his bed side manner nothing but laid back yet professional and calming! Good man, good doctor, good friend. Anyhow, no big news there so then i got to see the Infectious disease crew. Lots of fun questions like did I live on a farm, was I around pigs much ( well not the one's they were referring to)? Just looking for some funky disease that could be lurking in my lungs but thankfully found nothing. So, we still don't know why it hurts for me to breathe and a bit short of breath. Any ideas? Chemo yesterday was business as usual. I am feeling puny today with a headache and nausea. Nothing the meds can't help with. Many of you ask how much longer on the chemo. I would say that this is indefinite. At least till summer maybe longer. Just depends on how long it takes to totally get rid of all the cancer. Going off the estrogen concerns me as this could have been one of the factors keeping the cancer from coming back in the first place. Time will tell.
Prayer warriors please add Lisa Gress to your list. She is a friend that was diagnosed with breast cancer on New Years Day. Yeah. Happy new year. Also pray for my friend Wendy who just finished up her radiation of mets to the brain and for Diane Compton who is readying herself for a stem cell transplant. Pray for strength and healing for these beautiful and too young ladies!
That's it for now. Stay warm, spread the love, and be good to one another!