Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Drum roll please...... The results of my moms surgery!

Well.... our family has basically been holding our breath for nearly 3 weeks. My moms surgery was on July 16th and just yesterday she received the results of her lumpectomy and full auxiliary dissection of her lymph nodes. The results were actually back a few weeks ago, but since my moms surgeon (who also performed the diverticulitis surgery) was on vacation she decided to wait until he returned to talk directly with him. Additionally, we had our family reunion this past weekend and she didn't want bad news to ruin the trip. 

Without any further ado, here are the results of my mother's surgery:

Dear Family and Friends, I got a phone call from my surgeon that preformed my lumpectomy and lymph node dissection this morning.

His first words were "Mrs. Randall I have good news. About the best news we can hope for. Of the 20 lymph nodes that were removed there was no cancer found. All of the margins from the lumpectomy came back clear."NO CANCER IN MY BODY!

Chemo Therapy was nasty and hard on my body but it did its job and stopped the growth and spreading of cancer.  I am so very thankful for this news. The last 2 1/2 weeks have been uncomfortable physically and mentally. Now I can move on with treatment. I will continue to heal and exercise for the next two weeks before I meet my Radiation Oncologist on August 19

Today I will give all praise to my precious Lord for this wonderful news. Thank you to all for your prayers, encouraging words and support over the last 5 months. I'll keep you informed as I enter the next phase of treatment.

Much Love, Kris

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cancer Just Loves My Family: The Story of My Mom's Cancer Fight

Many of you are aware that earlier this year my mom, was unfortunately also diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. Yep... we are both just so darn lucky to have not only had life interrupted by the "Big C", but she too has this same rare, aggressive, nasty form of breast cancer. As I've shared before, Triple Negative Breast Cancer only effects 10% of breast cancer patients... you could say we are "special".

Due to the quick growth of my moms tumor and the presence of cancer in her lymph nodes, the oncologist team decided to take a very aggressive route in her treatment. They decided to treat her with chemo first before her surgery so that they could verify that the chemo was actually killing and shrinking her cancer. This method actually makes a lot of common sense. If after 4 weeks there was no change in the tumor size they would know they needed to change chemotherapy and find the correct treatment. The plan was to complete chemotherapy, have the lumpectomy and full auxiliary disection of her lymph nodes surgery and then go through radiation. Well... due to an infection and complications, her diverticulitis flared up resulting in the eruption of her colon. This ridiculously dangerous complication has made for a painful and long process on her body. By the grace of God she made it through surgery, has healed, and is now ready to proceed with her cancer treatment. 

Last week I asked my mother if I could have permission to share her story with the readers of this blog. So many of you have shared that my story has helped you understand this disease, understand how to care for others and understand how to support friends walking this this cancer journey. Her story is different than mine in a number of ways. We were different ages when diagnosed, in different phases of life, had different forms of treatment and have both had different effects of chemo on our bodies. Additionally, something different about my moms story is the example of the danger associated with chemo and how infection while going through treatment can potentially end up throwing you at deaths door. 

She willingly agreed to share her story. Below you will find copies of the emails that she sent out to her close friends and family throughout this fight. It is her (and my) prayer that her story and perspective may help others see how they can understand, encourage and walk with people in their lives effected by cancer.  Enjoy the read.

My parents - (November 2012)
Celebrating 40 yrs of marriage next month
Could you please join our family in prayer this afternoon as she finally has her surgery to remove the cancer from her body? The doctors plan to be liberal in the margins that they take around her tumor and in taking her lymph nodes should hopefully remove the opportunity for further spreading. We pray that any last traces of cancer would be included in the areas that they remove, and that she would be completely cancer free. The surgery is scheduled for today (July 16th at 2:15pm). 

Much love,

The Story of My Mom's Cancer Fight:
March 7, 2013

I hope all of you are doing well.
Each of you have a special place in my heart so I need to share a bit of news before you hear it elsewhere. 

Bad News: 
I found out I have breast cancer last Thursday. I have a lump/tumor and one lymph node that has tested positive.

Darn! Just when you think things are going good, you hit a bumpy patch. Uncle Gary and I had a wonderful vacation to Oahu mid-February. It really was a dream come true. 

I just got home from the meeting with surgeon. Lots of information was talked about so as of right now this is what will be happening in the next week. 

I had a pelvic ultrasound on Monday and I have a cyst on my left ovary. They can't tell if the cyst is cancer or not. Because of this information I will be having a PET scan to determine if I have cancer anywhere else in my body. I will also be meeting with a gynecologist to see what needs to be done. I'm glad that I will be having a PET scan so, if needed, everything can be dealt with at the same time. 

If all stays as it is now, lump and nodes only, I will be having chemo first. The "TEAM" wants to stop or interrupt all cancer growth in the cluster of lymph nodes. Then I will have surgery to remove the lump and all affected nodes. After surgery my oncologist will determine my next step for treatment. 
Kelly and Gary went to the meeting with me and Kelly asked a lot of questions about having chemo first. I think we will get some answers after the PET scan.

I have a God given calm about all of this. Although, I have my moments of being afraid and fretful I know that God loves me and will get me through this. 
I'll give you an update after I meet with my oncologist. 

I know it will be a long Spring and Summer but come Autumn hopefully all will be back to normal. I feel great right now, strong and healthy. 

Prayer is most appreciated and I would be happy to hear from you. 

Much love, 
Aunt Kris  

March 14, 2013

I had a very busy day yesterday and want to share results and the my treatment plan that is set up for me. 
I have always been pretty factual with information so this is just the facts as of today. 

Good News:
PET Scan results - No cancer found in other areas of my body. 
Ovarian cyst doesn't look like cancer. Both ovaries will be removed when I have surgery in August. 
Lab work - I am in great health, no concerns. 

PET Scan showed Tumor 2.6cm and four lymph nodes have cancer. This puts me in the Stage III category. 
The cancer in invasive and fast growing. 
Estrogen receptor level is very low-5%, progesterone level-negative, HER2 level-negative. 

I will be receiving chemotherapy to treat "Triple Negative" cancer. 
"Neoadjuvant Therapy", before surgery to shrink cancer. 
I will receive chemotherapy every 3 weeks with 6 treatments, 18 weeks total.
Three medicines will be given, "TAC". I will know exactly what each medicine is on Tuesday when I attend a class. 

I start therapy treatment on Thursday, March 21. So, I will be looking forward to the end of July when chemotherapy will be complete. 

I know life is going to be difficult the next several months and every person deals with cancer in their own unique way. I plan to see my family, go on outings, and have a little fun whenever I possible can. Gary and I are strong individuals and will get through this.  

Just days before moms 1st chemotherapy treatment.
To celebrate my cancer battle fight and to mark
an item off my bucket list, we went on an amazing hot air balloon ride. 
Speaking of having fun, Kelly, Esther, a friend and I will be sailing in a Hot Air Balloon this Sunday morning. The trip was cancelled last Fall and rescheduled for St. Patrick's Day. God's Perfect Timing!
Thank you for all of your positive and loving emails. 

Love you all, 

March 20, 2013

Well here it is, the night before chemotherapy  starts. Nervous, dread, determination, faith, not able to sleep, a  whole lot going on in my head and stomach.  

This week I got my hair cut, fingers and toes done, house cleaned, class on CHEMO, picked up a large bag of drugs, bought some hats, got a full body massage this morning, shopping for food and threw a 6th birthday party for Nathan tonight. That's me, I thrive on being BUSY!

The most precious part of the night was being prayed over and anointed with oil by my children while holding Gary's hands. God is Good and He will be with me every step of the way of this crummy journey that I have to go through. 

My appointment is at 10:30am Thursday morning. I don't know what the next several days will be like but I'll write when I feel like I can.

I love you all, 

March 26, 2013

Well I have had my first chemotherapy treatment and survived. I think the words tired, nausea,and aches in the bones describes how I feel physically. Mentally, I feel pretty strong. I know that this "chemo" is just what I have to go through to get rid of the nasty cancer which has invaded my body. Yeah, sometimes I feel "weepy" or "why me" but a lot of women have been in my place over the years.  I think the first women I knew that had breast cancer was my Aunt Opal. 40 years ago the diagnose wasn't so good but Aunt Opal was a strong woman and did what she needed to do to live life to its fullest. I want to be that strong woman that my Aunt Opal always was. We are kindred spirits, I was named after her, and I will draw from her strength.

I have my NEUPOGEN shots for four more days. This liquid gold will build my white blood cells in my bone marrow but it is also the reason I feel aches in my bones and nausea. With the good come a little bad. I am hopeful that next week will be easier and without the neupogen shots I will feel good and strong. I will have my next chemotherapy on April 11 and the cycle will start again. FIVE treatments to go!

May each of you have a wonderful Easter Sunday. I am most thankful for Our Savior Jesus Christ,He has risen, He has risen indeed. 
Love love to you all, 

April 3, 2013

My First Good Day, April Fools Day

I woke up this morning and knew I felt better. I've been waiting for this day, YEAH! The night before my first chemotherapy my prayer with family was that God would let me see a blessing everyday of this journey. THIS IS IT! God is so Good!!!! I am going to enjoy the next ten days of feeling good! Blessings were raining down on me every hour. I think I can get through this cancer thing.  

Now I need to back up. Last Friday, Day 9 of treatment was a BAD DAY! A gift showed up on my doorstep addressed to "Mama Randall". It was a very thoughtful bag of comfort; soft blanket, pretty scarf, scented candle, therapeutic wrap and a 2013 Weekly Planner. I am going to use the planner to keep track of my Daily Blessings  and a sweet note from Mel. 

Laying on the bed feeling BAD I thought, WOW! I remember the day Melissa Ossant came flying into our life like and out of control shooting star hell bent as if she was honed in on a magnet. Her target, our Katie. It would have been the first week of summer vacation 1990. The girls first Thursday night Jr. High Youth Group at church. Melissa also had a pretty, smart, popular, boyfriend-having, 13 year old sister just like Katie. (Sometimes it is just plan hard to have an older sister.)  Katie and Melissa needed each other, they got each other, they had to see each other for two hours on Thursday just to get grounded. They would beg to spend weekends together, we agreed to twice a month, just so these two awkward 12 years old girls could get though the next two awful, crappy weeks of being in 7th and 8th grade. They survived Jr. High and spent every summer in High School hanging out together just being best friends.

Melissa's whirlwind blew away just about as quickly as she had arrived. On March 13, 1997 a knock on our door and Melissa was holding a birthday present for Katie, It was Katie's first year of collage and again life is sometimes hard. Melissa handed over the birthday box to Katie and inside was a soft little ball of black fluff, Melissa thought Katie needed a cat of her own. So "MO" the cat, became a constant reminder over the next 15 years of the day that Melissa Ossant blew into our life. Last November I ran into Melissa at a jewelry party. There she was enjoying all those around her, telling me about her daughter who is soon becoming a teenager, laughing hard and loud and just being Melissa. 

April 2, 2013, A BAD DAY! 
I made a mistake on April Fools Day and didn't drink enough water. I let myself get dehydrated. I just fought the last 15 hours trying to stay out of the ER. You see, I need to drink about two gallons of water a day to flush out all of the drugs. There is a strict standing order from the doctor if my tempter gets up to 100.4 go directly to ER. Your body is in trouble. My temp got up to 100.1

During that terrible long nightmare of a fight I just knew I had to stay out of the ER. Katie and family were leaving for France the next day and she might not get on the plane if I was in the hospital. I couldn't let that happen! I drank three gallons of water and rested all day so I could meet Katie at 4:00 pm on April 2 to give them my love, say good bye and have a great trip. 

Now, back to God showing me a blessing everyday though this journey.God did show me a Blessing that night. I was living a true nightmare, fighting the fever and demons that hang out on bad nights.
God showed me that 23 years ago He, with His own hand, threw Mel into our life like an out of control Shooting Star to save two little girls lives. 23 years is a long time not to recognize a blessing but I didn't know what a blessing looked like back then. Thank you God for the sweet blessings of life and I'll try to pay closer attention to what you bring into my life.  

April 3, 2013 A Very Good Day!
Katie is on Air France right now. God is Good!

April 10, 2013

21 Days

I am on a 21 day cycle for chemotherapy. Here are a few lessons I learned over the last 21 days. 

First, I thought I walked through chemo with Kelly last year. NOT AT ALL! I was a chemo patients helpmate. I had no idea what her body was going through.

Next, This is my story. Every chemo patient has their own cocktail of drugs and there own reaction to those drugs. The results may look similar, but I am sure my friend Laura's story is very different than mine. 

This one explains why I am even writing these updates. I have another special gene that I've shared with my children and grandchildren. That would be the OCD gene, which has shown that it
is alive and well. Actually because of stress my OCD is acting out in ways I've never had to control before.Stress brings out 
BAD BEHAVIORS. It is strange because I spent 22 years helping children keep those behaviors under control in the school setting. I'm going to have to talk to Beth an Kim to find out how 
they kept me under control with out my knowing it. 
Well that OCD has me writing to get the story out of my head so I can move on to the next thing. OH! That is exactly what those two wonderful teachers taught me.

I found out I have a fairly nice shaped head and I look cute in a hat. Yep! my hair started coming out last Friday by the handfuls. Eileen and I had a private date to get rid of all that trash and I took the bucket out myself. I revealed my head to all of the grandkids this week so the next time I see them I'll just be Grandma. 

I found out that 21 days with God you can get a whole lot of talking going on, Both Ways! Long nights just me and God, good mornings God's blessings, feeling prayers surround me, explainable. Knowing I will get through this and enjoy life with new eyes, grateful. Please keep the prayers coming I know they are working and God lets me know. 

The rumor was true some feel better around day 15 or 16 and your body can recover. I took those few great days and had short visits with 6 of my friends who came as soon as I contacted them. Ladies, you have no idea how you lifted my spirits. I went to my Bible study group for about an hour, worked in the yard twice, saw my mom, and ate a hamburger from Jack in the Box. Now my energy
level is very low so I would lay down for two hours and go do something fun for an hours then lay down again to recover. I don't care I had fun! Also, the chemo fog in my brain cleared
Sunday afternoon and I can think again. That has been a real blessing. 

I miss my kids and grandkids like crazy. But, we don't want any set backs and kids are bug infested zones. I went to see all of them yesterday and today, Parker and Norah via Skype in France but I still saw them. This also gives me another reason to look forward to days 15-21. 

So today is Day 21 of my First Cycle. Tomorrow, Thursday April 11, is Day 1 of Cycle Two. Chemotherapy is at 2:00pm

I'll talk to you in a week or two. 
Love, Kris

April 19, 2013

Hello There, I've nearly made it through Cycle Two. Woo Hoo!

When I met with my oncologist, Dr. Hui, the day before cycle two of chemo she was very concerned with my side effects with cycle one. I told her I was going to get through this cycle better. I think I have! I have a handle on my nausea medication, every four hours with a little food no matter what, I am keeping hydrated, rest, rest, rest, but the Big Red Flag, my diverticulitis was tender and acting up. Very dangerous sign for infection. I have been working very hard to keep all of these area under control and am doing pretty well. The side effect that I didn't share with the Doc was how quickly germs can invade my space. My mom came for a visit on the Monday before treatment. Because of her ever advancing Alzheimer's, mom hasn't been told of my cancer. I don't want her worrying, fretting, dreaming and making things worse than they are. What mom does know is that for the last ten years I haven gone over to see her three times a week. Now I see mom once every other week. We miss each other so much! So, on this Good Monday she came over for a short visit. I took moms arm and walked outside to see the garden and then out to Esther's car. Mom leaned over and kissed me good bye, a sweet act of love. I turned around quickly and felt a million germ bugs attacking my upper lip. I ran to the bathroom, washed my face and put anti-bacterial cream on, but I had a full blown fever blister on my lip before bedtime. Lesson learned, "Protect My Space" I've cried and prayed about this one. It is so hard to not show love to my mom and I know that she is lonely and confused. God's grace has helped and I now try to call her every night before dinner or bed just to chat for a few minutes make a connection, have her feel she is needed , show her I love her. Man, life is hard sometimes! 

We met our first "Chemo Friends", Brian and Debra. They were in the chemo class with us the day before my first cycle. There were seven patient in attendance all with a different cancer. That first chemo day they waved when they saw us and I waved back in terror. My second treatment day Brain came down and introduced himself and told us his wife is being treated for ovarian cancer and they are hopeful that they caught it in time. He brought his wife Debra down after her 9 hours stay in the chair, my treatment is about 3 hours long.Right off the bat spirits were lifted, family being discussed, trying to find a common factor for friendship that is not related to cancer. I told Gary they will be our new friends for as long as we are together in that room. I'm sure that "Gary, The Ambassador of Good Will" can help past their time a little more quickly for them with his many stories, jokes and love of life. Who knows what may develop with this foursome but right now we will all have a friends during chemo treatment.

Now, I want to thank the Angles of Mercy that have surrounded us this week with love and warm food from Christ Community Church. A few friends and family members had brought Gary and I a meal during the last several weeks and we were very appreciative. I got a call from "the church lady" and she offer to drop by a couple of meals a week for us. I said YES! we would be most grateful, Gary didn't really like the idea of strangers coming to our house but too bad. A person can only eat so much Progresso chicken noodle soup, oatmeal and sandwiches until you are just plain hungry. I was moved to tears when we sat down to a complete homemade meal. I tasted good, it was nutritious, it was thoughtful and made me feel loved. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this generous gift. I am looking forward to me getting well so I can add my mane to this hospitality team of Congregational Care. God really does show His love in so many ways. 

My last shot to build my white blood cells is this Saturday night so I am looking forward to The Good Days soon. Maybe we can catch a visit next week. Please continue to pray, I can feel them at work in my life. 
Love you, 

May 2, 2013

Today is the first day of Cycle 3.
Chemotherapy treatment is half way through. I'm getting through this nightmare/journey/life lesson................Three to go!

This last week my "Good Week" my brother and sister-in-law, Larry and Millie, came to visit from Kentucky. The whole week was all about family. Thursday I was able to see Nathan in his kindergarten play "The Little Red Hen" First Narrator. When Nathan saw me in the front row he gave me a thumbs up and I had tears of pride and joy in my eyes. Of course he did a wonderful job! Later that day Gary and I took a picnic lunch, McDonalds, to a park to celebrate Parker's 5th Birthday. Again cherished time with my grandkids. 

The week before, still not feeling great, Katie and family came to see me after their trip to France. No hugs, knuckles to Parker and Norah age 1 1/2 raised her arms for me to pick her up. I didn't pick her up I sent her to Pops. Her little face was confused as she looked at me and walked away. That's when it hit me "Fear of Germs" has taken control of my life. For the last six weeks I have isolated myself because I don't want to get sick. Kids carry germs. I was protecting my space to the extreme. 

So, I made the decision to love my grandbabies the way I do, Hands On. 

On Saturday at a family gathering Jordyn, age six our most reserved grandchild, was staying away from me. Gary went up to her and ask if she had said Hi to grandma yet? "No." Are you sick? "No." Do you have a runny nose or a cough? "No." Then go give grandma a hug she misses you. Jordyn turned around, ran across the grass, threw her arms around my neck, sat on my lap and wouldn't let go. Oh how I have missed those hugs! I'm going to pick up the babies, play Candyland, read a book, and snuggle when I can. I know I have to be smart and careful about germs when needed but No More Fear. 

Then on Tuesday a women from church came by to visit and pray with me. She gave ma a gift of a handmade shawl that was prayer over and blessed by a pastor. The perfect verse was attached. 
Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God."

I'm extending my prayer request that on days 15-21 when I feel more like myself and my white blood cell count is up, my grandchildren will be healthy as well and I can love on them as Grandma Randall does, with my arms, hands, ears, and heart. 

I know I'm not going to feel to good the next couple of weeks but I'm looking forward to week three when I can be my self again. 
I know that "God is in control of my life" and He only wants the best for me. 

Much Love, 

May 29, 2013
Dear family,

This is from Kris's kids. A few days ago, our mom started having intense pain in her abdomen area. She thought the pain was related to the chemo treatment which she had last Friday. Well, it wasn't. Apparently the pain is because her diverticulitis has flared up and she has an infection in her intestine, colon and it has now traveled up through her diaphragm. She was prepped for emergency surgery. The doctor waited until we all arrived so we were able to say goodbye. Katie, Casey, Dad that I walked with her to the surgery room door until we couldn't go further. There even was a guy from church youth group who was the nurse.... Passing her along to someone we know and trust is a blessing. She will be in surgery for a about three hours. The doctor is actually In oncology surgeon, so he really understands what he's doing and how to handle the other factors. He was honest and clear, this surgery has a 50% mortality rate. He said that they are basically doing damage control and that we need to pray that the neupogen medicine that they give her will help her white blood cell count to continue to fight the infection. Now we are just waiting here... it should be about three hours until we know something. We will write again tomorrow when we know more and understand what's going on.

Thank you for your love prayers support and good wishes.

Love Gary, Kelly, Katie and Casey

May 31, 2013

Hello Family, 
Okay... the last time we wrote was Wednesday night while mom was in surgery. Much has happened since that time and here's the update:

Half way through the surgery the surgeon came out to talk to us. He said that it was a pretty big mess in there and that he could see her ovaries and asked if we wanted to give him permission to removed them since he was right there. Due to cancer risk and genetic history she had planned to remove them during the lumpectomy, so we said yes. Three more times in that conversation he said "it's a big mess"... but then while walking away gave us the thumbs up sign. We decided as a group that 1. the "mess" he referred too was the literal mess of the spillage from her colon,  2. if he could leave the operating room things must be okay, and 3. thumbs up is a good thing. 

When he returned at about midnight to tell us the were finished we held to every word. He explained that they took the entire colon and some intestine. He made his hands stretch about 2 feet in length. He said that she will likely have a colostomy bag  the rest of her life as he took so much bowel. (We will know this for sure in the future.) He told us that the next 72 hours were crucial as her body needed to create white blood cells to fight off infection. It wasn't really a positive talk... as he walked away I asked "but her heart is beating on it's own? She's alive?" He smiled and replied "Yes, her heart is beating." 

At about 1:30am we each went into her room in ICU to see her and say a little prayer by her side. Casey stayed the night with dad. We all went home and planned to return yesterday morning. When my dad and Casey arrived Mom was awake and trying to talk to her brother Don. Since there was still a tube down her throat she was writing messages on a piece of paper. Since we didn't expect her to wake up and be conscious for at least a day this was a wonderful surprise. 

After dealing with last day of school activities with my son, I got there about noon. When I sent into see mom she wasn't looking too good. Her eyes were yellow and it was obvious that she was in pain. Katie, Dad and Casey met with a social worker and got info on the administrative stuff. Dad and Casey left to go deal with financial paperwork and were surprised with a visit from Casey's kids. Casey said that dad ditched him for the kids and just soaked up the love they smothered him with. After all, the grand kids are what keep my parents going. I stayed at the hospital just in case there were any problems so that dad could leave for a bit. Mom slept for about 4 hours. When we went into her room to see her she looked good and while clearly loopy from her pain meds she had a lot of "interesting" things to say. (Definitelymaterial to joke with her about when she is all better.) We then went to dinner and returned to say good-night. It wasn't a good visit. Mom hurt a lot and was talking in a way that brought us all to tears. She was saying her final good-byes. Remember, she isn't just dealing with pain and trauma from the surgery, she is also still in a place of fighting through chemo as her last treatment was last Friday and the chemo is actively fighting in her body for at least 10 days, which would be until Sunday. Chemo itself is no joke as it brings out depression, pain and nausea... now add the effects of this invasive surgery. Dad, Casey and I left around 10:30pm. 

Absolutely exhausted, you can only imagine the fear I felt this morning when my phone rang to wake me up this morning and I saw my brothers name. Apparently while I was sleeping, God was making miracles happen in her body. At 8:30am the doctors had her get up and walk over to a chair where she sat for 50 minutes. Her vitals all read good and the recovery was moving in a positive direction. Over night her kidneys started working and she had started urinating properly. But most important and the biggest miracle is that last night her white blood cell count was reading .06 and as of this morning it was 2.6. My understanding is that normal is 4.3-10.8 . This is HUGE... despite the chemo currently working to kill the wbc, the wbc are growing stronger. (If your into science or interested in these numbers check out this site: wbc count. ) Oh... and today she wants to live and her spirits have been lifted by the hope of improvement. 

Around 3 Casey called again to share that they have moved her out of the ICU and into a normal hospital room. This is great not only because it shows her improvement, but she is also getting away from the extreme germs, infections and dangerous diseases in the ICU. She also started drinking water, had an apple juice and some jello. Casey said they removed the tube from her nose which was draining junk from her stomach and removed the IV from her neck so now the only thing she is connected to is the meds IV, catheter and other basic monitors. We do not yet know how long the mesh will be in her wound or if/when they plan to fully stitch her up... but for now things are good. 

This pic was taken the day mom left ICU and
was admitted to a regular room. Lookin good - don't you think?
When I opened moms email I see that there are many, many messages to her. I will be on watch at the hospital tomorrow morning and will take my computer to read her your messages and respond accordingly. A few people have asked if they can send flowers. The nurse said that she shouldn't have any flowers, balloons or really anything from the outside delivered that might bring in germs. If you would like to mail a card it can be sent to my folks address: -----------

Thank you so very much for your kindness, prayers and love for our family... yet again. 
In His Grip. 
(and Gary, Katie and Casey)

June 5, 2013

I wanted to thank you all so much for your prayers for my mom and family. Here is an update on her and we would continue to ask for prayer if you will.
As of today, my mom is being healed by our wonderful Lord. First, her white blood cell count went up a few days after the surgery and has stayed up to fight off the infection and to heal her body. The doctor is very pleased with how she is recovering. She is able to get up and down out of bed by herself and walk up and down the hall.Today the physical therapist released her and said she can do it all on her own. She still gets very tired walking but she no longer needs assistance. As of yesterday, she is eating solid foods and drinking without getting sick. She was having lots of fluid in her lungs this last week but that is now gone and she is breathing so much better. She still has a lot of swelling in her legs and a ton of pain from the surgery. She was hooked up to a would vacuum yesterday which gives her pain most of the time but it should help her to heal much faster. Her spirit is good and she was smiling and crying good tears today. It was so wonderful to be with her this afternoon. I am very blessed that God saved my mom from this infection and that I can be here with her so much. I will be assisting her with her wound recovery for a little while once she is out of the hospital. I feel honoured that I can serve my mom this way. She should be able to go home in a few days and hopefully get back to church and normal life in a few weeks.
She still has the cancerous tumors in her body which will be addressed in about 2 months. Her oncologist is thinking she will have surgery to have them removed in 6-8 weeks then my mom will decide if she wants to have any further treatment. 
Thank you again for your prayers. Please keep them coming because she still has a long road of recovery ahead of her.
Written by Katie

June 6, 2013
I wanted to thank you all so much for your prayers for my mom, Kris Criswell Randall and family. Here is an update on her and we would continue to ask for prayer if you will.
As of today, my mom, Kris, is being healed by our wonderful Lord. First, her white blood cell count went up a few days after the surgery and has stayed up to fight off the infection and to heal her body. The doctor is very pleased with how she is recovering. She is able to get up and down out of bed by herself and walk up and down the hall.Today the physical therapist released her and said she can do it all on her own. She still gets very tired walking but she no longer needs assistance. As of yesterday, she is eating solid foods and drinking without getting sick. She was having lots of fluid in her lungs this last week but that is now gone and she is breathing so much better. She still has a lot of swelling in her legs and a ton of pain from the surgery. She was hooked up to a would vacuum yesterday which gives her pain most of the time but it should help her to heal much faster. Her spirit is good and she was smiling and crying good tears today. It was so wonderful to be with her this afternoon. I am very blessed that God saved my mom from this infection and that I can be here with her so much. I will be assisting her with her wound recovery for a little while once she is out of the hospital. I feel honoured that I can serve my mom this way. She should be able to go home in a few days and hopefully get back to church and normal life in a few weeks.
She still has the cancerous tumors in her body which will be addressed in about 2 months. Her oncologist is thinking she will have surgery to have them removed in 6-8 weeks then my mom will decide if she wants to have any further treatment. 
Thank you again for your prayers. Please keep them coming because she still has a long road of recovery ahead of her.

Written by Katie 

June 30. 2013

Hello Family, Friends, and Faithful Prayer Warriors, 

Wow! Did I ever have a June 2013 to remember!

This is the first time I've been on the computer since I went in for my life changing surgery May 29th. I have had a lot to process and comprehend this last month as well as trying to recovery from two major surgeries. 
I guess you can say that with my fourth chemo therapy treatment if it could go wrong it did. I spend 16 days in the hospital. The first week I was totally out of it and just trying to figure out what happened to me. The second week there were complications with my medical vital signs so I needed to be stable and all of the numbers needed to be correct before the DOCTORS would let me come home. It took that extra week in the hospital for me to give over my will and let God do the healing of my body. 

I came home June 14, Friday night and then realized it was just Gary and I. We were going to do this recovery together. I have a wound vacuum attached to my incision and have a Home Health Nurse come three days a week to change my bandage. A total of six weeks for the incision to heal. I also came down with an allergic reaction to one of the many medicines I received in the hospital on Sunday which gave me a full body rash/hives from head to toe. That little rash put me back in ER on June 21.  That  really slowed down my recovery and made me even weaker that I was when I left the hospital. I am getting stronger and faster each and every day. I do a chore and need to rest. Right now I have about an hour of energy and then I need to rest for an hour. Give and take but I am getting stronger.  

Oh Well, just a little glitch in this fight against CANCER.

Yes, I still have breast cancer and I'm scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor and four lump nodes in mid-July. I'll keep you updated when that date gets nearer. 

Not knowing if mom would be able to attend
Leah's 3rd birthday party, we brought the party
to her.  Leah arrived in her Cinderella gown
and of course Nathan had to be sure to appear
in costume too. They sure do love their
Grandma & Pops.
I thank all of you for the on going prayer and many cards of encouragement I have received. This has been a very humbling experience and a life changing way of thinking. I haven't really addressed all of the physical and emotional changes I've been through. One day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. 

The miracle of life was given to me and I am going to appreciate and cherish each and every day!  

Much love, Kris

July 14, 2013

Hello to all, 

I have been home recovering from my big adventure for one month. My body is still healing and my strength and endurance is getting stronger. I can now do a few household chores, cook small meals, water the garden, go to doctor appointments and visit with family and friends for an hour or so. I haven't gone shopping or socializing yet but hope to get out again and live life to its fullest in early August. Right now I'm just concentrating on fighting cancer. 
Although my body is still healing I will be going in for surgery to remove the tumor in my left breast and four lymph nodes on Tuesday, July 16 at 2:15pm.  The doctors feel strongly that they want to remove the cancer while the effects of chemo therapy are still at its best in my body. The surgeon told me last week that the surgery I just went through on a scale of 1 to 10 was a "10". This upcoming surgery he would rate as a "2". So he feels I can recover from both surgeries at the same time. I feel confident that this surgery will go smoothly but would certainly appreciate prayers that all of the cancer will be removed and that no complications take place. 

This has been a long six weeks, a summer I will never forget. Gary and I are planning to take a small vacation as soon as I can travel comfortably. Maybe for our 40th Wedding Anniversary on August 10, 2013 we can take a nice trip for a few days. I will continue to walk this path that God has chosen for me and look for the beautiful surprises He has planned for me. 

Love, Kris

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Conquering Stage Fright - Survivor Speech - Relay for Life 2013

Dear Friends and Family, 
Thank you again for all your support, encouragement and donations toward the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I am happy to report that despite insane nerves and anxiety I delivered my speech and was even told by a few people that I did a good job. The ACS gal told me not to be surprised when they call me to speak again... who knows, maybe a side career of speaking is in my future. (Imagine icon of terrified face here. I was a ball of nerves before I started speaking... but it all worked out just fine.)

My baby brother (the big guy next to me), his wife
and their 3 children. My parents, and of course my
little ballerina and superhero.
In the audience (of about 600 people) there were several special people that I would like to thank for coming out to support me. My parents came out (even though my mom is/was going through chemotherapy), my brother and his family, my friend Samantha who also scooped free ice cream for the survivors donated by Leatherby's Family Creamery, my friends Rita, Erica, Jeff and Lolly (who is also going through treatment right now for appendix cancer) and a friend that I made while going to radiation Jane. And of course, my hubby and kids were there to cheer on mommy!

Before I share my speech, I also want to thank those who made donations to ACS. The luminary bags that decorated the track were beautiful. I tried to get pictures of all of them, however I am pretty sure that most of my group of donated bags were actually hanging up creating the word "Love", so I wasn't able to get close enough to photograph them. 

Thank you to the following friends  for your generous donations. I was able to raise $340 with the help of the following supporters:
This bag was dedicated to my mom.
They had misspelled her name so I
had Nathan redo it for her.
Makes it even more special.
Al & Carroll Amator
Annette Hicks
Sally Finkbeiner
Samantha Cox
Chanel Schrier
Bob & Pat Montgomery
Jay & Danielle Joost & Family 
Emily Brown
Joni and Glen Kelley
Jennifer Buwala
Casey & Eileen Randall
Rod & Diane Fendall
Tim & Elizabeth Driessen

Okay, here's my speech: 

2013 Relay for Life Survivor Speech
I hate my hair.
It used to be long and straight and shiny. It used to be dark. I have no idea what color my hair is now & why is the bottom part curly and the top flat?
But you now what?
I looked good bald.
My husband and kids loved me even though I was bald. And although the cancer treatment took my hair, it did not take my HOPE.

In 2011 the luminary bags at the end of this track read: HOPE
Last year they read: Faith
And tonight, they read: Love

You see, when it comes down to it, there are three things in this life that endure, faith, hope and love. Tonight we celebrate love.

As a community we stand together tonight in a bond of love. We will walk this track united in love. And we will continue the fight against this nasty disease called cancer in the name of love.

Love for someone dear to your heart that has left this earth too soon.

Love for someone who is an inspiration of hope and courage. Someone currently battling against cancer and determined to win the fight.

Or love for a survivor who has taken a lickin… but has decided to keep on tickin.

Love unites us. And love is the reason we will fight and walk and fundraise and hope and pray and keep fighting until there is a cure for cancer.

Did you know that thanks to the research by money raised by the American Cancer Society  2 out of 3 people are surviving cancer for at least five years. But we can't be silent, or stop fighting or stop fundraising until that number is 3 out of 3.

And this is where your love comes in. Tonight we, as a community, demonstrate our love, by walking this track in honor of all who touched by this disease. For cancer does not sleep, so tonight neither will we.

Please let me to share a little bit of my cancer story:
My story begins on a regular morning in the shower while, like a good American woman, I was shaving my armpits. I felt something on my right side next to my breast. Thinking it was a bug bite I went to itch it and realized that what I was feeling was deep under my skin. I gave myself a self-exam and knew instantly that this lump was new and needed to be checked out.

When the nurse touched my lump she jumped back and sent me to get a mammogram and ultrasound. Under and hour later I sat alone in her office as she told me that she didn’t like what the image was showing and I should have a biopsy. She gave up her lunch break and did the core biopsy right then. One week later she called me to tell me that the biopsy was negative but she didn’t believe it She thought the results were a false negative and she was ordering another biopsy. I went in the next week… the doctor took 30 samples from the lump and the next day I got a call that changed my life.

The day I found out I had cancer will never be erased from my memory. I was
at my aunt's house feeding my 15-month-old daughter in the high chair when the phone rang. I stepped over my 4-year-old son to go into the bedroom to answer the phone. As the doctor told me about the results of my biopsy, that I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I calmly took notes and thanked him kindly for the horrible news. I remember telling my aunt I had an aggressive form of cancer, asked her to watch the kids and then drove to my husbands work.
When he started crying, I started crying. Those were my first of many  tears.

I was 34 years old.
And went from feeling like I had all the time in the world, to feeling like a clock had started ticking with a countdown.

Something I have learned though, is that if you let it, fear will rule your life. I’m not going to act like it wasn’t easy, but I eventually decided that love is greater than fear and I would choose to love life, and my family, and myself and that I wouldn’t let cancer steal my spirit.
Love is the fuel for life.
Love makes our life worth livng… and that statement is true even without cancer.

In the following 10 months, I went through 16 chemotherapy treatments and then 30 radiation sessions. I’m not going to lie. It was awful. The first 10 weeks I felt like I had the worst flu ever.
Turning on the lights hurt my eyes.
People talking hurt my head.
My bones hurt from the inside out.
And on many days taking a shower was the main event of the day.

But amongst the pain of chemotherapy there was also abundant love.

My husband Eric loved me so well. He became caretaker, nurse, prayer warrior and stepped in to the missing role of mommy for our babies. He stepped outside of himself to love me beyond words.

My 4 year old son Nathan had the job of bringing me water. At least 4 times a day he would trek up the stairs with a fresh bottle of water. It was his job to keep me healthy with a fresh drink and he took that job with incredible seriousness. That little boy loved me more than I could have thought possible.

And my baby girl Leah, at only 1 year old, loved me with cuddles and kisses and hugs. Her simple presence oozed with life and love.

Friends and family loved me, actually they loved my family, with meals, watching the kids, fundraising, cleaning my home… and so many other unique and special ways.

And while I know that not all of you will understand this, the love of my God, gave me comfort and peace in a way I had never experienced.  You see, when all you have to do with your day is lay in bed, all alone, silent and in pain… praying turns into deep, real, honest, open conversation. And folks, the depth of those talks with God became my strength and courage. And my ability to love back.

Today, nearly a year after treatment has finished; when people ask me how I feel I always answer “I’m still standing.” You see, my view of life and love has been forever changed and I am now in a place where everyday today matters more than any other day. Because today I have been given the gift of breath. And today is a day I can love on my children. Every day is a gift and to treat it than less than a gift would be to waste one of the lessons that cancer has taught me.

Last year, at the 2012 Relay for Life, although I was still going through radiation I came out and walked. For me it was 24 hours of declaring victory on the other side of cancer. I wore my survivor shirt with pride.

This year, I fundraised in the name of the many women that I have encountered and become friends with that have has been diagnosed with cancer in this past year. My prayer list now includes my dear friend Lolly, Julie, Kristin and sadly, my mom, Kris. In March my mom was diagnosed with the same nasty Triple Negative Breast Cancer that I had. She is half way through her treatment. She is determined to win. And she is an example of joy in all circumstances and taking this awful hiccup in life with grace.

With cancer in my past, yet still totally in my present, I have decided that  I really wanted to give back to the American Cancer Society. You see, the day before I went into surgery for my lumpectomy, I made the call to the American Cancer Society. A kind woman answered the phone and took my information. We talked for close to an hour, and I’m sure she would have talked to me for 4 hours if I needed it. She shared about the financial assistance they had for transportation costs to patients that needed help in driving to treatment. They also had volunteers available to drive me to treatments if I needed it. They had classes & support groups, online and at various hospitals. She even mentioned a class called 'Look Good, Feel Better' where I could learn to do make-up around my eyes and how to draw on eyebrows after my eyelashes and eyebrows fell out. She was honest and clear. I felt supported and understood.

After my 2nd chemotherapy treatment and my hair had fallen out I went to the 'Look Good, Feel Better' class. At the class, I sat with 6 other women who were going through treatment too. One of the older ladies scolded me for not wearing my facemask. My husband had been telling me I needed to wear it, but when this fellow cancer patient spoke, I somehow understood the need to take responsibility for my immune system and myself. We put on make-up, they showed us different wigs, and head wraps offered by ACS and the volunteers handed out crocheted beanies. We were given a bag of make-up donated by a variety of cosmetic companies throughout the country. Everyone teaching the class had experienced hair loss and had gone through chemo treatment. In that room,
I was normal.

Those services were the direct result of the love of our community at events like Relay for Life. Yes, the efforts of this event actually reach real cancer patients right here in Elk Grove. So on behalf of patients and survivors… I thank you for loving us.

As we walk together tonight and you remember those who are hidden deep in our hearts, or you celebrate a survivor, or you find yourself praying for healing for someone currently at battle, remember that love is what unites us tonight.

(Halie enter the stage.)
Tonight we have a very special young lady with us that I would like to introduce. Her name is Halie McKinney and she is a very mature and wise 10 year old. The kind of special child that has a heart to change the world with her kindness. Halie’s life has been touched by cancer multiple times over the past several years. She had and aunt who past away in 2010 of lung cancer, a cousin at the age of 25 in 2011 from testicular cancer and another aunt in 2012 from breast cancer. Last year at the San Leandro Relay for Life she donated her hair to an organization making wigs for cancer patients. And last February she started saving money for a little boy that she knew who had cancer but he has since past away. She put all of her birthday money, tooth fairy money, recycling money and even had a garage sale last weekend with donated items in order to fill her donation jar. Tonight Halie would like to officially make a donation to the American Cancer Society in honor and memory of those she knew that have been taken too soon.

Halie, how much are you donating?
(Let Halie answer.) ($1,000)

Folks, this young lady, 10 year old Halie McKinney, is a great example of love. She has sacrificed and worked work hard to raise money that will bless the lives of people that she has never nor will ever meet. She is demonstrating that love lives beyond the grave and that not even death can stop love. Love conquers all… love wins.
And love never fails.
Thank you. 

Wow.... if you made it this far your a super duper faithful friend! Thanks for reading.