Do It For Them

Do It For Them
Seven reasons worth fighting for-Ben, Hannah, Emma, Molly, Katie, Grace, and Jack

Husband, Father, Son, Our Superman

Husband, Father, Son, Our Superman

Monday, October 27, 2008

Duane's Recent Delivery

Don't let the smile deceive. My husband has been a miserable beast for the last week. Hannah even asked if he had a baby in his tummy. But today a little relief came when the doctors drained 4 liters of fluid from one of two pockets full in his abdomen. 4 liters, 1 gallon, 8 lbs, anyway you think about it, severe pain is what it was. He is resting so much better now, not depending on going to the bathroom, or laying a certain way to relieve pressure.
The major stinky thing is we still have to wait until Thursday (chemo Wed. moved back one day) to find out what it was and why. I hate waiting. But for the time being Duane is a much happier camper and proud papa of his delivered 4 liter baby.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A year down, 60 more to go!

My love and me at the pumpkin patch and Duane with all his monkeys. We're enjoying a burst of energy. We take advantage of those.

Dawn was my favorite cousin, technically she was my mom's little cousin but she was my age. I loved spending summer's at woodhaven with her, watching Dirty Dancing, singing our hearts out and even playing a little Ouija board(shh, it's not a fond memory). She even convinced me one summer that she NEVER tooted, and I believed her and was jealous! Dawn passed away 8 years ago from colon cancer at the young age of 28. This was my introduction to the cruelty and silent killer called colon cancer.

Today is the one year anniversary of Duane's diagnosis with stage 4 colon cancer. A happy sad day for the Summers family. We are thrilled beyond belief that he is here with us. Thrilled to touch his hand, rub his back, kiss his face, look into his yellow eyes. Thrilled he was able to cuddle with Grace today, give Ben words of encouragement, and just tell each one of his monkeys "I love you!". We are sad today to celebrate the lose of his activity, the lose of innocence we once had that nothing would ever happen to us, sad to loose freedom from CT scans, pet scans, chemo, doctor's visit and everything nasty associated with cancer.

Last year he entered the hospital thinking it was maybe a gallbladder problem and came out knowing he had cancer in his colon, both lobes of his liver and his lungs. It was a harsh, cruel, wakening to a new reality. The pain he felt was severe, the pain I felt was equally painful but in a different way. He doesn't remember much about those first few days in the hospital, I can't seem to forget. Drugs were his best friend, probably for the best, he didn't need to be smacked with so much reality along with all the pain. I will say though, through all the heartache I never felt more love and compassion in my entire life.

One memory often passes through my mind, one of my friend Jen and her husband coming up that first night in the emergency room. She was the first I had seen, the emotions that poured from my body to this day brings tears to my eyes. She held me so tightly, the type of hug I know my Father in Heaven would have wanted to give, but it was her arms he was using. She will never know of the impact that had on me that night, probably never will. It is a wonderful memory amongst hard ones.

All our family in town came up that night to the hospital, my dear best friend stayed with my babies as we all rallied around Duane. The doctors were all marveled at how many loved ones came to his side, even commenting how he wished others could have the same support. That struck me as so silly! That's what family is for, we come to each others side, hold them up when they can't for themselves. Of course they all came, he was their son and son in-law, brother-in-law, and grandson in-law. The weeks brought a brother and an uncle, with cards and letters from all distant loved ones. That's what a family does, that's what they do.

More support than I can even begin to mention poured into our lives. Our church family took care of us. They fed us, cleaned for us, tried to bottle feed my nursing 4 month old. Anything you can think of they did for us. One night I called home from the hospital and heard the voice of a sister from church that I really did not know that well. I young energetic sister with her own family struggles, her voice was music to my weary ears. Service sounds like dear sweet Heidi's voice. Someday I hope to bring that joy into someone else's life like she did that night.

I don't think time will ever fade my memory of those first few weeks after Duane's diagnosis. I did hope this first anniversary would be a more jubilant occasion, one with a party, maybe dinner out, but I will settle with holding his hand, kissing him, and telling him that I will never give up on him. I will never leave, never stop praying, never stop hoping. I will happily celebrate his one year anniversary fighting cancer with a promise that I will always fight along side him, my love, my life, my superman.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Keep it up! (acutally down)

With all the commotion of Wednesday we didn't get Duane's complete number count for the liver, bili rubin, and CEA(cancer protein). Do you like the arrow? ME TOO! Everything went in a downward motion, like a turtle, but still down. Slow and steady wins the race, I guess? Why can't the rabbit win for once already. Anyway his bili rubin is around 26(it likes to count by 2's apparently). 2 of the 3 liver functions again when in the right direction. And finally the CEA went down to 46 from 51, I think it's back to where it was. I wish I could say Duane was feeling better, but today was extremely hard on him. He didn't even come downstairs until 3:00 or so. Broken record time, Cancer Sucks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chemo Wednesday-Well, that was fun!

My Grace. From the time I was a teenager I knew I would have a daughter named Grace. I love that name, it was my great grandma's name. Grace is my sweet, corky, emotional 6 year old. I love her to pieces.
I love her fashion sense. So keen, so trendy. The Converse, Tinkerbell socks and chicken legs are a must have for the latest fall fashions.
I love her smile, my Mona Lisa.
Let me share with you how this child scared the HOLY GUACAMOLE out of me tonight after we came home from chemo.
But first I need to back up, rewind, and let you in on the happenings at chemo today.
The room where Duane receives chemo is a large room filled with comfy recliners, IV poles and pumps and lots of busy nurses. Two chairs down a woman was receiving her chemo treatment, her 10th I believe. All of a sudden(this was all within a 5 minute period) she became unresponsive, her blood pressure bottom out, her doctor became flushed and frantic, and emsa came. I do have to admit to completely and totally loosing all composure. I spent the next hour in the car trying to stop the tears. It was horrible, just so sad to see someone, we now know, apparently have either a stroke or throw a clot or something like that.
So that pretty much sent me into a big slump, I tend to worry unnecessarily about that happening to my loved ones, especially Duane. So all afternoon when he would fall asleep I would either shake him awake, rub his ankle or pat his leg. I did not want to see that happen to my guy.
Well we get home, Duane is extremely exhausted, nauseous, sore, and just plan old pooped! He heads upstairs to rest and hopefully get a little shuteye without me waking him up. I'm doodling about my business, giving all my babies hugs, chasing Hannah, listening to Katie talk about HSM3(if you don't know what this is GOOD!), when the above child comes downstairs to tell me what Daddy is doing.
Grace: giggling "Mommy! Daddy is Frozen! His eyes are open and he's not moving!"
Me: "WHAT!"
Grace: still giggling "He's Frozen, he is laying in bed not moving with his eyes open."
At this point I think I might have pushed her aside(sorry Grace), ran upstairs, I did hear her yell "He's not dead mom!" and I rushed into our bedroom to see Duane laying on the bed with his eyes half open. My heart sank, he was dead, I just knew it. So I shook him, if the flushed doctor could do it I could, right? Poor Duane, who is obviously not dead, he's never going to sleep again, at least until he learns to close his eyes all the way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A funny thing happend on the way to....

Tonight we had parent teacher conferences at the elementaries school.

I love these nights by the way, please bear with me for a slight topic derailment, the one night that teachers and others give me a great big pat on the back, saying "Hey Mom, you're doing a fabulous job!". The one night I can pretend that I really do have the most fabulous, cooperative, well behaved children EVER! If only the monkeys teachers could see their bedrooms.

Anyway, back on topic, we were on our way to our first appointment with Grace's teacher and a funny thing, almost unfortunately commen thing happend in the hallways.

This sweet, precious and curious child walked by Duane and I and with eyes as wide as saucers craned her neck to watch us as we walked away from her. Oh it was priceless. You could just hear the thoughts zooming through her little noggin, "Oh my Gosh! That man is yellow!" This was the first time I had noticed this new occurance in Duane's life, I guess it's happend before. I couldn't stop chuckling. Am I just horrible? I mean if I were to be the jaundiced one, HOLY COW! Not enough make-up could get me out of the house. Well maybe I exaggerate some, but still!

What a trooper Duane is, what a great Dad! Still going to parent teacher conferences, still going to football games to see Katie cheer and going to more football games to watch Molly do her Tigette thing. Mind you that's all he can do for that day, but hey, it's one day at a time, one activity at a time, and memories the kids will have for a lifetime of how Dad came to see them.

As long as he can muster the energy, tolerate the little childrens stares, the energy drain after the event I want him right by my side, yellow eyes and all. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Why is reality so blunt and honest? When it was time to pick up the three elementary monkey's Duane was feeling the need to leave the house and decided to come with. Jack was the first one to comment "Dad you must have a lot of energy, you left the house!". Grace was next "Dadda are you feeling better, you came with Mommy?". And last was Katie as she entered the car, "Wow, Dad, you have energy today, you left the house!"
It's a definite YES, the kids feel it, see it, they are so keenly aware that cancer is an energy sucker. Dad doesn't do front handsprings anymore(yes he really could do those a year ago). Dad doesn't jump on the trampoline like he did 3 months ago. Dad does read to the monkeys, Candy Shop Wars is now complete(took all stinkin' summer)! Grace will get her book-it coupon for the month, thanks Dad. Homework has a patient new tutor(yippee for Ben).
It's an adjustment for all of us. It has some drawbacks, but we can find our silver lining. Right? We are all rooting Daddy on so someday soon we can see that flip on the trampoline, underdoggies, and maybe a monkey impersonation(maybe).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ritalin-Not just for your ADD child

What this has to do with Duane and Ritalin, not much, I just love this picture. Doesn't it just make you think wacky thoughts. Maybe this cow is on Ritalin. Anyway I digress from my original thoughts. Ritalin. Yes the wonder drug for all hyper active children. Ritalin. Now the wonder drug for tired, energy lacking cancer patients named Duane. We Love It! Kind of confusing huh? Why would a drug intended to calm an ADD child work for someone with no energy. It's a stimulant! Never knew that did you, at the end of this we should all have our pharmacology degree. The basics on how it works. A over active body needs to have some balance, stimulate the brain to help control the body and viola, Ritalin induced calm. So when you're without energy, take the prescribed amount, and viola, Ritalin induced activity. It can trick you though, especially when you were unaware ones spouse had taken it and you ask "you must be feeling better, you have more energy than normal." and ones spouse responds in return "No, it's just the drugs.". Phooey. Oh well, thank you to the creators of this drug of wonders for my cancer man.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Real America

I've just finished surfing and suffering through a few pinheaded blogs that absolutely made my blood boil. Deep Breath Becky, Deep Breath!! Political season is upon us, and no, I will not spew my views about health care, women's rights or which party is at fault for the latest economic disaster, but tell you that out there in the REAL America people are not divided by political parties, they are brought together by compassion and love.

Out in the REAL America neighbors bring sacks of food from a neighborhood block party to a family unable to attend.

Out in the REAL America groups of teenagers ages 12-17 help a family complete tasks left unfinished because the family is having a difficult time.

Out in the REAL America friends can talk, laugh, cry and love each other despite differences in political views.

Love drives the REAL Americans.

This past week our family has been so moved and touched by REAL acts of kindness, REAL love, REAL service that my heart could have possibly busted with emotions.

Wednesday, you know chemo Wednesday, the youth of our church came to our house and provided such acts of service, kindness and love that I was moved to tears. I didn't even count the amount of young men and young women that were at our home, but in an hours time our very messy, very packed garage was completely cleaned out, re-organized and dejunked! It was amazing. The young women entered our home and swept, dusted, cleaned mini-blinds that had never been cleaned, and bailed out several of the little monkeys from their messy rooms. Often you hear of selfish, rude and uncaring teenagers, I can tell you genuinely goods teens do exists, and they truly do want to serve our Father in Heaven.

Saturday we received a knock on the door, expecting one of the neighbor kids wanting one of my monkeys, but were surprised by a faintly familiar set of faces. Two gentlemen that live just around the corner from us, which I had never met or talked to before, but had seen walking, gardening, etc., stop by with armfuls of food! What a shock, to say the least. Through the grapevine they had heard that maybe we wouldn't be able to attend the neighborhood block party. So they brought it to us. We were stunned and humbled. Strangers really to us were so giving, so caring, REAL Americans.

I would never wish cancer on anyone. It pains every part of your being, but cancer has opened my eyes, it has made me see more into what matters most. I do wish everyone could experience the love we have felt over the past week. REAL Americans caring for each other, I have seen that, I have felt that. I pray that everyone can find what it means to be a REAL American, without the cancer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chemo Wednesday-The Good the Bad and the Ugly!

Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but can I just say it again, Cancer SUCKS! Warning about my mood, I think someone stole my silver lining attitude, I'd like it back please, I'll even offer up a reward, a whopping buck two fifty(old family saying).

I've never even seen that Clint Eastwood flick, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, but the title really fit with how the day went yesterday at chemo.
The Good- Duane's Liver is slightly improving. 2 out of the 3 important function numbers moved in the right direction, still very elevated, but moved in the right direction. The infamous billi number DROPPED 2 whole points, woo hoo! In my mind the woo hoo was sarcastic but really I am glad it went down instead of up.
The Bad- We got the results of his CT scan and not really any change, except for the colon tumor looking slightly larger. Now Dr. L did tell us not to panic, CT's are not the best tool for measuring colon tumors. So with that in mind, when we got his CEA count(cancer protein indicator) it was up by 7 points, 44 to 51, sucks huh.
The Ugly- Ladies out there who have suffered from morning sickness, take your worst day and times that by three! Duane was so sick on Wednesday. Usually before they start the chemo, pre-meds are given to help alleviate the nausea, etc. Well on top of the fabulous pre med nausea medicine Duane had 2 other IV injections to stop him from barfing. The last one he had was just in the nick of time, he was literally breathing through the urge to purge. Duane made it home but immediately went to bed and any time he got up everything came up, yuck!
That in a nutshell is what we did between 9 and 5 yesterday at our every other Wednesday home away from home, the chemo place.