11 Days

Sunday, December 30, 2012

In 11 days I will meet with the oncologist. From there we will decide what sort of treatment I will do. If we go with Interferon (which is the most likely) it's going to be a long, stressful year. I will probably be very sick and tired. The first month is going to be incredibly demanding and stressful and most likely require me to be away from my kids and husband.

I have spent days agonizing over this. What will I do with my kids? How will we manage? Who will help us? I have cried myself to sleep, I have worried myself sick and I have begged for peace during my prayers.

Tonight it finally hit me... What am I doing? I am robbing myself of the last 11 days before life changes dramatically again. It's easy for people to say, "Don't stress about it yet.".... So much harder to actually do. But tonight I am giving myself the gift of letting go.

I know life is going to change soon. I know it's going to be rough. I know life as we know it will once again take a different direction. But right this very second I can't do anything about it. I can't speed up time or slow it down. I can't change the results from the previous tests and I can't change my options. So I will do my best to focus on what I can change.

I can spend the next 11 days playing with my kids. I can spend the next 11 days enjoying family time, hanging out with friends and laughing as much as I like. I will watch my favorite shows on DVR, eat Temptation Cupcake just because I want to and try to hit up Olive Garden. I will say prayers of thanks instead of sorrow. I will cry if I feel the need and not feel guilty. I will dance with my kids and I will be happy.

The next 11 days are all I have before life is guaranteed to change once again. I am lucky and I have a forewarning. So I will view that as a blessing and soak up every minute of it however I feel fit.

And at the end of those 11 days I will walk out of the doors of the oncologist and make new plans. I will choose my path and I will fight. Until then, I will spend 11 days not fighting but living. It's the best gift I could give myself. Let go and live!

Santa is real!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

At least the idea of him. This year I was overwhelmed by how many people wanted to make our Christmas amazing. The true spirit of Christmas was in no short supply in our home this year. We were surrounded with love like we've never known before. I am in total awe of these strangers who so willingly give. Who come to my door with a smile on their face and seem as though I'm making their day wonderful by accepting their gifts. It was incredible. To all of our Secret Santa's.. I could never thank you enough. You not only brought so much needed joy to my children... You also made mom and dad so relieved because we hadn't had much time to even think about Christmas. It all kind of came on fast and I never had to stress about one thing. So as I sat there on Christmas morning and watched my very excited kids open their presents I got tears in my eyes.

I cried because I was so very thankful and hoped you knew. I cried because I have realized that it's much harder to be the receiver than it is the giver. I cried because we mattered to someone. I cried because there are so, so many good people in this world. And those good people went out of their way for me. I cried because for the first time in my life I felt the Spirit of Christmas so strongly it was almost as though I could touch it. It was that real. Whoever you are, we love you and have said many prayers of thanks for all you did. If I can't tell you to your face, I hope you read my blog! You have forever touched our hearts.

Wishing a very Merry (a day late) Christmas to all. I so wish I could have blessed all your Christmas' like mine was. I wish I was in a position to be like the kind strangers who gave so much to us. Maybe someday. But it's not even about the gifts. It's about how they made us feel. Loved, special, like we mattered and a sense of peace since I could focus on recovering and not stress about wrapping and shopping. They made me feel so very blessed. And you can't wrap that. And those truly are the best gifts of all.

Merry Christmas!

Ps. Karston is in none of the pictures because he was super sick :/ he was a party pooper this year!!

More Montana Balloons!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Keep the balloons coming! Every time I get a text with balloon pictures Kambrie gets so excited. This time my beautiful cousin Hailey and her boyfriend Nick sent off balloons from the freezing cold Montana. Thank you so much Hailey and Nick for the support. Love you! <3

Whenever I go in for a procedure or something I always look through all my balloon pictures before. It reminds me how much support I have. You guys rock!

Beauty = Pain

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not in the typical sense in this case...
But it does equal alive.
And in my book that is the most beautiful thing of all.

My eye will (hopefully) go back to normal soon. The doctor said it can last up to three months. That's three months I can confuse people with my facial expressions though... ;)

The drain should come out next week. I will sing praises that day. The drain is slightly less than fun. On a scale of 1 to ingrown toe nails it ranks slightly above ingrown toe nails. Who knew lymph nodes actually had a job? So after you look at my picture tell yours thank you. :)


I am one lucky person. I have amazing sisters. One sister, 2 step sisters and 6 sister in laws. I love every single one of them and they all bring so much to my life.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer I was devastated. I called my sisters Alyssa and Taylor and cried. A lot. I'm sure they were sick of it... So they jumped on a plane and flew to me. ;) You never know how much someone just being there means until something like this hits you. I just wanted my sisters. They came and we shopped, laughed, cried, ate and had so much fun. Just them sitting next to me meant so much. To know that I didn't have to face this alone was comforting. And the great thing about sisters is they didn't always say the typical things. They cried with me. They let me be scared. They admitted they were scared too and they validated the way I felt. I wish so badly they lived closer. That I could see them everyday. But even from states away they are two of my biggest supporters. To have sisters like them is to be blessed.

8 years ago I slipped on ice and gave myself a severe head injury in the middle of no where. Alyssa drug me through several feet of snow for like a mile to get me help. I'm probably alive today only because of her. So guess what Lys? If you can drag me through that... You can drag me through this :)

When I have a bad day I am lucky to have so many sisters to call. Started out with 1 and ended up with 9... Now that is blessed. Although I'm starting to worry some of them will disown me if I ask them to babysit anymore ;)

"When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder who stands a chance against us?" Pam Brown
-the answer is not cancer. Most definitely not cancer.

Ouchies and Thank You's.

Ouch. Doesn't even remotely describe how I feel currently. This surgery has been much more rough to recover than the last one. I am so glad that my mom was here for a few days after to help. One of the worst feelings as a mom is feeling like you can't take care of yourself let alone your babies. I'm so used to doing everything that it's hard to sit back and let everyone else take over. Although the housework hasn't been that hard to hand off ;)

We did get the news that all 20 of the lymph nodes they removed were cancer free. Such great news and I am so glad to finally hear something good from the doctor for once! Still not sure what the future holds treatment wise. We will meet with an oncologist soon and discuss all that. Until then we will say many prayers of thanks and enjoy the holidays.

Danny bought me this cute sign when I was in surgery. It says, "You get what you give, so give good." It serves as a reminder to me everyday to live up to what I've been given through this trial. The amount of help we have had handed to us to lift us up is life changing. I get mail everyday from strangers who heard my story and want to help. My neighbors drop everything to do anything I ask. My family has spent tons of money on travel and if they can't travel they check on me constantly. Danny's family has bent over backwards to babysit and offer any support they can.

I could make every post on this blog about what people have done for us, but it would take me a year to write it all out. There are that many. But I want each of you to know how much we appreciate it all. The money, the gifts, the messages, the dinners, the hugs, the prayers... They all mean so very much and they have all touched us in ways I don't know how to express in words. I can only hope that we can one day give as good as we've been given. You all inspire me to be a better person and I don't know what we would have done without the support we have received.

Our lives changed forever on October 29, 2012. In that moment we were sure it had taken a horrible direction. We were wrong though. It was about to change for the better and by facing our biggest trial yet we were about to have blessings straight from heaven pour down on us. I know that my Heavenly Father has been by our side through this whole thing in the form of you. So whatever it was that inspired you to reach out to us, whether you've known us forever... Or not at all... Thank you. Thank you for changing our lives.

Off with their heads...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Well my lymph nodes heads that is..

Good riddance.

It's time!

Until after the anesthesia wears off...

It could be worse

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cancer is all consuming. It devours your thoughts, dreams, conversations. It hangs over your head when you're having fun. It screams in your head when you're laughing. Tells you, you shouldn't be happy. Don't think positive. Be sad. Think about the scariness and the odds. That's what it wants.

I do a pretty good job of ignoring it though. I just laugh louder, smile bigger and tell myself constantly, "I can do hard things. Why? Because I am a Daughter of God."

Only on occasion does cancer get me down. I can't be strong all the time. As much as cancer sucks though... There are moments that make you realize cancer is not the worst. Friday snapped me out of my gloom and showed me there is far worse than cancer. It's not the worst and for that I am so thankful. I would take cancer 1,000 times over, than be one of those poor parents on Friday. Cancer is awful, but I have the chance to fight it. So today I will be grateful for this trial. It has paled in comparison to the grief in the news. My heart is broken for them.

Watching the news with my husband we just looked at each other and said, "It's only cancer. Thank goodness it's only cancer."

Tonight I will tuck my babies in bed. I will kiss them goodnight and say many thanks that they're there. They're safe. And they're alive.

Thank you Heavenly Father, thank you.

My Mama

My mom is here... And that basically means all is right with the world.
Yes, I'm 27... But I still feel 100 times better if my mom can rub my back or feel my forehead. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I need my mom. Now more than ever. I am so glad she's here!

My mom is amazing. I love every piece of her. How she thinks Neosporin cures everything, how she wears holiday socks year round, how her laugh always cheers me up, how she still brushes my hair out of my eyes and how I grew up and realized she's my best friend.

She's the first person I call on a good day and a bad day. I can tell her absolutely anything and she still loves me.

Somehow over the years I grew up and had my own babies. But she's still my mom. And I'm still her baby. And there is no amount of time that could change that.

So I've got all I need for surgery on Tuesday! A great doctor, a positive attitude and my mama. Ready, set, Go!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I had my house cleaned.
I was pampered all day at the spa.
A whole lot of people bent over backwards for me while I got a massage, a facial, a pedicure and my hair done...
Oh yeah... And all these people showed up to support me.
Amazing day. Thank you doesn't cover it. So I will simply say, I love you all.
If I was cancer, I would be shaking in my boots... Because the army that showed up to support me tonight only makes me stronger.
What a day. There are so many good people in the world. And I'm just lucky enough to know all of them ;)

I love you all. No joke. Thank you.


Monday, December 10, 2012

I've been married to my wonderful husband for almost 8 years. We got engaged after 6 weeks of knowing each other. (Gasp!) Crazy I know.. As cheesy as it sounds, when we met it was like we had known each other forever. I knew right away he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I am so glad I listened to that feeling and that he had the guts to ask me despite everyone thinking we were crazy. Here we are 8 years later and happier than ever :) 

There is one moment in our marriage that happened recently that changed me forever.

I am extremely claustrophobic. The MRI was pure torture for me. I'm not proud to admit this... But the whole time I was in there all I could think was, "Why me? Why isn't this someone else in here?" (I'm human... Forgive me..)

Anyways, after throwing myself a pity party I happened to walk in on a phone conversation Danny was having and he said, "The whole time she was in there all I could think was, I wish that was me in there. I wish I could take her place."

Talk about feeling small. I was wishing my sorrow on someone else while my husband would so willingly take my place.

I am so thankful I married such a kind man. A man who has taken over everything that I have neglected since this started. Who lets me nap whenever I need it after he has worked 10 hours and will still take care of the kids, do laundry, cook dinner and anything else I ask. A man who tells me I'm beautiful even when I've gained 50 pounds, haven't showered in days and I'm still in my pajamas at 3 pm. He is incredible. I am so lucky.

I'm just glad it's him here with me through this. That I get to hold his hand no matter what life throws at us. Life can take so many different turns and I got lucky and chose him. Best choice I ever made. Spending the rest of eternity with my best friend. Not a bad deal.

All I Ever Wanted..

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We went to the Forgotten Carols last night. If you've never been, I highly suggest you go sometime or at least listen to the music. Michael McLean has such a way of telling stories that go straight to your heart. It was my second time seeing the show, but this year one song in particular really hit home. It's called, "All I Ever Wanted. This part from it made me tear up everytime:

"All I ever wanted, all I ever dreamed of, everything I hoped and all the things I prayed for,
Couldn't hold a candle to what I have been given. I've been given what I need."

I'm not saying cancer was necessarily what I needed... But it's shown me that what I have is exactly what I needed. This past year was full of disappointments for Danny and I. Money that never came, dreams that were never fulfilled, great jobs that never worked out. When we were going through it, it was devastating. Now I've realized that none of that was what I needed.

What I needed was to slow down and go back to the basics. To stop comparing myself to everyone around me. To realize that at the end of the day, I really do have it all. A husband who loves me dearly, three babies to tuck in every night, a strong testimony and amazing friends. All the other stuff like money gets taken care of some way or another by Heavenly Father. No matter how bad things get, when we can't see two feet in front of us because things seem so dark.. Things always work out. Not always how we wanted, not always how we expected, but they do.

I am so thankful that in our darkest hours my Heavenly Father never gave me all I had been praying and hoping for. He gave me what I needed. And some how cancer has made me okay with that.

What an incredible feeling to think, "I love what I've been given." And truly mean it. My soul feels free.

Ps At the University where the play was... We ran across a flyer of me on the wall! Now that doesn't happen everyday ;)

Emu what?!

Friday, December 7, 2012

My sister works at an emu ranch. What's an emu you ask? I'm not sure... Some sort of creepy bird thing. And where's the emu oil coming from... Well that I'm not sure of, but I can assure you it's amazing stuff! My sister gave me a bottle of it and I've rubbed it on my scar everyday. It has healed up amazing! They have all kinds of products, but I am now a total believer in the oil. And I'm not usually one to go for "natural stuff". It works though! I am proof! So thank you Montana Emu Ranch! :)

If you don't believe me, the proof is in the pictures! The order of the pictures goes 3 days, 1 week and then 2 weeks post op Not too shabby! Check out their products at www.montanaemuranch.com


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My scar is actually looking pretty decent. It's too bad they're just going to go cut it open again... And keep cutting clear down my neck. Oh well. If it means I can see my babies grow up, then cut what you need to! Outward beauty is no longer on the top of my list.

Funny how a couple months ago I was so worried about if I should dye my hair dark or not. It was a decision I spent a lot of time going back and forth on. Now... I'm looking at styles of wigs to try if my hair falls out. I have dreams about shaving my head. Don't get me wrong, I'm not super thrilled at the prospect of being bald. I love my hair. LOVE. I have grown it out for like 4 years. I got upset once because I had my hair trimmed a while ago and it looked shorter than I had expected. My biggest problem was that I could no longer do a fabulous side braid. Lame, I know. What I wouldn't give to have that problem again. Funny how our trials can make us realize that life isn't all about great hair, smooth skin and what the world considers beautiful.

I don't have great feeling on the right side of my face, I can still barely feel my ear and every time I kiss one of my kids I can feel how tight my face is. But each morning my girls tell me how beautiful I am. And I'm still Karston's favorite person in the whole world, despite what my face looks like. That alone is worth any scar on my face. Or a bald head :)

When I kiss my babies on the head at night and they tell me they love me it's then that I have never wanted to live so much. Or when Karston's chubby baby hands reach for me it's then I mentally tell cancer to get lost. I will take the scars. I can deal with my face drooping or feeling constantly numb. Just let me watch my kids grow. Let me be the one to kiss their owies. Let me be the one who has to deal with their temper tantrums. That's all I want.

Did you hear that cancer? You can have my hair, half my face and my lymph nodes... But you will not rob me of the chance to be with my kids. You've gone far enough. It's time to get lost now.


Monday, December 3, 2012

And I don't mean rain. 
I mean blessings. So many of them. 
Almost so many I don't know what to do with them. 
Person after person has shared our story. 
People who have never met me have shared my story. 
The blessings literally poured in all day that I feel so overwhelmed. (In a good way) 
How do you adequately say thank you to so many people without it sounding generic? 
How do you explain to them how deeply their kindness has touched your heart? 
I have yet to find the best way. 
But please know that every single thing matters. 
All the donations, the messages, the shares, the likes, the hard work, the gifts, the care packages, the phone calls, texts, and most of all the love. 

We never thought we'd be here. It's not something you imagine for yourself. And there are days where I do feel down. But all of you make it nearly impossible! ;) The love that has come our way since this all started is astounding. The support is something I never expected. I guess cancer has surprised me. It is such a horrible thing but so much good has come from it. We have been forever changed. We've been humbled, given more compassion and shown what's truly important in our lives. I am so appreciative and indebted to all of you. 

Tonight I will go to bed not asking, "Why me?" But instead counting my many blessings. And all of you will be at the top of my list. THANK YOU!

Fundraiser Flyer!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Here is the fundraiser flyer. Made by once again.. someone who has never met me but is uber talented and is passing kindness my way :) Thank you Nikkol! So much! It turned out so perfect. 

Click on the flyer to read it bigger!

We're Movie Stars!

At least the kids are convinced we are... 

Taylor Ballam with Ballam Films very kindly made this video for us. I was nervous about being on camera but I'm so thankful he took the video he did because it showed all the most important things about our family.. 
A. We laugh a lot
B. I laugh even more than a lot (I can't help it) 
C. We have fun
D. My kids are extremely cute
E. My kids dance a lot
F. Karston is a total Mama's boy ;)
G. We love each other. For reals. 

My hair was flat, needed some serious tlc and would not curl that day. I got dressed and thought, "Ew. I do not want to be filmed like this." But I sucked it up and did it. And I am SO GLAD. It's moments like these that remind us that we may never be that "perfect image" we want to be. But it's so much more important that we capture life as it's happening because you never know when it's going to change in the blink of an eye. When I am doing immunotherapy and am sicker than sick... I will be able to watch this video over and over and tell myself, "I will be her again. The lady who doesn't have the body she wants, but plays with her kids and has fun. Who spends more time kissing her kids than washing dishes. Who doesn't always have the perfect hair, but it doesn't matter,  because she's too busy dancing with her kids to notice. I am her. I will be her again." 
So thank you Taylor Ballam for your talent. And thank you Brittany Cascio for arranging it. From the very bottom of my heart. Thank you <3


I thought this balloon deserved its own special blog post because it was so sweet. My friend Steven wrote this on his balloon to send to heaven for me. Thank you Steven for your kind thoughts and your talent :)

In case you can't read it from the picture it says: 
Dear God, 
Please save my friend. 
Doctors say it's not the end. 
So bless her with strength to endure, 
If not that then how about a cure? 
Bless her family they're pretty upset. 
Please Heavenly Father, 
Save my friend Britt! 

Thank you STEVEN!

Balloons from Washington

We had the pleasure of spending 2 years in Washington and making some amazing friends. Leaving was so, so very hard. There have been many times through this trial that I have wished my Washington friends and family were here with me. Luckily we have made friends here.. but we still miss our Northern friends /family :) 
My Washington friends and family are so thoughtful and did a balloon release for me there since they couldn't be here. All the pictures brought tears to my eyes and made me so thankful to have friends like them. They have each touched my life and I miss them dearly! Thank you so much to all of you who stood out in the freezing cold to send a balloon to heaven for me!


Throughout this whole ordeal I have had the amazing opportunity to come into contact with people that I probably never would have known without this trial. There is something so uplifting about a total stranger writing you and saying, "I'm thinking of you. You're in my prayers. Be strong." Every time I receive one of these emails it humbles me. It is such an amazing feeling just to know that someone who has no clue who you are cares. That they would stop for 30 seconds on their busy day and tell me that I matter. I can't thank all of you enough.

I had the pleasure of having one kind person recommend a song to me. I am so grateful she did. She said the song made her think of me and she's never even met me. I believe without a doubt that was pure inspiration because that song has been playing in my head ever since the first time I listened to it. It is called "The Waiting Place" by Calee Reed. Every word of that song touched my heart and think you all need to hear it! If I can figure out how to get it on my blog I will. I can also email it to you if you want. Just leave me your email. It's amazing and has helped me so much. And all because one stranger thought of me (of all people) and was kind enough to share it with me. Thank you Malissa!

Since the bad news last week I've had a hard time getting out of my funk. I've felt totally unstable emotionally and like functioning normally is just too much work. So today I wake up thinking I was going to skip church but for some reason I talked myself into going and could not be happier that I did. It was at church today I met someone that also has stage 3 melanoma and she shared her story with me. Sometimes for some odd reason it's so comforting to say, "Oh you too?" She got it. She saw the fear in my eyes despite the strong words coming out of my mouth. I had the strangest urge to just hug her and cry. It's the first time through this whole thing I've come face to face with someone who is on the same path I am. So, so thankful for our chance meeting today. My heart feels so much relief.

I would share every kind thing every stranger has said or done, but there are so many. And for that I am grateful. Thank you for pausing for a minute during your day to offer me compassion and love. I appreciate you all. I am so humbled by the thought that for whatever reason my story matters to you. Even if we are strangers. Your kindness has made us officially friends.

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