What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back in the Hospital

This is gonna just be a quick update.

Brandon is back in the hospital. At the appointment with the nephrologist they sent us from there to the ER b/c of how poorly Brandon was feeling, his dizziness, difficulty breathing and drastically swollen and painful neck and shoulder.

Upon arrival to the hospital an ultrasound showed a blood clot in the inner jugular where his port is. This is what was causing the pain and swelling of his neck, shoulder and arm. 

He is on heparin and will be in the hospital for hopefully only 2-3 days. 

At this point they are not removing the port, it is safer to treat with blood thinners right now. 

He should also be getting some kidney functioning tests while there to determine where to go from here with the nephrology side of things. 

Please pray for his safety and that The Lord protects him and strengthens his weak and weary body for this fight.

Please also pray that God strengthens us, his family, for this fight. It is so difficult to see someone you love so much going through this. Aria brings so much joy, and yet with every smile she brings me, it's paired with a tear as my heart breaks that Brandon is missing this experience. 

I wish I had something incredibly insightful to say, but tonight I am just broken and surrendering my hurts and fears to God and praying for a miracle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More Appointments

Brandon woke up yesterday morning feeling quite well. We spent the time hanging out together with Aria in bed. Unfortunately a few hours later the nausea, pain, shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue came back.

Today Brandon is getting his port checked at the hospital as well as a chest X-ray to see if the fluid has started retaining in his chest again, causing the chest pain and shortness of breath. If so he will be getting it drained tomorrow - hopefully giving him some relief.

He sees a nephrologist on Thursday afternoon, and hopefully we can get any tests done on Friday so we can have some answers, treatment and improvement soon. It is mentally exhausting for him to have been bedridden for 2 1/2 weeks now. 

Please pray for wisdom for the doctors and physical and mental strength for Brandon. This has been the most difficult 2 1/2 weeks of our lives.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meal Help Info

We are very grateful to so many for asking specifically how to help with meals, near and far! Thank you!  This is very difficult for me to do - so here goes it...

I picked 3 days a week for possible meal 'drop off' days, listed on the 'Planner' tab to help space out signing up for and receiving meals.  We will set a cooler outside the front door and check it daily in case one of the times listed does not work for someone, you can just drop off at your convenience.  Please leave your name or send me a message if we are not available to accept your blessing to us.  And again, thank you for understanding that we may not be able to have a visit also, or only a short one.

I'll do my best to list nearby restaurants for gift cards and other ideas to help:

Take out:

Cafe Jordano
Olive Garden
Garlic Knot Pizza
Red Lobster
Buffalo Wild Wings
Jose O'Sheas

Other - these are just local off the top of my head.  If you aren't sure of location our zip code is 80228.  Our address is listed on the planner dates.  

Groceries: (So we can send a g.c. with someone who offers to go pick up items for us when we can't get out to the store)

Whole Foods
King Soopers

Diet Info/Preferences:

Brandon has gastroporesis which basically means his stomach does not work properly and needs aid in digesting.  So meals heavy in vegetables are difficult to break down, same with highly processed/fried/fatty foods.

Also, the chemo gives him a side effect called neuropathy which effects the nerves in his body making them more sensitive to cold temperature, including the nerves in his mouth/throat.  So cold items need to be heated to room temperature for him to be able to have them, so unfortunately no ice cream for a while, even drinks from the refrigerator need to be heated.

Currently we are trying a high protein diet as often as we can.

Meals we typically had last time around:
-Pasta dishes like Lasagna, Manicotti, Meatballs, Alfredo w/ Chicken, etc.
-Easy Mexican: Chicken/Beef Fajitas, Tacos, Enchiladas, etc.
-Freezer meals
-Crock Pot Meals: Pot Roast, Pulled Pork, etc.
-Basic dishes.  Cheeseburgers, BBQ, Pizza, Bar/Grill style, etc.  Neither of us are fancy eaters.  :)

Items we don't care for:
-Mayo/Mustard, Mushrooms

*I may not be able to keep track of returning dishes, so if possible please use disposable containers/bags.

Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts for your desire to help us out in this time.  Each and every one of you is such a blessing to us, and we are humbled by the outpour of support for us.  God Bless you!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Recovering

Since being released from the hospital on Wed Brandon has continued to battle whatever is going on with his body. 

Currently we are doing our best to keep the swelling under control. Thankfully it seems that so far his lungs still remain fluid free. Right now it seems contained to his legs, ankles, lower back, abdomen and left arm. He still struggles with a cough when he gets up and moving a little, I believe it's his lungs continuing to re-inflate from all the fluid that compressed them last week.

Otherwise we are doing our best to manage the other symptoms lingering from last week. 

Monday's treatment is postponed as we try to figure out what is going on with his body. We have had a nagging suspicion that there is an underlying kidney issue going on for some time now, and that treatment just pushed it over the edge. The oncologist is doing what they can to get Brandon seen by a nephrologist hopefully Monday or Tuesday. Please join us in LOTS of prayer that we can be seen ASAP to get the necessary tests done to get Brandon feeling better. At this point he is unable to to really get out of bed, and we are just managing symptoms waiting for a real answer with the days just passing by. It's been mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting for all of us and we just want Brandon to get some relief. It's been almost 2 weeks of this and we are all in need of a respite.

So many people have asked how to help and right now I guess the best way is to help us keep ourselves fed. I want so bad to visit with friends, get to introduce Aria to everyone, and give those around us an opportunity to help, but it has just been difficult to try to schedule visits. Often Brandon is not physically up for company, and I am busy nursing and taking care of things around Aria's schedule, and if friends are being kind enough to bring a meal by I want to also offer a visit with us and the baby, but it just has not been possible to do. 

So, I am going to put some things on the care 'planner' finally, despite how difficult it is for me to do. If you are near and you choose to drop a meal by at any point I hope we are able to invite you in for a short visit, but unfortunately there may be days that we just can't. Thank you for understanding. If you are far and still would like to help somehow gift cards to either Whole Foods or nearby restaurants for take-out/delivery could be very useful. 

I will write another post later today or tomorrow with more specifics for the planner.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continuous prayers and desire to help! 


-God has provided the strength we need to get through this. Some days we are thriving and some days we are merely surviving, but none the less we have made it through each day, and we will continue to praise Him for being faithful.


-To be seen by a nephrologist ASAP and for wisdom for the doctors to figure out what is off

-For strength for Brandon's body to overcome this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Finally getting released!

Brandon is finally getting released from the hospital this morning! 

On Monday he had almost a liter of fluid removed from around his right lung, which provided him a lot of relief from the difficulties breathing and coughing. He was able to me removed from oxygen and could get out of bed. Yesterday they removed about half a liter of fluids from around his left lung and now he is feeling tremendously better. 

The doctor ordered an echocardiogram and a stress test for his heart to make sure there was no permanent damage done by the chest pains and all the other symptoms that accompanied this past treatment. Praise God, both tests came back clear!

We are still waiting on the results of the fluid tests, continue to pray that it is best case scenario results.

Aria and I visited Brandon at the hospital yesterday where the nurses allowed him to come outside to hold his daughter. It was so precious :)

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Pray that god gives us and the doctors wisdom for the next steps of treatment and what modifications we may need to make.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Still in the Hospital

Brandon was admitted to the hospital on Saturday after finding that he had fluid around his lungs making it hard for him to breathe. His EKG was also slightly abnormal.

Of course this all happened on a weekend, so Brandon has spent the past 2 days being 'made comfortable' as best as possible, awaiting the procedure to get the fluid drained. This, of course, was frustrating to us all - as frequent morphine and a slew of other meds is hardly a comparable solution to just draining the fluids. But we are thankful that he is being closely monitored and that he will be getting the procedure sometime this morning hopefully.

The doctors think it may have been caused by some sort of infection since he seems to be responding well to some heavy antibiotics. They will be testing the fluid to see the source, so please pray with us for a best case scenario with the results. Some of the possible causes are the chemo, infection, heart or the cancer itself. Please pray it is not the cancer causing this.

He is also getting an echocardiogram to make sure all that has gone on this week has not caused any heart damage. 

At the earliest Brandon may be released tomorrow (Tuesday), as long as he recovers well after the draining and the tests come back favorable.


-For the best case scenario with his testing today; both the fluids and the echocardiogram

-for a quick recovery and release from the hospital so he can get home and be with us. He misses Aria so much.

-for wisdom for the doctors 

-For us all to find peace in The Lord's Will and His plan. We don't understand and at times we are angry and feel hopeless. Pray that God strengthens us in those moments and that we are reminded of His faithfulness.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another Day

We had hoped Brandon would come back up to our bedroom last night, but later in the evening he asked for another night in the guest room with his parents care taking the night shift. 

In the middle of the night he woke with a racing heart and other strange symptoms and had an elevated heart rate. By this morning his heart rate had not dropped and was told by the doc to go to the ER. 

He is admitted and getting blood work, oxygen, a CT scan and a slew of other tests to try to figure out what is going on.

My heart breaks for him. I just want him to catch a freakin break. We are crying out to God for protection over him and for his body to have the strength to fight and overcome this. Please pray with us that there is nothing serious going on and he turns a corner again and can find relief from feeling so terrible.

I am so thankful God has provided us such amazing support. Bonnie and Roger have been here every night. Bonnie has kept watch over Brandon's bedside every hour of the long nights, praying, giving meds, tending to her son. Roger has taken Brandon to every doctors appointment and every hospital visit (5 already this week) since I can't. David has brought food and kept Brandon company, picked up prescriptions and took a night shift. My mom has fed me, taken Aria so I can be with and care take for Brandon during the days, cleaned, ran errands, done laundry and dishes constantly. I don't know how I could do it without their help. 

Please continue to keep Brandon in your prayers. 

Thank you for being our prayer warriors!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Turning a Corner

Thank you Lord, He has heard our prayers! We prayed for relief, for strength for Brandon's body, for the treatment side effects to at least become tolerable. Thankfully, yesterday late afternoon Brandon started to slowly improve, despite having to get the dreaded shot. We think the Claritin and Aleve concoction has really helped those side effects, and a different med to help with a huge range of other symptoms has really helped. 

Brandon was actually able to talk with us, and watch a couple TV shows and eat a little bit. He also got some legitimate rest.

Thank you all for joining us in prayer, and please continue to pray for great improvement, he misses Aria and wants to be able to hold her and change her and be her Daddy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Give us THIS day our daily bread

Give us THIS day our daily bread. Matt 6:11

I keep repeating this verse of the Lord's Prayer. We have to remind ourselves that this battle is fought one day at a time. And God promises to give us what we need today. 

I can only speak for myself, but your prayers for strength and peace truly are being answered. If you know me, you know I struggle with pretty bad anxiety. And in this time as I see my precious husband suffering so terribly, The Holy Spirit has interceded for me, and has kept my mind on today and has helped me hold on to hope for better days ahead. This is no doing of my own. My method of operation is to loose today in tomorrow's worries. But when I have asked The Lord to take the fear, He has. Sometimes I have to ask that every 5 minutes and sometimes He sustains me much longer. 

There are moments, like when I am alone in our bed at night nursing our newborn daughter that the fear becomes so heavy I can barely breathe, but then I feel a weight lifted and God reminding me that He is in control, and that He did give us THIS day our daily bread. He is getting us through today, and we are not to worry about tomorrow. He is faithful. 

Somewhere around Aria's 4am feeding I landed on one of the religious channels at the end of the channel list and I got a little message of hope. There was a song about the harvest and it said something along the lines of 'Be patient, in 4 months there will be a harvest.' And our treatment plan is 4 months long. I will be holding on to that piece of hope.

As for specific prayers:

-Pray that Brandon does not need the WBC booster shot today, and if he does that this new Claritin and Aleve concoction the doctor recommended makes a huge difference in the side effects of it.

-Pray for God to provide a way for us to try a new nausea medication for the next time. It is not covered by insurance and we are working on trying to get preauthorization for it.

-Pray that Brandon turns a corner to improvement today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Treatment 1: Days 2 and 3

Last night and today have been incredibly difficult for Brandon. He had chest pain all last night and this morning resulting in going to the oncologists to get disconnected from the pump early today. He was sent to the hospital to get an EKG because the doctor was worried that he was having cardio toxicity to the the chemo which can mean a heart attack. Thank God the EKG was normal and his oxygen levels normal too, so they are not quite sure what was causing the chest pain. A few hours after being disconnected the pain lessened. 

He is still suffering from extreme nausea, intermittent chest pain and all over crappy feeling. 

Bonnie and Roger were up with him all night and with him at the doctor and hospital all morning. I am so thankful for God providing the ability for their constant support. My mom has been cooking, doing laundry, errands, chores and aiding me in all I need to care for Aria, Brandon and myself. 

Please pray for improvement for Brandon and for him, and us all, to get some rest tonight. Pray his nausea lessens so he can eat - his body needs nourishment and energy so badly. 

Every day His mercies are new - and we will believe that tomorrow will be better. 

I feel the strength that you all have been praying for, so thank you for your constant prayers for us all.

I have been singing Desert Song in my head all day...God is still good, no matter what Desert we may find ourself in.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Treatment 1: Day 1 and 2

Well, we prayed for Brandon to be able to tolerate treatment better this time around and at this point God has answered 'no' or 'not yet' to that request. He is incredibly ill, weak, nauseated and in pain. We are combating all the side effects as best we can and we continue to pray for God to give his body supernatural strength to tolerate this better.

The doctor said that often the body remembers from the last time and just revolts against it. However we continue to hold hope and pray ceaselessly that somehow things will improve for him. 

I am so thankful for the support The Lord has provided for us in this time. My mom is here until the 20th and Bonnie, Roger and David are all rallying with us to care for Brandon and help me with Aria and all the nuances of life that need to keep on keeping on.

Many friends near and far have offered to help, and once we get through a little bit of this we will know how to give the opportunities to help.  Thank you all for you generous hearts.

In the midst of this storm we are trying to count our blessings. God has answered prayers, they may not always be the main one we wanted answered, but He is indeed making his presence known to us. We were so blessed to have the early arrival of Aria, a quick and uncomplicated labor, successful nursing, a baby that is quite easy going and not fussy, my lupus has remained quiet, a wonderful family support system available and many other blessings that we don't take for granted.

I often find myself at a loss for how to pray for this situation, and would love if you felt inclined to share with me how you have prayed.

As for specific prayer requests:

-for Brandon to be able to tolerate the treatments better with less devastating side effects
-For every drop of the chemo to be annihilating every last cancer cell
-For quick recovery after treatments 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We have a plan

Whew, what a roller coaster ride the past 2 weeks have been. 

We were blessed with the arrival of our daughter, Aria Zanne on July 2nd.  Among all the chaos of our circumstances God blessed us by allowing me to go into labor naturally at 38 1/2 weeks, only have 8 hours of labor and deliver a healthy baby.  

Brandon's biopsy was supposed to be that same day, so we had to reschedule.  However, upon arrival to Labor & Delivery Brandon was feeling ill and had been fighting a fever the past 12 hours, so his oncologist told him to go get checked out in the ER, so against everything he wanted to do, he headed to the ER while I was in labor.  Thankfully we hired a doula who was there by my side for the 3ish hours Brandon was getting blood work, a CT scan and xray.  He made it back in time (with wheelchair escort service and a lovely hospital gown) for my epidural to kick in and for the birth.  Huge thanks to the team at Exempla Lutheran Hospital for working so hard to get him looked at and back up to me in L&D.  In the end they could not find any signs of infections and released him with some meds.

On Monday he had the biopsy, and they were actually able to get samples of both the neck and the abdomen.  There was confusion about a third location in his back, but it turns out that was some sort of miscommunication.  The preliminary results of the neck were not obviously cancer, which got our hopes up really, really high. However, Tuesday evening we got the news that it is indeed a recurrence of the colon cancer in both locations.

Today Brandon met with the oncologist for the plan.  He will start chemo on Monday (14th) and will be the same regiment as the last time, except using the modifications that we figured out along the way last time.  And, the plan is for 8 rounds of treatment (last time was 12) then a PET scan that will HOPEFULLY, Lord willing, reveal remission.  

He will go in on Monday, get chemo for a few hours then get hooked up to a pump to come home with til Wednesday disconnect, then in on Thursday for a white blood cell booster shot and repeat every other week.  This time we will start off right away with an anti-nausea med called Emend that was a huge help, a 10% reduction of the chemo, half dose of the Avastin and some additional new concoctions the doctor has found to help other patients. 

Our oncologist spoke very optimistically of getting Brandon back into remission based on how he responded last time and how long we kept it at bay.  This is very hopeful for us all, as this doctor never said that the first time around.  

So, please join us in Praise and Prayer:

-God allowed us to find this early.  His next PET was not til August, and of course the earlier caught the better.
-We are blessed with a beautiful daughter to bring joy to this difficult time.
-My lupus has been under control after birth, against all odds
-The support of our families has been absolutely unbelievable.  

-Pray that Brandon responds better to the treatment then last time, allowing him to still be active in life during treatment
-Pray that the 8 treatments are more then enough to return to remission!
-Pray that God fills us with the strength we all need to get through this together, it will not be easy.