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They finally posted our photo on their facebook page so I could nab it and post it here! Nicole's friend, Rachel, came with us, and so the kids all wrote our team name on their hands, which is why they are holding their hands up (took me a sec to figure that out - I had already forgotten they did that - it was so 17 days ago!)
Then the next weekend, the 12th & the 13th, I had the priviledge of attending a Beth Moore event here in Tampa along with 7,000 other women! It was really powerful and lots of fun! I sat with my friends Shannan and Marie in seats that were only about 10 rows back from the stage! We all agreed we felt like we had a little taste of heaven there. At one point Beth walked into the crowd to take testimonies from ladies in the crowd and she ended up practically right next to us. Here are some pictures from that time:
Last week the kids went to church camp and had a blast! We picked them up Thursday night from Bradenton, and they sang all the way home! Tim and I steam cleaned while they were gone - we cleaned the carpets, the dining room chairs, the bar stools, the sectional couch, both cars (seats and carpet) - basically anything that had upholstry on it - we cleaned it! I can't believe what a huge difference it made! We rented a Bissell from Big Lots based on a recommendation from a friend, and that thing was the BOMB! Another thing I got to do was go visit my brother who was working at Disney for the week. He had the misfortune of getting stuck with a red convertible rental, so we had to go tooling around in it. :-) And they put him up at this shabby hotel in Animal Kingdom where he had a menagarie of animals right outside his bedroom window! The picture below was taken from his room! That place was a zoo! ar ar ar! :-)
Anyway, back to camp, the kids came back from church camp Thursday night fired up but exhausted! And then the triplets headed off to Worldview Camp in Clearwater yesterday, and they are there until Friday! Nicholas started a new job today at a Blueberry Farm, and he's got his sights on a Mac Book Pro he wants, so he's motiviated! Here are some pictures of the triplet's first day at camp:
My next chemo is supposed to be around the first of July, but today I realized I don't think I'm on any schedule for that. So I called my doctor's office to talk to them about that and am waiting to hear back from them. I still have a pain in my right side that comes and goes - have had it since February - but I had a cat scan back then that didn't reveal anything and I haven't really known what to do about it, so I have done nothing so far. Well, I think that's about all the news that's fit to print as the saying goes. :-) Blesssings to all!
Tim's birthday was on Sunday, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it! We actually started the celebration on Saturday where we went to a place called Can You Escape where they put you in a room for an hour, lock you in, and give you clues that help you to figure out how to get out! They put us on medium difficulty and we should have asked them for easy, because we didn't make it out in the 60 mintues (wuh, wuh, wuh). They had to come in and show us what we missed. It was a lot of fun, even though we didn't win! They took pictures of us that they said would go on facebook and I was going to share them here, but they still haven't done it. I will try to remember to add them to this blog when they do.
Sunday, Tim's birthday, was nice as I brought Tim breakfast in bed and ironed his clothes for church and we just had a very relaxing morning. We all went to the late service (except poor Nathan who is sporting a cold) where we found out a friend of ours who started dealing with bladder issues the same time I did, but his bladder cancer had metastized to his liver and other places, passed away that morning. Man, this cancer thing is nasty stuff! I started my once a month for 3 month maintenance chemo this past Tuesday at Tampa General and I feel like it was a much better experience than Moffitt. I need to call my doctor's office and figure out what happens after my 3rd dose in August - then what? Sometimes it's just nice to not think about it, though.
Anyway, back to Tim's birthday. So the main thing he wanted for his birthday was to honor a small group of people who have had a tremendous influence in his life. We invited the pastor who married us and his wife, along with the singles leader whose Sunday School class we met in and his wife, along with the man who both counseled him and mentored him in counseling and his son-in-law who Tim meets with on a weekly basis, and our good friends the Perrella's out to dinner at a very nice restaurant! The atmosphere couldn't have been better, and the chemistry between everyone was amazing! Tim made a special point to spend time letting each of them know why he had invited them, how they had influenced his life, and how appreciative he was of them. Many of them also let Tim know what he has meant to them, and it just felt like such a blessed and special evening! We came home and the kids and I gave him cards and gifts, which was a great ending to his special day. Nathan wrote and sang him a song that I uploaded to youtube and shared below - his rendition of the Sound of Music classic "16 going on 17" only titled "60 going on 70"! OK, enough of my babbling - here are a few pictures from that day.
I hope everyone has had as good a day as I have! I woke up, took a shower, then Tim and I went on a lovely walk throughout the neighborhood. He then made a scrumptious brunch for all of us, and then ironed some clothes for the boys while I took a power nap, and then we all went to church together. We came back and just relaxed for an hour or so, and then Tim and I made dinner for a lady (who has 8 children) who has 3 types of cancer that she's been fighting for quite a while. We then came home and made burgers and fries (Tim made me homemade veggie burgers!), so we enjoyed a nice dinner together going over verses that each of us gleaned from our quiet times this morning. That was a sweet time! I was then shoo'd out of the kitchen so I didn't have to help clean up!
The last 2 days I spent with Nicole in Kissimmee, FL for her soccer tournament. In the 2nd game they played she made 3 of their 5 goals (which I have learned is called a 'hat trick'), so I was one proud mama! The girls won the 2 games they played on Friday, but then lost the 3 games they played on Saturday. However, they had enough points to be ranked #4, which earned them a trophy! Tim and the boys came up Saturday to watch her last 2 games and I took Nicholas back to the hotel that we had stayed at the night before because they had a small waterpark right in the middle of the hotel. He loves that stuff and had a blast! We arrived home last night around 7:30 to an immaculate house that Tim and the boys cleaned while we were gone - what a blessing!
I'm working backwards here, so 2 days before Nicole's tournament I was able to meet up with my brother! He was in Tampa for a conference, so I drove over to his hotel on the last day of the conference just as he was checking out. We drove over to a beach that was near the hotel and just sat in the car with the windows rolled down and enjoyed the sunshine and the breeze and the company! I then drove him to the airport, but here's a picture to prove we really did get to see each other!
About a week before that, Tim and I took a 'turn and burn' (as his brother, Tommy, calls it) trip up to his hometown of Covington, KY to attend his brother, Mark's, funeral. Mark was diagnosed with cancer just a short time before me, and Tim was able to visit him at the end of August last year and then we all saw him when we were up there the week of Thanksgiving. He lost his valiant fight with the disease 2 weeks ago today, so we drove 13 1/2 hours up there on Thursday April 30th, went to the funeral on Friday the 1st, and then drove 13 1/2 hours home on Saturday. The kids stayed home alone, and I have to say, I couldn't be prouder of them! They took care of everything, being where they needed to be, cleaning the house, and just acting like the young adults that they are! Tim has been back to his hometown at least 5 times in the past 10 years for funerals that I haven't been able to go with him to because we didn't feel comfortable leaving the kids. But this time was different, and I was very glad to be able to be with him and support him during that time. He comes from a family of 9 siblings from the same parents, and then 4 step-siblings and 1 half brother. Here's a picture of 6 of the 9 and the half brother:
Well, that's about all the news that's fit to print. Oh, my last blog entry mentioned a cytology test they did on me and we did find out the results were negative, so that's good! So I am scheduled to start 3 maintenance doses of chemo once a month for 3 months probably beginning at the end of the month. Bladder cancer is very tricky, so we're just hoping my body is fighting it off! Thanks for all who have prayed for us!
OK, I think I really am going now. I can hear that the kitchen is almost clean and people have brought their Mother's Day cards to the coffee table, so this should be fun! I love cards! :-) Blessings to all!
Our family participated in a fundraiser photo scavenger hunt where the prize was a limo ride and tickets to the Matthew West / Colton Dixon concert in Bradenton along with Chili's gift certificates and guess what? We won!! So tonight was the concert and we had a blast! Our limo arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled 4pm time, and in true Gregory fashion we didn't finish getting ready and getting out to the limo until probably 4:30! Ugh! But we finally piled in and I took everyone's Chili's order on my smartphone. When I went to submit the order I found it pretty cool to list the make of the vehicle we would be picking it up in as "Limo" and then it asked for the color and I thought, "Does it really matter? How many limo's will you have picking up take-out tonight?!" Ahah! And then you can check a box if you want them to bring it out to you, so what the heck? I checked the box! And sure enough, when we got there they brought everything out to us with everyone's name on each of their orders. Can't get any better than that! We arrived at the concert and we were dropped off right at the door. Very cool! And then the concert was really amazing! I just LOVE Colton Dixon's voice. And I had no idea Matthew West has so many songs that I love - didn't know they were all his! Tim said it best when he said this was probably the best concert he had ever been to. It was pretty late when we got out so we didn't hang around like we usually do when we go to places like that - we hopped in the limo that was waiting for us at the door and motored on home. I have some pictures from the scavenger hunt and from tonight's event, so you can see those below.
On another note, I saw the doctor a week ago today and he said the cystoscopy looked good, and they took another urine cytology so we are waiting for the results of that. They said the results should be back by Monday or Tuesday of this week, but I didn't want to hear any bad news in case there was any, so for me right now, no news is good news because they still haven't contacted me with the results. If it is positive, my doctor would want another biopsy, which I REALLY don't want! If it is negative, he still wants me to go through at least another 3 rounds of chemo. So right now I'm taking the Sargent Schultz response from Hogan's Hero's (does that date me or what??), "I know noth-ting!" OK, here's just a few of the 80+ pictures from the photo scavenger hunt:
And here's some of the pictures from today's limo ride and concert:
We had such a nice spring break! As I mentioned in my last blog post, we met my sister and our family friend, Patty, at Siesta Key Beach on Tuesday, and even though it was crowded (as was to be expected) we were able to carve out a little niche in the sand and enjoyed the gorgeous day!!! My sister and I took a long walk down the beach, while the boys enjoyed digging and making sand castles. Nicole did some reading and worked on her tan, and we all just didn't want it to end! Here are a few pictures from our time there:
Wednesday night we had the joy of emptying all our kitchen cabinets to make way for the bug man to come Thursday morning and spray everywhere to try to get rid of German roaches!! Argh!!! He said we caught them early enough that we should be OK, and since it's been a few days since he sprayed we haven't seen anymore, so that's good! We planned it for him to spray on the day we were leaving to go to Orlando for 2 nights to a timeshare, so it was nice to be out of the house! After we arrived at the time share I noticed on the activity schedule they were going to have Teen Hip Hop Dance lessons at the pool from 8pm - 9pm that night. Well, you should have heard all the complaints of why they would HATE to do something like that, but I dragged them there anyway, and we all had a blast!! I don't have any pictures from that time, and if it wasn't for Nicole, I would have virtually no pictures of our time there at all! However, since she and Nathan ran to Publix on Friday for me, she took a little photo documentary of their short adventure so I have a couple of those pictures I'll share. We also have a couple pictures of our dinner that I made that night - Tacos! Hope everyone else had a nice spring break!!
Sorry to leave you hanging! To make a long story short, I completed the chemo treatment on February 25th. The main side effect the first few weeks of treatment was fatigue, but the last few weeks of treatment it was more pain, with my last treatment incurring a lot more pain than I expected. But thankfully, that seems to have subsided for the most part, and now it's a waiting game. After my last chemo I called my doctor's office to set up my follow up appointment and they scheduled me for April 9th to give my bladder time to heal. At that point, they will do a cystoscopy to see if anything looks suspicious. If it does then I'll have to do another biopsy (dreading that prospect as it takes over a month to heal from that procedure - I know because I had 3 biopsies performed on my bladder last year). If I have to do a biopsy and it comes back positive then I do the same chemo protocol for another 6 weeks. Another option if they decide to not do the biopsy is to put me on maintenance chemo for 3 weeks every 3 months for a year or 2. So right now I'm trying to just enjoy not dealing with it until April 9th! It's spring break and we're meeting my sister and a family friend at the beach today. Hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather and hopefully some type of break, too. :-) Blessings!
Monday was such a gorgeous day here! Nicole is at Rendezvous this whole week, which is an 1800's reenactment camp about an hour from here, with one of her best friend's family and 5 other girls. I was going to join her on Monday and spend the night and come home Tuesday. I called her friend's mom just as I was getting ready to leave to see if she needed anything and she said, "Well, you might not want to come". Turns out all the girls were exposed to another girl (sharing combs and doing each other's hair) that had lice. Bummer! I was considering still going but finally made the hard decision not to go. The boys were all going out on a friend's boat, so I called Tim and let him know I wasn't going to Rendezvous. They had just pulled away from the dock and he suggested they just come and get me since we live not 10 minutes from a public dock. So I drove and met them and hopped on board. What a great day we had! We ended up in a school of hammerhead sharks and the 3 boys and myself each caught a baby one (thankfully we didn't see any daddy ones!). Noah caught the first one, as Tim predicted, so you can see his catch to the left here. Below is a proud Nathan with his prize while Nicholas looks on:
Wow - I had added a whole section here about my Moffitt experience and after I saved this post I noticed it was gone! I'm too tired to redo the whole thing - suffice it to say today was a much better experience and they were actually able to instill the chemo into my bladder with no problems. The only side effect that I'm having out of the typical ones of , “Urgency, frequency, burning or pain with urination; unable to hold urine; blood tinged urine; fatigue; nausea and/or vomiting; joint aches; low grade temperature; shaking chills; skin rash” is fatigue, so that's not too bad. 1 down 5 to go! A friend of ours who drives a limo brought us a meal tonight, and the boys were thrilled to get in and check out the inside of a limo! And the meal was great, too! Thank you to all of you for your comments and prayers and encouragement - it all means so much to me! Blessings to all!
I apologize because I just realized today my last update regarding my cancer journey was a month ago (12/15) and I had said I would update here when I knew more and I didn't So please forgive my negligence! I went ahead and scheduled for my chemo to start yesterday at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. To make a long story short, it was an over 3 hour traumatic experience that began with long delays and apologies (that was not the traumatic part) and ended with several catheter attempts (never successful) and tears and pushing and prodding my cancer bladder and finally me walking out of there without the chemo. I'll tell you what - I didn't want to go to Moffitt in the first place and I DEFINITELY do NOT want to go back. We did talk to a patient advocate today at Moffitt, and now my main goal with them is ensuring they don't charge me for yesterday's fiasco.
It has galvanized me to find another place. The chemo drug they use for bladder cancer, BCG, is in short supply, and Moffitt didn't even have enough to complete my 6 dosages with them, but they said they are hoping to get another shipment in by the end of September. So I called around, and found that Lakeland Cancer Center has some BCG and enough to do my 6 dosages, but I would have to completely have all my records transferred to them and once they were, I could then make an appointment with one of their doctors, and after that I could try to get on their schedule for treatment. But the new patient coordinator basically discouraged me from even attempting this as it would evidently be a long process. I called the manufacturer of the chemo to find out where they send it to in this area to try to find another facility, but they send it to wholesalers, so they don't have direct contact with who orders it from the wholesalers. They did tell me the same thing Moffitt said, in that they are shipping orders with the latest dosages out mid to late January. So I called Tampa General (the facility I wanted to go in the first place) to find out if they have pending orders for the drug, and they do. I spoke with the lady who would be administering my treatment and she was AWESOME, having had bladder cancer herself she knows exactly what I'm going through. She said they have been told as well that they should be receiving their BCG supply mid to late January. So I called my doctor's office and asked them to please switch my chemo orders to Tampa General. The nurse said my doctor is out of the country but should be back soon and so she will plan on trying to reach him early next week (even though he's not due back in the office that soon). She is concerned that Tampa General will not receive the drug as early as they are anticipating and will only delay my treatment, but I think that is a danger as well at Moffitt since they are waiting on more BCG, too.
So that is that! I have to believe there is a reason things were so botched up yesterday - maybe the dosage was tainted, or maybe it was what I needed to get me going elsewhere. We will see how the rest of this story unfolds.
Merry Christmas! This picture is from our church's Christmas eve service we went to yesterday. And now here is a video we would like to share with you. Yes, it is one of those 'elf yourself' ones, and, by golly, they can only have up to 5 people in the video. So, since I'm the one who put it together, I conveniently left myself out. :-) But enjoy seeing the other 5 members of the family! Hope everyone is having a great day!
#BestBirthdayEver! I don't even know what that hashtag stuff is, but it seemed like the thing to say, because it really was a great birthday! It started with sleeping in until like 8:30am! And then my wonderful husband made me (and the kids) blueberry pancakes - the first breakfast I've had in over 3 months! I forgot to get pictures of that because I was too busy devouring it (with almond butter, sliced bananas, some raspberries, and pure maple syrup)! Oh my! Then I took a shower and got ready and Tim went and picked up Nicholas from school during his lunch period and then we all went to Koizy's - this AMAZING Japanese restaurant in Brandon. They sat us down at a regular table, but Nathan said he had read that they had another room where they could cook it in front of you, so we asked the waitress about it, and she said we could do that and it didn't cost any more! I'm SO thankful Nathan knew to even ask about that - we had the BEST time! We had that whole room all to ourselves! Our cook, Ling, was so funny - he threw small rice/egg balls at us as we each tried to catch them in our mouths. Tim and I were the champs at it - we'll just have to give the kids some more practice at home...outside! I feel badly for the clean up crew that came in after us to clean the floors! And when Ling found out it was my birthday he brought me a silly balloon hat with a big red bow in the front! And at the end they brought out a scoop of ice cream with a candle in it and sang and clapped a birthday song for me. Anyway, I still can't believe it is all you can eat for 1 price because we put the food away! The sushi was amazing and the hibachi entrees were deliciouso! Here are pictures from our time there:
The triplets had to go to a bill editing Youth in Government function right after lunch, so Tim and Nicholas took me shopping at Kohl's and Tim picked out a really cute outfit for me! Shortly after we got home there was a ring at the doorbell and some beautiful flowers were on our doorstep, and the card said it was from God! Didn't know He was into the flower sending business, but they are beautiful! Check out the outfit and the flowers:
We ended the day watching several episodes of Psych - too funny! We never did eat dinner because we were all still stuffed from lunch! I had several calls and texts and even a couple of emails wishing me a Happy Birthday - I really think it was one of my best birthday's ever!
One thing I wanted to mention was that Nicholas had a band concert on Monday night, so here are a couple pictures we snapped of that night - doesn't he look quite dapper?
I hope everyone is enjoying the season and not getting too caught up in the rat race! Thanks to all who wished me a Happy Birthday today! I just have to say, your wish came true!