Round 11 - Done!

Ding ding ding! Listen to the bell for Round 12, because that's what Serry's going in for tomorrow--Round 12 of radiation!

Hi everyone, Emily here again. It's been awhile since we've had an update, so I wanted to post for you all. :) As I said, Serry's on round 12 of radiation tomorrow--that means she's over 1/3 through with her radiation! She is supposed to have 30 total. She can still tell that the radiation is doing what it's supposed to--the pain in her face and leg have diminished, and I haven't seen her use her walker for a few days!

The weekend was, again, a great time of resting on the farm. Serry even got to see her best friend since 2nd grace (now a doctor in Idaho!). We picked walnuts (though I'm not so sure they were any good... ew!--beating up the tree was fun, though!), spent time resting, and simply enjoyed those toasty rays that came out. It may not be summer anymore, but the sun still has enough warmth to keep us happy!

The radiation seems to be making Serry pretty tired. It has to be exhausting--but, as usual, I'm in awe of her strength. And, as is a likely process for anyone going through treatment for cancer, her hair folicles don't seem to be as strong as they always have been.

I'll leave you with thoughts from her doctors...
Her neural oncologist told her that she doesn't even need to see her this week--because she's progressing so well and is totally responding to treatment the way she needs to be.
Her radiation oncologist said that this is an example of what radiation is supposed to be!

And Dr. Emily (or can I use my Rev. Emily here?) says that your prayers and happy thoughts are coveted, your comments on here appreciated more than you could ever know, and your love felt across the miles.

One Step at a Time...

Hello everyone,

Thank you so very much for all of your positive thoughts and prayers. I have drawn on your comments and posts over the past few weeks to help keep me positive, focused and feeling completely loved!

Its funny how I’ve gone through life knowing that I have good friends and family, but it wasn’t till this that I have been able to truly appreciate how special those relationships are. Thank you for your words of encouragement and for the occasional weather report J

Before I say anymore, I have to bow down and give MAD PROPS to Emily for taking on the role of communications master for my blog. Without her help I would have been overwhelmed immediately by trying to respond to everyone. She does an excellent job of managing and disseminating info and I greatly appreciate it.

~~Thanks Em~~

This has been the first week of Monday through Friday out-patient radiation and so far it has been going well. I have weekly chemo every Thursday after which I meet with my Radiation Oncologist, Medical Oncologist and Neural Oncologist.

The pain and numbness that was rapidly advancing across the left side of my face has been retreating daily for about a week now and still shrinking. It is amazing to me that the radiation treatments are so obviously nipping the tumor in the bud! My back and leg pain have also been reducing and increasing in function – My big thing today was walking for short periods without my walker!! This is a huge improvement since this time last week, I could walk 100 feet (w/ walker) and only do three stairs!!!

Thursday will be long and exhausting, but I will have family to help take care of me and let me sleep between treatments, etc. My spirits are high, though oftentimes sleepy. I look at this whole thing as a marathon or like climbing a mountain. It certainly won’t be easy, but one step, one foot in front of the other and we’ll get through it.

Thank You All and Take Care

Week 2 is underway

Good evening, everyone - Emily here again.

Serry was HOME this weekend--I can't begin to tell you how GOOD it was to have her here. I ended up over there, Gentry (our little sister) came down... it was just a nice weekend.

I was there when Serr got home on Friday... Physically she looked fine, but she was slow, not feeling good, and obviously in pain. That night, however, started some of the most healing time... Here's some of the highlights:

* Smelling the fresh autumn air -- Serry's sense of smell is completely heightened right now and she can smell EVERYTHING. Sitting outside for periods of time just allowed her some peaceful recuperation time.

* Sleeping -- Serry slept a LOT this weekend! (despite staying up with Gentry and I till midnight on Saturday...)

* Fuzzies! -- She got some special fuzzies this weekend to keep her warm!

* HORSES!!! -- Some of our family friends rode three of their Clydesdales down to our place on Sunday! We spent about an hour outside in the sunshine, feeding them apples, scratching their necks and noses, using their rumps as pillows, and just laughing and talking with their humans. (On a side note--Serry and I used to babysit their kids... who are now 23 and 20! Boy do we feel old!!) Thank you to our friends!!! Your big boys sure cheered our Serry up!

* Love -- between the loves Serry gets on here and the big hugs from family... and knowing everyone is rallying around her... I'm not sure when the last time is that I've seen her glow like this.

So... When I left Sunday night, she was still tired, still hurting, but a little more ready to push forward for another week.

Oh, and lest I forget... THANK YOU to Aunt B and Uncle D for letting Serry and Mama Bear stay there during treatment. I hear only warm and happy thoughts coming from your home. And Cousin P, for letting Serry use your room... Gentry warned Serry not to look up. ;)

She's 10 feet away from me! :)

Yes, that's right... Serry's just in the other room!

Hi everyone, Emily here again. Serry and Mama Bear made it home last night despite Friday night traffic (which, if you don't live in Western WA--it's something that we all make a goal of avoiding!). For me, it was the absolute BEST thing in the world to give my sister a hug. She wasn't even out of the car when I got my first hug of the night! Although... the dog beat me to her. CW leapt up into her lap to give her as many doggie kisses as she could squeeze in!

We kept it a very mellow evening--just a quiet family dinner, then some rest time on the back deck and in front of the fireplace. Not a LOT to report... but you should know that I think Serry's time at home on the weekends will be as healing for her as the radiation and chemo are. She is getting real sleep here (as opposed to her time in the hospital when she was consistently awakened for someone to check her vitals). She's spent quite a bit of time outside, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the crispness of fall.

I asked her what she'd like to tell her loyal fans (grin) and she said to let you know how much she appreciates your comments on here. They're so heartening, and she just loves to hear from each of you. And who knows... maybe you'll hear from her one of these days...

She's escaped!

That's right! At least, that was the plan as I knew it several hours ago.

Serry has been released from the hospital tonight. I haven't talked to her other than through email for about a week, but I hear that she desperately needed a new view. She and Mama Bear are all snuggled up together, outside of the hospital, hopefully getting some fresh air and GOOD sleep. Serry still has one more radiation treatment tomorrow before she can head home for the weekend. Also, I've heard that she's been getting chemo this week, but I'm not exactly sure what's going on with that.

Serry got her first tatoo (that we know of... smile) this week, too. They had to tatoo her to be able to ensure that they do the radiation correctly. Uncle Charlie wanted dragons on her back, while Mama Bear and I voted for milder things like butterflies and ladybugs... unfortunately (or is that fortunately?!), none of us won--apparently they're just little dots to help guide the radiologists. Serry said that someone described them to her as if they're just little blackheads... Great, was my thought. Just what a woman wants--more blackheads.

Tomorrow is the end of week 1 of radiation. Please, please pray that the radiation and chemo are effective, that the cancer is completely killed, that our Serry stays strong (both mentally and physically), and that there aren't any side effects to any of the treatments. It feels like we just started this battle yesterday and that we've been fighting it for a year. It's exhausting--but extremely refreshing for all of us to be able to come here and read all of your love. Thank you.

The sweet smell of the farm...

...I know it's beckoning! Emily here again... with some good news. (I REALLY like good news, FYI.) Looks like Serry might be smelling some of this fall weather from HOME soon. Remember how we mentioned before that she would be getting 6 weeks of radiation, M-F? Well, this is technically week one, which means she should be heading home for the weekend to rest and just BE on the farm! :) I'm happy because it means I get to SEE her again! (please remember, just because she's home, she's still in treatment--visiting may not be the best option at this point.)

The OTHER good news I have is that, even after such a short time (since last Friday) the radiation seems to be killing what it needs to be killing! She's had a few issues (like the numbness in her face that has made it hurt when she smiles/laughs too much) that were caused by some key tumors. Those were what they first attacked with the radiation and the problems that she's had seem to be diminishing. They're still there, but to a lesser degree. I know we've got a rough few weeks (months... and more) ahead of us, but it's reassuring to me to know 1) these urgent problems are being resolved, and 2) radiation appears to be working.

There's a bunch of other stuff we could talk about on here, but I think this is enough for tonight. Again, as always, thank you for all of your well wishes, prayers, and support.

And Serry... love you, girlie.

What friends!

Emily here... I just want to say thank you again and again to all of Serry's friends and loved ones... All day long there were more and more comments on here--it just blew me away! Serry... WE LOVE YOU and are WITH you through this whole thing!

I haven't personally seen Serry since Friday (both my Dad and I caught a cold and no sickies are allowed with her!), however I still get reports... Serry apparently looks fantastic--I'm not sure I could pull this off while still looking like a rock star like she is. It also sounds like some of the numbness in her face is going down... I'm looking forward to THAT--and having some sister giggle time again. :)

Anyway, keep the love a'coming! Serry--you're becoming my hero!


It has been a difficult few days for Ser and the rest of us. But now that we have a treatment plan, I expect things to settle down a bit. Ser did pretty well yesterday with her 2nd. radiation treatment. The rest of the day was family and friends stopping by to visit her. And just for her Mom, there was not a smile to be seen all day.... :))

Today I'm taking Irene and Kaitlyn up to see her. Irene has not been able to get up to the hospital because she is taking care of her Dad who is recovering from a serious accident earlier in the year. Ser's sister Kaitilyn needs to get some time with her "big sister".

And for Ser, How do I upload my iPhone picutres again? I can't seem to get them to upload.... :)


Chemo? Check! Radiation? Check!

...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Serry has what is called Medulloblastoma. Basically, here's what's happening... The main tumor is in her brain stem. The doctors say that it looks like a bunch of spaghetti all in one tight little area. That tumor is then creating little seeds that it is dropping into her spinal fluid. The seeds then migrate through the spinal fluid until they find somewhere they like and stick there. We're not sure how long she's had this tumor/abnormality, but there are hundreds of little (and not so little) "seeds" along her spinal column.

Medulloblastoma is a childhood cancer. A rare childhood cancer. Serry's neuro oncologist made calls to her collegues across the nation to determine the best treatment for this condition. Fortunately, we have an expert in our own back yard! A doctor from the University of Washington (UW) is a specialist in this cancer--meaning that he's treated about 30 individuals with it. (Get the picture on the rarity of it?) Very, very few adults get this, and there isn't much research to go off of on how to treat it. As a result, some of the top minds in neuro oncology are focusing on Serry--wanting to learn from her, and, in my opinion, thinking about ways to kill this stuff. (I like LOTS of people wanting to find a cure!)

So, you ask... How do we treat this? Well, Round 1 just started today. Serry just took a dose of chemotherapy this morning... it was a "generic" chemo, designed to help prepare her body for the fight that it's about to undergo. This afternoon, we (yes, I got to visit today!) wheeled her down to radiology to start her radiation. Today and this weekend, they are targeting two problem areas--in her brain and her lower spine. There are some key tumors in those areas that have caused her some specific problems. Their goal this weekend is to start to alleviate the difficulties she's had so that she's stronger to fight the rest of the cancer when they start the major, full spine radiation next week. When they do radiation, they'll pretty much be hitting everything from her brain stem to her lower spine.

Radiation is going to be Monday through Friday for approximately six weeks. Pretty intense. She'll fortunately have weekends off (except this weekend), but will be in radiation the rest of the week. We're still figuring out how this all is going to work, when she'll have to stay in the hospital, when she'll be staying somewhere around the hospital, when she'll be coming home, etc. I saw tonight how exhausting radiation can be for her... we (her family, friends, loved ones) are going to have to be cautious that we don't over exert her through this. She needs her strength to push through this.

So... six weeks out (remember, that this is barring any changes of action, and that everything goes exactly according to plan--and things ARE changing hourly up there!), she will come HOME for six weeks of recuperation. I'm praying that the time frame stays the same, because it means that she'll be RESTING for Thanksgiving, Christmas, AND New Year's.

Once her rest/recovery time is up, chemotherapy will begin. I think that we figured that that would last (again, barring any changes, etc.) through March. Serry turns 30 in March and I think the bestest birthday present for the Big 3-0 (and for little sister Kaiti's Sweet 16!) would be a clean bill of health.

At that point, some post chemo/cancer/etc. procedures will need to happen, but we'll take them as they come. It's also possible that the chemo could cause some hearing loss; it's possible that she'll lose her hair; etc.

As I've mentioned before (and will again!), she LOVES the messages you all are sending her and the love that she's feeling. Thank you (from Serry!) for all of that love. Please keep posting on here--I'm not sure if you realize that you're not just lifting HER up, you're lifting us all up. Gentry (younger sister) and I have commented how we feel better coming here every day and reading and re-reading your comments... I'm beyond touched at how many people love her and our family.

I know there's more to add here... but again, it's nearing midnight. I'm not going to visit her tomorrow, but the other sisters are and I'm excited that they get to love on her a little.

Thanks all ~ I'm out.

Quick Midnight Update

I just got home from a visit with Serry... let me tell you--it felt SO good to hug her and know she's REAL again. :) We have updates to share, but it's far too late for me to wax on about life... so this is just a taste--I will update tomorrow.

For now... Serry can use prayers and warm fuzzies and LOTS of love posted here. If you've already posted, you don't have to be shy about re-posting. ;) I heard from the horse's mouth (sorry, Serr... I just called you a horse) that she LOVES reading your comments and messages. Thank you all for loving on my sister.

More tomorrow.

Poking and Prodding...

...That's what Serry got a LOT of today! The doctors are doing a lot of eliminating of problems--which I'm very fond of. :) I haven't talked to Serry personally, though our sister Gentry got about 20 seconds with her on the phone! We're still not sure exactly what we're fighting here, but they've been figuring out what we're NOT fighting today, so that's a good thing.

I just wanted to post to say thank you to you all... I know that your notes and love and prayers and support mean the world to Serry. On her behalf, THANK YOU.

Just a quick update...

Emily here again... Just a quick update because that's what I got from the hospital crew. ;)

Serry's all snuggled in at the hospital (note that I said that sarcastically... she's going to be poked and prodded all night long). I don't know all of the details yet, but it looks like they'll be starting radiation and chemo tonight or tomorrow, she gets a spinal tap, they're continuing to do biopsies, and bringing in a geneticist to check out family history.

I know that there's a bunch more that's going on, but we didn't have a lot of time to talk. Her mom and dad are totally supporting her through this, and our aunt is even up there!

It's time to rev up the prayers and love--radiation and chemo aren't the most fun things in the world--and we need Serry strong and fighting!

Thanks for everything, everyone.

The Scoop

Good afternoon, everyone...

In case you don't know me, I'm Serry's sister, Emily. Serry's trying to focus her energy on making herself healthy, so I will occasionally be updating on this blog, just trying to keep everyone in the loop. Here's the story of what's been happening the past few months...

This summer, Serry started experiencing some severe back pain. The doctors thought it was a herniated disk or sciatica. They tried treating that through the summer and into September. Finally, Serry's request for an MRI was heard, and she went in the tube last week. The results of that MRI prompted a second MRI, a CT scan, a mammogram, and an ultrasound... because it looked like she may have cancer. After those tests (which all happened last week), she appears to have cancer originating from her brain stem, with cancerous nodules throughout her spine. She has not yet had biopsies performed on any of these areas, though, so we cannot say with 100% certainty what's happening in her body. We'll keep you updated as we get more information.

She has an appointment tomorrow with her new doctors. At that time they will be doing any necessary biopsies, additional tests, reading the results of the tests she was given on the East Side, observing her, and doing whatever health care professionals do in an overnight stay in the hospital.

Serry has moved in with our parents on the West Side... so big thanks go out to them for all of the hard work and love they've put in to make her comfortable and happy already. Our sweet sister, Gentry, had the brilliant idea of giving Serry her old room (instead of having her in the busy guest room), so the four of us dug out, cleaned up, moved furniture, fixed doors, and unpacked for Serry yesterday... giving her a room that's wholly hers, somewhere safe and warm to be, with all of her own touches everywhere from the top of the dresser to the closet to the ceiling.

Please continue to check back here. I'll try to post often--I'm not sure how often Serry will be up to it, but I know that she will be loving all of your comments, well wishes, and prayers. If you've never used Blogger before (I know there are a lot of you!), simply click Comment and add your comments to any of our posts. You don't have to be a Blogger user to comment--but please remember to sign your posts if you aren't one so that she knows who you are!

Thank you EVERYONE for your love and support... I think Serry is realizing just how many people out there REALLY love her! :)

Made it to the West Side!

Here on the West Side with family... waiting to get an appointment with an oncologist. Stay tuned....

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