Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Hershey Helds

Barely a day after my girlfriend's weekend, The Hershey Held family arrived.  My brother Lee, with his wife Kelly, and their two girls Madi and Alex, who are the same ages as Nolan and Colton flew in from Hershey, Pennsylvania to stay with us for a week. 

The cousins always have a good time together.  

Although we had a lot of demands on our time that last week in June, the Held family graciously allowed us to squeeze time in with them around all the busy-ness of life in the Westra World.

One of the traditions my brother and I started was doing a photoshoot with the kids each summer.  It started when Nolan and Madi were practically newborns that first summer, and I don't think we've missed a photoshoot of the kids any other summer.  







The girls are just a couple of months older than the boys- but for the first time, Nolan is the tallest.  















Ahhh- this is the look I am so used to these days... 




I loved spending time with my nieces.  They are engaging, sweet, thoughtful, and a pure joy to be around.  They came to the rink to watch the boys skate in hockey camp, then baseball to watch Colton. I taught them how to play Ruzzle on their Ipad and now we're all hooked. 




My mom, Mary Ann was thrilled to have her family around for the whole week.  She is more quiet these days, weaker overall.  Her balance is off and she relies on a walker to steady her gait.  But her spirit soared while they were here.  Color came back into her cheeks and strength returned to her voice.  It was a noticeable difference in her, and I hope the girls will someday know the impact they made on Grandma with their sweet selves.  




I'm so thankful to Lee and his family for making the effort to come and visit us.  I was more tired than usual and had to bow out early at times, but they were so understanding, and it boosts me so to have had that time with them.  










Yesterday I saw Dr. Panwalkar... and a male med student from UND.  I spent the first few minutes catching him up to speed with the fact I had stopped the Xeloda.   He was quietly absorbing what happened and then thinking through the next steps.

The med student sat quietly off to the side, taking it all in.  He looked reflective and thoughtful.  I could so relate.  When I was in graduate school, my own practicum experiences allowed me to follow a Psychiatrist for several months.  You never knew when you might be called on, for your opinion, or help in doing some of the basic questioning.


So when Dr. P asked the med student if he wanted to listen to my heart and lungs, he looked both surprised and nervous.  

And wanting to do my part, I added in "and we could have him try to find my lymph node Dr. P, if you'd like."  

Dr. P burst into laughter, and said, "yes of course, he can do that too."  

So nervously, the med student listened to my heart and lungs.  Then began examining my neck.  His hands are too quick and fairly rough.  I realize he is nervous when I see his hands shake.  He hesitates on the left side going over and over it, until I shake my head no.  

"Dr. P," I said, "we're 0-2 for med students finding my node."  

Again Dr. P laughs his hearty laugh while sitting back in his chair observing.

Med student then asks to feel under my arms.  He quickly realizes its not my left arm.  His fingers are shaking and quivering, but he presses on.  Its when he circles an area under my right arm a time or two that I subtly nod my head yes.  Dr. Panwalkar says, "its deeply recessed, and harder to detect."  

Then Dr. P comes over and feels for himself.  "Do you think it has grown?" he asks me.  "No," I respond. He deftly feels for himself and then says, "I agree, I don't think it has either."  


As Dr. P sits back down to type in his aftercare summary, I see the med student in quiet reflection again.  So I ask him, "Do you have any questions?"  

His answer wasn't what I anticipated.

He very thoughtfully shares with us, he is wondering if he would have found my lymph node had he not known it was there in the first place?


Dr. P., nods and quietly says, "third year students, maybe not, but just wait until you are a fourth year student."  

I quickly chime in- "hey you are the only one out of 3 now to have found the lymph node!  Good job."

He politely thanks me.  He thanks me again before we leave the exam room.  I am fairly certain he learned a lot in that hour with us.  




I arrived at 9 am yesterday morning.  After an hour with Dr. P, my half hour infusion rambles on for 2 1/2 hours.  Its clear there is a rush to get everyone in so they can shut down for the 4th of July.  I then sit waiting for my CT scan scheduled for 2:30 with the promise they'll squeeze me in earlier if they can.  At 2:00 I am finally called back and by 3 o'clock I am home.  


We'll use the Ct scan results of my chest as a baseline scan, and begin Tykerb, an oral targeted therapy, as soon as it arrives in the mail later this week.  

The side effects are very similar to the ones from Xeloda, minus the red feet, but add in a red rash.  

I make a mental checkmark.  My list of treatments slowly dwindle.  But my hope continues to soar.

Let the new adventure begin!  














18 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you AnaCristina- you have such a lovely name!

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  2. Gorgeous family photos!

    Wishing you the best of luck with the Tykerb!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much- fingers crossed that it gets here soon!

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  3. Vicky, I LOVE the family photos! They brought such joy to my heart, seeing you all together. I especially liked the one of the kids lined up and to see the progression of height. Adorable, and something they will treasure forever (along with all the others from other photo shoots). What a great tradition. I'm glad you had that time too. And what a generous soul you were to that med student, Vicky. You are such a light. Hugs...I hope you have a sparkly 4th. :) With hope too!

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    1. Roxane- thank you friend- for your kind and uplifting words always. I pray you are on the mend and feeling better overall. Hugs back to you- am excited to be seeing you soon! Happy 4th to you and yours!

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  4. What a beautiful family you have. Gorgeous pictures. And um...what happened? Your boys are growing up so fast. Very handsome boys you have there Mom.

    Funnily enough I have been to Hershey - I spent some time in Pennsylvania some years ago. It is great your brother and his family could make the trip.

    It is a good job you are the adventurous sort. I hope the new treatment has minimal side effects and does the job needed. It sounds very promising. I love reading about Dr P and I am so glad you have him working with you. I am sure there are not too many doctors like him...or patients like you for that matter.

    Roxanne is right, you are such light. Thank you and have a great 4th July (by the way blue is your colour, looks stunning on you). XX

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    1. Oh my goodness Lilly- you have been to Hershey! That is so great-we've been there a couple of times ourselves with the boys and long to go again. I feel very fortunate to have Dr. P, but I have to tell you, friends who have seen the other doctors there, love their docs equally as much. We're blessed at Roger Maris to have a whole crew of smart and caring professionals all the way around :) How are you Lilly? I hope all is well- thanks for dropping in- it means so much to me! xxoo

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  5. Vickie, so happy to see the pictures of you with your family. You look amazing! Your positive outlook and honesty continues to be an inspiration to me. I often think about Sarah and how proud she would be of you. I was introduced to you by reading her blog. Have a wonderful 4th of July.
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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    1. Hi Jennifer~ so lovely to hear from you :) Sara's legacy lives on I think- so much of what she shared with me and taught me- I pass along. She was a gem and I miss her so. So cool that you found me through her :) Blessings and love to you Jennifer!

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  6. let's hear it for soaring HOPE !!!
    ox

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  7. Love the cousin photo shoot tradition. Was just going through some photos from last summer when my sister's family visited and re-living the fun times they have together. It looks like a great week with your family! Continuing to think of you and pray for you. Appreciate your kindness to the med student--they have to learn and kind patients like you help them become the 'Dr. P' for another patient.

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  8. And may this one be the answer :-)

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  9. Vicky... the cousins photo should be in a magazine! What a beautiful group of All-American kids. Love the story about the intern. I bet you'll hold a special place in his heart for a very long time! Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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  10. I was just coming to comment on how kind you were to the med student and thinking of Becky's husband when I saw her comment. :)

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  11. Those are the most beautiful children, Vicky. You can see their hearts right in their faces and I can't beLIEVE how tall Nolan has gotten! Just darling with them all stair-stepped together like that. I remember them being together last year and how you said they are all very close.

    You were so patient and sweet with that med student and his question shows how thoughtful he is as well and wanting to do a good job. Not all doctors are comfortable touching ANYone. I always thought that was weird but maybe they didn't have the push they needed or people like you to encourage them. I'm sure you made a forever impact on him. Praying your new drug agrees with your body chemistry and does what we all want it to do.

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  12. Those are the most beautiful children, Vicky. You can see their hearts right in their faces and I can't beLIEVE how tall Nolan has gotten! Just darling with them all stair-stepped together like that. I remember them being together last year and how you said they are all very close.

    You were so patient and sweet with that med student and his question shows how thoughtful he is as well and wanting to do a good job. Not all doctors are comfortable touching ANYone. I always thought that was weird but maybe they didn't have the push they needed or people like you to encourage them. I'm sure you made a forever impact on him. Praying your new drug agrees with your body chemistry and does what we all want it to do.

    ReplyDelete

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