Wednesday, November 30, 2016

all that really matters

He crawled onto his Dad's side of the bed the day after Thanksgiving.  

What's up, Colton?  I ask, my voice thick with drowsiness.  

He yawns, stretches and pulls the edge of my blanket over the top of him too.

"I'm booorrreeeed." He murmurs in a long sigh.

"What would you like to do?"  I ask.


I know he'll have hockey out of town the next 2 days, and I'm grateful he'll be busy.  But what is it he is searching for right now?

So I simply begin telling him about all the stuff we used to do when he was younger.

"We used to bowl together, do you want to go bowling?"  I ask... 

"nah." He replies.

Is there a movie you'd like to see?

"Not really."  

"Hmmm," I say, "what else?  "We could all put on our skates and go find open ice somewhere?"  He gives me a confused look.

"We used to go all the time."

"Even you, mom?"  he asks, incredulously.

"Yes,"  I laugh.  "Even me.  It wasn't pretty.  But those ten dollar thrift store figure skates managed to get me around the rink a time or two.  Thank goodness for toe picks!"  

Suddenly, I'm flooded with memories of all we used to do.  He was only in 2nd grade when I was diagnosed.  As an 8th grader, I realize having a sick mom, is all he has really known.  And sadness encroaches as I fully know, there is so little left that I can actively do these years later. 

"I'm sorry buddy.  It stinks when your mom is so sick, more and more often."  

But as I utter my regret, my brokenness, my inability to reassure him jams my throat.

It's then that he sits up, leaning towards me,  and begins saying, "Mom, Mom, MOMMMMM."  "It's okay.  All that really matters?  Is that I'm here.  With you."  That's all I really need, okay? 

He comes over to the side of the bed, and folds himself over to hug me.  He has grown 2 inches since July, the last time we measured him.  But it's his growth in wisdom beyond his years, that surpasses his size.   I love him so...


I met with Dr. Panwalkar last Tuesday.  He had sent me a link to the PET scan report, but I couldn't get it to load.  So I shook my head "no" when he asked if I already knew my status.  

"I assume its grown in my lungs, and somewhere in my abdominal region?"  I tell him.

"Well, kind of he says, hesitatingly."  

We're off script a bit, and I've jumped the gun by asking.

So he loads the old and new scans side by side and we begin zooming through the images.  It looks kind of like a 3d movie with my body playing the lead role.  But as we reach my lungs, the glowing yellow "cancer activity" rears it's head.  So my lower left lobe is showing more uptake, meaning more cancer activity.  I don't even bother asking how much growth, or increase in activity.  I simply don't feel the need to know any great detail.

So we continue on through the scan, finding a spot on my esophagus which likely could acid reflux or heartburn.   My bladder is also glowing, but its normal to look like that.  PET scans are not easy to read.

So when we get the to the next large glowing spot, I'm perplexed.  

Reading me, as he does so well, Dr. P explains its my uterus.  And its IN my uterus, not just on top of my uterus.  The words he carefully uses, are "large mass."  

Oh boy.  

But as I think about it, I have to wonder, "How do we know what it is?"

He nods in agreement, stating, "We don't."  Its highly unlikely for breast cancer to spread to your uterus.  What we really need to do is biopsy it.  

"So it could be another kind of cancer?  Like uterine cancer?  Or something else?"

He quietly nods his head.  And we sit in silence a moment or two, letting it sink in.  

Then he shifts our focus, and says "I think we need to start new treatment again. How do you feel about Taxotere- weekly.

This is what I've expected him to say.  So I counter offer,  "How about Halaven?  Could we start with that?  It helped my lungs last time and we stopped it early."  

He smiles, and says enthusiastically, "OK."  It's good, too.  Lets start with Halaven and restart Herceptin again.  We'll do two weeks on, and 1 week off of treatment.  Its that one week off, that gives me a bit of relief.  

"Fatigue may be more of an issue, and your counts may go low, he says.  Most of your hair will fall out.  And sores are likely to form in your mouth.  But it worked well for you last time!" 

He always diverts my attention back to the positive I can hang onto.  He walks me out to the waiting room and then leans in to hug me around my shoulder before he briskly walks away.  


I finished my second dose of Halaven on Tuesday.  I'm bumping up against nausea and inability to eat at times.  I'm worn out, despite how little I seem to accomplish most days.  

But two things keep me going.  Well, 3 actually.  And they are called Nolan, and Colton, and Superman.  I just keep striving to find new ways to be in their world, no matter what it takes.  Sheer will some days, and God given grace on others.  

Rest in peace my sweet friend, Colleen.  Your sharp wit, brilliant intelligence and huge compassion for all, will be so dearly missed.  In true Colleen fashion I heard you made one more trip to Target, insisting on pushing the cart and walking, despite how tiny you had become.  Tiny in size maybe, but you were mighty in all other ways,  and will be forever missed.  

If you're so inclined,  prayers please, for Colleen's husband Marlon, and their two precious daughters, just 5 and 7 years old- Lizzie and Abbie.  They'll be so honored. 

~peace and love to you all~


  1. I always take a deep breath when i see your posts, fearing bad news yet looking forward to your wisdom. It's not fair that you and your family are going through this extremely difficult, horrible, time. My very best to all of you. Your posts do something positive for me. You are teaching me lessons that are right on spot for me. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Joan, such sweet words. I always pray and hope that I am fulfilling a purpose for my life- that He is moving through me and that somehow He is glorified through all of this. So grateful for you and your support! Blessings to you~

  2. Praying for you Vicky. I will be praying that the mass is just a mass. I will be praying for strength and more energy for you to be with your boys. I have two boys of my own, and a superman at home. We will all be praying for you.

    1. Thank you so much for those sweet prayers. Hugs and love to you and yours!

  3. Oh honey,
    There just aren't words. There aren't words adequate to express how deeply loved you are and how much you matter. There aren't words adequate to tell you the place you hold in my heart. There aren't words adequate to share how you live your legacy every day with such grace and authenticity. And your story about sweet Colton...tears just keep streaming down my face. He's right you know...."All that really matters... is that I'm here with you. That's all I really need, okay?" His amazing wisdom and ability to share his much like his Mama! And you, my dear Vicky, so courageous and brave as you tackle the tough conversation about it being hard for him when you are sick.

    I would just do anything for you to be hearing better news, my dear friend. Thankfully I trust Dr. P that he will be there to help you navigate these next twists and turn. Most of all, God is right there with you, right now, in the midst of all the hard questions and what do we do next moments. He holds you, and your dear family, in the palm of His Almighty hand.

    I will be there too, my sweet soul sis. We will all be there, with you, praying and holding you up... just as you pray for us, hold us up, and love us so dearly. I am praying right this very minute about that "mass" and all of those nasty yellow spots.

    Finally, the new look on your blog takes my breath away. You have never looked more beautiful than the picture of you and Rick, holding the heart shaped sparkler. So much love and history as you hold each other tight. We hold you tight too,, Rick, Colton and Nolan.

    I love you to the moon and back, Vicky Held Westra
    Your soul Sis,

    1. You always know just how to uplift me with your beautiful words that flow straight from your beautiful heart. I feel so blessed- so truly lucky to call you my friend. Thank you for breathing life, and energy and wisdom in to me. Your words do more for me than I could ever adequately say. Thank you, dear one. Love you to the moon and all the way back!!

  4. You are brave, you are a fighter, you are a born encourager, you are such an example of how to live in the midst of trials. Thank you for all you are to everyone !

    1. Maryellen- thank YOU for such kind words and encouragement- it blesses me more than I can say! Blessings to you~

  5. Vicky, love, love, love your story about Colton, precious - tears of awe and joy, so sweet!! You continue to inspire and bless so many. May those blessings continue to flow back to you as fast as you send them out :)

    God's love & peace to you,

    1. Such sweet words, Cheri- thank you for sharing in the joy of our Colton! God's love and blessings to you as well! So thankful for you!

  6. I have been checking several times a day, thinking of you and your family and praying that you were okay. You will never know how many people you inspire and who care for you even without the privilege of meeting you in person. Prayers and hope continue.

  7. Oh dear sweet woman how tears flow as I realize that your treatment shit if taking a bit of energy from in the Lord for He is good...and His mercy does indeed endure forever. Your sweet, so wise young son's words truly touched me deeply. Always, always I give thanks for Dr. P who is a gem of a care provider...and hold you and your family in love and light.

  8. Like your other friends here I check in frequently looking for a new post, hoping there is one....hoping there isn't one. Wanting to think of you as too busy to write, always hoping....always're not too sick or weak to write. Knowing that it must ALWAYS be a sacrifice to cobble together the words you form so beautifully.

    I'm SO sorry for your friend and her dear family. Only God, and those who share her journey as you do, Vicky, can fully understand. May his comfort now be in proportion to that deep knowing.

    Praying for this phase of treatment and all it means, loved one. So grateful all of your guys still have the most important thing in their lives which is you. Love you, Honey.

  9. I was just thinking this morning that it had been awhile since you had posted. This post made me want to hang my head and cry, but I didn't. You don't post these for me to feel sorry for you. Praying for you instead. You are a mighty warrior, Vicky, in the most important ways possible. And all that's important is being in those guys' world--nothing else you could accomplish matters. Love you. Sorry for your loss of Colleen.

  10. Ahhh, it brings such comfort to me just to see your name here, Robin. Those precious prayers have nourished and sustained me for so long now, they've seen me through so much and I am forever grateful to you! Big and wide friend- love that is both big and wide right back to you!

  11. Words cannot express the sadness and injustice I feel on your behalf. I'm so sorry you're having to go through so much, and pray for your continued strength and for healing. Your time with your family is such a blessing. You amaze me with your thankful heart and your incredible strength...the lessons you're sharing with your boys are priceless. You're a wonderful mother. ((hugs))

  12. No words. No words. Overtaken by Love....

  13. Checking in with you Vicky. You are the strongest gal I know and I have been honored to be your blog friend over the years. I think about you often and pray continually for your health. Your family needs you Vicky...never ever give up, hugs and kisses Vicky.

  14. I am a new blog reader but wanted to take a send you prayers and hope and love. You have enough wisdom for all of us. Blessings to your sweet family. I hope you are feeling ok today. Xo Jeanne


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