"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase"

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yes or No?

Mom was supposed to start radiation today, according to her radiologist, but her oncologist had been telling us to wait 3 weeks after chemo! Since her oncologist is on vacation until Jan 5th, the doctor on call and the radiologist decided to wait and revisit the treatment plan next week with mom. I was hoping to be in town during her first week of the radiation since we don't know what to expect, but with all of the family and wonderful friends I know she'll be well taken care of.

I think it's going to be my poor husband we'll have to worry about as I'll be a nervous wreck sitting in AZ feeling helpless and worried. Cory is actually coming to visit tomorrow! It's been an undecided thing but after a few cancelled plans already; this time it's official. It's been a long time since he's been to little Springfield so I'm anxiously awaiting his arrival! We're just going to focus on relaxing, quality time with mom before the chaos begins.

Have a great new year tomorrow & goodnight!
Love Jess

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oncology: Day 5 Chemo

Friday, Day 5 of Chemo is complete! Mom did so great this week. We celebrated with some pizza tonight!
Today was also the first meeting with the radiologist to discuss the next plan of attack - radiation! We didn't expect it to start this soon but it could begin as early as Tuesday. Next battle... bring it on!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oncology: Day 1 Chemo

Mom had her first chemotherapy treatment today and did great!
It took around 3 hours and was a nice environment with friendly staff and fellow chemo-ees. After a few more visits I think she'll get into the routine and accept it as her plan of attack! It's been a hellish few weeks for sure! If I was sitting in that chair I couldn't imagine all that's on her mind. In the most serious moments we still have the ability to laugh and be silly! When the oncologist came in the room today, we told him that we were mom's entourage/traveling support group as we attempted to squeeze 2 Franke bottoms into the remaining chair, and with huge smiles on our faces I might add! Aside from the gut wrenching medical facts we had already heard from our friendly pathology report, today was a great day!!
Keep up the good work mom!
We're going to write history and show these doctors who they're dealing with.... No quitters round these parts now ya'hear!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thank you, to the Boss!

We'd like to give a huge thank you to our employers for working with us and allowing us to be with our family during these difficult times.

Warmest Regards to,

Paul of United States Electric Co./ Johnstone Supply from Kerry
Dr. Chamberlain of Chamberlain Orthodontics from Jessica
Bill & Jim of Young's Security Systems from Jaclyn
Kris & Pam of Wagner Portrait Group from Jenelle
Dr. Bob of Robert's Automotive from Joshua

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Benefit - Jan 31st

new flyer with entertainment coming soon!
{click on image to copy}
please email jessfranke@mac.com for a copy to distribute

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pathology Report Update

We met with the oncologist today and discussed the results of the pathology report, which was the biopsy taken during the scoping to determine if the cancer had spread. The cancer has spread to the underside of the diaphragm and surrounding lymph nodes. The diaphragm is a thin layer of muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. However, some good news today is that the cancer has not spread to the liver or pancreas. The plan continues to start chemotherapy next week for 5 days straight. Then 3-4 weeks off before the 2nd cycle which will includes chemotherapy and radiation. This 2nd cycle will be the most difficult when Mom will desperately need help from family and friends.

The rumors can spread around small towns and we want to make it very clear that there IS HOPE and Mom IS staying strong and positive! She doesn't need sympathy, pity or your absence from her life. The things that will keep her going is your smiling face, making her laugh, your company and support. Right now she still looks like Kerry, like Mom, but radiation could be very hard on her and it might not be as comfortable for people to see her like that. However, the most important point I'm making is this is only temporary. There will be good days and bad days. Staying away is the worst thing anyone can do. So we truly can't thank you enough for everyone that is pulling through to help support Mom and will continue to!

We love you all!
The Franke Family

Monday, December 15, 2008

In Memory of Boppie

My grandpa passed away last night. Boppie was the name I gave my grandpa 29 years ago. My mother's father was the best grandfather anyone could have! The most important part of this life was his family. With 4 children of his own, 15 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren and 1 more on the way, he was never bored of family celebrations and company. He's special to everyone of us and he will be missed.
May you rest in peace and love Boppie, until we meet again.

Loving you always and forever,
Your little Jess-e-ca!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Save the Date!

Mom's friends at work will be putting on a benefit!

Where: Sherman Athletic Club

When: January 31st at 1:00pm

Who: Contact Ron or Shawn
Office (217) 522-3347
Ron's Home (217) 624-2943
or email Ron at ronncoorme@hotmail.com

More Details Coming Soon!

Please contact Ron or Shawn if you can help in any way with ideas, donations etc.
We are so excited and grateful to hear this news and will be helping out also.

Visitors Welcome

Friends & Family,

We've been busy taking care of Mom and don't have much time to call people. Please know that we're thinking of you and welcome anyone to stop by and visit! She's at home doing great and looks forward to seeing you all soon!

Hugs, The J's

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Welcome Home Mom

Mom came home today and has been eating well. I'm excited to fatten her up and take good care of her. She's doing great considering the scoping that was done and her recent port insertion. It will be a long and difficult road with good days and bad days but today, we're celebrating a very good day!
Thank you so much everyone for the yummy food, beautiful flowers, plants, sweet cards, gifts, company, hugs, oh my gosh Mom is so lucky to have such amazing friends (and family!). We love you guys!

The J's ;)

Some Good News

Today Mom woke me with the sound of her beautiful voice. She is doing better after the operation yesterday and slept very well last night. Dr. Icaza came today to speak to us. He had very good news when he told us that the acidic fluid found in her pelvic area came back negative!!! All of your prayers are making a difference. Thank you so much. We are still waiting to hear about the other testing that was done to the spots on the liver and lymphnodes surrounding the areas.

Love Jenelle

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fill An Empty Tree

At the hospital tonight we saw the neatest idea!
People have been giving inspirational ornaments to brighten a christmas tree.
So we thought it would be neat to brighten up Kerry's Christmas by bringing over an ornament to place on her tree. This would be something special or unique from you to Kerry!

Love Debby & Ron

Praying for Toby

Terri's doggie Toby had to go to the hospital today.
Isn't he so adorable! Hang in there Toby so you can come cuddle with Aunt Kerry soon!
Stay strong Terri, I know how important our pups are!
Lots of love!

Type of Food

Friends and family are wanting to bring meals by for us! This is a list of foods from her doctors that will be beneficial for Mom.

Potatoes, Corn, Avocado, Pinto beans, Kidney beans, Canned Fruits (organic or non), Whole Milk, Eggs, Cheese, Tuna, Poultry (no red meat), Protein powders (whey protein, not soy) meal replacement shakes and bars (Ensure/Boost)

(Other Misc/Food Groups)

Nuts/Seeds: pecans, macadamia nuts, peanuts/peanut butter, walnuts, shelled sunflower seeds, almonds
Milk Group: evaporated milk for cooking instead of water, yogurt, ice cream, creamed cottage cheese, cream cheese sour cream
Fats: butter, margarine, oil or mayonnaise, gravy
Sweets: (we have organic honey and sugar) jam, jelly or chocolate syrup

Friday's Update

Mom had a small surgery today, Dr. Icaza placed a small port in her upper left chest which is connected to a major vein for easy IV access to her bloodstream. This will be used for chemotherapy. The plan is to begin chemo as soon as possible, followed by some radiation to shrink the tumor and plan for removal within a few months. We are still waiting on the biopsy of the surrounding areas to see if the cancer has spread elsewhere. Our main focus right now is to get Mom back to health. She needs to gain weight and get her nutrition back to keep her strong during chemo. I'll be in charge of making sure she's eating a high protein (ie: whole milk, eggs, cheese, chicken, beans, fish), high calorie diet with 6 small meals per day around 2,000-2,200 calories per day. This morning we met with all 4 doctors, the surgeon, oncologist, resident doctor at the hospital, and her primary care physicians so it's been a pretty busy day. Mom is going great! She slept well for 8 hours last night and is ready for the games to begin. Her surgery this morning went well and we're going to get her back on full foods by tonight - Dr. Icaza said she might be able to leave tonight! We'll keep you posted!

Love the J's

Don't know what to say?

I know this whole thing has come as such a shock to everyone. You might not know what to say or do. The important thing is that Mom needs you - all of her friends, family, co-workers, friends of friends, whoever cares about our Mom or wants to wish her well.

A good friend of mine said "I don't know what I can say or do but just be here for you!" Some of Mom's friends came right over to the hospital today just to hug her and say they love her. I want you to know that you are all welcome to show your love and support in anyway you can, or feel comfortable doing.

If you have any questions or want to know a good time to visit please contact me and feel free to pass this blog along!

(480) 296-8530
(please leave a message, as I might not be able to answer right away, but you're all so very important to us!)

Love Jess

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Photography by Jen

Mom and Trin

(black and white film developed in darkroom by Jenelle)

Poems by Jen & Mom

(For Jenelle, By Mom)

since the day you came into this world-
fifteen minute delivery – left us in a whirl
a shinning star we have been blessed.
home to jessie and jacie – a baby sis was their quest!

at three months old you stole the show
in your cute little dress and pink bow
always laughter and entertainment for all.
your big sisters were at your beck and call.

at two you became big sissy to lil’ bub
we would cuddle, read books and his peachy head you’d rub.
from the day he came home- he was your buddy.
when i was too busy – you’d just watch “cinderelle”

all to soon it was your first day of school
dance classes, girl scouts, youth club, it was so cool.
you loved it all – never wanted to rest.
best of all - made a promise to mom to always do your best

jess and jacie grew up and moved away.
but your smiles, laughter and caring ways brightened the days.
it was hard for us all – now just bub and nin
we all keep close in our hearts – looking forward to them flying in!

the family grew by one more
you’ve been a second mom since they walked through the door.
precious baby trin – we were so excited to meet
a special bond you two will always keep.

then on to high school – you kept your word to do your best
your achievements have excelled the rest.
from high honors, volleyball, to art awards.
now plans for college – time to loosen the cords!

homework, late night projects, and poetry books,
i was ever so happy to be in on the works.
fieldtrips, dances, decorating for prom -
it’s been so rewarding to be your mom!

the years have passed so quickly – its all a blur.
but you never lost track of who you were.
from pre-school to porta high -
i’m so proud of you – that’s just why!

i wrote this poem just for you jen,
only the beginning of a lifetime as daughter and friend.
in memory of our priceless times together.
a special place in my heart for ever!


(For Mom, By Jenelle)

you were the first to hold me in your arms
the first to feel your precious charm
the first to look into my eyes
the first to hear your baby girl cry

from the day i was born our bond has been strong
today i know it’s never been wrong
you know what i’m always feeling
and there when i need a little healing

you are the toughest woman i’ve ever seen
working on houses and raising four like a queen
doing things that most moms had never heard
then appearing like they had never occurred

no one is lying when you hear what they say
50 and four kids there is just no way
all you can do is smile
as you go on explaining for a while

your kind heart and love keeps you youthful
now you know why the ones you meet are so truthful
now everyday I see more of you in myself
you are apart of me that that will never be placed away on a shelf

the lessons you taught me will me passed on
when I have my own children to lay them upon
I will teach them exactly what I learned
how about sewing another pillow for a gift that can’t be returned ;)

there are many memories to be made after all of this mess
we will leave this horrible experience leaving others impressed
like jess said nothing keeps us frankes from smiling
no cancer is going to make us keep crying

i wrote this poem just for you mom
only the beginning of a lifetime as mother and friend
in memory of our priceless times together
a special place in my heart for ever



Hospital Update - Thursday

The surgeon was in before sunrise this morning to talk with Mom about her current status and explained why the surgery was not completed yesterday. It's heavy news to take in when you're expecting something to happen and it doesn't. The good news is that the doctors want what's best for mom and they wanted to verify for sure before taking drastic steps. She's hanging in there, staying strong. We're waiting for the pathology report to come back by tomorrow and we'll know more then.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hospital Update 8:00pm

Mom's awake and in a little pain from the incisions of the scoping. She's eating some graham crackers and just took some pain medication. They'll be transferring her to a room for tonight. I'm spending the night at the hospital with her. The doctor has not yet briefed her about the details of the situation but I shared a very brief and simple summary with her to help ease her concerns as to why they did not complete the gastrectomy. After some rest and the anesthesia wears off the doctor will be talking with her in the morning.

Friends and family are here with us, there's no shortage of love, support and food. We'll check back with you again soon!
Love Jess, Jacie, Jen & Josh

Surgery Update 3:30pm

We just met with the surgeons. They completed the scope and after a very difficult decision, they chose to wait on the resection until receiving results of the biopsies. This will avoid completing a very serious operation to only make things worse. At this point it is unclear if the cancer has spread, however they were very honest and upfront in letting us know that the surrounding areas look highly suspicious and we are dealing with a very aggressive cancer. If the cancer has not spread, and can be contained, the plan will be to proceed with radiation and chemotherapy to shrink the tumor for resection. The tumor has taken over 60% of her stomach. Two spots on her liver and her lymph node(s) were biopsied, they also took some ascitic fluid (peroitoneal fluid) was taken from her pelvic area for testing as well. She will stay overnight for observation as we await the biopsy results. We need your support and prayers more than ever.

Surgery Update 2:00pm

They took Mom back for surgery an hour ago at 1pm.
We're here with Aunt Barb, Uncle Terry & Aunt Judy.
It will be a few hours until we hear something from the doctors. We're at Memorial Hospital, Regional Cancer Center. Her surgeon is Dr. Icaza with co-surgeon Dr. Hammer. They will be scoping all organs prior to the gastrectomy. If the cancer is not as high as suspected they will do a partial gastrectomy. Check back for further updates.
Love Jess

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thank you message from Kerry

You all are so awesome! I don't know what to say. All of the love and support has been so comforting. I face uncertainty tomorrow and it helps to have such a wonderful support system keeping me positive.

Love you all! Thank you so much for everything!

Jess Arrives

"Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face."
- George Eliot

I made it to Springfield today. It's strange coming home in December - it's been 3 or 4 years since I've seen Illinois during winter. So far it's not so bad. I referred to my quick walk from the airport to the car as brisk! Mom's new house is super cute and cozy which counteracts any feelings of bitter cold. I'm grateful sitting here tonight, even though it's 2:30am and I'm wide-eyed and worried. I probably nagged Mom too much about all of the things she needs to do or not do. From making sure she's getting in the proper amount of fluids to the anxiety of what lies ahead after the surgery, I feel this overwhelming sense of fear and responsibility to help in any way I can. I'm not upset, no tears have been shed today. We're strong and positive. Nothing we can do until Wednesday and nothing we'll really truly know until after the surgery. Before I left Phoenix my husband told me not to drive myself crazy with ideas until I got the facts in. I'm trying!

Love & Goodnight,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Acai Berry & Cancer

The popularity of the acai berry is growing every day. As a result, more and more nutritionists and scientists are researching its unique nutritional qualities and healing abilities. It was only a matter of time before someone ran experiments regarding the acai berry’s ability to fight cancer.
The exciting results of that experiment are below, but first let’s cover a few things that may help you understand the acai berry’s cancer fighting abilities a little better.
Free Radicals & Antioxidants
Free radicals are nasty little molecules that come from pollutants, pesticides, cigarette smoke, etc. They attack the cells in the body and can even damage DNA. Free radical damage within cells has been linked to a range of disorders including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes.
Your body, of course, has a way to fight back. It does so in the form of antioxidants, which strengthen cells and fight off free radicals.
ORAC Attack
The USDA has a method of measuring the levels of these antioxidants in foods. It’s called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity score (ORAC for short). Where does the Acai berry measure up on this score? Well, it pretty much blows away the competition.

Acai Berry Studies

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

High School Mom

Mom, you're so beautiful. You were then and you are now. I'm so proud to be your daughter and to look so much like you.
There's no one else I'd rather look like! Love you Mom! Jess

Word of the Day (by Jen)

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they go right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart, so that better things can fall together."
-Marilyn Monroe

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sweet Distractions

So I was having a pretty bad few days after the initial shock of everything and look who came into my life... a very sweet distraction!

This little guy is SO ADORABLE! My neighborhood found him on Thanksgiving Day. After staying a few nights with 2 different neighbors I heard the news and came to the rescue. He's an amazing dog, super calm and sweet, Cory says he has a soft heart. He loves to go on long walks, well trained, loves car rides, kids, chasing birds and lots of cuddles!

If we can't find his owners we're determined to find him a good home and are working with the beagle rescue group. If this was my dog I would be heartbroken if he'd gone missing.

(Wish I could bring him to Illinois for you Mom!)
Lv Jess

(UPDATE: Friday, after being lost for over 1 week, the Beagle's family found him! (with the help of the postman connecting their Lost Beagle flyer with our Found Beagle flyer! - which Cory spent an entire day posting around the area! He was 5 miles from home!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Surgery Date: December 10th

Mom's surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, December 10th

Here's more information about the cancer, diagnosis, treatment etc.
Wikipedia: Stomach Cancer

Love from Friends & Family

Thank you so much, everyone for you prayers and thoughts - you've warmed out hearts and your support is appreciated!

Cousin Nina
We always did puzzles when we got together. This is 73-74 (l-r) Barb, Kerry, Todd. Love you cuz!! Nina
(Translation: Mom & Nina had to cheat at playing games because Barb & Todd always won!) ;)

Glen and I will keep her in our prayers. I am thankful they found it when they did and pray for a successfull and speedy recovery and LIFE!!!! Love ya honey!!
Rayana and Glen

Wow Nina,
I just received this. I will be thinking of you and your cousin. Love, Carolyn

Hi Nina – SO sorry to hear this news about your cousin. There is just way too much of this!!!! We will keep Kerry in our thoughts and prayers. Please keep us up to date on her progress. Donna

Nina, She will be in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Gwen

So sorry to hear about your cousin. She is in my prayers.... Kim

So sorry to hear. I thought cancer only happened to older people I hear of more people all the time and I think we're still young. I think of you often. Take Care Susan L.

I have added her to my prayer list and will ask my friend, Annie, to add her to her list. Thanks for sharing! Francene

Jessica's Friends
hi jessica - i got your mesage over the holiday weekend. crazy news. i spent some time reviewing the kind words on the blog you set up for your mom - many inspiring comments there. seems that your family will have no shortage of support and prayers in the coming days. my own mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when i was in college, some 16 years ago. we celebrated her 70th bday in kansas city just last month! so, while the immediate circumstances might feel daunting, the stories of survival are everywhere; they are also life changing for everyone affected. i wanted to let you know that you and your family are very much in my thoughts. please let me know if i can do anything at all.

Sorry to hear about this! I will check out the blog and keep you guys
in my mind. Modern medicine is amazing, so you have to be optimistic,
which I know you are! Hang in there.

I am so sorry and I have some idea of what you are feeling. It sounds like
you are mustering all the positive energy you can so I will just add that my
thoughts are with all of you and live every day to avoid regret so you don't
miss any opportunities to show the love you have inside.
I will visit the blog regularly to get updates, please hang in there.

I just checked out your mom's blog and I totally teared up. You are the best daughter and it sounds
like between you, your siblings and family that you all will get through this. I hope and pray that it is
in its early stages and that she comes through ok. Oh Jess, I am just so sorry that your mom and you
guys have to experience this. I can tell you that when you think things cant get any worse, they can only
get better. You all are strong women with strong survival skills. You'll make it.

I'm very sad and upset to hear about your mom. Through experience, I know
exactly what you all and your mom will be going through -- the emotions,
the physical pain, and the hopes and fears. It is a crisis that you will
make it through as you all pull together and you will pray and receive hope
and strength from the Lord. I have already been praying and I will
continue. Please keep me informed as you have time and keep looking up to
the Lord to supply your courage and strength!!
Love & prayers!

I know in a sense what you are going through. My brother had cancer 4 years ago and it was so
tough seeing him and my parents go through it. However, I cant imagine what you are going through with your
mom. What a blessing your all girls trip was this past summer.

Your mom is an amazing woman and she
is so fortunate to have such devoted children and family. With all your
support, strength, love and positive energy, she will get through this. I
am thinking and praying for all of you

I am SO SORRY to hear this! I desperately hope that it is in the very early stages & she can fight it more easily. I will call you tonight. Thinking of you...

Jessi - I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. You girls "keep your
chins up" and forage ahead - you'll make it through this.

I want you to know that I will pray for you every time the spirit leads me or reminds me of you and your family...I know in my heart that everything in your life is bent on bringing you closer to the finished person God wants you to be...and your Mother as well...I have never met your family but i know that I love them... and hardship in your familys life and showing strength through it can have a very possitive response that reverberates through many people....be strong and have courage Jessica, like i know that you have inside you... you will be a great blessing to your mother, I know you are and will...and ask God for help daily...again I will pray for you often

she'll be OK in the end it's the battle ahead that we worry about right. If I could in anyway, anyway possible, do anything at all in anyway to help please let me know. I hope that especially she is doing well, but I hope you kids are dealing with this as best you can. Her illness is such as a scary word but there is so much more that can be done in today's health care than in days of old. Not only that but you girls are tough as nails and always seem to make lemonade out of lemons. Every time God throws any of you a curve ball you all seem to knock it out of the park anyway. I'm sorry to hear this situation but I am certain you will all do as well as possible with this. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers regularly. I know times seem uncertain and difficult right now but you need to focus on today and live in today right. Try to enjoy the time you can with the current days off. Try to focus on the good in life right now. As they say, if you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow you pee all over today. Big hugs to you and your family Jessica. Please know you, they, are all in my heart.

You, Kerry and all your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Your news is very heartbreaking and we will keep you and your mom and the
rest of your family in our prayers!! If you need to talk, I am hear to

I am so sorry to hear this about your mom. You will all be in my
thoughts and prayers. Hang in there and let me know if I can do anything
for you.

So sorry to hear of your mom's cancer. I will keep her in
my prayers.

I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I am sure she is a wonderful person. Our prayers are with you and your family. Let me know if I can help in anyway.

Thank you for sharing this with me! I will pray for her and your family. I have lots of people who will be praying with me, so please keep me posted. If there is anything else I can do, I will, so please let me know.

Keep your positive attitude.
Let us know what we can do as you figure it out.

You're in our prayers. Call me if you need anything. She'll get through

I am so sorry to hear that... If there is anything you need
from me please do not hesitate to ask.
Your mom is the best and I know you guys will get thru this. Tell her I
am thinking of her. Jess you are very strong remember that... Call if you need anything ok
Love always

I'm so sorry to hear it. You should, however, be happy that they are
still able to operate. Just know that it's clearly early enough that she is fighting it and able to fight
it. Your mom is still young and healthy so she should come out of this
strong. I did a lot of research when my father passed, so if you ever
need to talk or anything, you know you can always call me. I'm here no
matter what. Please make sure that your regular Doctor is aware of the
fact that cancer is in your family so you get checked on a regular
basis as well. I never knew it was in my family till it was too late
for my father. If the Drs would have known, maybe they would have
found it sooner. Just make sure that you get yourself checked
regularly as well please. The only way to beat cancer is to catch it
early. I love you very much and know that she will be fine. Not wish
or hope, but know.

My thoughts and prayers are with you. My mom just had open heart surgery. I
understand what you are going through.
Keep healthy thoughts! I am praying for you.

i'm so sorry your family is going through this. both steve and i send our love...
good luck with the surgery on the 10th!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Helpful Things for Mom


Emphasize fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C and beta carotene, has been shown to help protect against stomach cancer. Look for deep green and dark yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, such as Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, cantaloupe, mango, acorn or butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. Also try to eat vegetables from the cabbage family, including broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Lycopene, a nutrient found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and red bell peppers, may be a particularly powerful anti-cancer chemical.

Avoid nitrites and nitrates. These nitrogen compounds are known to contribute to stomach cancer. They're found primarily in processed meats — bologna, salami and corned beef, for instance — and in cured meats such as ham and bacon.

Limit smoked, pickled and heavily salted foods. These have been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. Countries where the consumption of smoked, pickled and salted food is high have correspondingly high stomach cancer rates.
Don't smoke. Tobacco use greatly increases your risk of stomach cancer, especially cancer that occurs at the junction of the esophagus and stomach.

Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol may cause changes in cells that can lead to cancer.

Limit red meat. Eating large amounts of red meat — particularly when it's barbecued or well-done — increases your risk of stomach cancer. Instead, choose fish or poultry.

See your doctor if you have symptoms of an ulcer. Infection with H. pylori, the bacterium that causes most cases of gastric ulcers, is one of the leading causes of stomach cancer. Don't ignore symptoms of ulcers, such as a gnawing pain in your abdomen or chest that's worse when your stomach is empty or at night. Other, more severe signs and symptoms of ulcers include nausea, vomiting, bleeding and unintended weight loss.

Mayo Clinic: Prevention

Lifestyle and home remedies

After gastrectomy, it's not uncommon to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, nutritional deficiencies and dumping syndrome, which occurs when food enters your small intestine too quickly. These side effects usually result from eating more at one time than your digestive system can tolerate and can often be controlled with changes in the amount, frequency and kinds of food you eat.

You may also develop nutritional deficiencies because you're no longer able to absorb certain vitamins. Vitamin B-12, for example, can only be absorbed when it's attached to a protein produced in your stomach (intrinsic factor). For that reason, you'll need to receive vitamin B-12 injections for life. Your doctor may also recommend supplementing your diet with other nutrients, especially folic acid, iron and calcium.

Although coping with the effects of gastrectomy can be challenging, the following measures may help improve or relieve your symptoms:

Eat small, frequent meals. Normally, your stomach can expand to accommodate what you eat and drink, which it then releases slowly into your small intestine. After gastrectomy, you won't be able to eat as much at one sitting as you once did, although you likely can consume the same amount overall. To get the calories you need while minimizing intestinal symptoms, try eating six small meals a day, rather than two or three large ones.

Avoid drinking with meals. Although it's important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, drinking with meals hastens the movement of food through the upper part of your digestive tract and may reduce the absorption of nutrients. Instead, try to drink 30 minutes before or 60 minutes after you eat.

Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This can help reduce nausea and vomiting and increase your ability to absorb nutrients.

Avoid extremely hot or cold foods or liquids. These may aggravate your symptoms.

Rest after meals. It's best to relax after you eat because activity increases the likelihood of nausea and vomiting. Don't lie flat, however, for at least two to three hours after a meal.

Avoid sugar. All forms of sugars and sweets aggravate dumping syndrome.

Use dairy products cautiously. Some people find that dairy foods such as milk, cheese and even yogurt cause gas, bloating and abdominal pain. In that case, an enzyme product such as Lactaid or Dairy Ease may help break down lactose. Consuming small amounts of milk products or combining them with other foods to slow digestion also may help. In some cases, though, you may need to eliminate dairy foods completely. If so, be sure to get enough protein, calcium and B vitamins from other sources.

Avoid troublesome foods. If certain foods make your symptoms worse, don't eat them. Instead, try eating softly cooked or pureed fruits and vegetables, rice, plain baked potatoes, soups, broth, and chicken or fish cooked without fat.

Talk to a dietitian. It's difficult to get the calories and nutrition you need on a restricted diet. A dietitian can help you plan healthy meals that don't aggravate your symptoms.

Mayo Clinic: Lifestyle

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Plan of Attack!

(Aunt Barbar's Update)

Update from Kerry’s doctor appointment with her surgeon:

Kerry’s pathology report showed infiltrating poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma, meaning that it is a very aggressive cancer. Because it is so aggressive, she will be scheduled for surgery at the next available operating room slot. The only possible way to cure gastric cancer is to remove it, which entails removing part or all of the stomach. Because her cancer is in the upper part of the stomach, it is most likely that they will have to remove all of her stomach (total gastrectomy). When they remove the cancer, they have to have a 6 centimeter margin that is free of cancer on all sides. Because her cancer is higher up in the stomach, it will probably not allow them to leave any of the stomach attached to the esophagus in order to achieve those margins. They will remove the stomach and then attach the small intestine to the esophagus. She will be able to eat, but smaller, more frequent meals. They will start the procedure laparoscopically (with small incisions and scope placed through the incision), but she will have to have a larger incision made to remove the stomach as well as to attach the intestine to the esophagus. They will first assess all the surrounding organs to check for spread and then what they find after they are in there will determine the next step, whether or not to remove part or all of the stomach. They will do frozen sections during surgery to look at the tissue. She will have to be in the hospital 5 to 7 days after the surgery and unable to eat for a few days in order to allow the area where it was attached to heal. They will remove the stomach and surrounding lymph nodes which will be sent to Pathology for staging of the cancer. It will take approximately a week to get those results back. The stage of the cancer will determine whether she needs to have chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The tests that have been run up to this point have not indicated any spread outside the stomach, so keep her in your prayers that it has been found in its early stages.

Oncology Channel, Gastric Cancer Overview

Mayo Clinic, About Stomach Cancer

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Step One

Mom met with the surgeon today.  Her sister, our Aunt Barbar, was there also who when I called gave me those medical facts I needed to hear, I was ready to hear.  We finally have a solution and a plan.  It's not my favorite plan and it's certainly got any good news but we know what has to be done and we're going to make it through!  Mom just won't have a stomach anymore.  I can't believe it, I'm still in shock.  I'm worried, I want to protect her and be there to help, hug and cry and support her.  I want to make sure the doctors are doing it all right.  That's me I guess, the big sister part of me, the first child syndrome.  But I'm a few thousand miles away.  No matter what I will be there very soon Mom!

After Barbar passed the phone to mom we started talking about the plan, the facts, what about this and that, I was driving home, turned the corner and saw the biggest rainbow sitting above my house.  It rained today.  Mom knows how much I love the rain.  She also knows every time I see a rainbow I think of her.  It was comforting to see it.  But I was so amazed as I turned that corner and looked up it was all I could see and we started crying.  I assured her that everything would be ok and we're all here for her to help in any way we can.  You're not alone in this Mom!

Don't give into self-blame
Don't give into self-pity
Let yourself feel anger
Get more information
Stand up for yourself
Reach out to friends and family
Join a support group
Learn to cope with fear

Love Jess

The News

After a few months of different tests to figure out what's wrong with mom we finally heard the news, the news we didn't want to hear, things we were afraid to hear.  The thoughts run through your mind as you quickly dismiss them, thinking to yourself, no, this can't happen to our mom. Cancer?  Stomach cancer?  She couldn't even say the words.  After the initial emotions reality set in as mom calmly explained her situation being as positive and comforting as she could, for both of us, as she always does.  She told me that the biopsy came back with some cancer cells on the stomach, so I repeated back, do you mean stomach cancer mom?

Our mom is amazing, such a strong woman, kind, beautiful and the most loving person you'll ever meet.  She'd do anything for anyone, as she does for her children.  30 years of raising 4 children and counting, she always made sure we got the love and affection we needed.  Never buying anything for herself, never doing anything unnecessary we always came first no matter what.  Not until your older do you realize the sacrifices and appreciate what mom's actually go through.  Now it's our turn to help mom and do everything in our power to get her through this.

The symptoms first started when I was home in April.  She complained of stomach pains, indigestion after eating.  We didn't think much of it.  Of course we were worried and shocked because mom is never sick.  If mom was sick the world always stopped.  I can remember on maybe 2 or 3 occasions when she was, one being her morning sickness with little Jen!  But the pain didn't seem to go away, it got worse and more severe.  We just thought it was stress or an ulcer from the recent divorce or getting settle into her new house, going back to school, financial stress.  Then all the sudden she lost 30 pounds and was wearing my little sister's jeans.  We all started to really worry and insisted she go to the doctor.  The rest we will take one day at a time.  So I decided to start a blog for friends and family to check.  We'll be posting pictures, stories and updates here to keep everyone we love up to date.

Love, Jess