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

Martin Luther King, Jr.



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
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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!) ;)

Nina,
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

Nina
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.

Nina,
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
listen

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
this:)

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

Prevention

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