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

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2nd opinion

Mom and Aunt Barb at The Siteman Center in St. Louis
{standing in front of a tile wall with artwork from cancer survivors and families}

It was suggested by Mom's oncologist that she get a 2nd opinion regarding her options. So Mom, Jen and Aunt Barbar went to a Comprehensive Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. The doctor they met with agrees with the plan of choice and liked the chemo-cocktail suggested. He had never thought to use this particular combo before and mentioned it was a very aggressive approach, which is probably why Mom is a 4-year survivor! They requested a sample of the tumor and will be testing it with 100+ different available drugs to see if a positive response occurs. If the current plan of action is not successful they can easily enroll Mom into their treatment plan/studies and figure another course of action if needed.

Mom is ready to continue her fight! Thank you for all of your love, positive thoughts, support and prayers. We can get through this with love, strength and patience. Keep Calm and Hang On!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What The Lard?

I'm switching gears and we're back on a health kick. It's the time of year for baking and I know everyone loves Crisco. But is it safe? Is it really all that good for us? Let's look into some important reasons why we should go back to basics. In these two articles below I found interesting and helpful information regarding the history of LARD!

FAT FACTS: by Time At The Table 360
I find it super interesting to explore the reasons behind countries traditional cuisines. Particularly countries that have been exposed to war or hardship or to a lesser point media attention – these types of influences have contributed to regional differences.

Lard has been used for thousands of years in Europe and is steeped in the traditions in many rustic regional cuisines. In any culture where pigs were raised, the fat of the animal was usually considered as valuable a product as its meaty counterparts, and was a staple for cooking and baking. Interestingly, the market for lard was strong during World War II, however not for home kitchens – it was used in the manufacture of explosives. During the war, most people had to switch to vegetable oils for cooking as most of the lard produced was diverted to the military. When the war ended, lard prices dropped dramatically (presumably due to an oversupply), and oils were marketed successfully as healthier to cook with, and lard never regained its staple place in the diet.

Procter & Gamble, among others, also contributed their bit to demise of lard by introducing Crisco (vegetable shortening) and did a ripper job of publicising how great it was in comparison to lard (healthier, more pure) and alongside some great branding strategies, dominated the market. In the 50’s, a touch after our European lard story, scientists decided that the saturated fats in lard caused heart disease. This created an industry-wide rejection of poor lard.

Recently, since those great years that were the 90’s, chefs and bakers have started to re-recognise the unique properties and benefits of lard, resulting in a bit of a foodie revolution in the use of lard. They are championing its superiority in cooking, due to its range of applications and taste. Pure lard is useful for cooking since it produces little smoke when heated, has a relatively high smoke point to begin with, and has a distinctive flavour. And as always, the PR machine has come to the party, telling us all about the artery-clogging trans-fats you’ll now find in vegetable shortening.

Back to Europe and in particular the UK, where traditional British cuisine enthusiasts have contributed to a rise in lard popularity, there was even a lard crisis, God forbid, in 2006, when Poland and Hungary were such gluttons for fatty cuts of pork that the UK lard demands were not met. I also read an article some time ago about Ukraine, who serve Ukrainian Snickers – pork fat covered in chocolate!

So it seems that despite lards rough trot, it has come nearly full circle. Though it was obviously never forgotten and remained a favourite of some of the older generation and was passed down.

Conscientious Cook: Alternatives to Vegetable Shortening

Growing up, we always had a big can of Crisco sitting on the pantry shelf. It got used for everything from greasing pans to making the flakiest pie crust ever. Now that trans fats and hydrogenated oils are drawing some justifiable heat from health experts, we're not so keen on using vegetable shortening anymore. But what's our alternative?

For many recipes, what you substitute depends on what your making. Lard is our first choice if shortening is truly necessary. It has all the same properties as vegetable shortening - makes flaky pastries, has minimal spread in cookies, and has a clean flavor. (Lard doesn't taste like pork unless it gets rendered with meat, as with bacon) Lard was the original shortening, after all!

Second to that, we go with butter. It behaves much the same as shortening, and it gives baked goods a rich, buttery flavor. We sacrifice flakiness for a superior creamy mouthfeel. Unlike lard or shortening, butter contains a little liquid, so remember to decrease the liquid in the recipe slightly if you're using it a substitute. Spectrum is a popular brand for these products that we've seen in a lot of health food aisles.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Next Step

After speaking with Dr. Willadsen about the pathology details and options we agree the best plan is more chemo in conjunction with a cancer drug. Dr. Willadsen also supports working with a holistic/naturopathic approach. They will also be looking into clinical trials and do more research.

The pathology gallbladder report showed it was the same tumor found in stomach. Dr. Willaden saw this as a positive because we are dealing with the same monster. The gallbladder tumor did spread to the wall/lining and beyond. Which means there is no way to tell where the "seeds" are right now or where they will land. The 2 nodes/lumps removed did not have clear margins. The node/lump on Mom's face remains untouched at this time and could be a good indicator of success during additional chemo treatment.

They plan to start chemo in 3 weeks once Mom has healed from the surgery. Just before chemo they will do a CT scan followed by PET scan and then Bone scan to see if anything shows up or has changed.

Tests are taking place now using the tumor and determining it's reaction to the cancer drug. They say the drug is used to target specific genetic cancer cells that can be identified and attacked but still leave healthy cells alone. This works along with chemo and helps draw it to the bad cells.

Dr. Icaza (her surgeon) was very warm, caring and wants to do whatever he can to help.
Dr. Willadsen always makes us feel so hopeful, positive and optimistic about treatment and the outcome. We have a great team of doctors, family and friends!

We were reminded that it's actually been 2 years since last the last 6-mo round of chemo so we know it worked! Mom feels good and still looks like a million bucks! She's still ready for the fight!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pathology Results

The pathology results did not give us good news today. It was more than we were expecting and words no one is ready to hear. The gallbladder removed came back as cancerous (the original gastric cancer type) and the 2 nodules/lumps removed where also cancerous. Mom has an appointment tomorrow morning with her oncologist. We'll keep you posted. It's a quiet night.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Know About GMOs


What are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Link to Learn More About GMOs | Non-GMO Project Website

Beware Cookware

When heated, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces emits fumes that can kill birds and potentially sicken people. You can avoid exposures to the fumes from Teflon and other non-stick cookware by phasing out your home use of these products. If you can afford to replace your non-stick cookware now, do so.

Statistics reported by the Cookware Manufacturers Association indicate that 90 percent of all the aluminum cookware sold in the United States in 2001 was coated with non-stick chemicals like Teflon (Cooks Illustrated, September 2002). Chemicals and tiny, toxic Teflon particles released from heated Teflon kill household pet birds. At least four of these chemicals never break down in the environment, and some are widely found in human blood. Consumers concerned about the effects of Teflon on human health and the environment should consider these alternatives:

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a terrific alternative to a non-stick cooking surface. Most chefs agree that stainless steel browns foods better than non-stick surfaces. In their 2001 review of sauté pans, Cooks Illustrated, an independent publication, chose a stainless steel pan over otherwise identical non-stick models. They also recommended stainless steel pan roasters over non-stick.

Cast Iron
Cast iron remains a great alternative to non-stick cooking surfaces. Lodge, America’s oldest family-owned cookware manufacturer, refers to their cookware as “natural non-stick.” Cast iron can be pre-heated to temperatures that will brown meat and will withstand oven temperatures well above what is considered safe for non-stick pans. Cast iron is extremely durable and can now be purchased pre-seasoned, ready-to-use.

Other Cooking Surfaces
Because Teflon coated non-stick surfaces fail to brown foods there has been a push to find other “non-stick” cookware coating that will allow the use of higher temperatures and still clean up easily. Some examples include ceramic titanium and porcelain enameled cast iron. Both of these surfaces are very durable, better at browning foods than PTFE (Teflon) non-stick coatings, and are dishwasher safe. In her New York Times piece, "In Search of a Pan That Lets Cooks Forget About Teflon," Marian Burros recommends Le Creuset enameled cast iron pans with a matte black interior. Anodized aluminum is another alternative, but some people question its safety, citing evidence in some studies linking aluminum exposures to Alzheimers.

Link to Article | Environmental Working Group

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Surgery Day Success

Surgery is done! The 2nd kidney stent was placed. They were able to remove the gallbladder laparoscopically. The surgeon did find several adhesions but got it removed with success. The nodules were also removed but will not have pathology back for a week. She should be able to go home today unless she is in too much pain. The surgeon felt good about everything!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Surgery {N28} Nov28

Rise and Shine! Tomorrow is the big day! The surgeons are ready and Mom's been ready for a while. Surgery begins at 8am and is expected to take a few hours.

We are hopeful for laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder
second kidney stent placement
removal and cleared margins for 2 lumps

We'll be keeping you updated and appreciate your love, support and prayers!
Thank you so much for being with us through all we've faced!

Much Love Always,
Franke Kids & CO.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


During my flight back to Phoenix I found an article that I love so much I had to share one of my favorite parts. It's an amazing story about forgiveness. The story is featured in Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine called The Heart of Darkness.

Forgiveness has, for centuries, been preached by prophets and inspirational leaders. Nelson Mandela popularized one of Khamisa’s favorite quotes: “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

As it turns out, equating resentment with poison isn’t a stretch. Nursing a grudge means holding onto anger, and prolonged anger spikes heart rate, lowers immune response, and floods the brain with neuro-transmitters that impede problem solving and stir depression. In multiple studies, forgiveness has been shown to provide benefits such as lowered blood pressure and increased optimism, says Dr. Frederic Luskin, director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, an ongoing series of workshops and research projects at Stanford University. Having developed ways to teach forgiveness in various places, including war-ravaged countries such as Sierra Leone, Luskin asserts that anyone—from jilted spouses to widows who have lost husbands to terrorism—can heal.

“When you don’t forgive, you release all the chemicals of the stress response,” Luskin says. “Each time you react, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine enter the body. When it’s a chronic grudge, you could think about it 20 times a day, and those chemicals limit creativity; they limit problem solving. Cortisol and norepinephrine cause your brain to enter what we call ‘the no-thinking zone,’ and over time, they lead you to feel helpless and like a victim. When you forgive, you wipe all of that clean.”

Click here for link to article

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mom's Song

This time of year brings back so many memories of our journey. Filled with love and encouragement we fight on! Love you with all of my heart Mom!

Rescheduled Surgery: Multi-issue Update

There are many different issues in development. We are trying to funnel and coordinate into one surgery; one surgery with multiple procedures. We want to unravel the mystery of Mom's symptoms and address the issues at hand. Doing it all at the same time can be a daunting task but what choice do we have? I thought it would be helpful to write this out and organize my own thoughts while explaining Mom's current situation as best as I can.

* Gallbladder Removal
* Kidney Stents/Infections
* Bloating/unusual weight gain
* Spots/Lumps

Surgery has been rescheduled to the 28th with Dr. Icaza (Mom's main surgeon) for removal of the gallbladder. Previous abdominal scan from October 2nd looked good but did show some mild issue with right kidney recently confirmed during changing of left kidney stent by Dr. Severino (Mom's urologist). The 2nd Kidney stent (right side) will be placed on the 28th if Dr. Severino still feels this is necessary. I'm sure they will coordinate with Dr. Icaza.

Mom is bloated and somewhat extended in her lower abdomen area and feels pressure up under her rib cage mostly on right side where the gallbladder is. Let's hope removal of the gallbladder will solve most of these issues. We just don't know.

Last but not least are a few spots or lumps that will also be removed and margins cleared during her gallbladder and stent surgery. These lumps will be sent out to pathology and their results determine if the cancer is back. If cancer has returned it might determine additional chemotherapy. The doctors plan thus far seem to first remove it, clear the margins, scan and then determine if they really need more chemo. The trick in chemo is catching cancer while it's in an active stage. Otherwise chemo is pointless, especially if you've already removed the bad cells.

So the good news is that Mom's been under the care of some really great doctors and she has a very positive outlook even during her disappointments. We just take one day at a time! Keep Calm and Kerry On!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kidney Update

During the most recent stent changing on Mom's left kidney Dr. Severino (Urologist) noticed an issue with the right kidney as well. It will most likely need to have a stent placed to avoid failure. Mom woke up to this news and was extremely disappointed. One more thing to deal with, but she's taking it one step at a time. If dual kidney failure happens there is always dialysis. Mom needs those kidney's to function and filter her body especially through any additional chemo needed etc. Does anyone know of alternative treatment (in addition to the stent) that can help her kidneys recover or function better? We welcome your experiences, comments and suggestions!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Song: Carry On

Mom likes this song
Fun.: Carry On

Carry on
Well I woke up to the sound of silence
The cars were cutting like knives in a fist fight
And I found you with a bottle of wine
Your head in the curtains
And heart like the fourth of July

You swore and said
We are not
We are not shining stars
This I know
I never said we are

Though I've never been through hell like that
I've closed enough windows
To know you can never look back

If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

Carry on, carry on

So I met up with some friends
At the edge of the night
At a bar off 75
And we talked and talked
About how our parents will die
All our neighbors and wives

But I like to think
I can cheat it all
To make up for the times I've been cheated on
And it's nice to know
When I was left for dead
I was found and now I don't roam these streets
I am not the ghost you want of me

If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

My head is on fire
But my legs are fine
Cause after all they are mine
Lay your clothes down on the floor
Close the door
Hold the phone
Show me how
No one's ever gonna stop us now

Cause we are
We are shining stars
We are invincible
We are who we are
On our darkest day
When we're miles away
So we'll come
We will find our way home

If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

Monday, November 12, 2012

Safe & Snuggled

Mom's home tonight after a very long and somewhat disappointing day. Her kidney stent has been changed. There will be a follow up with this surgeon in a few weeks. The other part of the surgery has been scheduled for 2 weeks (for the gallbladder & spotted friends) and it was the earliest she could make the appointment. Additional updates to come.

Thank you for all of your kind love, caring thoughts and prayers today!


Oh-No! After all of this preparation and emotion we had to cancel a major part of the surgery today. Unfortunately Mom's surgeon has been injured. We hope that he is ok! The kidney stent change will still take place today but the gallbladder removal and lump/spot removal will be rescheduled for 2 weeks. In preparation for today Mom's been getting a daily IV dose of antibiotics to hold off infection from the kidney stent. This absolutely has to be changed ASAP regardless of the gallbladder issues. We're very anxious to get results back from removal of the suspect lumps/spots but will now have to wait. We also hoped the gallbladder removal would help with the constant pain and infections Mom's been dealing with.

Stay tuned and thank you so much for all of your love, prayers and support!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stomach Cancer Awareness: 1 Survivor's Story

This is a long quote taken from Fox 10 News interview that broke my heart.  It's something we need to remember.

Nicole realized after her diagnosis that stomach cancer research doesn't receive nearly enough attention or funding, so she helped organize a walk on November 3rd.

She wants that blue ribbon to stand out and stand for something important.

When somebody wears a pink ribbon, there's no question it's to benefit breast cancer research, but not so much with periwinkle.  That shade of blue is actually the color of stomach cancer awareness.  The disease kills more people than almost any other cancer, so the folks behind this movement hope the periwinkle gets as much push as its pink counterparts.

"I would hope that someday, that we can donate for all cancers instead of just one.  I think that would be great.  It doesn't have to be just one cancer, I think there should be a rainbow ribbon that stands for all the cancers," said Nicole.

Stomach cancer awareness: 1 survivor's story - FOX 10 News - Phoenix, AZ | KSAZ-TV


You are not just a number. You are not a statistic. I think the absolute worst thing you can do is start reading about statistics because in all honesty, statistics are not encouraging and everyone responds differently. Your body may respond favorably to a treatment while someone else may not. As you search for information please be careful and cautious not to pay too much attention to numbers.

Stay strong and keep hanging in there!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Anticipation of Mom's upcoming surgery hangs close to hearts this weekend. It's on the horizon. If you looked into our eyes you might see fear, sadness, anger, blank expressions and possibly doubt. It's just something we are honestly not ready to face or deal with; I suppose you are never ready. I hate to be melancholy about it and I know we're supposed to be positive. Why worry about something we don't have all the facts on yet? We will have to deal with it as the upcoming events unfold. We'll figure it out and go from there.

This time of year always reminds me of life before we got the news about Mom's cancer. It was 4 years ago this November. I've been blogging every month since. It's been a journey of so many emotions. We're grateful and thankful for every day and for every moment. Everyone of us have your own ways of dealing, fighting and surviving. Keep doing all that you can to hold it together; keep searching for whatever gives you comfort, hope and strength. If you have found it, hold on tight and keep your chin up! It's ok to feel anger, fear, sadness and doubt. In the morning it's a new day and you just never know how things will turn out.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Song to Inspire

Thank you to our sister Jenelle who put together this beautiful and inspiring slideshow with music.

{Click here for video link}

Artist: Mindy Smith
Song: "Fighting for It All"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Feeling a little down? Just put a Stache on!
Print out several for your family and friends, get your camera ready and voila!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Surgery {N12} Nov12

I apologize if this is the first you've heard about the most recent surgery needed. Mom's been having constant pain from what we thought was her kidney stent and the regular infections that have been accompanied by the stent. The doctors feel these symptoms could be caused by the gallbladder and may be beneficial to remove. The gallbladder isn't looking ideal anyway and may quickly lead to pancreatitis so we've decided not to delay the inevitable and have the gallbladder removed.

During this surgery Mom will also have her usual 3 month stent change and hopefully a recent lump removed under her ribcage. This newly discovered lump will be removed and margins cleared. We're not taking any chances! The plan is to quickly address little things so they don't turn into bigger things. Mom is so brave! She's having the surgery on November 12th. She was in the hospital 34 years ago giving birth to me on that day. I know she will be thinking of this and so will I.

Love you Mom!

{Keep Calm, Stay Strong and Kerry On}

Friday, October 5, 2012

Art & Soul

Mom's dream has always been to have a quilt shop and it's happening! Art & Soul will open October 6th in Historic Downtown Petersburg, IL.

It's a gathering of Artist and will feature more than just sewing classes and local talent. Check out the Facebook Page for updates.


The Scope of Things

Dear Readers,

This blog is much larger than just my Mom's issues. Cancer effects us all and it changes our lives. We post stories to keep our family and friends updated, but I know that many of you in similar situations enjoy our story and find hope and comfort here. We just wanted to thank you so much for tuning in and we hope that in some small way we can help inspire and relate with you as we battle through each day.

Thinking of you with a heavy heart full of love tonight.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September Update

I was just telling Mom this morning that I need to find something to update on the blog. It's nice not to have much to report in the way of health issues. She's plugging along still dealing with the effects of having a kidney stent but it's better than not having a kidney! Her last CT scan was around July so another 3 month scan will be due in October. Nothing much to report at this time. Only that I'm so proud of Mom's strength and love for our family and others. She's truly amazing and I'm proud to be her daughter. Love you Mom! Keep Calm & Carry On!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Stent Changing

It's that time again for a new kidney stent. Mom's going tomorrow for her change-up. It seems to be getting easier and better... or else Mom's just keeping busy doing other things trying to live normally. Perhaps a little bit of both? We'll keep you posted and will be thinking of Mom tomorrow during this procedure. Looking forward to a quick recovery with no complications! Good night! Tomorrow is another day!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Sparrow

{Maybe I'm just like my Boppie loving the birds but when I see them, I am reminded of this story and know that God cares more than we realize}

Jesus made a statement during his third Galilean tour and evidently restated about a year thereafter in his later Judean ministry. Pointing out that “two sparrows sell for a coin of small value [literally, an assarion, worth less than one cent]” or, if bought in quantities of five, “for two coins of small value,” Jesus stated that, though these small birds were counted as of such little worth, “yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge,” “Not one of them goes forgotten before God.” He then encouraged his disciples to be free from fear, assuring them, “You are worth more than many sparrows.”—Mt 10:29-31; Lu 12:6, 7.

Both anciently and modernly, sparrows have been sold in the markets of the Middle East. As an item of food, they were plucked and spitted on wooden skewers and roasted (like shish kebabs). An ancient inscription of Emperor Diocletian’s tariff law (301 C.E.) shows that of all the birds used for food, sparrows were the cheapest.—Light From the Ancient East, by A. Deissmann, 1965, pp. 273, 274.

Although the sparrow appears in the Hebrew Scriptures in the King James Version (Ps 84:3; 102:7) and in other translations, the Hebrew term so rendered (tsip·pohr′) is evidently a generic term referring to small birds in general and not specifically identifying the sparrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It Can't Rain All The Time

When I'm blue I listen to this song by Jane Siberry called "It Can't Rain All The Time" and get that "feeling" when I listen to a song that touches my heart and seems to understand me. Many people find comfort when they discover songs, lyrics or poems that express their emotions. Mom always used to get frustrated with me in high school when I would play what she called "depressing music" but it actually helped me get through whatever I was dealing with. She quickly realized and understood that we all have different ways of expressing things near to our hearts. I loved Mom's ways of letting us know she cared by allowing us to express ourselves. Now we have to do the same for her and also deal with our emotions in the process. To all those fighting cancer and to their loved ones, I hope this inspires you, in your own ways to do the same. Love Always.

"It Can't Rain All The Time"

We walk the narrow path
Beneath the smoking skies
Sometimes you can barely tell the difference
Between darkness and light

Do we have faith
In what we believe?
The truest test
Is when we cannot
When we cannot see

I hear pounding feet in the, in the streets below
And the, and the women crying and the, and the children know
That there's, there's something wrong
It's hard to believe that love will prevail

It won't rain all the time
The sky won't fall forever
And though the night seems long
Your tears won't fall forever

When I'm lonely
I lie awake at night
And I wish you were here
I miss you

Can you tell me
Is there something more
To believe in?
Or is this all there is?

Last night I had a dream
You came into my room
You took me into your arms
Whispering and kissing me
And telling me to still believe

Within the emptiness of
The burning cities against which
We set our darkest of selves

Until finally I felt safe and warm
I fell asleep in your arms
And when I awoke I cried again
For you were gone
Can you hear me?

It won't rain all the time
The sky won't fall forever
And though the night seems long
Your tears won't fall forever


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Life Lessons, Words Spoken

An old Jewish tale well illustrates the reaction of words spoken. Told in various forms, the gist of the story is as follows.

A man went about town slandering the town’s wise man. Later, the man realized he was wrong and went to the wise man to ask for his forgiveness, offering to do whatever was necessary to make amends.

The wise man had one request:
That the man was told to go and take a feather pillow and cut it open, scattering the feathers to the wind.
Though puzzled by the request, the man did as he was instructed and then returned to the wise man.“Am I now forgiven?” he asked.
“First, go and gather all the feathers,” the man responded.“But how can I? The wind has already scattered them.”
The wise man replied “It is as difficult to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers.”

The lesson is clear. Once spoken, words cannot be retrieved, and it maybe impossible to undo the hurt they cause. We are wise to remember that words spoken are, in effect, about to scatter feathers in the wind.

Monday, July 23, 2012

CT Scan Results

Mom had the 3 month scan done and results LOOK GOOD!

We're so happy to hear this news! Here's to another 3 months cancer free!

Peace, Love & Happiness to all those and their loved ones fighting this battle!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Strength & Love

It is known a fact that from conception both a physical and an emotional bond are created between mother and child. This bond becomes even stronger when a mother is exceptionally amazing. Our Mom, Kerry Franke, is just that in every aspect. She was born and raised in Springfield, IL where she blossomed into a creative, free spirited and kind-hearted woman; and she raised her 4 children as an extension of her beauty and grace. Mom always taught us to take time reflect on the beautiful creation right in front of our eyes. Do you ever notice little characteristics the birds have? Do you gasp at a beautiful tree in bloom? Do you gaze at the moon or an amazing sunrise? Growing up, these are just some of the things that were topics of discussion. Mom would never let that moment go by without pointing out something beautiful to share with us. This is evident when you see her artwork. She would often tell us, "Someday I'll get back into my art, maybe open up my own quilt shop, or volunteer at the Art Alliance." We often think we have all the time in the world to do the things we really want to do, but after Mom got sick she knew life would forever change. Life is difficult after discovering that someone so close to you, who always took care of you, has cancer. No one thinks it will ever happen to them until it does. You very quickly realized how precious life really is and what's truly important in life. After 4 years of a continuous battle, we are so thankful to have our Mom in our lives as a pillar of love, strength, courage, kindness, and the list goes on.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Again, and Again

I wanted to update you about Mom's most recent status. She's doing great but the infection came back again. So on Wednesday she had the kidney stent replaced, again. She'll be trying some alternative options to help keep the infection away. It seems like something beyond medication and changing the stent. After going through everything that her body has been through it will be very difficult to improve her immune system and keep absorption of nutrients at optimal levels, however not impossible. The doctor feels the stent should be changed every 2 months instead of 3. Let's hope she can keep this infection away and regain her health. Her spirits are very high and her attitude is extremely positive. I love you Mom! Keep up the good work!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hospital update

(Saturday morning)
They haven't put her on a different antibiotic since she had an allergic reaction to the one last time. Waiting for infectious disease doctor to come around again. This type of doctor is involved since her infection never went away previously. He is checking on results from the scan.
(Saturday afternoon)
I finally just got an update, waited 24 hours for a scan to tell us what we already know... inflammation & infection, she's getting new meds infused into her port once a day for 1 week. I hope the new meds help, guess the new goal is to get rid of infection #1 then #2 figure out what's wrong with the stent. Fabulous plan! Unless we should do 20 more tests before we actually start fixing the problem?
(Saturday evening)
Mom is home now and happy to be there. I suppose her hospital stay was more cautionary this time. I really hope this works better. She needs to recover during her 3 month remission not deal with any more problems or infections.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scan it

We're waiting for CT scan results.

Mom got to order her usual barium sulfate suspension drink on the rocks and with a twist!

Hospital visit

Oh, this is so frustrating and disappointing. My text from Mom this morning said "I just want to cry. Have to be admitted to hosp." She tries so hard to just live her life but these problems keep getting in the way. Have you ever wanted something to be a certain was so badly but no matter how hard you try it just doesn't. Of course you have. We all have but when you're trying to live normal and fight cancer along with all of it's ramifications it's like getting smacked in the face with a huge wave after wave. I feel it and I'm not even the one fighting. The reason why she's being admitted today is because of a continued infections and pain from the kidney stent. It's been replaced several times but something just isn't right. At this point Mom's pain tolerance is extremely high so we know when she's in pain it must be pretty bad. I'm glad her oncologist is on the case. They're looking further into the situation and we'll keep you posted. Right now all we can say it that something isn't right and the stent situation just isn't working. Please keep Mom in your thoughts and prayers. Send lots of sunshine her way! We will keep you posted. She'll be admitted for about 1 week is the estimate at this point. Love & Hugs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Looking Deeper

Mom was feeling better but the pain and discomfort slowly came back and still very painful. We need to find out what's going on with her Kidney and the stent issues. She's on the case along with her oncologist and we'll keep you posted! I'm so glad that Mom is determined not to give up and is listening to her body's cry for help! Don't worry Mom... we'll figure this out and get you feeling better very soon!

Monday, April 30, 2012


Mom's home from the hospital and doing much better with the new stent. I think this is stent #3 with many more to come. Let's hope they become more comfortable with less painful infections. We appreciate the benefit but could use a break from hospitals and surgeries as much as possible!

Thanks for tuning in folks!
We'll continue to share, laugh, cry and fight together!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Love-Hate Relationship

Mom's stent has become a Love-Hate relationship. We wanted to let you know that she's been in ER due to come severe pain and has developed an infection which is very easy to have happen with a stent. This saved her kidney but it's defiantly a literal pain to deal with. She's back in ER today and scheduled for surgery tonight to have it replaced. This should hopefully fix the problem. Please pray for her to keep positive and continue to fight through this pain and frustration. We're so grateful for all of your love and concern. I didn't want to spoil our resent good news with this but need to keep you updated so that you can all continue to support Mom. We really appreciate you!
Much Love.
ps. surgery is scheduled for 9pm tonight, she will most likely be admitted for overnight observation and treatment of the infection with continued IV antibiotics

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Results: Great News!

Mom's scan results from Tuesday show NO CANCER and her oncologist recommends NO CHEMO at this time! The Kidney has also reduced back down to normal size with a little damage but it's been SAVED! Such great news! Mom is so brave and still so ready to fight her little heart out and keep fighting as long as she can. She's doing great and very happy about this good news! Next scan is in 3 months!!!

{image from wwww.bravegirlsclub.com}

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Quiet

It's a quiet evening. Looking back on all that we've been through, I often have to decipher if I'm really breathing or holding my breath. It's nice to enjoy these moments when there isn't much to write about. It's nice to take time and reflect on the bigger picture. We often get so caught up in our own despair and desires in life that it's hard to look outside the box. Take some time each day to think of someone other than yourself. Learn to love and truly forgive others. Learn to enjoy life's diversity and appreciate each person in your life for who they are and not who you want them to be. You will become a happier person and so will the people around you too! Enjoy this beautiful quiet evening and come back again soon!

Peace & Love

{Painting Quiet Evening by Nari Mistry}

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good News

The pathology report came back from Dr. Icaza's office today with some good results! From the most recent surgery the margins are officially cleared and no cancer is found! Pathology report it Negative!
The oncologist would like to rescan 3 weeks post surgery and determine if chemotherapy will be recommended. We won't think about that right now. Just healing up and eating clean!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

In Memory of Nancy

In loving memory of our beloved Aunt Nancy

From the Obituary

JOHNSTON CITY - Nancy Elizabeth Smith, 59, of Johnston City, went home to be with her Lord at 1:45 p.m., Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at Herrin Hospital with her loving family by her side.
Nancy was born August 24, 1952 in Springfield, Illinois, the daughter of Otto F. and Alma E. (Fischer) Franke.
She was united in marriage to Michael L. "Mickey" Smith on December 21, 1974 in Marion, Illinois.
Nancy was a 1970 graduate of Springfield High. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a BS in History Education in 1974.
Nancy worked for the City of Carbondale for several years and left the work force to raise her three wonderful children. She later taught at Grace Christian School in West Frankfort; where she taught 7th through 12th grade History, English and Bible. She taught there for three years where she instilled Christian values into many grateful students. She has been the office manager at Southern Engineering Corporation in Johnston City since 1995. It is a place where her beautiful face will be greatly missed.
Nancy loved tending to her flower garden. She enjoyed nature and loved watching and feeding the many birds that would come visit her. She also enjoyed photography.
Nancy is survived by her husband of thirty-seven wonderful years, Mike Smith of Johnston City; son, Sean Michael Smith of St. Louis; twin daughters, Amy Elizabeth Gerwe and husband Jeremy of Mt. Vernon, Melissa Ann Pickens and husband Jay of Carterville; two brothers, Larry Franke of Petersburg, IL, Mark Franke of Springfield; aunt, Frances Shelden of Springfield; uncle, Bill Fischer of Springfield; cousins, Jerry Fischer of Hillsboro, TX; David Fischer of Princeton, TX, Cindy Pacheco of Dallas, TX; special cousins, Jacki and Don Baylor, Susie Gillen, Pat Maxwell all of Avon, NY; sisters-in-law, Pat Summers and husband Willie of Johnston City, Rosie Clayton and husband Jerry, Betty Smith, Judy Culbreth all of West Frankfort; brother-in-law, Paul Smith and wife Darlene of Marion; several nieces and nephews, Kim Evans, Bryan Clayton, Mitch Summers, Tonja Clayton, Stacy Culbreth, Dena McLochlin, Holli Smith, Jessica Skaaren, Jaclyn Franke, Jenelle Collins, and Josh Franke. She is also survived by several great nieces and nephews.
She was preceded to heaven by her parents; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Loren Ray and Eva Irene Smith; brother-in-law, Larry Culbreth; niece, Vicki Summers and a cousin Billy Fischer.
Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m., Sunday, March 18, 2012 in Pyle Funeral Home in Johnston City with Pastors, Bill and Vicki Clark officiating. Interment will be in Lakeview Cemetery in Johnston City.
Visitation will be 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., Saturday at the funeral home.
Memorial contributions may be made to a local charity of donors choice.
Memorial envelopes are available at the funeral home.
Please join the family in honoring the memory of Nancy Elizabeth Smith by visiting www.pylefuneralhome.com and posting your memories and tributes.

Published in The State Journal-Register on March 16, 2012

In Memory of Ron

In loving memory of Mom's cousin Ron

From the Obituary

THAYNE, WY - Ron Ahrens left peacefully for heaven on Monday, March 12, 2012 at his home in Thayne, Wyoming surrounded by his wife, sister, son and daughter after an inspirational 15 month battle with brain cancer.
Born Nov. 29, 1945 in Springfield to Edward and Virginia Ahrens where he lived and graduated from Lanphier High School and played on their basketball team. He earned a Ceramic Engineering degree at the U. of Ill. and was an avid Illini fan. Ron retired from Bethlehem Steel after 30 years of service as ceramic engineer.
Left to cherish his memory is his wife and best friend of 45 years, Mary Ann (Wilson); son, Craig of Salt Lake City, (wife, Micki); daughter, Jodi Wager, Charleston, SC (Jeff) and the latest joy of his life, granddaughter, Allison. Also mourning his loss is sister, Connie Kluckman, Wheaton (Tim), brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunt, cousins, nieces and nephews. Parents preceded him to heaven.
He did extensive work building and remodeling his properties in Baltimore and his ranch in Wyoming. Ron welcomed many guests in his home showing them the beautiful Tetons, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone area he loved, taking them on snowmobile trips through the canyons and back country mountains, Cutter Races, downhill skiing in Jackson Hole and Teton Mountains, hiking, riding horseback and camping out in the mountains. He loved to cross country ski around his ranch in Star Valley with his dogs following him. He was an expert black trail, mogul skier, and enjoyed snow shoeing and cross country skiing to explore the mountains, valley, and Yellowstone. He was a golfer, mountain biker, white water rafter in Snake River and other areas as well as fishing the streams and lakes. He traveled to South Carolina, Florida, Alaska and various other places to ski and visit his family when he wasn't working or clearing snow on his ranch.
He was proficient on the computer and in mathematics and used his skills to volunteer as bookkeeper at the Baptist church, as well as being a youth leader taking boys on camping trips and volunteered to do janitor work for the church for years.
Ron obtained funding to build an animal shelter in Star Valley and has kept it going for years doing much of the maintenance and bookwork himself. He rescued and sheltered hundreds of homeless, injured or abandoned animals until homes were found for them. He welcomed dog sledders and their dogs on his ranch during their races and enjoyed hearing the sledders' stories.
Ron served the Lord as a helping friend, a big brother and fatherly figure to many, living life to the fullest. He encouraged others to have a good time and enjoy life as he did.
At his request, there were no funeral services. A memorial gathering will be held at a later date. Instead of flowers, Ron preferred to be remembered with donations to "Lucky's Place" Animal Humane Association of Star Valley, PO Box 654, Thayne, WY 83127.

Published in The State Journal-Register on March 17, 2012

After the Storm

And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

lyrics by Mumford and Sons
photo Atlantic ocean after the storm by Victoria Savostianova

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Surgery Day

Thanking everyone for the love, support and prayers!

The "Operation" was swift and successful. Mom was already home resting this afternoon! Now it's time to recover and heal emotionally and physically!

Great job Mom!
We love you!

Trivia question: How many surgeries does this make?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

5 Days

I've been counting down the days until Mom's next surgery. I've been looking through the blog at all of our postings each month for the past 3, going on 4 years. I'm so grateful for this time we've had and everything we've been through has been such a hard fight. Mom is a huge inspiration from her strength and courage she shows each day. {I'm so proud of you Mom!} There just are not enough songs, lyrics or pictures to describe the joy and pains we go through but here's another post trying to make an attempt to share.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Woman's Beauty

The beauty of a woman
Is not in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries,
Or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes,
Because that is the doorway to her heart,
The place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole
But true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.

It is the caring that she lovingly gives,
The passion that she shows,
And the beauty of a woman
With passing years only grows!

written by
Teresa Mahieu

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Surgery: Round 2

Mom is scheduled for additional abdominal surgery March 15th. Her surgeon plans to "clear the margins" and remove the remaining cancer ASAP! They feel very confident this can be accomplished successfully knowing exactly where to go and how much more to remove. After surgery they will rescan and evaluate any need for chemo depending on results.

I just arrived from Phoenix tonight and I'm so happy to be here with her that I can't sleep. Mom looks fantastic and her new non-existent belly button is adorable! I'm so proud of her fight and her spirit. She works so hard at keeping a full time job during all of this and still manages to kick butt at it too!

We are so grateful for all of your love and support because this journey is not easy.

Love & Thanks Always