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

Martin Luther King, Jr.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Plan of Attack


Mom and I thought we should post about her treatments which have already started and will continue into 2014. I can't believe it's December because it feels like January is already here for us. During the end of November Mom started her pre-radiation chemo treatments. Now she's getting ready for the radiation with the 5FU chemo together. This will go on for 25 days and end December 27th. In January she will proceed with the previous chemo "cocktail" blend of 3 types of chemo for 4-6 months. This treatment is the long-term chemo {different from the 5FU taking with radiation}. Well, let the fight begin! The past 6 month break was much enjoyed! Mom's strength and mental determination is back and she's ready to get this done. The quicker we get started the better!
Please keep her in your hearts, thoughts and prayers.
Much Love to All!

Looking Back


In Mom's fight it's good to look back and see how far she's come. One of her most difficult times was in 2010 after her total gastrectomy, radiation and chemo. I had not seen her so strong or so scared before, but I could tell that she had determination to give it her all! It's been 5 years now since her diagnosis and 3 years since her first major surgery. It's time for more radiation and chemo. She's stronger than ever and hanging on like a champ!

Mom,
I'm amazed when I look back at your journey and it brings tears to my eyes. Love you with all of my heart. I am with you always.
Keep up the fight and never give up Momma! See you soon!
Love Jess

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Results: Update



It's with a very strong and determined heart that we share Mom's 6 month scan results. The fight must go on.
The tumor on the back of her neck has shown to be active, so we continue the fight with radiation to shrink it followed by another series of chemo to hold it back. We've been there many times before; Mom says this is simply her "medicine" so she can keep living. Her cancer is treatable so we will go on and fight hard!

Thank you so much for all of your love, positive thoughts and prayers of strength.
We appreciate you all so very much. Stay positive and find joy and appreciate every day!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Results Pending


Friday to Wednesday seems like SUCH A LONG TIME to WAIT for Mom's 6 month scan results. I know this is a very difficult thing for Mom to sort out because results could be good or bad. We've been here several times before. This is why she's trying to be positive; but every day is a gift and it's difficult to keep things in proper perspective under these circumstances. It's scary. I keep telling Mom these tests and scans are a good thing because she's under the microscope and that's how she's been able to continue her fight for so long.

Keep Calm.
Find it.
Fight it.
One day at a time!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

No Worries

Mom is worried but she's trying so hard to live normal and not think about the "What if" in her life.
She knows that stress or worrying will not change any outcome but it's hard times. The kidney stents are a constant problem but I guess it's better than no kidneys! Mom is so amazing at keeping busy, staying positive and I know she's doing her very best each day. That's about all for now folks but I'll keep you posted! Have a great weekend and stay positive!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Counting Sheep?

I'm counting sheep, I can not sleep. I'm getting homesick because I miss Mom's beautiful face and her calming voice. Life is busy. Especially for Mom as she tries very hard to keep busy + enjoy each day + deal with the regular unpleasantries of life; which you can not deny simply get in the way. We just aren't "wired" to deal with all of this junk. It's not very difficult for me to imagine that we were created to actually live {not just survive} in a beautiful paradise on earth and enjoy it's fruitage, sunsets, creation, etc. etc. I think about this often and it brings me peace and comfort to know that one day all of the wrong will be right again, and all of the bad will be undone. It's my happy place. So instead of counting sheep, I will dream of a beautiful paradise on earth and remember some of my favorite scriptures before I fall asleep tonight.

{the tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. Rev 21:1-4}

{and they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. Isaiah 65:21-22}

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Scan Results

It's taken me since Tuesday to finally blog about the results. I'm so sorry for the delay. It takes a lot mentally to write now and I usually have to prep myself a few days in advance. Getting to the point; we have good news to report! The scan looks good after the 3 month chemo vacation! Mom's been advised to take another 3 months off. She's going to be super scared and worried at the next scan but I begged her to stop thinking about it now. It's so hard not to I'm sure. Until then we'll be keeping you all updated on progress, changes, joys, struggles and of course encouragement. Would you like to hear a funny story? I met this nice guy on the plane & found myself giving him advice during our conversation. I could tell he was encouraged and he said to me "You should write a book!" I just smiled and thought, Mr. you have no idea, I already have!

Good night!

ps. I love this photo my sister took a few days ago and wanted to share it.

click here for Photography by Jenelle


Sunday, August 11, 2013

After The Storm


I'm listening to this song thinking about Mom's recent scan. It's been 3 months already and we're waiting for results.
I feel like this song was written for us all who are fighting cancer and supporting our loved ones along the way.
It's difficult for many to make sense of the nightmare cancer brings but along with it we develop beautiful qualities such as love, strength, hope, faith and courage. No matter what your beliefs I hope you can also find peace, comfort and understanding to stay strong and keep up your fight in your own way.

Love to all tonight...


"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.

And I won't 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 man 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.

{photo credit by carlibux}

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Blog Music

Sadly I discovered recently that our blog music playlist is missing. I was using "project playlist" to stream some of our favorite songs.
I'm so sorry that this feature is no longer available through Project Playlist.

Does anyone have another way to share how we can play music on the blog?

We welcome your tips and experience with this!

Thank you!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Health Happy


Mom's enjoying her chemo vacation and working on getting healthy again. The worst part has been dealing with a nagging heartburn feeling and extreme discomfort from her 2 kidney stents. It has not been easy, the road is long and very scary, but you just keep going. How can you keep yourself from being depressed and worrying about the future? Keeping busy! Keeping so busy that you don't give yourself the time to think! If you're not fighting cancer it can be hard to mentally understand it, but I know that's what Mom's thinking. I'm so proud of her every day!

Keep Calm and Kerry On!
Love you all!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chemo Vacation


It's been 5 years since our last Mother-Daughters Trip. We couldn't get to the Beach this year so we drove to the Lake instead! It was so perfect and we all fell in love with Lake Michigan. We had such a great time together and made some awesome memories that we'll never forget!

After Mom returned from our trip she still had 2 more chemo treatments. The decision was made to take a 3-month chemo vacation! Her scans showed the cancer was no longer progressing. This is great news that everything responded so well. It's been 6 months of very strong treatments leaving Mom with only a few days of feeling good before the treatments started back up again. She is so happy to have a break so she can gain weight and get healthy again!

The crazy thing is that most people don't even realize that she's been fighting cancer for so long because she looks AMAZING! Mom is so beautiful and strong inside and out! She's truly such an inspiration! There are no words, pictures, songs, or expressions that come close to the love we have for both of our parents. Even though they are no longer together in marriage we all share a special bond and beautiful memories we hold very close in our hearts.

How we handle the difficult times makes us stronger and gives us opportunities to grow and refine ourselves each day. People fighting cancer know what I'm talking about. Please remember that no one loses the battle they just finish the race and they fight hard, in their own ways.

Keep Calm and Kerry On!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Our Mother

I have no other words but these day...



... love you Mom

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Financial Hardships

How many people haven't heard of "Financial Hardships" these days?



Life certainly isn't easy for many people, and especially for cancer patients. If someone fighting cancer is able to maintain a full time job they are now facing increased insurance rates, deductibles and office co-pays. After the insurance company pays their portion a very large amount is still left remaining for the cancer patient to pay. I haven't mentioned prescription cost, any helpful supplements or trying to purchase the healthier foods. If a cancer patient is no longer able to work full time they are faced with reduced income. They may not have a choice but to accept part-time disability which means only grossing a very small amount of income each month. This depends on how much was paid into taxes during a working career. A divorced stay-at-home parent wouldn't have much in that category to benefit from. If a cancer patient could no longer work or lost insurance benefits they would be forced into public aid. Medicare doesn't become available for application until 2 years of being on social security disability. Two years is a lifetime for a cancer patient! The clock is ticking and money is running out for so many people who are fighting for their lives physically and financially. We are not alone in this battle. This system is not setup to take care of the sick properly.

Where does the benefit money go? As you can see financial concerns are ever increasing. We always try to stay positive, but it's also important to be honest and share this part of our story. Please help spread awareness and assist the fight against cancer by any means your heart is willing to offer. It could be a place to stay, food, rides to appointments, or donations towards medical care.

The recent benefit for Mom was a wonderful help and support from everyone! Mom thanks you all from the very bottom of her heart. In her words "Please thank everyone again for all the emotional and financial help they have given me, I never could have survived these past 4 1/2 years of treatment and surgeries without your love and support!"

Keep Calm and Kerry On! Our love and hearts are always with you all!
Kerry & the Kids

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Benefit Thank you!


The KERRY ON Benefit was amazing!



The outpouring of love and concern was overwhelming. Please extend my deepest gratitude to all the wonderful people who donated and worked so hard the day of the benefit. Also to my very special friends and family who brought it all together. They spent so many endless hours planning and organizing this awesome event. I don't know how I can ever thank everyone! The memories will be a treasure close to my heart forever.

Love you all!
Kerry

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stop the Hate



There are so many tragic and horrific events unfolding around the world and maybe even close to home for some. How do these events affect you? Maybe you don't even realize tension building before you end up exploding from fear and anger in your own life or towards other people. It's sad but it happens.

Especially dealing with a serious life threatening illness such as cancer. Cancer will change your life. Don't let it break up your family. There will be very difficult and stressful times. It seems like so many families fall apart instead of drawing close together. There is a time to speak and a time to keep quiet. Whatever differences arise try to seek peace.

I guess my message for today would be to try and resist being a part of the Hate and negativity around us. Look for ways to find peace and comfort those in your life. Don't be quick to judge others. Instead find a way to turn your negative feelings into a lesson of self-improvement.

We might not be able to stop the Hate in the world around us, but we should do our very best to prevent it whenever possible. Stay Positive, Keep Calm and LOVE!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kerry On Facebook Cover

Friends,

In honor of this weekend's upcoming Cancer Benefit we've designed a Facebook Cover photo by Skaaren Design.
It's a fun play on words inspired from my Keep Calm & Carry On poster.



If you feel inspired to post or share please do!

Love Always,
Jess

Cancer Benefit - April 6th



THE COUNTDOWN IS HERE - TWO DAYS UNTIL KERRY'S CANCER BENEFIT

You are invited! Help support Kerry in her fight against cancer.

Piper Glen Golf Course
7112 Piper Glen Drive, Springfield, IL.

Saturday, April 6 begins at noon - until 11:00 pm.

* Live auction begins at 4:00 pm with silent auction all afternoon
* 50/50 drawing and tickets will be available at the benefit
* Great bands playing all day long - Whirled Peas, Mike Burnett, Leaving Ashland, Out Of The Woods
* Serving chili, hot dogs, pulled pork cooked by "Three Men and a Pig", sloppy Joes, locally made Italian sausages, desserts etc.

Here's a sneak peek:

Nelson Backyard BBQ for 25
Carrie Underwood tickets
St. Louis Cardinals tickets
Hoogland theater tickets
Muni opera season passes
The Oaks Bed & Breakfast Room and Dinner
Car for a Weekend from Isringhausen
Signed car hood from Justin Allgaier with 4 tickets to the Nationwide Nascar races in Chicago
Papa Murphy's pizza for a year {one free pizza each month}
Full car detailing from One Stop in Chatham
Detailing from Kulavic's
Golf packages
Piper Glen Party Room
2 tickets to Reo, Styx, Ted Nugent
Photo session with "Photography by Jenelle"
Photo session with "Ed Clark Photography"
Walk of Faith Quilt {quilt made by Kerry commemorating her cancer walks}
Kerry's Springfield Spells History {historical home framed print}
DJ service and Theatre use
Gift basket from Boccardi's
Gift basket from Food Fantasy
Restaurant gifts certificates
Free massage
Gas cards
Lia Sophia jewelry
Handmade jewelry
Avon products
Over 80 baskets available for the silent auction donated from local businesses.
Raffling for a 40" LCD flat screen TV
Cancer bracelets and "Keep Calm and Kerry On" T-shirts


Please come join us for this exciting event and support an even better cause!
Thank you everyone - hope to see you there!
Barb Brewer {Kerry's sister}

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chemo Progress: No. 4


The day after her mother passed away, Mom began her 4th series of chemo and 3rd month. It was such a difficult week and very stressful. I was worried that she wouldn't be able to grieve the loss of her mom because she had to schedule in fighting for her own life. It's understandable. We all have to find ways to cope. Just last week she was in the hospital for a few days with another stent infection and a few other combined issues. She's back home as of Saturday but admits things are getting more difficult. We're looking forward to special time together in May. Until then we are hanging on for the ride and griping with white knuckles. I'm still so comforted by her sweet voice and positive attitude.

Love you Mom! Just Keep Swimming!

In Memory of My Grammie


On March 11th, Lois Ahrens passed away. She was so much more than just a name. Lois was my Grandmother, and my Mom's Mother. When I was little I decided to call her Grammie. I certainly didn't make up the name Grammie, but that was news to me! It's been difficult to find the desire to write about it because I miss her so much. I've missed her often since I moved away 16 years ago. Although we lived far apart we always remained close in our hearts. During our visits it would almost hurt as we would look at each other and imagine not living so far apart. We have such wonderful memories growing up near our grandparents and spending time with them. We would often have slumber parties. I loved dinner at Grammies because she would always butter and salt her veggies and offer us special cookies from her cabinet of assortments. The best was sneaking into Aunt Barbar's bubble gum stash or Boppie's Chiclets. After dinner, when it was almost time for bed, I loved listening to her dishwasher as we would eat our Breyers mint chocolate chip ice cream from a tiny white dish. Sometimes before bed we got to pick a mini cereal box and it was always a fight for the Cocoa puffs! Grammie knew how to spoil us every chance she could. I loved taking a bath in her claw foot bathtub and wrapping up in her towels scented with a fabric softener I wasn't used to smelling. The silly little things that bring you comfort and stick with you are so powerful. Honestly I have pages and pages of them filed away in my memory. Playing piano, hammock swings, vintage Barbie dolls, playing dress up, poached eggs, piƱatas, Charlie's chips, bird watching, playing pool, Sears catalog shopping, cozy fires, and the list just goes on. The most important thing on my list would be looking into her eyes and feeling such love and comfort that only a mother can give. My Mom's Mother was simply amazing and will always remain one of the most special people that I will ever know. May she rest in peace until I see her again, one day.

Love you Grammie,
Jess

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Cancer Benefit

Date + Time
Saturday, April 6th, 2013 // 12 PM - 11 PM

Place
Piper Glen Golf Course // 7112 Piper Glen Drive, Springfield

Music
Whirled Peas, Mike Burnett, Out Of The Woods and Leaving Ashland

Suggested Donation
$10.00 for individuals // $25.00 for families

Contact Information
Barb Brewer 217.793.3475 or busymommy4@aol.com
Coleen Orme 217.691.6230

Live Auction
Starts at 4 PM by M.T. Vann. Silent Auction, Food, 50/50 tickets


A message from the family

Every life is filled with different challenges, but nothing is more important to one’s existence than support. In this particular 4-year fight against cancer we could not have made it this far without your selfless and unwavering encouragement. Just when things seem hopeless our path becomes a little bit brighter because of you. We are in awe of the family, friends, community at large and even complete strangers who have come together to help us in this fight. Throughout our journey, Mom has always been a self-sacrificing provider, raising and protecting her children from the trials and tribulations of life. Now in her greatest time of need, it's our turn. It goes without saying that words alone cannot relate our feelings to you all. We thank you in advance for your understanding and support in this cause. We are humbled and truly grateful.

With Love,
Jessica, Jaclyn, Jenelle and Josh


Monday, March 4, 2013

Looking Forward


Mom was always so great about keeping me excited and movivated about life. Whether it be nervousness for a school project, a play, memorizing countries or even trying to get up in the morning! She surprised me with special little gifts, cards, sayings or my favorite cereal so that I could have something to look forward to. Mom would always encourage me to try new things and to do my best. I was a horrible basketball player but still felt fantastic about giving it a try!
I know she's trying to do the same thing in her own life fighting cancer and I'm trying to help, but my words are different and not as great as hers. After we received the news that her cancer was back I was at a loss for words. I wondered what she would say to me if the roles were reversed. So I asked, "Mom what would you tell me if this was happening to me?" Her reply "Just listen to your body, stay positive and take one day at a time." That was probably the most difficult advice she could have offered to me, while applying it to herself. We can be silly like that, even during the worst times. We are all so much alike and understand each other even if there aren't any words to say. She's the best Mom ever! I appreciate and remember all of the special little things she still does for us! Now it's our time to give back and share with Mom what she's taught us along the way. Taking one day at a time, keeping positive and taking action when needed... We can get through this and... Have something special to look forward to!

Love you Mom!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chemo: Week 3



Mom finished her 3rd week of chemo! As we like to say "Snaps for Mommy!" {with a British accent}
Now she has the next 2 weeks of rest and recovery before starting the 4th week of chemo.
Keep up the good work Momma! We love you SO MUCH!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Piece of Cake



I am so impressed and amazed at Mom's ability to keep fighting so hard! She's truly fabulous and amazing, always. She's just the sweetest woman you will ever meet and I wish the whole world got to know the beautiful person that I know and love so dearly. But, you don't and I'm actually glad that I don't have to share her with too many people. Can you tell I'm the oldest child? (Giggle) So I thought the above image of this delicious cake would best describe Mom right now. It's not really a "Piece of Cake" fighting cancer. It's painful and frustrating, the list goes on. However, I'm proud to say that she certainly acts like it is just that, most times, a "Piece of Cake!"

Peace, Love, Prayers, Strength... and Cake!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chemo: Progress


Mom completed her 1st week of chemo like a champ! As we anticipated it brought back many familiar and unfriendly memories for her. Instead of being negative about more chemo I started calling it her "medicine" as a more positive spin. We're trying to take it day-by-day and week-by-week. So far she's doing great considering the usual side effects. If you've had chemo you know that it may take days or weeks after your last infusion to feel even the slightest bit of normal again. By her 2nd week she was feeling the pep back in her step. Tomorrow she starts the 3rd week which consists of 2 "medicine" days followed by 2 days of fluids as doctors keep a close watch on her levels and health of the kidneys. As we imagine the cancer cells being destroyed and her "medicine" working we can do nothing but remain hopeful, patient and strong!

Keep Calm and Kerry On!
We love you Mom!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chemo: Day 1


Bring it on! It's Chemo Day 1 and Momma is certainly, undoubtedly ONE TOUGH CHICK! Hang in there Mom! We love you and are all cheering for you!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Pre-Chemo Scan Results


Mom got the results from her bone scan and CT scan. Her bone scan looked pretty good. There was a slight "lightened" area in her right upper arm and a small spot on her head, but it was not conclusive and needs watched.

Her CT scan showed several "questionable" areas that will be followed clinically and by scans. She had been feeling a "fullness" in her neck in the back on the right side. This turned out to be a 6 cm (2-1/2 inch) tumor growing that extended from the base of her skull to the top of her spine in the neck. They are hoping that the chemo will shrink this, but it is possible they could do radiation if it does not shrink fast enough.

There was some fluid found at the base of her left lung (a trace amount) that again will be watched both clinically and on scans. They are uncertain that this has to do with the cancer, but bears watching.

There were numerous new "seedlings" as they called them growing in her abdominal area (several tumors that have popped up). This could possibly be the pressure that is causing the kidney problems and the need for stents. It is hoped that the chemo will shrink these to ease up on some of the pressure in her abdomen.

Her liver looked clear, but one of the drainage ducts looked to have a "thickened" wall and possibly some mild dilation of that tube behind that thickening. This could also be cancer and it will be closely watched.

The nodule on her face also showed up in the scan, but without biopsy, they cannot be certain whether or not it is cancer.

They want to get the chemo started as soon as possible, so she will start treatment on January 8th and 9th and then again three weeks later. They will then do a repeat scan to check the progress.

-written by Aunt Barbar