Monday, March 28, 2011

They keep asking me how old I feel?

If you are looking for a health update – NOT TODAY! Instead I'm about to tell you about my wonderful weekend, not laced with medical exams, terminology, and on-going treatment, but how friendship, love and the people in your life make such a difference.

Case in point. The last few years I have, admittedly, avoided contact with many friends and family. I have been “hiding” many things for reasons such as; 1) my appearance. Steroids were not kind AND as an example, I was raised by a father who, even when suffering slight dementia asked me “you gonna color those roots?” as I was wheeled in from major full hip replacement surgery. 2) my schedule. The last few years I have had several surgeries, treatments, etc. between Ca & Houston. Too bad I haven't had the pleasure to enjoy too much of Houston during my travels. However there is an upside. I have been able to visit with my in-laws during most of my Dr. & hospital meetings. I go on record right now to say I have the most incredible in-laws, I love them, and feel very blessed to be a Sewart! 3) my pity party. It's unbelievable, but sometimes I'd throw myself one! Oh, I dare!

Which brings me to this weekend. Three of my closest friends, Theresa, Karen & Gina had planned a regular visit. What this usually means is late arrival Friday night, laying on the bed chatting about what I've been missing, Saturday watching chick flicks (we've seen Serendipity about 72X), order Chinese food, the ONLY delivery in Prunetucky, maybe find a movie on pay-per-view, get up Sunday morning, pour the Bailey's/coffee and they are on the road by 11:00. Of course the weekends are always filled with lots of chat! It's our routine, it works, it's what we've been doing for the last 3-4 years. But this weekend.....SURPRISE!

But this weekend would be different. I told the girls I would have dinner done and I ordered the “Oprah” chicken pot pies, made a chopped green salad and was ready for their arrival about 7:30 Friday night. Now, to many people this may sound insignificant, however, this was the first time I had been back in the kitchen since early January. After dinner, Karen and I cleaned the dishes/kitchen as Theresa & Gina sat at the hen party (aka kitchen table). It was as if we were in a time warp. It was such a small thing to everyone in that room except for me, it was AWESOME to be in that place, at that moment, with those girls. Chatting, doing dishes, laughing, not thinking or talking about Cancer. Just living life normal.

Since I grew up in a big city and relocated about 5 years ago, moving from southern Ca to the central coast of Ca, there have been some adjustments. Yes, I now live in what is comparable to Mayberry RFD. For the most part I love the slower life, and the overall pace, but when something new comes town, we are a buzz. Last week, 2 young French kids, opened a French Patisserrie. Yippee. Saturday morning I entertained my guests with an exquisite ham & cheese quiche, chocolate morning bread, fresh fruit of course freshly brewed coffee with Bailey's. Just like those French boys, the breakfast was rock solid! Easily entertained, you see.

Next, my girls disappeared for a few hours, came home, and decorated my room with balloons, banners and streamers for my upcoming B-day! What friends I have. Ding Dong. Cookie Creations arrival from great friends down south, Kathy, Alex, Jen, Ryan & family – Yummo! After watching Burlesque on pay-per-view, we readied ourselves for a night OUT. Yes, I said it. David took the girls out to a fabulous steak dinner in Monterey. And since I haven't really been “out” for quite awhile, I was EXCITED! Highlights of the evening; I WALKED into the restaurant (clarification: walker vs. wheelchair), incredible food, great atmosphere, spending quality time with amazing friends and of course incredible conversation with friends. When we arrived home, another SURPRISE! A birthday cake, perfectly decorated and of course, it came with a song! Those girls.

By the time I was in bed and coming down from my Oxy-1 glass of wine- sugar high, which was approximately 3AM, I had my epiphany. I am one of the luckiest, most fortunate people alive today. Thanks to God, to all my family, friends, Dr's, nurses & caregivers I am here today able to live a relatively normal life. Every day is a privilege and I will live each day accordingly, with a smile.

Monday morning rolled in and usually my assistant shows up ready to assist @ 11:30AM. I am always LAZY on Mondays, still in bed, yes @ 11:30AM, and just deciding to get into the shower. We never leave the house on Monday's. Not today. Today was a new day, the first day of the rest of my life! Rachael walked in the door and was shocked to see me showered, dressed and ready go to out for the day. The new me! Off to Verizon to get my cell phone fixed (Hansen curse..but that's another story :)), then to the Produce Store for the tortoise veggies. For the 1st time in over 3+ years I walked thru the Produce Store, holding desperately tight to the cart, but together, Rachel and I did it! I felt like I was at the gym, I was starting to sweat, but I did it! A breakthrough! When we got home, I put the groceries away, emptied the dishwasher, and made a light lunch. It was a good day. It is funny how the little things in some peoples lives make such a difference. David is taking me out to dinner tomorrow night for Japanese food – that will be twice within four days! Crazy and loving it.

THANK YOU~ My friends made a spectacular weekend for me, but more important, my hubby, family and friends have never given up on me. I love each and everyone of you. Thank you for always being there for me!

PS. Boring medical updates later.......hahahaha! Chemo coming, blah, blah, blah!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lucky Thirteen!

This June I approach 13 years since my original brain tumor diagnosis. This has been quite a roller coaster, as most of you know, and as I just returned from another trip from MDAndersen I thought I would update the blog in case anyone is still reading after this long, tedious journey.

Last week my sister Marla and cousin Cherie took me to MDA for the dreaded follow-up tests (my last round was in Oct. 2010). Yes, David & I are still happily married, however, recently KC Kitty was diagnosed with diabetes and needs insulin shots twice daily. In addition, we added (2) tortoise to the Sewart Zoo that need extra care & handling. Long story short David had to stay home to BABYSIT!

It was an exhausting week of MRI’s, Xray’s, CT Scans and Dr. appts. Both Marla & Cherie tried their very best to keep me preoccupied by being as LOUD and as funny as they could, however, I was struggling a bit to keep my happy face on when the nurse told me the Dr. had ordered a Barium CT Enema. After a long day of travel, MRI, several pokes in the arm, I had decided they weren’t going to “poke” my butt too! Yes, I said it. Sorry if I offended anyone but come on, enough is enough. As I sat in the waiting room crying to Marla about how I was “done, finished, blah, blah, blah” throwing a pity part for myself, I suddenly realized all eyes had focused on me & my story. Marla & I looked at each other and burst out in laughter! Laughter is the best medicine - It turned out to be a good day!

Anyway, there were plenty of tests over the next three days, (3) MRI’s, CT scan, several Xrays, and blood work that revealed results for the need for on-going treatment. Unfortunately the tumors in the brain, lung, and liver have grown. In addition, there is a tumor on my C-spine that has grown significantly. Long story short, David & I have decided to take the advice of my Neuro-surgeon, aka Dr. McDreamy, and will be returning to MDAndersen within the next two weeks to start treatment. I have qualified in a clinical trial for a new type of radiation treatment and only will be the 4th patient to ever have this exact treatment (I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad?!?). I have so much trust in the Dr’s at MDA and I have full confidence in their capabilities, however I am getting tired.

Radition set-up takes a few days and the treatment is a one time shot for about 1 ½ hrs. That’s the good news. I will then start chemo, a pill a day, which will continue as long as my body can tolerate it.

On another note, Marla called and asked if her youngest, Miranda, who will be 13 in May, could come spend a few weeks here during summer since she is working now and she probably should not stay home alone. So it looks like David & I are going to be parents to a teenager for part of the summer!?! It could prove to be helpful, crazy, or a little of both. Miranda has already called and is excited about her trip - check back after Uncle David has her cleaning tortoise pens, walking dogs, doing the dishes, and all the other chores he is racking up. She’ll be begging for her ruby slippers!

In closing, please keep my bff Theresa’s nephew Brian LoBue who is like my nephew in your daily prayers. A few weeks ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor (Glioblastoma). His surgery was successful and he too is going through radiation & chemo treatment. You can follow him @

I should be back in town around March 12th, God willing. After all these years, it means so much that many of you still keep me in your prayers, Lucky 13! 2011 is going to be a good year.

Love to you and your families,

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Queen heads south....

I call her Queen because of past references by her sister as the Queen of Mean. I won't say Fat and Mean like Marla did, because, well, I just won't because as far as I could see, she isn't fat. As a matter of fact, she's dropped weight since Kevin and I visited her a few months back.

Marla arrived from Oklahoma to stay with Kelly for a few weeks early last week. The two ventured down to the Valley with Marla's 12 year old daughter in tow to Char's on Thursday. Friday they all left the Valley and headed to San Diego. Which is where I come in.

I had the pleasure of their company for dinner on Friday night. It was a long drive in the car, but spirits were generally high. I mean they were at the Baril's for dinner right?

Kelly seems to be doing much better than when I saw her a few months before her surgery. She's getting around via wheelchair these days, but can use her walker for short jaunts. Her mood was good and we had a great time catching up. It's amazing what she remembers. Because even without most of the obstacles she has faced, most of us don't have the memory she has!

She will head back to Houston in October where they will check the two spots that they are watching closely - her liver and her lung. She's hoping that she won't need more surgery, but pretty much thinks that they will tell her she does. She is off chemo for now, which is contributing to her feeling better in some ways. She looks really good (probably better now since she was getting her hair done on Saturday AM). But just to give you an idea, my oldest daughter said she wouldn't know that she had been through so much and been so sick if she didn't already know. That should make Kelly feel good to know!

It was great to have her and her family over for a visit. My girls loved talking with her and hearing her stories. She still has the ability to keep center court in conversation! Even though she and her sisters give each other a hard time, the love that they all share is evident and abundant.

Keep sending healthy vibes her way! Nicole

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sideways update...

I heard from Marla (ok her blog, but she's on her way to her son's wedding in California) that Kelly is doing better. Her pain is more manageable and she is working hard at her physical therapy. Her sister Char is there with her.

That's all I got for now!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Quick update on Monday 5/24/10

Kelly is out of ICU and doing fine. She is in alot of pain, but is on heavy doses of pain medication to keep her pain free.

More details as they come available...


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surgery went well!

Kelly is resting in ICU right now, quite comfortably considering what she went through earlier. She was admitted to MDA on Friday, having her tumor embolized in preparation for Monday. Her nine hour surgery yesterday went very well, with the vast majority of the tumor being removed, two titanium rods screwed and cemented in place. And the best news is no paralysis!

Nicole (partially plagerized from Marla)

PS - Marla took a FANTASTIC photo of Kelly - quite possibly one of the best ever from a blackmail point of view - but out of respect for her (for now)...I won't post it. Keep your eyes out though, because as soon as she is back in Calfornia recovering at home...all bets are off. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Getting ready in Houston

Kelly and her friend Teresa arrived in Houston earlier this week. She spent the past few days having MRIs, X-rays, blood work and all the rest of the pre-op stuff. She checked in to have the embolization done at the hospital across the street from MD Anderson on Friday and then will be transferred over to MDA for the surgery that's on Monday. David, and her sisters Char and Marla will be there as well.

She seems to be in good spirits...she's been texting with me and making some jokes. I understand that she's also been harrassing Marla about getting a dress for her son's wedding that is 2 weeks from today. Ordering her to go out on Monday while she is in surgery with her older (sorry Char) sister to help her find just the right dress. So she is spunky and bossy still - somethings never change.

Will update on Monday after surgery.