Saturday, May 28, 2011

What's happening in Waikiki!

These past 10 days have been nothing short of amazing. In between all of the doctors appointments Maureen and I have been able to explore this beautiful island of Oahu. Since arriving here we've been able to experience or have learned many many things:

  1. Sitting by the pool and completely relaxing is truly a gift.

  2. We have laughed until tears have rolled down our cheeks, many many times! The Bible says laughter does good like a medicine! We've experiences some really good medicine. Seems we laugh all the time.

  3. A stop sign is a stop sign; it will never turn green to tell you to go!

  4. People honk their horns a lot.

  5. Saw Diamond Head, it's the most well known landmark ya know! (we didn't know that!)

  6. People are much nicer to you once they know you are medevac'd here for cancer!

  7. We saw a sea turtle at the beach just a few feet away... so beautiful.

  8. Almost peed our pants because of the thundering sound of the fireworks outside our hotel (which we didn't know was going to happen.)

  9. Drove all around the island from the North shore, to the south shore, to the east and west. The sights are breathe taking. God you did good, it's majestic here.

  10. Love love love that everything is open, doors, windows, walls of buildings... allowing the sweet fragrance of Hawaii to permeate every nook and cranny of our lives!

  11. Military discounts abound here, we are taking full advantage. Thank you Mark!

  12. We have eaten at some ... WOW... super delicious places: like Duke's, The Cheesecake Factory, PF Changs and McDonalds (love their fries nothing like them in Okinawa!)

  13. Sea kayaking is so much fun, especially when we go outside the boundaries to ride the waves. The "safety police" came out to yell at us on his paddle board. But in our defense they never told us we had boundaries we just knew we had to be "home" in a hour!

  14. Sea kayaking is very hard on the abs and back after surgery... I don't recommend it unless you don't want be able to sit, walk, sleep or lay down; the muscle cramping was unbearable.

  15. Sam's club is the Mecca of Slurpee lovers... they come GIANT sized! Yep I got one!

  16. Surfing is a beautiful art, one day I am going to take lessons and learn how do it. Just because I can!

  17. A girl can get spoiled with valet parking!

  18. The the humongous flying cockroach we saw in a parking garage scared us, then made us laugh and then made us thankful it was the only one we've seen.

  19. The World's Largest Marshmallow is out there you just have to look for it, get out of your hotel and explore. We haven't found it yet, but have found some other pretty neat sights.

  20. The GPS is your very best friend!

  21. Old men in thongs should be outlawed, and big fat hairy men (of any age) in speedos is a close second.

  22. But I love women comfortable enough in their own skin to try something new... like that group of ladies we saw learning to paddle board (they were all well over 55+).

  23. Most people come to Hawaii to shop for clothes and jewelry. We bought a frying pan (a big one you can't get in Okinawa), some 80's music, poptarts, Slurpees (lots of them), underwear (can't find my favorite brand in Oki or online), and let's not forget some "over the shoulder pebble protectors" for the little girl in our lives.

  24. Skype is a beautiful thing, it's the time difference that will drive you crazy.

  25. I miss my scrapbook store boy oh boy do I miss my scrapbook store.

Now I am off to the shower to prepare for another day of finding more scrapbook stores, Slurpee sipping, followed by chillaxin' on the beach!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What a week for Mark!

When I was diagnosed with cancer we (Mark and I) decided that life was going on as normal and things weren’t going to change around home, as much as humanly possible life was just going to keep on the same. We didn’t want this to adversely affect the kids’ lives. When I left for Hawaii I told them that things will keep going the same as always but Dad’s home and will take care of you. Apparently I painted the picture pretty blurry or I wasn’t specific enough as to what normal might look like without mom home! Here is a tiny glimpse into my sweet husband’s week since Monday (it’s only Wednesday night in Okinawa)!

Monday: Boys up @ 6 out the door by 6:30. K80 up at 6:30 and dropped off at a friend’s house by 7-7:30 so Dad can be to work by 8. Boys home at 2:30 (starving b/c the school lunches aren’t big enough for preteen boys). K80 flops in the door at 3. Homework all around and then a paper route to complete.

Tuesday: See above now add… 8:30 am Mark gets a call from the school nurse about Seth’s ear. “it’s swollen and I can’t see in it. He needs to see a doctor!” Mark now has to call the doctor, let’s just say the customer service was lacking and Mark almost pulled the rank and my wife has cancer and is at Tripler card on this poor corpsman! K80 is on a field trip and then has to stay late after school for the Asian Fest rehearsal. Mark has to pick K80 early from rehearsal (teacher is now mad) so they can get to the band concert for Seth at the middle school. Oh Crap the papers haven’t been delivered yet. I guess that happened after the band concert. The kids ate at the food court and had milkshakes (according to them “Dad Rocks and is the BEST!” (I lost that status, so sad!)

Wednesday: See Monday and now add… 8:30 doctor appointment with Seth (he has a serious outer ear infection and is on drops twice a day!) The kids had a normal day of school as far as I know . All of the kids arrive home at normal time. K80 announces to dad that she needs a bunch of “FRUIT KABOBS” tomorrow for the Asian Fest. That reminded Seth that he needs 2 dozen cupcakes for Friday; followed quickly by Caleb chiming in that he needs “DIRT” for Friday as well.

Mark almost lost it. He called asking where the “superwoman” cape was in the house b/c this is crazy. He asked the kids… “Do I look like Mommy? Do you suddenly think I can cook? K80 you’re somehow getting this fruit-on-a-stick stuff and boys you’re getting donut holes or something I don’t know what!” I love my husband. He always makes me laugh. I felt so bad for him. He’s having such a crazy week, and it’s ONLY Wednesday!

Oh Yeah I forgot to tell you… we (Okinawa) are getting a direct hit from a Typhoon this weekend. So he has to batten down the hatches, square away work plus make fruit kabobs, and buy donuts. I love my man in uniform… He’s not just a Marine, he’s SUPER DAD!!!!!!!!!!!

(I was too afraid to ask if the kids were taking baths, brushing their teeth or wearing clean clothes.What a mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her right!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Not as planned...

This week hasn't exactly gone as planned. If you would have spoken to me a month ago I wouldn't have even dreamed I'd be here. Shoot cancer wasn't in my vocabulary, neither was borderline tumor, another surgery or shoot Hawaii. I was excited to be part of the all the fabulous end of the year activities with my children. Choir concerts, band concerts, Asian Festivals, middle school tours, graduations, pool parties, birthday parties, good-bye parties and last but not least field day! I am truly blessed that I do not have to work outside of the home and I get to do all of these activities w/ my kids. I don’t HAVE to… I truly WANT to! ... (There’s a difference) I shouldn’t complain; I am here in tropical Hawaii with no humidity and a sweet summer breeze, but this wasn’t in my plan.

Tonight I should have been listening to the sounds of middle schools sharing their talents on their musical instruments at the end of the year band concert and awards ceremony. I cried only once today which is pretty good for me. This morning I called to chat w/ the kids and my sweet babboo. K80 was the last one on the phone, she can have the tenderest voice and the way she said “Mommy!” today broke my heart. I began to tear up and I realized how much I am really missing with this trip and it breaks my heart. I love my family; I truly don’t enjoy time away from them. I’d so much rather experience all of this with them. I said I wanted to fit my cancer around my life and NOT my life around my cancer. Look where I am, fitting my life around it. I ache because of it.

I thought a lot about what I tell my girl friends when things get rough… I decided to take my own advice and I put on my Big Girl Panties! Sadly they don’t make UnderRoos in my size believe me I’ve looked. But I am walking with my head held high and with a positive attitude. But please continue to keep me and my family in your prayers.

I had my cat scans today and won’t get the results until next week. I still taste the dye, nothing will get that gross taste out of my mouth. Not even that super YUMMY Coke Icee I got from Target today. The little joys in life… Target and a coke ice… just a few of my favorite things!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Update... In Hawaii

I am so sorry not to get on here sooner! I've just gotten back to our room tonight, we left at 8am this morning. After several doctor appointments w/ multiple doctors (all which are AMAZING!), lots of lab work, CT scan scheduled and more followup appointments scheduled I have some news. They are going to do a open surgery on June 2. It's a little bit more extensive surgery than previously expected. I will have to remain here on island for 4 weeks. Unless something crazy creepy is discovered in the CT scan and during surgery I should NOT need Chemo! YEAH PRAISE GOD! I will have to be monitored every 3 months for the next year, every 6 months for the next 2 or 3 and then yearly until I am toooooo stinkin' old to count! I will be able to have some testing/monitoring on Okinawa and then maybe twice a year or yearly here at Tripler (Hawaii). This is fabulous news. I definitely wanted surgery a bit earlier in the week but they promise I'll be ready for my trip in July. I'll have 4 weeks from the time I leave Hawaii to prepare for Alaska! I have to be pretty healed to even leave here so I am beyond tickled. Not exactly my first choice of surgical operations but I can still get this all done. It's all in God's hands.

I am not exactly sure at this moment who is coming to stay here w/ me for the remainder of my 4 weeks. I'll figure this out come Monday when the offices on base open up,and Mark and I can talk in more detail and we make some big decisions.

Thank you for the prayers keep them coming. So blessed by these doctors and staff here. Tripler is amazing and so very very helpful. Keep Mark and the kids in your prayers too. I've got it easy. Mark's got all of the kids programs, school functions, scouts, sleepovers, laundry, cleaning, and cooking (okay burning eggs and charbroiling tomato soup!) PLUS going to work everyday. He's a wonderful wonderful man... I thank God for him daily! I love you Mark!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

sands of the hourglass

"Like sand through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives!"

"Time keeps on tickin' tickin' tickin' into the future..."

Which brings me write back to what I have posted on the header of my blog...

Be Happy for THIS moment... for THIS moment is your LIFE!

Truth be told some moments suck. Guess which moments I have more of right now. I know what you are thinking and you are wrong. At this very moment in my house Seth is upstairs playing the Marine Corps hymn, Caleb is doing his reading log and K80 just popped in the door dodging huge raindrops on her way home from school. It's a great moment, we are all here together (minus Mark he's still at work, some one's gotta pay for this cement doublewide and all our health benefits!). We are still here, we may not be 100% healthy but together we are. In this moment I have peace, if you'da called a few hours earlier I had moments without peace, I was filled with many emotions none of which promote peace. Those moments are in the past, this one is new, it's positive it's peaceful... it's mine!

I've been up for several hours; can't sleep. As I've been praying throughout the night and researching on the computer I am reminded of a scripture talked about in yesterday's sermon. Now I am taking this scripture completely out of context from what the message was, but it fits me where I am right now. I'll explain why in a minute or two have patience it is after all 5:27am here!

"Take captive EVERY thought and make it obedient to Christ!" 2 Cor

Random negative thoughts run through my head like cockroaches on a dirty kitchen floor in the south. You turn the light on and they scatter so fast you'll never catch all, you're lucky to catch one of them nasty beasts. When I turn the "light" on in my head those negative thoughts scatter, but the second I take my mind off of Him, they come running back for more. The more I focus on Christ the more at peace I am in the midst of all this. Is my life suddenly perfect? No. Am I cancer free? No. Do I suddenly love homework time? No. Is the laundry finished? No. Dinner on the table? No. Do I realize I can handle all of this? Yes. because ...

"God has not given me a spirit of fear (or cowardice) but He has given us a
Spirit of power and of love and of calm and a well-balanced mind and discipline
and self-control!" 2 Timothy 1:7

If I can conquer my mind, where all fear begins then I can conquer anything brought before me. Cockroaches begone... let the Peace begin!

Of course I lived in the south for many years and sometimes you need more than a light to get the cockroaches to scatter, a hammer will do, Terminx will often do the trick... and on the rare occasion I've resorted to SCREAMING! So what am I asking... for anyone and everyone who reads this to pray 2 Timothy1:7 over me and my family. My family is also forced to deal with this beast, they need peace of mind as well.

Sunday... Church Day!

I admit I was a mess at church. Couldn't figure out why, then it dawned on me. When I close my eyes and Praise I cry. I can't help it. It's not fear, anger or anxiety... it's Praise. I am completely humbled by the grace and presence of the Most High. Many many years ago when I was going through life's struggles I cried every time I entered church. The presence of God was overwhelming. I was strong throughout the week but come Sunday morning I was a blubbering baby. Today was the same. I've been praying, not as much as I should I am certain of that, because one can never pray too much, but He is always on my mind. He brought me through the unspeakable storm 13+ years ago and He'll carry me through this one. Am I worried? I am not worried for me, I am scared for them... my Caleb, my Seth, my JR and my amazing husband Mark. Are we as a family ready for this challenge, this valley, this bump in the road on the way to our destiny? I say yes we are, wishing and praying all the while this detour be removed from our path. God, you know the plans and the purposes for our lives. You will never forsake us, You'll always be there carrying us when we need carried and pushing us when we need a push, and I cannot thank You enough.

On to a more positive note... K80 bought her IPod Touch Friday. She used the money she earned from her paper route. What a giddy school girl and a huge step for her to hand over that much money for something she's wanted for so long. I'm so proud of the young lady she's becoming.

Tonight the boys had Court of Honor for Boy Scouts. They were each awarded 7 merit badges, 3 were Eagle required and 1 was a heritage merit badge. They also pinned on their 2d Class Rank. They are well on their way to Eagle. Sadly I do not have great pictures of the event b/c in my absent mindedness I left my big camera at home and had to fall back on my little blue one I keep in my purse. I was able to get this one of the whole group, obviously my two boys are front and center. If you look closely at the photo you'll find 3 sets of twins in
the troop. Crazy huh...!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trouble w/ Blogger

Just wanted to let everyone know that I've had some trouble w/ Blogger. These next 3 postings down below this one are in reverse chronological order (meaning they are posted in the order they were written!) and they should have posted 2 days ago. Not sure why they didn't. These entries were written over the past two weeks when I started the process of having my first surgery. When we didn't think anything was actually wrong and goes until the day we heard the "Official News". It's a very real glimpse into my personal thoughts and what was happening in our lives. I chose to share it with you to share the whole story. Read with an open heart and full knowledge that some of the journal entries were while I was under the influence of pain-meds. Enough said... read on!

Pain Med Free!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today I am free of all pain meds. Even motrin. I can't say I am painfree, but I don't need pain meds for it. I still twinge from time to time, I have an ache in my right side. I feel about 80% so things are looking up. I only cried once so far today. I am planning on jumping in the van in a bit to take some pictures. Mark and I have made some plans for my scrapbook space upstairs so I am excited to get started. Moving forward with reservations, but I am still moving forward. I am gaining ground watch out here I come. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011 3:51AM
I am awake, why am I awake? My head is aching big time. No reason why. I am tossing and turning in bed and I don't want to keep Mark up. I am ready to sleep, I am so tired. So why can't I? So many thoughts that flow thru my head revovle around the "C" word. It's a cuss word to me right now. I feel like I am using the most foul language ever when I think of the word. I want to wash my mouth out with soap. It angers me, depresses me and honestly makes me feel dirty. Stop consuming my thoughts, get out of my life, leave me alone. Damn cancer, get out, get out get out! This week is straining me so much. Why did the doctor have to tell me before he had more answers for me. It's a bad nightmare, I want to wake up and hear encouraging words. Come on Walter Reed move faster, my life is on hold because of this. I need sleep, I really need more sleep. Deep restful, encouraging, sound, life-giving sleep. Consume me sleep, consume me.

Ramblings after Surgery...

Monday 5/2/2011
Almost a week ago I had my fourth laparoscopy on my reproductive parts. Sounds funny when I type it out, but honestly how else do you say it. My first surgery was in 1994 which confirmed the diagnosis of endometriosis. My second was about a year after Katie was born to have my tubes tied. In November of 2007, I had a partial hysterectomy. And today I am recovering from the removal of my right ovary. What's left... yep only my left ovary. So does that make me 1/3 of a woman? Who cares. What matters is in the life I lead not the parts that make hold me together!

Tuesday 5/3/2011
I am recovering slower than I had expected from this surgery. It's been a week and I am still hurting. I become exhausted really quickly. Today was the first day I had the energy to actually shave my legs and "do my hair". I felt great afterwards too. As I sit and express the most intimate emotions I have it's hard not to cry. I ache, it hurts. My insides hurt. I can't describe it, I can't explain it, but it hurts. Sometimes it's shooting pain, other times dull pain, nuzzled in between a constant ache.

Yesterday the doctor called. He didn't have very good news for me. They did all sorts of blood tests prior to my surgery. Most notably they did multiple different kinds of tests for tumor markers. They all came back negative, accept one. One was very low and this test would also trip the numbers up a bit if you have endometriosis. The doctor said the numbers were so low not to worry at all since I've had such an extensive history of endometriosis. If he even suspected cancer he assured me he would not do the surgery and he'd send me stateside to a cancer treatment center b/c you get "One Shot" at this type of surgery.

Back to the phone call... "It doesn't look good Colleen. We always run tests after surgery, it's not a cyst. It's a tumor and it tested positive for cancer." Doc said "we're sending this to Walter Reed for extra testing. 30% of the time it does come back that we've made a mistake." Translation... 70% chance you've got cancer, but we want to confirm it. Wait what...

Wednesday, 5/4/2011
I forgot to add the best part of my Monday. See it was Monday here in Okinawa, which means it was Sunday night in the states. That morning the White House was announcing Osama bin Laden was dead. Mark had just left the house to pin a new SSgt at his promotion. I tried over and over and over to call Mark. He wouldn't pick up the phone. I was so frustrated. I knew he nor his Marines heard about this new "intel development" and I wanted to be the one to tell him. That's when my phone rang. It was my doctor. My doctor told me that he had called Mark and spoke to him prior to calling me. So while I was trying to call Mark and tell him the best news ever; that OBL was DEAD! Mark was on the phone with my doctor hearing the worst news ever, your wife has cancer. I was finally able to get a hold of Mark and I was the first person to tell him about OBL but my thunder was gone, the thrill had become numb and neither of us could respond. He did tell his team and he was the first to spread the news, but it wasn't the same. He came home about an hour later and I sobbed in his arms for what seemed like hours. He told me "No official news is good news, lets keep moving forward." I dried up my tears and my babies came home from school. Now we wait.

Today, Wednesday (5/4/2011) I actually spoke about this to someone other than Mark. Maureen came over to have lunch and to visit. I spilled my guts, cried again and swore her to secrecy. We don't want anyone to know until we have some real answers. No sense in stressing the family or friends out until we have an action plan. I can't express how thankful I am for her sitting on my sofa just listening. Allowing me to explode and offer such strong words of encouragement and love. Thank you Maureen.

Easy peasy Surgery... no big deal.

April 26, 2011

Tomorrow I have surgery, another laparoscopy. The kids will go to school as usual, Mark will drive me to the hospital on Lester and my doctor will remove my right ovary. Not a big deal. Stupid ovary's been causing me some pain over the last year or so. It had a reasonable size cyst and doc said it's easiest and best for it to come out. So out it comes. By this time tomorrow I'll be home passed out on the sofa with pain meds, and well on my way to full feeling great and bouncing back to normal.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Official Notificiation...

This is the official email I sent out to a few family members and friends.

"I am sorry that you have to find out this way, but I need to cut straight to the point. I had surgery 14 days ago to remove my right ovary. Today we found out it had a cancerous tissue on the tumor/ovary; it was 6cm. The doctor we had was amazing and by God’s wisdom he removed the tumor in a way that would not seed the cancerous cells. I will be traveling to Tripler Medical Center in Hawaii within the next several weeks to have my left ovary removed and a biopsy will be done on my lymph nodes. Because of the way our doctor performed the initial surgery
at this point I have Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer. Further treatment is dependent upon
the lab results from my next surgery. Honestly this is all the information we
have at this time. I am certain you have a thousand questions, and believe me we
do too. In time we’ll get the answers and as we find them out will pass the
information on to you.

Please check my blog often, I’ve posted the journey to this point and will continue to share information with everyone there. We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers.
We are believing for 100% healing and that is the direction we are headed on
this journey of life. "

As I sat and typed this up I was numb, stoic, matter of fact. I still feel this way. I have to maintain composure. Mark and I haven't told the kids yet. By the time you read this we will have told them. We will have personally told our parents as well. We can't call everyone thus the reason for the above email being sent out to people. It's all out in the open now tell anyone you want, dang shout it from the mountain tops. I want to, I want to scream!

Screaming helps me vent. I learned this back in 1988 when I began working at Camp Koinonia. I was going through a really rough time. Mr. Ken spent a lot of time talking with me, mentoring me and one day I was so pent up with anger, frustration, fear and internal torment that I could not cry, he told me to scream. We were out in the woods working on something, heaven only knows (I lived for working in the woods that summer.) but he told me to just let it rip. To scream at the top of my lungs till I had no more air and energy left in me. With each scream all the fear, tension, anxiety, everything came pouring out. It was then that I was able to think clearly, find a solution and move forward with my life. I think I need a good scream now. Oh Where O' Where are the woods of my youth so that I may scream and no one will call the authorities!!

I digress... so sorry. Mark and I have talked a lot over the past week when we heard that cancer is a high probability. We decided we weren't hiding it behind a rock. We were going to talk about it and tell anyone who wants to know. We want our fight to be an open book, a main-stream training session if you will. I am a fighter, one hell of a fighter. It's only stage one, so our plan is one more surgery to remove the left ovary and biopsy the lymph nodes and then we are done. Monitoring for the next 5 years but other than that, we're done. The fight is over, the next few weeks will require a lot of prayer though. Being thrown into instant menopause is not going to be a picnic for my sweet family. So they are the ones that are gonna need the prayers! (sure hope I don't grow a beard and my voice deepen any lower than it already is!)

May 12, 2011 a day I would soon like to forget.

6:40pm... we just finished dinner and telling the kids. They are strong. They have lots of questions, we shed a few tears but we are strong. We are moving forward, not turning back and fighting the fight together. The Francis 5 will Prevail! (I think I shall change our name to ...
THE FRANCIS 6 +1 TEAM (Jesus is fighting this with us too!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seth's Last Visit....

All my children recently went to the dentist. Finally, only 6 months late, but who's grateful they got seen! I am I am I am! This is the first time we've had military dental (actually go to a dentist office on base) treat the kids. Seth had a female doc who usually only sees Marines. Can you say "Excellent bedside manners, with a dash of meanness tossed in!" Katie and Caleb both saw this cute young blond doc who specializes in the kids on base. Katie sat all dreamy eyed in the chair, needless to say he was male. Funny part, Mark had to take the kids to the dentist. For the first time Mark saw Katie truly blush over a boy paying attention to her, he wasn't happy. I thought it was funny, Katie was just giddy. We're gonna have some interesting teenage years around these parts! In the doc's defense I've met him and he has a wonderful personality that puts kids at ease in a very un-child-friendly environment. So kudos to that doc!

Both boys had the last of their baby teeth pulled (those stinkers just wouldn't fall out). Seth had 3 done in one day all on the same side of his mouth pulled. Remember he had the "nice doc". It went fine, he was a trooper but the doc sure wasn't cool like our dentist back in the states! We sure loved him. Being this was our last visit with the Tooth Fairy he got a bit of extra money and another poem. Here it is....

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue

You have NO baby teeth

So the Tooth Fairy Owes you

Take this Yen

Buy something Fun

But always remember

Your Mom's #1!

xoxox the TF

P.S. Caleb was also treated very well by the TF. Katie is the only one left w/ baby teeth. (insert sad face b/c we have no more little ones around... no insert happy face b/c we get to keep all our space change now!)

PP.SS. Seth asked if the Tooth Fairy delivers for wisdom teeth! That boy I tell ya!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Pork Roast
+ Sauerkraut
+ Mashed Taters
+ Super Sweet Corn-on-the-Cob
= Super Duper Yummy Dinner

Pork Roast
+ Groddy-kraut
+ Messed-Up Taters
+ Corn
= "Do I have to eat this stringy stuff (kraut) it's really sour!" (these kids thrive on sour candy!)
+ "These potatoes make me gag, do I have to eat them?"
= "Mom this dinner's Gross!"

Thank goodness Mother's Day was yesterday because with tonight's dinner you would have never guessed I was the GREATEST MOM in the WORLD today!