Friday, November 19, 2010

We've Been Sprung

Great News VP's...we just got back from seeing Dr. Hanna and we're homeward bound tomorrow morning. YEA!! That's such fabulous music to our ears. Now it's time to pack our bags, get home, and get our lives back to normal...whatever that is!! Dr. Hanna said that Brenda is healing really well, but no lifting, and she can start working out very easy in 3 or so weeks...Brenda is just going to wait until after the holidays and slowly start back into her workout routine at the first of the year. We sure don't want that patch to create the bubble Michele is visualizing. That picture really cracks us up. No bubbles Michele...NO!!

He said he'd like to see Brenda again in 3 months and would work with all the other doctors to coordinate and maximize all the appointments. Maybe we can hold off until around February to come back.

So our gal is dripless and back on the healing track...that is such great news. We jet out of here at 11:35 tomorrow and when we get home we both have hair appointments. On Sunday, I'll drive down to Tucson and get Tanner. We'll do laundry and get everything ready to go to the cabin on Monday afternoon. Brenda did crack a tooth while we have been here so she has a dentist appointment on Monday morning. Our girl gets her wish...Thanksgiving at the cabin. That is going to be a great time. Don't worry...pictures will be coming.

Have a fantastic holiday, enjoy all the blessing that you have been given...Life is Good.

Toodles from Houston..
Dee and Dripless Brenda

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Patient is Sprung!


Hi everyone...I know you're all wondering who won the smoke alarm fight...I DID!!! Did you think otherwise? I finally got the maintenance man up here, after 2 visits to the office, and had him put in new batteries and then disconnect both of them from the hardwired electrical source...yea! Silence from the infernal churp is wonderful!! The alarm still works because of the battery but there must have been some kind of electrical short. Dee -1 / Smoke Alarm - 0!!!

I know you're all anxious to hear how Brenda is doing so let me get to that. I sprang her from the hospital around noon yesterday with instructions that she should take it easy for the rest of the week. That's not a problem because there's not much to do here!! She was a little wobbly after spending 4 days in bed, but she's allowed to get up and move a little so I'm sure she'll be up to flying home on Saturday if the doc says she's good to go. We see him on Friday. She's not supposed to lift anything over the weight of a gallon of milk so that's why I've been working out these days!! I've now become the sherpa!! Thank heaven she can pull the rolling luggage bag.

We spent the rest of the day watching football...what else are you supposed to do in a foreign town, stuck in an apartment, when it's cool and cloudy outside. And on that note...what on earth happen to the Steelers yesterday? Tom Brady and the Patriots really smacked them last night...OUCH!

Neither of us have been sleeping very well so we resorted to a couple different meds and slept like logs...man! Did we sure need that. We now are beginning to feel human again. Sleep is soooo underrated. It's still a cool, cloudy, and a drizzly day in Houston so I think we'll just pop some movies in the DVD and settle in. I thought I'd add a pic of our gal so you could see how well she looks. She really is recovering nicely...and no more DRIP!! YEA! Keep your fingers crossed that it will hold. Marshall Vic...Have that "Great Stuff" handy in case we need it! Ha!

Love to you all...
Dee and Brenda...the dripless!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Update...

Good morning from a cloudy, breezy, cool Houston...First off, I'll give you an update from room P1118 at MD Anderson.

All goes well with our favorite patient. The night of surgery Brenda had a little bit of a scare when her nose started to bleed when she got up to go to the bathroom...it also scared the on duty nurse so they called the on duty doc. He really didn't know what to do...dah!! When Doc Charlie, Dr. Hanna's "fellow," came in to check on Bren Friday morning...he said that was normal and they expected that to happen. Well Hell! Wouldn't that have been nice if they told us to expect some blood!!! Too obvious I guess...UGH! So the best news is that everything is going as expected and she's healing well...YEA!! They want her in bed for another day and then she can come back to the apartment and continue to recoup here.

Michele...OK on the use of the word "CODE" when speaking about hospital patients...crack me up. But you have to remember that I spent 30 years in law enforcement and only a year and a half in health care...the law enforcement side always takes over...always! Remember you wanted us to come to Africa with you to protect you from any hungry animal!!

OK...here's one for you. I think God is mad at me for some reason and that's not good. Yesterday morning, just as I was about ready to leave the apartment to go over to the hospital, the smoke detector in the hall started to churp...that is a sound straight from hell. I'm sure that all of you have tried to live through the churp of your smoke detector...it usually goes off around 2:00 am...UGH! So I knew that damn thing had to get repaired PRONTO. I called the maintenance folks and put a work order in, gave them permission to enter the apartment, took out all the valuables (remember...30 years of law enforcement!!!) and went off to visit my favorite patient.

I spent all afternoon and the evening with Bren and then came home around 9:00 PM. I walked into the apartment and found the work order on the counter that said they had entered and I ASSUMED fixed the problem. I was tired and just wanted to check my e-mail and then go to bed when all of a sudden the damn smoke detector...yep...started CHURPING!!! NOOOOOOOOOO! It was now 9:30 at night and I knew I just couldn't sleep through the damn churping alarm. And you guessed it...when I called the maintenance number they said there was nothing they could do...the work order was still OPEN but it wasn't an emergency. In whose opinion was that!!! Certainly not the light sleeper that was supposed to sleep through the damn alarm!!!

So I decided to isolate the alarm (close the door to the hall that had the offending beast), drug myself with a full dose of Ambien, and sleep on the couch. Can you believe this? Man! Was I pissed! God...what are you trying to tell me??? OK...I fixed up the couch, turned on the TV, took my Ambien and tried to calm down!! I actually slept. But all is still not fixed!! It started its infernal churping again this morning so off to the office I went. We'll see if they can fix it. I've got to get this dang thing fixed before Bren comes home...trust me...I will or the smoke detectors will be destroyed and I'll claim temporary insanity.

I'm doing the laundry and getting the apartment cleaned up for Brenda's return tomorrow. I called her and she's doing well. The bleeding is subsiding, she got a good nights sleep and a good breakfast, and the doc said that all was looking good for her to go home tomorrow. We're on target folks!!

I'll keep you posted on who wins the alarm war...any bets?

Have a great day and pray for me!!! Ha!
Dee the Destroyer

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Code 4 from Houston

Hi everyone...I had a horrible time trying to get on the internet at the hospital today so I had to wait until I got back to the apartment to get on the computer.

Everything is "CODE 4." That's police jargon for "All's OK." The surgery was a success with NO complications...now that's music to our ears. We had to be there for check-in at 5:30 so that meant we got up at 4:30...have I told you that we are NOT morning people?!! UGH! But the sooner in, the sooner out! Dr. Hanna started the surgery at 8:00 and he was out talking to me at 10:30. He said he found the leaks visually and was able to use existing tissue in her sinus to create flaps that covered the areas where the leaks were occurring. He glued them in place and then used some self absorbing packing to hold that in place. Amazingly enough when I saw her...she could breathe through her nose!! There is a God! We were really worrying about that because she has no saliva and so breathing through her mouth is a nightmare and we had visions of really restless, interrupted sleep. YEA! She's going to get some good rest now. Dr. Hanna said he wanted her to stay in the hospital for a couple days to keep her from jogging or jumping around...bed rest is the name of the game for now.

So I was expecting long strings of cotton coming out her nose, tubes, and all sorts of stuff...what was I thinking!!...this wasn't a horror movie. She looked just fine...groggy and with left over disinfectant wash on her face, but she looked just fine. She said she had a headache and could feel a pressure in the area where they did the surgery, but as the day went on, the grogginess wore off, and she got some pain meds and her other usual medicine. She was doing great when I left tonight. She had a great dinner of fish and vegetables plus some veggie soup so I felt I could go back to the apartment and get some good sleep in a real bed instead of spending the night in those horrible chairs. I am sooo pooped!

So dear friends...all is well...the dripping has stopped and the healing has begun once again. Thanks ever so much for all the positive thoughts and prayers...they help so much.

More tomorrow...sleep tight!
Dee

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We're Back!!!





Hi Everyone...well we're back in our Houston apartment ready to get Brenda's dang leak fixed once and for all! Going home was both wonderful and tragic. Many of you know that we lost our 7 year old Dobie, Abbie, who passed way on Halloween night. Our hearts still hurt so very much over her untimely death. She had a condition called DCM...dilated cardio myopathy. It's a disorder that has really plagued the Doberman breed. I had her heart tested every 4 months, we had her on heart meds, and she was even lined up to take part in a stem cell study. We also knew that she could die very suddenly from the disease and that's exactly what happened. At least it was very quick and painless. Tanner...our 3 year old male Dobie is absolutely lost without Abbie...she did all the thinking for him so now he's going to have to find his own unique identity. But maybe the schedule worked out this way so we could spend some days with Abbie and that she could pass at home. Rest in peace dear Abbie and thanks for bringing such joy to our lives. Continue to guard the house...that's your job!

We did get to have a really fun pizza party (home made pizza on the grill,) got to see our friends, and get some projects done. I thought I'd add some pictures to this post because...well...because it's just fun ro see some pics. You'll see our great friends at the pizza party and Pat playing "airplane" with Ryder...man! did he love that game. Julie...he might follow in your footsteps and be a pilot. He just liked that movement so much. Then there's a pic of our usual bedtime routine where I watch an episode of "Lie to Me" on my iPad while Tanner lounges in his favorite bedtime position...what a character. Then there's the priceless photo of Brenda in her new "Monkey" pajamas (thanks Becky) impersonating the very famous "Sock Monkey!!" Great impression don't you think? She is such a character...that sense of humor she has is just priceless and has certainly helped her get through all this crap.


We flew back to Houston yesterday, went to eat at Pappas BBQ, and then went over to the clinic bright and early this morning for Brenda's pre-surgery appointment. That took a couple hours and we headed for breakfast after. The skys clouded over and by the time we got back to the apartment it started to rain. Now what does an Arizona gal do on a cloudy, rainy, cool afternoon? You're right...she takes a good long nap!!! Man! did that feel great! And it's a good thing I got that nap in because we called the clinic this afternoon and learned that Brenda's check-in time for her surgery tomorrow is 5:30 AM - UGH!! At least Dr. Hanna will be fresh as he tickles the base of Brenda's brain...that just sounds wrong for some reason!!! Ha!


So dear friends...I'll check in tomorrow after the surgery and let you know how our gal is doing. She should only be in the hospital for about a day for observation. Keep her in your prayers and positive thoughts. More later...

Dee, Guardian of the Princess

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We're Going Home!!!

We just got back from seeing Dr. Hanna. They identified where the leak is coming from and he said that he can repair it by going through Brenda's nose. YEA!! He said it's a delicate surgery that he doesn't want to try and squeeze in someplace and then find that he doesn't have the right amount of time to make sure this is done right. We totally get that and have absolutely no issue with it. That's exactly why we came back to Houston to get this done. So the bad news is that he can't get us on the schedule until November 11th...UGH!!

Well, the Executive Assistant to the Princess was very happy that the proposed fix for the leak was looking like it would be pretty straight forward and we definitely came to the right guy to do the fix. Dr. Hanna said that there wouldn't be a lot of pain and very little blood loss and although other things could happen, but with the good Lords help...it won't. The thing I wasn't happy with was the long wait until we could get this done...UGH! I hate sitting around when there's so much to do at home. GRRRRRRRR.

So we thought about this and ran some money issues through our brains and we both decided we'd go home until we had to come back for the surgery. YEA!!! I actually had a free ticket from using my Southwest Airline credit card so the trip home cost us $5.00...some tax thing!! AMAZING...God sure gives you gifts when you ask...This is a best news. We are now both wonderfully happy campers...in the words of the immortal "Dorothy" from Wizard of OZ..."There's no place like home!" So we fly out at 12:15 and we'll be in Phoenix by 1:15...I'll have the dogs by 4:00 and back by the time Survivor hits the TV at 7:00...yea!

So we'll come back on Nov. 9th, Have an appointment with the anesthesiologist on the 10th and then the surgery on the 11th. Dr. Hanna said she's just be in the hospital for about 24 hours for observation and then could recoup at the apartment for a week. She'll see the doc on 18th and we'll probably be able to fly home on the 19th....YEA!!!

So there ya have it...we finally have the plan for this phrase of the cure. The leak will finally get fixed.

Keep posted on the haps...the adventure continues.

Hugs...
Dee and the Princess

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marshall Vic's "Drip Repair" Medical Minute

Villagers...Brenda and I have stopped laughing long enough for me to post this wonderful "Medical Minute" provided by our favorite Jill of all trades....Marshall Vic.

Warning: DO NOT have anything in your hands, like hot soup, electric tools, or sharp instruments, as you watch this pearl of wisdom.

Can't wait to hear the comments, so don't be shy about posting!!! God love ya Marshall Vic!!

We sure do...
Princess Brenda and her Executive Assistant.



video

All Is Fine with the Fair Princess


Hi Everyone...Just wanted you to see with your very eyes that Princess Brenda has recovered from her ordeal yesterday and is doing quite well this fine Houston morn.

She's a thing of beauty and grace...don't ya think.

The Chief Princess Keeper...
Dee

Friday, October 22, 2010

Locating the Leak!!

TGIF Village People...add another day-long stay at MD Anderson getting this "leak" test done. Thank heaven this is done. It wasn't the most pleasant experience and really stressed poor Bren out. It was all that gunk being pushed into her spinal canal...remember she hates needles...the pressure (mental and physical,) the weird positions they had to put her in to get the gunk up into her brain and then out her nose...to put it in her words..."It WASN'T a do-over!"

But it's over and we're back at the apartment with instructions that Brenda is to be treated like a "princess" for the next couple of days...no lifting, nothing strenuous, just couch-potato time. Imagine! So we have movies, the baseball game, and football to watch this weekend. I'm totally up for the "princess challenge!!" Ha!

We know they found the leak but the radiologist said he had to study the films and then would contact Dr. Hanna. So we haven't seen Dr. Hanna yet and will do that next week I'm sure...so more waiting. GEE!! The thing we love to do the most...NOT!!

Other than that...we're doing OK...anxious to get this totally over with, but we're OK. Brenda had a fabulous nurse this afternoon who took really, really good care of her. We also ran into Paula's husband, Jason, who is a nurse at MD Anderson and had a little breakfast with him. He is such a wonderful guy...thanks Jason, for being such a love.

So there ya have it...watch for another update early next week. Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are.

Off to care for the "Princess!"
Brenda's personal assistant...
Dee

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hi Ho Hi Ho...It's Off To Houston We Go!!

You can tell everything is getting back to normal on the healing front when all our Village People don't get any e-mails from the nurse! Brenda has been doing great with her rehab...she's put on a little weight, her energy is slowly returning, she's getting a few more muscles, and the best news of all...she's cancer free!!! That was again the case when we went back to Houston for her check up 2 weeks ago...YEA!!! Double YEA!

So there we were in Dr. Gillenwater's office (that's Brenda's neck surgeon)...and Brenda mentioned that her nose keeps leaking...as in dripping fluid...as in all the time...like a drippy faucet...one drip about every 10 seconds...drip...drip. Man! Dr. Gillenwater's attitude changed and she seemed to get real concerned...OH! MAN! Was the air going to be sucked out of the room again! NO! A thousand times NO! After a couple questions...the good doc said that she suspected a leak in the dyke! (I just couldn't resist...sorry!)...a "CSF LEAK!!" That is a "cerebral spinal fluid leak." What on earth!! With all the surgery, tumor, and radiation, the docs think that there is a small crack or hole in Brenda's skull base where the cancer was that's leaking the fluid. The risk is that she is open for an infection like meningitis. YIKES! That's a really bad boy we want to stay away from...FAR AWAY!!

So they gave us a specimen cup and off to the airport we went while Brenda collected the fluid coming out of her nose! You should have seen all the looks we got as Brenda leaked into that little cup!! I'd love to hear all the mental comments folks were thinking. So when we got home we took the stuff to our ENT and he sent it in for tests. After a week of waiting and waiting...that's the absolute worst part...we heard back that...YEP...Brenda's spinal-brain fluid was coming out of her nose! HEAVENS!! Ya know we just have to keep this in perspective...there is no sign of the nasty disease...she just needs to get a patch!...sooner rather than later.

YEP!!! It's back to Houston we go...UGH! In fact we're there NOW! Dr. Hanna's office...he's the skull-based surgeon that is the expert at repairing this kind of thing...called us last Friday and asked if we could be in Houston on Tuesday morning for an appointment. We chased around and around and around and with the help of all our fabulous friends and the good Lord, we arrived in Houston on Monday night and saw the doctor yesterday.

Dr. Hanna stuck that dang scope up Brenda's nose...like everyone else has...and no one...including him... can find where the actual leak is coming from. So they have prescribed another test which will pinpoint where the leak is. The test injects some radioactive material into her spinal fluid...ick...spinal tap...and then they hang her upside down...or something like that...and take pictures to see the leak. He thinks it's a small crack someplace and hopefully it can be fixed through her nose. AMAZING!!

So now we're waiting for the scheduler to call us to arrange the test and we see Dr. Hanna again on Friday. Then we'll really have more info...we'll know where the dang leak is and the doc will have looked at his schedule to know when he can actually get her in for the repair. He knows we're here from out of town and it's really expensive to just sit waiting for an opening in the schedule. He said she would be in the hospital for 2 to 3 days and then we'd need to stay in Houston for an additional 7 to 10 days for the healing process to work it's magic.

So now you might ask...where are you guys staying. Well, we have again rented an apartment...we're at a place called The Esplanade, and it's right next to the apartment complex we were in when we had to come for Brenda's neck surgery. The apartment is nice and we have internet right at the apartment and not in some wifi hot spot. We brought our wireless router and Ms. Tecky Me hooked us all up so now we're wireless...YEA!! For all of us that are hooked on our computers, you know how important that is. Ha! The good news is that the apartment complex has a Cyber Cafe with an automatic Starbucks brewing machine...YUMMY!!! I'm saved! Ha!

So now we wait...we hate this part!! Brenda just called Mary...our guardian angel and main tree shaker to see if we can get the scheduler off her butt. I guess I've had too much of that free Starbucks bold roast this morning!! Ha! Let's get this show on the road...we want to go home already!! More coffee please!!! Ha!

We're now trying to find something fun to do this weekend...maybe the Renaissance Festival or maybe going back down to Galveston. Anyone have any suggestions?

So dear friends...consider yourself updated. Watch the blog in the days to come for the continuing story of Brenda's Adventures in Recovery.

Toodles from Texas..
Dee

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's Time To Celebrate!!! The Scans are CLEAR!!

Hi to all our favorite VP's ...remember me? The Nurse? I know...it's just been way too long but actually that's a good sign since Brenda has done nothing but make slow and steady progress toward rebuilding herself after those last nasty rounds of chemo.

Many of you know that this past Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, we had to go back to Houston for Brenda's PET-CT scans to see if she was winning the battle again that horrible disease. To say that we were really nervous would be an understatement! Actually Brenda didn't get nervous until Sunday morning when we had to leave, but she felt really confident that the scans would come back CLEAR. Having come from a very long line of worriers, I, on the other hand, have been nervous for about 2 weeks. By Sunday when we were ready to leave, I should have been on medication!! Ha! There's just something about going back to the place that caused all that trauma...

Anyway, we maneuvered the halls of MD Anderson like pros and got the scans done by 10:30 am on Monday. Dr. Gillenwater, her surgeon, was running late so we had to wait for an additional hour but when we did get in to see her the scans were already in the computer and had been read and the report written...amazing! Why it takes 7 to 10 days in most other locations really baffles me. Anyway...we looked at the scans and the report...I was holding my breath and ready for the air to get sucked out of the room again...when they informed us that the SCANS WERE CLEAR!!! Thank you Jesus and all our dear, dear friends who have prayed and sent us all the healing moe-joes!! There was no sign of the disease. LORD!!! You just have no idea how happy we both were. Maybe now the horrible memories of Houston could begin to be reframed.

Dr. Gillenwater said that the minute she walked in the door and looked at Brenda she knew that she had diligently been working on regaining movement and strength in her shoulders, arms, head and neck. She said that whatever she was doing...keep it up. Our sincere thanks and appreciation go to Scott, our trainer, for all his work in helping to rebuild our gal. He's doing a fabulous job. The doc said that it was excellent that Brenda was able to continue her workouts even while going through these last rounds of chemo because that kept her from freezing up with all the scar tissue. Way to go Brenda...what a trooper.

So then we went to see Mary, Dr. Hong's assistant. We found out that Dr. Hong had been called away on a family emergency but he told Mary to send the scans to him in an e-mail (amazing!!) and he would look at them but he said that he really wasn't worried because he KNEW that Brenda's scans would be CLEAR...doubly amazing! The level of care at MD Anderson is unequaled!!

Both Mary and Rita told Brenda she looked fantastic and said that they were talking about her the other day and said that of all of Dr. Hong's patients Brenda was absolutely, hands down, the best. She never complained, she never gave up, she never said she couldn't take any more, she just kept going. Everyone is convinced that's why she has done so well. Brenda has truly been an inspiration to us all. So they said that we would need to come back in another 3 months. Everyone was so happy...we just had a nice visit with them.

So what do you do when this enormous weight has been lifted from your shoulders and your future looks really, really bright?....you go SHOPPING!!! Yep! We left MD...went to Starbucks (of course!! The Nurse needs her "juice of life,") and then went over to Whole Earth Provisions, a really cool outdoor store, and did our part to stimulate the economy. YEP! We had to buy some "LIFE IS GOOD" shirts!!

That evening we went out to dinner with Paula and caught up on all the things happening in our lives. It's always wonderful to see her...she is so positive and just brightens up the room. We flew out of Houston yesterday and now we're getting ready to go up to our cabin in Strawberry for the holiday weekend.

And speaking of our wonderful little cabin...if anyone would like to buy it...it's up for sale. We just bought an acre and a quarter of beautifully wooded property in Pinetop, AZ in the White Mountains. Once we sell the cabin, we are going to build on this piece of land. We would like a bigger place for entertaining and we just couldn't pass up the great deal we got. Brenda said she has a whole new life now and wants to build new memories...PERFECT!!

So dear friends...I think that has you up to date on the important stuff. Hope you'll go out and do a little celebrating on your own for us. You will never know what a huge part of Brenda's healing process you all have been.

Thanks from the bottom of our hearts...
Dee and Brenda

Monday, May 3, 2010

Put A Fork In It...Chemo is DONE!!!






Hi VP...It's amazing what being shamed publicly on Facebook will make a girl do!! I know Cathy...I've been horrible about keeping the village up to date and YES! it's partly due to my obsession with working on my Spit...Bad Dog Dee!!! So here I am to bring you all up to date with the latest hap's here in Arizona.

OK...so the most important info first...CHEMO IS NOW HISTORY!!! Brenda is SOOOO over all this. There have been a few bumps in the road lately but she'll be back to her feisty self in no time, I'm sure. Just before Chemo #5 she went for her regular ENT visit and they found she had a sinus infection beginning and she was running a low grade fever...NOT GOOD AT ALL! She had been feeling really bad for a couple days prior and so we got her into the oncologist who ran a blood test and got her on some antibiotics and steroids. She was feeling much much better in a couple days...heck...just in time for chemo #6. Now that's just mean! We'll get you feeling so much better and then we're going to poison you again!! Damn!

So here we are with chemo #6 history last Tuesday. The problem is that Brenda has gotten another sore throat, she's horribly fatigued, she's got more sinus build-up, and she just feels crappy. No fever this time so that's good. We have her on some additional meds and tomorrow we take her in to see the PA in the Oncologists office to see what we can do to get her feeling better. I just feel so helpless when she's so under the weather. I'm sure we'll have her back to her old self soon. With no more chemo she can get over this hump and then start really healing from all that poison.

We heard back from Mary at MD Anderson and we go back to Houston on Sunday June 27th, the PET scan and all the doc appointments will happen on Monday June 28th, and we'll fly back home on Tuesday the 29th. I know that we'll get only good news that the cancer is history and they'll tell us to go home and heal...so after some BBQ...we're GONE! At least for another 3 months! Keep those prayers and positive thoughts coming as that will help this dream turn into reality.

Life here at home had been good...busy, but really good...we are so blessed that we could be home during this last part of the CURE. For the most part it's been good, but again...as with life...it's had it's ups and downs. The "UP'S" certainly have been Brenda's continued healing...most of it has been positive...our dear, dear friends and their love and support, the dogs...they just make you smile...our home in the desert...well you get the picture. The "DOWN'S" have been a few of those really low days for poor Bren, news that my sweetie Abbie's (our 6 year old Dobie) heart condition is worsening...DAMN!...and a medical emergency with my Mom last week that ended her in the hospital with a gall bladder attack and gall bladder surgery. She's here at the house recouping and doing just great so that's all good. She went through the surgery without a hitch...thank the LORD! It's hard to keep a good woman down!

Of course I've been busy playing Nurse Ratchet to all my patients...the list is growing!!! STOP! And of course I've been busy with house work, errands, time at the gym, visits to Starbucks...thanks to all of you that sent me Starbucks goodies for my b-day...YUMMMM! I'm in heaven! Of course I've really been busy with my Spit. I met this wonderful woman through the Triumph club who has been restoring British cars for years...she's a retired mechanical engineer and is an absolutely amazing mechanic! She came over to help me install a new steering column and steering wheel and it turned into 8 days of fun, grease, laughter, swearing, and parts, parts parts when we ended up fixing a whole bunch of stuff on the car. One thing just led to another...and another...you know the drill....after all...it's a 33 year old car. Marie and her partner Betsy are wonderful folks and we have talked them into coming to Amsterdam with us in 2011...more on that in a minute.

So one day...after talking with Vic on the phone, Bren decided that she really needed something big to look forward to that had no relation to medicine or cancer. We can all agree with that. She was also thinking that trying to do her Australia trip next year, the way she wanted to do it, might just be a little too much. She's got a lot of healing and building to do over the next year. So we just had gotten the announcement of the Olivia Tulips and Amsterdam Riverboat Trip in April of 2011 and she thought that was a perfect adventure to look forward to. She needed something positive to work toward and this was going to be it. Are any of you Villagers going? I think it's a fabulous idea and can't wait to visit Europe with my favorite gal. How cool is this??!

So that should bring you all up to date...hopefully I'll have tons of great news to report in the future with Brenda's healing. We love you all and want to celebrate the power of the village in helping Brenda get through this journey. You are all the best!

Sending blessings to each and every one of you.

Dee, Brenda, Abbie and Tanner

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chemo #4-GONE!!!




Yea...yea...yea!! I know it's been over a month since I last blogged...oops! I've just been really busy and a little lazy about blogging. I've been reading the Haynes Auto Repair Manual for my Spitfire and researching all the parts catalogs...just obsessing on my new little hobby. But both Brenda and I thought I ought to get on the stick and give you all an update...she's so good about getting on my case by not getting on my case about things!! Ha! What a wonderful soul...she has me so figured out.

Chemo infusion #4 went well today...now only 2 more to go and we'll be done in another 6 weeks...PARTY TIME!! Brenda has had some really good days this past week...figures...it's time for another infusion. It's definitely a roller coaster ride. Brenda will be so very glad when this is finally over. We'll both be dancing in the streets. We saw the doctor today and he said all her labs were holding and looked good. She also saw the eye doctor and the ENT yesterday and both said things were looking good. This is music to our ears. Now we just have to ride this out for another 6 weeks. Keep those prayers a comin...please!

Another big milestone is that Bren went to see the ASU PD Chief and put in her resignation. There is just no way that she could return to work by the time limit and in the same capacity...it would just be too much and she's just too depleted to be a police officer. I think it's a little sad that her law enforcement career is over, but she is handling it really well and has just accepted the inevitability of her situation and the need to move on. ASU has been more than patient in waiting, but it just clear that she can't return to the rigors of that job. We all know she'll be a success in whatever she does next...go Brenda!!

Life back here in the Mesa hood is wonderful...we've had more rain in one month than we had all last year!! The desert is green and is about ready to explode in wildflowers. Temps were a bit cool over the last week, but they hit the 80's today. It's a fabulous time in the desert!! The downside is that the weeds are taking over the state!! I have got to get out with the hula hoe and rake and get these under control!! YIKES! I'll just get Brenda out with the whip to give me some incentive!! Ha!

Of course I'm obsessed with getting my Triumph in a safe condition for driving around town without worry...after all it's 33 years old. It sure does bring back memories. I had to replace the gas tank because it leaked and was patched with that putty stuff. YIKES! That just wasn't the best way to go...the tank just had to be replaced. I looked at it and decided that I could replace it myself so I called Julie...she put an aircraft engine together when she was younger so she was the perfect co-mechanic...and the 2 of use spent an afternoon and got the new tank in. Check out the pictures!!

I've had a ball with this thing and spent last Sunday over with some local Triumph car enthusiasts and they went over my new baby and we found some things that need attention but for the most part it's in good shape. Tomorrow I'm getting new tires on it. The ones that are on it now were manufactured in 1996 and are weather checked, cracked, and ready to cause me a true headache..if not worse!! I took Brenda for a ride the other day when we got the new gas tank in and she described it as a "modern day luge ride!" She still can't believe that I drove my '67 Spitfire from Michigan to Arizona (for grad school) with a vacuum cleaned strapped to the luggage rack.

Really folks...all is well...we're just loving the weather and have our eye on the end of chemo. PARTY!!! Just as a reminder, the final treatment is April 27th. Brenda will spend the next week adjusting her meds, and dealing with some of the side effects of the chemo...not drastic like the ones we experienced in Houston, but some side effects none the less. Life is good and we can see the light at the end of this tunnel. YEA! Brenda is such a trooper...this has been such a long hard ordeal for her.

So VP's...consider yourself briefed once again and if I forgot something, Brenda will let me know and I'll get you an update. Hope all is well with each and every one of you. God bless you all...

Spitfire Dee

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day




Hi VP's...Happy VD!!! That's Valentine's Day...get your heads out of the gutter. Brenda and I hope you all had a wonderful day full of warmth and love with your special someone, or your extended family, or your friends, or your dogs or cats...or ALL of the above! We took Mom to lunch and, because of the weather...we ate OUTSIDE! Sorry easterners! Then we went to the movies (one of our favorite past times ) and saw "Crazy Heart" with Jeff Bridges. It was slow, but Jeff played a really good drunk country singer. He actually has a pretty good voice!

So we've heard that a lot of you have really been getting hit hard by the winter snow storms...I've read that many cities have experienced over 3 times the usual snowfall. Michele...we laughed and laughed about your battle with the snow plow driver. Yes, it is exercise, but I'd rather go to the gym where it's warm.

We've heard so much about the horrible, snowy, cold, weather back east that we thought we would give you a visual tribute, Arizona style, of your winter situation. We feel your pain!!! Actually...we DON'T. It was sunny and 75 today! We thought you'd get a chuckle out of this picture.

All continues on track here in the Mesa-hood. Brenda has good days when she can get a good amount of sleep...quality sleep. Not the kind where you wake up every hour or so. She's working on some quilting projects and continues to work on real estate dreams of buying a cabin on a beautiful large wooded lot up in the White Mountains with our buddy Toni, our resident real estate expert. We do have a cabin up in Strawberry, about 2 hours from our home, but we'd like to sell that and find our dream vacation home and property in Pinetop-Lakeside. It doesn't cost anything to search and dream.

I seem to be going through a mid-life crisis...many of you will think I'm going through a lot more after looking at the pictures we put together today. My brother-in-law planted a seed in my brain and now we're searching for a decent 1966 to 1972, or maybe later, Triumph Spitfire for us to finish restoring. I have a long history with that type car. It was my first car back in 1967 and I drove that little thing for 10 years until it literally fell apart! Now I'm trying to reclaim my youth!! Ha! I'll keep you posted. I nearly had one on eBay but I was outbid. Poop! Well, Mark my word...I'll find one. Like I said...It doesn't cost anything to look and dream.

So folks that brings you up to date for this beautiful Valentine's Day. Bren goes to the ENT tomorrow for a check-up, she continues to work with out trainer on her rehabilitation, and next Tuesday she has chemo #3 and the half way mark will be met. YEA!

Stay warm out there...happy shoveling! OUCH!
Dee and Brenda

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Big Storm and the Big Sun





Hi VP's...well our dear, dear friend Vic from the cold, cold Pittsburgh area, came out for her annual "Arizona Spring Break" trip and she just couldn't have timed it any better. We basked in the warm, bright Arizona sun while the mid-Atlantic states suffered through one of the biggest snow storms on record. I think Vic said that the accumulations back home were something like 26" or so inches. YIKES. Most things were closed and it's taken almost a week to get the streets plowed...just in time for another blast over the next couple of days that could dump another 10 plus inches. OH! I remember those days living back in the Midwest and praying that school would be closed!! I loved the snowfall but hated the slop and the cold. The cold (??) of Arizona is what we love now!

We shoveled lots of sunshine as Cal continued to give us updates on the weather back east. I even caught Vic out in the backyard in her shirt sleeves catching some rays in one of our lounge chairs. When Vic got home, she went and stood in her front yard...with the snow up to her knees (and Vic is a very tall woman!) so we could get some perspective on the big storm they had! Then I just had to put up a picture of her out in the backyard in her shirtsleeves. As she put it..."what a difference a day makes."

We had a wonderful visit. We went out to eat, we all went shopping for new purses at Macy's, we watched movies, Vic brought her wonderful brownies AND her famous nut roll. She also cooked up some goodies for Bren...her ham and potato soup was really, really tasty. Thanks Vic for the wonderful visit and for showing me the technique to stretch out Bren's neck and shoulders.

Bren was having some sleepless nights over the last week, which was really playing havoc with her energy, but she tweaked some meds and now is sleeping soundly. In fact she was out for a good 10 hours last night. When she gets her good sleep it's like she's a new person...she has energy to do some things and she looks better...her mouth moves better and her eyes are brighter.

Things are good here in the Mesa-hood. Brenda and I have worked on taxes and those are almost done. I've also included a picture of our favorite tax-payer with her piles of medical data that she was calculating for the dear ole tax man. It's supposed to rain tonight or maybe tomorrow. Vic...I don't think it will be enough to enter any "flooding data" into my official weather report! HA!

So folks back east...hope you have fuel for your snow blowers, and I'll get the sunscreen lotion out for the weekend here...it's supposed to be around 70.

Smiles from the sunny southwest.
Dee & Brenda

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chemo #2 = HISTORY!

Mornin everyone...it's a bright, sunny, cool (NOT cold and snowy!) Arizona morning! It's absolutely beautiful out. All's right with the world! Brenda is sleeping, the dogs are outside guarding the backyard again any coyotes, and I've checked on my farm crops...yes! I got hooked into playing "Farmville!!" Vic is coming to visit today and she's bringing her fantastic brownies...she makes the BEST brownies I've ever eaten. The temps here today are expected to hit a wonderful 70 degrees so she'll get to hang out in a t-shirt. Fantastic!

Chemo #2 was administered on Tuesday and all went well. It really doesn't take the nurses long to get Bren's treatment completed...it's just getting IN that's always the problem. We usually have to wait about an hour because they are so busy. We just block off most of the day and we're mentally good. Besides...once they have her all hooked up and I know Bren's OK...I head across the street to the Starbucks for my "juice of life" and a Coke for my girl. I'm so thankful that I'm not writing about all the horrible things we're experiencing...because we aren't!! Thank the Lord! And thanks for your continued prayers and all the positive energy. I know that's such good medicine. I just don't know how we would have made this journey without you all behind us. You all are the best!

We're anxious to spend the weekend with Vic. There's some shopping to do, the big game to watch on Sunday, and time shared laughing with a dear, dear friend...what could be better. Besides...she's bringing those fantastic brownies!! Ha!

Have a wonderful day everyone...I'll be back with more news from the home front soon.

Dee, Brenda, Abbie and Tanner

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creating the Cotton Ball Do!

Hi VP's...How the heck have you all been? I bet you've been wondering what on earth we've been up to and how Brenda is doing. Really Brenda has been doing well. She tolerated the first chemo well and on Tuesday we have round #2. She got a little bug but that only lasted one day so we dodged the bullet on that one. She's been an absolute trooper, full of wit and laughter even when things are tough...she's simply amazing. Sleep is still the secret ingredient...she needs those wonderful zzzzzzzz's to feel half-way decent. Hey! I think that's the medicine we all need. Right?

Yesterday Brenda, Julie and I decided it was time to grab the clippers again. The new chemo was doing it's job on Brenda's poor hair follicles. OK so the first time we did the mohawk and discovered what a great shaped head Brenda had. Yesterday we put our thinking caps on and decided to turn Brenda's head into a cotton ball that really resembled a Q-Tip!! Of course I had to get the flip video camera out and we created this little movie for your viewing enjoyment. We sure hope you like it.

We'll let you know how Round #2 goes on Tuesday...we also see Dr. Halepoda that day so we'll see what he has to say about how things are going. Your continued prayers are wonderful...please keep em coming.

OK so we've had the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy Awards are coming up...let's see if you'd vote for our little production...enjoy!!


Hugs...Dee & Brenda


video

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dem Cotton Balls and other Stories





Hi VP's...I'm wonderfully glad to report that our beloved Brenda is doing well...but I'll do the medical update in a bit. I've been anxious to share a little tidbit of info with you, so that first.

You'd think that after 23 years of living together and probably close to 30 years that I've known Brenda, that there wouldn't be any new significant revelations that you didn't know about your partner. WRONG!!! I want you to think: "COTTON BALLS!!!" That's right...that small, white, fluffy, soft, fibrous little cotton ball...Brenda is TERRIFIED of them!!! After 30 years, I have just now learned that Brenda can't stand those little things...hates them...can't stand to touch them...can't pull them apart...in fact she would rather walk on hot coals then pull one apart. I just found this out when the ENT wanted her to put a greased one up her nose (with medication, silly!!! Don't get the wrong idea now!!) He wanted to give her nasal passage a rest and add some moisture up there. It's so dry out here....remember? She came to me with this absolutely pathetic look on her face and asked me to pull the little harmless cotton ball apart for her because she just couldn't touch it. I said..."What???!!! Are you kidding?" NEWS FLASH!!! SHE WASN'T!!! I still can't get over this...what on earth happened to her when she was young that she is now terrified of a dang cotton ball??? This is a woman who has chased bank robbers down dark alleys...and she can't...refuses...absolutely will not even think about...pulling a cotton ball apart!

OK...so there ya have it!! I think it would be fabulous if you put your thinking caps on and create a story about Brenda and cotton balls...visuals to enhance the script would be even better. Hey Marshall Vic...got any ideas on how Brenda can overcome this phobia? Michele, I'm sure you have something hysterical to say about this...maybe some advice you can offer our Brendita? Come on VP's you just can't let this one go!!

So now on to the medical news...really...she is doing fine. She has tolerated the first round of chemo VERY well. I think the biggest side effect we have seen so far is the fatigue. She gets tired very easily but, being the trooper that she is, she still goes to our personal trainer Monday, Wednesday, Friday and he's helping her work on those weak shoulders, getting some strength back just to do normal things, and getting the range of motion back in her neck.

We did go back to the ENT to have her hearing checked because of that fluid buildup in her ear. YEP! The fluid really reduced her hearing in her right ear so Dr. Kelsch (the ENT) put a tube in there to drain the fluid. Now remember that I am just learning the medical stuff and had no idea what putting a tube in your ear entailed. I was envisioning the tube being something like a big, long plastic thing that got rammed down your ear!! I had to watch! So he put drops in to deaden the eardrum, then he took this instrument to puncture his was through to the eustachian tube...OK I was expecting the long tube to get pulled out...NO! WRONG! It's this little itty-bitty thing that just keeps the top part of your eustacian tube open sop the fluid can drain out. It worked like a champ! She hears better and the fluid has been drained Her ear is so much better. She has antibiotic drops to put in and she can't get her ear wet at all but that dang fluid is gone.

Believe it or not, we DON'T have a doctors appointment for her all this week. I'm going to have a hearing test on Thursday because we've gotten to the point (prior to the ear tube thing...) that Bren and I were watching the subtitles on some movies...now that's bad!! Getting old is not for wimps!!! Ha!

So folks, that's a wrap for tonight...let's hear what ya think about the cotton balls...we love hearing from you.

Go "AVATAR" for winning the Golden Globe Award for best movie drama. If you haven't seen that movie yet...go...and see it in IMAX 3D...WOW!!!

Hugs to you all...
Dee, Brenda, Abbie & Tanner

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Insurance Policy Round #1=DONE!!!

Evening VP's...WOW! What a day! Over the last several days our anxiety levels for this upcoming chemo have been building and we haven't been sleeping great at all. We just didn't know how Brenda was going to react with these new drugs. They tell you all the HORRIBLE side effects of the drugs they are using, but we had no idea what might be her reality. Plus there was the SmartPort and how was that going to feel getting accessed...of course we've been on the Internet and learned all the things that can go wrong. BAD DOGS!!!

So at 2:00am we were both wide awake and just ended up talking, laughing, speculating, praying...and finally taking some drugs to get back to sleep!! Those pills have been sleep savers. It probably doesn't help that I also jack myself up on venti iced coffee every day but I so enjoy it...it makes me the ever-ready bunny however! Ha!

OK so we made it to the oncology department "ON TIME" and what happened? You guessed it...they were short one oncology nurse and were over 2 hours late getting Brenda hooked up. EEEEEEKKKK! You'd think we'd be used to the waiting game...well we sort of are, but this was the first day of a new regime and we wanted to get it started and over with and under our belt. I promise, I'm really trying to be a patient person...promise! I didn't say a word, I just stood there in a clear, unobstructed view of the 2 nurses that were working so they couldn't miss me staring at them! Ha! Subtle as a bulldozer, don't you think?!! It worked!!! Can you say "Command Presence." YES! I had my "cop stance" on.

OK...they got Bren hooked up through the port and it was just fine...they drew blood through it and started the drugs...YEA!!! Everything was working thus far. I was so relieved that I walked across the street and...you guessed it...got my Venti Iced Coffee at Starbucks...how convenient that it's right across the street!!! YEA!!! I made it back to the oncology office with a Coke and electrolyte water for Bren as they were doing this "Koolaid" type of infusion with this big syringe...interesting. 2 of the 3 drugs were actually like very short infusions (one was actually a shot in the IV line) and the 3rd drug was hug in a bag and took about an hour to empty. Of all the side effects they said could happen as Bren was getting this stuff...she didn't have any adverse reactions. We understand that some might come on over the next several days, but today there was no upset stomach, no abdominal pain, no joint or muscle pain. We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best in the upcoming days. SO FAR...SO GOOD! Tomorrow she has to go in for her Neulasta (white blood cell booster) shot.

Now the REALLY, REALLY FANTASTIC news is about the newest PET/CT scan. I'll save you all the medical mumbo-jumbo...the report said that there was "no evidence of disease within the neck or paranasal region." There is also "no intracranial abnormality of tracer activity." So dear VP's...it looks like good old Dr. Gillenwater got all the nasty stuff out of Brenda's neck and now she's going through this chemo as the insurance policy that all the bad cells, if any, will be DESTROYED! Wellness here we come. 2010 is turning out to be a fabulous year...let's all keep this on a roll!

We were beyond thrilled...happy...ecstatic...joyous...you get the picture. I hope you are joining us by jumping up and down and screaming. And what do folks do that have fantastic news about a problem that has been troubling them to their core for almost a year? RIGHT!!! THEY GO SHOPPING!!! Since Brenda was feeling so well after her treatment and we were so very happy about the scan news, and since I've been looking at upgrading my cell phone to a new smart phone...we both went to the Verizon Store and both of us ended up buying the new Motorola DROID smart phones!!! HA! It's just what ya have to do!! Go join us in the excitement and use this excuse to GO SHOPPING TOO!!! HA!

It's really a cool phone...internet...navigation...apps...you know the drill. We would have gotten an iPhone because we are such died in the wool MAC users, but we like the Verizon network better than AT&T.

So there ya have it gang...such fantastic news for January 12th!!! YEA! CELEBRATE!!!!

Now it's time to hit the sack and hopefully get a good nights sleep...we so need it. I have a great story about "COTTON BALLS." But I'll save that for the days to come.

Thanks for all the prayers and good positive energy that came our way today...we could sure feel it.

Sleep soundly...
Dee and Brenda

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New Year VP's









OK...OK VP's...I know it's been over a month since I last updated the blog and many of you have called to get on my case to do a better job at keeping everyone posted on our favorite patient. The good news is that she is doing well and is continuing to heal. We certainly thank the Lord for that and for all the positive energy that we can feel you sending our way. We have been held captive by the holidays, our visiting families, cookie making, movies that just HAD to be watched, football that just had to be cheered, dogs that needed to go to the vet and walked, friends that needed holiday cheers...well you get the idea. But we're back and I promise regular updates on the blog. PROMISE!!!

So the most important piece of information is that Brenda continues to keep her fabulous positive attitude as we look at beginning the next round of chemo that will start this coming Tuesday at 10:30 am. Of course there have been a ton of doctor appointments and phone calls to attend to to get us to this place, but we have just about everything lined up. Through the Virginia Piper Cancer Center in Scottsdale, we have a great oncologist that has many patients whose primary care has happened at MD Anderson. He's right in sync with Dr. Hong's order for the new chemo regime and he has a 16 chair chemo department at his office. Like I said, we are all set to begin that this coming Tuesday. They are using 3 different chemo drugs that have been around a long time and are well tolerated...not without the nasty side effects, but the folks back at MD Anderson said that Brenda should be able to tolerate this better than the first chemo drugs she had. I've got my fingers crossed and the prayers heading skyward. We'd love if you'd help us do the same. For those of you that like the details, the drugs are:


Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
Vincristine (Oncovin)
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

I'll certainly keep you posted on how it goes. She'll only have to go through 6 infusions and instead of 8 to 9 hours for the infusions, the treatment will only take about 2 1/2 hours and only on 1 day every 21 days...not 3 days every 21 days...plus we'll be home...that is HUGE!!!

She's had blood tests, a heart echo exam, another PET/CT scan, a "SmartPort" installed in her upper chest for easier chemo access, and this week she'll have another hearing test because she has
fluid in her
Eustachian Tube due to the radiation scar tissue. They are monitoring that and might put a tube in her ear to drain the fluid. We have found a good ENT so that's reassuring. Bren is still dealing with nasal drainage, and the doc is monitoring that, and gave her a new wash to keep the bacteria down so she doesn't get an infection...we certainly can't afford that now. We're back in the "SUPER CAREFUL" mode.

Christmas at home with family, friends, and of course...the dogs... was truly wonderful...busy... but wonderful. My Mom came over on Christmas Day and we opened some gifts and celebrated with a Taylor - Van Amburg California tradition of eating a meal of Dungeness crab for dinner. YUMMMY! Mom was a real trooper. She had never had crab before and she rolled up her sleeves, dug right in, and ate the whole thing. We were so proud of her.

My sister Barb, brother-in-law Tim, and niece Kelly came in the day after Christmas from cold, snowy Detroit. Toni came over for our evening dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, homemade biscuits (my grandmothers recipe), Toni's favorite jello with cream cheese cubes, and green beans. It was so very good. Of course there were more goodies to open and my niece made Brenda a fabulous blanket. She even snatched a ladies ball of yard from her cart at the store when the lady refused to let Kelly have it because that was the last ball of the color Kelly needed to finish the blanket. She grabbed it when the lady wasn't looking, and hurried and paid for it before the lady even noticed. We were so proud of her!! Ha! It was such a great story and made the blanket even more precious.

Brenda's sister Rhonda, her niece, Amy and nephew, Cody, with his new wife, Heather arrived from Boise, Idaho on January 1st for the big Boise State vs Texas Christian football game at the Fiesta Bowl. It was fabulous seeing them and Brenda got such a boost of energy having them around. They had a great time talking, laughing, shopping, cooking, telling stories, and just being in each others company. It was wonderful seeing her spirits so high. Plus Boise State won the game!!! Yea! That's the second time they have won a spot in the Fiesta Bowl and WON THE GAME!!!

I almost forgot to mention that Michele also arranged in early December to have a layover here in Phoenix on her way back from a west coast business trip. We sure love it when she does that. We got to meet her really nice nephew, Matt. and we all had a wonderful dinner at the famous Cowboy Ciaos in Scottsdale and then the next day we all pigged out at the Sugar Bowl...a true downtown Scottsdale landmark...they have great ice cream stuff. It's Michele's favorite when she makes it to Phoenix. It was great meeting her nephew. Michele also introduced us to a new computer game called "Bejeweled 2." Can you say addictive???

We had an emergency with our older Dobie, Abbie when we learned that her heart condition was getting worse. We put a Holter monitor on her regularly and the number of bad beats had gotten very bad, very quickly. That was the same day that we learned that Brenda had to have more chemo so we were both totally deflated, depressed, and worried. I got Abbie in to the heart specialist and we put her on a new heart med. Later last month I re-Holtered her and the bad beats had diminished significantly. I'm so glad we caught this. Dobies have this problem with their hearts that folks are trying to breed out of them. It's a condition where the dog can have a series of these irregular beats and then just drop over dead. She's a great girl and we'd really love her in our lives for years to come.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be home with family, our dogs, and friends. We've charted Brenda's chemo treatments and her last session will be April 27th. Collectively let's think of something we can all do to celebrate the end of, hopefully, this FINAL round of treatment. It will be over a year of treatment Brenda has had to ensure to treat this dreaded cancer. I think we all should collectively do something to signal the closure of this part of the journey. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

We've missed reading your comments so I'll keep up my end of the blog if you'll keep up yours...DEAL?

Here's wishing you all the very best that 2010 can offer.

Dee, Brenda, Abbie and Tanner