Saturday, February 27, 2010

HAIR today, GONE tomorrow!

With the second treatment has come a host of new challenges. In the middle of the Chemo party, I was explaining to those present that in the next couple days, I would just reach up and with a little tug—clumps of hair would start to disappear. While I was demonstrating, I realized that indeed clumps of hair were coming out. I died a little inside! As much as the loss of my hair has been the subject of discussion and I have always been “OK” with the eventuality, I was really scared, but knew what I had to do.

For years in a therapeutic setting, I would talk with others about how healthy it was to make the conscious choice to be ACTIVE vs. reactive to life. It was a blaring example of how I could be ACTIVE in this situation with cancer (hopefully the first of many), so the call was made to Ron the Barber (my dear, sweet father-in-law) and we went out that night for our shaving party! We had a great time, though our craniums were a little drafty after the fact!

I wanted to share this little story on attitude and perception that I received from a great friend.  You can read as you are looking are the shifts in hairstyle:

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YEAH!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

Imagine the time and product that will be saved! ;) 

I must also admit that the entire process became far easier when I knew that all of my guys would be having a similar hair fate. Here are some of the pictures!

My Justin always a huge support!
Eli and Isaac were thrilled (Eli immediately and Isaac had to warm up to the idea)!
                                                         Mohawk Family photo!

As fun as the Mohawk night was, we continued to have questions from our Eli and worried sentiment from some of our loved ones, I want you all to know that I have seen God’s hand in this trial and I know that I have found answers as I have prayed and read in the scriptures. For instance, it is extremely comforting to read a passage of scripture and have it take on a whole new meaning. This happened to me reading about the Brother of Jared in Ether 2:24-25. It is a beautiful metaphor about trial and our safety in the middle of the harshest of ‘mountain waves’. Think about whose mouth the winds are going forth from. Think about yourself as the whale in the metaphor—what enemy does the whale really have? Who is our enemy? It is comforting to know that he has prepared us against these things and we have the opportunity to pray with all of our hearts to have ‘light’ while we are in the depths of our trials. What a great blessing for us all! What are your ROCKS? (Ether 3:4).

Love to you all,



On Thursday the 25th I underwent my second round of Chemo and it turned into a party of sorts, with help from Justin, my boys, my parents, Denise, Brenda, Christy, and Lisa I laughed the entire four hours of the treatment. Some of the laughter was involving memories, some the result of acting and role-playing, and the rest was just having the love and support of terrific people around me! I thought I would share some of the photos that brought so much joy:

Yes, this is Justin!

This is Denise right before
someone who opted for
a wig walked in!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Long and Climbing Hill

We are getting ready for the second round of Chemotherapy tomorrow and with the preparation comes more insights and blessings. It has been confirmed over and over in the last three weeks that among my greatest blessings in life are my relationships. I feel so blessed to reconnect with past friends and connections, and overwhelmed with the new friendships that have come into my life as a result of this diagnosis. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

Speaking of mysterious, I was rushing around yesterday morning trying to get ready to meet my mother-in-law and niece, Emily at the Temple. I jumped into the car, clothes and recommend in hand and was feeling excited to be removed from some of the chaos in my life and just feel peace. Well, I was driving up Sunset Drive (which is an incline of sizeable proportion!) and gaining some momentum and SPEED to catch the light to turn onto Highway 89, when to my horror, at the peak of my acceleration and a menial glance to the right, I realized that I was being clocked by a police officer. DANG IT, the lights flipped on! My nausea returned (not due to the Chemotherapy regime :)!) and I awaited the impending doom.

The officer slid up the side of my car and asked why I had been pulled over, which by the way, I have never understood—if he did not know, he wouldn’t have pulled me over, and if I say that I don’t know, am I slapped with an additional “DUH” ticket? It really is an exercise in futility, unless it serves to challenge me not to answer sarcastically and end up in jail!

Anyway, I ended up giving him my license and sitting there in a deplorable state, when all of a sudden a completely inappropriate thought came rushing to my mind, “Dang, if my hair was already gone…!” I almost made myself laugh, but in the pitifulness of the situation, I just decided to sit there and humbly take the punishment (though, for the record, I do not remember speeding prior to the Chemotherapy :)…it probably is an unlikely side-effect…). To my surprise, when he trotted by up to the car, he looked at me and said, “Ms. Anderson, I am not going to issue you a citation today, but you’ve got to watch your speed!” I choked back emotions and the “Cancer Card” excuse and thanked him.

As I continued my journey to the Temple, a metaphor popped into my mind. The metaphor of, “The Long and Climbing Hill”! I think that all too often we find ourselves feverishly rushing around to “DO” in our lives and we go from one point to another missing critical experiences, in lieu of expectations and the push towards the elusive reward in the future (Highway 89!). We are all on the path of the LONG AND CLIMBING HILL, some of us are steadily climbing and watchful, others are broken down along the road in need of some help, some are even going the wrong way entirely, while still other’s of us have been ARRESTED (or so we think!) in our journey and stopped by the ‘police officer’ of life (who would have most likely been Satan in this metaphor had he given me the ticket…but for now he is just trial!).

It has been a real blessing to be “PULLED OVER” in life for a while, to feel the wind on my face with more gratitude, or notice the chirping of tiny birds in the yard, or the anticipation of the changing season, and to feel the long and sustaining hugs of friends and family, new and old. I feel grateful for the tiny and distinct blessings that are on my LONG AND CLIMBING HILL. They were there all along but it took this trial for me to pause and listen. I am excited to see what God has in store! What ‘mysterious ways’ will be created because of this challenge and what I will encounter on the journey. I pray I will see His tiny miracles.

I know deep down inside that all of these things will give me experience, and will be for my good (D&C 122:7), if I do not shrink at this trial or falter in my faith and resolve. I continue to be so grateful for all of your love and support. Thank you for sharing in this challenge! I know that the push to the top of the hill of life is much easier and pleasant with the love and blessing of a great family and friends. I’ll sign off with a quote from C.S. Lewis:

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

Whatever our station on the LONG AND CLIMBING HILL, I hope we can all put our trust and faith in Him who created us all and loves us without end (Isaiah 41:13).

Love to you,


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our True Relationship

After a conversation with a dear friend, my mind was drawn out in contemplation about the course of my life and Heavenly Father’s plan for me. I have realized that He has been mindful and watchful of my entire life. He has heard my every cry and because of His love for me, there have been certain trials I have had to sustain JUST long enough for my heart and soul to be modified. I know the absolute necessity of trials. I understand the profound impact on the soul and I recognize that my Heavenly Father is in pain as I am in pain. In reality, our loving Father is hurting for all of us when we are hurting, and yet does not take these trials and challenges from us because he loves us and sees the big picture—He knows that it will be for our best good!

A number of years ago Justin and I had a firsthand look into this reality. Eli was not yet two years old and was in need of surgery (had the surgery not occurred, he would have been negatively impacted for his entire life) and as hard as it was for him to understand, we were not able to give him a Sippy cup of anything in preparation for the surgery. We cried as he cried, but knew that relieving that pain would be the source of diminished blessings down the road. We refrained! Next, we handed our baby into the arms of a doctor at Primary Children’s. He had never been in the arms of strangers without us and what’s more he was going to be in pain that he would not understand. I desperately wanted to take the pain from him, but knew that I could not. He woke up from the surgery needing reassurance from Justin and I, and his big brown eyes filled with tears when we walked into the room. We just held him tightly, and cried ourselves knowing the pain he would have to endure, but we knew that it was for his good.

I am grateful for the hard parts of parenting and the small inkling of a window it gives into God’s love for us. I can feel His love in the middle of this trial and know that I am not in pain for the sake of pain. There is a bigger picture! There is a bigger picture for all of us and we will receive that witness after the trial of our faith (Ether 12:6). He sent His only begotten son into the arms of “strangers”. Christ is the mediator with the Father and I know that Christ pleas our case before God. I can sincerely say that I am grateful for trial because, in His wisdom, my life has been modified on many fronts. It indeed has been made richer and fuller because of the trials and challenges I have endured in the past and I have faith that this current trial will also be turned for my good (D&C 98:1-3).

It has been a blessing to have the gospel in my life and the knowledge of the “true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children)”, because our prayers really do become natural and instinctive when we understand this relationship (Bible Dictionary, prayer). It is comforting to know that He is there for all of us in this same way. He is no “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and will place divine tutorials in our paths, because He loves us and so we can become like Him (John 15:1-2). That is great news!

Love to you,


Friday, February 19, 2010

Mighty one or Feverish, selfish, little clod of ailments?

It has been a week post the Chemotherapy and with my white blood cell count, so my spirit took a little dive! Many have talked about reading the blog so that they know what to pray for next, so I am banking on your help through prayer!

I went in yesterday for what is called the Nadir visit. This visit traditionally occurs one week post Chemotherapy and is in place because it is the calculated low point for my body’s combativeness against infection. They drew blood and were able to tell where my white blood cell count was and where my neutrophil count (the infection fighting component of the white blood cells) was.

Interestingly, Dr. Stinnett was really pleased, though normal for white blood cell count is 4 to 10 and I was a 2.3, and normal for neutrophil count is above 2 and I was 1.2. Most of my life I have been used to exceeding expectations so falling below “normal” felt a little less than an “A”, which is the element of my personality that took hold and my optimism dipped. I can’t even describe the reason why the negative feeling came over me, especially because Dr. Stinnett is a wonderful combination of dead-on credibility and unbelievable compassion, and even in his optimism, I still felt some despair.

That yucky feeling continued as I walked into the waiting room to leave the office, and the normally empty room was filled with others who were suffering similar life trials. My compassion sparked for all of them, as I realized that we were all in varying degrees of treatment; some were in wigs, others were gaunt and ravaged looking, and still others were in stages of re-growth. I bit my lip to fight back the tears when I realized that I was the youngest in the room and it felt like the pity in the room turned towards me. YUCK! I hated that…I haven’t even lost my hair yet and I was the subject of inspection and pity… from other cancer patient no less!

Luckily, my spirit didn’t stay in that place for long…it’s too uncomfortable, so I got busy reading and I realized that Heavenly Father is in reality All-Knowing and All-loving!

Several months ago, the out for this time of despair was already being orchestrated and not so shockingly, it came in the form of SOMEONE ELSE LISTENING! I am so grateful that Caralee Child…months ago suggested that I read a book entitled, Led by Faith, by Immaculee Illibagiza (this was the sequel to her first book, Left to Tell, which changed my life!). These books sparked such an interest in me that I couldn’t help but type some of the passages that hit me the hardest. I stumbled upon them yesterday. She said:

I understood that whenever God’s light is dimmed by despair, the devil finds a perch from which to whisper in our ears. The enemy never sleeps; he waits for our moments of weakness to strike at us with temptation.

                                    Immaculee Ilibagiza, Led By Faith, p. 93

My determination returned, as I realized that I was placing myself in a vulnerable spot for Satan to attack my armor (D&C 27:15-18). I hit my knees and asked for forgiveness and my mind flooded with love and my spirit soared.

My moments of immediate answers continued to flood, as my mind reflected back on a session that I had had earlier in the week where we were talking about God’s love and the true “reason” for prayer. I had no idea at the time that the things we were talking about would be my life line just days later. As often happens in therapy, my mind is filled with information that I share (without knowing where God is going most of the time:)), and I referred my friend to the Bible Dictionary under PRAYER and this line was immediately recalled in my mind, “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God…” I was humbled to think that in my prayer for this other loved child of God, he was answering my unrealized cry. And, when the cry was realized...I knew that I did not want to change God's will or the details of this trial.  I just want him to do with me what he will! Out of HIPPA regulations I will not name this person, but you know who you are…THANK YOU for sharing in this burden!

I know that all of us, like my friends in the Utah Cancer Specialist waiting room are in varying degrees of “treatment”. We are all starting, in the middle of, or finishing one of life’s refining moments. We all have the choice between misery and happiness (2 Nephi 9:39) and that choice is NOT diminished by circumstance. I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! I hope and pray that regardless of your life circumstance you will choose to be happy too!
Love to you all-


I leave you with still another of my favorite quotes. This one is penned by George Bernard Shaw:

This is the joy in life, being used for a purpose. Recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.

Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

                                                 George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Powerful beyond measure!

There are a few quotes that tend to run through my mind in times of trial and reflection. One of my favorites, comes from Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Address in 1994, it reads:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful

Beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most

Frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,

Gorgeous, talented, or fabulous?

Actually, who are you NOT to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small

Does not serve the World.

There is nothing enlightening about shrinking

So that other people won’t feel insecure

Around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God

That is within us.

It is not just in some of us;

It is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we

Unconsciously give other people permission to

Do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence

Automatically liberates others.

I have been the recipient of many of you responding to this call. You have made the decision to be “powerful beyond measure” and how did you do it? You choose to serve and to listen.

We have received countless cards, goodies, and well-wishes. Many of you have offered your homes and hearts to my boys and even felt prompted to scrub my toilet and fill my fridge and freezer with food. I am so grateful and humbled.

I have been touched by the youth in my life, who, in their own realms have decided to make a difference in some “old lady’s” life, the Young Men and Young Women in the Ward wore pink in their basketball games, other’s have placed a pink wrist band on to reflect their support, and still others have written unbelievably heartfelt thoughts and testimonies. I have loved and appreciated you all.

Just today, my niece Maddie (Bren’s baby) rallied her Junior High Basketball team to play in my honor with pink bows in their hair. I know to some it may seem small, but to someone feeling humbled by life’s circumstances, it could not have meant more.
Brenda was also at Maddie’s game, displaying a sign proudly:

I am doing really well. Most days are passing without a hitch and I know that is because of the love and support of all of you.

Thank you for sharing your light and not shrinking to the inadequacies around you. I am proud to say that I share this planet with you…you know who you are! This life would be really long if we had to do it alone and I have felt so blessed to feel your love and support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Anything for a friend!

This has been one of the most incredible Valentine’s Days in history (OK, my history)! I can honestly say that I have never felt so much love in all of my life. The outpouring of cards, cookies, well wishes and pie has been incredible, thank you all for your generosity! These things coupled by the sweetness, compassion, and kindness of Justin and my little boys almost make this all worth it :)!

Last Friday night I stumbled backwards for a moment as I had gotten so involved in the things that I usually do, I literally forgot about our current predicament. The forgetfulness ended with the rushing back of our reality and I hit my knees, with a minuscule understanding of Christ’s question in Luke 22:42. Though the prayer was completely inaudible a quiet and sweet understanding flooded my mind and soul, as I realized that “this cup” was not passing, and after crying myself to sleep in Justin’s arms I awoke with a new determination to figure out my Father’s will concerning me and this situation.

While I do not know the complexity of this trial, nor the positive that will spring from it, I know that part of my prayer has already been answered, and as often happens, it was answered by someone else listening. It turns out that this someone else was a couple of someone’s, my sister and life-long pal, Brenda and my best friend Denise Parker.

Brenda, as most of you already know is a woman of action and has not taken this cancer thing lying down. She was immediately bringing treats, arranging flowers, and talking about a fundraiser. Unbeknownst to myself, she had enlisted the help of Denise and just two weeks into this trial, I believe that I have an understanding of part of the “why?”---In addition to the fundraiser, an idea “popped” into Denise’s mind for a website called,, crazily the domain name was not taken and I believe Denise was just plain listening and is being used as an instrument in the Lord’s hands (…that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work. Behold, thousands of them do rejoice…Alma 26:3-4) I believe this can and will be the source of relief for people in this situation for years to come.

Imagine if you will, someone, anyone in this situation being able to access name or their loved ones name and the web of countless people that hold each of our lives firmly in place, have the opportunity to step forward and do whatever they can and when enough “whatever you cans” are brought together, miracles can indeed happen (Alma 37:6-7).

I feel proud of Brenda and Denise for listening! I feel overwhelmed with the generosity, thoughts, and love behind this concept. May we all take a page out of their book and let our lights so shine before man, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How did this all start?

Many have been curious about how the cancer was discovered and what process landed us in our current situation. I was actually the one to notice the lump in my breast and to my shock and fear, I did not tell anyone, as we were finishing up final plans for a family trip to Disneyland. I had made the conscious decision to wait until after the trip, that was in July of 2009.

I did indeed get in to see Dr. Bitner when I got home, still not telling any of my loved ones because the thought of the possible reality was far too scary (some of you may not be aware that my grandma Nelson died of breast cancer in 1992 and my aunt Jeannie had stage 3 and a mastectomy). I was shaking in my boots when I asked the doctor if he felt a lump. He said, “No.” My mind reeled back and I began to doubt myself and wondered if I had made the whole thing up. He looked over my chart and decided to get me in for a routine Mammogram.

I went in for the Mammogram and the results all came back normal. “I was making it up!” I thought to myself and was partially relieved. That sense of relief did not stay however. I felt uneasy on the inside; just not right! So, one night, I asked Justin if he could feel the lump. He rose up and said, “What is that!” I retorted back, “You felt it?” He was very concerned and made me promise to go back, though I told him that it was the same lump that had been ruled out. The next day, I was helping my mom with Christmas decorations and she felt it over my clothing…she made me call immediately and before the afternoon was done, I was in Dr. Bitner’s office having a non-breast specific ultrasound. It was determined at that meeting that the lump (which was now palpable) was not believed to be fluid filled and I was sent on to the surgeon.

The surgeon, Dr. Morrell, was not overly concerned because the lump had several benign characteristics (it was hard, moveable, well defined, circular edges, etc.), but it could not be determined if it was a fluid filled or solid, so I was sent back in for another mammogram and a breast specific ultrasound.

In steps Dr. Tamayo, and with a wonderful mix of compassion and charisma, found the lump on the ultrasound and let us know that if he were a betting man, he would bet that it was a fibro adenoma, “but”, he said, “I am not a betting man so we are going to do a biopsy." The biopsy happened on the 22nd of December, and interestingly enough, Justin and I both watched the procedure and we were as certain as Dr. Tamayo that he had harvested tissue right from the center of the lump.

In only the way that Dr. Tamayo can, he had made sure that I had the results of the biopsy before Christmas, because he “didn’t want me to worry about this thing!” We were all feeling quite confident that if this biopsy came back a fibro adenoma we would have arrived at the end of our journey and would move on with our lives.

Well Christmas Eve came and Justin and I went in for the results and indeed the first thing out of Dr. Tamayo’s mouth was, “It’s benign!” I took a big sigh of relief and then he looked perplexed, “and, shockingly, it was not a fibro adenoma!” I just looked at him and asked him what it was. He said, “We don’t know, but it’s benign! If you were my wife I would leave it alone and monitor it every 6 months for the next two years. If it doesn’t change in that time it’s just fine!”

This was not the closure that we were hoping for and the uneasiness continued on the inside, which shadowed Justin’s unwavering position from the beginning, “Let’s have it removed!” We met again with Dr. Morrell and the three of us decided to have the lump removed. The surgery was scheduled on the 26th of January.

The 26th arrived and I just knew that we were finally done, we had come to the end of our journey and we would be able to move on…Well at this point I think you all know the rest of the story that came with the fateful call on 3:11pm on January 29th 2010.

The lesson I have learned is to listen very carefully and know and understand how you personally receive answers from God. How do you personally know when you are done, whether with health concerns, personal problems and challenges, or heading in the right direction? How does he speak to you? And, are you listening?

Eternally grateful,


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chemotherapy Treatment #1

For the last two weeks, it was this Chemotherapy session that I was dreading! Somehow I had ideas in my mind of torture chambers, filled with all of my worst fears and pains; only to find a serene, pleasant—even playful atmosphere.

So, how did I get there? Most important of all, and my true compass, Justin was right by my side (For the sake of my Young Women—He is the single best decision that I have ever made in my life. You’ll definitely want to pray for ‘a Justin’). Secondly, things really turned when Justin, during a sterile, clinical examination by Dr. Stinnett, simply paused and said, “Dr. Stinnett, we need you to know that you have been an answer to our prayers. We feel so fortunate to have you guiding Becky’s care and we trust you implicitly.” Well, needless to say, the sterile, clinic visit warmed up dramatically as both Dr. Stinnett and I were wiping tears from our eyes. I felt so grateful for Justin’s genuine regard for those around him. What a great man!

His courage and forthrightness gave me an increase of power and courage and I was ready to answer this challenge that had been put before me. A lot of you know that I have finished reading Viktor Frankel’s, Man’s Search For Meaning, he made the following comment in the book: “The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails…gives him ample opportunity…to add deeper meaning to his life.” Because of the manner in which Justin is addressing this “fateful” situation, it makes it easier for me to accept and to look forward to the deeper meaning in our lives. That is chuck full of good news!

That deeper meaning plunged itself directly into my chest and accessed a surgical site only a few days old, with a 2 inch, curved needle! To my absolute pleasure and utter surprise, I must report that the Lidocaine cream that I talked about earlier did the trick…I felt nothing! Not even the ‘little pinch’! I know that it is small and I may be reading in, but that was a huge blessing to me and an answer to prayer.

After that had passed, so did 4 cycles of Chemotherapy drugs over the next almost 4 hours. It was crazy to think about these ‘life saving chemicals’ (poisons) being pumped directly into my heart to be distributed to the rest of my body. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for all the men and women who have suffered and sacrificed to make these advancements and knowledge available to save lives.

Speaking of saving lives, I was also able to take with me one of the sweetest gifts from our family. They had embroidered all of their names in all of the corners of the blanket, so that I could wrap it around me when I was cold and scared. I will take it with me to all of my procedures. I love our family!

Lastly, but certainly not least, we have been blessed with an actually angel walking the earth named Lisa, who very affectionately calls herself the "cancer killer!” This may not come as a shock to many of you, but I spent a great deal of the Chemo session laughing my head off with Lisa and Justin. And, as it turns out she is an Anderson as well. We feel truly blessed!

It is currently 11pm and I am no worse for the ware! I was even able to help coach the Young Women’s Basketball game this evening, and vacuum. Ya baby! OK, now I am back to being a pop off and better sign off before I get another humility trial. Love to you all and thank you for your continued prayers--Becky


We woke up to about 3 inches of snow and Justin was out a-shovin’ while I was applying the Lidocaine cream to numb the sight where the nurse would be putting the needle in for the Chemo. I couldn’t help but look out the window and see the beauty of the new fallen snow and thought about a metaphor.

The white cream of the Lidocaine matched the color of the cleansing snow and I felt the reality that the journey we were about to undertake in Chemotherapy would also cleanse the landscape of my mutating cells. I took a deep breath in and realized that I was scared out of my wits, and this was a needful step in my life.

The metaphor continued as we drove toward the doctor’s office, and I looked back towards home and realized that the clouds had completely swallowed it out of my sight. I longed for the safety of my ordinary life of two weeks ago! Tears rolled down my face and I came to the realization that we are all in the same boat in this life! We left the comfort of our Heavenly Home in hopes for the development of needed skills, abilities, and experiences only to find that the home that we had known for eons of time was now clouded by the veil. I again longed for the safety of that home!

I feel so grateful for the knowledge that I have, that Heavenly Father knows and loves me individually. There is a definite plan for my existence…and it is not to inherently have pain. Just as I have found at other times in my life, Heavenly Father visits us though tender mercies and sometimes they are so subtle you may miss them if you are not careful. Blessings are found in the here and now, not living in the past or in the ‘if when’s’.

Well, this morning I was listening, so though our home was swallowed up in the clouds, along with my comfortable life, and tears were rolling down my face, I still saw the tender mercy and it came in the form of perfectly formed, perfectly distinct, snowflakes. And, as my mind does I realized that my life, your life, is perfectly distinct, perfectly designed for our growth and benefit. Do I ask myself, “Why me?” Not really, instead I state, “Why not me?” I am grateful for this challenge (sort of!) I am grateful for all of your love and concern. Thank you for the lives you lead!

I will update you on the first Chemotherapy treatment later today!

Amidst the storm...

We are so happy to report that we finally got the results back from the genetic testing (BRACA) and it came back negative, which is incredibly great news for myself and all of my family members.  We recognize Heavenly Father's hand in all things and know that all of your thoughts, fasting, and prayers have indeed been heard.

We have also been the recipients of some incredible, situation altering thoughtfulness, and though I recognize the storm of trial that we are in the middle of, I can also see and recognize the blessings amidst the storm. You are all in turn, a part of the solution to this trial and we are so grateful and overwhelmed by all of you. THANK YOU!

I cannot even hope to capture all of the kindnesses through pictures, but I wanted to show some of the things that have eased the burden.  Among these gifts, we have received freezer meals, toys for the boys, and prayers to Heaven.  UNBELIEVABLE.

 Heart felt gifts from friends and family!

We are starting Chemotherapy...I'll let you know!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The nuts and bolts update...

Yesterday was one of the harder days. We meet with Dr. Harris, who will be administering the Radiation Therapy (which, shockingly, was not so bad!) and then we were rushing around trying to get boys fed, groceries bought, and their bodies to my sweet friend Jeany Campbell (which I will have to write an entirely different blog about), all before leaving for the hospital to receive my new best friend...The PORT A CATH.

We got to the hospital checked in and were whisked off to get ready for the surgery. It was quite a surreal experience, given the fact that I had been there just two weeks ago, we had been checked in by the same women, and we had the same sweet nurse, Linda, in the operating room, and of course were met with the compassion of Dr. Morrell.

The differences in the surgeries were blaring in my mind. A couple of weeks ago, I just knew that this was our last step and the foreign lump was going to be gone, I would be fine (I even put my clothes in locker 13...maybe not a good move), and we would be excitedly trying to have another baby. Linda wheeled me into the operating room and we were both laughing and joking. The contrast was distinct, first of all, I put my clothes in locker 24 and instead of Linda and I laughing and joking, she was hugging me tightly as sobs filled my body and she continued to hold me until I was under sedation. I will be eternally grateful for her compassion.

The reality of the port a cath, another foreign lump, is that the Chemo journey is about to begin. I feel scared! When I first received the diagnosis, I naively believed that it was probably 3 cancer cells and they had already been excised; the painful reality is that I am grouped among those who will receive the most aggressive treatment possible, and that scares me! But what doesn't scare me is the peace I feel when I think and pray about the long term prognosis; when I think about and pray for those whom I love and love me. I feel peace!

The peace was interrupted as I had a really hard time coming out of the anesthesia this time. My entire body was shaking and I think I remember Justin asking them to give me something before I chipped my teeth. They gave me Demerol, which was a fateful decision resulting in throw-up for the next 6 hours. All through this process though was my Justin, my ROCK. He always knows just what to do!

As I laid there is such a yucky spot, I wondered how Christ had taken all of this pain (all of our pain)...incomprehensible. He is my ROCK!

I finally left the hospital at about 8:20pm.

Part of the spiritual journey

We had an incredible weekend chuck full of friends and family! It did our souls a great deal of good. Thank you all for the increase of love and support. Shockingly still to my heart and mind, we were faced with the reality of the situation even on the weekend, but it came in a form that resulted in incredible strength and an increase of compassion; I was the subject of a Ward Fast! To be honest, I never wanted to be the subject of a Ward Fast because I didn’t want that type of attention, nor the emotional vulnerability. I was overwhelmed by the response and scared about being too emotional, so in a way, I was dreading going to church.

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I walked into the church house, where I was sure the emotion would overwhelm my control (and scare my boys), only to find an absolute increase in strength—physically and emotionally! I sat through the Testimony meeting and stayed emotionally present through the entire process and for any of you that were there, you know how difficult that would have been, given the fact that my Justin got up and shared his testimony. He was so sweet and so powerful, I felt overwhelmed with the blessing of him in my life. I love him so much!

The blessings continued into Young Women’s, where all of these sweet girls dedicated their fast on our behalf. As I heard their little tummies rumbling, I loved them even more for their incredible sacrifice. We stood up to share the Young Women’s Theme, which I have been reciting for more than half my life, only to realize that it had taken on a whole new meaning. As the words, “We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us and we love him. We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places…” were repeated, I stood there and looked at these sweet girls, I was smacked by a reality that transcends time and space, I do love God and He loves me and I had a conscious decision to make, whether I would truly be His witness. I knew that I had not been diagnosed with cancer because He was mad or did not love me, I received the diagnosis to manifest His greatness through me! And, as I looked around that room, I knew that these little sisters of mine would have trials in their lives as well, that would test them, try them, and refine them. I have a fixed determination TO STAND during this process and have my life stand as a witness of His love and power. Thank you my dear Young Women for this insight!

The peace and strength continued on later that day when both sides of my family gathered in Pleasant View at Matt and Sandy’s home to break our Family Fast together. I nudged Justin as I looked around the room and saw the multiplicity of love (and bodies!). Tears welled up in both of our eyes as all of our nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, moms and dads knelt down together as Ron, my dad-in-law offered up an incredibly powerful prayer to end our fast. I knew that I would be fine and I knew there would be difficulty ahead, but I knew that I was not going through this by chance. I knew that great blessings would arise from this situation. What a great blessing!

While visiting with our family, we also received a visit from Denise and her family, as Angie and Mark were dropping off toys and freezer meals. We are blessed people. We love you all!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good news!

At the end of an incredibly long week, we got some good news from the CAT and bone scans.  Before we left the hospital parking lot, Dr. Stinnett was calling to let us know that the CAT scan came back normal and then moments later, he called again and told us that the bone scan had also came back without concern.  We all took a big breath in and were grateful. 

I had never had a CAT scan or bone scan before and as I laid on the cold tables, I realized that I would be experiencing a lot of things that I have never experienced before.  Tears rolled down my face as I recognized the life altering predicament that we had just found ourselves in.  I choked back my tears as I realized that I needed to be following some very specific instructions and in fact, though I found myself completely alone in the room (the techs were safely behind a protective wall, which did not espouse a warm feeling:)!), those instructions were the things that guided me through.  My mind jumped forward and I knew that, just like the instructions on those cold tables, I have also received some "instructions" for making it through tough times in life and those instructions would also guide me through.  I am so appreciative that I know that I am not alone on the "cold table of cancer", I have felt the love and prayers of many and know that Jesus Christ suffered for the pain that I was now experiencing.  I felt reassured that I would be just fine! 

I know that I have pain ahead, but I also have the knowledge that I will experience the opposite of that pain...imagine that joy!  I am grateful for this experience and though I am crying a lot more than I usually do...OK I am crying more now than at any other time in my life,  I am also feeling more love and support, and on really hard days that is just what I need.

Thank you all for the outpouring of love and support.  Your thoughts and prayers are making a profound difference.  I will love you forever and be grateful even longer.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Process Continues!

Yesterday we met with Dr. Stinnett, the Doctor that will be administering the Chemotherapy. Oddly enough, I can actually say that I have a Chemo Dr., and as odd as it is to say and think about, it is probably just the tip of the iceberg to the strange reality of this week.

As I think back on the week that we have had, I realize that in one week almost to the very minute, we will have received the news that I have cancer from Dr. Morrell (on Friday at 3:11pm--if any are wondering and wanting to be exact:)!), had genetic testing to test for the BRACA gene mutation, been told that the circumstance that my cancer arose in, a fibroademoma, which is "always"benign, is so rare that as Dr. Tamayo put it, "It's like looking at the sun and saying that it is not shining!". So this diagnosis has been concerning for us and the industry as a whole, which is why my tissue has been sent on to the MAYO Clinic (a distinction I could have lived happily my whole life without).

Nonetheless, our journey continued with the MRI and results that Justin had talked about in the previous entry. We have felt an incredible peacefulness throughout this process and can feel our Heavenly Father's gentle hand guiding many parts of this process. We are grateful! That gratitude took about a 3 hour respite yesterday as we were told that my tumor is believed to be about a 7 cm Infiltrating duct carcinoma, and possibly in the lymphnodes, these descriptors helped to classify my breast cancer into a stage 3A.

And, unbelieveably enough this was not the end! We were then told that they would be as aggressive as possible, which would most likely result in a number of knowns for us; 1)additional testing, including, blood tests, bone scans, a CAT scan, an Echo-cardiogram; 2)I will be having a port put directly into my body for the administration of the Chemotherapy; 3) I will most likely receive some Chemotherapy before surgery to help shrink the cancer; 4)I will have more surgery (the extent of which we do not know yet); 5)I will also be receiving Radiation Therapy, given the size of the tumor; 6)I will lose my hair and all self calendaring possibility :)!, and 7)We will end this first week, as it began, talking with Dr. Glen Morrell and trying to piece together the information and regain some semblance of order in our lives.

This was all a lot to take in, but after the 3 hour respite, dinner from the River Restoration Group, and an incredible blessing given to Justin by Jeff Campbell and Jim Sirrine, we were back on track and thinking and feeling extremely positive. We are overwhelmed with the kindness, gratitude, and self sacrifice of those around us. We love you all so much! We are incredibly grateful for all of the thoughts, prayers, and ice cream! Your quiet kindnesses we be imprinted in our heart, minds, and souls and at the end of the day (or the longest week of my life) I have grown to appreciate the Savior far more than I ever have before, and I can feel His love for me far more intensely, which makes me love all of you even more than before!

Many of you may be wondering how the boys are doing...they are fine! Eli prays that the doctors will get all of the "bad cells" and Izzy has a curative smile.

As of 7 am this morning, I, so luckily, am in the process of drinking 900ml of barium sulfate, which on the bottle is called a berry smoothie...right! This to shall pass. Literally and figuratively! We will let you know how things go with the CAT and bone scan, as well as our meeting with Dr. Morrell.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Unwelcome news

On Friday January 29th, 2010 the Anderson family received some unwelcome news. We were informed that Becky had breast cancer. On February 1st we had the opportunity to meet Cindy Stewart and received an informative pink binder which included among other things Dr. appointments all ready set up. An MRI was performed on February 2nd. On February 3rd we reviewed the results of the MRI. Dr. Tamayo had the unfortunate job of informing us that the cancer is widespread. Both Becky and I would like to thank Cindy and Dr. Tamayo for their kindness and generosity. Also for the professionalism that both Cindy and Dr. Tamayo emanate and for the hope they give. It is good to know that we live in a place where we can receive medical care from individuals like them.