In Courage

When cancer struck Shannon in early 2013, we were not prepared (who is really). Shannon and I were in shock with the diagnosis.  It was not sudden but materialized over a year of abnormal pap smears. In hindsight, I feel Shannon had the fears all along, but shielded them from me, until it was confirmed that she had Cervical Cancer. I was always an encourager, so the role was easy for me, or so I thought. The first days of doctor appointments, we were both numb, but Shannon was healthy, she felt great, looked great, so the first damage that is done with an early diagnosis is mental. In looking back and hearing other warrior’s battles, Shannon really needed to be speaking to a trained therapist that specializes in working with cancer patients. Little did we know the mental obstacle course we both would be facing as she endured surgery, chemo, radiation, and doctor appointment after doctor appointment. We trusted her medical team, who did an adequate job of removing cancer. We did not know the hidden illness that comes with lymph node removal and radiation – lymphedema. It seems weird to report, and I am curious to hear from other warriors and encouragers on their journey, but cancer did not affect Shannon as bad as the lymphedema. She was mentally prepared and had faith that the battle before her would be won.  Lymphedema, however, was the challenge and where my role of encourager was tested daily.

It was the constant swelling, and uncomfortableness morning, noon, and night that was debilitating for her. She battled cancer, a hysterectomy, chemo, and radiation like a champion and was prepared to get on with her life. But the swelling post-surgery never subsided and continued down her leg to her ankles. Walking was a chore, sitting, was a chore, living was a chore, and on several nights, in her darkest hour, she shared she would rather die than to continue feeling this bad for the next 30-40 years. I did not feel she was suicidal, and this was a red flag that should have prompted a meeting with a trained therapist to help her. I mentioned it but never pushed her or encouraged her to explore this option.

The years of living day to day and with Shannon having lymphedema took a toll on me, but I was unaware. You see I am a fixer and problem solver.  Most men are, we handle issues by getting our toolbox and getting to work to sort things out, never reading the instructions, and never asking for help.  It is how we are built. Women are built differently. They talk to talk, to vent, validate each other, and when they are done, nothing is fixed but they feel better, connect better, and heal. Shannon did not need me to fix anything. She did need me to listen, and comfort, and validate. During this time Shannon so desperately wanted to speak with someone that had been down the road she is on. The friends she had, she felt disconnected from. She often mentioned feeling miserable in social situations because she did not fit in.  She envied their youth and vitality, she longed to just be the old Shannon again.  Not rational thoughts but clearly how Shannon felt. As her encourager, I had no idea what to do with this information, how to help her.  I did what I knew, I kept her laughing, I fed her, and I loved her.

Encouragement – the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope

Synonyms: heartening, cheering up, inspiration, motivation, stimulation, fortification, support, morale-boosting, a boost, a shot in the arm

If you look at the word Encouragement closely, you may see a word in the middle that stands out, C-O-U-R-A-G-E.

Courage – the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, without fear; bravery.

Our story, is a story of cancer twice, and lymphedema. The role I fell into that is labeled “Caregiver”.  I never was comfortable with that name, as it is not altogether accurate. In a closer examination of the past few years, a better label would be that of Encourager. My wife fell into a role, she never expected or wanted, that of “Cancer Patient” or “Survivor”. She did not like that label. But she felt better with “Warrior”. Both Warrior and Encourager are positive strong words that more define the role of a person battling and those around them that are supporting them.

Warrior – a person engaged or experienced in warfare; a person engaged in some kind of struggle or conflict.

Encourager – to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.

I shared this discovery with Shannon and she agreed wholeheartedly with the label. She pointed out which was not as obvious to me, “Look at the first letters in each of the words… W and E, which combined spell WE, very ironic but fitting description of the battle. For Shannon, her first cancer journey was a very personal and solo journey (only confiding in me). She was not in a good place nor was I. When she was diagnosed with cancer the second time, she was blessed with many encouragers, from the nurse navigator from the hospital to her plastic surgeon, her support group – Beyond Boobs / Here for the Girls. Shannon’s “I” turned into a “WE”. Her outlook improved, she was happy, and this was a blessing.

What I failed to see until her second cancer diagnosis (Breast Cancer) was that the Encourager needs Encouragement too, but not from the Warrior. In a war, there are many battles that comprise the totality of the event. I had no idea the battle I was in. I was oblivious, but the toll of insurance, and deductibles, and fatherhood, and kids, and cancer, and lymphedema, career, and finances all took their toll on me almost to the point of breakdown. My normal become anxiety, facial-ticks, and panic attacks. This was my normal, I had no comparison to draw from. My wife suggested I “speak to someone” because she realized she was unable to offer any comfort or advice for me. I took her suggestion and reached out to a Christian Counselor, just to talk. I had so much on my plate. I remember my first meeting with the Dr. it took a few minutes to answer the question of “What brings you in today?” He confirmed I have a lot on my plate. After 3 sessions he assessed that I had anxiety and depression – Dysthymia, a form of functional depressive disorder and I could feel better with counseling and medication. As it turns out, I had this my whole life and in looking back at my family history, I am convinced my parents had it and their parents, and siblings (my aunts and uncles) as well, because of the history of alcoholism in my family. I learned more about the disease and realized the family before me were more than likely self-medicating using alcohol. The tables have turned, and Shannon adds a new role to her Warrior designation and that is an Encourager to me, who has become a Warrior of anxiety and depression. We are all warriors battling something, and we all need encouragement. Shannon’s and my story is one of cancer and depression. For you, it could be something else.  For men, we need a safe place to come to for support. For women, they need a safe place to share and be validated. Shannon and my hope with this community we are starting can be a healing place for everyone to come and to Find Encouragement.

Saturday

This is the last post from Shannon’ first battle with cancer. As you have read, it was not pretty, but there is beauty throughout the posts. God does not guarantee a perfect life, here on earth. He does promise eternal life for those that believe and have faith.  These posts have been extremely hard for Shannon to read, as you can imagine. These images, and words, and memories were shelved by us buried really, and reposting has brought them back. We discussed how far we have come and look back with some relief. In this post we were reminded her battle was not just with cancer but with anemia. The medication she had to take was brutal on her body. Enduring the chemo and radiation was hard enough but adding on this additional medication and treatment pushed her to the brink. Shannon is strong, and courageous. She is a fighter and demonstrated a grace through adversity, I can only look back on as inspiring. Throughout her journey she was looking to give back to others and to help. This continues to this day. As I type this post, she is busy working on creating a special project as the first of many to help inspire others through action, by being a Ripple for others. Shannon is drawn to a quote from Mother Theresa that encapsulates her life mission:

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Shannon is a ripple maker and wants to inspire everyone to be a ripple for others, and on, and on. We hope you will find inspiration and encouragement from these posts, to see that life is difficult, cancer sucks, but with faith in God, and a team of encouragers, anything is possible.

Saturday 

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 3/1/2014

It is a little after 7 am on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Shannon is downstairs with Jack and Sydney is sleeping over with a friend. Let me tell you why I am glad Shannon is downstairs with Jack and not up in the bed. A little history for everyone since it has been awhile since I last posted.
Shannon has Hemolytic Anemia. Her red blood cells are being destroyed and removed. We don’t know if this is related to her earlier treatment or if it is inherited. We may never know, we just want to control it.  Shannon was referred to a Hematologist because her red blood cell count was low. Her first course of treatment was Prednisone, which from the last post I said was a blessing and a curse. Prednisone carries some significant side effects such as swelling, moon face, weight gain etc.  Shannon was able to taper off the Prednisone last month, but upon checking her blood levels they put her back on 5 mg (She started at 60mg) they also recommended a treatment called Rituxan, which is given via Infusion (IV) every Friday for 4 weeks. Yesterday was Shannon’s 3rd treatment. Let me tell you about this and I will be able to explain why I am glad Shannon s downstairs with Jack right now.

Two weeks ago, Shannon and I went to have her first Rituxan treatment. The doctor said it would be easy, nothing like chemotherapy and she should be good to go with no real side effects. Well if you know Shannon’s journey, she can’t do anything like everyone else. She had concerns as she has VERY small veins and having an IV is difficult because of the veins. They run the IV at the lowest rate using a pediatric needle. So the first treatment took all day and she did not even get to finish the full bag of Rituxan. Let me back up and explain what Rituxan does. This is my non-medical mind relaying this, so if you want a better description google Rituxan for Hemolytic Anemia. So here goes…Rituxan is putting good antibodies into her blood to reprogram her T-cells at a molecular level. These antibodies will take over and let her body calm down by not attacking her red blood cells. The hope is she will be removed from prednisone and her red blood cells will remain stable. This is our hope. Ok back to the first treatment.

They did warn us that most people will have an allergic reaction on the 3rd bump up (they increase the infusion rate over time as the body adjusts to the medicine going in). Because Rituxan is a blend of hamster, yes you read that right, hamster and human antibodies people have an allergic reaction. Knowing this they give patients Oral Tylenol and IV Benadryl. Shannon had an allergic reaction, which was flushed face and throat swelling. She said it felt like marbles in her throat. The nursing staff knew it was the 3rd bump when they came over (they said later it took less than 5 minutes after the 3rd bump and they had been watching her). They stopped the treatment and gave her an IV steroid and let saline run for 30 minutes then resumed the treatment.  We ended up leaving at 4:30. Shannon was tired from being there, tired from the Benadryl, tired from a sore throat and just overall YUCKY! This continued the rest of the evening and all of Saturday. She could not do much on Saturday, not even go to Jack’s basketball game.  On Sunday she felt better but not great. I think it was into Monday before she felt normal and guess what, Friday was around the corner for #2. Shannon, like she has during her WHOLE ordeal, put on a brave face and said ” I only have 3 more. I can do this”.

For treatment #2, Shannon’s mom went with her.  My parents were in town to see Jack’s basketball game, so they were able to be with the kids and I went to work. Her second treatment was much like the first.  She had the reaction, they stopped and repeated the procedure from the first treatment. She was there from 8:30 to at least 3:30 or so. She came home, tired, feeling crappy same as the week before and unable to see Jack’s game.

Let me tell you about Jack for a minute. Jack has played B-ball for 3 years now. I may be biased, but the boy can play.  He is better at his age than I was. He played for the YMCA’s team for seven and eight-year-old kids.  He is fast, can shoot, defend, steal, pass, rebound etc. He must have had good coaching, (I have been his coach for 3 years (Smiley face)).  Shannon did get to see him play the last game of the season, which was Tuesday.  Our team struggled as we had some new ball players who had never played. We got to play a team of similar stature. Because the game was on Tuesday, we had a low turnout (games were usually on Saturday and Practice on Thursday) so we had 5 players show up and not our best players. The 2 other players that could really play were not there. Jack ended up putting the team on his back and scored 13 of the 15 points for the game. We went into overtime but lost 15-17, but Jack really turned a corner in that game and Shannon said that will be a defining game in his career because he really came into his own. We are so proud of him and he is proud of himself.

We get to yesterday. Shannon was DREADING Friday coming. Most people are looking forward to Friday-not Shannon and not for the last four Fridays. Everything seemed to go right yesterday. We got in at 8:30, they took her blood by finger prick to check her numbers, we got into the Infusion room and they decided to go ahead and give her the steroid boost along with the Benadryl. Shannon took some Gas-X before the treatment. It all worked, no reaction, we were out of there by 1:30. She felt good, a little hazy from the Benadryl, but good. She wanted to go to Hobby Lobby to get yarn (Shannon has learned how to crochet and is never without yarn and or needles, I am not sure what the tools are called. She was very moved as our church has a prayer shawl ministry, where folks can turn in prayer requests and someone on the team will make a shawl, pray while they are making it for their person and the shawl is given to them with a note. Shannon received one this summer and was moved by the gesture and the shawl. She learned how to crochet and has been making them for folks she knows that need prayers, her way of giving back.

So today is a good day. She is not in bed. She is downstairs with Jack, probably playing Lego or Harry Potter on the X-Box. She loves those Lego games.  She has been on me for posting an update so this time I made it extra-long. Shannon still needs prayers and encouragement. I did not go into it too much and will in another post, but she is still struggling with swelling though, in her abdomen, not so much in her legs, and is extremely uncomfortable. She wants to exercise, lose weight, feel normal and yet she can’t. Normal is not quite here yet. She is still fighting, and I feel like she needs a break, so my prayer requests are that God continues to bless her with good days and that Normal is right around the bend. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support.
Love, Kevin

Swelling

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This post was from just over 4 years ago, and we have a little more clarity on the Lymphedema. The Richmond medical community, and probably the medical community around the country seem to be puzzled by Lymphedema. This is Shannon’s biggest issue right now, and we were and are so frustrated with it and felt so blessed to have found some help. Since we are all in the same page now with God Wink’s (If you have no idea what I am talking about, go back one post “Update” and it will be explained) Enter Bunny Young – Life/Business Coach. I met Bunny, by “chance” at a networking meeting, that I founded and act as Chair, Two Twelve “Team Integrity”. Bunny was invited by a Scott Golightly – Estate Planning Attorney. Since meeting Bunny “Wink”, the trajectory of Shannon and my life has changed. Bunny you see is a cancer survivor, and not just any cancer – Cervical Cancer “Wink”. Shannon longed to meet someone that she could relate to, she felt alone during this time. Even in her breast cancer support group, she feels a bit of an anomaly. Bunny and Shannon connected and talked and shared. Bunny referred Shannon to her Lymphedema Therapist, Cindy Stillwell Chronister. As it turns out, Cindy is the only therapist in the State of Virginia using Electro-Lymphatic Therapy for treatment “Wink”. I always knew in the back of my mind some of Shannon’s issues could be controlled by proper diet. Cindy is a Nutrition Therapist as well. “Wink” Bunny is working with Shannon and me to build a community for “Warriors” and “Supporters” – You are on the page that she help me to create as a start to this community, you right now are part of that community and I could not be more grateful that you are taking time to read this. Bunny also works with a woman, Ginger, that is starting a business based on her passion. A business that fuels her passion for clean eating, gardening, and farming. I have spoken to Ginger and look forward to learning more from her about health, and diet, and clean eating, and will share this in future posts. Shannon and I have learned so much in the past years about what not to do and what to do. Our hope is that we can share our journey to make things easier for those behind us and perhaps ahead of us. I wanted to share these posts with the world to give everyone a frame of reference for where we have been in hopes of being able to move forward. Shannon’s struggles daily, but is learning so much about herself. I am just a witness to her self discovery and a supporter of her journey. It is amazing to see in her weakest moments, she did not realize it but she became stronger. She has a voice and a story that needs to be heard, so help others. Her story is her Ripple and she hopes to cause a wave of education, compassion, prayer, and encouragement.

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 12/7/2013

Swelling

My last journal entry was October 30. Things have shifted a little with Shannon.  She continued taking the Prednisone but after a week or so she noticed swelling returning, this time just in her upper thighs where before it was throughout her leg down to her toes. The swelling has caused numbness in her lower leg mainly in her left leg. Her Hematologist and her Gyn Oncologist conferenced and decided to treat the numbness with a medication called Nuerontin – the side effects are mood changes/suicidal thoughts. The goal with the Prednisone was to get her hemoglobin back up, which it did. The side effect of Prednisone is swelling, so it stopped the swelling early, but with prolonged use causes swelling.  We were left with some big questions.  1. Why was her hemoglobin down. 2. Her Lymphedema therapist said that her swelling is not presenting like typical lymphedema. 3. If it is not lymphedema what is causing the swelling. Shannon just met with the hematologist on Thursday and we posed these questions.. He had no answers and said he wasn’t the one to ask these questions. Who is? They referred Shannon to a Physical and Rehabilitation doctor at MCV.  Shannon meets with both her Radiation Oncologist for her 6 month follow up and her Gyn Oncologist next week. We hope to get some answers.

Beth, Shannon’s Lymphedema Therapist by Shannon’s urging called her Gyn Oncologist to discuss her treatment. It seems through our search and experience, the cancer medical community throw everyone into the lymphedema bucket, with no real understanding. If we did not ask more questions I feel like Shannon would have been sentenced to Lymphedema therapy, compression, massage, etc for life. We WANT TO KNOW it is lymphedema not THINK. So we had Beth call and she recommended rather than seeing the doctor at MCV she should go to a specialist and they have been referring patients to a doctor in Charlotte, NC that is a Physical and Rehabilitation specialist that specializes in Lymphedema.  We are encouraged at least that we are moving towards some answers.

Shannon is trying to keep her chin up and to those around her will sense nothing is wrong with her. Please know that is gods helping hand to provide her strength and grace to those around her. She needs prayers and support as she is feeling down about her situation, she does not like how she looks, feels, acts, etc. Please pray for Shannon that we get some clarity from the doctors and that this is only a temporary situation. Shannon’s life may never be normal again, just the same as all of us that get older, have children, etc.. but please pray she can get a sense of normalcy that her body will return to a comfortable state that she can do the things she used to be able to do.

I will update as we know more information and as always thank you for your prayers and support.

Love,

Helping Hands

Helping Hands

I almost did not repost this. For those of you going through this battle with cancer, this is the secondary issue related to being dependent on health care providers for life. Health insurance is expensive, and the deductibles are extremely high. After 5 years of ‘care”, we are in significant debt related to Shannon’s treatment, I have tried on a couple occasions to add it all up. It is depressing and was a contributing factor in my anxiety. I shielded this from Shannon, as I am sure you as a caregiver did too. Shannon feels tremendous guilt related to the bills and she should not have to, as you just read, I am a fixer, and I assured her we would be able to get through the business side of cancer and treatment. The hole keeps getting deeper, as much as we try to get out. It took a lot to ask for help during this time, and it continues. We are still receiving help in many ways, my parents, Shannon’s parents, my cousin Karen have all been supporters of health and healing. I cannot thank them enough. Cancer is devastating on so many levels, including the high cost of care. As Shannon is now utilizing some “alternative” treatments for her lymphedema, my eyes have been opened to our current healthcare system. No, this is not a rant on Affordable Care Act, it is a rant on how the system of Healthcare Providers, Pharmaceutical Companies, and Health Insurance profit from Americans being sick. Check out “The C Word” on Netflix if you want an eye-opener.

Shannon is receiving treatment currently for lymphedema, it is not covered by insurance, but insurance would pay for surgery that costs upwards of $30,000.  Let that sink in.  Shannon’s breast reconstruction EOB was a staggering $141,000. Her stay in the hospital this past summer was over $20,000. We did not have to pay all that, of course, but with deductibles and out of pocket cost, we were easily charged $10,000 per year, notice I said charged because we are still paying, or in collections on a lot of that. In future posts, I am going to outline Shannon’s care journey and the path we are on now of clean eating, chiropractic care, supplements, and electro-lymphatic therapy.

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 9/17/2013

Several people have asked in recent weeks how they could help us. We have medical insurance but with high deductibles and out of pocket expenses before our healthcare kicks in to cover 100%. In August our year restarted so we have another set of deductibles and out of pocket expenses to meet. As I posted in the previous post, our income has been affected severely. I have ignored the medical bills as long as I can, and after prayer and guidance decided to utilize technology and the internet. I have set up a giving site on www.youcaring.com for Shannon’s Medical expenses. This would be the biggest help right now.

Shannon has started physical therapy to help with the lymphedema. She will need ongoing care to help subside the swelling in her abdomen and legs. She will need to have expensive compression garments that insurance may or may not cover. It is my hope that the site will allow us to catch up on our medical bills and provide for the ongoing expenses Shannon will need to return to some level of normalcy.  Her life right now is going to be managing the swelling through exercise, compression bandages, massage, and rest.

Caring Bridge allows for donations and my fear is perhaps some family and friends may have given to Caring Bridge thinking it was going to us.  It does not. Caring Bridge offers a great service by allowing us to post updates, but the donations go to them and not the patients directly.  www.YouCaring.com is a site that charges no fees and allows patients to receive funds directly.

We are so grateful for our friends and family that have been so generous with their time, gifts, cards etc.  Cancer is scary, but we are finding that post-cancer, medical bills etc., are equally so.  Thank you all for your love and support.

Love,
Kevin

Update

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All throughout Shannon’s battle/ journey with her health issues, God was present and with us. Our faith never wavered. We are not sure why Shannon was given this path. Shannon and I speak of it often in these recent days, that in comparison seem much easier but hard nonetheless. We are stronger, more loving, better friends, and parents. Our journey seems unimaginable to many, we too are in awe of what we have endured as a couple. The underlining strength we have is our faith. Shannon is prepared to die. Let that sink in. We had this discussion on one of the dark days. In her worst days, she said she made peace with the fact that she is prepared. I would love these posts to be happy and inspiring, and don’t get me wrong, they are. But in fairness, there are many stories that are not, and without faith, and a belief of everlasting life, the days we have here on earth are numbered, for us all. It is what we do with the time we have that is important. For Shannon, it is making a positive impact on those around her, and inspiring them to do the same for others – Be a Ripple. Be a stone thrown in life’s waters, the ripples carry forward and move in a positive direction. This “Ripple Effect” is Shannon’s mission now, and it could have only come from God.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Thessalonians 5:11

 My hope in sharing this is to let those know that don’t have faith, or lost it along the way, or feel like God is far away, please know and find comfort in others. Having a prayer team is essential. I used writing as a way to heal and was comfortable asking for prayers by sharing what we were going through. God is with us, if we are looking. I mention a book, “God Wink” that was recommended to me by one of my “Brothers in Christ”, Brian Leach. I am so grateful for the recommendation, because as strong a faith as I feel I have, there were many days that I felt God was far away. This book is a collection of stories that demonstrate just how close God is to us. I encourage you to get it, read it, and share with your loved ones.

Update

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 10/30/2013

Hello to everyone and sorry again for the delay in updates on Shannon. Shannon has asked me over the weeks to let folks know what has been going on. I apologize and will do my best to catch everyone up.

Let me start by saying thank you for those folks that sent in donations and checks. I was able to make a small dent in the medical bills. They continue to grow as I pay them down, but the funds that came in really helped.

Shannon has had lymphedema therapy twice a week for the past 4 weeks. Shannon continues to have swelling and fatigue. Treatment consists of manual lymph drainage (sort of like a soft massage) moving the fluid around her body. She had to have bandaging which she would wear during the day to reduce swelling, this meant new clothes and having to purchase tennis shoes 2 sizes too big to accommodate the bandaging. Her clothes did not fit, her shoes did not fit and in her mind, this was worse than having cancer.  The therapist said walking should make her feel better because it gets the heart pumping and gets the fluid moving. It did not make her better, but on the contrary, made it worse. Shannon was not doing well emotionally, or physically and it was showing. Here is a “God Wink” moment, (if you have not read this book, you can probably get it at the library or for sure on Amazon; “When God Winks”, written by Squire Rushnell. There is a newer device for lymphedema patients that is still considered experimental, the “Flexi Touch”. This is a device that sends air through chambers that uses Velcro around the patient’s legs.  It mimics the manual drainage that she has during her appointments. Most insurance companies will eventually cover it, but because it is experimental and expensive they fight tooth and nail. Shannon was denied just recently.  Here is the God moment, in Shannon’s darkest time, she went to therapy and her therapist Beth, said “Hey Shannon I was cleaning up in the office and found this Flexi Touch, you want to use it till you get yours”.  We were floored. It has made the biggest difference for Shannon. Here is an $8,000 device just laying around in a box, and of all the patients they have (and they have a lot) her therapist thought of Shannon. We know that God is definitely with us on this journey and we are so grateful. Shannon has been using the Flexi touch daily which has really helped with the swelling.

Two weeks ago her therapist called Shannon’s Gyn Oncologist to let her know that therapy was not going as well as she had hoped and maybe there was something else going on unrelated to lymphedema. Her doc ordered another Ultra Sound on both legs as well as another CT scan, looking for blood clots in her legs. Both came back negative. Her doc ordered new bloodwork.  It came back showing low red blood and low white blood cells, so she referred Shannon to a Hematologist because Shannon was anemic – low hemoglobin (red blood cells). If you remember this is what caused Shannon to need a transfusion prior to our beach trip this Summer.

We met with a Hematologist at VA Cancer Institute. They ran blood tests and determined her body was producing red blood cells, however probably due to the chemo and radiation still in her body, her body was fighting the red blood cells. This could be treated with Prednisone. Shannon has been on prednisone for a week; 3 pills a day and guess what, no swelling. Shannon is ecstatic. We just returned from the follow up visit. Shannon’s hemoglobin is up to 9.7.  It was at 7.6 just last week. Her weight was down to 134 where it was 143 last week. Shannon is feeling great, swelling is down, she is not wearing her compression and feels wonderful. The doctor reduced her prednisone to 2 per day and we will see how that goes for the next 2 weeks.

I have started a new career with New York Life based in Richmond. I will be working with individuals and business owners helping them plan their finances and insurance. My first client is Shannon’s uncle, Ashton Alvis, who needed some funds that were left to him by his partner who passed away in March. I will be sending out a letter in the next few weeks letting folks know what I am doing, so if folks need help or know of others I would love to meet them. If you are interested please respond with your address and I will make sure you get the letter, I am working on compiling a list and want to make sure all those that know Shannon and I, know what I am doing if you need help or know of others that might.

The kids are doing well in school and everything is back to normal. Report Cards come out this week and we are certain both kids will have great grades.  I am just back from going to the NASCAR race in Martinsville with my parents and Shannon’s dad, Charlie, along with my friend Jonathan Orrock and his dad, Jim. We had a great time camping out near the track.  We had Hot Passes which allowed us to be in the Pits and rub elbows with the drivers. I got a pic with Kasey Khane, #5. We saw them all and we had a great time.

Shannon kept up with Jack, attending the school Fall Festival and then had some girl time with some friends Saturday night. Sydney went camping in Charlottesville with her Girl Scout Troop last Saturday and Sunday. We are headed to Chapel Hill this weekend as Tarheel Basketball kicks off with the annual exhibition game. We will get in line around 2:00 PM on Friday afternoon and stand for 4 hours in hopes of getting as close to center court as possible. The last 3 years we have been 4th row or better.  Fingers crossed this year works out the same.

All in all we are so grateful for all the support we receive and all the help. The Lord has blessed us even during this time of despair.  We feel his presence and feel the prayers. Please continue to pray for Shannon’s healing.  The prayers are working. I would also like to add prayers for me as I take on this new career so that I may provide for my family.

With Love,

Kevin

 

3 Months

It is hard to believe reading this back, as I mentioned in previous posts, (I have not read these entries since I wrote them almost 5 years ago) that so much has happened. We have lived day to day for the past 5 years without looking forward at all; we just could not. Shannon had many dark days and nights during this time and for the years to come. The lymphedema that she was left with, along with the hot flashes of menopause are the reminders of her diagnosis and treatment. These were hard days for me looking back. In hindsight, Shannon really should have been referred for counseling from a trained professional to help her deal with her emotions and her life. I was not equipped to be her counselor, I could be a lot of things, but providing psychological support was not one. Men are fixers of everything – or so we think. We get our “toolbox” out and want to fix EVERYTHING. I could not fix Shannon, try as I might. There were days that Shannon was just done, and she confided in me her darkest thoughts, which tore me to the core. I may have mentioned she needed to get help, but I did not do anything about it because there were good days too. For anyone that is reading this and is going through this or has gone through this, you can relate. As a caregiver, you need to care for your warrior, but you MUST CARE FOR YOURSELF TOO. I cannot repeat this enough. Between the lines of these posts that I am writing is my story, which I have yet to tell and look forward to exploring with you in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 9/12/2013

3 Months

It has been awhile since I have posted an update. We have been trying to return to a sense of normalcy. Let me catch you up on the last month or so.

Shannon had her one month follow up with Dr. Johnston, Radiation Oncologist. She had been experiencing swelling in her legs that we thought was related to the radiation/chemo treatment. The doctor confirmed this, and recommended Shannon go on a water pill, LASIX to help with the fluid retention. He said he was not able to prescribe, but her PCP or Gyn Oncologist should be able to. We called Dr. Boardman’s office and she prescribed Lasix and suggested she go to her PCP to get a handle on her elevated blood pressure. Shannon’s blood pressure was perfect during treatment,120/80 most days. Her blood pressure now is 140 / 90.   We were set to go the beach, the much-anticipated beach trip, on Saturday August 17th. We went to the primary doctor to get a handle on the swelling and to check in as her blood pressure was elevated. The doctor ran all sorts of tests. The labs came back later in the afternoon.  The doctor called to say that Shannon’s hemoglobin was 5.5 grams per deciliter; if you remember the goal for chemo was above 10 grams. Needless to say, it was too low and they advised we go to the ER as it was 4:30 on Friday. Our experience with blood transfusions was painless as she had one liter given during her treatment. It took about an hour with her PICC line. We expected a little more time given going through the ER but we really did not know what we were in for.

We opted to go to Memorial Regional near our house rather than driving 20 minutes to Henrico Doctors where her Gyn Oncologist office is and where all Shannon’s records are in the system. Her primary doctor assured us she would call the ER and let them know we were coming.  We really thought that would make a difference. We got to the ER and did not have to wait long before we were seen. She proceeded to go through Triage like she was coming in with a broken arm; blood pressure, weight, history,etc. We had to go through EVERYTHING, which we understood. To make a very long story a little shorter. Shannon had to be admitted to the hospital to administer 2 pints of blood. She did not get her blood started until about 10:00 PM that night. Keep in mind we were supposed to be riding to Pine Knoll Shores for 4 1/2 hours the next day.

The miracle neighbors the kids have been playing with, The Jett’s, asked if Sydney and Jack would like to spend the night at their house on that Friday night. It was truly a blessing. They were distracted as we really tried to downplay the hospital stay with the kids. They have had enough to deal with this summer to be worried again for their mom. Shannon was fine and endured a little more picking and probing and we finally left about 1:00 PM on Saturday.

My mom was able to move our stay to Sunday to Sunday which was a relief. We headed to Pine Knoll Shores on Sunday morning and arrived about 3:00PM. We had a wonderful week, spending time at the beach with family.  The Longs, Burlees, and Horner clans were down.  The kids even met some new friends that were neighbors of Paula and Joel Long, the Woods, Blair, Thomas, and Russell. The kids had a blast going on a boat ride to Cape Lookout with Lisa Burlee and her son Billy and their new friends the Woods. Shannon was really having difficulty with her legs swelling and tried to have as much fun as she could under the circumstances. She went shelling almost every day, enjoyed the beach as much as she could. I know she was happy to be there but longed to not be in so much discomfort every night; the swelling gets progressively worse throughout the day into the evening. The swelling has really been an issue for her; worse than the chemo and radiation if you can believe it. She was down because she envisioned this being her life forever.

To fast forward, the kids have returned to school which allows for a much-needed break for Shannon during the day. She is able to rest up and be ready for snack and homework when the kids get home at 2:45 pm.

On September 10, we had her 3 month follow up with Dr. Boardman, Gyn Oncologist that performed her Hysterectomy. She used the word remission,  which is a blessing. The doctor reassured Shannon that she LOOKS GREAT! Everything looks great and she needs to have patience. Shannon is in menopause and has been experiencing hot flashes. We knew this would happen as Shannon chose to not to have an additional surgery to move her ovaries with no guarantee that they would not be damaged during radiation. The surgery would have delayed the chemo/radiation treatment and Shannon did not think it was worth the extra time and the benefit was not there.  She is now on hormone replacement which should end the hot flashes and she should be back to normal in a few weeks.  Dr. Boardman reminded Shannon she should start feeling back to normal from everything in 9-12 months post treatment.

On September 11 we had her first appointment for Physical Therapy with a lymphedema therapist.  Due to the lymph nodes being removed, the radiation and chemo, no one really knows why one person has lymphedema and another does not.  Irregardless Shannon has secondary lymphedema.  The lymphatic system carries a clear fluid called lymph towards the heart. When the system is compromised fluid builds up in the arms or legs depending on where the lymph system is compromised. For Shannon it is her pelvis, legs, and ankles. Let me point out, this was caught early and with exercise, massage, and compression she should be able to have a normal life. She will have to work at it daily, eat right, exercise, but doing all this she should be able to do everything she would ever hope to do.

I would like to ask for prayers for Shannon that the treatment she is receiving for lymphedema helps her both physically and mentally. She was very down for the past two weeks prior to her doctor’s appointment. Shannon is not working now and probably will not for the foreseeable future.

Prayers for Jack and Sydney are that they continue to do well in school and for them to understand and be comforted that their mom is doing well and will be there for them.

I will even ask for prayers for me that I am able to provide for my family during this time. Without the help of Shannon’s parents and my parents we would not have been able to make it financially to cover our basic living expenses, healthcare, etc. We have experienced tremendous financial stress before the diagnosis and ongoing. Shannon is unable to work, and I am 100% commissioned and sales are low as to be expected in a new venture. I am rebooting my business as well as applying for full time work to provide for stability.

We would like to ask for prayers for our parents who are leveraging their own retirements to help us during this very difficult time.

I will say through all of this we continue to believe in Jesus Christ, and that God has a plan for us. I wish I could understand what this plan is but all we can do is to be faithful to God and continue to believe in him. Our faith is unwavering!

I will continue to update this post as we have new info to relay.

Shannon has worked the past few weeks on thank you notes, but I also would like to thank everyone for their kindness, prayers, notes, gifts, etc. We are truly blessed to have a great support network of family and friends!!

Love,

Kevin

Return to Normal

P1020273The foreshadowing in reading this is very interesting. Little did we know at this time in August of 2013 the “normal” we so desperately sought was to become a “new normal”. I have to smile a little, because over 4 years later, Shannon still has to do multiple things, and wants to go, go, go, but the years with lymphedema have slowed her down a bit. I am happy to report on this day 2/20/2018 – Shannon is getting back to an “older normal”. She has responded well to electro lymphatic therapy to get her lymph system moving, and her change in diet to a more clean, organic, non-GMO diet is working well for her, and me too I have to say. We just need to get the kids on board, and they are coming ever so slowly. I have gone grocery shopping with them both and we are reading labels and making better choices. We even found an organic Mac and Cheese that Shannon approves of from Back to Nature brand. I will spend some time blogging on her diet changes etc. later.

Return to Normal

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 8/8/2013

Shannon continues to recover from her treatments. We both thought that the end of treatment would be a return to “normal”. Shannon is not having to deal with “D” and her bowels, I believe have returned to normal. Shannon is dealing with swelling in her legs, a result of the radiation continuing to work in her body. She is having occasional hot flashes. We won’t know until October when she returns to the doctor if this is from menopause or radiation. We are prepared that she will be in menopause. Dr. Boardman covered this as a side effect of radiation. I will keep everyone up to date on this as we find out more information.

Shannon takes naps most afternoons. Not by her choice, but because her body demands it. She is better in the mornings but gets tired in the afternoon. She is not fighting it, which is good. I have no problem on a Saturday or Sunday taking naps. Shannon does. She does at least 3 things at once: watching TV, cross stitching, or playing a game on her Nook, reading on her nook, or putting a puzzle together. For her resting is only doing one of those things. Sleep was never a consideration. I know she is tired when she is taking a nap in the afternoon. This is the best thing for her to get back to normal and I am glad she accepts this. She may not be able to see it, but I can see improvement. She is frustrated and wants to be able to go-go-go. I feel she will be able to, but it is going to take some time.

Shannon’s Mom and Dad have been a great help the past few weeks keeping the kids entertained and safe while Shannon is getting her strength back.

Another Blessing is we have neighbors (The Jett’s) that have moved in across the street that have young kids; twin boys entering Kindergarten (Gavin and Gus) and a son going into 3rd grade (Dillon). For those that don’t know, we live in an older established neighborhood with no kids, that is until now! Jack is in heaven. Sydney is also enjoying having playmates other than Jack to keep her entertained. It has been fun to watch them interact, they all get along so well. They trade off coming to our house, then to their house. We are so grateful. Jack asks every morning if they can play. We are making sure he does not wear out his welcome; so far so good.

We are looking forward to the beach coming up on 8/17. One of our favorite spots is Molly’s in Atlantic Beach, NC, a little-fried food fantasy land with a cold beer on the fishing pier in Atlantic City which has reopened. Molly’s has been closed the past 2 years due to a hurricane that took out the pier. Molly’s is a great place to go to get a bite to eat, cold beer, watch the folks fishing off the pier, the surfers getting the last waves, and the sun setting in the distance. I know after all we have been through. We are looking forward to going to the beach, being with family, and just relaxing. We pray for good weather and safe travels for all.

Prayer request would be for Shannon’s continued healing, that she may be comforted during this time of healing and the hope that all of the cancer has been removed from her body.

Thank you again for the love and support for Shannon during this time. I will continue to update to keep everyone informed on Shannon’s healing.

Love,

Kevin

The Finish Line

 

The biggest takeaway from re-reading this post is the number of people that were there for us during this time. It was summer, the kids were home and needing to be busy, and busy they were. Shannon was not very open with her diagnosis and treatment during this time. These posts were going to a very small group of friends and family… very small. What is great is the friends and family stepped up and supported us where we needed it. My cousin Karen could not have been more generous with her time in taking the kids for 2 weeks… they were (and are) a handful, and she took them with a glad heart and smile. This will make sense after you read this, but Karen did get me 4 Jefferson Cups for mint juleps : ) It is important to reach out during this time and do not be afraid to ask for help. My mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor could not have been more helpful as well. My mother-in-law, Lyndell too was always there for us. These posts have been especially hard for Shannon to read. I do not think she read these during her treatment, and only now is she reading them for the first time, and she said it is like it happened to someone else and in a way it did because Shannon has become a different person from this journey and in her subsequent breast cancer diagnosis. She is changed into a better person. Now don’t get me wrong, she was a great person prior to having cancer, but having gone through this twice has given her a strength that is earned through pain, and sacrifice. She is a fighter, a warrior, and is looking to give back to all those around her.  I am so proud to of the woman, wife, mother, and friend she has become, and the greatest role of all…. Survivor.

The Finish Line

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 7/5/2013

I apologize for not getting back sooner as I know everyone is interested in what has been going on. Shannon has been asking me for a week if I have updated the site.  I now have some time to catch everyone up. It is July 5th at 9:15am. Our kids went to Camp Auntie Karen Session 2 this week.

Karen offered to have the kids come to her house for the week, so Shannon could focus on treatment and resting. My mom and Shannon packed up the kids again and last Sunday they drove to Henderson, NC and met Karen for a fun-filled week in Mocksville, NC (about 30 miles west of Winston Salem) My mom left about 8:00 am to head back to her home which she has not seen in at least 3 weeks. She has been here since April with, I think a 1-week break going back to her home. She has been more help than Shannon or I could ever express. She did the little things you don’t really think about when life is normal… dishes, shopping, and laundry. Don’t get the wrong idea maid service was not all she did, she is a cancer survivor and unfortunately has an advanced degree on how to navigate insurance and doctors. She went to almost every appointment we had to listen to and be an extra set of eyes and ears. Her guidance was invaluable as we all learned how to navigate for Shannon.
Shannon had her last chemo treatment on Wednesday, July 3rd. Let me back up as there has been a little confusion on Shannon’s treatment. For the past 6 weeks, Shannon has gone Monday-Friday to have radiation treatment. These treatments take 10 minutes or less. On Wednesday of each week, she had chemotherapy treatment followed up that same day with her radiation treatment. That day is usually okay. In recent weeks the following 2-3 days are rough as she works to get the chemo out of her body. Chemo takes about 4-5 hours. She has her blood drawn to send to the lab to see if she can have chemo. Then they start her on 1 liter of saline (approx. 1 hour), followed by Dexamethasone which is a steroid that helps with nausea and gives an energy boost. (30 minutes) followed by Cisplatin which is the chemo (approx. 2 hours) if her magnesium is low they will give her IV Magnesium before Cisplatin (approx. 1 hour). Being done with chemo is a great hurdle. She found out last Friday when meeting with her Radiation Oncologist that she will have radiation on Friday (Today) and Monday and Tuesday next week and she is done. Finally.

I know the kids are missing us and we them. They were out of school and had a few days of R&R and then off to Carolina Beach for camp. Then back home for Vacation Bible School, each spending the afternoon and some nights with a friend through the week. They went to movies, pool, etc. We are so grateful for our new and old friends that offered to keep the kids after VBS. The Francis’, Voorhies, Robey’s, Tyler’s, Lloyd’s and Orrock’s were lifesavers during that week…Thank you all! Shannon misses the kids dearly but is glad they are having a good time. It is ironic when we look back this will probably be Shannon’s worst summer for obvious reasons and the kids best summer for all the fun and experiences they have had.

We received updates from Karen with pictures and videos being sent of their “camp activities”. They stopped off in Durham on the way to Mocksville to visit a butterfly exhibit. They have been tending to baby chicks and bunnies and slid down a natural water slide at Stone Mountain (we have a video of this Karen sent… caption read… Sydney wore 5 holes in her underwear) Priceless.
For the past few years, at least 5 years maybe more, we have gone to my parents for the 4th of July.  We have been going with them to Tom and Cheryl Lentz’ amazing 4th celebration in Mocksville, NC. For those of you that don’t know Karen, Mickey, and Perry Ferrell live in Mocksville a small town about an hour from Charlotte, NC and 30 minutes from Winston Salem, NC. Their friends Tom and Cheryl have friends and family gather at their home which is always in a state of remodeling since it is over 100 years old. They always have a bluegrass band come to play outside for all. It is beautiful, fun, relaxing, and entertaining. We love it and were sad we were going to miss it this year, but the kids got to keep the tradition alive. Sydney told us she was going to help Auntie Karen with the flower arrangements. We know she loved that. We received a text at 10:00 pm on the 4th that they had a blast and were all in bed safe and sound.
For us the 4th started out at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For those of you that remember, Shannon and I were married at Lewis Ginter and over the years have had a membership there. It has really grown and improved over the past few years. It was named one of the “Top 10 American Gardens Worth Travelling For”. We do not have a membership this year, and when Shannon saw it was free for all on the 4th, she wanted to go. Shannon’ parents (Lyndell and Charlie), along with my mom and Shannon and I headed over about 10:30 am. Shannon was miserable with nausea, but she did not let on. I can’t imagine how bad she felt, but she wanted to go to Lewis Ginter more and nothing was going to stop her. Shannon is a strong woman and I am amazed each day that passes during her treatment how graceful, courageous, and strong she is.
We walked around the gardens taking in all the sights and sounds making sure to linger in the shady spots whenever possible as it was hot. Not too hot as there was a slight breeze, and in the shade, it was very lovely. We stayed about an hour or so and headed home for lunch. Shannon slept/rested the rest of the day. My mom and I planned a mini 4th party comprised of store-bought fried chicken and ham sliced thick, rolls, and potato salad, along with homemade deviled eggs, coleslaw, corn, butterbeans, and strawberry refrigerator cake (this is one of our favorites it is a strawberry cake cooked, cooled and poked with holes with pureed strawberries poured over top to soak in; the icing is vanilla instant pudding folded in 3 cups of whipped topping… mmmmm!) To bring a little of Mocksville to us, I made Mint Juleps with fresh mint growing on our deck. Mint Juleps are a mainstay at Tom and Cheryl’s 4th party. I even got to man the Mint Julep station last year. Mint Juleps are a wonderful summer drink: 3-4 mint leaves muddled in the bottom of a glass (glass is what I had, but at Tom and Cheryl’s they use Jefferson cups to keep the drink cold – they must have 100… last night I wished I had just 1, but the old fashion glasses worked just fine). I made a simple syrup with 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water boiled down till clear, Bourbon, and crushed ice. Shannon’s dad enjoyed a few of them, along with my mom and Lyndell. Shannon was not feeling great but did eat some butterbeans, corn, deviled egg, and a few corndog nuggets (her choice for dinner).
Shannon has radiation today at 1:20 pm and her last 2 treatments will be on Monday and Tuesday. We will ask her doctor when they recommend removing her Pic Line. Once that is removed she can go to the pool and start enjoying her summer. We are heading to Pine Knoll Shores on August 17th. I know we are all looking forward to this beach trip. I pray that this 6-week treatment removes every cell of cancer and she can start the road to recovery from chemo and radiation. The radiation more than likely has put Shannon into menopause so she will have to determine the best course of treatment for that, but that probably won’t take place for 3-4 months. As far as we know her follow up will start out every 3 months with Pap Smears, perhaps a PET Scan in 3-6. At a point in the future she will go every 6 months, then every year. At 5 years of no cancer, she will be considered cured. Through this process as negative as it was, we can only focus on the positives. We are closer to friends and family as we can see the love and support all around us. Cards, gifts, candy, magazines, gift cards, etc… all tangible expressions of love were received. I will tell you Shannon loves to read the messages of encouragement and support everyone leaves. If you are moved, reach out to her.
I know this post rambled a bit, but I did it all in one sitting. I hope it continues to let those around us know what is going on in our lives. I will update next week to let everyone know how the last treatments go. The finish line is just ahead.
Love,
Kevin

Marathon

 

     As I re-read this post from 4 1/2 years ago I am sitting having coffee at the computer in our kitchen. It is 7:12 am on a random Thursday. Our son, Jack,12, has woken up to start the day with some breakfast (that he fixed himself) and to get ready for the school day, with a little prompting from us. Now don’t get me wrong, Jack is no angel (but what 12- year old is), but as a proud Dad, I have to say he has glimmers of hope.  Our daughter, Sydney,14, also is independent as well, (sometimes too much), but she is well equipped for life. She too, wakes herself up, a little late for my taste, but she knows exactly how to maximize sleep and get her morning routine done. She is active in our Church youth group, keeps her own schedule, makes her own plans, and on Sundays is at church by 8:30 am for Sunday School. We are in awe and so very proud. 

     I am reminded of something our pastor mentioned in a sermon, “we may think our children are ours, but, in actuality they, are on loan to us… a gift from God… they are on loan to us for a fleeting moment of time, and during this time we do all we can to teach, love, and pray for them and then they are off. I mention this because re-reading this post from the “middle of the storm” I am reminded of the fact, that Shannon got through the worst of days… not alone, but with support from me, as well as our family. If you are in the middle of the storm, please know, people are praying for you and positioned to help, you just need to ask.

Marathon

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 6/26/2013

It is Wednesday and we are in the bonus rounds of Chemo. For those of you that have been following her story- 4 chemo treatments are the minimum-6 would be a bonus. We are on 5. Shannon is feeling pretty good today. The last few days have been rough.  Here is a recap of the week.

Let me start by saying. I am not a runner. I know runners and fashion myself to be an athlete. But by the looks of me now that image may be only in my mind’s eye. I have friends that have trained for marathons and it is funny, most training only goes up to about 20 miles. A runner training for a marathon will not run a complete marathon until the event. They will go up to 20 miles but not run the entire race. The last 6.2 miles most runners will encounter “The Wall” where the body rejects what it is being asked to do. Shannon is in a race to get cancer out of her body and folks, she has hit “The Wall”. She has had more bad days than good and by bad days I mean feeling like crap, managing diarrhea, nausea, lack of sleep, etc. We can see the finish line- it is July 5th. Her focus is completing treatment and getting back to a normal chaotic life with 2 young kids. She is done with the super stressful, chaotic life battling cancer.

The kids returned from “Camp Auntie Karen” on Saturday.. as they had Vacation Bible School starting this week.  They had a blast and I am pretty sure Auntie Karen did too. They camped at Carolina Beach State Park in tents and went to NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher during the day Mon-Fri from 9-3. They learned a lot at the camp and even more with Karen. We got updates daily (the power of the iPhone is amazing). We got to see first hand what they were doing. The texts and pics were great and reassured us they were having a blast.

As the week ended my mom and I were both wondering how we were going to get the kids home. Carolina Beach is 5 hours from Richmond. My mom was not excited about traveling 5 hours to pick them up and return the same day, back another 5 hours.  She asked my brother, David who is now living in Richmond to ride with her. They met after David got off work and drove to Bailey, NC  9my mom and dad’s childhood hometown) and stayed with RS and Linda Harrison for the night. They got up at 6 am and drove the 2.5 hours to Carolina Beach to get to spend some time at “Camp Auntie Karen” and see all sights from camp. They ended up calling at 2:00 pm to say they were heading home.

During the week I studied for my Life and Health exam every day, including Saturday and Sunday. I am happy to report I passed on Monday. My mom and Shannon’s mom were left to help Shannon.  Last Friday Shannon got a pint of blood which is used to boost her hemoglobin. They take her blood before each chemo treatment to see if she meets the requirements to take the next treatment. Her hemoglobin should be at 10 for optimum delivery of the chemo. She has been hovering at 9.1 so her doctor has had her come in the last 2 Fridays for a pint of blood. I am going to grab Shannon’s lunch now (for some reason I must have hit post the message). I will return soon to fill in everyone on our week without the kids.

Love, Kevin

Half Way

As I mentioned earlier, these are hard to read, but they also bring a smile and I can see joy even during the hard times. I to this day do not know the impact Shannon’s cancer had on the kids.. at this time in 2013 – Sydney was 10 and Jack was 8 – They are 14 and 12 now. They are both independent thinkers, fearless, and so, so very giving of their heart and mind. Shannon and I are so proud of them and the Teenager/Pre-Teen they have become. As I write this post Sydney is preparing for a DECA (a national sales/marketing/business Club Competition that she earned a trip on by being one of the best “job interviews” in the district. Jack is currently in basketball season, with travel soccer practice/season coming up in a couple weeks. He is excelling in both school and sport. I know I speak for Shannon and even though they are not perfect – Lord knows they are NOT : )  They are the perfect reflection of what is good in both Shannon and I, and we have to admit, they are improved versions of ourselves. I mention this because as you are reading this, and maybe going through something similar, and are fortunate to have kids… stay focused on them, and know you will get through this as their is joy during the storms.

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 

Last Wednesday marked Shannon’s 3rd chemo treatment out of 6.  The goal is 6 with a minimum of 4.  With this weeks chemo she will get the 4th. Her ob/gyn oncologist told her 4 was good … 6 is better.. we are hoping for 6 but will be happy with 4.

Jack and Sydney left on Saturday with my mom to meet my cousin Karen (“Auntie Karen” to the kids) at Carolina Beach in North Carolina. They will be camping with Karen all week – yes in tents. and attending day camp at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. We have been receiving updates by text with pictures.. they are having a blast. They got to spend Saturday and Sunday at “Camp Karen” going to the beach, hiking, exploring the park. Monday they started camp at the aquarium which they go from 9-3 each day. The update yesterday was they had a great day at camp followed up by an afternoon at the beach.  We are so grateful for my mom and Karen to make this week happen for the kids. It gives them some adventure and allows us back at home to focus on the goal at hand with Shannons treatments.  The kids return on Saturday and will start Vacation Bible School next week with friends.
Shannon continues to struggle with D. They told us this would be the main issue and it is. She was prescribed a stronger prescription medication to help with it. It is like a tightrope.. don’t take med and it is loose.. take the med and it is blocked.  The medicine works.. but in working causing its own set of problems.
The weekend was good. Saturday with the Kids and my mom gone.. we took advantage of the freedom. We decided to eat lunch at Panera and sit outside.. Shannon loves Panera soup and there is not much I don’t love at Panera. She asked if we could go to the mall to look for clothes that fit her. She hit JC Penny’s at the right time alot was on sale and Shannon walked out with about 8 dresses, skirts, etc. She said that it really boosted her confidence as she has had swelling in her legs and ankles.. side effects of the meds and radiation. I was glad she felt so good and confident.
We went home to change as Shannon wanted to go see  the movie Now you See Me (the movie we missed last weekend) and followed that up by going to Short Pump Town Center (for those out of town.. this is a fancy outdoor pedestrian mall about 20 minutes from us) to walk around and go to dinner. Shannon chose Cheesecake Factory. We put our name in and walked around window shopping. There was only a 20 minute wait to sit outside so we stayed close.  We were seated and it was perfect.. the weather was nice, no bugs, music was nice.. She and I ordered the same thing as we usually do.. Chicken Madeira.. Chicken with Madeira Sauce, Asparagus, and mashed potatoes.  We finished dinner and walked it off by window shopping some more.. it was a very nice evening.. Shannon said it felt like we were on vacation.  It was a good day.
Sunday was fathers day.. we celebrated earlier in the week as both Jack and Sydney gave me cards before they left. Sunday we went to church and after met friends Jason and Josie Voories and their sons Max and Sam at Panera.. I told you earlier we love it.. We sat outside and caught with Josie and Jason as their kids ate bagels and fed the birds.  Jason said that he and the boys were going to see Man of Steel the new Superman movie after and was I interested in going.. I was and I did.. It was great. Shannon stayed home to rest. When I got back home about 3 hours later..(it was a long movie) my mom had returned. We decided to go to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate fathers day for her dad and I, so my mom, Shannons Mom and Dad Lyndell and Charlie had a nice steak dinner.
Shannon had a frustrating appointment for Radiation yesterday. I am studying for my Life and Health Insurance license so I may add Life Insurance, Disability, and Health Insurance to my offerings as an Insurance Producer. She texted me to say she hoped they would be able to reboot the radiation machine as it was not working. A few minutes later she said they cancelled her appointment..Shannon was fired up..we can’t afford any missed radiation appts..so she had them schedule an appt downtown. Shannon has been taking herself to the radiation treatments since they are 5 minutes from the house. She came home and grabbed my mom to go to MCV downtown where they were able to fit her in.
Shannon is now heading to her follow up appointment with Dr. Boardman, her OBGYN Oncologist for what we are guessing is the mid way check. She has been scheduled a Physical Therapy session for what we are not sure.. she will find out this morning. I am heading to the library to spend another day studying.
Prayer request. Please pray for Jack and Sydney that they are safe while camping. Prayers for Shannon to keep up the strength to continue with the treatments and that it will eradicate all the cancer cells in her body.
I will update later this week.
Love,
Kevin