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.