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

Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

I mentioned in previous posts.. I am re-reading these with you and it I am reading them like they happened to someone else. The emotion that is stirred is quite powerful and it is remarkable to see where we have come and how strong Shannon is. She has been through alot and this post really highlights it.

 

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley

It is 10:45 am on Wednesday. Shannon is having her Chemo Treatment this morning and at 4:30 she will have her first radiation treatment near our home at Memorial Regional Hospital – 5 minutes from our house. Right now she is getting her 1 liter of Saline.

 In my last post I caught everyone up through Friday.  The weekend was good. We feel the Saline she received on Friday helped to boost her for the weekend.  My parents have provided many gifts during this treatment.. A big one is having the house cleaned weekly by a recommendation of our friend Jill Orrock. She has a friend, Sharon that cleans homes on the side. It has been a blessing to come home on Friday’s to a clean house. Starting this this week she will come every other week while Shannon continues treatment and recovers.
 
Saturday she was up and about with energy putting close away and feeling really good. We went out to dinner with Johnathan and Jill Orrock on Saturday night.. Mexican.. Shannon’s choice.. It had been rainy earlier in the day but cleared up and was very pleasant. We sat outside on the patio and had a wonderful dinner. Shannon even felt up to trying a movie. Shannon really wanted to see Now you see me.  It was 7:20 and the movie started at 7:30.. We were 10 minutes away from the theater.. we figured with 15 minutes of previews before the movie we would make it in plenty of time.. and since the movie had been out a couple weeks should not have a problem getting a seat.. we were wrong. We got tickets and went into the theater. The only seats were in the front row.  After looking for any 2 sets of 2 seats together.. finding none.. we returned our tickets and vowed to try again with a little more planning. We ended up coming back to our house and rented Identity Thief on Amazon.  Our evening ended around 10:30… Shannon felt “normal” for at least a few hours.
 
Sunday Shannon started having Diarrhea, which I will refer to as D so I don’t have to type it.. it is a hard word to spell. She has had bouts of D off and on during the week. I have painted a somewhat rosey picture of her treatment so far. Shannon asked that I let everyone know it has not been as easy as I have been reporting. Nausea has been present.. but we figured this out by taking all of her Nausea meds before bed. Her script for Zophram stated take 3 pills a day. We both assumed.. take a pill in the morning, a pill at lunch, and a pill at dinner.  Shannon was waking with nausea many mornings. During her chemo treatment last week the nurse asked if she was taking them ALL at the same time.. Nope.. so we changed that and she has had no nausea.  D is another thing all together. They told us the radiation would cause it.. makes sense.. the chemo and radiation are focused in her bowels. Immodium over the counter was the recommendation.. It worked earlier in the week but caused bloating and gas and blocked her up.. which is what it is supposed to do. She had Diarrhea on Sunday but was able to get it under control. She felt so good in fact she wanted to go to Maymont Park with me and the kids. We ate lunch at home and packed a cooler of water and headed out to Maymont Park in Richmond.  It was a wonderful day. We walked to the Japanese Garden and the Italian Gardens.. we all got a snow cone.. it was a good day.  We weathered the storm so to speak.. little did we know more was to come.
 
Sunday for dinner I made a dish that I have wanted to make for a long time. Grilled Tuscan Chicken under a brick. Shannon loves grilled chicken and I was hopeful it would be a hit.
 
I butterflied the chicken by removing the backbone so it would lay flat for grilling. We have a very nice container herb garden on the deck with Thyme, Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, and Oregano. I marinated the chicken all day using olive oil and herbs with 5 cloves of garlic.  I pulled 2 bricks from the yard, washed them off, and wrapped them in foil, placed the chicken on the grill and the 2 bricks on top.. it was looking like rain so I put up a deck umbrella we have over the grill.  I was able to get the chicken cooked as it started to rain. We had Shannons parents over with my mom as well as Jack, Sydney and Shannon. We all ate together.. the chicken was a hit, Shannon said it was the best she had ever had.. shes good at feeding my ego ; )  As we ate we watched the rain, turn to wind, with hail starting. In less than 15 minutes it looked like a hurricane and set upon us.  We finished eating and decided it best to move away from the window.. as the umbrella I was using for cover while cooking was lifted up and thrown into the driveway taking the section of deck it was attached to along with it.  In another 15-20 minutes the storm had left and we assessed the damage.. other than the umbrella we had mulch that was washed out of beds and leaves down in the yard.. Other neighbors up the street were not so lucky as I later saw when driving out of the neighborhood they had 2 very large trees fall.  It turned out there were funnel clouds spotted less than a mile from our neighborhood. the funnels did not touch the ground which saved alot of damage.. but there was damage to many homes in the area.  That evening Shannon had severe D and was in need of hydration on Monday. Needless to we weathered quite the storms this past week.
 
Prayers for this week would be that the medicine they have prescribed to help Shannon deal with the D will provide her comfort and the bloating etc.. to subside.  We found out today her hemoglobin is low and they have recommended her to have a liter of blood.. They like to see hemoglobin at 10+ and hers today was 9.1. We have scheduled the blood infusion for Friday. I will check back in to let everyone know how the next couple days go.
 
Love, Kevin

The Fight Continues- Looking Back

I am re-reading these posts from 4 years ago, much like you. It is still so hard to believe Shannon went through this and emerged with a great spirit, continued faith, and Joie d’ Vivre : ). Little did we know she was going to be having another fight some 3 years later. What I do remember of this time is that this journey was mostly alone for Shannon, some by choice, and some not. We shared with those folks that loved her and cared for her. We were (and are) truly blessed. Shannon received meals, she received encouraging cards, gift cards, gifts of luxury to make her feel good, all this love and support, yet she felt alone. She was alone because she was not yet 40 and felt like she aged 30 years in a matter of weeks.. the lymphedema had not yet been diagnosed at this point. She longed for a connection with someone that was ahead of her, and yet there were none provided. her experience with breast cancer has been much different, better if it is possible.. but more about that later as I work to share our journey from beginning, middle, and catch up to today. Stay tuned….

2nd Full Week

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley —

It is Friday morning 10:00 am we are at the Infusion Center at Henrico Doctors Hospital. Shannon is getting 1 liter of Saline to help her with Hydration. Her doctor prescribed a daily hydration treatment as needed to stave off dehydration.  I wanted to catch everyone up on treatment this week.

Let me start by following up on my last post.  Part of the reason the chemo treatment took so long is due to having the IV run through Shannon’s vein. Shannon has very small veins so the nurses had to run the IV at half speed.. so what would normally take 1 hour took 2 hours. We let her oncologist know and she recommended a Picc Line which basically inserts a tube deeper into her vein. Shannon had the Picc Line put in on Tuesday morning at 8:00 am in an outpatient procedure which took about an hour.  We then took her downtown for her radiation treatment at 10:00 am.

This was a busy day as she had an appointment with a Nutritionist with oncology training. We all agreed we needed some help with keeping Shannon nourished with the right foods during her treatment. Her thoughts at first was to go all organic and low fat. We were wrong. The biggest takeaway from the meeting was during treatment calories and protein are what she needs to focus on. She is to eat sensibly but what she likes.. whenever she eats she should have protein, meats, cheese, dairy, nuts. The longer the treatment goes the more important it is for her to be eating. If she wants to go to Chick Fil A.. go to Chick Fil a. Potatoes, Pasta, anything to help her keep food in her body. This was a very good meeting and we are glad we sought out the help.

Shannons chemo this week was at 9:00 am on Wednesday. It went much smoother than the first one as we had expected. We knew how to get checked in and got to the hospital early to make her appointment. The infusion nurse was happy to see she had a Picc Line because they could run the IV at full speed to speed up the treatment.  We were done with the treatment at 1:00 pm compared to 3:00 pm last week.. The whole process was much better.

She continues to have radiation daily that vary times. We will go to MCV downtown until June 12th at that time she will be able to go 5 minutes from home rather than going downtown which is about 15-20 minutes down I-95 which depending on the day traffic can be bad going and coming. Every week is a new adventure.

Shannon is done with her Saline treatment and we are headed to MCV. Her appointment for radiation is at 10:20.. as I am typing this it is 10:35.. we are late.. but I called at 10:00 am to let radiation know we are on the way.. they will just work her in.. more adventure.. I will check back in early next week to let everyone know how the weekend went.  Weekends are good because she gets a break.. no radiation and no chemo.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend. Thanks again for the messages and prayers. Shannon reads them each day.. It is great to know we have all the support from friends and family during this time.

Love,

Kevin

The Race begins

It is very interesting to me…looking back on these posts so many years later. I have not looked at them, nor really wanted to be reminded of them since the day I wrote it. We had so many people to update and were interested in how Shannon was doing. In my mind this was the best way to accomplish this. Little did I know it would provide me a place of reflection and healing.. You see as the healthy caregiver, I was riddled with grief, angst, and fear. I had my Faith, which provided comfort but the reality is cancer is scary, really scary. If you have been the patient or the family dealing with it you can nod in agreement. There was no support for me, now I am sure there were resources available, but I was not aware of them. As I have said before, we were living day by day, doctor appointment to doctor appointment, with little else to do or reflect. Looking back I can now sit in reflection and could offer help and advise because we ran the race and crossed the finish line. When you are running for your life, you really don’t look up accept where the next step is coming, and then the next. For Shannon her race started on this day in June of 2013.

Treatment Starts

Journal entry by Kevin Beasley —

Shannon wanted everyone to know that I wrote the first 2 journal entries for her in her voice, I will continue to update the journal but in my own voice for her. Sorry for the delay in updating, I will make sure to do a better job moving forward.

Shannon’s first Chemo Treatment was on Tuesday. My mom, Shannon, and I arrived to the Infusion Center at 9:00 as instructed. The nurse asked if she had her papers.. puzzled she said “No”. We quickly learned that we needed to register in admissions prior to the treatment. We asked for a nurse to take us where we needed to go. Every procedure performed at Henrico Doctors Hospital has to go through registration… Every time we have to give the same information, insurance card.. the works. Every time… very frustrating for 2013 with the age of computer records, high speed internet,etc. We ended up being taken to outpatient registration.. we should have been taken to admissions “to make it easier”. The nurse did not even know where to take us.. Needless to say the day started out stressful and more was to come.
We finally got registered and we were back up in Infusion Center for Treatment.. Let me start by saying the nurses are WONDERFUL and they really made a stressful time much easier. 
We let the nurse know that Shannon had a Radiation Treatment downtown at MCV at 12:00 and we knew we started late.. The nurse looked puzzled and said, “you will not make that appointment because it is going to take at least 3 hours for the treatment” Shannon had 1 Liter of Saline which takes about 1 hr to 1.5 hr. She takes a steroid which cannot be administered with saline which takes a 1/2 hour and the Chemo takes 1-2 hours… This is if everything goes as planned.  For the first time it did not..  A little backstory..We decided to have the Radiation Oncologist nurse at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Hospital/Massey Cancer Center take her blood (her blood has to be drawn 24 hours prior to the chemo treatment). Massey Cancer (Radiation) and Henrico Doctors(Chemo) are separate hospital systems.. so the blood work had to be faxed over from Massey to Henrico Doctors. When we arrived they did not have the fax.. they ended up finding it but realized that magnesium was not listed.. so they had to redraw blood to send to the lab. Needless to say it was a long day that hopefully will improve next week.. we certainly have learned alot.
 I called MCV Radiation and moved her appt to 3:00pm. Shannon remained positive and we ended up staying until 3:00.. I called MCV to let them know we would be late.. they said come when you can. Radiation is a breeze and Shannon ended up coming home and rested the rest of the day.
Thank you for your continued prayers for Shannon and our family. Your comments are encouraging.. Shannon enjoys reading them. I will make sure to update on a regular basis.
Kevin

Faith and Joy

Encouragement comes in many forms… people, events, circumstances, quotes, and for us Faith. Many people have asked us over the years.. I don’t know how you did it, do it.. must be very hard having your wife going through this. My mind could not perceive anything but a positive result, and I feel it is directly related to my faith and the faith Shannon and I both share that our heavenly father is with us and will lead us through these challenging times. I had to be strong for the both of us and there were many days where we needed it, but it did not come until later, you see for Shannon the cancer treatment- Chemo and Radiation she described later as a race.. We had a timeline… 6 weeks… She was going to feel crappy….understood… for 6 weeks… She could run hard for 6 weeks. We had no comprehension otherwise, we trusted her medical team to outline the best treatment plan and she would take all the medication needed, to prevent nausea, to combat sleepless nights, to help with anxiety, everything she was asked to do we did. I created a medication chart to follow because it was too complex to keep up with otherwise, these were all things WE COULD CONTROL… and we cancer strikes the family, you feel powerless, but one thing we had in our toolbox was Faith.

I know for a fact Shannon often asked… Why me? but I also know she was never angry with God…and 4 years later she still does not know why she had to face these storms, but she can honestly say it changed her positively. Shannon and I and our family attend Church regularly, and last Sunday was no different. During the sermon, titled “Joy” our Pastor Brad Hoffman, started the sermon in the middle of the congregation and asked everyone to name something they are grateful for…I heard Shannon yell out “HOPE” which I have to say, is a theme we have been talking about recently for those on her RIPPLES Facebook page. In the sermon which was related to relaying that during this Advent Season, it is important for us to know that we seek Joy, but true joe comes from the abiding of God, and this is where Joy is found. Pastor Brad referenced a verse from the Bible….John 15 1-8

The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

This verse was shown up on the big screen, projected for easy reading during the sermon.. Shannon whispered to me.. “Remind me about this verse after church.”  In the car on the ride home she proceeded to tell me this verse offered her comfort and an explanation for her illness… she likened the cancer and lymphedema as God pruning her Health, so that other facets of her life would bear more fruit.  I mentioned earlier her personal mission of her Ripple Effect – by helping others she helps herself, this belief came as a direct result of her illness. Perception is reality and to answer the unanswerable, of why me.. I feel this is as good a reason, and a great belief to have.  Whether you have cancer, lost a job, have no money, whatever your “thing” is… in order to keep moving, you need encouragement.. and their is no better place than through the Word. You see that even on the worse days, the belief that God was with us offered us Joy and Hope. Neither of us believe God, gave Shannon cancer and lymphedema.. but what he did give us was a choice to follow him and through that offered the joy that is promised, and although the days are long and the road makes her weary, her loving spirit of God empowers Shannon. Our prayer for you reading this, whether you are going through it, or the caregiver offering encouragement, that you will find some comfort and seek your answers to the unanswerable, through the living word, and perhaps to find a little Joy.

A Family Affair

Cancer entered our little family back in 2013, much like.. very much like a house guest that never leaves. I still to this day do not know how the diagnosis and subsequent treatment effected our kids. I do know they are resilient, and know that this is the only normal that they know. I can’t remember a day that has gone by where they have shown it has effected them, but I know it has. This post from back in 2013 was painful to re-read, but also shows how far we have all come.  As a reminder I am going back to my first posts on Caring Bridge.com since Shannon was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. I was writing in Shannon’s voice, which I later switched to my own.

We told the kids

Journal entry by Shannon Beasley — 

Thank you everyone for the prayers as Kevin and I gathered ourselves to tell Jack and Sydney. I thought it best to do it on Friday because Kevin and I had agreed when we knew the treatment plan was when we would tell them. There is no good time to tell your children you have cancer. 

The kids got home from school on Friday excited for a long memorial day holiday. I felt we really needed to tell them so I grabbed Kevin and told him I thought we should do it right then.  We had material sent to us by the Social Worker at the hospital that gave us insight on the best way…don’t overwhelm them but let them know what you feel they can understand.  I was not able to do it, so I asked Kevin to start the conversation. He told them that I was sick and was going to have treatments every day for 5-6 weeks.. We let them know it was like having an X-Ray every day.. because that is what they understand. He told them she would feel tired and sometimes sick to her stomach but it was to help get the cancer out of her. Sydney asked what kind of cancer.. she had heard of breast cancer. She also asked if mommy was going to die.. A hard question to ask your parents at 9. We described what cancer is.. bad cells that grow and make you sick. We told them that the hope is with this treatment I will not be sick anymore.  I think she was overwhelmed as she crawled in my lap and put her head on my shoulder..no tears but just a hug that lasted. Jack based on his age did not grasp what we were telling him but we know he heard us because he has told his grandmother later that afternoon that mommy has cancer.
I go for my first Radiation treatment on Wednesday 5/29 with my first Chemo Treatment on 5/30.  I will continue to ask for prayers during my treatment. Prayers of wisdom for my doctors and to let the radiation and chemo do its work to rid the cancer from my body forever.  With Love,  Shannon
By this point Shannon and I were both scared but decided together we would battle, follow the plan, ask for prayers, and also pray daily.  For Shannon this was a private battle as she only told a few of her closest friends. We were in survival mode and she was coming to terms with the fact she was… the patient… She never wanted to be the one that was sick.. who does… this was the first battle she really had to overcome, which was to know she needed help from others, and she was very uncomfortable with this, because she usually was the one giving help.  I remember during this time, my mother Rachel Beasley, uprooted her life in NC to come and stay with us to help keep the house running, food in the cupboards, clothes washed, kids fed… all things you take for granted of doing yourself… You see my mother is a cancer survivor too, having survived breast cancer not once but 2 times. She was so helpful and wonderful, and provided much needed encouragement to us all through this challenging time.

Our fight begins….

Day 1

Journal entry by Shannon Beasley — 

This morning at 9:00 am I had an appointment with my Radiation Oncologist at VCU Medical Center – Massey Cancer Center. This appointment was to have a CT scan and receive my treatment plan for radiation and chemotherapy.

The traffic was bad on 95 going South due to and accident but we left in just enough time to get to a log jam at the Free Valet parking at the Massey Cancer Center.  We got our ticket and headed in. Radiation department is in the basement so we headed down and got checked in. The process was easy because I had already registered at the Hanover location near our house.  I only had to wait about 10 minutes and was called back. Kevin stayed int he lobby. I got my CT scan, and was given tattoos to aid the techs to line up the radiation. I also met with the radiation oncologist to get my schedule: The Hanover location which is 5 minutes from my house is booked until June 11th. I will have radiation treatment downtown starting 5/29 for the next 8 days. My chemo treatment will be at Henrico Doctors Hospital where my OBGYN/Oncologist – Dr. Cecelia Boardman will oversee this treatment. (Hanover does not offer Chemo treatment currently) I will give blood weekly – 24 hrs prior to Chemo Treatment so they can monitor my blood. I will have radiation treatment 5 days a week for 5 weeks. I will have chemo treatment 1 per week for 4-6 weeks. The use of both at the same time is a new treatment as they have found using Chemo with radiation helps the radiation work better. I will not lose my hair.. this has been repeated to me over and over. The side effects for radiation is tiredness and for chemo is naseau which I have medicine to combat.  
There are 2 things I can control.. what I eat and how much I exercise. I am eating Whole Foods, Organic, and avoiding junk. I walk everyday 2- 3 miles. My hope is if I can stay strong through Diet and Exercise I will avoid the side effects that accompany the toxins that will be introduced to my body to stop the growth of the cancer. 
After the appointment Kevin and I went to Whole Foods as we received a gift card from Raymond and Jamie Lindholm, (Kevin’s cousin and his wife) I grabbed the first worker I could find and told her my situation.. Her husband had cancer and she knew what I needed. I got some organic protein bars to help curb my appetite during the day, between meals as well as some liquid and mix protien shakes. She also recommended Coconut Oil to use as it provides energy. I restocked my supply of Organic Strawberries- these were beautiful and I can’t wait to eat them. I also grabbed 4 Organic Pink Lady apples… they are my favorite.
We have not told the kids the extent of my situation. They know I had surgery to fix my belly. Kevin and I have struggled with telling Jack and Sydney but it is something we will be doing in the next few days. We wanted to wait to find out my treatment schedule and now that we have it we feel like we are need to do it. Please pray for us to give us the strength to be strong for them and that the words we use to provide comfort to them and help them to understand. 
I will update with new information next week.. Thank you again for your prayers for me and my family during this time.  Shannon
In looking back I first starting writing in Shannon’s voice… with Shannon’s urging she had me switch to sharing in my own voice. I felt it would benefit her and those reading to hear from her, but later realized I needed to share my observations from my perspective.