Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Today is TWO WEEKS since I had my complete gastrectomy (complete removal of my entire stomach) so that I don’t have to worry about an 83% chance of stomach cancer along with 4% chance of survival if I were to have waited until/if I got it. TWO WEEKS and I feel SO good. The way I feel today is how I felt I’d feel SIX MONTHS from now. I expected to be sleeping constantly, just now getting off of pain meds, and I thought I’d be dealing with food getting stuck constantly and dumping syndrome. 
I take a nap every afternoon because who doesn’t love a good afternoon nap and it’s not like I have anything else to do. Ha! I haven’t been on pain meds since last week. As for food getting stuck/dumping syndrome, I just started on solid SOFT food today so time will tell.

I had a piece of bread with butter on it last night to see how it would go and it went great. Only downfall was my non-stomach was EXTREMELY loud going to bed last night while lying on my left side- no pain or discomfort, though. Once I switched to lying on my back, it was quiet and everyone could sleep peacefully. I just had a wedding/funeral sandwich for lunch (you know, the small little buns with butter and ham or turkey on it) which has been something I’ve been craving since surgery. (I may not be hungry, but cravings still come about now and then) That went very well, also! I had one case last Friday where food got stuck, but I knew exactly what I did to cause that. I knew it was time to eat and I took 3 big bites of applesauce at once time as I was trying to hurry. The new me has to eat VERY slow and chew VERY thoroughly. I’ve been making sure I’m eating slow and thorough since Friday and have had no issues. I’m taking this food bit very slow and I hope that does me some good.

I got to drive today for the first time since surgery. That was kind of exciting as it’s nice to know I don’t have to stay cooped up at home constantly! I, also, removed all of my steri-strips (two last ones today) and that feels good!

I realized after last Friday that I still have to take things somewhat slow. It’s great to get out and about and walk, but I’m really only TWO weeks out from surgery and still need to take it easy. One errand at a time is probably best for a little while, yet.

TWO WEEKS and here we are. I’m sure there will be uphill and downhill battles to come, but what I know is I couldn’t be happier with how things are going! I’m shocked and surprised, but beyond thankful at the same time. Cheers to TWO WEEKS!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I had a rough day, yesterday. Well, really I think it was the aftermath of pushing it too much the day before. Just too much walking and standing when my body needed to rest. Even two nights ago, before I went to bed I had to lay up right on a heating pad first, then once my back wasn't spasming, I could go to sleep.  I woke up feeling pretty good, but had run out of things I could eat here at home other than my protein shakes.  So, I had one of those hoping it would get me by to our trip to Wal-Mart.  I think adding MORE walking in yesterday at Wal-Mart probably didn’t help.  It’s not like I really hurt, but I just feel completely worn out and my back hurts (I suppose from the way I hold myself walking with everything shifting inside and with walking on concrete flooring everywhere we’ve been going).  So, we got home and I ate and rested on a heating pad.  After Paige had lunch, we decided to lay down for a snooze.  Well, I knew something was up because I was freezing, but nobody else was.  I couldn’t get a good nap due to me running a fever.  It seems pretty consistent that I haven’t had a “normal” temperature since getting home and it’s always a little higher than the 98.7 (not sure if it’s from things getting acclimated inside or what?). I’ve had a few times where I can tell I have a fever and check and it’s 100.something, but never over 100.5 which is when I would need to call into Dr. Kendrick’s team.  That was the case yesterday- 100.3 fever.  I decided to take a nice shower and that always seems to break it, but it’s just SO much work when I’m already feeling icky to get in the shower.  TMI, but I, also, don’t think that it helps that I haven’t had a really good bowel movement since we were staying in the motel in Mayo after surgery!  I was told I didn’t need to be on stool softeners if I wasn’t on any pain meds and haven’t been since Tuesday, but HAD to take some yesterday as I was starting to become a little miserable.

So far, granted the day is early, I’m doing pretty good.  I woke up THREE times in the middle of the night to try to use the bathroom because my belly and back were hurting and FINALLY I was able to have a bowel movement and I feel SO much better.  I already told Sean that I want to take it as easy as possible today.  I wouldn’t mind getting out for a walk down the block or something, but I think that’s going to be the extent of it.  I feel bad because Paige was very much looking forward to church today, but I just can’t do it….between getting myself and her ready, the walking, and the fact that communion is today and I can’t have it, yet, I don’t want to put myself in that situation.  So, here’s to a day of R&R and church next week!

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I've had a couple people ask me about supplements that I will need to take due to having no stomach.

The only vitamin that you absolutely cannot get without a stomach is B-12. I will end up doing B-12 shots monthly. Eventually, I will do it on my own at home, but for the first few times, I'm going to go in to make sure I'm doing it right. You can tell you are in need of your shot when you start getting pretty lethargic. Besides that shot, everything else is oral. I have already started taking 2 Tums 2x/day, 1 Flinstone Vitamin 2x/day, and 1 Vitamin D-3 1x/day. It almost acts and feels like a meal! ha!

Due to the rapid weight loss, especially in the first 6 months, gallstones can and often occur. To prevent gallstones and having to lose my gallbladder, starting September 16th (one month post surgery), I'll be taking 1 Ursodiol 2x/day for 6 months. This med, even after insurance, is quite spendy, but looking at the bright side- not having another surgery and not having to meet my deductible and co-insurance, again if it happened in the new year, is worth it, I suppose!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I read a Facebook post today from this woman in one of my stomach cancer groups that brought me to tears!  She said she was working on writing birthday cards for her children for however many years she could get through as she wasn't sure how much longer she would be around and she wanted to make sure they still got a card from her on their birthdays.  Wow!  That is one tough, yet considerate woman, while just waiting for "her time" to go.

How thankful am I?  I have SO many reasons to be thankful and I am SO thankful that I do not have to do that!  I will be honest, I was scared going into surgery.  I wrote a letter for Paige and Sean for after surgery just incase I didn't make it and hid it in my underwear drawer.  I cried when they took me back to prep me for surgery and I cried being wheeled into the operation room not knowing if I would wake up.  I KNEW I had a great doctor who has done this surgery hundreds of times, but what if he had an "off" day?  He is human and humans make mistakes.  I am just SO thankful to still be here, have the option to not have to write my daughter birthday cards to substitute when I'm gone due to stomach cancer, and I get to live life to the fullest...even if it a little different!  THANK YOU, God!  THANK YOU, God!  THANK YOU, God!!!!

On top of that, I am feeling GREAT today!  I haven't used anything, not even Tylenol, for pain.  Everything I have eaten/drinken today has gone well with no spit-ups or dumping syndrome.  I had a Premier Protein drink today which was new and went really well, applesauce, and potatoes (ha!).  I'm not sure what I'll plan for supper, yet, but we'll see when Sean and Paige get home.  I made an appointment with my primary doctor for Friday as that's when my steri-strips are to come off.  I'm nervous about it!!!  I shouldn't be, but I am.  The only one that concerns me is the one near/on my belly button, but I just want to make sure before I take them off that she agrees they should come off without my insides falling out.  haha!  Looking forward to a great evening and hopefully able to go SOMEWHERE to walk since it's crazy windy outside, again, and I do get winded easily.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Well, today is ONE week post surgery and to be honest, I cannot BELIEVE how good I'm feeling considering they removed my ENTIRE stomach!!!  The last time I took my oxycodone was Saturday and last time I took tramadol was Sunday.  I've been taking care of the pain with Tylenol and been resting the best I can.  I am SO thankful to Dr. Kendrick and his team for all they did and for always calling me back after my millions of questions!

Yesterday was my first day at home by myself.  It went really well, but was extremely hard to not want to do things around the house like laundry and un-pack.  When Sean and Paige got home, they had supper and I decided I needed a few items for my week of puree foods.  We went to the grocery store and I decided I would try to walk with the cart (it acted like a walker) and if it seemed like too much, I'd have Sean get a wheelchair or scooter.  We probably only had about 10 things to get and one was on the opposite side of the store so it made me a little nervous as I really didn't want to over-do-it.  I walked THE WHOLE TIME at the grocery store and it felt SO good.  I was worried about paying for it later, but nope...felt great the rest of the night!  That was a huge hurdle! 

I had a hard time last night finding a comfortable way to sleep as I'm really wanting to lay on either of my sides, but that causes pain and laying on my back and upright causes my tailbone to hurt.  It was a night NOT full of pain, but full of tossing and turning as nothing felt quite right.  I look forward to laying on my side...someway, somehow!

TODAY....TODAY I got to start on puree!!!!  I've had applesauce which was good, yogurt which burned a little going down, and mashed potatoes which were like HEAVEN!!!!!!  It looks a little windy outside now, but I think I'll try to take a stroll at least down the block and back tonight when Sean and Paige get home AND I might try something else new or just have more potatoes! haha.

Anyway, SO FAR SO GOOD and I'm shocked by that.  I'm shocked by what our bodies can do and I'm shocked I feel so good.  Last Tuesday evening, after surgery, I was asking myself why I did this to myself when there was so much pain and nothing wrong with my stomach to begin with.  I'm sure there will be more times like that to come over time, but looking back over the last week puts a huge reality check in place.  I know EXACTLY why I did this....so I never have to deal with the cancer that took my mom and grandpa's lives, so that my family never has to hear "she has stomach cancer," so my family never has to see me the way I saw my mom fight with all her might, so that I can be around to watch Paige grow, go to prom, graduate, get married, have kids, etc.- all things my mom had to miss with my sister and I.  THAT is why I did this and the way I'm feeling makes me SO thankful!

Monday, August 22, 2016


If you are curious as to what I hear each time I eat something, here it is!!! It seems louder with warm drinks vs. cold drinks. All I did was take a spoon full of chicken broth, laid my chest on my phone, and hit record. Enjoy! Haha


I am SO over this clear liquid diet!!!! Tuesday can't come soon enough to start puree...blah! I don't think I'll eat jello ever again in my life!!! 

I, also, cannot WAIT to use this little card and actually be able to EAT and CHEW, again. whether restaurants let me order off the kids menu or senior menu, I don't care....I just really look forward to this!


Well, we got home last night and it was such a relief!!!  Sean dropped me off and then went to get little Miss Paige.  She was SO sweet and SO nervous when she got home.  At four-years-old, I'm sure it's hard to understand everything, but she is the best little nurse!

Before she got home, Paige was prepped to be gentle with me. She saw the bruise from the IV on my right arm and said, "Oooh. Ouch. That's not good. Let me see your other arm." My other arm isn't quite as bad since they took that IV out on Thursday. Then, she saw the bruises on my legs from the heparin shots and says, "Oh my gracious! This is not good!" I asked if she wanted to see my tummy, "No, not right now." I asked if she was scared because she surely looked it, "No, not too much." (haha...she was trying to be so tough) I asked her a few times throughout the night if she wanted to see my tummy and nope, she didn't want to and I didn't want to push her, either!  Well, I was just getting out of the shower and she walked in and saw my incisions.  I told her, "See they aren't so bad, huh?  Were you scared?"  Paige said "No, they're not too bad and ya, I was a little scared. Did they used to bleed?" (now she's right up at my belly looking at them as close as she can without touching) and I'm telling her about how they did bleed, but they have those special band-aids on them to help them to heal. She was very gentle and very sweet the whole night. About every 10-20 minutes she would say, "So mom, how are you feeling?" I felt like I was back in the hospital with the nurses asking all the time how I felt on a scale of 1-10.  Haha.  She sure is a sweet girl and it reminds me how lucky I truly am to be her mom!  I couldn't ask for a better girl!

Today, Sean and Paige went to work and I'm on my own.  I'm TRYING to lay low as I think I over did it putting things away last night when Sean was getting Paige as I was in quite a bit of pain last night.  It's REALLY hard being home and knowing things like laundry need to get done, but I can't lift more than a milk jug.  I don't want to fall backwards, so going to lay low, but it is really very hard for me!!!  I was excited for Sean to get to go back to work today.  I know work is never very exciting, but to have some normalcy in life is ALWAYS a good thing and small sigh of relief! :)

So, here's to a good day today...by myself....and not pushing myself any harder than I should!!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2016


What a GREAT night last night!!! Kept up on my meds instead of "waiting to see how I would feel," slept upright in the recliner for most of the night until my tailbone started to hurt and got up easily with little pain, then moved to the bed and slept almost upright which made it much easier to get up.

But....the BEST PART OF THE WHOLE NIGHT......I POOPED!!!!!!! First time since surgery! I know it's gross, but this is SO good in the gastrectomy world as it means all my parts are working together!!! I just want to shout from the rough top, "EVERYONE- I POOPED, I POOPED, I POOPED!!!" This makes me so happy!

Now, we are outta here and on our way back to Biz. Hope the trip goes smoothly!

Saturday, August 20, 2016


This incision is the only reason I'm still taking pain meds. It's right under my left breast and near my lung. They say that incision is always the worst and I agree!!!!!

 It really is crazy to me that I have NO stitches OR staples, yet they removed my whole stomach!!!!!


Got out of the hospital about 3pm yesterday and ran to Wal-Mart (Sean pushed me in a wheel chair) to get the vitamins and supplements I'm supposed to start on as well as some jello, popsicles, juice, water, and food for Sean. We, also, stopped at the pharmacy right before we left St. Mary's for the prescriptions I'm on. I was thankful there was a wheel chair available at Wal-Mart or I wouldn't have made it from one side of the store to the other. We are now resting and walking here and there in the motel room until Sunday to make sure we can do this on our own. St. Mary's is literally right across the street, so if something doesn't seem right, we can cruise right over.

It seems like my nights are a little rough due to laying all the way down and then having to get up to use the restroom. Sitting to standing is nothing, but that laying to sitting to standing kicks my butt!!

Sean just got back from another Wal-Mart run. I packed yoga pants, but they hit one of my incisions. So, I had Sean pick me up long t-shirt pajamas. What a world of a difference that makes. Also, he grabbed a heating pad. Heating pad+no stomach/incisions=heaven!!!! So so good. :)

Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers!!!

Friday, August 19, 2016


Getting released this afternoon. Will probably leave about 3 since that's when check-in is. I am excited Sean will get to sleep in a bed and take a shower! I'm NOT looking forward to the elevator rides and possibly walking super far to get to our room. Dr. Kendrick said the pills and water getting stuck is not uncommon as everything is trying to heal and will contract while doing so. So, so far so good....we will see how the afternoon goes as it comes!


Had a rough night/morning. Very gassy which is good, but painful and quite a few deep coughs which hurt like heck. Had 3 meds to take orally and they along with just plain water were getting stuck in my esophagus. I had to tap on my esophagus to get them to go down which wasn't comfortable, but once they were down, I was good. You could literally hear them gurgle down. Talked with Dr. Kendrick's assistants and they said to try and space my meds at least 5 minutes apart when they are oral and use water that isn't super cold as that could be what's making my esophagus contract and not let things through properly. Dr. K will be in some time this morning, but plan is still to leave this afternoon for the motel for two nights since I was able to get plenty of water in. Just can't wait for this IV to be out. Between the IV and heparin shots, I look like I got physically abused pretty bad...lots of bruises!

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Just got out of my first shower post-surgery. As much work as it was to do, it was totally worth it. Now, I just need to chill and catch my breath. I'm liking all of these step forwards!


Having a rough afternoon full of pain from gas and coughing. It hurts so bad to cough, but if I don't, pneumonia might set in and that's not good.

Got a big cheer from my nurses when I was able to pass gas.  It's a really big deal!

I've been on 5 of my 6 walks so far and sat in a chair 4x like I'm supposed to.

I've only had jello and a popsicle along with water today. I woke up to Sean being gone and when he came back he said he went a got a huge chili burger. Glad someone is able to eat as I'm just not feeling anything.

Looking forward to a better evening and Dr. K said if all goes well through the evening, he will stop in tomorrow morning and get me released. Kind of nervous, but each day gets a little easier and hoping that getting into a new routine will be good.

Right now, just focusing on a decent evening/night. Ugh!


Just met with Dr. Kendrick's team...looks like we might be able to leave the hospital tonight or tomorrow sometime. Just will have to see how it goes when they come to check back in this afternoon. As long as I'm keeping fluids up to par and no nausea (which I haven't had since yesterday morning), we will be good to go...probably just need to work on a few more longer walks. ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


On a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling? Haven't heard that a million times already! Ha! Currently, I'm sitting at a 2. Last night it was an 8 and this morning anywhere from 6-8. Walking hurts, but is good at the same time as long as I hold my big bloated belly. Coughing, also, hurts like something fierce. BUT...with each obstacle, healing is going on and that's nice.

I was relieved to hear the surgery was laparoscopic and not because of the difference in scars as nobody ever sees my belly, but rather less hospital time and I can get back to my new life quicker. :) Besides the pain, the only downfall is that I couldn't get a single room and Sean refuses to leave me, so he's been sleeping in the waiting room.

I'm not sure, yet, when I will get released due to me feeling very nauseous and having quite a bit of pain when Dr. Kendrick stopped by today. He said he will swing over tomorrow and go from there! Also, the nutritionist stopped in today to say HI and will come back tomorrow with more info.

So far, I'm allowed clear fluids and have had quite a bit of water, a popsicle, and 2 cups of jello. It sounds like this is what I'll be on for the next 1-2 weeks, then can move to soft food. I got my first B-12 shot today and 3 shots to prevent blood clots.

So....that's what I know. All went well and although last night, I was asking myself why I put my self through this because of the pain, I had to put my brain and heart back in check today as I know EXACTLY why I chose this route. I'm getting really sleepy, again, so going to rest, but wanted to give an update!!

Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, etc. yesterday...I know they helped and please keep them coming through recovery!! ❤

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Hoping Dr. Kendrick will let me wear these into surgery today so when I wake up, I have this AWESOME reminder when I look at the end of the bed because God knows a few reminding motivators never hurt!!! ❤



And I totally got this!!! However, I cried myself to sleep and woke up about every two hours. Thankful I will be put to sleep for most of the day otherwise I would be non-functioning. I look forward to waking up and hearing that all went well with my LAPAROSCOPIC surgery or else...;)

I'm thankful for so many friends and family in my life who have my back and for the HUGE amount of support. I'd be an even hotter mess than I am currently without it. The thoughts, prayers, good vibes, etc mean more than you know and please keep them coming for myself, Dr. Kendrick and his team, and for all of you! I'm sad I have so many angels that are not here on earth, but rather watching over me....but grateful for them at the same time. If it weren't for two of them, I wouldn't even be here knowing what I know with the option of being preventative. I am a very lucky girl.

I got this! I'll write soon! XOXOXO

Monday, August 15, 2016


8:45am.....that's the time I check-in. Nerves are getting the best of me and not looking forward to little to no sleep, but here we are....let's do this!


To say I feel 150% confident for surgery tomorrow is a spot on remark. Yesterday, I couldn't have said that especially with the tears rolling down my face every few hours, but EVERY time I meet with Dr. Kendrick, I feel so good and so sure in my decision! PLUS, having the #1 laparoscopic surgeon IN THE WORLD doing my surgery can sure help a girls spirits. ;) His assistant during surgery came in to introduce himself and let me know that piece of info. He said Dr. Kendrick takes his work seriously and never boasts, so you will never hear him say that, but I think it's so important for you to know that you are LITERALLY in the best hands in the WHOLE WORLD.

So, I'm not even talking about an open surgery, we are keeping our eye on the prize....a laparoscopic surgery. Surgery itself will only take about 2 hours, but with prep and recovery, we are looking at 4-6 hours. Plan is that if all goes well, which it will, I will be released by Friday and come home Sunday. The plan currently is NOT to take my gall bladder, but he said he would be ok with removing it if it shows any inflammation. He said otherwise they have a med they put me on 2x/day for 6 months when weight loss is most significant and that's what causes the gallstones to begin with. I can call anytime from 8:15-midnight to find out what time I need to check in. I have to have a shower tonight and tomorrow with special body wash for my abdomen twice. No eating after midnight and no drinking 2 hours before surgery. That's what I know!! :)

Also, met with the team doing the study with anesthesia and pressure while under. They said this study is going on world-wide and there are only 50 patients coming from Mayo-Rochester, so that's cool I'm 1 of 50! This study will let hospitals know, going forward, whether to do anesthesia with low or high pressure. Glad I get to be a part of this!!

Plan to enjoy the evening with the hubby and hit up a movie before the big day tomorrow. I will keep you posted on time and location and such later!!!

But......after seeing Dr. Kendrick, I KNOW I got this!!!! However, PLEASE keep sending thoughts, prayers, good vibes, good juju, etc. I would reallllly appreciate it! ❤


Had a bite to eat at Jimmy John's near by and now we are waiting for my appointment. I'm always in awe as to how beautiful the buildings are here at Mayo Clinic!

***ONE DAY***

TOMORROW is surgery day. I have been instructed to call anytime today from 8pm-midnight to find out my surgery time for tomorrow. In the meantime, I have two pre-op appointments this afternoon and will just enjoy my last day with my stomach!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016


We FINALLY made it to Rochester, MN after an almost 12 hour trip thanks to construction and detours. Ugh! They say in this region of the states there are two seasons...winter and road construction and they nailed that on the head with this trip! Glad to be here, but phew what a trip!


Really needed to visit my mom, grandpa, and grandma before surgery!! Glad they are on the way!!!


Felt like today should be surgery day with the little amount of sleep I got last night. Snuggled my little lady up all night long and kept waking up with amazement of how lucky I am to have such an awesome little girl! I told her that I hope she has so much fun at Grandma and Grandpa's this morning and she told me, "I will! And you know what? I hope you have so so so much fun, like this much (arms out wide) at surgery." haha...me too, Paige, me too!

I kept it together until after we dropped her off, but if our trip is going to be like this the whole way, I'm afraid Sean might leave me on the side of the road. I'm trying to be positive, but right now it's really hard. I'm doing this surgery so I can stick around a little longer and feel this is, without a doubt, the right thing, but those what-ifs keep kicking in and I hate it. My biggest what-if is what if dropping Paige off at Grandma and Grandpa's was the last time I'll see her? My heart aches thinking about that! I'm hoping and praying that's not the case, but anything can happen...especially with this big surgery! Anyway, I'm ready for these feelings to go away, but have a feeling this time in the car to just sit and think isn't going to be good. Hurry up and get there is going to be the goal right now!!!

***2 DAYS***

***2 DAYS***

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Supper in the oven, packing pretty much done other than things we use to get ready in the morning along with Paige's bags (Barbie's and Barbie car included, of course, for Grandma and Grandpa's house), cleaning done (at least good enough for now), laundry (all the bedding and towels and clothes ALL done) vacuuming still needs to be done, one last load of laundry to do once Sean gets home from work..., clean out the fridge to make sure nothing spoils while gone, and I think once I can check all of that off the list, I'm ready to go.

 And the best and longest part is already taken care of...a few meal preps/frozen dinners made for after surgery thanks to one of the people who have supported me whole heartedly throughout this whole process from my first trip down to Mayo to now, the doctor I work for, Dr. Brady. THANK YOU so much for thinking of this great idea and spending the time to do make it all. Means more than you know! (PS: it smells so good it was hard to not want to make them BEFORE surgery haha)


This 1.5 inch angel just got packed.

She was my dad's and he had her with him in his pocket and everywhere he went and sat on his hospital stand when he was sick and passed away. I remember talking to him on the phone and he told me wanted me to have it. His friend had it waiting for me when we arrived in Texas for his funeral.

I carried this angel with me everywhere, too, and she was in my purse..always with me. One day, I picked Courtney up from daycare and my purse was stolen out of my car while I was inside getting her for no more than 10 minutes. I was DEVASTATED! I didn't care about the cash I had or the cards I had, all I wanted was my angel back! About a week later, I got a call from the Fargo police department saying there was a business near my sister's daycare and they had found my purse in their dumpster. I was able to pick up my purse at the police department. I was in COMPLETE shock to see that angel still in there. Pretty much everything else was gone....my wallet was there with nothing in it, but my license and a few pens and receipts.

She usually sits in a dish in my kitchen because I would be devastated if anything happened to her, again, BUT...this little angel HAS to be good luck and I'm all about any form of it especially going into this big surgery. She will be along for the ride, too!


This little folder sure has been handy when it comes to anything with this CDH1 mutation!
It has everything from my first visit with the genetic counselor to paperwork for my appointments this next week to info about Mayo's Bio-bank and research studies I am a part of along with non-hospital stuff like cards I've received on this journey and projects/things my counselor had me work on. My trip wouldn't be complete without this folder, so of course he just got packed, too!!


Find the positive in the negative...

Here's probably the ONE and only thing I look forward to about surgery and recovery...catching up on these bad boys again!


Thanks to my friends, Nora and Paul, for the gifts that will surely keep me busy and entertained whether at the hospital or car ride! These will surely come in handy!!!!

***3 DAYS***

***3 DAYS***

Friday, August 12, 2016


This....THIS is the last and best thing on my food bucket list to have before surgery. Of course, I still have a few more meals to go until surgery, but this was topping on the cake and the one meal I knew from the beginning was on that very list!
Jack's Steakhouse....2 for 1 long island ice teas, strawberry butter and bread, steak and potatoes, and last, but certainly not least, strawberry cheesecake. Everything was perfect and couldn't have asked for a better supper outing!! (and thank goodness for my hubby who finished what I couldn't of my steak no matter how hard I tried and my sweet sister-in-law-friend to help with dessert)


For BEFORE surgery (Jack's which will be used TONIGHT) and AFTER surgery (Maurices). Thanks to my awesome friend/co-worker, Sydney, for the super cool gift idea!!! I have some of the most thoughtful and creative friends!!


What a cool and meaningful bracelet!!! The seahorse since seahorses, too, do not have stomachs, the tree of life cuz I'm gonna keep on living, and infinity symbol because I'm sure I'll be around for infinity (or something like that lol). Lots of meaning in one bracelet! Thanks to my sister-in-law, Jessie, for this cool bracelet!!

***4 DAYS***

***4 DAYS***
Today is 4 days until surgery, but tomorrow is my last full day at home until we leave Sunday morning for Rochester, so things are starting to feel pretty real. I told Paige that I'm gong to miss her while being gone all week next week (and maybe longer if it's an open surgery) and she says, "Come here, Mom. (lays my head on her shoulder) You will be ok." Yes, I will be ok...and that's the good part!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

***6 DAYS***


***6 DAYS***
This is especially true with an 83% chance of getting hereditary diffuse gastric cancer and 4% chance of survival if I wait until I get it, if I get it! I'd rather make this change in my life vs. living with those odds!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


"So, have you said anything to Paige about this surgery and if so, what?" That is a common question I have gotten asked a LOT especially recently.
Well, I can say we talk about my surgery openly and we don't try to hide anything, but I haven't told her a whole lot. I mean really...how do you explain to your FOUR year told that you are about to have your whole stomach removed, but yet nothing currently is wrong with it? I have tip-toed around this quite a bit. To a four year old, I'm sure when you talk "stomach," they don't think about the organ and most likely think about the whole abdominal area. So, if I told her I was having my stomach removed, I can ONLY imagine what she would picture...just the whole middle cut out and sewn back shut? Also, I don't want to confuse her and tell her that they are "fixing" my stomach because really nothing is "wrong." There's just a very large chance there could be later. So, she knows I'm having surgery and probably relates it to her surgery for tubes. She knows that I may be very tired and possibly feeling sick when we get back. She knows I won't be able to pick her up for awhile and she won't be able to run and jump on me to give me a hug. She knows she's going to have to be a good helper and claims, "Don't worry, Mom, I'll pick up all my toys anytime you ask." (Um...if she wasn't 4 and actually knew how to write full words, I might ask for that in writing.) And probably more than all of that, she knows she is getting a WHOLE week with Grandma and Grandpa and she couldn't be more thrilled. If getting a whole week with Grandma and Grandpa is what she takes away from surgery, great! One day, when she's a little older, I'll explain the WHOLE bit. Plus, I'm sure it all might sink in a little more and she may have questions for me once she sees the scars. I think, for now, this is plenty enough for her to think about!


I didn't know that Johnny Carino's was on my food bucket list, but it was...and it was GOOD (especially the bread and oil)! Two more days of work until after surgery. To my amazing office, thank you for the kind send-off!!! I have the best boss and the best co-workers in the world!

 Is it weird I look forward to coming back to work already and I'm not even gone, yet? Haha

***ONE WEEK***

***ONE WEEK***
(well, that crept up quickly.....this time- one week from today, I'll be DONE with surgery and will have NO chance of stomach cancer and hopefully recovering nicely)

Monday, August 8, 2016


I had a few questions that did not get answered on Friday during my phone call pre-op appointment with Mayo and instead of waiting until NEXT Monday, I decided to give myself a little peace of mind and left a message for Dr. Kendrick's nurse to call me back.  She's always so quick and sweet in getting back to me AND I got my questions answered!! J

1.      Dr. Kendrick said I will be meeting with a nutritionist while I’m down there and in the hospital.  This is still the plan, correct?  “Absolutely!”

2.      Dr. Kendrick said there will be no follow-up appointments after surgery with him.  Is this correct or should I be following up with my doctor here?  “There should be no follow-up appointments with anyone unless you are feeling like something isn’t quite right.  In that case, you can surely see your doctor there or Dr. Kendrick depending on the situation.”

3.      I hear a lot of people end up having to have their gallbladders removed after surgery whether a few months or a few years down the road.  Is it possible for him to just remove that, too, while he’s in there if that may be something I’ll need down the road?  (Kill two birds with one stone, right?)  “That’s a great question and one I would certainly ask him when you meet with him Monday and see what his thoughts are because it surely makes sense!”

4.      Will I still have heartburn after surgery?  (I’ve read that a lot of people do still have some after and depending on what they eat, they may need to be propped up while sleeping to help with it, BUT I’m REALLY sick of carrying tums with me.) “You really shouldn’t and let us know if you do.”  (SWEET!!!!!!!!!)

5.      BIGGEST-FATEST-QUESTION I HAD-----What are the chances that I would have a laparoscopic surgery vs. open surgery AND what would hinder the completion of it being done laparoscopically?  “Dr. Kendrick really does like to keep it laparoscopic if he can for your sake and his.  I would say that 94% of his surgeries done ARE laparoscopic.  If it turned into an open surgery, it would be because his tools couldn’t get to the places they need to be through the incisions made or there is too much blood to be able to see exactly where he needs to be.”

I had a few other questions that she answered, too, but these were the ones that were REALLY weighing on my mind and I’m glad she was able to answer them!!

***8 DAYS***

***8 DAYS***

Sunday, August 7, 2016


I GOT THIS and I KNOW I DO, but there have been a few moments of weakness over the last 3 weeks.  NEVER during this journey have I been upset or cried over the fact that I have this mutated gene for one main reason- I can happily say that I DO NOT HAVE CANCER and I am SO thankful I have a way of being preventative to NEVER get stomach cancer which took my mom and grandfather’s lives!  However, as this surgery has gotten closer a LOT of things have come into perspective for me and I’ve had a few moments of weakness.

First one was when I actually stopped and realized the OVERWHELMING amount of love and support I have on this journey!  When this all began, we never asked for anything more than thoughts, prayers, good vibes, good juju…whatever you had in that form to give.  From friends/family dropping a kind private message wishing me luck on Facebook, receiving such kind cards in the mail reminding me that I’m brave, having so many people willing to be an open ear when I need to talk, friends/family coming out for my stomachs going-away party, gift cards to help before and after surgery, and WITHOUT a DOUBT the generosity of people donating their hard earned money to help us out with this whole surgery whether it was through a donation or helping to pick up a monthly bill.  EVERY-SINGLE-THING that has been said and done has meant more than you know!  (and here come those darn overwhelming tears, again) But in all seriousness, I really don’t know if I could have gotten this far and been this strong without all of the love and support.  Friends who I would have NEVER expected have come out of the woodwork and I am SO thankful.  With ALL of my WHOLE HEART, I sincerely want to say THANK-YOU for ALL you guys have done.  I wish there was something I could say or do to show how thankful I am, but I’m not sure I could come up with something that large.  JUST THANK YOU-THANK YOU-THANK YOU!

Second moment of weakness is when I think about losing my stomach.  This little guy has been my side-kick since before a single person here on earth actually knew me.  He helped me while I was still in my mom’s belly and now he’s leaving.  We have our days, but for the most part he’s been REALLY good to me!  The American culture really does base a lot of things around food whether it’s “grabbing a bite to eat to catch up” or even rewarding with food.  A lot of get-togethers involve food whether for a birthday party, going-away party, or funeral….they all, generally, have food at them.  So, this little guy has been with me through a LOT.  It’s just crazy that he won’t be here to help me out anymore.  Other organs and body parts are going to pick up his slack.  It really is true that you can grieve the loss of a body part and although I don’t SEE him, he does a LOT of work and he’s really going to be missed.

Third moment of weakness is when I realize going into this HUGE surgery that my mom won’t be here.  Other than wisdom teeth being taken out, she has been here for me for EVERY surgery (I have had 7 ear surgeries, so it’s been a lot).  She would sit there, wait for me, freak out a little when I would ALWAYS be in recovery for longer than expected EVERY-SINGLE-TIME, and she would always let me know after surgery what crazy things I had to say while waking up from the anesthesia and we would laugh together.  I HATE that she’s not here for me to run to, talk to, cry to, etc., but really if it weren’t for her and fighting the battle she did, I would not be where I am today with the option of being preventative.  I am thankful for her in more ways than one and although I know she’ll be watching over me, I REALLY wish she was going to be here for my surgery.

Ok, now that those are out of the way….time to chin up and push on through!  I know I got this and with the love and support from my family, friends, etc. I will get through this even easier, I hope!


PHEW! Yesterday was a LONG day for me starting at 3:30am! My stomach, apparently, needed to show me who's boss while it's still here! I was SO sick yesterday no matter what I ate and even after my nice long afternoon nap, it still came back with vengeance! Well, guess what stomach?! I'm feeling MUCH better today and you're outta here in 9 days...so take that! ;) Most days I appreciate the little guy, but yesterday we were NOT friends!

***9 DAYS***

***9 DAYS***
SINGLE DIGITS, ALREADY??...and I really need to remind myself of this. It's not that I'm worked up and need to "calm down" per say, but a year ago I thought this past year would take FOREVER to come, but now that it's here, I would kind of like just one more year. ha! It's all good...it's here and I'm ready to get this surgery done and figure out my "new life." I'm, also, ready to be able to give tips and ideas as to what worked for me verses doing SO MUCH research ALL the time! With that said, BRING IT ON!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

***10 DAYS***

***10 DAYS***


I recently joined this private Facebook group that has gastric cancer patients and caregivers in it. Reading SO many of their stories is heart breaking and puts a large perspective out there for me as well as bringing me back to when my mom was sick and passed. SO many of these people cannot have their stomachs removed as it's too late and their outcome (dying) would be the same since they caught the cancer too late which is very common in gastric cancer OR the cancer has metastasized (has already spread to another organ or part of the body) so they wouldn't suggest a complete gastrectomy, then, either. As sad as these stories are to read (and it truly is), it reassures my decision. Having the option I do makes me so incredibly grateful!!!

Friday, August 5, 2016


Had my pre-operative appointment this morning with my primary doctor here in Bismarck, Dr. Traxinger. She is, BY FAR, one of the best doctors I have ever had. She TRULY cares, listens, and is there for you and she reminds you of this over and over again without getting all mushy-gushy and making you cry about it. (haha) I did my lab work to get baseline data as a comparison for after surgery and did an EKG. All was well!
THEN, I had my 10-15 minute visit with Dr. Kendrick's (my surgeon at Mayo) nurse. She asked a TON of pre-op questions, too. I THOUGHT and was TOLD she would be able to answer any and all questions I have going into surgery and that she'd let me know what to expect and do before & after. Really, she couldn't answer any of my questions and didn't really give me any insight as to what to expect. Oh well! She referred me back to Dr. Kendrick. So, I need to decide if I reach out to them BEFORE surgery or if my curiosity can wait until I visit with him the Monday before surgery. We shall see! :)

***11 DAYS***

***11 DAYS***

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Well, if this isn't relieving to read less than two weeks before surgery, I don't know what is!! For those of you that don't want to read the whole article (it's not very long), here's the BEST part of it all:
"The Mayo Clinic in Rochester has been named the No. 1 Hospital in the United States by U.S. News and World Report."
"In addition to being ranked No. 1 overall, Mayo also received top honors in eight specialty categories:...
•Gastroenterology and GI surgery"



This may be the COOLEST shirt I have!  My husbands cousin, with some help, came up with this super awesome shirt!!  Can't wait to rock it! haha!


***13 DAYS***


Tuesday, August 2, 2016


BIG thank-you to Valley City State University (my alma mater) for the comfy AND cute t-shirt to recover in, the extra goodies, and the extremely kind card (that made me cry)!!!

 BEST.SCHOOL.EVER- I am so blessed to have graduated from VCSU! Thank-you so much!


Well, the paperwork has arrived so I guess this is really happening.
***two weeks***


Overwhelmed is probably a good word as to how I feel right now. I really thought I had two weekends left then the following we leave for surgery, but after a conversation with my mother-in-law last night, I realized I'm off a week. Immediately I got butterflies in my stomach and tears filled my eyes. Not sure why having one weeks difference brought on that feeling since I've had a year to think about all this and have pretty much everything on my checklist checked off, but I think the thought of one less weekend to enjoy life as I know it just really set in hard.

 TODAY is 2 weeks until surgery and I AM READY...my tummy and mind just need to stop playing tricks on me.

Monday, August 1, 2016


BIG...HUGE... THANK YOU to everyone who came out to the "Going Away" party for my stomach!  I had such a nice time visiting and catching up with everyone and, of course, having a TON of goodies.  All of the desserts were delicious and more than one plate was DEFINITELY needed! Having the love and support is HUGE on this journey and I definitely couldn't do it without all of these people!

Chocolate cupcakes with OREO truffle inside & OREO frosting!!!

 Plate 1 of 2
 My adorable niece, Harper, loving my plush stomach
 My little lady having the "BEST DAY EVER."  She's never had so many sweets in one sitting!
 Uncle Steve & Aunt Linda

 Love this little cutie!
 Aunt Vera cutting bars

 Uncle Steve

 Ruth, Jana, & Teresa
 Ruth, Aunt Linda, Jana, & Teresa
 Amy, Rhyse, Jen, & Crystal
 That's how I felt after eating all of those sweets haha!
 Zac & Rhyse
 Little lady <3
 The Grieger's