Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday

Dear friends and family,

Gabrielle here.  Yesterday was Good Friday and as I sat in that chemo chair for 5.5 hours, I had a lot of time to think about what Christ went through on Good Friday so many years ago.  He was nailed to that cross for many long and horrible hours, enduring the worst suffering known to man, so that He could pay the price for our sins and offer us a chance to be reconciled to God and to have life everlasting one day with God in Heaven.  Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!

In contrast, I was merely hooked up to an i/v pole and made to sit in a comfy reclining chair while eating snacks and watching the movie Love Actually (and losing not once, but twice to Daniel in Scrabble).  All this "not really all that much suffering" in the hope of giving me physical healing and longer life here on earth.  My suffering pales in comparison to Christ's.  And while I couldn't help Him with His, He helps me daily with mine.

When I arrived home from chemo, there were two gorgeous flower baskets on my porch from my friends Daryl and Elsie and Svein and Erin.  Thank you all so much!  Such springy happiness filling my family room!  There have also been many wonderful Easter and encouragement cards this week.  You know who you are.  It warms my heart to open the mailbox and think that you all were thinking of me and took time out of your busy lives to stop and write cards and mail them.  Thank you!

After chemo, though I felt tired, it was such a glorious sunny day that Daniel and I went to Richmond Beach and enjoyed a wonderful, rejuvenating beach walk.  Something about being by the sea put us in the mood for crab salad for dinner so that's what we had.  Delicious!  After that, we had a herculean task.  Our basement Comcast DVR is dying and needs to be replaced on Monday.  So between now and then, we are trying to watch all our saved up shows that we don't want to lose.  Thus, we were true couch potatoes last night and got through three of our favorite shows with Steve, and after he went to bed, Daniel and I watched two Jeopardys (to prevent chmo brain)!

I awoke this morning to fresh waffles with organic strawberries and whipped cream (thanks, Steve!!!) and more amazing weather.  Thus, we are about to head out for another beach walk, hopefully from Richmond Beach to Edmonds beach where we will leave a car to shuttle us back.  After that, we will have a short visit from my Mom, sister, and niece, and then I will pop strong anti-nausea pills and dress up (wig time) and head out to Ami and Matt's wedding at Greenlake. 

Oh my goodness...I need to tell you the good news!  My CA125 ovarian cancer tumor marker was tested yesterday (every three weeks they test it) and it dropped again from 27.4 to 15.7!!!  I am in the normal range after my first nine chemos!  My doctor wanted it to get under 20, and under 20 it is.  The drugs are working.  Cancer cells are being obliterated.  Thank you Lord, and thanks to all of you for your love, support, and prayers!

On the not quite so great side, my white cells continue to suffer, putting me at risk for infections and for having my counts too low to get my chemo treatments.  So today I have to start four more days of the shots in my stomach to help my bone marrow make more white cells.  That's two weeks in a row I've had to do them.  Oh well.  It's a small price to pay to be able to fight infections and be able to receive my last eight chemo treatments!  I am blessed to have not had to miss any treatments so far!

I am hoping I can make it to church for Easter tomorrow, despite Sunday mornings bringing the worst onslaught of sickness after the double chemo Fridays.  At home or at church, I will be keeping my eyes on Jesus:  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  He is risen.  He is risen indeed.  Hallelujah!

Love,
Gabrielle

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cannon Beach Photos

Here are the photos my mom mentioned! Had such a great time at the beach. It was amazing weather, and we had a beach blast!

Dad channeling the Karate Kid

My parents, the cutest couple in their matching Young Life Malibu sweatshirts

Mom and me in front of Haystack

Beachcombing with my dad

They love Cannon Beach!

My mom wanted to see the side of the beach across the river, but didn't want
to get wet, so my dad carried her across. 

Napping after carbo-loading at Pizza a Feta

Renee and I swapped shades 

Having a good week

Dear family and friends,

Gabrielle here.  I was waiting to blog once Daniel could help me load some fun pictures of our trip this past weekend but he has been busy and today he is sick (we think food poisoning).  So I will give you an update and add pictures later!

For our 30th anniversary in December, the kids gave us a gift certificate to our favorite place at Cannon Beach--the Stephanie Inn.  So this past weekend, we went there for two nights to celebrate being half-way done with chemo.  The kids came along too, but they stayed at the much cheaper Hallmark Inn, about a mile down the beach from us. 

There is nothing I love more than being at the ocean.  I can't help but think of God when I see its beauty, hear the waves crashing against the rocks, and feel it ice my toes.  I am awed by God's creativity in making the ocean and the starfishes and sand dollars we saw, by His power as I think of those crashing waves, currents, and undertows, and by His constancy.  The ocean at Cannon Beach is exactly like it was when I went there as a small child with my grandmother.  And God (and His love for us) is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. 

The Stephanie Inn is fabulous.  It's right on the beach about half a mile south of Haystack Rock.  The rooms have fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs.  There are fresh cookies, scones, muffins, and saltwater taffy in the lobby, along with coffee, tea, and hot cocoa.  The staff all greet you warmly and meet your every need (like handing you one of 300 DVDs to watch in your room).  From 4 to 6 pm there is a wine/beer/sparkling cider and appetizers reception in the Chart Room--a glorious sitting room with huge picture windows overlooking the ocean.  From 9 to 10 pm you can go back to the Chart Room for a Baileys or other nightcap if you so choose.  All this is included in the price of your room, along with a gourmet buffet breakfast. 

We were blessed with amazing weather all weekend long!  It was sunny or cloudy/no rain all three days.  We walked for miles and miles each day on the beach, ate our favorite pizza slices for lunch from Pizza a Feta, laid on our beach blanket, and chatted/napped/read books.  We watched movies at night (they give you popcorn with your movie).  I popped my anti-nausea pills and had a great appetite!  It was just the perfect weekend and felt so good to get away from my long days/weeks at home. 

My nausea stopped all the way by Tuesday and I have had two good at home days with walks and visits with my friends Dean, Lynette, and Laura.  Tomorrow (Thurs.) my friend and pastor, Bonnie (who, along with her husband, Arnie, helped me find my Christian faith when I was 14), is coming up for lunch, and after that my friend Kristi will visit.  Too bad I wasn't this popular in junior high and high school!  :-) 

Tomorrow evening we will celebrate Daniel's birthday a touch early.  His actual 23rd birthday is Monday, April 1.  Yes, he is my April Fool's Day "baby."  He insisted he wanted us to go to birthday dinner and eat chocolate caramel cake on a Thursday night, which is the night furthest from chemo and when my appetite is the best.  It is double chemo this Friday (please pray...I dread it every time) and I will be pretty sick for five or so days after that.  So on his actual birthday, I won't be a ton of fun.  Thankfully, Renee has his birthday off from work so she is taking him to breakfast and will make sure he has a good time that day.

I am so grateful for all the kindnesses this week (cards, Easter lily, beautiful glassy baby blown glass candle holder in the ovarian cancer turquoise color, Easter chocolates from a patient of Steve's, etc.).  And for all of you who pray for me every day or as often as you can--thank you SO much!  I feel your healing prayers.  I feel God's love, comfort, strength, and joy (yes, joy...who knew you could experience joy while fighting a life-threatening cancer)?! 

I will update you again after the double chemo on Friday with news of my CA125 tumor marker count.  They will test it this Friday (every double they test it) and let's pray it has dropped again, which would be so encouraging!  And also how my white blood cells are doing after four days of the stomach shots this week to help my bone marrow make more of them.

Lastly, I don't know if I will be able to make it to church this Easter, as Sunday mornings are when the sickness hits full force after the double chemo.  But I hope all of you can go, and hear again what the angel said to the women at the tomb: "Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; He has risen, just as he said!"  Matt. 28:5-6   And because He died for us and rose again, "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."  Thanks be to God!

Love,
Gabrielle

Friday, March 22, 2013

HALF-WAY DAY!!!!!!!

Dear Friends and Family,

We are over the moon with joy that today's chemo #9 went off without a hitch and we are now half-way done with chemo!  When I pulled off my pink paper chain link on the banister last night, it said I have 70 days to go until I'm done, which means tonight's will get me in the 60's!  It feels like I've reached the top of Mt. Rainier and am enjoying the view...and though I still have work to do, when hiking down, each step will get me closer to the end. 

While my blood counts weren't bad enough to prohibit today's chemo, my white cells are very low again (only two weeks after all those shots to bring them up).  Thus, I have to start the shots in my stomach again tomorrow and do them for four days this time instead of three, to bring my counts up enough to enable me to start round four next Friday with the dreaded double chemo.  She also said--stay away from anyone who might have the slightest sickness and wash your hands constantly.  So I will try to do just that.  Please pray that the bone pain following the shots will still be manageable by ibuprofen! 

I had a really good week this week with the single chemo.  I needed some anti-nausea pills for about three days, but then have been fine.  Daniel and I had a big "outing" day to see the European Master's paintings at the Seattle Art Museum and ate lunch at a little hole in the wall downtown called Il Corvo with the BEST homemade pastas (only three per day that they make...only open for lunch...go there)!  Also this week I was able to visit my office at SPU for the first time since I got sick.  It was so good to hug everyone (all the ones who weren't sick!) and to go to lunch with a few women friends, then to meet with my good friend and boss, Gordie.  Right when I got home, Gordie's wife, Mary, had delivered a hydrangea and sweet card to my porch!  Steve and I had a date night this week and ate dinner out.  My appetite has been really good and I'm up a little in weight which is perfect  before next week's double!

Other kindnesses...our cousins from Eugene, Robbie and Becky, sent Steve a bottle of Resveratrol capsules.  It's the stuff in dark chocolate and red wine that is supposed to be good for you, in capsule supplement form.  In the same box, was a week's supply of that for me--but mine was actually chocolate!  SO much chocolate!  Malt balls, chocolate covered granola bites, chocolate covered espresso beans, chocolate covered oreos, etc.  Even for me, who loves chocolate, it was more like three month's supply than a week's!  See photos below!

I received a package this week from a woman I don't know on Whidbey Island.  It was a beautiful hand-knit prayer shawl, with the most wonderful letter about how she heard my name from her pastor and is an ovarian cancer survivor.  She had my same oncologist as me whom she also loves!  She is a strong Christian and did the shawl in a knit three, pearl three pattern to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  She is praying for me.  How precious is that?! 

My good friend and neighbor, Laura, brought me a gift of an ovarian cancer glassy baby blown glass candle holder in the gorgeous 'ovarian cancer' turquoise color.  A portion of the proceeds go to ovarian cancer research.  My friend and "adopted father," Frank, visited me today and brought me candy from his recent trip to Egypt and Iran.  And of course, I received a host of dear, funny, and encouraging cards and notes from friends far and wide this week.  You know who you are--and you are all so dear to me!  I smile when I read each card and when I picture your sweet faces!  :-)

So you see, though life with cancer is challenging, it is also rich and full with blessings, love, and a true thankfulness to God for each day of life.  Steve and I ended today with a sunset walk at Richmond Beach. It was blistering cold but fully sunny and the Olympic mountains were stunning across the water.  So speaking of the sea, let me close with two stanzas of a hymn my friend Eileen sent me this week.  The Hymn is called "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior": 

"May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go."

This is my prayer for myself--and thank YOU for all your prayers for me!!!

Love and hugs,
Gabrielle






Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hole-In-Wonderfuls Round 2!

As my Mom mentioned, when she was feeling better we took advantage of the lack of nausea to head off to the most adventurous miniature golf course ever! The "Hole-In-Wonderfuls," as we call ourselves, met for the second time in south downtown Seattle for the "miniature golf apocalypse" that is Smash Putt. Thank you to various friends for suggesting this to us! 

I don't know how to accurately describe Smash Putt, as I have never seen or heard of anything like it until now, but I would say that Smash Putt is one part mad scientist, one part modern art installation, one part hipster hangout and one part miniature golf. According to their website, golfers will "Putt past pesky pitfalls and profoundly protuberant impediments in the ultimate test of skill, luck, n’ patience". Also, we were warned repeatedly, that death was likely! A far cry from the friendly, suburban, cleanly-landscaped Rainbow Run miniature golf course at Willows Lodge! 


Mom and I took off to South Downtown not knowing what to expect. When we walked in the doors to a derelict loft-space south of Safeco field and I saw the flies buzzing around bare light bulbs and graffiti-covered walls, I knew we were in for a treat! Each one of the 15 holes at Smash Putt is unlike any other miniature golf hole you've seen. The first hole seems fairly normal, until a button is pressed (by a sabatouer) and the hole is lifted up and back down at random intervals, causing the golfer to putt hap-hazardly not knowing how long the hole will 
be reachable. See video I took below: 



We were excited to see each unique, crazy hole! Mom's favorite was the "Mission Impossib-hole" where you entered a dark room filled with fog, and laser alarms were set in all different directions. One  must expertly put to the hole while ducking and crawling around lasers a la Catherine Zeta Jones in the film "Entrapment." If you hit the laser beam, an alarm went off and 1 penalty stroke was added to your score. My favorite was "Ball Maze" where you put your golf ball in the top of a circular maze and had to rotate it until your ball emerged from the maze, at either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 strokes. I got 2!

Children and pregnant women beware! Smash Putt includes a machine-gun style hole where balls are shot through an air cannon at blazing speeds towards various pieces of scrap metal in a large caged room. This was a miniature golf course for the books! I have to admit it was extremely enjoyable to shoot golf balls at high speeds and watch them ricochet off pieces of metal. Each target I imagined as a cancerous cell and I obliterated all of them! Hooray! 

Amazingly enough, the score was a perfect tie! 53 strokes for each of us! But mom would have won if she had elected to sabotage me on one of the holes. I sabotaged her and added several strokes to her card, but she was too kind and ethical to sabotage me! :-)I highly recommend going if you are in the mood for something new and exciting! I felt like I was in an episode of Portlandia! 

Successful round 2 of miniature golf for team: Hole-In-Wonderfuls!

Me with mascot, Mrs. Potato Head!
Mom with mascot!
Mom Putting on the skeeball-style hole!
Me with ball maze hole! So fun!
Mom and living room hole. Complete with working vintage Nintendo!
 


Golf ball cannon! Whee!!
Headgear required!




Friday, March 15, 2013

Eight Down, Ten to Go!

Dear Family and Friends,

I try to stay mostly upbeat in my blogging but I have to agree with Steve--this last week was really rough.  The double chemo last Friday did me in and I was nauseous all day every day through Wednesday night!  I also had to get the three days of shots in my stomach to bring up my white blood cell counts, which are followed by three days of bone pain.  I'm "enjoying" that now...but it hasn't been as bad as I was expecting. Ibuprofen seems to be working for it, thankfully. 

But then yesterday (Thurs.), the clouds parted and I only needed one anti-nausea drug in the morning then felt good all day!  Daniel and I took advantage of that to head downtown where we took care of a host of errands and then treated ourselves to the three-course for $15 lunch at the Steelhead Diner in the Pike Place Market for Dine Around Seattle month!  We split our appetizers of curried carrot and parsnip soup and crab and shrimp tater tots, then we each had the mahi mahi and the Theo chocolate pecan pie with whipped cream.  I felt as full (and happy) as if I had just finished Thanksgiving or Chrimstas dinner!  Yummo!  To top the good day off, Steve got home a little early and he and I enjoyed a nice walk, then Renee came home for dinner and Grey's Anatomy!  So lovely to have a nice day after six bad ones!!

At 8:30 this morning we had chemo number eight.  My blood counts looked really good!  The chemo took four hours since the lab was slow today.  We watched the movie What Women Want and I snoozed a little.   This afternoon, I rested a bit and then my Mom came for a visit.  After that, while Daniel was at the gym, I went on a walk.  I couldn't believe how warm it was outside and had to tie my coat around my waist. 

Hair alert.  My extremely short buzz cut has funny bald spots on the back of my head where my head rubs on the easy chair.  Remember when babies who have that soft hair get those thin spots from their head rubbing on carseats and on their beds?  That's what it's like.  I've been wearing my hats a lot but sometimes, I just don't care what people think and go out without one (as I did on my walk today).  Nobody really stares or says anything, which is GREAT.  I'm really pleasantly surprised that the hair part isn't too big a deal for me.  Small price to pay for a chance to be healed of cancer!

Insider tidbit.  One of the weird things that happens during chemo is the hairs inside your nose also fall out.  Without the hairs inside your nose, your nose runs and/or bleeds a LOT.  I should own stock in Kleenex!  Thankfully Costco sells it in those huge quantities and we are going through it. 

Tomorrow Daniel and I do our next putt putt golf outing.  It is going to be EPIC!!  You will want to see our blog post and photos for SURE.  That's your little teaser to check back in this weekend.  :-)

Now we are contemplating what to eat for dinner and then will probably watch a Foyle's War.  I am grateful to my neighbor Cheryl who brought me daffodils today and to each of you who sent me cards this week--you know who you are.  You are all amazing to keep remembering me and cheering me with your cards and other kindnesses.  And thanks to all of you who are praying.  I feel your prayers in a very tangible way each day. 

Let me close with a verse I love that came up in Daniel's and my One Year Bible Reading today.  Psalm 57:1b:  "I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed."  That's where I was lying low this past week--in the shadow of God's wings.  I was so grateful to be there and I am so thankful that the disasterous double chemo and shots week has passed!

Love,
Gabrielle

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A little rough going

Steve

Howdy, folks.  Just a quick update before I head out into this blustery day on my way to the beloved salt mines.  As I've said before, that's where Ward Cleaver used to repair to, though I suspect that it was just a ruse and Salt Mines was the name of the local watering hole, where he would get together with Lumpy Rutherford's and Eddy Hascal's dads to talk about the shenanigans their kids were up to.  But that's a little aside. 

Gabrielle has definitely hit the wall.  That's what double chemo will do for you.  No energy to do much of anything, which is especially sad, as...you guessed it...it's trash day again.  How will she ever manage?  And there's all that yard waste to pick up due to fallen branches from this blustery day (see paragraph above).  I won't be much help as I'll be at Salt Mines, a new Richmond Beach watering hole I just invented.  The nausea has hit big time.  She's lost a couple more pounds, despite noshing on some amazing chicken mirabella (sp?) courtesy of Jennifer and Tim.  That's good stuff! 

To add insult to injury, she needs some shots to stimulate her bone marrow:  Neupogen.  Yesterday, I spoke with someone who had had them and he told me that the bone pain is very real and that it hits about three to four days after the shots.  He said he almost wore a hole in the carpet pacing around just to feel better.  This has us all a little worried as to what's in store for the rest of the week, so prayers would be much appreciated.  So far, this morning, Gabrielle has been awake since 5:00 (which in her old world would be like 4:00 AM standard time).  That's early by anyone's clock, unless you're a lark, which she ain't.  She's been quite nauseous and has some abdominal pain.

But Gabrielle is sporting a new "do", courtesy of her very kind hairdresser, Jintana (sp?) who made a house call with a set of clippers.  She looks very stylish in her new crew cut and closely trimmed sides.  Daniel wanted to join in the fray, so after Jintana left, Gabrielle took out our own clippers and gave him a good going over with a Number 1 blade.  In case you aren't too familiar with the numbering blades on clippers, they go like this:  Number 1: gnat's eyelashes; Number 2:  Marine recruits; Number 3:  Navy recruits; Number 4: Steve's prior buzz cut; Number 5:  get a haircut, Hippie.  Needless to say, his is short, short.  He's been wearing a ski hat around the house just to keep warm, even at dinnertime.  But I am enjoying the fact that I've got another fuzzy scalp I can rub and he isn't even charging me a quarter to do so!

So that's it for this morning.  I hope that the next few days see a little more perkiness from Gabrielle and that the aforementioned bone pain isn't as bad as we are fearing.  More later....

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seven down, eleven to go!

Dear friends and family,

Gabrielle here.  I survived double number three yesterday!  We were a little nervous at first when my blood counts came back and my neutrophils (the part of your white blood cells that fight infection) where 50 points below the minimum amount required to get chemo.  They had to consult the oncologist for what to do.  She decided to let me get the full double chemo but on Mon, Tues, Wed of this week I have to get a shot in my stomach every day of a drug that stimulates my bone marrow to make more white cells and neutrophils.  We can do these shots at home so Daniel will get more practice (he used to do my blood thinner shots in my stomach for four weeks post surgery). 

The chemo took five hours and we watched the movie Juno and played Scrabble.  I drifted in and out of Juno as the benadryl they give you to prevent reactions to the drugs made me sleepy.  Near the end, we got the GREAT news that my CA-125 ovarian cancer tumor marker in my blood had dropped again!  Remember when we started it was 142, after the first three-week round of chemo it was 32, and yesterday, after two rounds, it was 27.4!  Yipee!  The oncologist said our goal is to get it to 20 or less.  Thanks for praying! 

Right after the double, Daniel and I couldn't resist the sunshine so we walked Green Lake!  Then last night, the kids and I went to the Seattle Symphony to hear Vivaldi's Four Seasons.  This was Renee's Christmas present to me and we had no idea I would have cancer or that our concert would fall on double chemo day!  But there was NO way I was going to miss this concert.  I debuted my wig and put on make-up and real clothes (not sweat pants!), and we had a wonderful time.  The concert was magnificent and refreshed our souls.

Today (Sat.) has been fine up until about 4 PM.  I ate a normal breakfast and lunch and had a one-hour walk with Steve from Richmond Beach up through Innis Arden, relishing the sunshine.  But around 4 today I kind of hit the wall.  A little queasy now and quite lethargic.  We had toyed with going out to dinner and a movie (date night--kids gone), but instead, I think we'll stay home and eat soup and watch something on tv.  I'm a cheap date!

Thanks to all of you who have sent cards this week and to Kristi who brought dinner on Wed. and to Jennifer who is bringing dinner tomorrow night!  What a blessing to experience such kindnesses. And please keep the prayers coming.  I feel them so powerfully as God is answering so many prayers and being so near and dear to us daily. 

Love to you all,
Gabrielle

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Perfect Day/ Hole-In-Wonderfuls Round 1!

Hello all! Daniel here! Sorry for not posting in awhile! Here is the post my mom alluded to previously regarding our super fun day on Monday 3/4/13! :-)

Since my mom and I have both taken leaves from the work force, we often say to ourselves, SNOW DAY!!! As a child I always loved snow days, as a college student I loved them even more (postponing tests, delaying homework, canceling labs etc.)! Since my mom has been working at SPU she has come to love snow days as well, because when the students get a snow day so do the staff/faculty! We cozy up with hot chocolate, walk around the winter wonderland (Queen Anne was particularly striking in the snow-pocalypse a year ago), and enjoy the unexpected time of peace and relaxation. My mom and I have come to think of each of these days of chemotherapy as just a bunch of snow days! Time to relax and rest and enjoy life as best we can.


I asked my mom, since we have all this time off, "Do you think we should start a new hobby?" She chuckled and asked, "like what?". "Bowling?" I said. To which we both chuckled. Not our cup of tea. But we thought more about it and decided miniature golf would be the perfect hobby! We both love miniature golf, it is somewhat active, but not too active, perfect for chemotherapy patients. We decided that we would go to every minature golf course around Seattle, which we quickly realized wouldn't take too long, so now we want to do every miniature golf course in the pacific northwest. (If you know of any courses, please let us know!) My mom even came up with a smashing name for our new club, "The Hole-In-Onederfuls"! Copyrighted/TM/AllRightsReservedByGabrielle ;-)


Our first course was "Rainbow Run at Willows Lodge Golf Course" in Redmond (their website). It was gorgeous! Very beautifully landscaped, this 18 hole miniature golf course features 4 different climates, and holes named after beautiful natural locations around Washington state. My favorite feature was one hole which had a huge cave you putt and walk under. The moment you walk into the cave, a bear growls at you! Terribly exciting! Although I think the bear was more of the pre-recorded variety than the claws and fangs variety. My mom suggested we take a picture at each course to remember it, and we wanted to bring our good friend Mrs. Potato Head to join us. So here is the first of many pictures of us at a miniature golf course with Mrs. Potato Head!





Mom beat me on this course, but only by 2 strokes, so I thought it was very close. 


The sun was out, we were golfing, geese were flying overhead, the landscaping at Willows Run was very beautiful, and for a few hours I didn't think about stupid cancer even once. 


As we finished up, it was around lunch time, and after 18 holes (with no golf cart), you can imagine we were quite famished. I remembered reading in the paper that "Dine Around Seattle" had just begun that day, which features fine dining restaurants offering 3 course dinners ($30) and 3 course lunches ($15). So we decided we may as well stop for a bite to eat at the Barking Frog! Neither of us had been before, and I typically shy away from any restaurant more expensive than Than Brothers Pho, so this was a real treat for me! My mom had cauliflower Soup with curry crème fraiche and chili oil, braised Lamb Pita with red onions, roma tomato, cucumber, tzatziki, harissa, and garlic-oregano Fries, and for dessert, dark chocolate pot de crème with sour cherry gelee and chocolate biscotti. Delicious! I had Grand Marnier prawns with mixed Greens, lemon grass vinaigrette, Columbia River steelhead with wild rice cakes, pickled vegetables, tarragon beurre blanc, and for dessert I copied my mom because we are both chocolate addicts. Everything was amazing! So delicious and so much fancier than our usual lunch of humble sandwiches. 



 

We came home from our amazing adventure and relaxed while our stomachs settled. The sun was still shining and we were in the best of spirits. I am so grateful for this wonderful day I got to spend with my mom, and I am very thankful to God for blessing us with these little surprises of joy along this health journey. Perhaps I am giving away my inner-nerdiness here, but when I stood on that golf course (albeit a miniature one) and looked into the heavens with the clouds parting and sun shining, I thought of the words lady Galadriel says to Frodo in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings as she is giving gifts to the band of travellers: 

And you, Ring-bearer,' she said, turning to Frodo. `I come to you last who are not last in my 
thoughts. For you I have prepared this.' She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved 
it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand. 'In this phial,' she said, `is caught the light of 
Eärendil's star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about 
you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

Whenever I feel like all the other lights are going out, God gives me just enough light to remind me that things will work out. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday Morning Greetings

Dear family and friends,

Gabrielle here.  Well, this last week has gone pretty well!  I haven't been too sick and I'm up 3.5 pounds from my lowest, rib-showing "Hollywood starlet" weight!  Basically, on any day I'm not nauseous I'm eating as much as I can.  Then when I get my double chemo this Friday and am sick for three days, my body can sustain the three days of NOT eating!

I also have some extra good news to report.  That mystery pain on my ride side/flank area is GONE!  Hallelujah!  Another prayer answered.  Thanks SO much for praying. 

On the hair front, I am now doing strategic "comb-overs" to hide bald spots.  So pretty darn soon I will get a buzz-cut and get to start using my awesome hat/scarf collection. 

We are enjoying a great PBS detective series that takes place in England during WWII called Foyle's War.  We are on season two of six seasons.  My energy wanes by evening so having something fun to watch is a real treat. 

At the double chemo this Friday, the start of round three, they will check my CA125 tumor marker again.  As you recall, after round one it went from 142 to 32.  The doctor wants to see it get to 20 or under.  I am eager to see where it is after two rounds of chemo and pray it continues to fall!  I'm also eager to see what my hematacrit is this Friday to see how long the one pint of extra blood is lasting.  Before the blood transfusion I was at 26.  After, I was at 30.  Let's see what it is this Friday.  You know those baby pools where you guess the weight and height the newborn will be and on what day and time it will be born?  We should do the same with CA125 and hematacrit numbers! 

Lastly, yesterday, the beautiful sunny day the Lord made for us to enjoy here in Seattle, was a really fun day.  I am going to leave you with that teaser and let Daniel tell you about our day in his post later today.  What a great reminder that in battling cancer, as in all of life, there will be ordinary days, some really bad days, and some really amazing days.  Not every day in the life of a cancer patient is horrible, as Daniel's report will show you.  Thanks be to God for strength and peace to get through the bad days, for the routine and calm of the ordinary days, and for the immense joy to be found in the really great days like yesterday!  May you all have at least one GREAT day this week!

Love,
Gabrielle

Saturday, March 2, 2013

One-Third Done!

Dear Friends and Family,

Gabrielle here.  Happy Saturday!  I am having a happy Saturday as I celebrate the fact that yesterday I completed chemo #6 (end of round two) which means I am one-third of the way done with chemo!  Yesterday's treatment went very smoothly.  My counts were pretty good due to the extra blood I had been given last week.  After chemo and lunch, Daniel and I had a 45 min. walk at Richmond Beach.  It was windy and we enjoyed watching all the kite surfers.  Then last night my sister Marti and her husband Merle came up for dinner.  The nausea has been very mild this past week and I've had a good appetite!  This morning Steve and I had breakfast then went for a one-hour walk from Richmond Beach up through the hills of Innis Arden.  I can't tell you how good it feels to have that blood in me and to have the strength to walk!  In a little bit, Steve's mom is coming for a visit and then Daniel, Steve, and I are going to see The Life of Pi.  Steve and Daniel both loved the book so hopefully the movie won't disappoint.  After all that--I will rest!

My very short, very thinned out hair is still here.  I haven't quite gotten to the point of being ready to shave it off.  My eyebrows and eyelashes are hanging in there as well.  Go figure! 

I want to share a few Scriptures with you that have spoken to me this week.  Last night, when I took off my pink paper ring from the banister that counts down the number of days left until chemo is done, the number on the ring said 90.  Ninety more days.  You can endure anything when you know it has an end date!  The Scripture on the inside of the ring was 2 Cor. 12:9:  "But he said to me 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  I don't think anything has brought me to a greater understanding of this verse than cancer.  It can sap every last bit of strength from me on the bad days and I wonder on those days if the chemo will kill me before the cancer does!  But in that state of utter weakness, Christ's power rests on me.  When I am weak, He is strong.  Like that poem of the footprints on the beach.  When there is only one set of footprints, He is carrying me.  I am filled with gratitude for His help every day, and especially on the days my strength is gone.

Another verse I love is one that Renee gave me.  This verse has helped her through her trials of double hip surgeries and years of hip pain.  And speaking of Renee--she is still VERY sick with a bad flu that is bordering on pneumonia.  Please pray for her to be healed soon.  I miss her and can't be around her when she's infectious.  :-(  Anyway, the verse she gave me is Psalm 71:20:  "Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up."  I'm sure many of you are also going through troubles many and bitter and my prayer is that you will also claim this verse and trust God to restore your life again, as I am trying to do every day. 

Lastly, my friend Becky sent me this verse that helped her when she was going through difficult times.  Lamentations 3:22-23:  "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Amen to that!

As you pray for me this week, please pray about next Friday as it's the dreaded "double chemo" day, which is inevitably followed by three days of horrible nausea and weakness.  But after that one is done, I'll only have three more doubles to endure.  Thank you for your prayers, cards, flowers, meals, and all manner of encouragement.  I love you all!

Love,
Gabrielle