Monday, November 30, 2009

Good-Bye to Kim

I took this picture before the tears started. Kim flew home to Colorado today, which was really hard for Melanie. Kim has helped out tons while she was here. They were able to spend a lot of time together. Kim slept with Melanie at the hospital many nights, so my mom could get a break and to do all she could to lend a hand. She will be missed, while she is away. She is planning on coming again next month. The timing will all depend on if she is a donor match. We love you, Kim! One of us is going to have to learn how to give good back rubs. :)

Despite the sadness from Kim's departure, Melanie was pretty upbeat today. She did a lot of walking, which will make her Physical Therapist happy! She received a package from one of her students (I can't remember the name), which really boosted her spirits. She also had a visit from a fellow teacher, Rebeca Olsen. Visitors always bring a smile and a break from the day! Some have asked how they can get things to Melanie, if they are not able to come themselves. My dad comes down every Friday, so you can always send things down with him. Even just comments on the blog are great for Melanie to read!

There is no new news today. Still waiting to hear on a donor match. Keep sending your prayers and positive thoughts!

Keep walking and smiling, Melanie!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 17

Today was an emotional day for Mel. She was feeling really teary eyed all day and cried very easily. Dr. Ash came in to visit with her and talked about Prednisone messing with hormones and such. It made Mel feel better to know that there was a reason. Heck, I think just being in the hospital for 17 days with Leukemia is enough reason to cry...every single day. Melanie is pretty tired of being in the hospital. She is limited to her room and the hallway. She is missing home. We all assured her that crying is perfectly okay. We all shed tears today.

Dr. Ash told us that Mel's blood levels look good. She is getting anxious for her bone marrow test, two more weeks to go. If that test comes out good than she starts to prepare for the transplant. We are all praying and hoping that one of us siblings will be a donor match. If you could include that in your prayers for Mel, we would appreciate it.

Mel had a visit today from Kate Flukinger. She is a teacher from Providence Elementary. Her visit cheered Mel up. She also brought some magazines to help pass the time. Thanks Kate!

Mel also had a visit from Theo Anderson tonight . She brought her a "Book of Sunshine" from Providence Elementary. Each class from the school did a couple of scrapbook pages with pictures, messages and jokes. A lot of time and thought was put into it and it is so much appreciated. She also brought Mel a pack of things that she can send out to her students. It was a fun surprise and brought a smile to Mel's face.

Mel also had a really nice visit from a guy named Steve and his wife Kristy. Steve was diagnosed with ALL in April of 2007 and has been right where Mel is. He offered encouragement to Mel and gave her some advice. He is still coming to the hospital for a procedure every other week. They talked with us for at least an hour. It was so nice of them to take the time to answered Mel's questions and give her an idea of what's ahead. Steve has had the stem cell transplant and told us a bit about it. He gave our mom his phone number and said that he will visit again.

Kim goes home tomorrow and we are all sad. She has been such a big help and comfort to Mel and we will miss having her here. I think Mel will miss her back rubs. :)

We are hoping for a good week. Hopefully we will find out if any of us siblings are a match, let's pray that we are.

Sweet dreams Mel!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

O Christmas Tree and Fun Visitors

Mel's chemo hangover continued today. She hasn't had any puking episodes with this round, but has been really tired. She was in great spirits despite it all. She had visits from Mark and Judy Daines, Pat and Frank Ashcroft and Steve and Pam Seamons. Mark and Judy brought her a small hymn book and it really got her choked up. Mel misses singing and playing the piano. It will be awesome for her to have a way to read the hymns. Pat and Frank's daughter Katie knitted Mel a super cute hat.

Mel sporting her new hat. Is it not so cute?!

Mel with Pat and Frank Ashcroft. Pat is a fellow Kindergarten teacher and a good friend of Melanie's.

Mel with Mark and Judy Daines. They are in Mel's ward and Mark is her Home Teacher.

Mel with Pam and Steve Seamons. They are family friends.

Kaden has had cold so he gets to wear this mask to protect his mom.

We set up Mel's tabletop tree tonight. Her and Kaden decorated it together. The tree lights give some soothing lighting to her room. Here are some pictures of the decorating fun.

Doesn't Mel look good. I think she is so beautiful!

We Love you!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 15

So, today is considered day 15 in Melanie's treatment plan. Today was a chemo day. Melanie told little Brooke (niece) on the phone that it was a "tired" day. Another lumbar puncture and chemo through her central line. Once again, the lumbar puncture was extremely painful. I can only imagine! At the end, they gave her some medicine to sedate her a little. I guess my mom asked if they can just give it to her at the beginning next week. I talked with my mom (I have no voice, therefore I am banned until I get better) and she said that a different doctor came in today. It was a female doctor named Dr. Ash. She really had some hopeful words. She is going to have one of her former patients, who has survived leukemia come and talk with Melanie.

Melanie's friend Jen brought down some hats and scarves from various people. Thank you to all who participated! Melanie will get some good use out of them, especially with the cold weather approaching. One aspect of Melanie's room is the inability to have a constant temperature. One minute you are hot, then the next it is cold. The hats will probably be on and off all day! Also, Keith and Nancy Hammond (Steve's parents) sent her some flowers. They were not aware of the no live flowers in her room, but it was so nice. The nurse brought them in for a second, and then Melanie was able to go out in the hall with her mask and have her picture taken with them. The nurse explained that some patients have taken a picture of just the arrangement, blown it up, and then hung it on the wall. That is the plan, and then maybe another patient who can have flowers in their room will enjoy them. Hopefully I can have Greg add the pictures of these great gifts!

We continue to be overwhelmed with the love and support for Melanie! It is the season of miracles, and we truly believe!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Our family is very grateful for all the thoughts and prayers that have been said on behalf of Mel and our family. We have seen an outpouring of love from friends and family. I know that prayers are answered, and Mel looks a lot better than when she first came here 13 days ago. Although there is still a long road ahead, the future is bright. Thank you so much!

We are having a fun time up here at the hospital this Thanksgiving. We have been watching football, playing farkel, and soon will be playing some pinochle. We have had some great laughs today, and I'm sure will have plenty more to come. The pictures below were taken yesterday and today. We hope you enjoy them. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

(Mels new Due)

(Nataliya cut Mel's hair)

(Mother and son)

(Charise and Kim)

(The background says "Got Neutrophils?" Mel needs some to get out of the hospital for a while.)

(Mel, Kaden, and Shithead talking a walk)

(Thanksgivin dinner! Mmmmmm...yum)

(Kaden and Grandpa eat Thanksgiving dinner)

(Playing Farkel. Melanie beat everyone)

(Charise getting ready to drop the dice)

(Don't we look like a happy family? We are!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shi- /th/-ead

Mel wanted to make sure that everyone realized how "shithead" (the IV stand) was pronounced. It is shi-/th/ead....... It is something that came about from Greg's mission that has always struck us funny.

Today has been a bit of an emotional day for Mel. She started to lose her hair. She would run her fingers through it and chunks started to come with it. So she decided that it was time to just shave it off. Mel and my mom were pretty emotional about it as you could imagine. My mom could not do it. It was just too much. Her CNA (Melanie) just couldn't do it either. So Natalia, her nurse did it for her. She has a very nicely shaped head I must say. :) We all think that she looks great! I admire her strength so much!

There were a couple other emotional moments in the day as well. Her cousin Julie brought her a "cancer" bear. It comes with a little story of how the bears came to be. It had these words: "give this teddy a squeeze and it'll give you the strength to be brave, the courage to face any challenge and the heart to live each day to the fullest." As Julie read it to Mel there were some tears. It was so sweet of Julie and it is the softest bear.

She also received a scrapbook from her Kindergarten class. It was little book with pictures of her class. It was about feelings. It had things that Melanie can do with the different feelings that she may be having while she is in the hospital. It had pictures of 3-4 students with a different feeling written on it. One side would be the kids making the face of scared or lonely, etc, then on the other side it would have things that she could do to help her not feel that way. Like "hold a doll" or "call someone". Mel's motto to her students is "Do your best. Always do your best!" So they wanted to encourage her like she always encourages them. It was the cutest thing. Melanie was so very touched by it.

So it was an emotional day for Mel. But it was a good day! That is what counts. She is just so strong. She will do her best and she will stay strong! That is just who Melanie is. :) Thanks to everyone for all your support and prayers. It means so much to Mel, Kaden and our family.

I love you Mel! Here is to a good night of napping. ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let's Make Lemonade!

First off, Melanie received a great card today from Nancy Bodrero (Eric's mother). She thought it was so funny! Here is what it said:

Hang in there...
Sometimes life hands you lemons, but then you can make lemonade.

Of course, sometimes life pulls down your pants, runs a power sander across your naked butt, then pours lemon juice on your raw, abraded buttocks.

In that case, a cool citrus drink wouldn't really help but, darn've got to hang in there anyway!

She was showing the card to all who entered her room. Thank you for making her day and bringing a laugh, Nancy! There were several great things about today. Melanie is no longer having the "moo juice". She is able to eat all on her own. She even had a little bit of a "I Crave Edward, cool mint truffle". Too bad she has never read the books or seen the movie. She is also able to take most of her medicine orally, instead of through her central line. She is so happy about this! Some more good new: They can not detect any leukemic blasts in her blood or spinal fluid! We will have to wait three more weeks to check the bone marrow, but so far she is doing great with the chemo. She has to have a lumbar puncture every Friday (no fun) for the next three weeks. On Dec. 11, they will do a bone marrow biopsy. If there are not blasts detected, she will be in remission, and then she can start the transplant process. Did you get all that?

It was great to sit and spend some time with her today! She let me take some pictures, and I told her I was going to post them.

Melanie introduced me to the game "Farkle". We had fun playing it on her bed. She is wearing the hat, because she is waiting to get her hair cut again. Today was the first day that her hair was starting to come out. Every time she ran her hand through the back of her hair, she came away with a bunch in her fingers. She really just wants to shave it all off, or at least go for a really short cut. She looked great in the new hat!

This was her nurse today. His name is Ben, and unfortunately, he is happily married. He was a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor!

This is one of the PA's named Steve. He said something today that really had Melanie laughing! She mentioned that she was wearing the hat, because she was waiting for her nice haircut. He very slowly put his hands together and asked her in a concerned voice, "You do know that it is all going to fall out don't you?" Melanie should have played along and acted devastated. We were laughing at him all afternoon!

This is how Melanie looks whenever she leaves her room. She has to put on the yellow shield, the mask (which makes her so hot), and towing Shithead (name for her IV cart). We went for a walk, and she was able to do 5 passes today, which is the most she has done so far! Today was a great day! Thank you for all your comments. She loves reading them. It gets a bit emotional for her, but she feels all of your love and concern. Thank you, Thank you!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 11

I talked to Melanie briefly today and she sounded good. She had chemo injected in her spine this afternoon and she said they did it lower and hit the area where she injured her back last winter. It was a bit "traumatic" she said. She had just taken some meds for pain before we talked. She was able to eat again today and even had some Swedish fish, that is some seriously good news and it made me smile.

Kim and I went to Mel's classroom today. I was thrilled to see it clean and organized. Mel was always very particular about her room and I couldn't wait to call her and tell her that it looked good. Thanks for all of the sweet teachers at Providence Elementary for helping her out, especially her new sub! I know it brought Mel some comfort to know that her classroom stuff is being taken care of.

Sweet dreams Mel. I pray it is another good night for you. Be strong. Lots of love to you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


What a long day. Good, but long. I have been so lucky to have Kim be my caregiver for the last two days. Mom needed a break. Kim was wonderful! Se helped with everything: laughed with me, made sure I had music playing all night long, gave me those special pats and rubs on the back or leg, made me eat, and celebrated with me when I didn't throw up for 2 mornings in a row. For now, the Leukemia morning sickness has left - I hope it stays that way.

Cancer cells in my blood are down to 2%. I don't know what is going on in my bone marrow or in my spinal fluid. They will both be checked again later. The main thing keeping me in the hospital is that I have 50 as opposed to 18,000 infection fighting whatever they ares. I don't know what they are called. Bottom line - please do not come visit if you think you are sick in any way!!!

I have had great nurses, great CNAs, a wonderful physical therapist (Andy aka Rocky), and a great team of doctors. Many have asked why I am not at the Huntsman Center. I am guessing it's because of insurance. All I know is that I am in very good hands right where I am.

Please keep Kaden in your prayers. It's always been just the two of us and I can tell he is struggling. Moving out of our apartment and in with grandpa (grandma is down here) is going to be tough. He is buddies with grandpa and I'm sure they will have great fun. It doesn't change the fact that his world has been rocked and is continuing to be rocked big time.

I can't focus anymore! I have to get back to the ReAL vs. Galaxy game. Love you
all!!! - Mel

ESPN has now lost its signal at the hospital so I figured I would add a little more. First of all, if the hair on your legs is growing long, it probably means your armpit hair is too. That was a disgusting surprise. Soon, Angie will bring me an electric shaver so I can shave again. I will never understand why my cousin Jen randomly decided to grow out her leg hair one year.

Most exciting is that my Moo Juice (really called TPN, just looks like a big bag of milk/cream) has been cut in half. YEAH!!! I have had a hard time eating for various reasons and so have had the pleasure of being fed via IV. My goal has been to get off the moo juice. The only way to do so is to eat more calories via the mouth. With a little help from protonix and finding relatively soft things to eat, I am half way there! Did I say YEAH!

Once again, love ya all - Mel

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another good day...we'll take it!

Mel started out the day really tired. Her blood levels were low so she received a transfusion today. She said it made her feel tons better and she had some color in her face. I only spent about an hour with her today and she was a lot more alert and talkative then she has been in past visits. She has a new nurse for the next few days, he is her first male nurse and I guess when he changed the dressing on her central line, he gave it a good scrub...I think Mel wanted to give him a good kick, she said it hurt really bad. He is fun though and likes to keep things light hearted, so Mel likes that. Speaking of nurses, Angie told me something funny that a nurse said yesterday. She was putting some chemo in Mel's line and it had a reddish color to it. The nurse said, "now this might make your urine pee", she obviously meant to say "red". They got a good laugh out of that one. Any comic relief is welcome. Kim stayed with Melanie overnight last night and will again tonight. It has been nice for our mom to have a break and a chance to sleep on a real bed...although I know she loves to be there for Mel.

Melanie gave me the run down of her treatment for the next four week. She will be given Prednisone everyday and on Mondays she will have three types of chemo injected into her spine and on Fridays she will have two types of chemo injected into her line. Even thought it isn't much fun, it is nice for Mel to have some sort of a schedule and know what to expect. I am amazed at Melanie's strength! What an example of courage and faith.

Well, when I left Mel's room, she was just starting to watch the movie '17 again' for a good laugh. I hope her night is a good one!

Thanks for the out pouring of love and prayers! Our family can't thank you enough it!

Mel did mention tonight that she's not sure who some of the blog comments are from. If you could please put your name at the end of your comment that would help Mel out. Thanks bunches!

By the way, her blasts (Leukemia cells) are down to 3%. They were at 75% when she started out. The chemo is working.

No crying today

I finally made it home. Well, to Utah anyway. :) Angie came and picked me up from the airport. Where I was informed that there would be no crying today.... I just knew when I got in that room I wouldn't be able to help it. It has been so hard for me being so far away from home at a time like this. I have been so worried as we all have been. So I told Mel when I walked in the room that if she wanted me to come home for Thanksgiving that all she needed to do was ask! We laughed from that point on. We were all really glad to see her have a good day today. We had some good laughs.

It is now about 1:30 AM. Melanie is hanging in there. I don't think you ever get much rest in hospitals though. She says that nights seem so long to her.

I am just so thankful for all the support that all our friends and family have given Melanie and our family. Thank you so much! We are so lucky. Melanie is such a fighter! Keep it up Melanie! I love you so much!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Day

Mel here . . . today was a good day, but my energy is running low for the night. The day started with a Angie coming to help out with things and to go pick up Kim. Mom, Ang, Kim, and I shared a lot of great smiles and laughs. It felt good to smile and laugh - a lot. It's always a bit tricky trying to balance laughing and sneezing with a chemo headache, but it's manageable.

I have an amazing family! Today is the first day I have been able to look at this blog. All my uncles David, Kevin, Sid, Brett, my aunts Cindy, Heidi, Eva, Pam, Lana, and my grandpa and grandma Perkes pitched in to buy me a laptop. My heart is very full and very grateful! I can better keep in touch with life outside my hospital room and Skype with Kaden. Words cannot express the love I feel for my family. Not just for such a wonderful gift, but for words of encouragement and feelings of hope.

I also had a nice visit with my friends Diana and Alene. They left some wonderful time passerbyers and cinnamon gummy bears that are off limits to all! I will eat them someday.

7 chemo treatments down. I don't know how many more to go. Probably 4 weeks in the hospital still. But . . . . . those leukemia cells are getting blasted away!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 7

Kaden and I spent today in Salt Lake. Aunt Tanya and Uncle Ron gave Kaden a Nintendo DS to use and it was a life saver today (thanks you guys). There isn't a lot for Kaden to do at the hospital and while he loves to see his mom, he gets bored. Melanie was sick most of the day, she received a new kind of chemo in her spine yesterday and they think that is what made her so sick. She did have a good night last night and even got some sleep, yay! Today, she was so tired and kind of out of it a lot. She was given a couple of different types of anti-nausea meds, but they didn't seem to help much. She also had a headache that was especially bad if she sat up or walked around. Greg came to the hospital and picked up my mom so she could have a break. Kaden went with them, so Mel and I enjoyed a couple of hours together. She wasn't much for conversation and at times communicated with me by a thumbs up or pointing. We did have a good laugh while we watched was one of those make over episodes and it had some funny parts to it. I gave her a foot and leg massage and it seemed to help her relax and fall asleep. We did talk a little bit. I noticed that time goes by so quickly while I'm there, so I asked her if time seemed to be going fast or slow. She said that the week went by fast, but each individual day went by slowly. I'll tell you what, Mel is being tough! I have yet to hear her complain.

Now to some medical stuff. They started Mel on an antibiotic because the site of her central line is red and inflamed, it looks so sore. She had a break from chemo today, but will have some tomorrow. The doctor came in before I got there and gave my mom some papers that break down her treatment plan. It is going to be a long haul. The doctor has said before that this is in no way a death sentence, but it is going to be a long hard road. I am amazed at all of the different types of chemo she will have. I thought chemo was just chemo, but there are so many different kinds, on the papers from the doctor I counted eight different types that Mel will have over the course of her treatment. They started Mel tonight on Prednisone which is a steroid. The nurse said that it should help with the nausea and should increase her appetite. Melanie asked if her face would swell up. The nurse said yes and Mel said, "That's what I've been looking forward to", sarcasm is such a Mel thing and it was awesome to see that side of her. The nurse said that they call in 'moon face', who knew there was a name for it. So, Mel will have a moon face at some point.

From here, she will continue high doses of chemo and eventually full body radiation. This for her serves two purposes: 1. To kill the cancer 2. To completely shut down her immune system so that once she has the transplant her body won't fight the new cells. The thought of her having no immune systems is scary. Once she is in remission the transplant is the next thing. She will be having a peripheral stem cell transplant (you can read about it online if you want). We are hoping that one of us siblings will be a match for her, there is a 25% chance that one of us will be. Pray that we are in that 25%. As far as a time frame, I don't know. It all depends are her blood levels and blasts.

That's it for medical stuff. Gee this is turning into quite the long post...

Before we left for Salt lake, Kaden and I went to their apartment to find things for Mel. I kept thinking about this scripture and felt like I should share it with her sometime. I also wished I had a picture of the Savior to put in her room as a reminder.

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon the pains and the sicknesses of his people...and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowel may be filled with mercy...that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." Alma 7:11-12

Greg gave Melanie a beautiful blessing tonight and he mentioned that the Savior has felt her pain and that He is the one who knows what she is feeling, I got instant chills. Melanie must have needed that knowledge tonight. I love how Heavenly Father is so aware of us and knows what we need. Now going back to the blessing; we had called the hospital operator (after I accidentally called 911 first...dang hospital phones) to request someone to assist Greg in giving Mel a blessing. We were waiting for someone for quite a while and then one of Melanie's previous bishops came to visit and just happened to be wearing a shirt and tie. He was able to help Greg. What a neat blessing! The priesthood is so awesome! She was given many great promises and by the time it was over there wasn't a dry eye in the room. We all felt the spirit confirm that she will be healed. Like I said before, the road is a long one, but she will make it! She has so much to live for!

I told her tonight to picture in her mind the nasty chemo killing all of the yuckies. She said that the wall in her room across from the bed should be a giant white board so we can write encouraging messages on it. I will have to think of something like that...hmmm. Maybe little posters with encouraging messages. Any ideas? We hung up some pictures and a ReAL pennant in her room today, little pieces of home.

Okay, I think it's time to wrap up this novel. ;) I am hoping that Mel has a better day tomorrow. Kim is flying in from CO and I know Mel is excited to see her. Sleep tight tonight Mel!! I love you sooo much!

Melanie and Kaden.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Chemo Is Working

Here is a little update for the day. Melanie had another spinal lumbar tap today and was given three different types of chemo. My mom said she was not as nauseated as other days, but she was really tired. I guess they didn't get much sleep last night, and anyone who has stayed in the hospital knows it is impossible to get much sleep! They make Melanie get up a few times a day and go walking. It really wipes her out! She was feeling hungry today, which is a great thing! The doctor came in and talked with Melanie about the diagnosis and treatment plan again, since she was so out of it the first time. The leukemia cells in her body are called blasts. When she first started this process, she had 75% leukemia blasts, and today she had 5%. All her other blood levels are improving as well. So, the chemo is working! The big goal now is to get in remission. I have learned that remission does not mean the cancer is gone. It just means that the leukemia blasts can not be detected. I've had a few people ask me about the transplant. My mom explained it a bit better to me this evening. She is having a stem cell transplant, which means they take the cells from the donor peripherally (through the arm, hand, or such). When they take it through the hip, it is a bone marrow transplant. We will have to post a transplant 101, when we get to that point.

There are several fundraisers going on right now on Melanie's behalf. It is so overwhelming to see the out pouring of love! Melanie and our family have such an amazing circle of friends and family! THANK YOU! We will put the details about the various fundraisers on the side soon, so check them out!

Kaden was able to come down today and visit, so that was such a boost for Melanie. He is going to come down tomorrow with Cami as well. Kim is coming on Friday to spend some time. YEAH! She will also be the last sibling to be checked for a donor match. Keep praying and sending your kind thoughts and words of encouragement!


Mel's New Hair

I have never posted on a blog, so I hope this works correctly. Suzanne sent me a few pics to my phone that I will try to post here. One of the pics I first thought was a picture of my mom, maybe you guys would agree? I will post more at a later time, but this is all I can do now. Please know that we as a family greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers. More importantly, it means a lot to Mel. Thank you so much!

Some pics of Mel's room

I want to share a couple of pictures I took yesterday during my visit. Melanie doesn't want her picture taken right now which I totally understand. She got a haircut a couple of days ago and she hasn't had the tools to style it and it really bothers her. She will warm up to the idea of her picture being taken sometime. Her friend Suzanne took some pictures the night she cut Mel's hair, I will try to get them posted so you can see her new do.

This Melanie's new friend "Charlie" it is her shadow, lifeline and pain in the butt:
It goes with her everywhere! It delivers saline, antibiotics, anti-nausea medicine and calories. She also gets lots of medicine injected into her central line several times a day not including the chemo. Chemo is so toxic! It kills good and bad cells. She is given medicine to protect her bladder...I happen to know because I asked the nurse what she was giving a nice way...just wanting to be informed. Melanie also takes an anti-fungal medicine after using some medical mouthwash to prevent thrush, and an orange pill to prevent kidney stones. I'm sure there are lots of other meds that I know nothing about. Let's just say that she lots of stuff coursing through her veins. Bless whoever invented anti-nausea medicine, I can't imagine how Mel would be without it. It is no wonder Mel is so tired, I think it goes beyond tired into the completely sleep deprived and exhausted spectrum.

This last picture is of a cute banner her friend Suzanne made which people sign when they come to visit (such a cute idea). I'm not sure why I took it from this angle. It says,"We love you!"

I will post an update from today sometime. All of us will be contributing to this blog. All of us as in me (Cami), Angie, Mike, Greg, Kim and hopefully Mel at some point. We will just leave our name at the bottom of the post.

Lots of love to you Mel!!


Welcome To Our First Post

We hope this will be a place where family and friends can come for updates on Melanie. We all love her so much and are behind her 100% to beat this!!

I spent some time with Melanie today (Nov. 17th) at the hospital. It was so nice to see her. She was really tired. It was a really emotionally draining day for her. She still has her sense of humor and managed many smiles. It seems so strange to be in the cancer wing of the hospital and know that you have a loved one there. Hearing Melanie and chemo together in the same sentence just seems wrong. I asked Melanie tonight what the hardest thing has been so far and she said that it is having to be apart from Kaden. I know Kaden is missing her too. Mel got to shower tonight and had her dressing changed on her central line because she was allergic to the tape that was keeping everything in place. That was painful for her as the site is really red and irritated. She was pretty worn out by the end of all of that. Sleep has been elusive. If you have ever been a patient in a hospital you know how often they like to check on you, all for good reasons, but sleep would be nice for sweet Mel. :)

Melanie had a visit from a friend tonight and it really gave her a boost. She even brought her a pig named "Bud". Thanks Jan!

Thanks for your prayers on Mel's behalf. We have a strong belief in the power of prayer!

If you want to add to the "Melanie Is..." list on the sidebar, leave what you would like to add in a comment and I will add it ot the list.

The task of back logging everything leading up to today seems overwhelming, so I have copied the following blog posts from Angie's (Melanie's sister)blog to help give some info for the last little bit. Here's what Angie had to say:

November 13th

My first call Friday morning was from Cami. She was informing me that my mom and dad had taken my sister Melanie to the ER, and that they were going to be transporting her by ambulance to LDS hospital in Salt Lake. To explain a little, Melanie has been sick for the last month or so. She had the flu and then just couldn't get back on. She is a kindergarten teacher and has not been able to go to work. Last week her blood levels were all messed up. Her platelets were low and her white blood cell count was low. Several doctors looked at her blood test results and determined it was something viral. She was just not doing well, and Friday, when she couldn't even get out of bed, my parents took her to the ER. They did more blood work, and this time her white blood cell count was high, which is not good. Now she is at LDS hospital in Salt Lake. They are still waiting for some test results, but they are 90% sure it is Burkitt's Leukemia. This is a very aggressive form of Leukemia, but it is also the easiest to cure. It has an 80% cure rate. So that is great news! The treatment is an aggressive bout of chemotherapy. Over the next 4-6 weeks, she will stay in Salt Lake to get her treatment. She has to be in the hospital to get chemo for 6 days, then she can leave (but stay in the area) for a week, then back in the hospital for 6 days...etc. She will stay at my brother's house on her off weeks. She is going to loose all her hair, which will be hard for her. They have already started her chemo today.

It is amazing how quickly something can change the world around you. My mom is going to come down and stay as much as she can. She works and has to get some stuff done. My dad and Kaden (Melanie's son), will come down every weekend. Kaden has been staying with us today and tonight, and will probably be a common figure in our house on weekends. I will try to go up to Salt Lake as much as I can. I can't bring any children, so it will be touchy, but I hope to help out, especially when my mom is not here. I talked with Melanie tonight, and she is doing pretty good. She says she is already bored! Hopefully all the test results will get back tonight or Monday, and there is nothing else going on in her body anywhere. Melanie is a stubborn fighter, and I know she will get through this! Brooke, who is always the sweetheart, asked me on my birthday, "Mom, did you have a good birthday, even though you found out Melanie is going to be bald?" She also asked about growing her hair out, so she can cut it and donate it to Melanie. If only hair could grow that quickly. We are all praying and hoping for the best outcome!

November 16th
I just got off the phone with Melanie, and thought I would do a little update. She is doing pretty good. She was really nauseated from the chemo this morning, but she said she is feeling a little better. Her body scan revealed that all her lymph nodes were clear. She did have some inflammation and abnormalities in her intestines. They don't have the pathologies back on that yet, so we aren't sure what it is all about. Melanie said that is probably what is causing her the most pain right now. She had to have a lumbar tap today, so they could put some chemo directly into her spine. Afterwards, she has to lay flat for a few hours, to avoid getting a spinal headache. It hurts me just to think about it!

They are still treating her like it is Burkitt's, but the doctor said today that the stem cells look more like ALL. They won't know for sure until they get the genetic results back, which will be in about a week. If it is ALL, she will have to have a bone marrow transplant to put the cancer in remission. There is a 25% chance that one of her siblings would be a match.

Last night her friend, Suzanne gave her a short haircut, which looks really cute! I have a picture on my cell phone, but I have no idea how to get it off. I looked into donating my hair for her, but Locks of Love only helps children 18 years and younger. BUMMER! Pantene has a program for adults, but since I color my hair, they won't except it. Melanie said she is just going to get some cute scarves and hats. I am going to go up tomorrow and visit her for a bit. I asked if there was anything I could bring her. Her request was some candy she could suck on. I have such an amazing neighborhood, ward and group of friends. I have had so many offer to watch the kids so I could go visit and help out. I am truly blessed!

Nov. 17th
Today I was able to spend quite a bit of time at the hospital. Adrien watched Austin for me, which was greatly appreciated. While I was there, the doctor came in with Melanie's official diagnosis. Unfortunately, it was not the best news. She does not have Burkitt's or ALL. Usually leukemia goes down one of three paths: Burkitt's, ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia), or AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia). The reason Melanie's pathologies were coming up mixed is because she has a combination of ALL and AML. It is called Biphenotypic Acute Leukemia. She has 90% ALL and 10% AML. ALL is good to have as a child, but not as an adult. It does not have as good a prognosis. There is a 70% chance she will get in remission. Once there, she will have to have a stem cell transplant. Then there is a 40-50% chance she will stay in remission. SHE WILL BE IN THE 40-50%!! Her doctor said this is not a death sentence, but she is going to have a fight ahead of her. I had my blood drawn while I was there to see if I will be a donor match. Cami and Greg were able to be there today and had their blood drawn as well. If one of the siblings is not a match, then they will go to the national registry.

It was really hard to watch Melanie today. She was really nauseated again this morning, so they were giving her some medicine to counter that. However, that medicine was making her really tired. After the doctor talked with us, she had to ask me several times exactly what he said. On the initial visit, she understood that it was not a good prognosis, it sucked, but onward we go! I was so drained by the time I got home. My mom has got to have some more breaks! Fortunately the doctors say that Melanie can go out of the hospital for drives, or to my brothers as much as she needs. Adrien told me that her sister-in-law had a pin that I think we need to get. It says: CANCER SUCKS!