Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Hospital Break!

Melanie was finally able to leave the hospital yesterday. We are now at Greg's. Yahoo for Mel & Mom!! :) I know this will be a boost to her. Her counts seem to be staying steady. She will need to go back to the hospital on Friday to get her counts checked again. If they are okay, she may be able to go home to Cache Valley for the weekend or more. All depends on her counts. Below are a few pics of being out!

Melanie and one of her favorite little angels Makayla. Her and Mel have some cute conversations. :)

Mel and I (Kim)

Charise and mom feeding Makayla cereal. This is a good adventure....she is just starting to eat cereal. haha Hilarious!

:) Sweet Makayla

We continue to be thankful for everyone's prayers. Melanie is battling hard and trying to get ready for the next phase. We will keep you all posted to what will be happening next. Leukemia is definitely a day to day thing. Thanks to you all!

Have a great night of sleep without interuptions Melly! Love you!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Laughter is The Best Medicine

Melanie's counts are coming up nicely. In part to Neupogen shots that boost white cell growth, in turn this boosts up neutrophils. Melanie also believes it has to do with all the fasting and prayers from all her friends and family! Thanks so much to you all.

My mom alwys put quotes on her closet door. This is the one on there now. I really like this quote a lot. It shows how much positivity Melanie has through all of this to a tee! :) She is amazing!

Melanie had a lot of visitors this weekend. Mostly family. (Cami has some pics that she will post). We had a lot of good laughs! Her friend Carmen came by on Saturday and was able to have a good visit. She even gave Mel a pedicure. :) So very sweet, Carmen. Thank you.


Melanie's nausea had finally subsided a bit along with her fevers being gone. She really wanted some Doritos. This was a very good sign!

Melanie was able to have some good Kaden time this weekend. They both needed it. We all went to watch Chase's basketball game and gave them some time alone.

We were all able to have some good laughs this weekend. Laughter has been a much needed thing after the fevers had been there so long. You will have to ask Mel about 2 degree milk... ;) Anyway, thanks again for everyones support, prayers, & love for Melanie and our family through this tough time. Melanie seems to be feeling a lot better. She should be able to go to Greg's tomorrow for sure. But she really wants to get out of here today! I can't say as I blame her. She will be having some spot radiation in the next couple weeks. Then it will be getting ready for her transplant. We will keep you all posted to the next process of her treatment.

Love you Melly!! Your faith and courage continue to amaze me! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fever Free

Today, Melanie was free of fevers!  YES!!!  Melanie told me, "The fasting WILL help", and it did.  It was a pretty great day for her.  The only down side of the day was this evening.  She was pretty sick to her stomach.  Kim said they are thinking maybe her Jimmy Johns sandwich did not agree with her.  She hasn't been eating very many solids lately, so it may have been a big jump, too soon.  

Austin played hooky from school, and he and I were able to go up and spend some time with aunt Kim and aunt Melanie.  We had a good visit!

Austin was a little reluctant, but he decided to help Melanie spike her hair , after her shower.  Having the energy to get up and take a shower was a great way to start her day. 

We told Austin that now her hair looks a lot like his.  Speaking of hair, Melanie still has hers!  Not sure if it will stay or what is going on.  We were told and expecting it to come out from the chemo.  Last time, it starting coming out about 2 weeks after chemo.  It has been about three weeks, almost four!  Maybe she will not loose it this time around.  We will see. 

Kim headed to Greg's for a nice shower, and Austin and I stayed to keep Melanie company.

Melanie was able to get up and walk today.  It was a little less forced, and she made it three times around the circle!  Austin wrote her another message on the board.  It said, "I love Mel."  He was excited for her to see it while walking.

He was a big helper to push shithead around for a second.  It was great to see Melanie up and walking so well!

Melanie and Austin used to like playing DS together when she was staying with us a few years ago.  Austin was happy to have aunt Melanie play with him again.  After a bit, they had to stop.  The nurse had given Mel some Adevan for her nausea, and she was feeling pretty tired.

Kim made it back in time for some lunch.  We are glad Kim is still here with us for another week.  She is a great sister and aunt!

Melanie had to head to get her new tattoos for radiation today.  Probably starting next week sometime, she will have 8 days of spot radiation.  They will just focus it on the area of her breast where the lump was.  She was not excited to head to the first floor again.  She said it was alright, because she new they were not actually going to be giving her radiation today. 

Kim's work, Pearl Izumi, sent Melanie a gift.  So very kind of them.  It is also wonderful that they allow Kim to take some time off to spend here with Melanie.

Today was such a great day.  We had a fun visit and it was wonderful to see Melanie feeling so much better!

We know a bit more about things to come.  They have found a donor for Melanie!  Ladee said she proposed that they harvest the donor cells on March 21st and 22nd.  If the donor, and hospital that will harvest, agree, Melanie will start the transplant protocol on March 19th.  We should know for certain on Monday if this is the case.  The transplant protocol consists of three days of Fluderabine (chemo), and one day of full body radiation.  This will get her body down enough to accept the donor cells.  Now we just need Melanie's counts to keep coming up.  She had to have platelets today, but everything else was up a bit.  If it just keeps climbing, she will be able to leave the hospital, which would be great. 

We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support from all our family and friends.  Melanie is especially grateful for a day free of fevers!   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thanks for the Fast Everyone

First off, thanks to all that were able to fast today For The Love Of Mel. It is so appreciated. We feel so blessed to have so many people who care about Melanie and our family.

Some of Mel's counts came up a bit, which could really be the positive sign we have been looking for. Her white cell count is now .4 (they have been .2) and neutrophils are .1 (she has been at 0 for days now)!! Yahoo! These are the 2 counts that Mel really needs to come up. It may not be a lot but she are taking all she can get.

Melanie has continued to have fevers. Last night was another rough one and pretty much all day today. The Infectious Disease group had a couple nurses come in to see if they could help pin point what may be causing the fevers. The cultures they have done have all come back negative. Which is good, but want to stay on top of it. They did some blood tests, CT scans of her chest and head, and also a sinus type flush. They are just trying to rule out everything they can. It is most likely that because her counts are so low, this is causing the fevers. So come on white cells & Neutrophils!!

Thanks again so much for everyone's thoughts & prayers. Melanie feels so thankful everyday as do we.

Sweet dreams my dear sister. I hope you get some much needed sleep tonight. Love you tons!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Same thing, different day

Well, not much has really changed again today. We thought she might get lucky until about 5:00 when another fever hit. So, we are still on the same fever, nausea, frustrated ride. We will keep praying that things start to go up. One of her doctors this morning did say that her monocyte count (my understanding is that monocytes become neutrophils) did go up a little. So this may be a sign of good things. We are sooooo hoping it is.

She did FORCE herself again to get up for a walk today. And Jamba Juice seems to really be her friend the last couple days. It is at least something that has been going down easier for her. She is just trying to hang in there and do all she can. She did talk to Kaden tonight which always seems to help her spirits.

Remember for those of you who would like, there is a fast tomorrow For The Love Of Mel. I know Melanie has a true faith in the power of prayer and fasting. So thanks for all the prayers and fasting for Mel's counts to come up and her fevers to subside.

I love you Mel! And I am amazed everyday at your strength and courage.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fasting for Melanie

I am always glad when I can go up to the hospital and visit.  Today was an extra treat, because I got to see Kim!  When I arrived, Melanie was not feeling too good.  Kim said she had a fever most of the night and they did not get much sleep.  Melanie looked really tired!  Kim and I decided to sneak out and let her get some rest.

I took Kim to Greg's house so she could have a shower and feel a little human again.  We stopped for some non-hospital food as well.  Melanie has not been eating very good the last few days, so we thought of trying to get her a Jamba Juice to see if that would taste good to her.

When we returned, Melanie had gotten a little sleep, but was interrupted quite frequently by medical staff.  To top it off, she was starting another fever.  I could sense how terrible she felt.  She also got a little teary eyed.  She needs a break from these fevers!

She was chilly and didn't want to take her arms out, so Kim helped her with her Jamba Juice.  They were able to give her Tylenol, so she was able to drink it all at some point.  That was a plus!  Dr. Asche said they may have to start calorie counts and feed her through IV, if she can't eat more.  We don't want that.  Jamba Juice may be seeing a daily visit.

I have to add that Kim was trying really hard to not make a sucking face like she did in the previous picture I took (she wouldn't allow me to post it).  We were all laughing! It was kind of like opening your mouth while feeding a baby.  She was puckering right along side Melanie!

As you can see, shithead is not empty anymore.  They started to give a few more of her drugs to her through IV, so she doesn't have to take so many pills.  Melanie does not do pills well, particularly when she is nauseous and not feeling good.  I left the hospital hoping that both Melanie and Kim were able to get a descent nap.

I spoke with Kim this evening, and she said Melanie did get up and FORCE herself to go for a walk.  She didn't make it as long as she used to, but she hasn't gone in a few days.  I am so glad she did it.  When they got back from the walk, she started with another fever.  I hope she can make it through the night without another one!

Melanie has asked me to organize a fast on her behalf.  She really needs a break from the fevers and needs her counts to come up.  This Thursday, February 23rd, we are asking anyone that wants to join us to fast "for the love of Mel".  We know the power of fasting and prayer.  Melanie has a testimony that it can and will help her.  Please pass the word around.  There is great power in numbers.

Thank you!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

No More Fevers Please!!

Well, it has been another day waiting for Mel's counts to go such luck yet. She really needs some neutrophils so that she can stop getting fevers! We thought she might be lucky today....she didn't have one all day. Although her blood was so low that she had to have 2 units of blood today. She got her blood and had enough energy to get in the shower when the darn fever hit her again. Darn it!! It has really been an issue this last week. It really takes it out of her.

Mel has really been struggling with Nausea the last couple days. She talked to Dr Ashe and they both agreed to have some of her meds through her IV. Mel has a hard time taking pills. So the thought of taking so many pills when she is so nauseous, is not really working for her. So shi-thead is a little more full again. But hopefully it will help her nausea.

So, not much new is going on still, just waiting for those counts to come up. Melanie is putting up a good fight and wants everyone to pray for neutrophils!

I'm so glad I was able to get out here to be closer to Melanie and my family. I feel so lucky to have so many good friends and such a great family.

I love you sister dear!! I hope you get some much needed rest tonight.

Sweet Dreams! :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Changing of The Guard

Today, Kim arrived from Colorado. YEAH! She will be staying with Melanie this week. My mom went home with Kaden and my dad this evening. I know all the family there are excited to see her for a bit.

I guess it was an emotional day for Melanie. She just does not feel well, and she has not been getting enough rest. Everything just kind of hit her today. Her counts are still low, she has been more nauseas, and she is still fevering off and on. They think the nausea is caused by her low counts and the anitbiotics. They were going to give her some more nausea medicine this evening, so hopefully that will help with that.

As mentioned before, Melanie had fevers the last time around as well. If the fever is below 101.5, they will not give her anything to take it down. They don't want the medicine to mask a higher fever. If it gets to 101.5, they take cultures and then give her Tylenol. Today, Dr. Asch had Melanie get some chest x-rays. She just wants to make sure they are covering all their bases. The x-ray was clear. All the cultures have been negative as well. I think tomorrow they are going to check for any fungul infections. Although it is most likely neutropenic fevers, they are not taking any chances and just assuming. Glad they are being thorough!

My dad and Greg gave her a blessing this evening. I'm sure that will bring some comfort and peace. Hang in there, Melanie! We all love you!

*Hello, this is Greg. I wanted to post a few pictures from last night. I hope I don't mess anything up. Charise and I were able to hang out for a few hours after taking Kim up.

Welcome Kim!!!

Mel and Makayla LOVE talking to each other!

Worn Out....
Mel and Kim trying not to laugh. Mel's drugs were kicking in. We had a lot of laughs last night. cute!!!

Charise, Makayla and Kim with Mel before we had to go. Until next time...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Neutropenic Fevers

I talked with my mom this evening.  She told me that Melanie has been getting a fever off and on since last night.  Last night it was 101.5, which is high enough to warrant some cultures.  She had another one this morning, and this evening again.  The cultures all come back negative.  Melanie did this for a few days last time as well.  They call it a neutropenic fever.  It is caused by her lack of neutrophils.
The fevers make her feel yucky.  They give her Tylenol to help it break, and they have added some more antibiotics to her regimen.  Hopefully the fevers will stay away for good in a few days.

Kim is coming from Colorado on Sunday.  This will give my mom a little break from the hospital.  We love it when Kim comes to visit.  It is so nice that she can stay in the hospital with Melanie.  Hopefully mom will enjoy some time at home with Kaden and my dad.  Although her body will be home, her mind will be elsewhere.

10 Reasons

Today I was able to visit with Melanie and my mom again.  When I arrived, Melanie was feeling pretty nauseous.  They had stopped some of her nausea medicine, and she was feeling it.  They ended up giving her some Adevan, which helped, but made her pretty tired.

I had to take this picture to also show that shithead is empty.  Melanie is unhooked from IVs!  They have to hook her up for some of her antibiotics at night, but during the day, she is a free women.

My mom and I ran an errand and got us some lunch, while Mel was napping.  When we returned, she informed us that she even went for a walk while we were gone.  She is keeping it up!  Dr. Ford also came in and was telling us that she is doing as good as they could have hoped for.  Melanie is not a typical patient, who has followed the typical path.  He talked about how they can't just follow a normal protocol as far as treatment.  This is why the plan is always up in the air and changing.  He was all smiles with how well her and her body has responded to the chemo.

Melanie received a bunch of Valentine's from kids at Providence Elementary.  My mom was happy to have some great colorful decorations for the wall.  Melanie was able to teach some awesome kids!

I wanted to show the book that our aunt Heidi made for Melanie.  It was hard to get descent pictures in her room.  My mom said that it came when she was out.  Melanie told her that she cried reading it.

10 reasons for the fight

...being silly with my son Kaden.

...Tim Mcgraw (need I say more)!

...getting to be Queen for the day (with my fellow princesses).

...time to watch sports.

...setting new hair fashion trends.

...getting to be the favorite child.

...getting time with my parents.

...being the favorite aunt (see previous sibling page)

...not having to worry about bad hair days.

...the love and support of all that care about me.

Thank you all for caring about Melanie!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pics and Thoughts from Mel

Hello Everyone! I am doing okay. Luckily I am not as sick as I was the first time around. I believe Heavenly Father works his miracles in amazing ways! I will post more about my thoughts and feelings later. For now, here is a little picture update from me.

 Greg, Charise, and Makayla heading home after a visit

 My dear friend Diana

A great source of pain and discomfort. I am glad it is looking and feeling so much better.

 My first blood transfusion. I had another one on Valentine's Day. I called it my special Valentine's Day juice. It is odd watching the blood move through the line and into my body. I have so much appreciation for those who donate blood. I was always too wimpy to donate, and now I can't. If you are an eligible donor, I strongly encourage you to donate your blood as often as possible.


 I have been very luck to have Kami Hodges Fischer as my night nurse. We went to high school together (she was a year younger). It's always nice to see a familiar face.

 My dear friends Rex and Angie Christensen. They are wonderful! Kaden has been friends with their son Wyatt since kindergarten. It was a great treat to see them.

 I had a horrible rash from my chemo for a few days. One night was particularly painful and itchy. I filled my pants with ice bags, which brought comfort and a lot of laughs! Good thing I have been wearing the largest size pants (waaayyy too big) so that my skin can breather a little easier . . . and I can fill them with ice bags. Luckily the rash is barely visible now.

 Hanging with my Kaden. I love it when he plops in my bed.  I miss him during the week, but know he is well taken care of in my absence.

 Kaden's birthday party was a lot of fun. I loved seeing my nieces and nephews.

 They (the kids) love taking pictures and making funny photos.

 A dear friend from my growing-up-days, Alicia Ray Cole, and her son, Adam, came to the hospital and gave me a nice hair cut.

 Thank you so much Alicia!!! You are so gorgeous!!!!!

My new "do" and Valentine's Day picture. My V-Day blanket was in the wash, so the pillow will have to suffice.
That's all I have in me now. Thank you so much for your love, prayers, cards, e-mails, and treats. I feel surrounded by love!
Much love,

Now a quick update from Angie.  Today was tumor board.  Dr. Peterson is on a cruise, so they can't say anything is in stone until he gets back.  However, they do have a plan.  Melanie's insurance approved the transplant, so Ladee will start the donor search.  There were a few matches last time.  Hopefully they are still willing and able.  They will wait for Melanie's counts to come back up from the chemo.  The time amount for this depends on her body.  After they get to a certain point and she doesn't need transfusions, she could possibly leave the hospital.  She would have to stay in the Salt Lake area though.  Once they reach the optimal point, she will have daily radiation for two weeks.  This radiation will be focused on the area in her breast where the lump was.  They will probably scan to make sure it is gone after that.  Following that radiation, she will have one day of full body radiation.  This will be a low dose compared to last time.  The next step is a dose of a medicine that I can't remember the name of, but she had it last time.  It is not a chemo, but it wipes her levels in preparation for the transplant.  She may have some Methatrexate as well.  They need her body to be in a low state to accept the donor.  The final step is the transplant.  This transplant is not as big as the last one.  The last transplant needed to graft and kill the leukemia in her body.  This transplant just needs to graft, so if any leukemia comes, the donor cells can wipe it out.  There is a greater risk for graft vs. host disease this time around.  It would show up 2-3 months after the transplant, and be more chronic problems (eyes, skin thickening,to name a few).

So, this plan could change tomorrow, but this is what we are going with today.  That is the one aspect of cancer we have all learned.  It is just a day to day thing.

Love to you all!