Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I am not going to try to summarize Shannon's life over the next
few minutes, because it would be an impossible task. She has
accomplished more in her 29 years on this Earth, than most people
could hope to accomplish in ten lifetimes.

Shannon's mission in life was to help others, who like her had
been diagnosed with cancer. Her other mission was to inspire
people to improve their health and live a life of love to the fullest.
Based on the outpouring of support we have been showered with
over the past few days, I can confidently say that she accomplished
both of her life's missions.

Shannon was a self-described - cat loving, tree hugging, outspoken,
healthy, happy survivor who was told that her life would be short...
but she was determined to take control of her situation and
completely ignore the timeline given to her by her doctors.
Her goal was to become completely healthy while helping
everyone she could on the way.

She was many things to many people. To me she was my wife,
my best friend, my soulmate and my hero! If you spent any
length of time with her I can guarantee you walked away a
better person. She had an infectious laugh, and a smile that
could warm your heart.

She touched countless lives, and inspired countless others to
live life to the fullest. She was not defined by her cancer diagnosis,
but did use her diagnosis as a vehicle to share her story with
thousands of people. As easy as it would have been, she never
felt sorry for herself and never adopted a "why me?" mindset.

She always said that she was glad that she was diagnosed. Being
diagnosed at the age of 25 gave her perspective. It allowed her
to focus her energy on what really matters in life. It also allowed
her to meet so many other inspirational and amazing people -
many of whom are in this church today.

Even until the very end, Shannon was more comfortable with the
thought of her passing than she was with the impact that it would
have on her family and friends. We can let her rest at ease, and
honor her memory by living our lives to the finding
a silver lining in every situation. Don't let anything, or anybody
hold you back from chasing your dreams. Get outside of your
comfort zone. Challenge yourself, demand the best in life, and
don't let fear or self doubt stand in your way.

Lastly, at the end of each day ask yourself, "Did you do something
that makes you happy today?"...and make sure the answer is YES!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Since Arizona

Sorry It's been so long since I've blogged. Life has been a little hectic since Arizona.

Here is my grandma Arlen and I on the golf course. We just followed as Uncle David, Melissa and my grandma's friend, Frank, played.
This is a group of us out to eat.
Even my cousin Luc was able to make it down from school to hang out at my grandma's
I thought this cactus was so funny. Woodpeckers make these holes and people filled the holes made with golf balls.
Some of the girls hanging out at dinner.

All the ladies from my grandma's tap class got up and did a dance routine they knew at the resturant we were at.
There is a park close by that is absolutely beautiful. I sat by that waterfall and didn't want to move. The smell of the water and all the greenery was incredible and refreshing.
We hung out at the park for a while.
I wish this was in my backyard.
Arizona was a fun time. It was really cool that My Uncle David, Melissa and my cousin Luc also were able to make it out there while I was there. I spent a lot of time laying in the sun. I had some fevers and some really bad abdomen pain, so I really couldn't walk around much and do many things. My grandma and I went to a beautiful park nearby. We went golfing (well, we watched everyone golf and we cruised around in the cart which was good enough for me). We went to watch my cousin Luc and my Uncle David play hockey up at Luc's college. It was pretty low key, but the trip was just what I needed. The good thing about having all this time off is that I am really able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and friends, getting to develop much better relationships with everyone. All and all I love Arizona and it was a fun time.

What has happened health wise since my trip:
When I got back from Arizona I was so incredibly weak. I literally could not walk on my own. I got my bloodwork and my hemoglobin was 7.5 (which is the lowest mine has ever been). Normal is 12 or higher (I forget how high it goes). So I got another blood transfusion the day after I got back from Arizona.

I went to the Pain Clinic the next day because I was having the awful pain in my abdomen and nothing was working to get rid of it. Their recommendation was to take more pain medicine. I got a PET scan done the following day to see how things were going inside my body. So, I was in the hospital 3 days in a row after my Arizona trip. Fun! At least I got a weekend off before I started my new chemo, Ixempra, on Monday.

I had to take the Neulasta shot the day after chemo, which is for having low white blood cells. The terrible thing about this shot is that it causes the worst bone pain in the world. One week later I was getting my blood counts checked and at the same time I had the worst bone pain that I literally could have cut off parts of my body it hurt so bad. My red blood count was down to 6.3 (lowest ever yet and of course I couldn't walk on my own) and my platelets were super low at 11 (150-300 is normal). So, of course I needed to go to the hospital to get a hemoglobin and platelet transfusion. I actually wasn't that upset to go, because I knew I could get IV Dilaudid all day and night which is about the only thing that will completely take away my bone pain. I even decided to stay the night when the transfusion was done, so I could just get IV Dilaudid all night long. Now that's when you know I am in bad pain.

So now, the pain has started to fade. No more abdomen pain. I think I have enough blood cells now. I think they might give me a lighter dose of chemo next time... I hope. Why???????? Because Kevin and I have booked a vacation to Puerto Rico mid April. I am so excited to be able to go on a vacation WITH KEVIN. We're staying at a really nice hotel that has it's own private island that has the whitest sand and the crystal clear bluest water. I cannot wait to go.

I also booked a shorter trip with my mom and sister, Stacie, to go to Marco Island, FL in early May (right after my 30th birthday). That place looks equally unbelievable. I cannot wait to spend some quality time with them just hanging out on the beach. It's not like I'm all better or anything. I might be sick or in pain while I am on vacation. I understand there are people who think I am crazy, but I am not going to stop living. I might not do much there at all, but all I am really interested in is the weather and the beach. I think I will have a great time and I'll make sure to bring lots of medicine.

Well, that's about all for now. I'll blog sooner next time. Life has just been really crazy and when I am not doing all this stuff I am sleeping because my new anti-nausea medicine makes me sleepy all the time.

Thanks everyone for your support.
Lots of love

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm in Arizona

Here is me and Kevin at my grandma Arlen's birthday party. This is my new wig and Kevin has his new glasses on. He's worn contacts for about 6 years and finally got a couple pairs of glasses. I think he looks cute with them. My hot husband.

Uncle David and his girlfriend, Melissa, came into town and were able to be at grandma's birthday party. This is the very talented Melissa who took the pictures when I was in California. Think Uncle David is doing Blue Steel.
Kevin got me flowers for Valentines day and man, they were beautiful. I loved them.
This is our niece Riley at her 1st birthday party. She got the biggest smile when we put the birthday hat on her. She should be a baby model. I call her Smiley Riley.
Well, surprise...I'm writing from Arizona. Yep, my grandma Arlen decided to go out to her Arizona house and open it up for a couple weeks, so I decided to come out with her since I am always searching for a way to get away from Michigan weather. I'm only staying a week though. I just got here today so my next blog I will be writing about Arizona. Uncle David and Melissa and my cousin Luc will be coming out here this weekend, so it will be a nice family get together. I'm excited.

I can tell you about my travels out here though. A while back I got bad bone pain again. Once that went away I got bad liver pain. Once that went away I got really bad pain under my left rib. We did a CT scan to see if it was a blood clot in my spleen, but nothing showed up. So, it's a mystery pain, but it is intense. I cannot stand up straight it hurts so bad. My doctor told me to use the Fentanol patch which is a pain relief patch you put on your arm. If I still have pain I'm supposed to take Dilaudid. I did that this morning, but I think the two combined are way too much for my stomach. My in-laws, Roger and Edie, took me to the airport. I was throwing up in a bucket the entire way to the airport. It was rough and I felt bad for them. I kept asking them to pull over so I could dump the bucket, but then I would throw up again. Luckily, I got it all out in the car and I didn't have any issues on the airplane. I did get a compliment on my puking skills though. Roger said I am really quiet, so that's good. : )

I've adjusted to being bald and I do like my new wig. I still have another wig on its way but it's on backorder in Germany. I can't wait to get it. The chemo I am on now does not really seem to be working because my liver tumors have grown since the last scan I had. Next time I get chemo we're switching to Exempra. I need to look it up and see what side effects to expect. I've only had one transfusion since the last time I wrote in the blog which is an improvement. I just wish we could find a chemo that worked and didn't screw with my body so bad.

I am so glad that everyone liked my idea of the indoor water park. I guess there are two already in existence, one in Japan and one in Germany. Now, we need one in Michigan. It's fun to dream.

I'm happy to tell you all that we have started planning the Bras for a Cause show for 2010. It will be at Royal Oak Music Theatre again Saturday, September 18th. We're going to have way more food and a lot more seating. We learned so much from last year and I think this year will be incredible. I hope to raise between $75,000 - $100,000. Last year we did $50,000, so I think it's possible.

Well, we all know I don't do much because I sit home all the time and have family and friends come over and take care of me, so there's not much more to write about. I appreciate everyone's help. I also have people cooking for me and that has been a huge help to Kevin and I. I am so lucky to have so many caring people in my life. THANK YOU!!!!! I love you all!

Take it easy. I'll be soaking up the sun and I'll tell you all about it.
Lots of love and sun

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Blues and my great idea

Me and Chloe chilling.
This is my friend Todd who basically took care of me every day for the past few months. He is also really good at getting my cold caps on really tight when I get chemo.
Here I am getting chemo writing my blog. It's a really long day when we do the caps. It takes an extra 5 or 6 hours.

I am just plain sick of this weather. I cannot believe it has not gotten over 30 degrees in weeks and weeks. The sun is non-existent here and the 10 day forecast never shows me any sign of relief. Usually I love winter but that is because I LOVE snowboarding. Since I cannot walk up the stairs without feeling like I could faint, there is no way in hell I could suit up and get out on the mountain and make it down the hill. Snowboarding was the highlight of my winters, but now I have nothing to look forward to. It’s only mid February and time is going slow since I am sick in my house.

This past Valentines day Kevin and I decided to go up north to Frankenmuth to the indoor waterpark. It was me, Kevin, about 200 screaming kids, and about a million pounds of chlorine since I’m sure these kids were peeing, pooping and gross stuff like that in the water. We went on the water slides a couple times and went in the hot tub, which had so much chlorine it was making us cough. We had a god time, but it gave me a great idea. If I had the money I would totally make this happen. Why do the kids get all the fun??? Why doesn’t someone make an adults indoor waterpark??? I’m talking an indoor getaway for adults from the long Michigan winters.

Here is how I see it… A huge place connected to a hotel. Artificial sunlight, a beach with sand and clear blue water, lounge chairs everywhere, a lazy river, some hot tubs and maybe some waterslides for fun. Then, they could have some tropical music playing, and a pool with a swim up bar where they serve beer and frozen mixed drinks. What adult would not want to go there?? I’d probably make weekly trips. It could be like an indoor Cancun. I think it’s a brilliant idea and I really wish some day (lets say in the next week or so) someone builds one.

Health update and Penguin Cap update:

My health has been struggling. I’ve been really sick and tired. Weak, sore, the list goes on and on. I’ve had to have people, like my friend Todd, take care of me every day since it is so hard for me to move around. I’ve had to have another blood transfusion. Pretty soon I will have a scan and we will hopefully see if this chemo is even working. The Penguin Caps may not be working anymore with this new chemo I am on called Abraxane. This past Friday I started having hair fall out. Every day it got worse and worse. I got one more round of chemo hoping that it wouldn't be the end of my hair, but it didn't work out that way. Today my hair was coming out 100 strands at a time. I was making a mess all over the house. Kevin shaved my head and I am now once again, for the third time in my life bald. The Caps worked for Gemzar, Cisplatin, and Carboplatin, but Abraxane is too strong for them. It's supposed to be easier on your body and bone marrow which is good since I was having to have so many transfusions, but it's really hard on hair loss. Oh well. Here is my list of positives now that I am bald...

1. Chemo will be super short. Maybe an hour and a half tops.

2. No more hair falling all over the house

3. I don't have to freeze my head anymore

4. I don't have to pay for the cold caps

5. I found a couple cute new wigs I should be getting within the next week

6. I get to hear everyone tell me how I can pull off the bald look

7. I don't have to be extra careful not to make my hair fall out when I shower

8. No more shampoo (since I am really smell sensitive and I end up hating every shampoo smell within a week of using a new one)

9. No more stressing about if all my hair will fall out or if it is just thinning. The mourning process is pretty draining on the spirit.

Anyway, I am convinced the caps work for some chemos, but not all. Not Abraxane.

I'll get some bald pics and show you all as well as new wig pics once I get them.

Trying my hardest to be positive


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Right next to the Santa Monica Pier
The pier. It looked so pretty later in the day.

I love this picture. Good job Shannon. : )

There were lots of surfers out.
Despite the fever I was so happy to be on the beach.
The movie room at my uncle's. I'd open all the windows and let the fresh air in all day long. Loved the breeze.
My best friend Ranger. He hung out with me the entire time I was at the house.
The fevers and bone pain did not let up the rest of the time I was in California. The last night I was there was especially bad. I had the worst bone pain and an awful fever where I was shivering uncontrollably. We all decided it would be best that I went to the emergency room to check and see if I had an infection and also to try and get some better pain medicine since the oxycotin makes me throw up. They took blood cultures and did a CBC. We did find out I was very anemic meaning my red blood cells (hemoglobin) were very low. That explained why I was so tired, out of breath and moving around even the slightest was incredibly difficult. They weren't able to get me any better pain medication except Dilaudid through IV while I was there. We were able to leave by 4am. We had enough time to go back to the house, shower, pack and take off for the airport. So after an all nighter I was trying to make my 7:30 flight. My flight was delayed until 11am. Finally they sent me to another airline and I flew out by 1pm. I didn't get home until midnight. It was a very long, exhausting day and being anemic did not help.

My doctor wanted to see me ASAP once I got back. My appointment was at 7:30am the next day. It took a long time to get everything taken care of and getting me ready for my transfusion. I was supposed to wait to get called from the hospital when they had a bed ready for me to get the transfusion. I guess they lost my paperwork and never called. I finally called by 5pm and they said "oops" and had me come in. The transfusion took FOREVER.

Since California I've had bone pain, fevers, bad headaches, and liver pain. We switched up pain meds and tried so many different things to alleviate all these symptoms. I got a spinal tap to see if there were cancer cells in my spinal fluid. We thought that could be a possibility since I had headaches all the time. It came back negative thank god. I had a CT scan done as well. Once again my liver tumors have grown and very fast. My liver is huge. My stomach is so hard from all the pressure. Everything else is stable, but the liver is the most important spot to worry about.

It appears that the chemo was not working. So, we stopped Gemzar and Carboplatin and I have switched to Abraxane. So far I am tolerating it much better. No more bone pain and I just feel better. The Abraxane is a weekly chemo though, so I will be at Beaumont more often.

Anyway, I am leaving out a couple emergency room trips out of this blog. Nothing really came of them. I honestly cannot keep up with everything that is going on with me. I have my fingers crossed that we picked the right chemo and hopefully next time I write a blog, I can write about something else other than bone pain, headaches, not being able to breathe etc...

Thank you all for your support lately. People have been making us meals and I cannot even explain how much that helps us. I have not grocery shopped in months. I never have energy to make anything at the house anyway. We are loving the meals and are so happy to have one less thing to worry about. Thank you!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Rest of the Photo Shoot Pictures with Melissa

Here are the rest of the pictures of the photo shoot. It was hard for me to loose my blanket. I literally had that thing wrapped around me the entire time I was out there.
Melissa was really good at posing me so I didn't feel too awkward at any time.
And of course I had Uncle David's commentary the entire time making me laugh so it was easy to have a natural smile.
A more serious one.
I did have a few of those fake eyelashes on so that is why my eyes look a lot better. My eyelashes are very short normally.

Laughing at uncle david again.
Melissa normally works with models. In some of her past photo sessions they have painted words on the models faces for the pictures. I was able to pick out the words I wanted written on my face. Hope, Love, Passion, Truth, Peace, Strength and a Chloe paw print is what I picked. I do have a tube top on and I have the blanket wrapped around me as well. The picture is cropped exactly where the shirt and blanket end.
After we did a number of these pictures we painted my lips white too.

And that is the rest of the pictures from the photo shoot. It was a lot of fun. I was surprised how good I looked despite having a really bad fever. The makeup worked really well for covering up black circles under the eyes.

I have a lot to update you on my health status. That will be very soon with some of the California pictures I took.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Photo Shoot With Mellissa and Uncle David

My Uncle David's girlfriend is a really good photographer. She wanted to take some pictures of me. These are the pictures of me and Uncle David goofing around before the more serious pictures started.
I still had a fever so while they were getting me ready for the shoot I was wrapped up in a blanket. Actually, I have been wrapped up in this blanket the whole time I have been here. We called these pictures our Snuggie Model pictures.
We were supposed to be making cold faces, but I was just smiling.

Uncle David's commentary during the shoot kept me laughing.

Uncle David had me cracking up most of the shoot.
This is our catalogue model picture. Don't we look really surprised by what we are looking at?

Anyways, there are more pictures of just me. I'll put those up on another post. I think Melissa did a really good job.

I'm flying home tomorrow.
Feeling better. Still have fevers and pain, but it is getting better, so that's good.

Lots of love

Monday, January 11, 2010

Going to California

The Santa Monica Pier yesterday

Me and Ranger hanging out with Uncle David. Such a cute dog.

Well, my platelets were in fact REALLY low. The next day I got a transfusion of two units of platelets. I had to go to the hospital. It took almost 7 whole hours to get done. It took forever. After my transfusion I went home and booked my flight out to California to stay with my Uncle David and his girlfriend Melissa. I got bloodwork done before I left. I was given the okay except I developed a upper respiratory infection and had a 103.3 fever the day before I left. I left on this past Wednesday in a hurry to get in some warm weather and to fit in the trip before my next chemo treatment (antibiotics and pain meds in my carry on).
The first day I pretty much just chilled around their house. I opened every window in the sunroom, layed in the sun on the huge comfy bean bag and smelled the freshly cut grass as the lawn crew did all there work. There was a perfect Breeze to cool me off when I needed and it would also bring the grass smell rushing back in the room. After the
yard crew was done I got in little shorts and a tank top, grabbed a
lawn chair, a book and some shades relaxed and worked on my tan. Some
would say I did nothing that day, but for me it was awesome. Plus I got
to hang out with a really cool, smart, carrot loving dog of my uncle's, Ranger.
I might have overdid it in the sun because my skin was burning up all
night and I was completely drained, but oh well. I usually feel like
that all the time anyways, so what's the difference.

Day 2 I woke up with a mission. I was going to the beach. Now, it
might seem like everything is a-ok with my body, but nothing could be
further from the truth. When I left I was dealing with horrible bone
pain and 103.3 fever. Well, the infection picked up and my throat is
pretty raw. I still have fevers but lower grade. My bone pain was
replaced with some muscle pain that was very intense. I think my
muscle might be pinching a nerve. Then, the bone pain also came back.
On top of all that I have a headache that will not go away. I am so
sick of taking pain medicine, but I can't function without it the pain
is so bad. Moral of the story is, I can change my environment and love
it, but I can't change what is going on with my body.

Honestly though, just changing my environment is proving so refreshing
to me. Not being in my bedroom where I sweat all the time and have
sleepless nights. Not being on my couch where I resort to when I have
no more chance of going back to sleep. Not looking outside at the same
yard covered in snow and seeing the usually grey skies. Out here
everything is alive. There are flowers in bloom. It smells different.
I'm in a different bed without any negative stigma that I created like I have with my bed at home.

The beach was great. I went to Malibu first and watched the surfers.
There were some big waves. Then I drove down to the Santa Monica Pier
to have lunch. Afterwards I sat on the beach again. It was so nice and
relaxing. I love the smell of the ocean. My sense of smell has been
like a dogs since I started chemo. I can smell things from so far away
and everything smells so strong. Bad thing is, most of the smells make
me feel sick. All colognes and perfumes, anything scented, laundry
detergent etc etc.... But this day I could smell the ocean from inside
the resturant I was in and it was wonderful. I wish I could trap that
smell and somehow tape it over my nose.

My uncle's girlfriend Melissa and I watched Julie and Julia at night
and ordered Chinese. It was very nice and relaxing.
Today is day 3 and I have the worst bone pain ever. I was stuck in my seat and couldn't move because it hurt me so bad. I had the same thing a couple days before I left for California. I have to take Oxycodone and Oxycotin together. Those two combined make me pretty sick. I was throwing up a lot. I can't handle those two medicines combined. Actually I threw up here in California on just the 4-6 hour Oxy, so I just cannot tolerate that stuff. Anyway, just because I was in pain didn't stop me from getting a lawn chair and sitting out in the sun until I finished my book. I'm getting by though. I'll let you know how the rest of the trip goes. I am very happy I came out here. Still having a great time despite what is going on with my body.
Sending sun and warmth to everyone

darker pink dots