February 24- March 17

Review:  In January, Anne had her second surgery in three months to remove a cancerous tumor. Leiomyosarcoma is a rare, aggressive cancer of the soft tissue, meaning it spreads, or metastasizes, easily. On a recent scan, spots were found in her lungs. Setbacks with infection and insurance delayed her chemotherapy, but she has finally been able to start.  To fight the cancer, Anne is using modern medicine with natural and spiritual approaches, to include acupuncture, massage, prayer, animal therapy, support from friends, and humor.

February 25: Anne’s friends brought their other bunny to visit Anne.  George injured his back legs and is slowly recovering.  He quickly bonded with Anne as he settled into her arms and began to “purr,” which sounds like teeth chattering.

February 26: Anne received a shot of Neulasta and Claritin.  This helps her bone marrow produce white blood cells and ease the pain that comes with that.  (The chemotherapy drug, Doxorubicin, kills all fast-growing cells including white blood cells.)

February 27- March 1: Anne experienced some chemo side effects, but also a couple days of extra energy.

March 2: Anne had another chemo treatment.  This time she only received the Olaratumab.  This one is the antibody that targets specific cancer cells.

March 3- 6: Days of chemo side effects (decreased energy, decreased appetite, weight loss, and nausea) mixed with good days continue.

George quickly warmed up to Anne.

March 7: Anne had her six-week post surgery check up with her favorite surgical oncologist.  During the exam, he felt a lump and sent her for a CT scan.  The tumor has returned again.

This is heartbreaking news. There were a lot of tears, questioning, and praying.  The plan stays the same: chemotherapy.  Anne has only completed one cycle and has seven more to go.  There will be a routine scan between the third and fourth cycle to determine if the chemotherapy is working.

March 8: Anne was feeling well enough to go to Bible study.  “They are definitely a huge part of my strength at this time, and I am truly blessed to have them in my life.”

March 9: Anne had a checkup with her medical oncologist.  Her blood counts look good!  That means she is staying healthy enough to continue chemo and be in public without a face mask.

March 10: I stopped by to see Anne for a couple hours where we chatted about kids, taxes, and the unpleasantness of bra shopping.  She has started to lose her hair.  She tries not to disturb it too much because then it really falls out.  We made a tentative plan for her much anticipated “Buzz and Brownie” party. As I left, Anne was on her way to shower before acupuncture.  She texted me later that we needed to move up the party.  I knew that meant she had lost a lot more hair while showering.

March 11: Anne was able to attend church for the first time in a long time.

March 12: It was a beautiful day in so many ways! The weather was gorgeous.  Anne felt well and was able to watch her son’s soccer practice!  Missing out on the events in his life is what hurts her the most.  Watching your kid’s soccer practice seems like such a small thing, but to Anne, this was a huge gift! While there, she was given to permission to park close to the field anytime.  The outpouring of support Anne continues to receive does not cease to fill her heart.

March 13: The good days continue.  Anne was able to watch the boy’s band concert.  A night of good food, friends, and music makes a happy heart.

Anne’s mother ties a knot on her prayer quilt while at chemotherapy.

March 15: A friend of Anne’s organized twenty-four hours of prayer for chemo day.  A different person was praying for Anne, her healing, and for her family every hour throughout the day. Some hours there were even multiple people praying.

I feel I need to explain, whenever I say “a friend of Anne’s,” I am more than likely referring to a different friend.  The amount of people (friends, family, and complete strangers) that are supporting Anne in multiple ways is overwhelming and humbling.

Cycle 2 Day 1: The treatment room was much calmer than the first time I visited Anne here.  The sun shining outside the giant windows made the room and the view feel cheery.  I think the sun had a positive effect on Anne as well.  Her spirits seemed higher today, perhaps it was the sun, perhaps it was getting over the first time jitters, perhaps it was because this “Day 1” was not as long as the first one. The time quickly passed as we chatted about life as a military spouse.

She had her blood tested.  She received an IV of steroids and anti-nausea medicine to help the effectiveness and side effects.  Then Olaratumab, or the Big O as Anne calls it.  And then the Doxorubicin, or Red Devil.  I told her it still looked like Kool-Aid, but more watered down this time because of the sun shining through the windows.   The good news is the side effects should stay about the same.  Which means Anne knows what to expect and that little bit of certainty helps make the outlook more manageable.

That evening, Anne did not make it to Bible study understandably, but she was able to participate via speaker phone. Such a great way to stay connected to friends and God’s plan!

March 16: More Neulasta and Claritin, followed by her son’s soccer game.  They won!

March 17:  Anne’s sister came to visit and more bunny visits from George.  Anne and George have become fast buddies.  He will happily sit with others, but with Anne, he instantly melts into her arms.

Anne reviews her latest paperwork as “The Red Devil” silently drips in the IV.

I recently saw a Facebook post comparing glowsticks to life.  It explained glowsticks need to be broken in order to shine, and how life is the same way. When we are “broken,” facing our hardest struggles, is really when we shine, when we learn the most about ourselves and transform into something more beautiful.  It made me think of Anne.  We already knew Anne is an amazing person, but I feel like her “brokenness” is making her shine brighter and in a way inspiring those around her to shine brighter too.  With her vulnerability, strength, and attitude, she is inspiring others to look outside themselves, be thankful for what they have, and find ways to help.

Follow Anne’s Journey with LMS

Anne’s Story: In Memorandum

Review: Anne passed away due to complications from uterine leiomyosarcoma (LMS). June 8, 2019 Anne’s memorial was held at the church she grew up in.  The small church quickly filled with friends and family of all ages from all the country.  Boy Scout and Navy uniforms...

Anne’s Story: See You on the Other Side

Review: Anne’s chemotherapy is no longer working. Her doctors will throw everything at the cancer: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation, hoping the full assault will have an impact.  The reality of the brutal, aggressive nature of leiomyosarcoma cannot be...

Anne’s Story: Hail Mary

  Hail Mary Review: Anne completed three rounds of her newest chemo regiment and had a regularly scheduled CT scan to see if it was working.  It was not. April 2019 Days after learning the devastating news, Anne and Ray went to the local chemo clinic to learn the...

Jennifer Jones of Sparkson Photography is a documentary style family photographer specializing in family, newborn, and school portraits. Serving Kitsap County, WA and surrounding area.

Sparkson Photography

Jennifer Jones of Sparkson Photography is a documentary style family photographer specializing in family, newborn, and school portraits. Serving Kitsap County, WA and surrounding area.

Contact me to book a session.