MaeLynn's Final Resting Place

MaeLynn's Final Resting Place
I went over to the cemetery the day after Memorial Day. You can tell she was so loved...and still is.

MaeLynn's Hummingbird Box

MaeLynn's Hummingbird Box
MaeLynn and Andy have been having a lot of fun getting into their artistic sides lately. This is one of MaeLynn's projects from this fall.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Amazing Generosity

When I went to MaeLynn's house yesterday, I was amazed at the transformation that had taken place! While the Harrises were in SanDiego, many people came together and gave the house a facelift! The kids keep calling it an extreme makeover. It includes, but I'm sure is not limited to the following:

  • Deep cleaning
  • Organization of closets, cupboards, and pantry
  • New family pictures hung on the walls
  • Curtains in the kitchen windows and kids bedrooms
  • Front porch cleaned off (including the diaper bucket!)
  • New couches
  • New 'big boy' beds for the twins
  • New comforters for all the kids' beds
  • A new toilet in the upstairs bathroom that actually flushes!
  • Fixed gate to the backyard and raingutters
  • Ripped out bushes in front yard and planted flowers, brought in woodchips
  • Weeded and planted a garden
  • Washed and cleaned out the family car, had it serviced, filled it up with gas
  • Etc., Etc., Etc.

MaeLynn was blown away by it all and wants to thank Nana's friends from the hospital, Dave, Karl, Chris, Logan 10th Ward youth, and the many many people she's not even aware of that helped with the project. As soon as we get our cameras/pictures coordinated, we'll post some of "the new" look!

Health-wise, MaeLynn is doing okay. She says the pain is minimal, as long as she eats "just right". This means eating tiny bits of food all day long. If she actually ate what would consist of a meal, she would feel much worse. Too much food at one time is really hard on her. She is also very exhausted all the time which makes it really hard to accomplish anything. She wonders if part of the exhaustion is just from the emotional stress of handling something of this magnitude.

Luckily, she has amazing friends and family who are more than willing to help out. Andy's sister takes the kids once a week, his aunt takes them another day. People have been bringing meals in a few times a week. The Relief Society in her ward sent around a sign-up sheet to see who would be willing to help and MaeLynn almost cried when she saw the list. Basically anyone who was in Relief Society that Sunday signed up. What a huge blessing to know there are so many people who can help.

Doctor-wise, Mae will be going to the Huntsman Center next Tuesday (June 30th) to get second opinions from an oncologist and a surgical oncologist. When she first found out she had this rare type of cancer, the doctors told her that her body would probably not respond to typical chemo, but then the oncologist in Logan made it sound like they SHOULD do chemo to address all the areas where the cancer is/might be. The doctor in Logan also consulted other specialists of neuroendocrine cancer and they agreed that this is what should happen.

The only problem is, there are no sure answers, and this makes it so hard to make a decision. Will the chemo prolong the pain? Quality is more important than quantity to MaeLynn. With some types of cancer, they have on-going clinical trials that people can be part of. But this cancer is so rare that there aren't any clinical trials happening right now.

There was one treatment that Andy and Mae heard of that seemed plausible...called octreotide. It included an injection in the muscle of very high doses of a synthetic version of a hormone your body makes. The side effects didn't sound as awful as chemo, but then MaeLynn found out that her body's seratonin production would be inhibited (which she already struggles with), and absorption of medications and food would be stopped. So basically, she'd have constant diarrhea and crippling depression. Not worth it.

MaeLynn has had several priesthood blessings and she really feels at peace with whatever may come. She knows that the end of her life will not be the end of her family.

On a brighter and final note, she and her family have all kinds of trips and reunions planned for the next few weeks in Logan Canyon, Park City, Salt Lake, and Cottonwood Canyon in Wyoming. After July 16th, we'll start organizing more help for Mae.

She says THANK YOU again to everyone's help and prayers, and really appreciates everyone's support. Until next time....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back From Vacation

So MaeLynn and family are back from San Diego. They got to stay in a condo on the edge of a cliff looking out over the was amazing, Mae reports! She and Andy also had a wonderful two nights of respite in Salt Lake (without the kids!!!) for their 8th Anniversary.

I talked to her last night, and she's still trying to decide exactly what to do about/when to start treatment. She's open to any homeopathic suggestions if anyone has any.

Friends and family in Logan (or anyone who'd like to come) are invited to a meeting at MaeLynn's house this Thursday night, June 25th at 8:00 p.m. to discuss how and when people can help her out. Bring your brainstorms, notebooks, and a treat if you'd like.

As soon as I can, I'll try to post some pictures of her vacation. Till next time......

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Week and a half Later

Sorry it has taken me so long to update this! Luckily, no news is fairly good news.

MaeLynn had more tests done on Monday the 8th in Logan. They were looking for cancer in any other parts of her body, i.e. brain, lungs, other soft tissue.

She then talked to an oncologist on Tuesday to review the tests. Fortunately, they did not find anything except for some small spots on her lungs. Apparently it's too risky to do a biopsy on her lungs, so they are hoping that if it IS cancer, it will be treated with whatever they use to treat the cancer in her pancreas and/or liver.

Treatment won't start for a couple of weeks because, HOORAY! MaeLynn's on vacation! An amazingly generous friend of Andy's aunt loaned them a condo in San Diego for a week. So MaeLynn, Andy, the kids, Nanna and Papa, and Jamie Harris Norton and her kids all drove down. They left on Wednesday the 10th, and won't be back until Friday the 19th. Then on Saturday the 20th, MaeLynn and Andy are going to spend a couple of nights/days in Salt Lake for their 8th Anniversary (which is June 22nd), complements of Pam and Lee.

The doctor says he thinks the vacation is a great idea, and that they'll just start treatment when MaeLynn returns home. If my facts are right, MaeLynn will be taking oral medication along with intravenous medication (which I'm assuming means chemo, but I'm not sure, and haven't had a chance to ask MaeLynn)

MaeLynn seems very upbeat about it all. I don't know if I said this last time, but it all feels very surreal at this point.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and fasting last fast Sunday. Thanks also to everyone's notes and phone calls. If you're looking for a way to help out, MaeLynn said that Grandpa Harris is arranging a fund that anyone can donate to. I'll keep you posted on that. She could also use help at home, I'm sure, in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted about that also.

Keep praying and don't lose faith and hope. Mosiah 4:9---Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Blog by Laura

Hey everyone! This is Laura, MaeLynn's cousin, starting a blog for Mae. Also for all you who are wondering exactly what is going on and want to hear it from the horse's mouth. I guess that makes me the horse, and hopefully I can do a good job of this.

So here goes.

If you're reading this blog, you already know that MaeLynn found out this last Wednesday that she is in stage 4 of low-grade neuroendocrine cancer. They have found it in her pancreas and liver, and will be doing more tests on Monday, June 15th, 2009 to see if it has spread to other areas.

MaeLynn is doing all right. She has been having abdominal and back pains since October, and since she found out this news, they don't seem to be any better or worse...just still there, of course.

She will be talking to an oncologist on Tuesday to figure out a plan of attack, but until then, she doesn't know exactly what will be happening.

The doctors say that statisitically people with this type of cancer (which is actually quite rare) live 3-5 years. We wish it was decades, but it is what it is.

She has five kids now, the oldest one will turn seven in July. The youngest will be two in August. When Andy took Ellie, the five-year-old aside to talk to her about MaeLynn's condition, her first question was, "Where will we bury her?" (MaeLynn said she could just picture Ellie thinking about the dogs buried in the backyard or out on the farm) So Andy took her to the cemetery to show her, and she looked worried. "Are we going to have to dig the hole?" No, "Oh No!" or tears or anything...just hopes that she wasn't going to have to do all the work.

Later when they were talking about how people get their hair and make-up done and wear their temple clothes when they die, Ellie asked, "Doesn't all your hair fall out when you die?" And Andy said, " fact it keeps growing after you die," thinking 'just a little'. But Ellie thought for a minute and asked, "So when we're wez-uh-wected will we all have weally long hair?"

It gave Andy and Mae a good laugh, and hopefully the funny moments will make the unbearable ones more bearable.

More to come next week!