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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Good Christmas 2010

Well the "holidays" are almost over, and it's all gone just swimmingly for MaeLynn and her family!
They were able to have some great parties with extended family before and after Christmas. They were able to just be at home with their little (big) family on Christmas Day, which MaeLynn was really grateful for.
She's been getting more short of breath and needing to use her oxygen more lately, so being home for a day was really nice for her. Andrew's parents came over for a little while to help with the kids. Poppa made a fabulous late breakfast for them, which was another thing MaeLynn was grateful for.
Speaking of Poppa, he wrote a really neat article about MaeLynn in the Herald Journal the Sunday before Christmas, and as soon as I get a copy of it I'll post it.
We are all constantly in awe of MaeLynn's love and positive attitude. She hopes everyone has had as good a Christmas as her and wishes everyone a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday December 6th 2010

Well, MaeLynn continues to be "all right"! She had a really nice Thanksgiving at her own home with her little family and her parents and sister. Andy did the turkey (I think his first time!) and it turned out really good.

I asked MaeLynn what her TOP 10 things she's grateful for are, and here's what she came up with: (Sorry I counted wrong when she was telling them to me, but nine's close enough, isn't it?)

MaeLynn's Top 9 Thankful fors
1. Pain meds!! and the fact that my pain is managed.

2. 8:00 pm (aka bedtime for the kids)

3. Sleeping kids :)

4. The people that still come help me on a regular basis...doing my laundry, doing my dishes, cleaning my house, bringing in meals.

5. The way the Lord works in that he blesses the people that help me even more than how much they bless me by the things that they do (which is ALOT!). (Then I don't feel as guilty accepting the help :)

6. Good TV nights when Andy and I can watch TV together

7. When Andrew's traps are empty :)

8. Jamba Juice (Christmas is coming!! hint hint)

9. The hospice program! I am so blessed to be on hospice and not be bedridden. My nurse still comes three times a week to check on me and she knows what to expect on death and dying. She can get me through panic attacks and she totally validates all my fears and feelings. The nurse's aide, also, really keeps me going. She makes me get showered and dressed five days a week whether I want to or not. I'm so grateful for both of them.

MaeLynn just keeps swimming! She's been busy shopping and creating for Christmas. It's been really nice to actually go WITH Andrew to do the Christmas shopping. Their Christmas decorations are all up, and the kids are getting excited. MaeLynn's been having fun making fancy headbands for her girls and for Christmas gifts. There's always some craft up her sleeve. Until next time, Peace on Earth, and Good Will toward men!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday November 21st 2010

Mae is still doing pretty well! She seems to be pretty "normal" this week.

One not-so-good event that happened this week was that some of MaeLynn's medications went missing on Thursday. Andrew is pretty sure someone stole them, although who knows. He reported the incident and luckily MaeLynn was able to get what she needed through her hospice nurse and a very helpful pharmacy. So things are okay for now.

MaeLynn was able to get another project done...a wreath made of knotted ribbons. It turned out really cute. She loves to let those creative juices flow!

The kids and Andy seem to be doing okay, and everybody made it to sacrament meeting today, although MaeLynn had an anxiety attack halfway through and had to leave. It's so crazy to see a lady who usually LOVES to be with lots of people getting all antsy around large groups. I know it's frustrating to her, but there's not much she can do about it. She is pretty relaxed at home and when only one or two people are around, so that's good.

Hopefully she keeps having these good days! Thanks again for all the prayers going out for these guys!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday November 10th 2010

Just wanted to let everyone know that the last couple of days have gone really well for MaeLynn! She's back to "normal" normal as she's been the last couple of months.

She's feeling positive, and today was able to go shopping for some new pants and cute boots. She was also able to get the craft project done that she started at Super Saturday last week. Today was a good day!

"Some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity..." -Gilda Radner

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday November 7th

Well, things have been going about the same since I last posted. MaeLynn mostly sleeps. She has gotten a little more coherent in the last couple of days. I've been able to have fairly normal conversations with her over the phone yesterday and today.

Her parents and sister came into town for the weekend, and Andy was able to get out and do a little hunting. He said that he "got" an elk, but that they couldn't find no elk meat this year. (I'm sure Mae is heartbroken :)

She told me tonight that she's glad he has things that he likes to do, but she hates that his hobbies take him away from her and home (he's also been doing quite a bit of fur-trapping in Franklin Basin). She says she feels like a high-maintenance girl in the "time" area. Especially right now.

MaeLynn was able to go to Super Saturday at her church for a little while yesterday. Unfortunately, she got really antsy after being there for only a few minutes, so her sister took her for a drive and then home. My guess would be that the anti-delirium medication is taking its toll on her...bringing on more anxiety attacks.

The upside is that when she does start feeling the anxiety creeping in, she can sleep it off. Ahhh..blissful sleep

So, who knows. There are some good things, some not so good things going on. She can use the oxygen whenever she feels like she needs it, and she doesn't use it ALL the time, so that's good, right?

Thanks again to everyone's help and prayers. We just keep swimming! (From Dory on Finding Nemo)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday November 2nd

I called Andy tonight to see how the increase in Haldol was doing for MaeLynn. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it has helped at all.

When I called, Andy told me she'd been asleep most of the day, but that now she was up--attempting to eat dinner. She even asked to talk to me on the phone, but when she got on she spoke complete nonsense. I had quite a helpless feeling. I wanted to steer her to a normal conversation, but it just didn't happen. I know MaeLynn did NOT want to be like this, so I feel really bad for her. We'll see what tomorrow brings, but things are not looking up today. Sorry.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday November 1st

It feels so crazy to be November already. It's now been about a year since MaeLynn was told she had 6 months to live.

She had a fun weekend/Halloween, and had a few good days before that. Unfortunately, yesterday and today she has declined quite a bit. Andy said she slept pretty much all day yesterday, and that when she was awake, she didn't make much sense. Today she slept a little less, but didn't make any sense when she was awake.

He found MaeLynn in the kitchen clutching some junk mail and telling Andy to, "Get Out!! I've never told you this, but I'm really a secret agent! They've found me, and now there's a bomb in the GET OUT!" Andy told her that he could disable the bomb if she'd just hand him the envelope. So she did. Then he helped her get back in bed.

The hospice nurse is upping MaeLynn's medication for delirium, but as we've said before, the effects of the medicine will only be able to overpower the effects of the toxins building up in MaeLynn's body for so there are no guarantees.

She's been drinking the usual amount of fluids, but hasn't had much of an appetite. She tells Andy that everything tastes salty. Even some of her Halloween chocolate! Now you know something isn't right if Mae won't eat chocolate!! (Loss of taste and eventually sight can be signs of liver failure.)

Keep praying.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday October 26th

Hello everyone! MaeLynn is still doing about the same. Her pain is under control and she claims she still has more good days than bad. She feels bad for times when people have come to visit and she has been too tired or doped up to have a decent conversation, but she would still love to have people visit her. She told me the other day that about the only people she sees these days are Andy and the hospice if anyone gets a moment to drop by and chat for a minute, she'd love that.

She's getting psyched up for her favorite holiday: Halloween! She says, "I don't really dress up, but I did find some fake eyelashes and press-on nails, and I'll probably paint my face." Her kids are excited for their ward carnival and trunk-or-treat. They're going to be quite the entourage: a witch, a mermaid, two Thomas the Trains, and a kangaroo.

Life is a roller coaster and MaeLynn knows that it is for everyone, but she feels like the roller-coaster-effect has been magnified for her lately. She feels blessed to have friends and neighbors helping her out with cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. Seeing happy shining faces really makes her day!

Here's a thought for the day:
"Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.
“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride” (“Big Rock Candy Mountains,” Deseret News, 12 June 1973, A4

Monday, October 18, 2010

The new shed and new chair...hooray!

I finally got some pictures to post of the shed Andy has built for MaeLynn's "stuff", and MaeLynn in her comfy new recliner. These were taken last Friday...October 15, 2010.

I wish I were better at making the layout more aesthetically pleasing, but oh well. I talked to MaeLynn tonight (October 18th) and she said things are still about the same. Her blood pressure is really low, but she feels okay. She sleeps with oxygen, but doesn't have it on during the day.

MaeLynn is so amazing. Even though she's at where she's at, she's still always thinking of others. The other day she had a birthday gift she was taking to a neighbor. Then she called me to let me know I'd left a jacket at her house. She's just so always. What an example!

I came across this scripture the other day and it reminded me of MaeLynn: Mosiah 25:14-15 "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patence to all the will of the Lord."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday October 15th

Today was a GOOD day for MaeLynn! Yay! Even though her blood pressure is still really low, her oxygen levels were higher today and she didn't need to be on oxygen.

I was able to visit her for awhile and she was up and around the whole time. I told her we could do ANYTHING she wanted, and she decided to work on putting laundry away. Typical mother, right?!

It felt good, though, just to be able to do the mundane. She also directed the moving of her "stuff" out to her shed that Andy has finished. It will be so nice to have her own space to store things. Already, though, Andy is suggesting other things that can go in her shed that she'd rather go in HIS shed. Typical husband :)

Anyway, she wanted me to let everyone know that she's had a good day. Her kids are coming home tonight and they'll have the primary program on Sunday, so that's something to look forward to!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday October 14th

Today was pretty quiet for MaeLynn. With her kids at her mother's and Andy working on her shed, she was able to sleep pretty much all day.

Andy says she doesn't have much of an appetite. She's on oxygen once again, and it seems to be helping a little. I guess her O2 levels have been dropping. When you talk to her she responds, but she falls asleep quickly. She does love sitting in her new comfy recliner! And she's glad Andy is close to finishing her shed.

MaeLynn is so sweet. Even though she's slipping, she brings such a calming presence to the room. We love you Mae!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 2010

I'm taking liberties to add this article to the blog. It was just so incredible...about end of life....the perspectives of patients, families, and doctors.

I'm so glad MaeLynn chose hospice. It has been quite the journey. Many of the things that are mentioned in the article are exactly what MaeLynn has gone through or is still going through. Trying to decide what treatment to go with, having people give her all kinds of "treatment" ideas or plans, her and Andy trying to plan for a future without her.

Hopefully everyone else appreciates it as much as I do. (Sorry it's kind of long.)

Hospice medical care for dying patients : The New Yorker

October 13th 2010

Sorry about the "pregnant belly" comment last time. No, Mae is not pregnant, she just looks like it with her giant tumor, Wilma, sticking out.

These last few days have not been so hot for MaeLynn. Andy said that on Monday her blood pressure was pretty low. She's been sleeping alot, and withing the last 48 hours she has started saying delirious things.

When I saw her yesterday she said, "Laura, I can feel myself slipping. Please don't laugh if I say something strange." She hates the fact that her body and brain are doing things she has no control over. Despite the fact, though, she does remain herself...generally happy and sweet.

Her kids will still go to her mother's house for a few days this week, as planned, but MaeLynn and Andrew are going to stay home. Andy doesn't want MaeLynn to have to go anywhere or do anything right now.

Keep them in your prayers--as I'm sure you all do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 10th 2010

MaeLynn says HI! Actually she said, "Tell them that my big belly and I say HI!"

Having a big "pregnant" belly and nothing exciting to show for it is pretty frustrating...but MaeLynn continues to be positive and just keeps truckin'. Some days are better than others.

She says she feels about the same week to week. To me, though, it seems like she's slowed down lately, though. Her speech stays normal, but her movements are quite slow, and she has to try REALLY hard to keep her eyes open throughout the day. If she sits down, even for a moment, it's very possible she'll fall asleep.

The good news is that Andy's almost done with MaeLynn's shed! Yay! Hopefully next time I'll have a picture of it. She's excited to get her art stuff out of the kitchen, bedrooms, etc.

Andy's also gotten really busy lately trapping beavers and other animals. He calls it his "job", but he enjoys it way too much to call it that :) The kids have had a great time going out with him to check his traps a few days a week.

This next week the whole family will take a little trip to Grandma and Grandpa Katchner's house in Salt Lake since it's UEA. MaeLynn's hoping it will not be too stressful, but my guess is that her saintly mother will just let her sleep all no worries for MaeLynn, right?

I guess the next fun scheduled is till then, that's all for now folks!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19th 2010

Sorry! MaeLynn's been doing so well, and things have felt so normal, I haven't felt the pressure to update the blog as often!

MaeLynn continues to feel fairly good. She still has quite a bit of energy and the medications she is on are doing their job.

This last week she was able to go three days straight without naps...a miracle! Although, then she was up "cracking the whip" on Andy (according to him). They got all kinds of projects started and finished this week. It all started with the new fridge.....

They needed a new fridge, so they found one they liked, brought it home, and discovered it was four inches too big to fit in the space the old fridge came out of. Andy says, "No prob! We'll just empty the cupboards in the island and move it over a few inches." Two days and one large pile of tupperware later, they decided they needed a new home for some of their kitchen gadgets and art supplies that had been in the island.

The china cupboard in the kitchen looked like a great place to put the stuff, so they cleaned out the kids' clothes, filled up the cupboard and realized that they still had a pile of things. Andy again says, "No prob. I'll just move these extra things out to the shed." But when he got out there, there was no room for anything in the next thing they knew they were having a yard sale!

Along with all this craziness, they were able to bring in a new comfy rocker/recliner for MaeLynn, get their roofing project finished up, and get in a new clothes dryer...(which luckily DID fit in the space provided..hahaha).

Oh! And MaeLynn and Andy were able to take a relaxing trip Labor Day weekend to Riverdale in Idaho. It was really nice for them to get away. And it was REALLY nice of their friend, Patty, to take their kids for the two days they were gone! Thanks!

For now, life continues as normally as can be expected. MaeLynn's mother still comes to help about once a week. She came this last Friday night to help MaeLynn so that Andy could go to a Smashing Pumpkins concert with some friends. It was therapeutic for Andy, as it had been a really long week full of naughtiness from the kids. For the most part, though, Andy says things are going surprisingly well being at home all the time. He's sure it's because of all the prayers going out for their family.

One fun thing MaeLynn has finished is a beautiful hummingbird painted on a box. She's really been getting in touch with her artsy side lately. In fact, she really wants a place to put all of her art supplies, so she convinced Andrew to build her her own shed out back. He'll start on it this week. This makes MaeLynn so happy. She says life feels really good lately. She's glad for every day she has. EVERYONE'S grateful for every day.

Prayers are so helpful and she's thankful for them. Thanks, once again, to all the family, friends, and neighbors who are constantly calling and helping!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday August 27th

These last couple of weeks have continued to go really well for MaeLynn! The new medication she's on is doing wonders for her level of functionality!

Not a whole lot exciting has been going on...I know it's a lame excuse for not posting. One great thing that has happened within the last two weeks is that MaeLynn's two oldest girls have started school, and the twins and Abby have started into three days of preschool a week instead of two (thanks to the amazing generosity of the preschool)! Andy and MaeLynn are able to breathe a little easier during the days without so much chaos going on :)

MaeLynn hasn't had to use oxygen for the last couple of weeks either. She told me last week, "I feel good about life right now!" She really is able to talk and stay awake most of the day (as opposed to how July went). She's also sleeping better at nights and doesn't have to get up quite as often to use the bathroom! Hooray! She's had a lot of energy and prays that it stays for a while. We all do. Last Friday she got to go see the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love"...just her type of movie. She was able to stay awake through the whole movie and ended up liking it a lot! Andy even admitted to enjoying it.

For fun, MaeLynn's been doing more's a picture of her painting a castle piggy bank for Abby's birthday.
Their excitement for this week is getting a new roof...Here's a picture of the work in progress. I guess it's a project that has needed to be done for a long time...and now they're getting around to it. When Andy and his cousin Chris started pulling off shingles, they found that part of the roof had been burned at one point in time and was in pretty bad shape. They ended up re-framing the roof over the porch, and then having a roofing company come in and re-roof the rest. Whew!
Well, that's it for this time!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday August 15th 2010

This has been a pretty dang good week for MaeLynn! They took her off of the Haldol (for delirium) and put her on something called Zyprexa that does the same type of thing. Awesome thing though: it hasn't created the extreme anxiety that she was feeling when she was on the Haldol. She has been able to function much more normally this week than she has for a while.

MaeLynn has been able to get some painting projects done, interact more with her kids, and stay awake much longer than usual. It's been a good week. It's been really hard for her to have all this time on her hands, but not be able to do anything, so she's really enjoyed this week of increased energy and optimism. Andy said she's even been doing some house cleaning...she must feel REALLY good :).

The kids have had lots of fun playdates and sleepovers with friends and family. This helps to quiet the house down a little bit and decrease MaeLynn's anxiety, also. Kendall and Ellie were able to paint with MaeLynn this week and had a great time doing so. Unfortunately, when they were done, they twins found MaeLynn's paints and smeared them all over the kitchen table. Bless their hearts. Wish Andy had taken a picture of that one.

The twins were on a roll this week. Along with the paint mess, they managed to rip a giant hole in the family tent that was up in the backyard, AND pour water on Andy's laptop. Anybody up for two four-year-old boys?

MaeLynn's mother and dad continue to be a major help with the kids and household duties. It's amazing to see the outpouring of love from them and all the other family, friends, and neighbors. Like I said last time, MaeLynn can really feel everyone's love and prayers and she is constantly saying how blessed she is. She is an example to us all. "Don't worry about what you don't have. Be happy with what you've got."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday August 6th

MaeLynn and her family had a nice surprise last week. Some young women from a nearby ward brought the "Holidays" to their home. One night it was Halloween and the kids got to trick or treat. Another night was Thanksgiving, and the young women brought a whole Thanksgiving dinner along with a pineapple dressed like a turkey. Another night was Christmas with a small tree and gifts for everyone. MaeLynn said it was so fun to watch her kids as each night would unfold. Triston would answer the door and shout, "Mommmmmm! The candy people are here again!"

Things are about the same for MaeLynn. She sleeps most of the day. When she is awake, she has almost constant anxiety. The change in medication hasn't done much to curb her unease. Yes, she is lucid, but to MaeLynn it doesn't feel like a good place to be. She fidgets a lot and is constantly feeling like she's boxed in and needs to be somewhere else.
She doesn't feel hardly any physical pain, but her emotional/mental anguish is intense.

One frustration she related to me yesterday is not being able to type. She LOVES all the notes, e-mails, prayers, and phone calls going out to her and for her. She says she can feel them like a force around her. She tried to get on Facebook the other day and respond to people, but she just couldn't type. She has always been a good typist and grammatist, but she said she spent more time backspacing than typing decent words. She knows where the letters are on the keyboard, she just can't get her fingers to type the right things. It is VERY frustrating to her. So, just so you all know...she does read your notes! She loves getting them! But you may not get a response. She tried dictating to Andy to have him type some messages for her, but that's hard, too. She wanted me to also let everyone know that you're welcome to call anytime. You may not get to talk to MaeLynn as she is asleep alot, but she doesn't mind phone calls at all.

I often wonder why death is prolonged...not just for MaeLynn but for many many people. One LDS article that helped shed a little light on this for me is titled, "The Uses of Suffering" by Sandra Ferrin Strange. If you go to gospel library, you can read it.

One last thought from my 6-year-old/Lilo and Stitch: Love is stronger than death.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010

MaeLynn has wanted to post some words of wisdom for a long time. We finally have it in writing! Here it is, straight from MaeLynn's mouth/pen:

We all learn different things on our life's journeys. I feel that perhaps the biggest thing I have learned since being diagnosed with cancer is to love myself. It is so very important to know who you are and know why you do the things you do.

I love people. You all know that! I've been called a "social butterfly" since third grade! However, one of the awarenesses I have had is that I use the details of others' lives to fill up the space in my life. Whether my insides were truly empty doesn't matter---that's the way I perceived them to be. Thus I actually became afraid to be alone! The last few months I've really had to work on being alone, and have found it's not that bad.

If I could change the world in one way, it would be to help you all love yourselves more unconditionally. That love will naturally be passed on to others. Thank you for being a part of my life.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25th: Andy's updates from Facebook

From Monday July 19th: Yesterday Mae went to sacrament mtg., she is doing well, but frustrated that she "can't go home yet" I think it would be Ok if we all prayed for her quick release... God's will be done of course!

And: Mae had another massive anxiety attack today! We are going to adjust her meds and see if we can't get her a bit less anxious... Hope tomorrow goes better! On a positive note, I got to take the kids up the canyon to watch the heli crew fight a small fire, and do some rock climbing!!!!

From Wednesday July 21st: Mae had a decent day today... I think we have her meds adjusted closer, to help with the anxiety side affects! She still sleeps all but 2-3 hours a day. Things are going OK.

From Friday July 23rd: Life is still chaotic... Today Mae has had mild anxiety since 3:00, I finally gave her a benadryl to "knock" her out! She is sleeping peacfully now thank goodness!! Hope tonight isn't too long.

From Saturday July 24th: This is Andrew in behalf of Mae again... She is having a lot of anxiety again. We aren't sure bit think it may have a lot to do with her new medicine. If that is the case she wants to get off it, which means a close end on sight. She wants to thank all of you for your prayers, well wishes, and beautiful notes! She wants to go home, and I don't blame her one bit!!! I love you MaeLynn!

Sunday July 25th: No comments on Facebook today, but I (Laura) just talked to Andy and MaeLynn for a minute. Things are going a tiny bit better today. Hopefully the lower dose of medicine decreases the anxiety attacks....but that probably means she'll start having more delirium. Who knows. What a mess to be in....keep praying that everything will be okay. Here's a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

"In my ninety-plus years, I have learned a secret. I have learned that when good men and good women face challenges with optimism, things will always work out! Truly, things always work out! Despite how difficult circumstances may look at the moment, those who have faith and move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Late Post from July 8th

I just realized I thought I posted this on MaeLynn's blog two weeks ago, but I accidentally posted it on my own. Here it is...a little late, but thought I'd post it anyway:

So we've made it through one more day. Yesterday MaeLynn's dad and sister came to stay for a little while. They were able to get MaeLynn up off the couch and out onto the front porch for a little Vitamin D.:)

She's still doing about the same.Andrew says they just keep her pain and anxiety meds a-coming. She's now on a 75 mcg/hr patch of fentanyl. When her mother asked her the other day if something felt okay, she said really frustratedly, "I don't know HOW I'm supposed to feel!?!"

When she's "with" it she's really frustrated...who wouldn't be. Andy said a nurse's aid came to help MaeLynn shower and get cleaned up yesterday. That was frustrating for MaeLynn. She felt like she was naked in front of a whole bunch of people, even though there was only Andy and the nurse's aid.

It could be MaeLynn seeing things, or there's got to be tons of spirits around encouraging her and waiting to help.She's still taking sips of Smoothies throughout the day, but I don't think she's eating anything besides that. Until next time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 20 2010

I haven't made a post in over a week, but there's not much to report. MaeLynn seems like she's reached a plateau. Who knows how long it will last, but we're grateful for every second she has here. She sleeps a lot, but is able to get around when she's awake.

She went to Sizzler last Saturday night with her parents and family! She said it tasted SO good. She said she ate a ton, which was probably about 8 ounces of food....but it was good to get out. She thought it was hilarious to watch Ellie try to eat steak....she's missing a bunch of front teeth, so she'd gnaw and gnaw and gnaw.

MaeLynn's mother, dad, and sister have been coming and going throughout each week to help MaeLynn and the kids and Andy. This is kind of a hard place/time to be at, just waiting.

MaeLynn continues to be positive, although sometimes very overcome with anxiety and emotion. Keep praying for her and her family.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Still kicking

MaeLynn is about the same. When I called today, Andrew said, "She's doing okay. Unfortunately, she's not doing anything funny..." He got quite a kick out of some of the things she said and did last week. FORTUNATELY for the rest of us, she's doing about the same as Sunday and Monday. Very tired, but able to talk to us.

I called their house Monday morning and MaeLynn answered and it almost brought tears to my eyes. I was sure I would never hear her normal voice again. The Haldol seems to be doing wonders for her, though. It's the new medication she's taking that helps control delirium. It doesn't affect the cancer or the course that it's taking, but BOY are we glad to have Mae back to herself for the little time she has left.

MaeLynn was really glad to visit with an old college roommate today that she hadn't seen for years. I know I've said this before, but MaeLynn has seen so many friendships rekindled through this trauma, and she's grateful for it. She is always seeing the positive side of this sad story.

Keep praying for her and remember:

"The answer to your prayer may be the face of an old friend, one you have not seen in years but whose needs suddenly come into your mind and heart and feel as if they are your own. Old friends have reached out to me across the miles and the years to offer encouragement when only God could have told them of my burden." ---Henry B. Eyring

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Beautiful Baptism

So MaeLynn made it through the week! She was pretty incoherent all week until Friday. Her nurse changed her medication to see if it would help make her less "loopy", and Hallelujah it worked!

She was able to sit up to the kitchen table on Saturday and eat more than she had all week. (Which means two bites of breadstick, one bite of lettuce and some smoothie) This doesn't change the course of things, but it does help her communicate while she's in this stage of life.

She's still on oxygen, and can still say and do some crazy things, but for the most part is back to her normal self mentally. Andy said the other morning at 4 a.m. she wanted to get up and take a shower, then wanted to go outside....forgetting to put a shirt on. Sounds entertaining!

Friday night and Saturday were an incredible 24 hours for those who helped with the Cancer Walk. I wasn't the greatest liaison for that...didn't even realize it was happening until Friday. But THANK YOU to everyone who came and helped with that....for the walkers and the donators...I heard it was really neat. All of MaeLynn's kids went to it and "helped" Nana and Papa. There were also lots of Andy's extended family that came, MaeLynn's entire biological family walked, also friends and neighbors. Andy's parents do it every year, so if you missed out this year, maybe you can get set up to help next year.

Today was MaeLynn's little girl, Kendall's, baptism. It was really beautiful. MaeLynn was in good enough shape to make it to the baptism and the dinner afterwards. She was able to visit with people and have a really good day. When I left her tonight she said, "Today was a dream come true."

People she loves came together. Her little girl is baptized. MaeLynn was able to really appreciate the day. She was exhausted by the end, but I think a lot of hopes, prayers, and wishes were granted in these last few hours.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures up of the baptism day, soon. Love goes out to everyone from MaeLynn. She is one happy lady tonight.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday July 6th

Hello everyone! Sorry about the two days' silence. Hopefully Andy's been keeping people updated on facebook. Just for everybody's information again, if you want to send letters, MaeLynn's address is:

784 N 300 E
Logan UT 84321.

If you want to call, her phone # is 435-787-4127.

She really is not able to talk any more. She whispers things but most of the time they don't make sense. I don't know how else to say this, but she really does look like death warmed over. She is very dehydrated and has no appetite. Smoothies do taste good to her, but it takes her over 24 hours to drink a small one.

Visitors have been aplenty, which I'm sure MaeLynn appreciates...even if she's not coherent. Her mother would like to remind people to keep visits short, though...around 15 minutes or less. It's very very hard for MaeLynn to concentrate on what is going on especially when there is more than one person in the room.

She is leaving us quickly. She is much weaker today than on Saturday and needs help getting up and moving wherever she goes...which is not very far. The bathroom or the bed. She vacilates between being really hot and sweaty and too cold.

I asked her mother if she thought they'd get a catheter for her so she doesn't have to get up, but I don't think they will. She's so dry that there's really no need.

MaeLynn is not truly herself anymore. Andrew said the two oldest girls, Kendall and Ellie, feel like she's kind of already gone. I kind of feel the same. I almost picture her spirit sitting on the other side of the couch as her body. I want to turn that way and talk to her because she isn't really "there" on the first side. She IS still physically present, though, and I know once she's gone it will make a HUGE difference to those kids.

She has been EVERYTHING to them. Andrew told me that the littlest girl, Abby, has just started to ask him to do everything. It used to be, "NO! Mama do it!" for everything. It makes you grateful that he is a good guy and is there and is willing to take on added responsibility.

This Sunday, July 11th, Kendall will turn 8. For anyone who's LDS, that means she could be baptized. MaeLynn really wanted to be at Kendall's baptism, so we all wonder if that's what she's waiting for. I'm pretty sure they'll have the baptism Sunday night. Although at this point I don't know how MaeLynn will even know what's going on. We shall see.

Everything is happening so fast. It feels like there are so many unfinished things, and it will probably feel that way for a long time. We love MaeLynn and she appreciates all the prayers and thoughts going out for her. Till tomorrow....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday July 3

Today has been pretty uneventful. MaeLynn continues in her sleepy stupor. She keeps saying things about things that aren't on the wall, messages on the phone. You can tell she's a multi-tasking mother, huh?

Andrew took the kids up Logan Canyon for a reunion on his side of the family. MaeLynn's parents and sister, Jamie, came to spend the day with her while everyone was gone.

I stopped by this evening for a few minutes and MaeLynn's mother, Marie, told me that she was really "not-with-it." Wonderfully enough, though, when I went in to talk to her for a few minutes, she sat up and we had a really nice conversation. She was super tired and weak, but willing to talk about hot showers and cold smoothies and okay enough to tell my little boy where to look for his lost Matchbox car (which he really was looking for).

It's so crazy that just over a week ago she was up till midnight scrubbing spots off her floor and having Andy move the couch so she could vacuum behind it. Now she can hardly sit up or talk or think straight. She has the oxygen all day, I think, which may or may not help. She said it's hard to remember to shut her mouth to breathe in the oxygen through her nose. She's also having a hard time focusing on things that she's looking at. She says everything looks fuzzy. But through it all, of course, MaeLynn's so sweet about everything.

That's about it for an update. Not any better than yesterday, but not worse.

"The past is behind--we must learn from it. The future is ahead--we must prepare for it. The present is now—we must live in it."----Thomas S. Monson

This earth life is a journey....not a final destination.---Spencer J. Condie

Friday, July 2, 2010

Not Good

So here we are at the first of July 2010. The last report I said that MaeLynn was doing pretty good. Last weekend MaeLynn got to go to a cousin's wedding reception and a family reunion in Salt Lake/Draper. She wasn't real up to it....but she really wanted to do it. So she did. It was a lot of fun to visit with relatives she hadn't seen for quite a while, and she was really glad she went.

Monday, however, she felt extreme anxiety about returning home, and started going downhill. She took an Atavan to help with the anxiety...which helped. But, she usually goes into what I call "zombie mode" when she takes Atavan. She wants to sleep all day and when she's awake, she seems like she's stoned. I called her Wednesday to chat, and it was a very loopy conversation. Later, talking to Andy, he told me that, Yes she had taken an Atavan on Monday, but that its effects usually only last 5-6 hours after she takes one. This loopiness had been going on all week. She also has had an extreme dip in appetite and hasn't eaten hardly anything or been awake all week.

I was finally able to visit them today and things look pretty grim. When I first got there, MaeLynn needed to go to the bathroom, but Andy had to lift her out of bed. She is so weak and shaky. She can walk to where she needs to go, but getting up is really a chore.

This afternoon an oxygen machine (or whatever the technical term is) came. The hospice nurse thought it might perk MaeLynn up, since she's been so tired. MaeLynn's oxygen levels are really low. I was there for two hours after they put her on oxygen today and her perkiness did not change at all.

MaeLynn has also been saying some really crazy, random things. Like, "Triston (one of her four-year-olds) just needs to beat that boy up." Andy asked, "Which boy?" "That boy in the picture right there." Andy's thinking, "Okaaaaay? There's no picture." The hospice nurse told us today that as her liver quits functioning, the toxins are building up in MaeLynn's body and making her see/say/think crazy things. It's frustrating to see, but I must admit--morbidly funny.

She also is having a really hard time speaking and comprehending anything. She'll get the first two words of a sentence out, and then just zone out...or fall asleep. She tried reading a paper I brought to her today and couldn't concentrate long enough to read anything.

Her hospice nurse says she's really seen a change in the last two days. Her coloring is getting worse. Her vitals are going downhill. She said that MaeLynn is definitely beginning the transition into death. The veil is getting thin. Who knows how much longer she's got here with us.

MaeLynn seems very calm, albeit, not with-it. She received a beautiful blessing while I was there this afternoon, and things are just in the Lord's hands now. The hospice nurse told me that everything is up to Andrew now. MaeLynn does not need to worry about housework or helping with the kids. Just be.

It is so hard. So hard. The kids seem to be doing okay, but I know they can tell things are not right. While I was there, they would keep coming in from playing outside and just watch MaeLynn.

Andy and MaeLynn appreciate all the help that has been given, and I'm sure will be given in the future. If you're wondering how in the world you can help, one of the only things that sounds good to MaeLynn to eat is Jamba Juice. So anyone who wants to drop one by, she likes peach, pomegranate, strawberry....or she says, "pretty much anything." She really has no desire to eat, but feels like she has cotton-mouth all the smoothies help a little.

I'm sure Andy would appreciate offers on taking the kids for an hour or two each day as the transition continues. He also appreciates meals brought in, but remember the kids are small and very not huge amounts of food.

I can't remember if I've used this scripture before, but it's really with me tonight--D&C 122:7:

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

And also the words of this song:

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Six months....

This is MaeLynn with her boys on the trampoline (taken around Easter).

So it's almost been six months since MaeLynn was "given" 6 months to live (however that works)...and she's still going strong...ish. I haven't posted in a long time because there hasn't been much to report. A lame excuse, but like I said last time....No news is GOOD NEWS, right?!?

There's still the routine: A hospice nurse comes in once a week to check on MaeLynn, a hospice volunteer comes in every once in a while to help with whatever MaeLynn needs, a hopice chaplain comes in twice a month to visit with the whole family on faith matters, people help with laundry twice a week, someone comes to clean once a week, friends pop in randomly, things are going smoothly for now.

MaeLynn continues to function fairly well on a daily basis. Some days are really hard, exhaustion-wise, and she doesn't get out of bed except to go to the bathroom...which she does EXTREMELY frequently. But for the most part she can still hang out with the kids, do some dishes, run to the store, etc.

She's still loving having Andrew at home. She says that she feels like they've increased in love and understanding in their relationship so much in the last few months. She feels like they're a sweet 70-year-old couple, the way they get along.

Andrew impressed me a few weeks ago when Kendall had a science fair. He helped her get a rock collection together and took her to the fair. He helps out the kids a ton and is working hard at being a good dad/husband. His exciting news for the month is that he got a new riding lawnmower and the kids get to ride on it with him all the time. So I guess it's the kids' exciting news, too.

Kendall and Ellie are finished with school for the summer, but there aren't any big travel plans for the summer. Their family IS going up to Cottonwood (a cabin in Wyoming) this next week and spending time with Andrew's family. Other than that things are pretty "quiet" around the Harris house. (As quiet as a house with five crazy kids can be :)

I say MaeLynn has been doing the same, but about two weeks ago her kidneys started hurting pretty bad. She went to the doctor and had some tests done, but they can't figure out what's wrong. Mae feels like they didn't try very hard to figure out what was wrong, though, since she's a terminal patient, and was a little frustrated. They did prescribe more pain medication, so now she's up to a patch that gives 50 micrograms of fentanyl per hour....which is ALOT. Wikipedia has some interesting information on fentanyl if you want to look it up :). If you're on that much of a narcotic, though, and can still feel pain.....well let's just say we're so grateful for the drugs.

MaeLynn's glad she has medication but it really knocks her out for a week after she has an increase in dosage. When I visited her last week (a day or two after the increase) she stayed up the whole time I was there but her eyes were closed 80% of the time. It almost made my eyes water to look at her blinking, trying to keep her eyes open. When I visited her yesterday she stayed in bed the entire time. She is getting thinner and her abdomen is getting larger. Yesterday she had a lot of pain in her right side, but sleeping helped a little. Today the pain is not quite as bad...but still there.

When she went to the doctor for her kidney pain they told her that her Chromagranin A levels are down from 50, 000 to 40,000, which to the layperson would be a good sign. Unfortunately, the tumors are obviously getting larger, and her liver function is down, so lower chromagranin levels don't mean much. Her kidneys are what she calls "on hyperdrive". She has to go to the bathroom about fifty times a day and so many times barely makes it to the bathroom in time. She said her 2-year-old gets that sneaky look in her eye when MaeLynn is trying to run to the bathroom and either won't move out of her way or ends up jumping on the toilet before MaeLynn can get there. And Abby just takes her sweet time. It's funny and dang maddening at the same time.

A few times MaeLynn has gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and woken up two hours later still sitting on (or falling off) the john. She's just so exhausted, but she can still get a good laugh out of things like that happening. I cannot stop laughing thinking about her sitting there for that long and only waking up because her legs have fallen asleep. Being that tired almost reminds me of the good old college days. :)

A thought from D&C----“My son (or daughter), peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mae Turned 30!!!

So, I know we had a huge party for MaeLynn in January for her 30th birthday, but she ACTUALLY turned 30 last week! She made it!

She was able to stretch out celebrations from the Saturday before (with her mom and dad) to the following Friday (with a couple of Andrew's cousins taking her out to dinner). She actually spent most of the previous week at her mom and dad's house while Andy and the kids were in St. George.

It was just too stressful and hectic for her to enjoy spring break in St. George, so Andy sent her home with his brother on Tuesday. At her parents' house she was able to sleep pretty much all day every day. It's what her body really wants now. It is so hard to stay vertical throughout the day.

Then Thursday, Andy came to get her. The two of them got to go home to Logan ALONE Friday morning. They left the kids at the Kartchner's and got to spend almost 24 hours together sans kids! MaeLynn said it was really nice.

Her parents brought the kids home Saturday and had a little birthday party. Her mom brought some scrumptious homemade caramel popcorn for Mae, and Mae spent most of Saturday eating it. Sunday morning her "guts" were screaming and she was having a major panic attack because she felt terrible and they were supposed to be going to Salt Lake to celebrate her (and her biological mom's) birthdays that day. So she decided to take an Ativan (for anxiety)...which makes her extremely zombie-like. And then Andy had to call the biological in-laws and ask them to come to Logan instead of Andy and Mae going to Salt Lake because MaeLynn couldn't function.

Later, MaeLynn told me that it all turned out well. Her biological mom brought sandwiches and lunch stuff. They went to the elementary school and flew kites. They had a delicious vegetarian/vegan cake. MaeLynn didn't know things like that could taste so good! It ended up being a good day.

The only thing bad was that MaeLynn didn't get anything from Andrew, which was very disappointing. Luckily for him, he made up for it on Friday night. MaeLynn had gone out to eat with a couple of his cousins. She had found a babysitter for the kids so that he could have some "time off". But instead of going to a movie or rock climbing or whatever, he worked on cleaning up the house for her, putting away all the laundry, and wrote her a poem on the bathroom mirror.

I'll be a while...
Got too much to do
I'll be a while...
Not as fast a learner as you...
I'll be a while...
Have your children to raise
I'll be a while...
I'm still seeking your praise
I'll be a while...
Got my mountains to climb
I'll be a while...
Let me take my time
I'll be a while...
But always dreaming of you!"

She wrote on facebook, "Isn't it beautiful? Then...he stayed up with me till 12:30 just TALKING!!! We women can't get enough "talking". Love is a funny thing. Just when you think your cup is full, more love is poured in and it never runs over."

Andy is still being quite the trooper. Some days are better than others, but that's life, right? And he always throws in a responsible yesterday when he sent the kids outside to play. He actually put sunscreen on them!! (I'M a mother and I'm not even that responsible!!)

As to the cancer....well, it's still there. And growing like a weed. As MaeLynn gets thinner and thinner, her stomach gets larger and larger. She said that her one gripe this week is that she just can't stop losing weight. She only weighs 115 pounds, and from the looks of her stomach, we guesstimate that about 10-15 of that is tumor. She hasn't been to the doctor in months, so we don't know for sure how much the tumor weighs...but she definitely looks like a bulimic pregnant lady. And she hates it. She hates that you can see every bone in her neck, shoulders, chest. Her arms are now thinner than her 7-year-old's. As are her thighs.

BUT she keeps on trucking! She's had a lot of good days. Yesterday was not so good, but the good days (so far) outnumber the bad. I have a couple of fun pictures I want to post, but my camera is not to be found. So.....Soon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

As March Comes to an End...

Every week I talk to MaeLynn and ask her "What's new? What's happening? What do you want me to put on your blog???" And every week it's the same. "Oh I don't know. Nothing's happening."

So let's just say that no news is good news. :) She isn't getting too terribly worse, but of course she isn't getting any better, either. She said she has stayed the same weight for about four weeks now! Wahoo! This is amazing since she doesn't have hardly any appetite. She said that when she's in social situations, she can eat more, but if it's just up to her....she has no desire to eat.

The hospice nurse is still coming about once a week to check on MaeLynn and take all her vital statistics. The social worker has been a little bit more hit and miss. She comes to talk with the older girls, but when she comes ALL the kids want to do things and it gets quite chaotic. MaeLynn said they're going to try to get Kendall to go talk to the social worker in her office instead of at home.

Mae and Andy still don't feel a huge need for psychoanalysis and support. (I've been trying to convince them to find a young-terminal-cancer-patient-support group to join...and I think they will) MaeLynn feels like she runs the whole gamut of emotions weekly/daily. Some days she's in denial. Some days she tries bartering with the Lord. Some days are okay. Some days are just way too much to handle. She says that just getting out of the house and out into some sunshine and fresh air does wonders for her. She told Andy, "Keep dragging me out of the house no matter how much I complain or say I don't want to!!!"

How she physically feels depends on the day. She said, "Who knows what makes it different?? Today I have a lot of energy. I can go outside and push the kids on the swing. But yesterday? I didn't even want to move. You know how you feel when you have the flu? I barely made it out of my bedroom yesterday...spent a little while on the couch....headed to the kitchen for a few minutes...then headed back to bed."

I asked her what she thought the ratio was between good and bad days. She said, "Maybe about 4 good days and 3 bad days each week."

Sundays are especially hard and she wonders what the secret is to turning Sundays from bad days to good days. They always end up being stressful, disastrous, and pretty much no fun :)
If anybody has any tips...could they let her know?

One exciting thing is that she and Andrew got a new bed!!! It is so much comfier than the pancake they used to sleep on. Unfortunately MaeLynn doesn't get to spend extended periods of time on it. She now has to get up to go to the bathroom about seven times a night. Pretty much every hour on the hour. In fact she said one night last week she was so exhausted and so miserable that she prayed that she could just sleep for four hours straight. (Reminds me of being a new mother) Anyway...her prayers were answered and she said the second she woke up she gave a prayer of thanks. What a miracle!!

Andy continues to be doing okay adjusting to home life. He's really good at ignoring the screaming and told someone on Facebook that "All the days run together." Mae was walking by the computer when he was typing that and just burst out laughing. "See how it feels!?"

There haven't been any big trips or exciting things going on these past few weeks, but MaeLynn has been trying to write letters to her kids for important events that will happen later in their lives. She said it has been really hard, emotionally. She's also making video clips of herself talking to/about her kids. Memories that she has of them when they were babies, cute things they do, their likes and dislikes at this point in their lives. Things SHE loves about them.

She's really grateful for the continued help from friends, neighbors, ward members, family, complete strangers. She said since Andy's been home there haven't been as many people coming over as often. Some days that's good because she was starting to feel like her house was Grand Central Station. Some days, though, she wishes she could see more friendly faces. She always appreciates notes in the mail and phone calls.

Next week will be spring break for Kendall and Ellie so the family is planning on spending a few days in St. George at a friend's condo. MaeLynn is worrying about the drive totally wiping her out, so Andy found a one-way plane ticket from Vegas to Salt Lake for her. She'll drive down with the family, but then fly home while Andy drives with the kids. WOW! MaeLynn isn't worried about Andy. He'll just put on his driving face and GO. She's a little worried about the kids....hopefully everyone's in one piece when they get back to Logan. Her kids (bless their hearts) are not known to be the best car travelers.

One last note...MaeLynn has been reading a couple of books lately that have been really enlightening. One is called "Cancer Talk" and has really opened her eyes to things people, and in particular, COUPLES, go through with cancer. It really is a team effort. If one spouse has cancer, it's not just that one that has to deal with it. And it's so important for the healthy spouse to get love and attention as well as the sick one. A lot of the time the caregiver is passed over in our worry and concern for the sick person.

The other book she's reading is called "Living With the End in Mind". It's written for everyone, not just terminally ill people. It's "a practical guide to facing mortality." It also has been an eye-opener fo her to physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

All in all, MaeLynn seems to be doing okay. She's trying really hard to take life one day at a time. She wants to live in the moment. A good friend told her, "Depression is the disease of living in the past. Anxiety is the disease of living in the future." MaeLynn is trying to keep both of these diseases at bay, though it can be very very hard. She keeps positive and doesn't give up just living daily life. She's a great lady.

Thursday, March 4, 2010 does she look?

Here she is, Miss America! I finally convinced MaeLynn to pose so that we can see her well. I don't know if it's the morbid side of me, but I thought people might want to see how she's faring. The inevitable happened the other day....someone asked her if she was expecting. Awkward!!! She's thinking, "Um, no. This is just my parasitic tumor, Wilma. Say hello."
Of course she didn't SAY that, she was very polite.

She actually does call the tumor(s) Wilma, though. It's kind of funny in that crazy I'm-dying-so-I've-got-to-find-humor-in-something sort of way.

Monday, March 1, 2010

February Was Good

So here we are in March already! MaeLynn has had some good experiences these last few weeks!

Her trip to Vegas with her biological family was a lot of fun. She was really tired when she got home, but was glad she went.

Having Andrew home with her all the time has been beyond wonderful. She really loves having him there, and he lasted three whole days before he needed a short break! They'll just keep working on building up his stamina :). He's been a huge help to MaeLynn. She says he's always there at her beck and call. He helps the kids. He disciplines the kids...(he's not the softy that Mae is :) But they LOVE having him there.

She was a little worried that they would get sick of each other really quick, but that has not been the case. It does help to have the two older girls gone to school for a few hours each day, and the twins and Abby gone to preschool two days a week. I don't think I mentioned this before, but the preschool "All About Kids" has been awesome to work with MaeLynn and her family in this crisis. This preschool has the kids come for almost the whole day, two days a week. They feed them, make them take NAPS (hallelujah!), etc.. It's just what the doctor ordered. that Andy's home, sometimes the two of them just get to relax and be together. MaeLynn says it almost feels like they're on a date when all the kids are out. She said it really relieves some anxiety to have him home.

Her pain was increasing, but with the increased pain medication, she seems to be doing tolerably pain-wise. Her tumors are really growing, and while she is very thin, her abdomen is not-so-very-thin. She feels bloated a lot of the time as her endocrine system is not working up to par.

On a happier note, this last week she got to fly in a small airplane with her two oldest girls. Kendall, who will be 8 in July, has always wanted to fly in a plane. MaeLynn mentioned this to a friend, and he hooked her up with a flight with Kendall and Ellie (6). The girls were petrified and so excited. It was definitely a trip to remember! Kendall's dream come true.

MaeLynn also got to visit with her cousins and aunts from her Mother's side (my cousins and aunts, too) this last Saturday at a "Cousin's Lunch". She even had two cousins fly in from out of from WA, and the other from CA. It was a fun day, but tiring. She hurried home Saturday night to a clean house and sobbing children. I asked one of the twins if his mom had left him for one whole day. "Uh-huh!!!" he whimpered. "Was it just terrible?" "Uh-huh!!" Drama, drama.

It didn't ease Mae's mind much, but I'm sure they had a great time.

One last cute thing: The other day, Triston wrapped his arms around MaeLynn's neck and said, "Mama? You goin' be dead?" "Yes, I am." Then with that sweet little face he said, "We will miss you." The same thought that I'm sure is in everyone's minds.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MaeLynn's Video

This is MaeLynn's friend Patty Bartholomew posting. For MaeLynn's big birthday bash I put together a video of special moments in MaeLynn's life. We thought it would be a good idea to post it here for those of you who weren't able to make it. All the scriptures included in the movie were requested by MaeLynn as was the "Silent Lucidity" song towards the end. A big THANK YOU to everyone who came to the party. It was a huge success and MaeLynn and Andy had a fabulous time. I mean, who WOULDN'T have fun participating in an indoor snowball fight with marshmallows! Pinatas, games galore, chocolate fountain, fruit, a beautiful cake.... and of course, great company. So many people came and showed their love and support for the Harris family. It was an amazing night. Thank you!!!!

Also...this was my first time ever doing a movie... so pardon all the mistakes! Enjoy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One More Thing

If anyone has pictures from the b-day party, or just pictures of Mae they want on the blog, they can e-mail them to me at

And we are in the process of getting a button on this site for anyone who wants to contribute to a trust fund for the Harris family. I just need to talk to the right people :)

Birthday Party Just What She Needed!

So it's been two weeks since MaeLynn's giant birthday bash, and I've finally got the down-low:). MaeLynn wants to let everyone know that she had an AWESOME night at her birthday party. She was happily surprised at how many people actually came. She was also really glad that once people came they stayed and visited and played games. She felt like she was on an emotional high all night. Her father-in-law said he hasn't seen her laugh and smile that much in a LONG time. It was almost hard to believe that she's terminally ill. She looked and sounded fabulous!

She was able to visit with friends and family from high school days, college, Yorkshire ward, her new ward, Harris friends/family, and her biological family. She even had an old roommate fly out from NY for the party. It was SO fun! Not only for her, but everyone else, as well. She wants to thank everyone for their thoughtful gifts, donations, and just their presence! She also wants to tell her good friends, Patty, Sarah, Leesa, and Courtney, "THANK YOU!!!" for planning and carrying out the best party ever!

This weekend she's heading to Las Vegas for her niece's first birthday. This will only be the second time she's ever seen her niece, so she was excited to go. Plus she gets to spend the weekend with Andrew and her biological mom and dad, which she almost never gets to do. She just hopes the traveling doesn't make her sick and crazy :(. Her sweet mom is watching the kids for her for the weekend.

Life is going as well as can be expected under the circumstances. The pain just keeps increasing, so she is now using two fentanyl patches at a time, along with Percocet. For anyone who doesn't know much about drugs, that's ALOT! She says that the chronic pain can be so debilitating, so it's nice to have some way to cope with it. That said, it's still really difficult to function normally because all those narcotics make her extremely tired. She really just wants to sleep most of the time.

Fortunately, some money from MaeLynn's life insurance has come, so Andrew is quitting his job and will be focusing on staying home and caring for MaeLynn and the five crazies (a.k.a the children :). Hopefully she'll be able to get the rest she needs and desires and be able to spend some quality time with her kids when she's awake.

She remains positive, as always, although some days are harder than others. She really appreciates the hospice nurse that comes twice a week and the hospice social worker who is trying to help everyone to deal with the whole situation. The kids seem to be doing alright, but they are so little. It's hard to know how much this is affecting/will affect them. It's so hard to understand, but we just keep praying for things to fall into place. I'm sure you all are.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

30th Birthday Party

So it looks like the Birthday Bash is open to anyone and everyone who would like to come. A lot of preparations are going into will be tons of fun! Who knows, along with visiting with MaeLynn you may see old friends and get to rekindle old flames! Hahaha Hope everyone can come. If you know people that don't check the blog, let them know about the party :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wonderful Christmas...Crappy Update

Happy New Year everyone!! My New Year's Resolution: Update MaeLynn's blog more often. Although, to give me a tiny bit of credit, MaeLynn did say that SHE would update it last it wasn't entirely my fault :)

Here's what's new. MaeLynn and her family had the most fabulous Christmas ever! They were the recipients of Sub for Santa from the Mounted Police in Logan/Cache County. They were nominated to be a "Decorated Family" which meant that multiple people called in to a radio station in Logan, nominating them to be one of two families in the valley to have their homes lit outside by Specialized Lawn Care & Pest Control. They also received gift cards and services from a bunch of other businesses in Logan and Cache Valley as part of the "Decorated Family" thing.

Their family also received many gifts and money from friends, family, and anonymous generous people, including a new van, a get-away package for her and Andy, and a VCR/DVD player. MaeLynn wants to thank EVERYONE for their generosity and support in this crazy time. She would give names, but she knows she'd forget someone. She is constantly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love!

As always, Mae remains optimistic and just keeps on trucking. She did get a crappy new prognosis from her doctor just after Thanksgiving, though....which is why she wanted to write it herself last month. However, it's just been too busy, and MaeLynn doesn't know how to say it without sounding blunt and I get to be the blunt heartless one. :)

Andrew wondered what the new tumors, and old-tumor-growth meant time-wise, so he decided to go talk to MaeLynn's doctor without MaeLynn there. MaeLynn would really rather not know how long she has left to live so that she can live her life as normally as possible till the end. But when Andy got home from the doctor's office he kept pestering her about it. She finally gave in and Andy told her that the doctor said he doesn't think she has more than six months left to live.


That's alot easier to type than it is to ingest.

When a patient has been given six months or less to live, they can get a "doctor's note" and get on hospice care. From what I understand, hospice can be incredible. MaeLynn's insurance will cover it 80%, which is really nice. Through them she can get her digestive enzymes and pain medication for free, they offer counseling services for MaeLynn and her family, they can basically come into her home and do whatever she needs them to. At this point, she still feels well enough that she doesn't need any physical care, but her family is struggling emotionally. She will start having someone come in once a month to just be around her and the kids so that they can get used to hospice workers....and the workers can offer counseling and support.

MaeLynn is doing about the same. She feels nauseous quite often, and very tired. She has lost a lot of weight...about 30 pounds since June. But she still looks good. It's almost impossible to think she doesn't have much longer to live. And she still believes that miracles can and do happen and that possibly her miracle will be that she lives longer than expected.

That said, she and Andrew have been focusing on how to prepare for her absence. They have a good financial advisor who is helping them cash in on part of her life insurance before she dies. They can set up accounts and re-invest part of it that they can live off of later. They also want to create some wonderful memorable experiences with their kids in the next few months, so they will use some of the life insurance money for that. Andrew will try to work a minimal amount of hours so that he can phase into being Mr. Mom.

It seems like there are so many people to see and things to do in such a short time. Some of MaeLynn's friends and ward members are throwing her an early 30th birthday party because no one knows how she'll feel by April 11th. There she'll be able to catch up with Cache Valley friends and have a big celebration for her 30th birthday.

Like I said earlier, MaeLynn is doing okay. She has moments when everything comes crashing in on her emotionally, but she is such a pillar of faith and patience. She seems to be handling the situation better than most people, including myself. Sorry for this news. Until next time....