Sunday, May 27, 2012


The day after I wrote this post we woke up to this beautiful sight.
 (The view from my front door at 7:30 am)
 Hundreds of them.
Lees in Smithfield ran out of orange
and started using yellow.
And Lees in Logan was bought out too.
(and more were added throughout the day)

They were brought with the message that we can feel lifted up.
And we did.

I mentioned that that night was extremely tough on our kids.
Waking up to this sight meant the world to them.
It made them remember that we have so many special 
people taking care of us.
And that, yes, life can feel hard,
but we aren't doing this alone.

This was done by friends,
sent by texts-to everyone and anyone who wanted to support us.
These dear friends-I know, had no idea how much this would mean to 
the little ladies.

Thank you for your love!
 We let them all go in the afternoon with lots of wishes floating up in the orange dotted sky.
 It was a beautiful sight!

A little update on  T and sutent.

This week was he did ok.
He had 4 shots Tuesday 
and  while the rib pain is 
still very present,
it's not as unbearable as before and 
he is able to log a few hours of sleep at a time,
where before he was waking up every 20 minutes in pain.
The stomach issues aren't fun for him.
He always feels pretty off,
and crappy,
but it's manageable.
 Each night he gets a heat rash that spreads
up from his chest to his face and makes him really hot.
Then cold,
Then hot again...
and cold again..

(How many of you just started singing katy perry lyrics?)

There are a few side effects I will spare details on,
for T's comfort and because ignorance is bliss...
but it's been ok.

Some days are really bad.
But for the most part he's managing.
We just cross our fingers for a good day each morning 
and see what happens.
It's like being on a roller coaster in the dark.
Except not fun, like Space mountain.

We feel loved and taken care of and are doing fine.
Thank you again for checking in!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oh boy.

Sutent is gonna be fun!
(Dripping with sarcasm).

Tonight I looked at T and said,
"How long have you been on Sutent now, 2 weeks?"
And he replied...

It feels more like 4.

Here's how things are shaping up for us.

After a few days on Sutent the fevers 
started to slow, and for a few days
No fevers?
No sweating them out for hours?

And his cough,
which has been really terrible,
has lessened quite a bit.
Not gone,
but gotten better!

And the nausea?
It's getting there.

Score 3 for Sutent.

Wednesday night Trav woke with some serious
rib pain again.
Because his body is mean and can't let him 
feel good for even a second!


Tomorrow he will go meet the pain
specialist again to see if they can help him out.
He gets absolutely no sleep with this awful pain,
so the sooner he gets it fixed,
the better.

We were thinking that as soon as the rib
pain is gone, he might start to feel like himself again.

Until today.
I'm pretty sure the side effects decided to kick in today.

He's felt awful.
All day long.
 His skin is yellowing a bit,
which I believe is normal.
And he got one heck of a fever today.
We know that they are coming,
but I have a pretty yucky feeling that
they are gonna be mean side effects.
And I  feel bad that my poor T hasn't felt
remotely decent in like 4 months.
(Ok, 4 years really, but even worse lately.)

I think him not sleeping isn't helping so I'm really 
crossing my fingers for the injection to help tomorrow.

Tonight I'm missing my husband.
I know he's here,
and we are so blessed that he is still here...
but he's miserable.
And he's not really himself.
 I'm just praying that these
side effects wont be too hard on him 
and once his rib pain is better he will
be able to find some energy,
and feel normal again.

There is a silver lining though.
 I mentioned that his cough was really bad before,
and it get a little better just before the rib pain began again.
And his 'morning sickness' has been a  lot better too.

I can't imagine how incredibly painful
it would be for him to cough that hard,
and be that sick with that pain.
Right now with his cough being as minor
as it is, it's still pretty painful.

We are both grateful for that.
And grateful for  the moments of normalcy we
are having.
 Even though this post sounds like it's all awful,
we have some really wonderful, happy moments
where life feels normal again.

I truly believe we will get there.
I think it will take some time to get used to 
these side effects,
but like his last drug,
his body will adjust.
I think we just have to be patient.

We are both working on it.
Thank, as always for the many people here cheering us on.
We sure love you!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

{Another new Chapter}

(This post is long winded. Forgive me?)
Scan days.
I can't tell you how much we hate them.
For a good solid 2 weeks beforehand I 
picture the Dr. coming in giving us either the
best, or the worst possible situation.
 And we lose sleep.
And sanity.

Today was the dreaded day.
 We had scans at  12:30 and had
an appointment to meet with the Dr.
at 3:00.
And we sat in his office till 4:30,
and then he finally showed up.

Here's the gist.

He's not responding to IL-2.
There was a little growth everywhere,
and a few small new tumors in his kidney.

We knew it was a small chance.
We knew.
But man, having hope made us really want it.
 This was our only shot at a cure.
And I had us sitting on a beach 10 years from 
now saying things like,
'Remember when you had cancer?'
But, that's not in the cards.

But we have options.
And our Dr. was unusually optimistic about them.
He has recommended a drug called Sutent,
and we've read a bit about it in the past.
For some, 
this is the miracle drug.
The drug that gives them more time.
And he really feels like because of Trav's
age, and otherwise healthy body,
this could really work for him.

Sutent has been used by many in the RCC world,
and it seems for some the  side effects are murder,
and for others,
they are manageable.
The Dr. seemed to think for Travis they would
be manageable.
We are crossing fingers.
And all crossable body parts.

And Sutent is pricy!
We were told today that it would cost $3600
each month, AFTER INSURANCE.
BUT, the Dr. is already working quickly to 
figure out some financial aides for us,
and we are looking into a few options.
I feel like those who threw the beautiful fundraiser
together for us, were very inspired.
Please know, from the bottom of our hearts,
we are grateful.  Truly.

Today we were very grateful for our Doctors.
I'll be honest,
we had a hard time getting used to our new Doctor
at Huntsman.  We adore our Doctor here in Logan,
and still feel that he really knows, and wants the best for 
And we didn't feel that at first with our Doctor in Salt Lake.
But today his optimism was so helpful.
And he was so kind.
He mentioned that he has about 20 people with RCC
and out of the 20, he wanted so badly for the IL2 to work
for Travis,  because of his young age and hot wife..
(ok, he didn't say that, but I'm trying to keep you awake.)
(I think he just really likes Travis, because what's not  to like?)
He said "If only he could handpick how it worked'.
He was so dissapointed that it didn't end that way.
And he was so optimistic that Sutent would be a good fit for T.
He said for some lucky people Sutent has worked for up to 5 years.
And while he can't even suggest a timeline for us,
because Cancer has a mind of it's own,
he's very hopeful that it will buy us some time,
and hopefully there will be a promising clinical
trial when Sutent does fail.

And then the Nurse practitioner who is really
in charge of us during our IL-2 doses and the
weeks we spent in the ICU came to visit for a minute.
This woman is a Saint.
She is the boss during those weeks and says who
gets doses and when.  They call her at all 
hours of the night, and I imagine she lives on no sleep.
She quite literally was our life saver while we were there
and we adore her.
Today she just hugged us both,
and with tears in her eyes told me 
how heartbroken she was that the IL-2 failed.
She also said that even though his
scans showed growth, she knows
that he will still have some beneficial
affects from the IL-2.
She feels like it will kick his immune
into overdrive and jumpstart the new chemo.
And she really feels like people with Il-2
in their system just plain live longer.
It wasn't 2 weeks wasted.

We felt so loved by both of them 
and it makes a big difference.

Instead of leaving heartbroken today,
we felt very optimistic.
We have an option,
and are praying,
hard that it's a good one.

We started taking the Sutent today
and will get a scan in 3 months to see how it goes.
If the financial aide works out we are hoping
that they can find a way to get it done in Logan
so we wont have to drive to Salt Lake so often.

If we have to, 
we will...but we are hoping it wont come to that.

His last drug he was on really kept
a lot of the Cancer side effects at bay.
The night sweats stopped,
and the cough,
and the nausea.
and the exhaustion.

They have really been plaguing Travis since he's 
stopped taking the Torisel.
It's been rough.
We are crossing our fingers that this new
drug will start to keep them at bay again,
and he will start to feel himself again.

That would be heaven!

We still feel really optimistic,
really ready for change.
It's been a tough few weeks.

And we feel really worried about
our lovely ladies.
Every now and then we realize 
how much we've focused on what's it's doing to us.
It's making Trav sick and tired,
and turning me into grumpy super mom.
And we feel sorry for ourselves and
We fail to notice the worry
our lovely daughters are feeling,
and tonight it became very apparent.
They've been praying for the cure.
And praying for a 'normal' life.
They don't understand why
they are the only ones with problems.

We tried to explain that each of their
friends have problems too,
and life isn't easy for anyone.
But they are 6 and 8,
and it just doesn't feel like that to them.
We've tried to explain how lucky we are to have such a 
happy family, but they were feeling pretty bad

Man, it's tough.

So selfishly, 
as usual!
We are asking for prayers that this drug to make
Trav feel like himself again.
Prayers for our girls.
We've told them instead of praying for a cure,
we should pray for patience.
And for happiness.
And for normalcy.
And for us to understand that 
our Father in Heaven has a plan for us.
Even if it's not the one we want.

We continue to feel so loved.
And so grateful.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We are Travstrong.

I've  been sitting here for over an hour trying to figure out how 
to start this post.

I just can't find the words.
Nothing seems good enough to express our gratitude.
And the words to explain how loved we felt that night are inadequate.

The idea for a fundraiser was sent to us while we were in Salt Lake.
One of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know sent out a mass e-mail
to all of our friends saying,
'We are doing this.  Who wants to help.'

In her excitement, 
she sent the e-mail to me to.

And I quickly replied,
"NO!  Please don't go to all this trouble.
We are fine, we will make do.'

And then rigors started
and I didn't think much about it.

Next thing I know,
there is a date sent.
And posters.
And a website.
And a million and one volunteers.

And already we were in awe.
These neighbors and friends put
time and effort,
and love,
into this fundraiser.

They spent hours meeting together,
collecting donations,
organizing every single detail.

And we didn't do a single thing to help.
And I still maintain that we don't deserve all this love.

We spotted our faces on posters all over town.
And we made it in the papers,
on the radio,
and pretty much everywhere went.

They plastered the entire valley.

 The night before the fundraiser I didn't sleep.
A wink.

I was so nervous that no one would come.
(And I must clarify, I wasn't worried about us not raising money,
I was worried that our friends who had spent weeks planning,
would have done all of that for nothing.)

The fundraiser started at 4.
And we got there at 2:30 and there were already people there.
And they kept coming!

Lots of kind strangers.
And friends.
So many friends, old and new.
And neighbors.
So many neighbors.
And co-workers.
So many.
And family.
So much family!

It was like a double family reunion, double work party,
double high school reunion,
ward party,
and it was fun!
It was so much fun.

I can't explain how hard it is to be the family
on the poster.
For the past 5 years we have been the cancer family,
but only people who really knew us, knew of our situation.
But now, all of my children's classmates know.
And old friends who had no idea,
now know.
And to random strangers-I am the wife on the poster.
And at first that was very hard to swallow.

But then!
Then we looked around at all of the support we have.
And were. Still are.
OVERWHELMED with love.
overwhelmed with support.

The night for us was not about raising money to help
pay our medical bills,
(Though we are incredibly-incredibly grateful and touched
by the generosity shown to us.  I can't even express how
loved we feel.)
But the night was about how supported we are.

It's been tough, the last few month.
And I know at times we make light of it on the blog,
but it's been harder then I can express.
And at times it just presses down on us
and makes life feel very hard.
That night, every time I turned around I saw love and support
and that was what the night was for us.

It was all about Travis seeing the
mountain of support we have.  He has.
And the army of people, really good people,
we have praying for us.

Thank you to our beautiful friends for 
putting this together for us.
 Thank you seems like such a small thing to say,
for something that was so HUGE,
but know that it is said with the 
humblest of hearts, and it is very sincere.
We love you.
We appreciate you.
And appreciate every single act of service you gave to us 
to make it such a successful and beautiful night.

Thank you to those who came to support us.
To the strangers who came just to run,
because they hate cancer too-
all the way to our closest family members.
 We wont soon forget all those who were there.

Thank you to everyone who donated money
on our behalf.
We feel so blessed and our hearts are so touched.
I wish I could write thank you cards to 
every single one of you.
On top of constantly worrying about cancer,
we've spent the past 5 years paying a hefty amount of
medical bills, and Travis has spent so much time working
while feeling sick to pay them.
 Know that this will help.
So much.  And will not be taken for granted.
And this doesn't seem like enough to make it 
clear how loved and blessed we feel,
but trust me.
We are so grateful.

someday-we will be a cancer free family.
And life will be normal again.
Know that because of the kindness we've been shown,
not just Saturday, but all during our journey has forever changed us.

 We will do our best to be more giving.
And be more aware of others needs.
And less selfish.
 And we will spend our lives 
trying to pay others back for the goodness done to us.

Now: some photos!
(My camera died on the first picture I took that night.
Thank you to my fabulous friend Eileen for hooking me up 
with such great pictures!)

This one was taken by my friend Trisha.
We have oodles of bracelets left if anyone wants one, let me know!
I love seeing so many people with their Travstrongs on!
Our family.
We love the shirts.
They say 'survivoring' on the front.
That came from this night 3 years ago.
I've thought about that made up word a lot since then.
In my made up dictionary it would read,
Survivoring; the act of wanting to be a survivor.
We just aren't quite there yet.
Working on it.
Kidman clan
Johnson Clan
We are Travstrong.

The race was first and there was a lot of lovely people there.
When it began and we saw the mountain of people heading up
the canyon, I couldn't keep the tears in.
It was a beautiful, beautiful sight.

Heather Housley,
dear friend and race organizer.
Love her!

Best friends.
My sister, mom, and SIL.

Can't imagine life without them.
My love.
Oh I really, really love him.
Members of my family who walked.
And Tana, you count as family!
Good friend Hanne and Adyson's bff Lexi finishing the run.
Our kids during the raffle.
They had so much fun!
A few friendly faces and people we adore.

Have I said thank you yet?
Have I mentioned how special the night was?
I can't stop thinking about it.
It was beautiful.

Love to all!

PS-Trav's scan is set for May 10th.  Next Thursday.

We are scared.
It goes like this,
if there is no growth, or any shrinkage we go back.

If there is growth,
we try something new.
And something yucky.

And I have to tell you that our options are
running low.

So let's just keep praying for good scans..mmmkay?