Thursday, December 29, 2011

Half Way Done!

I am so happy to declare that Wednesday was my last round of the first chemo drugs. Now, I have 4 more sessions of this last drug, followed by surgery, then done! Woo-hoo!
When I got home, we celebrated by eating mini-ice cream cones we got from Trader Joe's...well, Bellen tried to eat most of mine:). The girl loves vanilla ice cream! Before you judge...she only probably ingested a tablespoon all together. By baby #4 you loosen up alot...for the better!
I am feeling relieved by the progress made and the steps behind me taken on this adventure. God has been so faithful. Not that I should be surprised. He always is, in His perfect timing. I have stated these things before, but feel the need to recap things I am faithful for: Still having brows & lashes, not being physically ill (thanks to Zofran), my mom coming to stay for every treatment, the encouraging words of friends & family.
In the busyness of everything I almost feel the Christmas passed us by...but, we did have great times with both our families celebrating Jesus' birth.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hello From San Diego!

We made it! Although, after having to rent a second Uhaul to fit ALL our possessions (a bit shameful:), I had doubts that it would happen! We arrived on Monday and have had a whirlwind week, with little sleep, but lots of smiles. Jason's parents, Dustin, Eric, Christina & girls, along with some support staff from The Rock, helped get us settled here.(A shout out of HUGE THANKS to all those who helped load up our stuff in Visalia)
Since arriving, we have already reconnected with several old friends. God is SO good! He IS faithful. One of the many things I love about our God...He is so personal.
I have been asked to post pictures of the house, and I soon as I have time to take them. We have been staying up til the wee hours of the morning trying to get things unpacked. It is much more challenging moving and unpacking a half a dozen people, as opposed to the last time we moved, with just 4 (and Jameson was a new baby so he hadn't accumulated much stuff yet).
Here are a few pictures from the other night when we went to see Christmas lights with some of the Neese cousins, while they were here visiting and helping us. Back to unpacking...more to come:)
 P.S. I feeling great this week! Last weeks chemo was a bit easier to bounce back from-my new secret weapon is eating yogurt and taking pro-biotics.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Boxes+ UCSD + Kids=Busy

Life is good, only because God is good!
The past 2 weeks have been very busy. Ask anyone you meet and they will say the same. It's the time of year. Christmas/December is always a flurry of (fun) busyness.
Our busyness has little to do with such. We are up to our eye balls in boxes, bubble wrap and tape(a huge THANKS for those of you that have handed down or donated moving necessities). How did we acquire so much "stuff"!? Embarrassing really. I will place some of the blame on my 4 children, since they don't read the blog...please don't tell them.
Last week, we took a break from packing (when I say "we" I am mostly referring to my mother and mother-in-law, since I only feel good enough to do anything 5-6 days after treatment). Jason and I had a weekend away! Ok, Ok...we were headed to UCSD Cancer Center to meet my new Oncologist. But, we stayed in a hotel, had no children with us and ate at PF Chang's, so I consider it a "weekend away":).
I LOVE my new Oncologist, Dr. Helsten. She is confident, smart, a mother herself, and has a sense of humor. Super thankful for all these things!
Last Sunday, day 20, as predicted, I began losing my hair. I was very glad I had cut it short, which seemed to make it less creepy when it began to fall out. I shampooed it very gently and did not even comb it, trying to preserve "my original look" for a few days. I was SO thankful that it just thinned out, but still looked like me, for the Pastoral Christmas Dinner that I attended with Jason last Monday night. It was the first time to meet all the Pastors & their wives at The Rock, so I was thankful that the Lord kept the hair in thru the night!
Tuesday, when I got back to Visalia, I drove straight to Amy and had her shave my head. It felt better to just get it over with and stop "fretting" about how much hair and when the hair was coming out. I felt so confident afterwards! I didn't think twice about walking into Chili's to order food-to-go with with my new do.(is Sinead O'Connor coming to any one's mind?)
Now its time to Bic my head, cus the little buzzed pieces are falling out. But, I am fine with that too. My mom was right, I have the same round-shaped head that Bellen has-although, my 10 month old has more hair than I do(he-he)! Another thing to be thankful for...a round head! Oh, and I still have eyebrows and lashes (for now).
Gearing up for treatment #3 Tuesday, and packing like a mad woman the next 2 days, while I am up to it.
sorry, can't get it turned right way :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

1/4 done

2nd treatment down. Zofran works! Thank you Lord for helping someone come up with this medicine! Just normal chemo side effects this time around. Wiped out and thankful mom is here to help things keep running.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tea Party

Jason's sweet aunt held a Tea Party for Meran and some of her close friends today...She said she wanted to have a day where it could just be about Meran, and not all the crazy things going on. It worked! Meran couldn't stop talking about it ALL afternoon and evening! She was in her social butterfly. They crafted sparkly address books, exchanged addresses for note writing and munched on heart-shaped pb&j pink lemonade (Meran's favorite!)& gorgeous, girlie and delicious cupcakes!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Off to an early start...

Christmas time! Yes, it is still November, but all my gifts are wrapped & we had our first get Christmas get-together tonight with our dear friends. It is an annual tradition...we WILL continue even thru our relocation! We kept it simple by meeting for pizza, but had the same wonderful time visiting, kids playing and gift exchange. I hope we can do it til we are old and gray!
The Cool Dads

Jameson & Owen
Best Friends
The Little Brothers...excited for gifts
The Cute Little Sisters
The ones who bore these cute kids, married to the cool dads:)

Karin helps Bellen open her new "purse"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Thankful for...(in no particular order or seriousness)

1. My loving husband & best friend
2. Four healthy children
3. A wonderful, caring family
4. My relationship with my Creator
5. Clean sheets
6. Pedicures
7. Medicine & Doctors
8. Laughter
9. Living in the USA
10. Water
11. Round Table Pizza
12. Chubby baby hands
13. PF Chang's Crispy Green Beans
14. The Beach
15. Online Shopping
16. Christian School
17. Good Friends
18. Target
19. See's Candy
20. Hand bags
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness;come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100
This was taken at Jameson's Friendship Feast, Friday at school.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Now you see it...soon you won't

Before with my hairdresser, Amy


I cut my hair short in hopes to get the satisfaction of getting to it before the medicine makes it fall out. They say it happens around day 20 which is about a week & a half from now. The thought of it falling out "long" (how I would refer to my hair, considering how short I have had it for so long) seemed like it would be creepier than if I cut it short. I know it is a reality of the medicine (the hair loss) and have told my kids not to think of me losing my hair due to the cancer, but rather because of the medicine that will make me better.
Tonight, as I was looking at the pictures that Becca took of our family last month, I started to cry. It surprised me that I would cry over my hair. Or, maybe it was just the mourning, that comes for a brief moment from time to time, about what cancer takes from you. In moments like this I HAVE to turn to Jesus, to Scripture, to refocus. It sucks, and I think it is ok to say so. But, one has to be so careful to not miss the blessings that are gifted from walking this path, with Jesus. So, let me take a minute to remind myself, "Britton, stay focused on Jesus. He is in control. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!"

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me. I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!" The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:1-7

Prayer request: Please pray for "strong veins". So far, so good (thank you Jesus). The thought of a port (which I would need if my veins no longer can take the chemo) makes me anxious.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Glad its today and not a few days ago...

Well, since my last post I have lost 5 lbs. No, it is not a new anti-cancer diet that I am trying. I had a bad reaction to the chemo & the 2 anti-nausea medicines they gave me, both as a prescription and in an IV before the chemo, didn't work. I have always been sensitive to meds and haven't probably even taken close to a half bottle of Tylenol over my lifetime.
I finally went in yesterday, after 2 1/2 days of misery, to see my oncologist. He gave me an iv to hydrate me and tried a new anti-nausea medicine, that actually works for me!
Now, I am just fatigued(the normal side effect of chemo) and have gotten some appetite back.
Being back in a state of semi-mental focus (although, there is something called chemo-brain...I am thinking this, combined with mommy-brain, may be really bad;) I want to thank everyone who has shown love and support to me and my family. Whether it be bringing food, flowers, new slippers, picking up my kids from school, taking them home to play, a cute breast cancer awareness necklace, cards & notes, calls, texts, and most importantly...prayers on my behalf to our Lord. I know I have this awesome army of supportive family and friends-that-are-like-family around me...making it so much easier to face this road.
My fairygod MOM, though she probably feels more like Cinderella, has been holding down the fort while Jason went to San Diego to start his job (although he is back for the weekend) and I was bedridden. Jameson celebrated his 1/2 birthday at school, since we won't be here for his real birthday. Here are some cute picts that Mom took of the "event".
Jameson and Mrs. Bons
He brought pizza & cookies for the class to enjoy
His cute classmates

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1 down...7 to go

Had my first chemo this morning. My nurse was super nice. A young girl that is expecting her first child, which gave us something incommon to talk about-other than treatment. I was first given 2 anti-nausea medicines thru IV, then my 2 treatments. The first, a red substance that is manually "pushed" by the nurse-from a syringe thru the IV over the course of 15 minutes. The 2nd is an IV given over 30 minutes. I felt fine afterwards and Jason took me to lunch. I go back tomorrow for a shot to boost my white blood cell count.
Now that I have been home I am not feeling so hot. It feels like I stayed up all night and as the nite progresses I feel more nauseous. Hopefully it will pass soon! Thankfully my mom is here to help, as Jason starts his new job tomorrow.
Please pray for nausea to pass and Jason's safe travels.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let the Count Down Begin...

My oldest niece, Taryn, took this picture tonight of us at a family dinner. (She is very good at taking pics with her iphone:). This marks the last picture of me before Chemo and with hair:) DO NOT feel sorry for me. I don't feel sorry for me...just part of the journey. Sure, it might suck because I will have to choose what I wear around my hats, but, this too shall pass. And seriously, it could be worse.
Jameson did cry last week, though, because he is afraid that people will laugh at me when I have no hair. Sweet boy. He is so tender-hearted. I reassured him that I don't care what people think. Well, I may be a little self-conscious, but I am pretty sure it is because I might not like what I see in the  morning on some days. But, here in lies the problem. I. "I". My eyes will be on me.
Then Lord will gently remind me that I am to focus on Him. I will probably throw myself a pity-party for a few hours (hopefully it won't last all day). And then I will get over it. Remembering that, yes, sometimes things get hard, challenging, even crappy (excuse my language) but we are here to bring God glory. I choose Him. I choose Joy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Miscellaneous Bits...

A friend found the lyrics to the song Joy on youtube. Click on it to be encouraged and excited about the hope we have in our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Update: Still waiting for my Dr. here to get a hold of my new Dr. at UCSD. Apparently she is a very busy woman...taking that as a sign that she is a SUPER doc;)
Guessing this means I will not be starting treatment this week. Dr. Havard (Visalia) wants to be sure Dr. Helsten (UCSD) is in agreement on treatment so I don't get to San Diego and have them say, "It would have been better if we did___ first and then ___".

Here are a few snapshots from October ...
pumpkin patch with jameson's kindergarten class

cvc grandparents day/fall festival

cvc grandparents day

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

9 Months old!

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, although I know not its measure.
Psalm 71:14-15
So much has been going on that is out of the ordinary. I don't want to lose focus on the 4 sources of pure joy & delight (most of the time:) that I have in my life. The latest...Bellen turned 9 months old this Saturday. She is crawling around, loves her bottle (now!) and is fully entertained by her sister and 2 brothers! She is a daddy's girl (like her sister) and a real cuddler. I have taken to calling her my joy-bug recently because she is always smiling and happy. Love that fuzzy head, 4 teeth, joyful baby girl!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Joy, Joy,Unending Joy

My favorite CD right now is the new Phil Wickham, that my brother burned for me(I have mentioned this before:). Track #2 is what i have dubbed my theme song for this adventure. When I figure out how, I will put the song on the blog so you can be blessed by it too. The chorus is, "Joy, joy, unending joy. Always, joy will remain. Joy, joy, I sing for joy...always, forever I'll stay in your joy".
My nurse called me today, who also happens to go to church with us:) She was on her way out of the country but just wanted to call and tell me the outcome of the genetic testing. It was all clear...NO MUTATED GENE anywhere to be found! This is a huge relief! This means I am not going to pass this on to my children, I will most likely not get cancer in the other breast or ovaries. I am looking at this cancer as a one hit (non)wonder. Meaning, I will be treated, cured and move on...hopefully using my experience to draw others to Jesus. To Him be all the glory!!
ps-this was the test that was suppose to take 10 days to get the results, it hasn't even been a week yet (4 days to be exact!:)

Family Photo by Becca

Here is a sample of the "photo shoot" we did last wednesday with Becca.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Bit of Good News

We met with Dr. Havard, my oncologist, this afternoon. My Pet scan results showed no signs of additional cancer. It was nice to get a bit of good news...we are praising God that the cancer is contained in just the one location. My Dr. will be contacting UCSD Monday to consult them, regarding my chemo treatment plan. That way, when I get down to San Diego for treatment, it will be a smooth transition, with my new team of doctors being in the loop. I may get to start chemo as early as the end of next week.
I had mentioned to the Dr. that I wanted to start treatment asap because I hate the thought of the cancer being allowed to grow (since it has been about 1 month now since we started this process). He explained the rate cancer cells divide and grow and said that this cancer probably began 5-6 years ago! However, it would not have shown up on a mammogram until about 9 months ago (after it reached a certain size)-this was around the time  Bellen was born. That was very interesting!
So, beware, naughty, naughty, bad, bad, disgusting, dirty, weak little cancer...we are coming to get you and you will soon be NO MORE!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Radio activity & Rest time

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

Another day of appointments...who knew cancer makes life so busy? Beside the usual things one does, just to keep things in order and life rolling, you have lots of Dr. appointments and paperwork to keep in order.
First, I had my annual eye exam (not cancer related). It was kind of weird because I had to get my chart from Dr. Gerlach, as this would be the last time I see him as my optometrist. Now I need to find a new optometrist in San Diego. Besides ordering new contact lenses, I ordered myself some cute, sassy eye glasses. I will be wearing glasses a bit more than normal this year, I am sure. When I was trying them on I would pull back my hair so I could get the"full affect" of what I would look like:). Not to toot my own horn...but I can pull off short hair-hopefully that will be the same with no hair;)
This afternoon, I had my Pet scan...1 of the 2 final tests we are needing to get my treatment plan in order. I wasn't really sure what to expect, not knowing many people who have had a Pet scan. When the company who does these called to schedule my appointment they asked a series of questions. One of them being "are you claustrophobic". Ugh! I said "no", but it was lingering in the back of my mind why they would ask such a thing? One thing that they forgot to tell me is that I cannot hold or feed Bellen for 12 hrs., due to the radio active dye. Oops! Jason had to be a church tonight, so Bellen spent more time with Grandma & Grandpa Neese...she has been with them all day and boy, do I miss her!!!
After waiting 45 minutes after my appointment time, a technician ushered me thru the building, out the back door to a mobile unit("huh? I thought, "what kind of test is this?"). Apparently, the Pet scan machine travels around to different locations from Bakersfield to Modesto. I was given a small IV of Radio-active fluid, then told to sit still and quiet for a half hour. No problem there! I closed my eyes and enjoyed the peace, quiet and rest time!
After that I was brought into the room where the Pet scan machine was. I laid on a narrow table, they covered me with a blanket in a dim lit room...more rest time! For 30 minutes the machine (a tube-like tunnel, opened on either end) took pictures of the inside of my body. The radio-active dye helps to identify if there is anything else "cancer-ish" in my body. I decided that I would keep my eyes closed the whole time and sing praise songs. My brother, Dustin, made me a copy of the new Phil Wickam and it played thru my mind the whole time. I felt so peaceful. Thank you to everyone that prayed that I would find peace today, as I had this test. God provided the answer to our request.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1 week in

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:12 &14

Tonight, we had some last minute family photos taken by Becca. We won't be doing Christmas cards this year (a heads up to those of you who look forward to them). But, if I were, these are the picts I would have used. I will post them once I receive them.

I had an emotionally low moment tonight, while reading about what to expect when you have a mastectomy. Then, the Lord brought to mind Jan, a friend from long ago. I suddenly felt the urgency to call her...right now! I called...she picked up...we talked, my spirit was lifted. The Lord totally used her to bring my focus back on Him. We only spoke for 27 minutes, but she gave me verses, shared her similar experience (from 10 yrs ago) and encouraged me as only someone who has walked this same road could do.
God is good. He knew just what I needed & met my need, in His loving & gracious way.

The Waiting...

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22

Fittingly, I opened the Bible this morning to this Psalm. Hmmm...who could have orchestrated that?:)
Today we met my oncologist, Dr. Havard. He may be a distant cousin to James Taylor, I am not sure...he resembles him in some way. Much brighter though, as Dr. Havard studied at UCLA. However, I have never actually spoken with James Taylor, so I cannot be sure.
He went over my story and examined the "bad guy". He explained, very clearly, how cancer begins. Jason and I have both done our fair share of google cancer research, so we were able to follow him.
I was hoping for a battle plan to be set up today, but after talking with him I see that that was premature. We need to wait. Again.
I am waiting on the results of 2 tests. After we have these results we will set up the chemo/surgery or surgery/chemo. Which ever seems to be the best plan of attack!
These test are being done because I am 36 with Breast Cancer (stage 2-3), with no family history of BC.
The 1st test, a PetScan, will take place on Thursday. This will determine if there are any hints of any other cancer or suspicious spots in my body(besides the spots in my left breast). My chest xray I took last week came back clear, so that gives us hope that the PetScan will also be clear.
The 2nd test, a genetic testing, will be done to rule out that I have a BRCA mutated gene, causing this breast cancer. "They" say that my chances are about 7% of carrying this. In the case of a positive result, it means there is an increased cancer risk for another breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer. In which case, you would have all of that removed to prevent future cancer in those areas. My family does not have a history of Breast Cancer, so we are expecting a negative result (isn't it weird how a negative is a positive?).
Both test results could take up to 2 weeks, so we will wait. But, I won't be waiting, sitting on the couch, staring off, feeling sorry for myself or sad. NO SIR! I will be passing the time, cleaning, packing, filling out new school registration forms, getting our affairs in order...

I am SO thankful to have the move to focus on during this time. It gives us hope and something to look forward to. Of course, the move is bittersweet. We are leaving SO much we love(pretty sure I have said that before!).
But, when we were in San Diego this weekend, visiting the church and the kids' school, we felt nothing but c-o-n-f-i-r-m-a-t-i-o-n from the Lord, that this is our new home!

On a note of praise! Bellen has successfully weaned! Thank you Jesus! It wasn't looking hopeful there for a few days. But her daddy got the task done! She loves her bottle now and I even think she forgot about how much she loved nursing (though a small, wistful part of me hasn't). We had a good 8 & 1/2 month run, and I shall be thankful for that!:) Thank you for those of you who prayed us thru those few days.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Our "Neese world", as we know it, is changing...
In the past 3 weeks we learned that we are re-locating to San Diego, Jason is taking a job at The Rock Church there. We also found out that I have breast cancer. The timing seems crazy, but God knew it all before we even knew about this ministry move. The fact that I have breast cancer and will most likely be facing a year of chemo therapy and surgery, seems a dream sometimes. But, as unbelievable as it seemed last Wednesday night at 7pm, when Dr. Dounies called with the news, God already knew it...way before I was even born. We will trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding(Proverbs 3:5).
Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I will be keeping the blog posted with the updates and the latest changes, both on our move and my treatment. Please pray for us as we embark on this "adventure" (as we refer to it with our kids). We, in no way, see this "cancer-thing" as a door closed. The Lord called us to San Diego, to The Rock...and we will follow!
It won't be an easy road, but rather, a testing of our faith that develops perseverance(James 1:3).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy Happy Birthday Baby!

Bellen is 8 months old...
joyful, sweet and pure happiness!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bellen is Dedicated to the Lord

Today we dedicated, in church, our sweet Bellen Noelle to the Lord. The day was so special for so many reasons...
Bellen and her cousin, Kimber Elizabeth, who are exactly 6 months apart, were dedicated together. Also, my parents, both brothers & sister-in-laws and Addi all made the trip. This meant so much to have them all here! It was a quick trip for them and both of my sweet sister-in-laws are pregnant(yeah!). After the service, around 60 friends and family went to lunch. It was a memorable day and we are so thankful to the Lord for our final blessing...Bellen! We are also so thankful for so many friends and family to encourage and support us as we raise Bellen to love Jesus.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Everyday happenings...

After being sick for awhile I am finding happiness in being able to enjoy the everyday happenings around here!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spicy Soccer Sisters

Let the games's soccer season once again!

...and yes, that is Meran's team's name!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor Day at Hume Lake

For Labor Day, we had our annual get together at the Neese family cabin at Hume Lake. We enjoyed the Country Fair, lots of great time with the family & friends. The kids LOVE this weekend! It is definitely a big highlight in our year....I will post more pictures later, when I find them:).


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School 2011

2 Elementary kids this year!

Even Sutt was ready, with his backpack

4th grade with Ms. DeWitt

Finally! Jameson has been waiting to have Mrs.Bons for Kindergarten for 4 years!(when Meran had her)

My big boy! He was not the least bit hesitant...he was actually bummed when the day was over. He LOVES it! Yeah!
So glad we waited that extra year to send him.

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