The Hanley Cow

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Mr. Hanley Cow

Hanley Cow Express
Race for the Cure
October 2003

Why “Hanley Cow Express”?
Years ago the trains ran through Hanley, near the Lathrum homes.  Every time the whistle blew we said “Here comes the Hanley Cow.”

Family Updates

Tuesday, November 26

So much for the snow.  When we got to Des Moines Monday morning, we could see a little snow in a few places, but we didn't see any here.  It was only 15 degrees, so we got a taste of the cold.

Kari's reconstruction surgery went very well.  She was out of surgery in less than 4 hours and back to her room by 1:30.  She is still on the morphine but they're moving toward pain pills.  She took her first walk in the hall tonight--much further than I thought she would probably go the first time.  Dr. Reece told her everything is going well and she gets an A+ for the day.  Brett visited his mommy after school and gave her kisses.  Kari may be home Thursday--we'll see how things go.  She'll still have some drainage tubes, but Jeff knows how to take care of those.

Have a safe, thankful holiday!

Saturday, November 22
Snow is coming!  The first snow of the season is forecast for tomorrow and Monday.  I see our friends and family in Minnesota can expect 9" of snow--enjoy it!  Temperatures in the high 70s this week are hard to give up.

This is prepare & relax weekend.  Kari checks into the hospital on Sunday evening and is scheduled for surgery at 7 am on Monday.  I told her to make a list of things she wanted to do today and we'd work at it.  Tagging the Christmas tree (she already has the spot picked in the living room where it should go so she can see it from her chair), baking cookies, and watching football were on that list!  She will be in the hospital 4-5 days and the recovery time is 4-6 weeks.  They've told her it will be more painful than the mastecomy surgery.  It may be a tough road to Christmas, but she'll get there.  Jeff is planning a few days off when she comes home.  She hopes to be back at school after Christmas break.

Jeff's parents have been in Iowa for 2 weeks and also leave on Monday.  They've enjoyed bonding with their grandsons and spent yesterday with Brett.  I think he had a good day, too, as he didn't take a nap until he got in the car to come home.

Saturday, November 1

Kari had the first surgery of the reconstruction process on Friday and is doing very well.  Her surgery was outpatient at noon (process was to cut an artery in order to "supercharge" the tissue they'll use in the next surgery) and she was at the kitchen table at 6:00 eating chicken & noodle soup.  She's sore, tired and a little nausas, but the pain pills seemed to be handling the pain pretty well. They told her she should bounce back from this one pretty well and be able to go back to school on Monday.  Brett didn't understand why he couldn't get on his mommy's lap for a book last night--they compromised on the couch. 

Kari had gone back to school Wednesday and Thursday of this week, following the gall bladder surgery.  She was tired, still had a sore spot, and the stomach was still upset sometimes, but she was doing pretty well.  She and Jeff took "hunter" Brett Trick or Treating on Thursday night.

This is conference week at school--always a tough week.  We'll be at school late Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday with Friday off--I know Kari will be ready for a LONG, restful weekend by then.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Chemo done, radiation done, healing time, then . . . unexpected gall bladder surgery.  For the last 6-8 weeks, Kari had been having occasional chest pain.  One trip to the emergency room sent her home with "heartburn" and a prescription for that.  She was better for nearly a month, and then Wednesday morning she had severe pain again.  Dr. Buroker asked her about the level of pain, and when she told him an 8 out of 10 and that it lasts for 12 hours, he started digging.  A scan and then ultrasound showed a gangrous gall bladder that needed come out.  Dr. Baker was able to remove it with just 3 small incisions, Kari stayed at the hospital overnight, staples were taken out the next day, and Kari came home with no diet restrictions.  She has to be careful lifting and is tired, but doing very well.  She's not sure when she'll get back to school. 

This Friday she is to have outpatient surgery to clip an artery to prepare for the reconstruction surgery.  They thought she would be ready to go back to school the following Monday.

The house . . . basement was poured Friday.  It will need to season before they frame, but hopefully things will start moving in a couple of weeks.

This was pheasant opener and the guys had their usual weekend.  Bill and Matt came from KC on Friday, Bill from Cameron early Saturday morning.  Rich also came Friday night for the weekend.  Supper and cards were as usual, too.  They're back out this morning. 

Saturday, September 27, 2003
A month gone already, 22 radiation treatments done and 6 to go.  Kari's doing very well.  She's tired, but with the schedule she's keeping, she should expect to be tired--even without treatments.  She leaves home at 6:30 a.m. for her 7:30 treatments.  That puts her back at school about 8:15 and she only misses 1/2 hour of school.  She's teaching a full schedule and then goes to volleyball after school.  The practice days aren't so bad, but game days get pretty late.

She met with the plastic surgeon this week and got dates set for two of the surgeries necessary for reconstruction.  On October 31, they will do outpatient surgery and clip an artery to supercharge the area used for the reconstruction.  She'll have staples from that surgery for 3 weeks and on the Monday before Thanksgiving she will have the major surgery done.  They expect her to be in the hospital 4 days, with 4 to 6 week recovery.  She should be in pretty good shape by Christmas and will allow her to use the vacation time for recovery (she's trying to save as much sick leave as possible).  Sometime after the first of the year a third surgery will happen for the last steps.  This has all been quite a process and I know they are ready for their lives to get back to "normal".

Kari has a team for the Komen Race for the Cure on October 11 with over 70 people.  Steve is even off that day and is going to walk with us and Jeff is training to run.  Kari and I walked it for the first time last year and enjoyed the experience. 

The kids are still with us--the basement of their house is to be dug on Monday.  It will work out well for us to be able to help them with Brett and Kari after surgery.  While Kari's doing treatments I take Brett to the sitter and pick him up after school.  It will be lonely without him when they move!

Monday, August 25, 2003
ALL CLEAR, PART 2!  It's been a roller coaster again since I last wrote.  On August 19, Kari met with the radiation doctor.  While thoroughly looking at the two tests done the previous week, he saw "something".  After conferring with the radiologist, they agreed there was "something" and that a PET scan was needed to see what it was.  That test was completed today and results were "cancer free".  So after celebrating 2 weeks ago, it was a tough week last week with the possibility of cancer still being present, and finally today's news was great!  We appreciated the prayers, phone calls, and emails.  Kari starts radiation on Wednesday:  6 weeks, 5 days a week.  She got her 4 tattoos today (dots to help accurately set the machine each time) and is ready to start.

School has started and Kari's first volleyball practice was today.  Brett and I did some shopping and ate supper while waiting for her to finish practice and parent meeting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
ALL CLEAR!  Kari received the results of her bone scan and CAT scan and there was no cancer!  HURRAH!  That leaves a green light to go on with the radiation.
Friday, August 8, 2003 (Edited August 12)
Kari's last chemo is done!  She told me on Tuesday evening that she was excited to know she had just one more, but was also dreading all that came with that one.  We're now in day 3--in the middle of the worst of it.  She's tired, achy, a little nauseous--but all "normal" and expected from the last ones. 

All along, Kari has "teased" Dr. Buroker (a long-time Hawkeye) about the Cyclones.  Last time she decorated his chair with a Cyclone shirt.  This time she told him they were having a Chemo Completion Cyclone Celebration, and gave him an Iowa State pin.  He cares so much for his patients that as he left, he even said "Go Clones".  What a wonderful doctor!  Kari thinks the world of him.

Coming up . . . on the 12th, Kari scans to look for any cancer cells remaining in the body.  On the 19th, she has a radiation consultation and towards the end of August will begin  6 weeks of 5 days/week radiation.  She's not sure yet how that will fit in with her school schedule, but she'll work it out.  She'd really like to be able to coach volleyball and hopes she doesn't have to do chemo after school.  After radiation (probably mid/end November) she'll have reconstructive surgery (4-6 week recuperation), which takes her right up to the year mark when she was diagnosed.  December will bring recuperation, moving into her new house (hopefully), and Christmas.  What a celebration we'll have!

Vacation at Table Rock was good.  Brett's first boat ride wasn't enjoyable, but he and Grandpa Steve took a ride the next morning, and from then on, Brett was fine and had a new job to turn on the blower.  It was an automatic when he got in the boat! 

Kari and I have both spent some time at school already and we both have extra school things to do the beginning of next week, with official reporting day on Thursday.  The hardest part of going back to school may be getting all of us at home adjusted to our changes of schedules!

Thursday, July 24, 2003

How time flies!  I've been slow with the update this time.  Kari had chemo #9 last Wednesday, July 16.  The treatment and days after have been much like before--days when everything from fingernails to teeth ache, some nausea, but not as nauseous as with the first kind.  She did verify that there's only ONE more chemo, planned for August 6th.  She's back on the Procreat (sp?) to raise blood levels but doing well.  I think we need to do an "End of Chemo" celebration as we head back to school!  Dates aren't definite, but the next step is radiation, which should begin the last of August, and continue 5 days a week for 6 weeks.  She's planning to teach during this time.  By the kids being here with us we'll be able to help with Brett in the evenings and at night.

Steve's been busy with hay, cultivating, etc.  I've started some school work already and have some more projects to get ready before new teachers report August 11.  Did we have summer?  Brett is talking more--Grandma has been a common word for awhile, but he added "Pa Pa" this week--could PaPa be any happier?  Jeff's on his own at work now and enjoying the job.  The house plans are progressing--they should break ground in August--between house, Brett, chemo/radiation, school/work, and volleyball I think they might find "something" to do! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2003 
We have company!  Kari's family is now here with us and we're certainly enjoying having our Brett fixes more minutes of every day!  Steve told them Sunday morning it was just like being together on vacation.  We continue to meet with the builder and are getting close to signing papers to move forward with their new house.

Chemo #8 is completed.  Kari came home and slept quite a while yesterday afternoon, but felt pretty well last night.  This morning she said her body hurts like last time.  They are having her take something additional this time--maybe it won't be quite as bad--last time she said even her fingernails hurt.  Nausea definitely is NOT as bad.

We were so proud of Jeff at his graduation and he's had his first night on the street.  He had a couple of events that were "fun" that first night.  For me, a little less excitement in life is good.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003 
My school duties for particular dates are finally over!  I finished my adult teaching and tech assistance last night.  I've brought some projects home for work in July, and will need to go work a couple of days, but those can be arranged.  Summer (one month?) officially begins! 

The new chemo has had its positives and negatives.  The initial 2-3 days were definitely easier on her--no nausea and not nearly as sleepy.  But the next week or so was tougher on her than the first type had been--she just didn't feel good and some body systems took time to adjust.  We thought the awful taste in her mouth (and food not tasting good) was the chemo--but finally figured out it was thrush.  She's not been sleeping as well--do you suppose some other life factors could have an effect?????  The last few days have been better for her so maybe she has the worst of this one taken care of.  The next treatment is a week from today.

Other life factors?  Brett had tubes put in yesterday, Jeff is finishing his last week of Academy and graduates on Friday, they think the house is sold so appraisers and inspectors need to see the house, and she continues to meet with the builder for a new house.  Moving day is set for this Saturday, leaving next week for final items and cleaning before possession date of June 30.  I'd better get busy here and pack up my stuff to make room for them!!!

Rich is enjoying life at ING.  He's still in training, but already talking about taking some insurance tests.

Steve's been busy with farming.  The crops all went in and then he waited over a week of rainy weather to do hay.  Most of that was baled yesterday--maybe he can relax a little the next few days.

Brett was bucked off his horse twice Sunday as he rode in "look mom, no hands" style.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003 
Chemo #7 (the first of the new drug) is over, and they were right--it was much easier on Kari.  Her nausea was minimal and today she was up doing dishes and even packed one box of "stuff" from the living room.  She's 70% done with chemo--I don't think Kari is dreading the final 3 nearly as much now that she's had one that wasn't bad.  Blood work still looked good with the weekly shots for anemia.  She continues with physical therapy and also the "fills" to stretch the muscles.

Other News:  Kari and Jeff have sold their house and will be giving possession June 30.  They're investigating building a home in Norwalk and will live with us until they have a home ready there.  Jeff graduates June 20, so bit by bit some of the pieces fall in place.  It's going to be a busy month--I have to get some things packed up here to (1) get ready for Brett and (2) make some space for them to bring some things (as well as teach some teacher classes)..  A friend has told Kari they can store things in an extra bedroom and garage, so that will help greatly!

Other News II:  Rich starts a job with ING on Monday.  It will be good for him to add some financial experience to the resume.  He helped take care of Brett yesterday during the chemo visits--a little bonding time for Uncle Rich.

Other News III:  Brett says Grandma and Grandpa and he can get on and off his rocking horse all by himself.  He's becoming a bit of a climber--more so than his mommy likes!  How he's changing!

Tuesday, May 13, 2003  Chemo #6 finishes the last of this type of chemo.  At 7:00 p.m. Kari was doing really well.  She had slept all afternoon, but got up and had some potatoes and toast to eat, and even started a load of laundry.  We left and brought Brett here for the night--I think she was about to head back to bed.  If this treatment is similar to last time, she'll be very tired for the next 2-3 days--she plans to be back to school on Friday.  Dr. Buroker does want her to have four more treatments of another type of chemo (new--wasn't even available in January, but research shows good results with breast cancer patients like Kari; Dr. Buroker said he just doesn't want to come up short), three weeks apart.  That will put her last treatment on August 5.  I think they said radiation would begin the last part of August, and that will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks.  The plastic surgeon wants about 4 weeks following radiation before reconstructive surgery, so that will occur the beginning to middle of November.  Recovery time for that surgery is 4-6 weeks, which puts us into December--just a year since starting this battle. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2003  Chemo #5 is done.  We saw Kari about 7 p.m. and she had been up to eat and was heading back to bed.  Karen was there to help take care of Brett.  Dr. Buroker did tell her today that there is a new chemo out (new since January even) and he's considering having Kari take a round (4 treatments, 3 weeks apart) of that chemo, too.  That would add another 3 months of chemo, still to be followed by 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week.  He keeps saying he just wants to be sure we take care of this the first time and Kari doesn't have to go through this again.  She did ask if they could work around vacation--they told her "Yes" so she said "Ok, then I guess I'll do what you tell me."  :-)  In other news, Jeff started Academy in DM this week (9 week course).  He's already recited his memory document (full page, word for word) and passed the first time, on the first day.  He said that was a first in the history of the academy.

Saturday, April 12, 2003  Kari’s first week back at school went well.  The sub was also there on Monday, so the kids and teachers both had a transition.  One afternoon when she was tired and hot, Kari asked the kids if it would be ok if she took her hat off.  They told her of course, go ahead—she watched to be sure no one was too distracted with it and she said none of them even really gave it a second look.  She saw the plastic surgeon on Wednesday for another “fill”.   The “For Sale” sign is in their yard.  We had a lot of good help last weekend and during the week getting it ready for the market.

Thursday, April 3, 2003  Chemo #4 went well!  I'm so thankful they found a med that takes away most of the nausea for Kari. 

  • Monday:  Kari saw the physical therapist and she had made a lot of improvement in her range of motion.  She’s to continue exercises and go back in two weeks.  She also stopped to see the surgeon—he gave her the ok to go back to work next Monday.  She'll have a few days off around the other chemo’s, but I think it will be good for her to get back with people. 
  • Tuesday:  Chemo #4 occurred early in the day.  Kari went home and slept for most of the next 24 hours.  She did feel like eating some supper, which is a change from the early chemo treatments.  We kept Brett overnight, as he hadn't slept well on Monday and both of them needed to be able to sleep on Tuesday night.  Wednesday:  Kari felt well enough to visit school for a bit, as we were celebrating our principal receiving his Doctorate.  It gave her a chance to get ready to come back on Monday.
  • Other notes:  Jeff has been offered a position in Des Moines.  He's been going through that process since last fall.  We're working to get their house ready to go on the market and they'll starting looking for housing closer to Des Moines—probably Norwalk.  We celebrated Brett’s birthday last Sunday—he was just exhausted by the time his party was over!!!
Tuesday, March 25, 2003  Another step on the recovery path . . . Kari’s doctor told her today everything is healing well and she can now pick up Brett!  She’ll be so glad to take back all these parts of motherhood!  She stopped at school on the way to the doctor and got to visit with the team members.  More solution was added for the week.  Up next week:  chemo #4, no plastic surgeon (Dr. out of town).

Sunday, March 23, 2003  To update last week . . . On Tuesday, Kari saw the plastic surgeon and more saline solution was placed in the “bladder” (my term—not sure what they really call it) which was placed behind the muscle in the chest wall.  As more liquid is placed in it, the muscles are stretched.  This will be a weekly doctor visit to allow a small amount to be inserted each week.  Wednesday she saw a physical therapist and received a lot of good information and some new exercises.  She felt good about her progress after seeing the therapist and will return there in a couple of weeks.  Steve and I took off for a few days and family and friends helped take care of Kari and Brett while we were gone.  Brett got the flu and others still came in to help out.   All of us send our “Thanks” for the help.  Leigh had her wisdom teeth out this week and Rich made it home this morning from a spring break trip with the guys to Florida. 

Saturday, 3/15  So far, Kari has weathered this chemo treatment well.  She has been tired, but that’s not unexpected.  She has a couple of appointments next week—one to add more saline solution to the bladder that is installed behind the muscle wall (step one of reconstruction process).  She also will start to see a physical therapist for her right arm—common after a mastectomy and lymph node removal.  Otherwise, we don’t expect any changes for a few days, except continued recovery!

Thursday 3/13 6 a.m.  Just got an update on Kari—the good news is that she didn’t get sick from the chemo this time!  They gave her another medication yesterday that they hadn’t given her before—yea!  She was still sleeping this morning and hadn’t gotten up once since going to bed.  One of her fears was the pain at the surgery site if she got sick again—luckily she didn’t have to experience that!

Wednesday 3/12  Doctor visit and Chemo #3.  Dr. Buroker seemed very happy with the progress so far.  He felt Kari had responded very well to the first two chemo’s and thought the pathology results were also good (lymph nodes removed being cancer free).  He wants 3 more chemo treatments after today (3 weeks apart, total of 6 treatments), to be followed by 5 to 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week.  He told her he wanted her to come visit him when he was old and in the nursing home and while they were fighting this they were going to be sure they killed it!  Kari was a little surprised at the duration of radiation—Buroker knew this and came up to see her again while she was having the treatment.  The port made the chemo much easier.  Kari said it hurt some when they inserted and removed the connection to the port, but it was well worth it.  When they first started using the port she told them it stung, so they took time to take her for a dye test to be sure the port was working properly.  It was, so she went back to finish the chemo.  Looking ahead and counting weeks, Kari should be done with treatments the first part of July.  I think this seems like a long road right now, but we’ll break it into smaller parts and get there one step at a time!  When I left Winterset about 9:30, Kari was in bed, very tired.  I’ll spend tomorrow with her while Jeff’s at work.

Tuesday 3/11  Kari is recovering from her surgery and each day finds her a little bit stronger.  It is a slow process but she is making good headway with everyone’s help  and prayers!  Tomorrow on 3/12 she will start her next round of chemo.

Monday 3/3  Kari tried to go with only Tylenol yesterday, but went back on her pain meds today and seemed much better.  She was up in the rocking chair, reading a book today while Grandpa took a nap with B.  Hand was swollen some tonight—will keep an eye on it tomorrow. 

Friday, 2/28  I was off today because of conferences this week, so I spent some time with Kari and let the guys get out of the house for a while.  Kari’s doing well—the bandages are off and she’s started doing some exercises with her hand.  Her arm and side are numb/tingly, but I guess that’s normal.  She had a little fever in the a.m., but it seemed to go down with the pain meds, which have Tylenol.  She’s keeping a good eye on the temperature and is also good about calling the doctor’s offices when she has questions. 

Wednesday, 2/26 Kari saw the plastic surgeon today and he removed the drainage tubes.  She also called oncologist’s office and made an appointment for the next chemo round—March 12.  Time to look toward the next step!

Monday, 2/24  A good news day!  We received the pathology report today and all 16 lymph nodes tested were free from cancer!!!  The chemo (and the prayers, too), were definitely working, as we knew from a previous scan that one of the lymph nodes was cancerous in the beginning.  The report did say that the cell membrane had been infiltrated, and when Kari felt this wasn’t good news and asked the nurse about it, the nurse replied that was the reason they had done the chemo, so I believe that condition was expected.  Kari was getting along about the same as yesterday—a little more pain, but still doing well.  They’ll see the plastic surgeon on Wednesday.

Sunday, 2/23  K is doing well at home.  As the pain medication wears off she has some pain and is ready for the next dose, but nothing unexpected.  She spent some time in bed yesterday but did very well in the recliner, too.  Brett is back home tonight—I think they’re having to do a little behavior modification because Grandma and Grandpa held him more than usual!  Doctor appointment coming up on Wednesday.  Thanks to everyone for the calls, prayers, and acts of kindness.

9:15 a.m. Sat. 2/22  Just talked to K and she’s coming home sometime today—she didn’t know how early/late in the day.  She said she’s still having quite a bit of pain and the doctor said that’s normal.  I encouraged her to just keep telling the nurses that in case there’s something different they can do.  She said she was able to walk seven laps last night.  Pathology report won’t be in until Monday.  Brett’s helping me type this so I’m quitting while the page still looks pretty good.  :-)

Friday, 2/2 B got to see his Mommy today after school.  He was tired, but they were both glad to see each other.  K is off the morphine and up walking around.  She did 3 laps around the floor about 4:30.  When we left, she had two more walks to take tonight.  She had McDonalds cheeseburger, fries, and shake (thanks Karen) and then also ate some of the supper the hospital brought.  She was taking the pain medicine as often as she could, but doing pretty well.  She was tired when we left, but she hadn’t slept very well last night nor napped much today, either.  J was staying with her again tonight—hopefully they’ll both get some rest.  She may be home tomorrow—we’ll have to see what the doctor says.

Update 2/20, 10:30 p.m.  We’re finally home and can write an update.  K was to be at the hospital at 10:30 this morning with surgery scheduled for 1:00.  She didn’t leave for surgery until after 2:00.  All four parents were able to spend some time with her and J.  We also appreciated Sandy S’s and Steve K’s prayers before K left for surgery.  We saw the surgeon after the first hour of surgery and he felt everything had gone well.  The plastic surgeon saw us after his portion of the surgery and also felt everything went as planned.  We won’t get a pathology report until at least tomorrow afternoon, and probably not until Saturday.  She left recovery and got to her room about 6:30, and was hooked up to some pain medicine.  We stayed a bit, then picked up little guy and went for something to eat with R.  Little guy is spending the night with us.  A long day, but thankful surgery went well  . . . now on to recovery!

Update 2/19—K & J stopped by after their appointments--she will have surgery tomorrow (Thursday 2/20).  They will do a mastectomy and also do the preliminary steps for reconstruction.  We'll send an update tomorrow evening.

Update 2/18—K went to the surgeon today.  The tumor has shrunk to half its original size and he agreed that it’s time for the tumor to come out.   She sees the plastic surgeon tomorrow (3/19) then back to see the surgeon and get the details set.  She will have a mastectomy, surgery could be Friday or early next week.

Kari went to the oncologist on Tuesday (2/11).  The tumor had shrunk to about ½ the original size.  He decided to forego the third chemo before surgery.  She will have a mammogram and see the surgeon on Tuesday, February 18, 2003.  Surgery is expected 3 – 5 days later, to be followed by more chemo and radiation.

R is still at school this semester and spending more time on projects as the course level gets higher.  He’s on the job hunt for summer—Blue Bunny’s not sure about their budget for summer, so he’s looking for an alternative—just in case.  Leigh sent good news last week:  her Varieties cast won the competition and she won best actress and best female soloist awards! 

And of course our grandchild is still the most perfect baby we’ve ever seen!  He’s now clapping and took another single step this week (2/27).

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