Sunday, March 23, 2014

Don't Look Back

This has been an emotional week for me.  I had several restless nights, pleading with the Lord to help me sleep, my mind has been racing I needed His arms, He always calms me when I allow the spirit to speak to me with a feeling of  peace.  I've been allowed to see the faces of Eric's mom and dad, I've been blessed to speak with them in dreams, it has been so real, when I awake I'm upset because I want to stay there.  There is no one person except for Viola Williams who has ever put me at ease when I've needed it.  Oh how I look forward to the day when my physical body will leave this earth and join with them--they are my serenity in a world that sometimes feels empty and lonely.

I wish so badly I could talk to Vi, I trust the Lord's plan for me but sometimes it leaves me shaking and wondering if I am getting in the way of allowing myself to let go.  I'm grateful for the times when I can serve others so to keep my brain in "compassion mode".

I never thought I would have to make decisions for myself that if made incorrectly could lead me right back where I started.  I need rescuing, I don't want anymore surgeries.  Seeing my doctor Monday was not a pleasant appointment, I cried on the way home, and then felt guilty for doing it.  I keep thinking even the bravest of people have got to have moments of fear....right?  These will be my 12th and 13th surgeries I have had at Mayo Clinic within 4 years--when does it end, when is it enough?

This week I received emails from several Doctors asking me to come and speak to young new doctors, they all started the email saying they have read parts of my blog....not knowing how to respond, I put them off for now.  Except for one, she seemed sincere to want to help these young pre-med students at ASU to hear a cancer patients perspective, show the human side of what actually goes through a cancer patients head as they conquer each day, inch by inch trying to eliminate the negative and concentrate on the positive.  I spoke with her on the phone Friday, and will be speaking at ASU in April.

I had my whole life mapped out, I was content with my life, then when the VILLAIN invaded, there was this huge mountain I had to climb, I tried in the beginning to find ways around it, but soon found there was no where to go but uphill, a hard difficult hill.  I was broken hearted when I started to climb it, I still have not reached the top of that mountain, I've prayed many times for Him to take it all away, I've seen miracles along the way, miracles I never thought I would or could endure.

 I would never trade the sleepless nights, or the grace He has bestowed upon me.  I don't think I would of ever recognized those miracles, or rainbows if I had not gone through what I've been going through.  Yes, I have tears, yes I have doubt at times, but ultimately this has truly been a trial I would never change.  Every bit of fear, doubt and pain I've felt has been a testimony builder.  I still don't know why, I question if my heart  or body can take anymore--I have taken the rain with the sunshine along this journey, not always seeing a rainbow-but on those days when I was blessed with those tender mercies, it gave me strength to keep climbing.  I wonder what the view looks like from the top of that mountain......?

CJ Udall's Funeral (celebration of life)

It's been a long week, I have tried to keep my thoughts and energy towards Dwight and Jori.  The Udall family has seen miracles happen in their lives this week.  Tender mercies from the Lord as they have been processing the death of their youngest son CJ.  Last night Dwight and Jori held a celebration in honor of CJ.  The LDS religion believes in celebrating life, not focusing on death.
What a great way to honor CJ, he touched so many lives... celebrate what he was able to accomplish in his 11 years of life on this earth.

We believe he came to earth to get his body, his spirit was perfect in every way and he is and has been protected by the spirit of God as he has lead his life with joy, compassion and spread his love to all he met.  Some have said "why, if he is protected by Heavenly Father, would HE choose to take him now?" There are no answers for that, but I believe Jori and Dwight will have the honor as they live righteously to be with him again.

Listening to Jori  tell of CJ's life story was an incredible act of service she rendered, one that I am not sure I could do.  In fact I said to Eric "all I can think of is our little Recker, who will give his life story?" I loved the words Dwight shared with the congregation, the word Advocate is sincerely a perfect word to describe a parent with a special disability.  Especially when a child is non-verbal and wants so badly to communicate.  The spirit was with me today, as I sat and listened to this sweet family spread happiness and give meaning to CJ and the life he lived.

The memory of CJ's life will forever live on.  I know a couple of mothers who have lost a child early in their life, however, I have sat back and watched them blossom into loving inspirational people helping those around them to process in their own way.

Tiffany Check and her husband are one of the couples I know who have not lost the memory of their sweet daughter, but who are doing their best to live strong, experience tender mercies and recognize those blessings and feelings of her spirit through the Holy Ghost testifying to them.....they will see their sweet daughter again, she will have a perfect body, a perfect mind and will teach them more than they can ever teach her.  I also feel this will be the same with Dwight and Jori.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CJ Udall

Mesa mom says son died trying to save his dog - WFSB 3 Connecticut


I've been so proud of Jori and Dwight, my heart aches for them, but spending time with them this week has been such a spiritual experience for me.  My testimony of the Savior and His love for all of His children has been re-confirmed.  This sweet little angel boy touched more lives than he ever knew, it was simple for him he loved people unconditionally.  Just as our Savior does  Oh how I wish I had that kind of love for everyone I come in contact with.

The last couple of days all I can think of is CJ.   There was a time when I was a little girl I tried so hard to touch the stars, I remember laying on the grass in our front yard with my hands stretched as high as I could trying to grasp something, anything I could tangibly touch.  There were times at church I squirmed in my seat trying hard to concentrate on what my primary teacher was trying to teach me.  The older I got, not much changed, except I lived with a quiet ache trying to reach for a truth, desperate to discover something that has always been just out of my reach.  It seemed that Linda and Jami knew what the truth was, I remember one night praying,  a stirring in my heart told me, the knowledge is still yet to come.  Once I felt that special feeling I never wanted to be without it.

Today, as I was remembering those long past days I realized everything I have been learning in this school of life is leading me up to what Heaven is for.

C J is now learning, he is in a school, a Heavenly school, gaining knowledge none of us have, sharing, smiling and finally home where he belongs.  Sometimes we are so desperate to learn it all now, but some of the knowledge is saved, saved for another journey a journey we will gladly take with our Heavenly Family.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CJ Udall-perfect body, perfect mind

Saturday March 15, 2014

What started out to be a beautiful sunny spring day, ended in being a tragic yet spiritual experience for me.  I was in a meeting when I got a text from Kayla saying "Have you talked to Jori? is CJ OK or what is going on?"  "why?" was my reply she said "He's been missing and they pulled his dog out of a canal"  Having no Internet connection I panicked when I text Jori and did not hear back (she always texts back) I left the meeting went home to get more information, then headed straight to Jori and Dwight's home.  When I arrived there were police cars, many many other cars and my heart was pounding as I walked up to her home.  Jori and I have been friends for over 20 years and her husband Dwight and Eric grew up together.  I should also insert here that Eric dated Jori, right before dating me....(long story not pertained to this)
I was greeted by Jori's brother Scott, and Dwight's brother Kent Udall.  It was now that I realized CJ had drown in the canal behind their home.  Last night Jori had a camp out at her home with all the scouts who live in her area.  This morning all the kids were in the pin with the goats laughing and having a great time, when Jori realized CJ was missing--Dwight went out towards Power road looking and yelling for him, Ben, Jori's other son went toward the canal, he yelled for his dad when he found CJ's dog.  Dwight and Jori ran to the canal, Jori hit her knees "yelling, I just want to start the day over, please just let it start over again"  This broke my heart when Kent told me this part.
Jori and I were just at lunch 2 weeks ago talking about how much Recker loves water, and the fear I have of not having a fence around our pool.  This conversation was drowning my thoughts as I walked in to see Jori--she immediately grabbed me and hugged me, I didn't want to cry, I wanted to be strong for her as she sobbed in my arms.  All I could say was "I'm so sorry, Jori, I'm so sorry"  I couldn't help but sob with her.
With the police and investigators still handing around, Jori pulled everyone into her living room, tried her very hardest to be strong and talk to everyone, she explained about the Priesthood and the blessings that come from receiving a Priesthood blessing, she eloquently spoke about CJ, about his testimony, his love for nature, scouting and his family--she invited everyone in the room to stay as her brother gave her a Priesthood blessing. Then Dwight received a blessing from his father Jess Udall.  Dwight then gave his son's Ben and Josh a blessing, I couldn't help but think about when my brother Lance died, I wish I had been offered a Priesthood blessing.  What a difference that could of made in my life as I dealt with his death.  As Dwight gave Ben the blessing, I glanced up at a picture in their home it read We Tend To Seek For Happiness --- a solemn peace came over me, and I cried harder knowing CJ is with his grandfather Carvel Jackson who he is named after--what a grand reunion they must be having--through the sounds of sniffling and tears I could feel this sweet spirit testify to me that HE LIVES -- and now CJ is in a perfect place, with a perfect body.  Dwight talked to us about the day CJ was born, the nurse brought the baby to him and placed him in his arms, even before Jori knew Dwight could see CJ had down sydrome, but as clear as day he heard a voice tell him, "CJ is here for a purpose, protect and watch out for him until the day HE returns to his father in Heaven" he said those words helped him to process what was going to be a life of watching a young boy grow up with challenges
Jori and Dwight raised CJ as if he were just like any typical child, CJ didn't know he had down syndrome.  Just a couple of weeks ago, Jori told me they were at the Cultural Celebration watching Ben practice, when a girl with down syndrome came up to CJ and said Hi, but CJ snubbed her--Jori said she had to have a talk with him about "being nice to the down syndrome kids" CJ didn't like the idea of being nice to a girl, not to mention  one with down syndrome.  I got a kick out of that story, and told Jori she has done such a great job of raising him to be tolerant of everyone.  He knew nothing but compassion and love for everyone he came in contact with. 
My heart aches for them, tonight they will not sleep, right now it's busy, people bringing food, helping fill the void, but when they all leave and the smoke settles I worry about Jori.  CJ was her life, she could not have a conversation without bringing up CJ--she was so proud of him, she loved her time with him, she has become very involved in the scouting world, helping CJ and Ben to achieve their merit badges, and Ben his eagle.
I have never lost a child I can't imagine how I would feel, I know my parents were devastated when Lance died, it was as though he took a piece of their heart with him.  I'm sure Jori will have huge holes in her heart while she processes this trial she is forced to face.  I have heard it said that if all the people we know were brought into a room together to compare trials, most of us would take what we have and be grateful.  Today, as I sat and watched this family mourn the loss of CJ, I felt as if my problems or pains were easy.  The loss of a child is one trial I know the Lord knows I could not handle.  I have so much respect and love for those who have to experience the death of a child, and are able to move forward in faith,  knowing they will again see that child after death.   I'm glad I was able to be a part of the Udall family today, I learned so much from just watching and listening with my heart.  When I try to sleep tonight I will pray for Jori and Dwight, Josh and Ben give them strength and endurance while they try to make sense of a horrible day. I also rejoice that CJ is now with a perfect body, and a perfect mind as he continues on his next chapter and journey.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What a day....

Friday March 6th, 2014

I woke up with blood coming out of my baha implant.  Knowing I have an appointment this morning with Dr. Barr's I got myself ready to go.  The phone rang, it was Mayo Clinic telling me Dr. Barr's was not going to be in the office today he was sick.  I advised them of my bleeding situation,  I'm not sure they knew what to say, she hung up and within a few minutes called back and told me I would be seeing the PA or resident today--I got a little crabby and said "no I will not, I will see an attending or I will not be coming at all"  These issues with my ear are getting on my nerves, I want so badly to get past this.  I made my way to Mayo, when I arrived they quickly took me back to an exam room, Dr. Barr's walked in, and I was surprised to see him, I asked if he was sick because I do not want to be examined unless he has a mask on--He told me he was in a 3rd world country recently doing some pro-bono surgeries and thinks he may have picked something up but not to worry there was only a 50/50 chance I would catch it.
He first took a look at the screw in the back of my head, turning my face towards the TV I could see everything on the big screen--he began to scrape with a scalpel the skin around my baha, watching it was disgusting--I had to close my eyes, for some reason if I don't watch what he is doing it hurts less.
He then looked in my ear, and to my surprise it looked sickly, it doesn't feel like it looks, what is going on? He tried to stick his vacuum down the ear canal and suck out what he could, but he didn't get too far.  He went and got his nurse Kathleen, she took a look and they both agreed, I will be having more surgery--the ear canal is virtually closed so tight he cannot see into the ear drum, but knows it is not healing properly.  The baha is not connecting with the bone like it should, so with both of those problems more surgery is necessary--They both stepped out of the room, and as I stared at the carpet I couldn't help but cry--I just sat there and cried--feeling vulnerable and alone I cried, then quickly wiped those tears away as I heard them coming back in.  I put a smile on my face, bit my tongue and listened partially to what they were telling me, but not wanting to hear what they were telling me--I let my mind wonder off to a better place so that I could process this--then Dr. Barr's said "OK, so you understand right?" "Um, yeah I think so, I come back next week right?" "yes, scheduling will call you"
I left there thinking, "I cannot take one more surgery, I don't want more surgery, seriously? how do I go home and tell my family, my friends and co-workers. how much more of my ear can he take off? what is it going to do if I don't have the surgery and get a 2nd opinion"  So many thoughts running through my head--I feel a migraine coming on--and I have not had one since my surgery, I just told Marian Priday, maybe my migraines,  slurred speech,  and right side numbness had something to do with my ear.  Little did I know my day was about to get even worse, before it got better.
With my mind on this  I drove down Scottsdale road towards a Hotel to meet up with Dr, Northfelt,  my oncologist.  Earlier in the week he called me and asked me for a favor, he is giving a lecture today for 300 general family physicians, about side effects from chemo and radiation.  He asked me to speak about side effects I have personally had.  When I drove up to the entrance of the Hotel he was standing there waiting for me.  I tried to compose myself before getting out of the car, I need to focus on what I'm here for....actually what am I here for?

Love my Doctors-

 Dr. Northfelt hugged me and into a room filled with physicians we went, they introduced him, and he introduced me.  As he began to tell the over filled room of doctors about my diagnosis, I was not prepared to hear what he was saying.  I had an out of body moment as I listened to him announce my stage 3 diagnosis, I could feel an anxiety attack coming on, I could hear my heart beating and hoping no one else could hear it through my microphone.  I was listening to him talk about me, about my life, my breasts, my everything, well at least everything medical that has happened over the last 4 years.  I felt like I was in a tunnel, every word of what he said penetrated deeper into my mind, oh my goodness this happened to me?  It's difficult for me to express the rawness I felt hearing him speak, it was like I wasn't in the room.  I watched as physicians were quickly writing down notes, I thought to myself "what the heck are they writing? do they not understand, do they not see me, am I just a number to them, or a statistic?" "do they not know I have a family? that when I leave here today my name is Monya, I have a husband named Eric, children with names, grandchildren, friends....I'm not a number I'm a person with real feelings"
Now it was my turn, Dr. Northfelt began asking me questions and I was to answer them openly and honestly to a room full of strangers. There were two of us, Linda and I.  Her diagnosis was stage 1, and every question Dr. Northfelt asked she and I had complete opposite answers.
We talked about neuropathy, bone pain, body image and sex.  Then it was question and answer time, as they collected the questions, now I knew what they were all writing.  One of the final questions I was asked was "how has your quality of life changed?" this is my answer to that question with a quiver on my lips and a tear in my eye.  "Pre diagnosis, I thought I was happy, I was living the dream, 4 children, blessed with a husband who worked hard so I could stay home with the children, I had a nice home, car, able to exercise everyday, I seriously thought I was happy. Now today as I sit here with all of you I can tell you without hesitation, money, cars, big homes do not bring happiness, through my journey I have learned who I am, how strong I am, who is important to me, what is important to me, and I can honestly say  I'm the happiest I have ever been in my life right now, I've learned that all of those distractions I thought were so important were mere objects detouring me from the real happiness, all that really matters to me is my family and my doctors, I love them more deeply and purely than I ever thought I could, life is a precious gift that so many take for granted,  Dr. Northfelt promised me he would be with me through every step of my journey, and I believe him" with that being said the lecture came to an end, everyone stood and clapped, that surprised me, is this normal, do they stand and clap at these things?  Several doctors came up to ask me questions, one of them walked up to me and asked me if I have ever tried any natural paths, my first reaction was, "who is this kid?" Seriously he looked like he was 16 years old, I'm assuming just out of school and starting his practice eager to learn.
I'm not sure I said anything  today to help anyone  in that room, however, it did help me listening to my diagnosis, notes from my surgeon and details that I never wanted to hear were exposed. opened up and shared, he can't take it back,  I heard it all.  This is exactly why when Dr. Northfelt asked me in the very beginning if I wanted to know statistics I said "NO" I didn't want to know not because I didn't care about other people, but I needed to focus on myself, what I could do to kill the villain in ME, I promised myself along time ago I would have no regrets, I would do exactly what I was told to do and I have, I feel good about that, I'm firm in my knowledge of what I needed to know, and what I didn't want to know--but now, now I know, now I've heard it, scary? Not really, just an uneasy feeling hearing it all.
Dr. Northfelt walked me out to my car, gave me a hug, I told him how much I love and appreciate all he has done for me.  He thanked me for helping his lecture not be so boring,  as I drove off I couldn't help but be emotional, a few tears streamed down my cheek and onto my shirt, I looked up and without any rain in sight, I saw a beautiful rainbow, a sweet tender mercy from the Lord, that moment gave me some peace and I smiled.  HE really does know what I need, and when I need it.  Little tender mercies are recognized, thank you for lifting me to a higher ground today.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Kaitlyn Rae

Friday March 6th, 2014

Happy Birthday to my cutie patootie Kaitlyn Rae.  This cute girl is married, works full time to help her husband get through school, and still manages to find time to visit her OLD MAMA and spend the day. I remember so vividly the day Dr. Lepetich did my ultrasound and announced to us as he pointed and said "you see that?, it's a boy" What a surprise it was to hear him say several months later, "oops, it's a actually a girl"  I didn't believe him, Eric and I had picked out a name for our new little boy, we had bedding made for a boy, and of course clothes for a boy.  Eric ran to Dillards and came back with some darling girl clothes, something special we could take her home from the hospital in.

We are so blessed to have Kaitlyn in our life.  She has brought so much joy to us, she has a personality bigger than life--she always has and always will.  People have always told me she looks so much like me, I can't deny that--she is a spitting image of me, sometimes it even freaks me out when I see a picture of her.  I think seeing her grow up to be the beautiful, strong woman she has become brings so much joy to my heart, it's been  like seeing my childhood all over again, only happy.  So many times I have watched her and been amazed at the similarity of how we think and feel.  She also has much of her dad in her too--she is a good combination of both of us.  I love you Kaitlyn, you have been a great daughter not only to us, but also to our Heavenly Father, he is pleased I'm sure with who you are.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Church Dedicates Gilbert Arizona Mormon Temple

I loved watching the Temple being erected over the last few years.  Many times I have driven by it, or parked my car as close as I could to the grounds and said a prayer.  Now as all the members of the LDS church humbly celebrate with great joy in our hearts, we will continue to pray for our hearts to be softened and our souls to be moved by the spirit as we try our best to become more like the Savior.

The dedication of this beautiful building has been a long,  but deserving wait.  There is definitely something special in the air--I am personally so beyond happy and touched by the youth in this area who worked so hard over the past few months to sing, dance and show never ending faith as they danced in the pouring rain, Arizona needed the rain.

I have been in many Temples throughout the world, and I know I am being bias but in my opinion this is the most beautiful Temple I have ever been in.  There is always opposition when Temples are built, I remember in 2008 when this Temple was announced, our Stake President told us to be prepared for trials to come into our lives as Satan tries to lead us astray, he said now more than ever we need our testimonies to be strong, we need to stay close to the Lord and continue to obey the commandments as we experience these trials.  I have never forgotten that talk, a year and 3 months later I was diagnosed with cancer, I feel like I could of easily given up on God and walked away.  However, because of that talk I was able to cling to my Savior and rely on Him to understand what I was feeling--going through that journey was the best thing that has ever happened to my spiritual growth. I'm in a good place in my life now, I have never felt the peace in my life like I do now.  Here's to 2014 being a great year.