Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Beautiful Service for a Beautiful Woman

I have been avoiding a blog entry about mom's Celebration of Life.  I have been wanting to write about  it, but I don't know where to start.  For those of you from out of the area, or who weren't able to attend the service, there were approximately 800 people who came to celebrate her life.  Mom's freind, Shelly, helped us create a wonderful slideshow of photos.  Nancy Lee Grahn sent us a home video she filmed while visiting my family in 2007 and we played that video at the service as well.  I wanted to speak but I didn't think I could make it thru without crying so I asked mom's good friend, Pastor Mitch, to read my thoughts.  I have received a few emails from people who were there who have asked me to post my speech on the blog.  So, I will leave you with my thoughts.

"When our father died last April we were on over-load.  We were trying to make funeral arrangements for dad while still focusing on mom’s health and emotional well-being.  When his service came, we discussed the idea of speaking but no one felt they could make it thru the speech without crying.  So we passed on the opportunity.  Now, only 18 months later, as we prepared the celebration of life service for our mom, we find ourselves in the same predicament.  I don’t want to look back later with regrets so here goes…. 

I am blessed.  My family is blessed.  Don’t be sad for us.  Although my mom’s time on this earth was much shorter than we would have liked, Doreen was my mom, and that in itself is a gift.  Many of you under the age of 35 thought of her as your “other mom” but we were the lucky ones…. and we never took that for granted.

You learn a lot about someone when they come face to face with the life and death struggle of a disease like cancer.  From an emotional perspective, cancer is one of the most devastating pronouncements a person can receive.  You find yourself living outside of the physical realm of reality at times….But, the truth is, when you hear the word “cancer” you have an immediate choice to make.  You can get caught up in the idea that you might be dying…. Or you can get busy living.  What happens to you in life is usually not within your control, but how you respond to those things most certainly is.

I don’t want to talk about the things I have lost these past few years….I want to focus on what I have gained.  I learned early on that the character traits worth having are those you acquire at the cost of personnel sacrifice.  We have all sacrificed during these difficult times but I wouldn’t change one step I have taken on this path.  We have been living in the moment while still focusing on the big picture.  Life did not pass us by.

My mom will be fondly remembered for the compassion in her heart.  She loved and respected everyone, regardless of their differences.  Her kindness and encouragement to others makes for a legacy that will remain long after her death… and for that we are grateful.

There are a lot of young people in the room today, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  She loved kids, and young adults.  She valued everyone, regardless of their age and she made them feel important.  She especially loved the inspirational kids who might not be the star athlete but the ones with the best attitudes, who made their teammates and friends better people.  Those are the kids she loved the most, and those are the kind of kids we will continue to support and mentor, just as my mom would want us to.

She taught me… the kind of person I am is a matter of my character, not my circumstances.  And I learned that from the best.  When my mom could not change her circumstances, she chose to change her perspective about them.  She didn’t view cancer as a curse, she viewed life as an amazing gift.

My mom inspired me to do better… to be kinder… and be more patient.  She taught me to give more, and take less.  She would encourage all of us to motivate others and take the time to mentor young people.  I think she would also encourage us to volunteer our time…. Or at least a smile… to people who might not expect it, but probably need it the most.  Because… the truth is, no one was a stranger to my mom, they were simply a friend she hadn’t met yet.

I learned that tough times will either break you, or they will make you.  I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a few moments of each, but we did more “making” than “breaking”.  Although I was slow to give into the idea that some things in life can’t be fixed…. life became much easier when I finally accepted that the only thing in the world I could change was my view on life.

Mom made me realize that if you’re not doing something every day to make someone else’s life better, you are wasting precious time that could be spent improving your family, your community, and yourself.  I hope we all get the chance to live like we are dying someday, because from where I’m standing, it’s a blessing in disguise. 

I am not consumed by the fact she has died, I am simply grateful that she lived.  I would choose quality of life over quantity of days, whenever given the opportunity.  I believe the greater loss is not for those of us who knew her, but for those who did not.  My sadness is for the children who will never sit on her lap and giggle as she speaks to them in her “Donald Duck” voice… or the young adults who won’t get to hear one of her heart felt talks about what it means to be a good friend… or a good parent.

Throughout this process I have learned that when we believe life won’t give us more than we can bear; we can bear so much more than we thought possible.

On behalf of my family, I want to express our sincere gratitude for your out-pouring of support, love, and heartfelt sympathy during this difficult time.  We ask that you dry your eyes, keep your head up, and smile…. That’s what mom would want."

Dreaming Big-

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quote of the Day

A few weeks ago, while at mom's house, I started reading a book I found on her bookshelf.  The book is called "Saving Graces," by Elizabeth Edwards.  I only made it a little ways into the book before things got worse with mom and I put the book down.  This morning, I picked up the book and it made me sad for a minute.  It brought back the memory of where I was when I started reading the book.  It brought back the reminder that I was reading a book about a woman with cancer.  When I opened the book I noticed something I hadn't noticed before.  On the bookmark, in my mom's handwriting, it said, "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."  I'm not sure why I hadn't noticed that before, but I do know that I love my new bookmark and look forward to finishing this inspiring book. 

Thanks for the quote mom...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dreaming Big, Living Large

Attached is an article that was in today's Stanwood Newspaper, written by Jeremiah O'Hagen.  I thought those of you from out of town would appreciate a chance to read it.

When Doreen Schmitt passed away last week, it wasn't a death so much as a miracle.

Schmitt was diagnosed with stage-four, non-smoking lung cancer in April 2006.  She wasn't supposed to live for five-and-a-half more years.  But did she ever.

Scroll through her blogs (cancersurvivor2006.blogspot.com ; imaginenocancer.blogspot.com) and you will lose yourself in a woman's insatiable appetite for life.

You might also cry.

"I woke up this morning feeling really scared for the first time," she typed on April 30, 2006.  "I looked in the mirror and I saw Doreen... and then I remembered the 'C' word.  I remembered how 11 days ago I was just living a normal life and then it all changed."

But you will also laugh and rediscover with her the simple pleasures of wearing flip-flops ("life's too short not to"), or of Copper River salmon, or of a reunion with 8 former cheerleaders.

"We laughed about the past, talked of the present, and dreamed about the future," Schmitt wrote the next day.

And you will learn, really feel it in your guts, that when Schmitt dreamed about the future, she dreamed of life so full her arms couldn't contain it.

So, she spilled in onto her family and friends.

"My mom's story is about family, not cancer," said Amy Schmitt.  "She was very grateful for the opportunity to become an advocate for living life to the fullest."

Schmitt's other daughter, Angie, said, "In many ways, (her final years were) more inspiring than sad.  It can make you or break you- it made us."

Not that watching Schmitt get sick didn't break hearts.  And after Schmitt was diagnosed, her husband Rick found out he had cancer, too.  He died 18 months ago.

"We were just getting over that, and now mom's gone, too," Angie said.  "A tough part of it is the permanence piece."

If loss is permanent, good can be, too, and Schmitt lived that belief, infusing her world with energy and grace.

"If you were to poll the audience (at her memorial service), you'd find many people who would say that she was their best friend,"  Angie said.  "She was so welcoming to everybody.  She didn't judge people.  As my sister said, there were no strangers to my mom, only friends she hadn't met yet."

"She was as much of a role model for adults as she was for children," Amy said.  "I think of her laugh, and that infectious smile that lit up the room.  And, although it doesn't seem real that she isn't coming home, I find joy in knowing she's no longer in pain."

Schmitt most often signed off her blogs, "Dreaming Big."  Over the last months, she took to typing, "Love you more."  Between the two sentiments, you find a life.

Angie said her mom's goal was always, always, to "beat this disease." 

"She was a person with cancer, "Angie said, "She was not a cancer patient.  She didn't let it define her."

Schmitt didn't beat death.  No one does.

But, wielding unflagging optimism, voluminouss love and profound commitment to dreams, to leaving something precious and vital in her wake, Doreen Schmitt beat cancer.

(Staff Reporter Jeremiah O'Hagen: (360) 629-8066 Ext 125 or ohagan@scnews.com)

Loving you more... when you're dreaming big....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Questions Answered

We would like to thank you all for the support over the past two days. This is a difficult time for us but we are working together to create a celebration of life service that will honor the wonderful woman that mom was. We have been asked the same two questions over and over during the last 24 hours so we thought we would answer both question for everyone to hear. First, if you want to make a donation in my mom's name you can send it to the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, 1100 Industrial Road, Suite 1, San Carlos, CA 94070. Next, if you are one of those people looking to bring a food dish to the service on Saturday we are still in need of some salads. Please do not bring your salad in your favorite bowl, just in case it gets accidentally misplaced by the crew working in the kitchen that day.

There will be a public viewing at Gilberton's Funeral Home on Thursday October 13 at 9:00 AM and it will continue through Friday at closing. Contact Gilbertson's at 360-629-2101 for more details.

Thanks again for your support of our family during this challenging time,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Doreen Lynn Schmitt: May 30, 1958- October 11, 2011

It's with great sadness that we tell you Mom lost her battle with cancer earlier today. She was such a fighter and a huge inspiration for all of us. As we begin the mourning process and prepare funeral arrangements we ask that you keep her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. This has been a difficult path to follow the past 5 years, but we have grown significantly in the process. In losing our mom we know we have gained many true friends along the way. Thank you for supporting all of us through good times and bad.

The luckiest Kids in the World

Funeral Services will be held at the Camano Chapel on Camano Island, Saturday October 15th at 1100, with a luncheon to follow. A private burial will take place at Anderson Cemetary in Stanwood.

Camano Chapel
867 SW Camano Drive
Camano Island, WA 98282

A public viewing will take place on Friday at Gilbertson's Funeral home in Stanwood. Call Gilbertson's for more details. (360) 629-2101.

If you want to share a story or memory about Doreen with us kids, please email Pastor Mich Michl at michmichl@camanochapel.org

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Being Tested

Tonight I am struggling to write.  I have stared at the screen for 5 minutes.  I have changed the title numerous times.  I am standing on the invisible fence, not sure which way to jump.  I can jump to one side and tell you that we are continuing to hope for the best as we enjoy every second we have with mom.  All of which is true.  Or I can be real and tell you how things have been the past few days.  I am torn because I know there are people who get hope from this blog, but there are others who want us to be honest and paint an accurate picture of how cancer can change lives.  I will do my best to be brutally honest while still allowing my mom the dignity of some privacy in her final days.

The truth of the matter is that my mom is not ready to die.  She has too much fight in her.  Although last week she was showing many signs that the end was imminently near, she has since experienced many additional changes.  Her breathing has stabilized somewhat.  She rarely complains of pain.  She went from being unable to eat or drink to asking for small meals and lots of water.  She went from laying in bed sleeping all the time to sometimes sitting in a chair and often talking with us.  All of those things sound great, but here is the catch.  Although her end of life symptoms have stabilized, other things have gotten worse.

The tumors in her brain have causes many of the behavior changes we are experiencing.  She has surges of energy but they are spent trying to get out of bed on legs that aren't stable enough to walk.  She talks a lot, but it is usually all night long and throughout most of the day and quite often she doesn't make any sense.  She is experiencing cranial pressure from the swelling in her brain.  It appears to be affecting her walking, talking, eyesight, and many other functions.  It is similar to caring for an Alzheimer's patient.  She usually knows who people are, if she is able to focus on the person.  She is still a great hugger and likes to give kisses.  If we tell her we love her, she tells us she loves us too.  Mom is still the loving, caring parent and friend that all of us have always know, but now she is losing her personal battle within her own body.

Mom started wheezing again last night.  The hospice nurse came to the house today and told us that it sounds as though mom's left lung is not really working at all and the part of her right lung that still works seems to have pneumonia in it.  After a call to Dr. Eaton to determine if an antibiotic is the right choice at this stage of the game, it was determined that any additional drugs would be inappropriate.  They are increasing the medicine which helps to relieve the swelling around her brain though.  We are hoping the boost in Deximethizone will help to provide her with a clearer mind.

It would certainly be easy for us to complain about the cards we have been dealt lately, from the 15 hour power outage this past weekend that prevented mom's oxygen machine from working, or the fact her hospice nurse has had back to back emergencies in her family so mom has had 5 different nurses in the past week.  It seems to be one thing after another lately but the caring friends we have in our lives are just as consistent as the recent roadblocks.  Many people have brought us food and it has been very helpful to feed the house full of relatives and caregivers on a daily basis.  Friends have brought cases of water, and Kleenex, and in the case of power outages... Lanterns to see, and fans to keep mom cooled down.  We know that we have the best support system possible.

I want to remind you how appreciative my family is for the caregivers in our lives and the wonderful friends who go out of their way to help us take care of the things we can't do on our own.  I have learned a lot about people throughout the past few weeks and I am grateful for the selfless angels around us.

Please continue to wrap us in your loving arms-

Friday, September 23, 2011

Emotional Week

This week has been physically and emotionally draining for all of us.  On Sunday mom made significant changes and we were all encouraged to come to the house so we could say our goodbyes.  Then Monday came... then Tuesday, etc, and here we are at Friday morning and we are still blessed with her presence.  Although much of her days are spent resting, she occasionally opens her eyes for a few moments and smiles or gives us little kisses.  Those moments are priceless to us.  We are very torn between wanting to have a few more of those special moments with mom, and wanting her to let go and be free from pain.

As a family we have experienced many different emotions this week.  We have also grown even stronger as a family when we sit down to deal with the tough stuff.  Friends and family members have been very supportive, as always.  Some of us haven't left the house since Sunday but we have special friends who have made sure we always have coffee in the mornings and food throughout the day.  Without them, I think it's likely we would forget to take care of ourselves the way we should.

During a good moment on Thursday she wanted to sit up for a few minutes. The sun was setting off of her bedroom balcony so we got her into her wheelchair and opened the blinds so she could sit with her dad and enjoy a special moment.  I have attached the photo above.  Moments like these are very special to everyone right now.

Thanks again for all of the prayers and well wishes for our family.  If you are sending prayers, please pray for strength, closure, and an abundance of love.


Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Time

Over the past few days things have changed drastically with my mom.  Her coughing got really bad on Friday and that made her breathing extremely labored.  We have promised her all along that when she gets to the point where she feels like she is drowning or suffocating we will increase her medicine so she doesn't know its happening.  That time has come.  As of Friday afternoon hospice increased her medicine so she is heavily medicated and rarely coughs.  She spends the majority of her time sleeping.

Over the past few days she has received short visits from friends and family.  I think the visits have allowed people to have closure at a time when mom is still fairly lucid.  She has expressed her fears, some of which we could resolve simply with our reassurances that things will be fine and her children will be loved.  She seems to have a hard time when she thinks about unfinished business.  She expressed sadness that she won't be around to hold Jake and Megan's baby when it arrives, but everyone has assured her that they will be the best fill-in grandparents around.

There aren't words to explain the atmosphere in mom's house.  These walls are filled with sadness, an abundance of love, and the best caregivers a person could hope for.  Two friends have brought us food to get us through the day so nobody has to leave the house (thank you Lervick and Reid families).  We continue to search for strength at this time of need, but we are filled with hope that mom seems very much at peace with the stage she is at.

As for all of you, please know that my family is very appreciative of the kind words and loving prayers that you continue to send our way.

With love-

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Doreen Update

Things continue to change with my mom.  She meets with her hospice team a few days a week and she really seems to like the ladies who are assigned to her.  They do all they can to keep her comfortable.  She is on a number of pain medicines and anti-anxiety drugs which seem to help when she starts coughing.  Her coughing attacks can happen at any time but they seem to be worse in the middle of the night... often waking up every two hours to the feeling of being suffocated.  It is scary for her, and we all hate to see how it effects her body when she is struggling to breathe.  The reality is, her breathing is very limited these days and she often needs to be medicated just to recover from the painful coughing attacks.  Her comfort, and happiness, is the most important thing for all of us.

We will continue to live life to the fullest and enjoy each day, but we are certainly living with a purpose more than ever.  We will try to do a better job of updating the blog, but you can always call her house if you want to get a quick update on her status.

Thank you for your well wishes-

Friday, September 2, 2011

On Wednesday we had a special ceremony to celebrate Amy's promotion from Captain to Major. It was an honor to get to be a part of it. Ann McCune had the honors to make it happen. Thank you Ann. It was very special.

Over the past week I've been meeting with hospice nurses and other hospice staff and they are so wonderful.

School started for kids all over Washington this week. Jake has kids in class already, Angie starts with kids next week.

Keep dreaming big,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Call 867-5309...

Ok, you're right...that number belongs to "Jenny" (from the 1982 Tommy Tutone song) not Doreen, but if you don't know Doreen's phone number, now is the time to learn it.  (360) 629-4398.  My mom has never turned away a visitor, even when she should.  There have been times when her white counts were low, she wasn't feeling well, or she was simply just too exhausted to talk yet she never tells any of you.  Now, that must change.  As our family transitions into this next phase of the cancer process there will be times when vistors simply won't be allowed in the house.  With that being said, if you are one of the people who stop by without calling ahead, you might see a "No Visitors" sign on the door.  It might be because she isn't feeling well, or it might be because she is out doing something fun, but nonetheless, when the sign is on the door please respect her wishes and come back a different day.

After meeting with her hospice team again today mom has agreed to make some changes to the way she has been doing things.  She has always shared her thoughts with us about end of life care and how she wants things to be handled.  The immediate family has known, but now mom understands that these types of messages need to be shared with all of you as well.  She doesn't want us to "look like the bad guy" when we stop allowing visitors or ask someone to leave the house who isn't creating a comforting environment for the family.  We know her wishes and by now you must know that we will do whatever she desires.

This message isn't meant to be dark and depressing.  Mom is fine.  Nothing is different in the past week.  Sure, her coughing is getting worse, but everything else is the same.  We are not discussing signs on the door to discourage you from seeing her... we just want you to call ahead to make sure the timing is good.  At this point, it's all about mom.  Lots of people want their "Dor time" but Dor only has so much energy.  So... the point of tonight's blog post is to say pick up the phone and call ahead between the hours of 10am and 8pm.  Ten seems to be her wake up time and unfortunately 2 or 3am seems to be her bedtime half of the time, but 8pm is "closing time" at the Schmitt house.

Thank you for understanding and respecting her wishes, and she looks forward to talking to you soon-

Be well-

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Changes

A lot has happened since the BBQ a few weeks ago.  We knew mom was scheduled to meet with Dr. Eaton on August 10th to determine if she would continue with her medical treatment.  A few days before her appointment she told us she had already made her decision to stop treatment.  She has explained to us that over the years she was usually holding her breath waiting for her scan results, hoping for good results.  Going into her appointments she never seemed to know what to expect.  She has admitted to everyone that recently, she didn't need a scan to tell her that her cancer had gotten worse.  She already knew because she felt so much worse.  Dr. Eaton was happy that mom agreed to stop treatment.  He said although he would like to tell her that her cancer was stable, he knows that it is growing and he thinks it would be "irresponsible" to continue treating her with chemotherapy options.  The chemotherapy is hurting her body, not helping it.  Once mom got past the idea that she was "giving up", she has seemed to be at peace with her decision to stop taking meds and start living life.

On August 10th, mom agreed to begin working with hospice.  As a family, we think that is the right choice.  We had a good, yet brief, experience with hospice last year with my dad.  We will certainly get to know our hospice team much more than we did when they were assisting my dad.  My dad was on hospice for 6 or 7 days.  Mom has told us repeatedly that she intends to stay on hospice for so long they kick her off the program because she isn't "sick enough".  I hope she is right.  In the mean time, we had our first family hospice meeting this past saturday to discuss options.  We feel comfortable with them and we look forward to welcoming them into our lives.

Mom has spent the past few days with Angie and Shannon at the Alderbrook Resort, getting massages and eating good food.  I have spoken with her a few times and it sounds like she is having a blast.  She gets home today and I'm sure she is going to be exhausted... in a good way.  That's what we like to see.

Dreaming Big-

Sunday, August 7, 2011

BBQ Update

So happy to tell you that the BBQ was a whopping success.  We had over 150 people stop by to say hello.  What a joy it was for me to see how many friends and loved ones we have surrounding us....even with a last minute invite.  I'll post photos of the event as I get some.  Thank you to everyone who attended and those who sent messages that you couldn't make it.  A special thanks to my high school buddies and my old boss, Piccolo, who stopped by a few days before the party to celebrate in private. 

I just had my deck refreshed...new railings, new decking (where it was needed) by my neighbors Larry and Mike.  What an awesome job they did.  Call me if you need any work done, they come highly recommended.  Now I just need a paint job an I'll be good to go.

I'm adjusting to the fact that my lung capacity sucks.  I've been using the scooter at the grocery store, a wheelchair to get into the Storm game, I try to avoid stairs unless I'm going down.  All these changes seem to be making my breathing easier.  It's hard to give up the freedom I used to have but if I didn't make these changes soon, my body would have done it for me.  I have so much help around me that I'm never without someone lending a hand to make a job easier for me.  Blessed, I tell you.. Blessed.

Wednesday is a big doctor appointment day.  We'll be deciding whether to continue with the Tarceva or not.  I'm ready to be done with it.  No changes. Nothing is improving.  Just more chemicals going into my body.  I think I'm ready to just let my body have a rest and follow the course that was meant for me.  Not giving up, just following a new path.  I want to feel as good as I can, for as long as I can and if that means living on hopes and prayers then that's the path I'll follow. 

I love you more than all the friends I have in my little green book,
Big Dreamer Dor

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Schmitt BBQ Scheduled for Sunday July 31

Hello Friends! We set a date and time for the Schmitt Family/Friends BBQ. It is scheduled for next Sunday July 31 from 3:00-7:00 pm at my home in Stanwood. I will provide a variety of foods and some drinks but ask that you bring a lawn chair and your sunglasses because I have requested sunshine that day. Let's hope my wish is granted! If you need directions to my house, have additional questions or simply want to confirm that you are coming to the party, email one of the girls. They are much quicker to reply to your emails!

Angie: Ajschmitt12@gmail.com

Amy: Amyzoe@hotmail.com

See you Sunday!

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Real

Real sick of cancer.  Real sick of being sick.  Real sick of hearing about sickness.

There.  I got that off my chest.  Now let's talk about the REAL stuff.  We all know that I've been the luckiest lung cancer patient around.  I've had more kinds of treatment than any of Dr. Eaton's other patients.  We've used every possible chemotherapy drug available at SCCA to keep my cancer from growing.  With that being said today's scan showed the cancer is progressing (now more in my right lung...in the past my left lung has been the worst).  So, we are going to give Tarceva another month to make a difference and if it doesn't work then I will go off it and my medical treatment will be over.  Today was the first time Dr. Eaton mentioned Hospice and we all gasped at the word.  Sounds life ending doesn't it?  Or, if you look at it from my perspective, perhaps life will just begin again for me.  I won't have to worry about scans and results.  I will just get to live my life with my friends and family doing all the things I love to do.  When my time is up (and none of us knows when that might be) I will have said and done all the things that are important. 

I took the kids out for lunch today after my appointment (though no one was very hungry) and we talked about having a Schmitt Family Summer Open House one day soon so I can visit with any and all of you who make a difference in our lives.  Keep watching for more details.

Don't be sad about this news.  Be thankful.  Thankful that I've outlived my prognosis.  And...remember, I don't listen to statistics anyway.  It's math and I don't do math.

Love you more,
Dreaming Big Dor

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Golden Rules

1. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

2. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

These are some of the basic rules of life we learn when we are in kindergarten, if not before.  We are taught to play fair and treat others nicely.  Well, lately, cancer hasn't been playing by the golden rules.  It certainly isn't treating my mom the way it would want to be treated.  It isn't playing fair, and it certainly isn't treating others nicely.  So, with that being said, my mom is referring back to the rule, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Over the past month, my mom's cancer has begun to get progressively worse.  Her coughing has gotten to the point where she is often leaning over a toilet hoping she would cough up lung fluid but on occasion has found that the deep coughing has lead to bouts of vomiting and pain.

Although her lung scan isn't until next week, we would be naive to think that her lungs are "stable."  She feels worse and sounds worse.  Twice she has made a comment to me about being scared sometimes when she can't breath and how she feels like someone is going to find her dead from hyperventilating and suffocating.  Although I hope she is exaggerating slightly, we all know that it has to be extremely scary when you can't get enough oxygen.

Due to feeling so much worse, Dr. Eaton has started mom on Tarceva again.  It was the original drug she took in April of 2006 and it worked on her for 30 months.  Obviously they stopped the drug for a reason in 2008, it wasn't as affective as it had been in the past, but at this point Tarceva is her only option.  So, Tarceva it is.  The hope is that Tarceva will have some affect on the cancer cells that are new since 2008 and have never seen Tarceva.  At this point she is willing to try anything that will bring her some relief.

She had a follow up appointment with her gamma knife/brain doctors this past Monday.  They told her that nothing has shrunk since her last surgery, or if it had, there are new ones because she has the same amount of spots in similar areas.  When she asked about going back in for surgery they told her that she is only a candidate if her cancer is "stable" below the neck.  At this point, she doesn't qualified for another gamma knife surgery unless the tumors begin to affect her eye sight or speech.  They would go into her brain again if that were the case because they would want her quality of life to be better.

So, as you can see, the month long break from writing on her blog is probably well deserved.  My mom has a lot on her mind and lots of emotional things she is trying to get thru.  Overall, mom is still mom.  When she is feeling well she is still as funny as ever.  She has gotten out of the house a few times recently to have fun with friends, take a trip to Desert Aire with Angie and I over the 4th of July weekend, and visit Jake and Megan at their house for dinner.  She is living in the moment and focusing on the things that bring her joy.  If you are one of those things, you might want to consider giving her a call and making her smile.

We hope all is well with you and yours-

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hi Friends :)

Not much happening, but I thought I'd write a blog just so you know I'm still around.

My head gets better everyday (I usually wake up with a headache that is easily relieved by Tylenol).  I can't believe how quickly the brain heals after it's been messed with.  I still cough everyday but that's old news that I've been living with for over 5 years.  What's another 5 years? 

Amy is laid up at home with a bad neck.  I'm not sure what she did to hurt it so much but she's been in bed for a day and a half on ice, muscle relaxants and ibrupropen with no apparent relief.  I hope she starts feeling better soon or she's off for an MRI.

Jake is applying for a job with the La Conner School District as a first grade teacher.  He's really hoping to get the job so we're all excited for him.  He and Megan are getting ready to visit their new puppy for the first time in about a week so I'll probably be posting some photos soon.

Angie is looking forward to her summer vacation so she can spend more time with Susie (my grand dog) and attend all the Seattle Storm games.  Janeen and I will meet up with her many times this summer and go to the games as well.  Now that they live in Edmonds, there are all kinds of fun things to do to keep her busy.  

Kelly has left me for the week...she's gone to Mexico with her family for a much needed vacation.  :)  Hope she's having a great time.

Father's day is just around the corner...Though it's a sad time for us without Rick here, I must say that my DAD is one of a kind.  He has been such a help to all of us over the years and never asks for anything in return.  If your Dad is still around, please remember to tell him how much he is loved and thank him for the countless ways he has been there for you without even knowing it.  I know I'll do my best to give my Dad all my love on Sunday and every other day.

Love you more than all the flowers in bloom,

Friday, June 3, 2011

Brain Update

Good news...I have brains.  I know we've all been worrying about that for quite some time, but I have a bunch and they all seem to be working (ok, that might have been an overstatement). 

Last Thursday, I had the most amazing procedure done on my brain.  I know I've told you a little bit about it, but to be a recipient of it was unbelievable.  When I arrived at Harborview at 6:30am they explained the procedure, had me sign some paperwork then started the preparation.  A neurosurgeon came into my room and injected my scalp and skull with a numbing agent to help with the pain of the screws being inserted into the skull itself.  The shots to the skull were equally as painful or close to the pain of the screws that attached a head stabilizer.  After the numbness started, he used a screwdriver and attached this apparatus with 4 long screws.  After that, I had another brain MRI with this headgear on to help them determine if they had identified all the tumors.  In fact, they found 7 tumors all together (4 of them were quite small, but new and growing none the less).  After about an hour and a half with the neurologists and neurosurgeons evaluating my pictures, they came up with a game plan and the procedure began.  I went into the gamma knife machine for 97.3 minutes and the entire process was done with the use of radiation and a computer.  My doctors were in another room while it took place.  My family was proud of me for being a trooper that day.  No tears, or whining, or screaming.  Just peace.  Peace that we would find a way to get these buggers before they grew anymore.

I'm one week out and I feel great.  Two of my screw sites are still a little tender, one hurts like heck when I cough so I hold my head tight when I feel a cough coming on.  Other than that, the wounds look like mosquito bites.  I won't really know for a couple of months if the procedure worked, but we'll be checking every month to see how things are progressing. 

When I think back 5 years ago having just been diagnosed with lung cancer, I could not have imagined all the amazing works of medical science that would have helped save my life. I am forever grateful for the opportunities I've been given. 

Looking forward to attending opening day of WNBA STORM  basketball tomorrow.  The team will be awarded their championship rings and we all get to be a part of the action.  Janeen and I have season tickets (right next to Angie) so we're looking forward to a summer filled with hoops and friendship.  GO STORM!

As always, DREAMING BIG ~

Monday, May 16, 2011

Time for an update....

So much has been happening, let me get started.

As most of you know, I've been taking a break from chemo for the last 2 months.  I wasn't recuperating as fast as I should have so Dr. Eaton and I agreed that it was time to let my body rest.  A couple of weeks ago I had a CT scan of my chest and it showed no new growth in my lungs (even though I haven't been getting any treatment).  As you can imagine, I was overjoyed.  The only problems I complained about were more frequent headaches and my vision is blurry some of the time.  Dr. Eaton ordered a brain MRI to check things out since I hadn't had one in 6 months or so.  The MRI came back showing that the tumors in my brain were growing and a new one had reared it's ugly head.  It was decided at that time that I would go see a neurosurgeon at the University of Washington.  That appointment was today.  Here's what I know about my brain.  Dr. Rockhill (my brain doc) sees 4 spots in my brain that need to be destroyed.  So, next Thursday I'll be going to Harborview for a procedure called Gamma Knife where they will screw 4 bolts into my head with stabilizers to keep my head from moving and shoot 192 beams of radiation at each of the 4 spots.  Before I go in for the actual radiation, they will give me another MRI (with really small slices of the brain) to see if they can locate any other unusual areas.  If so, they will gamma knife those as well.  All 3 of the kids went to the appointment today to listen and ask questions.  We all agreed that this is the safest and best solution for me at this time.  (They are going to try really hard not to destroy any of my good brain matter since that doesn't work all the time anyway)  OK, enough about cancer.

After the appointment, I took the kids out for lunch and for pedicures.  They had all taken the day off to go to the doctor's visit so I thought they could use a little treat.  Even Jacob joined in the fun willingly.  He wasn't too embarrassed (he was the only guy in the place).  More men should get their feet done...

Kelly and I have been working diligently getting ready for Relay for Life.  The theme this year is Stampede against cancer so we're working on our cowboy theme.  We're looking forward to seeing all our friends, family and fellow survivors.

This past weekend, 8 of us girls who graduated from Stanwood High School got together over at Desert Aire.  We had a blast.  My dear friend Cindy (who also has a house over there) was the hostess for all of us.  The food, fun and friendship was immeasurable.  I can't wait to do it again next year..and the year after that...and the year after that (if you get my point :).  My best friend from high school, Kathi, stayed with me at my house and we talked about life all weekend long.  It wasn't a kegger, but that didn't stop the party from being dull.

Amy has moved into the townhouse she bought on Beacon Hill.  I got to see it last Monday and it's adorable.  She is on the hill right by a park that overlooks Safeco and Quest fields, Elliott Bay and the city of Seattle.  She loves the location for both of her jobs.  I'm really happy for her.  Now if the rest of her furniture would get delivered :)

Jake's knee is healing very well after his accident on the basketball court.  He and Megan are getting a new puppy.   The dog is a yellow lab and his name will be Mac.  I'll post photos once he's born.  I keep telling them I watched Marley and Me...but they tell me not to worry.  Their doggy will be in obedience classes as soon as he's old enough.  Good luck kids...

Angie was named "Teacher of the Year" at her school.  She just attended a dinner put on by the Marysville School District to honor the teachers from each school who won the award.  I'm really proud of her.  If you had a chance to see her teach, you'd be proud too.

I hope I got you caught up on my "One Life to Live" saga.  We're all doing great. According to Dr. Eaton's orders... I only do things that "BRING ME JOY".

Always dreaming BIG,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

I woke up this morning to a beautiful sunny sky, the smell of fresh cut grass (thanks to my neighbor boy) and a smile on my face.  It doesn't get much better than this.

I had a wonderful week in Spokane (I rode over with Amy who was working there all week) visiting with my friends Bob and Dy and just spending quality time with Amy each evening.  We ate at Amy's favorite restaurant, the Elk, twice while we were there.  She could have gone there each night but thought that might be overkill.  I spent all day Wednesday with Dy and we had a great visit. 

Tomorrow I'll get to see all the kids and I'm really looking forward to that.  Enjoy your day with your families and I hope you find lots of Easter eggs.

While doing work around the house this morning, I noticed this magnet on my fridge.  I hadn't read it in a long time and after I did, I thought...you need to share that with the people you love.  So, my advice for the day:

live with intention.
walk to the edge.
listen hard.
practice wellness.
play with abandon.
choose with no regret.
continue to learn.
appreciate your friends.
do what you love.
live as if this is all there is.

And my contribution....Dream Big.
Love, Dor

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy Spring?

I'm optimistic that we'll soon be enjoying sunshine and flowers.  I'm a big dreamer so I can wait!

So much has been going on with my family I thought it only appropriate that I give you some updates.  Where to begin?  I'm taking a "BREAK" from chemo.  After a long discussion with my oncologist about chemo sucking the life out of me, he said I could take some time off.  Externally, I feel great.  Internally, I have no idea what's going on, but we'll continue to do scans to make sure the cancer doesn't go rampant.  If so, we'll go back to some kind of treatment plan.  We're even talking about possibly trying Tarceva again.  My body liked it the first time I tried it...maybe it will be kind to me again?  I really do feel better than I have in months.  Of course, I still have a cough and a little fatigue but that's to be expected. 

Just recently, Jacob was playing basketball at the Davis Carlson memorial "Hoops for Davis" event.  He went up to block a shot, came down on his leg wrong and blew out his knee.  He had surgery last Monday to replace his ACL and repair both meniscus's.  He's in great hands with a wife who's a physical therapist.  I went up and "babysat" him a couple of days after surgery when Megan had to go back to work.  He's doing so much better already.   He's missed his classes of kids so I know he's getting ready to head back to work on Monday. 

Amy was promoted to Major in the Air Force.  It was a long time coming (the government has some other things on it's plate right now).  I know it was well deserved..  She also purchased an adorable townhouse in Seattle that she gets to move into later this month.   Besides all of this...she is traveling constantly with her job on the Counter Drug Task Force.    During all this hectic time, the American Cancer Society put a contest on to raise the most money in 10 days for Relay for Life. The winner would receive an Ipad.  Any of you who know Amy...she took the challenge on like a gang buster and won the Ipad raising over $4,100 in those ten days.  Thanks to all of you who contributed to our team. 

I feel bad sometimes when I write all these amazing things about my kids but they are "amazing" so I can't help it.  Angie was just named Educator of the Year at her school.  I know I've mentioned this before, but she is so fun to watch in action...no wonder she was nominated.  Angie just returned from a conference in San Diego and a spring break trip to Vegas.  They were both well deserved and much needed breaks for her.  Lucky girl.   I barely make it out of Stanwood! 

The first of April marked the one year anniversary of Rick's death.  I can't believe how quickly time has passed.  I still miss him terribly but I know he's in a better place and out of pain.  I've finally gone through his things and donated them to great causes.  It wasn't an easy task to do, but with Kelly's help we were able to get it done in a couple of days and it turned out to be pretty painless.

As you can tell, I'm really proud of my children and all that they've accomplished.   I'm so blessed!

Thanks to all of you for your love and support (and especially your patience with my blog writing). 

As always...I'm dreaming big,

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

Well, you had to know this was coming.  Sometimes I feel like writing, most of the time I don't.  Tonight it will flow out of me with ease.  It's hard to believe that tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary since my dad passed away.  Even as I say it, it doesn't sound real.  The year has gone by so quickly.

Today, many friends made comments about tomorrow.  Although tomorrow marks a milestone, tonight marks a milestone as well.  April 1st is the day my dad died, but March 31st is the night I grew up.  I always wondered if I was "ready" for the day to come.  I wasn't.  Nobody is.

After dad's passing we discussed how Angie didn't make it home in time and how sad that was for all of us.  What we didn't talk about was what it was like for those of us who were here.  It wasn't as though the night of the 31st was horrible.  My dad was sleeping.  He didn't appear to be in any pain.  He seemed fairly peaceful.  The hard part was trying to convince everyone to go home for the night, and for those of us left behind to try and get some sleep.

It was late when everyone crawled into bed, attempting to get some rest.  None of us knew if my dad was going to make it thru the night.  Every bedroom had baby monitor radios in them so we could call for help.  It's probably fair to say that not much sleeping took place that night.  As mom crawled into bed next to my dad she was sad and started to cry.  She told me she hated the idea of waking up and finding that he had passed away.  I promised her that no matter what, I would not let that happen.  I brought one of the hard wooden chairs from the kitchen table into the bedroom and set next to their bed.  I sat in that chair, in the dark, with my laptop to keep me awake, and I watched my dad.  I listened for a different breathing pattern.  I watched for anything out of the ordinary.

As the sun began to come up, I'm guessing 6:30 the next morning, Melana took over so I could close my eyes for a few minutes before the hospice team arrived.  One year ago today, was a night I will never forget.

I miss my dad terribly.  I miss his smirks and I miss his smart ass comments.  I miss seeing him in his chair.  I know without a doubt, he is in a better place than he was toward the end, but being without your dad is tough.

So, on the eve of his one year anniversary, I just want to thank all of our friends and family who have made the past year, a year of remembering and personal growth.  And I would like to give a special thank you to Skagit hospice for their care and guidance the past week of my dad's life.  We will never be able to thank them enough.

With fond memories,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Extreme Fatigue

Wow...With my little infection battle and my last dose of chemo, I'm feeling fatigue like I've never felt it before.  If I get settled into a chair, or with my head too close to a pillow, I'm out for the count.  No kidding.  I'm asleep before I even know it. 

It was nice to see the compliments from all my friends concerned about where I've been (since the last blog).  I guess I didn't realize how interested you are when we just sort of vanish from the computer.   Thank you for your love.

Well, I think I'm going to head back into bed for a while and rest before dinner.  My friend Gail is coming over to spend the night and bring dinner.  Can you say spoiled?

Love you more,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heartfelt Apology for slacking on the blog.

Sorry it's taken so long to write another blog.  I just didn't have much to say, so writing "just for the heck of it" wasn't the reason we set this format up.  I wanted to write with news to tell or wisdom to share.

Just wanted to let you know that I had scans last week and I got the results today.  This chemo that I've been on is keeping the cancer cells stable.  I'm hoping it continues to do it's job for many months/years to come.  Who would have known that I would still be here after almost 5 years? 

My white count was on the rise today so I went on a new antibiotic to help clear up an upper respiratory infection and a bladder infection.  Something new to worry about :)

I'll write again soon ... I promise.

As always, Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The CT test results came back stable again so I'll continue with this chemo routine for at least 2 more months.  My side (lower lung) pain is starting to come back so we're adjusting my meds to see if that helps my pain and cough.  Last time the new concoction worked miracles so I say "give it a go". 

Kelly took me down to Seattle on Monday for tests and Tuesday for chemo.  Since we arrived in the big city early we decided to go to Pike Place Market.  Neither of us had been there in a while so it was fun looking around and buying fresh foods and trinkets. 

My cough woke me up this morning which is why you're getting the blog so early.  I think I'll take some meds, get something to drink then head back to bed for a little bit.  I'm staying at Angie's for a couple of days while I recuperate ... just realized I forgot my anti-nausea pills.   Hopefully, 7-up will calm my tummy.

Love you more,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January Upate

The new year has been good to us (minus Angie's root canal and bad knee).  Amy has been traveling a lot, Jake is coaching 8th grade varsity boys basketball, chemo has been kind to me so far (the same sore joints and a little fatigue but that's easy enough to work with).

Relay for Life is coming again in May.  Watch for times, information and fundraisers.  I'll keep you posted.

I'm due for a new scan on Monday the 24th then chemo again on the 25th.  I sure wish I had Rick around to go to these tests with me.   It always felt better to share it with each other.  I know he's with me at my appointments in spirit, but it's just not the same.  I'm so thankful I have friends and family who go with me.  I really am lucky to have so much love around me when I need it most. 

Dreaming Big,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Tomorrow starts another round of chemo, so I thought I would write you all a note to wish you a wonderful new year (just in case I don't get back to the computer for a few days).  I've been feeling good the past couple of weeks so it's been a joyous holiday season.

I've had a few fun days ringing in the new year.  On New Year's Eve, I went to Jake and Megan's and we had fondue with her parents and her brother and his girlfriend, then I came home and the girls met me.  We played a little Wii then watched the countdown together.  New Year's Day was spent with Kelly, her family and mine (minus Jake and Meg) watching the Rose Bowl game and eating lots of good food. 

My sister in law, Vickie is taking me to Seattle tomorrow for my treatment.  She's always a lot of fun to be around so I'm looking forward to that part of my day.  Once I have the chemo, I'm usually just a little nauseous and tired.  I can deal with both of those things :)

Have a safe and healthy new year with your loved ones and keep dreaming big,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No more tears

Amy shared my crying secrets with all of you on Monday so, I need to assure you that the crying has stopped.  For now :)  I never knew my heart could hurt so much after 8 months but I found that love has no time limits.  This first holiday season without my "Ricky" is going to be a rough one.  Lucky for me,  I have amazing kids surrounding me to help ease the pain. 
I got great news today from PEBB and it looks like I am going to qualify for retirement medical insurance.  I need to see a piece of paper that assures me of my eligibility but everyone I've talked to at the PEBB office has given me the thumbs up.  What a relief to know that my insurance will go on without any glitches.  A big thanks to all of you who helped make this happen. 

Tomorrow night I'm going to the 5th Avenue to see "The Christmas Story" (Ralphie, you can't have a BB gun... you'll shoot your eye out) with Amy and Melana and Melana's Mom.  The girls are taking us to dinner before the show at an amazing restaurant called Purple in downtown Seattle.  I'm really looking forward to a fun night out on the big town.

It's almost past my bedtime so, nighty night.

Dreaming Big,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Water Works

Today, mom cried.  And then she cried.  And then she cried some more.  Every time I talked to her on the phone she began to cry, and then she got frustrated with herself.  She was overwhelmed and simply couldn't control her tear ducts.  If you called mom today, odds are pretty good that you experienced the same thing I did.

I tried to remind her that it is ok to get emotional.  I also tried to remind her that she has been really strong for a really long time, and everyone is bound to break sometimes.  She told me that she wasn't frustrated with her situation, she is frustrated with herself for being emotional when she knows how blessed she is.

Our long couple of weeks dealing with insurance issues got even worse today when Angie called the PEBB people to check on the status of mom's insurance packet.  The lady said she didn't know anything about her packet, which was submitted last week.  After an hour on the phone with the lady who had no intention of showing empathy, let alone going out of her way to help, Angie found out that the form we submitted last week wasn't the form they wanted us to submit.  When Angie expressed the need to speed up the process, the woman told her to watch for the packet in approximately 7 days.  I can only imagine how frustrated Angie must have been.  Dor has 11 days to get this insurance problem finalized... but the lady was adamant that the packet needed to be mailed instead of emailed or picked up in person.  So, that's where we sit.  Another long, frustrating day for the Schmitt family.

With elevated anxiety-

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's what's happening...

Mom spent the night in Seattle last night with her friends Cathy and Kim (after a CT scan and a little Christmas shopping).  They got up early today for a doctor's appointment and chemo.  Her scan came back stable, so that's good news.  She will stay on the same chemo drug for the time being, and continue to focus on the day to day things that bring her happiness.

She came home from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance this afternoon and has been resting ever since.  She seems to be more exhausted than normal, but then again, she has a lot on her mind lately.  Hopefully she will get some rest and wake up feeling better tomorrow.

Dreaming Big-

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Concerns

We have been concerned with "medical" issues the past few years but luckily we haven't had to think about medical insurance... until now.  Mom has been on Cobra since dad passed away in April.  She can continue to stay on cobra, but there are some other issues that have come up now.  To make a long story short... we will have our hands full for the next few weeks to make sure she begins 2011 with adequate medical insurance.

I see stress in our very near future....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sharpen your Saw...

It has been a while since I have taken the time to sit down and write a blog.  It's not for lack of participation, I simply don't know what to say.  I know that as a family, we have transitioned from the daily blog entries into the occasional quick update... and we get emails about our lack of information being posted all the time.  Many of you wish we would write more, and to be honest, it can be a bit therapeutic so I am going to try to do a better job of sharing.

This week, I am in Las Vegas for work.  I am here observing an instructor teach the class "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."  I flew down here expecting to hear some touchy-feely information about how to live a better life... but I was wrong.  This was a fantastic course that made me open my eyes, and my heart. It was a wake up call for me.  I wasn't even one of the students in the class but I think I got more out of the class than most people did.  I won't get into the details of the course but I want to touch on the 7th habit.  After listening to all of the good points throughout the week, he presented the final habit as "sharpening the saw".  It is so true.  He was speaking to me.  He was speaking to my entire family.  The message is that sometimes we continue to work so hard at what we are doing and we become too focused on trying harder that we are no longer being efficient or effective.  When you do the same repetitive things for 4 years, and you become exhausted physically and mentally, stop and take care of the saw.  Take care of yourself.  We can't continue at the pace we are moving without expecting something to break.

Not a day goes by when we aren't reminded of how loved we are.  And, not a day goes by when we aren't stopped in the grocery store or the bank, to get a hug and words of affirmation.  Unfortunately, for those of us who have lost loved ones to this disease, words can't take away the loss of the ones we miss. They also can't slow down the cancer cells that are working hard to take other people that you hold so close to your heart.  We continue to experience a genuine sense of helplessness.  I would do anything to take the physical pain away from my mom.  But just as importantly, I would do anything to take the pain away from my Grandparents eyes.  I wish I could provide Angie with the missing pieces that she needs to fully grasp what she missed during the last two days of my father's life.  I know that she struggles with not being there for it.  I wish I could take some of the expectations off of my brother.  There is a fine line between wanting to be like my dad, and feeling as though he needs to replace my dad.  I'm not sure where my brother is mentally or emotionally, but I think he carries a bigger load than he has to sometimes and I think it's because he is trying to fill my dad's shoes.  All he needs to do is focus on being the healthiest Jake he can be.

As for mom, she hasn't written lately because there isn't much to say.  We all learned a long time ago, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".  I think that's where she is.  She doesn't have anything upbeat or happy to talk about so she focuses on the little things that bring her happiness each day, not the blog.  We can't blame her for that.  She has been coughing much more lately.  She has been in more pain.  She gets over-heated quickly, which has caused her bedroom to become her own private snow cave.  Her sliding glass door to the deck is open, her windows are open, and her fan is blowing cold air in her face.  As much as we try to be upbeat, and optimistic, I've got to tell you.... this is a miserable disease that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Yesterday was national Pay it Forward day... or so I read on google.  With that being said, I think we can all do more to make everyday pay it forward day.  We all have so much negativity and get caught up in the small things.  If we focus on the things that matter most in this world, and view every situation as a win-win instead of a competition where someone has to win and someone has to lose.... we will all be in a much better place.  If we aren't working to make everyone's life a better place, we are missing our calling folks.  Rake the leaves of the elderly couple next door.  Bring your secretary coffee in the morning, and don't judge other people because you have no idea what their life is like.  Always say please and thank you.  Smile more often, and always give more than you take.

The Schmitt family is fine.  We are going to get back to the basics.  We are going to stop and sharpen our saw for a little while so we can take care of the things that matter most in this world.  In the mean time, go do something nice and unexpected for someone else.  You never know, you might just start a positive ripple effect in the life of many people.

 Sending warm holiday wishes from our family to yours-

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Feeling Under the Weather

This hasn't been one of my finer weeks in the health department.  Just getting to chemo this past week was a hazardous chore with the weather (rain, snow, sleet, ice, and more snow) so Mom, Dad and I spent the night at a hotel near Cancer Care for safety's sake.  Since my chemo on Tuesday, I've been feeling awful with a horrible cough, troubles breathing and fatigue.  I've had someone spend the night with me nearly every night this week to help out with the anxiety of not getting adequate air.  It's very scary to struggle for your breath.  Eventually, I know it will come back, but it's nice to have someone by my side patting my back assuring me that everything will be ok.  I still have a terrible cough but it finally feels like it might be breaking up.  Perhaps I'm on the mend just in time to start all over again :)

Mom and Dad took me for a ride today (just to get out of the house).  After days of being stuck inside from the weather, then the chemo I was ready to see a little blue sky and enjoy what sunshine came peeking through the clouds.

Amy is off for another week in Vegas with her military job.  I think she's been gone more than she's been home since this job started.  Have a safe journey Amy and I'll see you in a week.

I'm going to be needing your help one of these days because we're nominating Angie as P.E. teacher of the year.  The award is nationwide and she will win 10,000 dollars for her school and some other neat prizes.  I'll tell you all the details later.  I know with your help we'll get the word out about how deserving she is.

It's time for me to head off to bed.  I haven't been sleeping well lately, so when I get the urge to close my eyes...I need to go for it.

Dreaming Big,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A few more photos from a fabulous weekend....

Kelly and I on the big screen as she receives her award.

 Lisa Molina, Me and Bonnie at breakfast on Friday morning.  Amazing ladies who've changed my life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

San Francisco Memories

We returned this afternoon from a wonderful trip to San Francisco where we participated in a weekend full of adventures, laughs and making memories. The girls, Scott and Kelly spent Friday shopping and exploring the Fisherman's Wharf while I had the opportunity to visit with Bonnie and our other friend Lisa. We had lunch, shopped and laughed...a lot! If not for the wheelchair and the oxygen tank I would have forgotten all about Lung Cancer for that hour or two. I love those ladies and am thankful that I had the chance to spend quality time with them.

Saturday night was the Lung Cancer Gala. We spent some time during the day helping decorate for the event and then spent a little more time getting ourselves ready to go. It seems like simple tasks such as getting dressed and  doing my hair and make-up now wear me out. I was ready for a nap before we left my hotel room. I was so proud to have been able to introduce Kelly as the "Caregiver of the Year" at the event. She received a large ovation and she deserved every bit of it. The evening was a huge success, with an enormous about of money having been raised for Bonnie's foundation.

After the Gala on Saturday night, Kathryn Joosten from Desperate Housewives came up to my hotel room to hang out with me and the girls. She is hilarious and had us laughing the entire time. She is a two time Lung Cancer survivor and a supporter of Bonnie's foundation.

As much as I loved our trip, I am happy to be home and plan to rest up over the next few days. I have attached a few photos from our weekend. Enjoy!

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Change of Plans (again)

My chemo plans have changed again.  I've gone back on the Alimta plan which is a plan I was on for 28 weeks earlier this year.  I began having severe pain during the time I was on it so we had to make some different arrangements, ie. take me off it and put me on some new pain meds and a new kind of chemo.  But for now, we are sticking with the Alimta and a new kind of pain medicine.  The only problems I've come across are a bad case of feeling overwhelmed from the steroids and needing tums every couple of hours.  I can deal with both of those set backs.

I'm getting excited about next weeks plans in San Francisco.  The only kids not going on the trip this year are Jake and Megan but I understand Megan has her new job and Jake just started up coaching basketball again on Monday.  Busy lives for busy bodies, maybe they can can make it again next year.

I've been using  a wheel chair to get around lately (it really helps keep my breathing under control), I also find that sitting with a fan directly in my face seems to give me a greater sense of air flow.  I don't like any of these devices, but if they work, I need to face reality and just do what works best for me.

It's time for me to get off the computer and think about something for dinner.  Yogurt and cereal?  Maybe...

Sending lots of love to all my friends.

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wine Tasting for a Cure

What a night! Roughly 80 friends and family members gathered at Wine Styles in Marysville tonight to taste wine for a lung cancer fundraiser. The Schmitt family would like to thank everyone who participated in the event, donated to our fundraising efforts or sent well wishes. Our event was a huge success having raised $2,230 for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

In addition to raising money, we also celebrated something else tonight. Kelly Lloyd, Mom's amazing caregiver was informed that she has been selected as the first annual "Caregiver Award" through Bonnie's foundation. Our family nominated her by writing a letter and sending it off to a committee for review. Not only did she beat out the other 38 nominated caregivers, she won the award unanimously! We are so lucky to have you in our lives Kelly! She will receive her award at the gala in San Francisco next month. Congrats!

Dreaming of brighter tomorrows!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Adventures from the Pumpkin Patch

In the spirit of Mom's least favorite holiday, Halloween, we went on a family field trip to the Stocker Farms Pumpkin Patch in Snohomish today. After much anticipated corn dogs at the concession stand we entered the gates to pumpkin heaven! We laughed a lot, took tons of pictures, found the "perfect" pumpkins to take home and left just as the rain began to fall.

We stopped by the cemetery on the way back to Stanwood and left a little pumpkin there for Dad. Mom began to feel under the weather so we took her home and got her into her pajamas. After another hour of laughing on her bed and eating Halloween candy we called it a day and headed home.

Amy and Mel are carving pumpkins at our house tonight while drinking wine, baking pumpkins seeds and working on a jigsaw puzzle. Of course we have the UW football game on in the background. With Dad's love for his children, football and jigsaw puzzles, he would have loved it here tonight...

We hope you enjoy the photos from our adventures at the Pumpkin Patch. We sure had a great time!

Dreaming Big-

Angie & Amy

Monday, October 18, 2010

Treatment Delayed

Mom and Aunt Vickie stayed at our house in Edmonds last night in order to shorten their trip to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance this morning. I noticed that mom looked very tired when they arrived at the house and she just didn't have much energy. After blood work results today we know why... her counts are low and she is anemic. They said she was close to needing a blood transfusion. As of now they sent her home, without having her scheduled chemo treatment, and rescheduled her chemo for next Tuesday. As expected, the doctor is very serious about us limiting mom's number of guests for the next few days. With her counts being as low as they are she could pick up an illness that her body simply can't fight off. Dr. Eaton also required all of her caregivers to get a flu shot and asked us to stay out of mom's house until we do so. As of right now we have face masks, hand sanitizers and other precautionary items at the front door of the house for visitors. If you find it important to stop by and visit mom this week please help us keep her home free of germs.

Thanks again for your continued support, love and understanding.

Dreaming Big,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Game Plan

All 3 of the kids joined me at my doctor's visit today to hear about  my choices as we enter the next phase of this journey.  I can always go back to 2 of the chemos I've been on before (they didn't do a lot...but they slowed the growth down a little) or I can try a new new drug called Navelbine that may or may not do the trick, but we'll never know if we never try. I'll go to the clinic once a week for blood work, doctor's appointment then an infusion. I'll do this for 3 weeks in a row then have a week off.  I won't get scanned again for 2 months.  After that, we'll check it out to see if the progression has stopped or at least slowed down.  I'm running out of options  at this point, so let's just keep thinking positive thoughts about Navelbine...you never know....it could be my new TARCEVA :)

While waiting for the doc this morning, we had the nurse take a new family photo.  Not bad for 4 worried faces?

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Great Weekend then Disappointment

I just spent a great weekend at Desert Aire with my sister in law, Vickie.  We laughed and slept, then laughed and ate, then laughed some more.  It was just what I needed before I start the clinical trial.

At my doctor's visit I learned that I will begin the trial this Friday (at which time I will also learn which trial I will actually be on...with or without Tarceva)  The first day is a long process.  Blood work, appointment, take pills, play around for 3 or 4 hours, come back and do more blood work and EKG...then go home.  That process is only once a month.  Otherwise, it's pills only at home.  I'm looking forward to getting something started.  Although there was little growth in the tumors in my lymph nodes, there was lung capacity loss in both lungs and more signs of cancer in the middle right lobe, and bottom lobes of both lungs.  I'm ready for that kind of growth to stop.

Today I'm babysitting my grand dog at Angie's.  Susie (the cutest granddog around) has an ear infection and she needed some extra lovin', so who better than me?  Actually, they've moved into a new neighborhood and when she doesn't feel good or gets anxious she tends to bark more.  The new neighbors don't like that so I told the girls I would stay at their house and keep her inside with me.

As I was writing this blog, I just got a call from Dr. Eaton in Seattle.  He informed me that they discovered during one of my trials (at another hospital), I took a drug that disqualifies me from this study.  I'm sitting here in shock.  I had it all figured out.  This was the trial that was going to do the trick.  I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about it.  He was disappointed too when he called.  Thursday is his day off from patients, so he is going to study my case all day with some of his colleagues and try to find a new game plan.  Sometimes we just don't get what we wish for.

I'll continue to DREAM BIG...
Love, Doreen

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Good News

They were able to take the tissue from my last biopsy to use for this case study so I get to skip that portion of the trial.  On Friday, I have a full body CT, bloodwork and an EKG.  After the study group looks at all my information, I will begin the trial the first week of October.  I won't know until then which "arm" of the trial I will be on....with or without Tarceva. 

The house at Desert Aire is officially sold.  I'm so happy to have that responsibility off my back.  I'm looking forward to heading over to the Desert just to enjoy house number 2.  Yahoo!

Keep Dreaming Big,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tumor Growth :) :(

Sorry I didn't let you know the outcome sooner...but here is what I know.  There is tumor growth in my lungs which qualifies me for the trial.  The next step is a new lung biopsy (they are deciding which kind to perform), then a few more tests just to make sure I'm still a good patient.  I'll keep you posted on what the next step is after that, so for now...let's just think positive thoughts and BELIEVE.  My emotions are still mixed but I'm happy to know I'm moving in some direction and they have a plan.

Getting ready to watch the Storm game again tonight.  Let's hope they win tonight and sweep Atlanta in the finals.  :)  Go Storm!

Dreaming Gigantic,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mixed emotions

My doctors visit started out fairly routine.  "Blood pressure, fine, temp fine, by the way the clinical trial you've been waiting for finally opened up yesterday....."  I was so excited to hear the great news.  This is the trial that is suppose to work well on people who had success with Tarceva, and we all know that Tarceva was my middle name for 2 and a half years.  All of this sounds so promising, so you ask "what's the problem?"  Although I've signed all the paperwork for the trial and everything looks good, if my cancer has not grown at all in the past couple of months, I can't be a candidate.  Only people with cancer growth can join the trial.  I know it will be awesome if the cancer has not grown at all (that's what we're always wishing for) but if I miss out on this trial now and the cancer starts growing in 2 months...the trial could be closed to new participants by then.  I now that sounded like a bunch of jibberish so in a few words it means....I need the cancer to have grown (JUST A LITTLE) so I don't miss this opportunity.  I can't believe I've even said those words but in the cancer world, timing is everything.  I'm scheduled for a new CT scan next Tuesday so they can make their decision about me.

I learned yesterday that Jordan Nursery (a local plant farm in my town) is naming one of their new varieties of fuchsias after me.  So, next year you can buy a "Doreen" and hang me on your porch if you'd like.  It is light pink with a white middle and  magenta pokie things in the center.  On the 25th and 26th of September they are having "Bloomfest" (or something like that) so people can see all their varieties of fuchsias and Martha Washington geraniums for next year.  Mine will be on display that day too :)

I'm fighting a  headache right now so I think I'll go put my jammies on and call it a night.  Thank you for all your love and prayers.

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dr. Visit

I'm up earlier than usual today....couldn't sleep....I have a doctor's visit in Seattle this morning.  I'm not having any scans or tests so I won't learn anything new about what's going on inside my lungs, but I might find out a little more about the clinical trial that's coming up.  I have mixed emotions about it.  I know I need to get in on it when it becomes available, but after a summer of feeling so well, I hate to think about new side effects and not feeling like myself again.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that I'm getting winded much easier.  It could be, because I'm going a mile a minute and I need to slow down.  The past week a new cough has joined the band wagon as well.  Perhaps I'm just getting my pre-winter cold?

Last night Angie came by for a visit after school and we had a nice snuggle...until I had a meltdown.  I hadn't had a good cry in a long time so it was nice to have her around while I did it. I'm sure I was just a little worried about today, I was missing my Ricky, and just doubting myself and decisions I've had to make by myself.  All normal kinds of grief I'm just glad Angie was here to walk me through it.

I'll keep you posted on today's doctor's visit.  I'm sure everything will go well.

Dreaming Big,