Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

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Getting Old…


Another Thursday… another chemo treatment. These are really getting old. And as much as I try to remind myself how far I’m getting, it still just feels never-ending to me. Thankfully I got to hang out with my friend, Hannah today. And Rob made it out for the end of the treatment. The best news- I gained a half of a pound!! This is the first time my weight has gone up since I started! I still have mouth sores, but they’re not as painful in the last couple of days so I can tolerate a little bit of “real” food. I’ve also loved drinking milk this past week- at least a thermos filled with it every day. The milk is so soothing to me. Never would’ve predicted that one. And I’ve been making fried bananas! I loved them years ago when I was introduced to them in Costa Rica. Wouldn’t have guessed I’d be making them again 20 years later to get through chemo!
My oncologist also lowered the dose of chemo this week. As she said, I’m “20% off now.” . She made this adjustment since my numbness in my fingers did not subside between treatments and it’s ok to do since my weight is lower than when I started the Taxol. I’m hoping this lower dosage might mean less mouth sores as well. I can hope… and I’ll keep you posted.

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Another Week Down

Six more left. This chemo thing is really getting old, so 6 seems so far away. So we’re just truckin along. My mouth sores are still my biggest complaint, so prayers for those to go away are appreciated. I haven’t gained weight like I was hoping, but my oncologist said my bloodwork shows my nutrition is good (I’ve lost weight but I’m not malnourished). Guess all that Ensure is doing its job. She also said she’s impressed with my progress; including my attitude. (She doesn’t see me at home or read all these posts ). The treatment itself was pretty typical again today… but with my friend, Michael Clay Donnell stayed to keep me company this time. Thanks for the messages and cards and help this week. I’ve really felt loved. Have a nice Friday, everyone. Eat some pizza or popcorn or a giant chef salad for me!!


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Another One Done

Another one done!! I was blessed with the company of Keely Anne Smith Jividen during treatment. And Rob was able to come near the end of it, too. Nothing new during the treatment… I was fairly comfortable again even with the ice packs. Dr. Rehmus (my oncologist) felt around my lymph nodes a LOT and said she couldn’t feel any… so we’re hopeful it’s out of there now, too! She’s happy with my progress, so I’m happy. As much as I wish I had more time between treatments to enjoy “good days” before the next one, I also like that we’re crossing these off the countdown relatively quickly now that’s they’re weekly. And although I was so confident that I had gained weight, I was wrong- down 1 lb today. But, I’ve got a nutritional plan for bringing that up for next week. So just give me a little more time. 😉
Thanks for all the texts and messages today. Your encouragement is so helpful in getting me through this. Love, love.
“The comeback is always stronger than the setback.”


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Chemo # 7…. check.


It was actually a nice afternoon to spend time with my friend, Rebecca. Still had to ice my hands and feet, but felt more comfortable than the last two rounds. I just couldn’t sit still and rest before, but I could do it today. Best news for today- I gained 2 lbs!!! This is the first day since my diagnosis on Jan 20th that I haven’t lost weight!! It’s amazing what can happen when you don’t throw up your food. Overall, this chemo drug is still not as harsh as the previous cocktail, so I’m very thankful. But I could use prayers for relief from the mouth sores (yes they returned) and for my fingernails (which are starting to get sore so they might not make through this unscathed). I’ll keep yinz posted!! Go Pens and go Cavs!!!

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Chemo #6… done.

My dear friend Tana Kura (Allie Armstrong’s mom for those who haven’t been blessed to know her yet) was able to join me for today’s chemo. It was nice to see her and see that some of the nurses remember her from when Allie was getting treatments there. Allie touched so many people and it doesn’t surprise me that nurses remember her… who wouldn’t?!
The doctor and nurses were very surprised that my neuropathy was so bad after the last treatment- one nurse said she’s never seen someone have such a strong reaction like that after the first dose of Taxol. Leave it to me to surprise the medical staff. So they gave me some Gabapentin to try this round… it’s a medication to take for nerve pain. I’ll also take ibuprofen around three clock over the weekend to try to keep the swelling down. Hoping those help. 🤞🏻
And the picture of the bouquets of flowers is one of the most thoughtful bday gifts. My coworkers each brought in a flower to make the bouquets, with a sweet personal message attached to each one. I’ve never even seen a bouquet so big and beautiful. I work with the greatest people!!!
Hope you all enjoy a fabulous Easter weekend! With tons of love…

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.”


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Fresh Air

Fresh air and sunlight are hitting my bald head as I type this out on our deck. It may have taken me all morning to get up, shower, and get out here (it’s almost 3:00), but it’s worth it. I needed to catch up on sleep today after the weekend.
Friday evening Rob and I saw “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night”- it’s an amazing play that was in Cleveland over the weekend. It was one of the most creative things I’ve ever seen and I loved it! By Friday night my hands were already starting to hurt. The neuropathy set in pretty hard overnight and kept me up a lot with swelling and throbbing.
Saturday was pretty laid back- just trying to take it easy and not have to do much. Yesterday was my attempt at doing more typical things- we went to church in the morning (when did going to church become so exhausting?) and then took the girls to see the “Beauty and the Beast” musical at the local high school. I can remember when those 2 things would easily be just part of many things on a Sunday. Now, they take my entire energy reserve to get through. But you know what- totally worth it. Praising God with church family and quality time with Rob and the girls… it doesn’t get much better (well maybe it’d be better if I could move my hands, but that’s beside the point.)
A friend brought dinner last night and we had a lovely evening eating outside. Yep, you heard that right- “eating”. Me. I did it. I had a normal size serving of chicken noodle soup and it was delicious!! And it stayed down! I’m hoping it’s a sign that normal food intake is in my near future… fingers crossed.
So, everyone reading this- enjoy your food today and hopefully it’s sunny where you are as well. Take a deep breath and soak up even a moment of this day. Every moment has a purpose… this one is rejuvenating my spirit.

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Today was the first of 12 weekly chemo treatments of Taxol. It’s supposed to be easier to tolerate than the last 2 months… I sure hope they’re right! I was nervous about the new drug and the risk of a reaction to it, but it went off without a hitch. The most common side effect of this one is neuropathy in the hands and feet. My oncologist does everything possible to keep it minimal and hopefully prevent it from being permanent. So she put my hands and feet in ice while I was getting the Taxol. It was strange, and uncomfortable- hard to relax like that. But if it helps, I’m all for it!
Another survivor friend came over tonight and it was good for my soul- relating to things only fellow chemo fighters with young kids can understand, and encouraging me by hearing of her life now after cancer. That will be such a wonderful time someday!
Rob got tickets for us to see a play in Cleveland tomorrow evening as an early bday gift for me. If you feel compelled, please pray that I feel well enough for us to enjoy the special night!
Sending love to the Caldwells in Strawpump (and those all over) as we remember my cousin’s bday who made her way to heaven after her own courageous cancer battle. So proud to share our mutual descent from that woman with a heart of gold. Love, love!