At this time of year, I think everyone reflects on the things in their life that they are thankful for.  I feel so much gratitude already daily because of all the blessings I receive, but I wanted to take a moment to truly focus and say "thank you" for my blessings.
     I am so thankful for a wonderful husband.  Not only does he go to work every day to provide for our family, he cooks, he cleans, he bathes children, he helps kids with homework, he waits on me hand and foot, he is spiritually strong, he is my best friend.  There is no way I could ever make it without him.  I am so grateful that he is mine forever!  I love him so much!
     I am thankful for each of my children.  They are what keeps me battling my cancer when I think I have had enough.  They bring me so much joy, and make me smile every single day.  I love each and every one of them more than words can say.  

    I am thankful for my loving, supportive parents, and for their examples.  I am thankful for my brothers and sisters, grateful that we are all really good friends, and how much love they show me.  I am thankful for Dan's parents and family.
    I am thankful for the gospel, and for Jesus.  How could I endure all of my trials without Him?  I am thankful for the scriptures.  I am thankful that I have the knowledge that my family is forever!!  What comfort that gives me.
    I am thankful for all the service we receive.  Whether they are small or large acts of kindness, each and every one is so appreciated.  I am grateful for those who read my blog, and put up with my ramblings, and give me support and encouragement.  I am grateful for all of our friends and extended family.  We have the BEST support system ever, and we are so grateful for each and every person who is there for us, whatever the need may be.  
     I am grateful for our home, and our wonderful neighborhood, this beautiful area, to live in America, for the medical treatments that have kept me alive for 18 months, for the kind doctors and nurses who take care of me, for pain medicine, for anti-nausea medicine.    
     There are so many more blessings that are too numerous to count.   Just like the hymn "Count your Many Blessings"  that we recently sang in church, I needed a reminder to do this.  When we sang the third verse, tears came to my eyes, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love for my Heavenly Father for all the blessings He has given me.  The third verse was especially touching:

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all.
Count your many blessings, angels will attend.
Hope and comfort give you to your journey's end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone today.  May you take the chance to count your many blessings!  Thank you once again for being a blessing in my life with all of your love and support!  I love you all.
Love, Amber


The treatment of Xeloda is going okay.  I have figured out which pills to take at what time to maximize their effectiveness against the nausea and diarrhea caused by the Xeloda.  I am extremely tired, and take a 4 hour nap each afternoon.  Thank you to all who are willing to help watch my kids so I can sleep!  Today is my last day of pills, and then I get a week off!  Yipee!
     My pain in my hip and shoulder has been pretty bad.  Going up and down the stairs is extremely difficult.  I have had to increase the amount of pain meds I have to take, and I think that is contributing to my fatigue along with the chemo.  My brother said maybe I was hurting so bad because cancer cells are dying off.  Wouldn't that be wonderful! 
    Please check out the picture page for more great pictures that my sister took at The Run 4 Amber.  They are awesome!


I started my new chemo pills, Xeloda, today.  As I sat there and looked at the 3 big pink pills I had to swallow, I thought that these are literally a tough pill to swallow.  It is also a very expensive pill to swallow.  When Dan brought home the receipt for these pills from the pharmacy, the price for 120 pills was over $2700!!!  That is over $22 a pill, and I have to take 6 pills a day.  $135 a day!  How grateful I am that we have met our catastrophic out of pocket maximum for our insurance and they paid 100% for these pills.  I am so grateful to have good health insurance!  We still have to pay thousands of dollars out of our pocket each year, but I can't imagine how we would cope without insurance. 
     I am nervous for side effects, but I am very hopeful that these chemo pills will work, and shrink my tumors.  30% of people who take Xeloda have at least a partial response, and I pray and am very hopeful that I will be in  that 30%.  After taking 2 chemos that failed for 3 months, I really need this chemo to work!  I appreciate all of your prayers, support, and well wishes!


I received this great plaque from Sharon R. and Michelle S.  I saw this saying at Sharon's house and loved it, and she and Michelle so kindly made one for me.  It is so appropriate, and a reminder that we can do things that are hard, even if they seem impossible!

We had an interesting conversation with the doctor Wednesday.  I pitched my idea of discontinuing the Gemzar, and then taking the rest of November and December off from chemo.  Not a good idea, I guess.  Dr. H. was okay with me quitting the Gemzar because of the horrible side effects, but if I were to take 2 months off from systemic chemo, the cancer would most likely spread and be harder to get under control.  
      So, the new plan of action is to try an oral chemo called Xeloda.  From what I had read about this drug, I was certain that this was one drug I DID NOT want to take.  The side effects are pretty bad and numerous.  Besides the standard nausea,  vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, stomach aches, flu like symptoms, body aches, bone aches, muscle aches, stomach cramps etc.  it has a nasty side effect called Hand and Foot syndrome.  The palms of your hands and the bottoms of your feet become red, rashy, burning, itching, blistered, and raw.  There are steps you can take to reduce this, like using certain creams at night and wearing specials socks and gloves.  But still, come on, I'm going to willingly swallow pills that cause these side effects???  Really, though, what choice do I really have?  We asked Dr. H. if I didn't do any more chemo how long I would have left and he said 4-6 months, and it wouldn't be pleasant.  As the cancer progressed, I would be more miserable than what any chemo could cause.  Well, when you put it that way, I guess I will try the chemo.  
     The good thing about the chemo is it is easy to change doses if the side effects are too bad, and we worked out a compromise where I would take it 1 week on, 1 week off instead of the standard 2 weeks on, 1 week off.  Also, there is another chemo pill that usually is prescribed together with Xeloda called Tykerb.   But when you add Tykerb, it makes the stomach side effects even worse.  The plan is to wait to add the Tykerb until after Christmas.  This way I am doing SOMETHING to battle the cancer, without hopefully compromising too much quality of life.  

     Tykerb is another drug for HER2+ cancer, and it will take the place of Herceptin.  It attacks the cancer in a different way than the Herceptin, which is good because it seems like my cancer is either too numerous or no longer receptive to Herceptin like it was at the beginning.  I am praying that I have a "miraculous response" to these new chemos like I had at the beginning with the Herceptin and Taxol.  
     I also had tumor markers blood test done Wednesday.  It will be interesting to see what they are.  I also had a flu shot, and of course, murphy's law, my arm got all swollen and I have a red inflamed area about 4 inches in diameter, and it hurts and burns and itches.  At least I'm not sick from chemo.  This side effects of just the Herceptin and Zometa I received is just some bone pain, and tired and no appetite.  My red blood counts were also really low, but only .1 higher than what they have to be so insurance will pay for a Procrit (red blood cell production boosting) shot.  No wonder I  am so tired!
    Oh yeah, for those of you wondering about our Las Vegas trip, it was very relaxing.  I spent A LOT of time napping, and resting, and we enjoyed a couple of shows, eating at some great restaurants, visiting my Aunt Jan and Uncle Trent, and sleeping.  It was really nice to get away with Dan and be able to have time to talk and enjoy each others company. 

These gorgeous flowers sent by my Aunt Jan were waiting for me one week when I got home from Chemo.  They cheered me up, and were the most beautiful pink flowers that stayed pretty for a long time.  The picture just doesn't do it justice!


"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote has long been a favorite of mine.  Whenever I look at all of the beautiful creations of this world, I stand in awe.  My mind can not fully comprehend the majesties of all of this world.   The beauty of all of the seasons, and the changes each bring is a miracle.  The beautiful spring flowers, the hot summer days, the majesty of the fall foliage, the pureness of the first snow.  I love living somewhere that has different seasons.  Looking up at the moon and stars at night, and knowing that the sun will rise each morning.  How could all of this be a cosmic accident?  How could there NOT be a God who loves us, to create such a beautiful world for us to experience our mortal lives?  So this quote, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."  reminds me to trust the creator.  He has infinite knowledge, and He is aware of each one of us, and loves each of us. 

I love each of the seasons, but I think I have always loved autumn the most.  Autumn brings cooler temperatures, a return to school, crisp fall weather, apple cider, beautiful fall leaves, the promise of holidays just around the corner.  It is a time of change.  I get to wondering if I am in the autumn of my life.  As I planted some tulips and daffodils a month or so ago, I found myself wondering if I would be here in the spring to see them bloom.  I try to enjoy each moment, and try not to worry about the future.  But the worry and fear always are there in the back corner of my mind.  I try to just trust my Heavenly Father that I will be here for as long as I need to be to accomplish my mortal purpose. 

Because my time on Earth will be limited due to this terrible, devastating illness that is cancer, I do more living each and every day, and I cherish each moment with my family and friends, no matter how big or small.  I take time to play in the leaves, smell the roses, watch the moon in the middle of the night, laugh and play, and dance in the rain.  I think it is a good reminder for all of us to do this.  None of us have any guarantees of tomorrow.  Remember this, and remember to live each day to the fullest. 

These beautiful autumn pictures were taken a month ago in Sardine Canyon by Sherwood Hills.  We had so much fun playing in the leaves and I love all of the great pictures! 


I am feeling so much better this week off from chemo.  I am still really tired, and my digestive system is having a hard time, but it feels wonderful not to be chemo sick! 
    We have been busy planning our trip to DisneyLand.  We are all so excited!  I don't know who is more excited; me or the kids!  We have it booked for December 7th.  Only 1 month away. 
     I have decided to take this month off from chemo so I can get my strength up.  I would hate to go to Disney and not be able to enjoy because I am too weak and sick from chemo.  It feels so liberating to know that I won't have to go be poisoned this month.  I am going to still receive the Herceptin and Zometa treatments next week.  Another good thing about taking this month off from chemo is I won't be sick for Thanksgiving! 
   Back when I began chemo again 3 months ago, we originally planned to do a 6 month course.  So, to reward myself for getting halfway through, I booked a weekend trip for me & Dan to Las Vegas.  We fly out tomorrow morning.  I am really looking forward to the warm temperatures.  We are staying at a condo that has a lazy river and hot tubs.  Floating is the best pain relief.  We are planning on seeing the Phantom of the Opera show, and a Cirque du soleil. My Aunt Jan lives in Vegas, so we plan on visiting her and going to church with her.  It should be a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.


I can not find the words to express the feelings in my heart.  I never knew a heart could feel like it is breaking  because it can't contain the love inside.  
     The Run 4 Amber was an overwhelming success!  The amount of generosity, love, and support was truly humbling and amazing.  Saying thank you just does not seem like enough.  Even if I were to stand on the tallest mountain and shout it out to the world, it would never adequately convey the gratitude that our family feels for all of the support.
     All of my siblings (two sisters and three brothers) are runners.  They have run many races including marathons.  Alas, I am not built like a runner.  However, in my life I have been running a different marathon in battling cancer.  My marathon has been going on almost 18 months of continually fighting cancer.  How fitting that a race was held to earn money for our family to go on a amazing trip and also extra funds that will cover the rest of our doctor bills from this year, and enough to meet our deductibles for next year.  The amount raised was reached  $20,000.  As we spent literally hours counting the money, we shook our heads in awe at the generosity and love and support.  We still can't believe it.  
   I believe from the bottom of my heart that we experienced a miracle Saturday in Perry.  First of all, this event was put together in less than 2 weeks.  And from the hundreds of people who came and ran, the beautiful weather, the generosity of the donations, the success of the auction, me having enough strength to be able to attend, it was truly a miracle.
   If the news and world would focus on the good things like this that happen in the world, the world would be a happier place.  There are so many good, caring, humble, Christ-like people in the world, and in their small way, they make a huge difference in the world.  I know that all of my family, including my extended family and Dan's family, will never be the same because of all the love and service that has been shown to our family. 
     A special thank you to Melissa Huntsman and Lee Perry and Jared Griffith and their families, Anytime Fitness, Getaway Today, Galactic Bowl, all who helped organize and advertise the run, all who donated items for the auction, all who ran in the race, all who donated and supported, all of the people who pray and send well wishes.  There is no way I can name all who helped, but know we are grateful to each and every one of you!!!!  God bless you all!!!  We have been blessed because of you all, and we pray that God will bless your lives for serving as He has richly blessed our lives by having you all be a part of ours. 

We counted more than 400 people who signed in for the Race 4 Amber.  Amazing!

Amber with the people from Anytime Fitness. 

Amber with Caleb & Ammon, and Jared Griffith.

Pinkyest person contest!  This was FANTASTIC!!!!

Look at all these cute kids!

These 2 beautiful albums were full of beautiful messages.  I cried as I read all of the sweet messages from all of the people who came and ran.  What a wonderful treasure!

These awesome baskets made the kids feel like Christmas morning.  They were full of fun Disney items, towels, blankets, back-packs, scrapbooks, and Disneyland passport holders!  Thank you to Getaway Today!!!  If you are planning a trip to Disney in the future, please show your support and use this awesome company!

This was the beautiful jar for runner's donations.  The jar held more than $10,000!!!!  THANK YOU!!!!!

Amber with the beautiful scrapbook from her gift basket.

Dan getting ready to break open the jar!  How exciting!