Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home again!

Jessica, Jacob, and I arrived home last night at about 11 p.m. I didn't think they were going to dischard us until Tuesday morning, but at about 6:35 p.m. they said that we could go. YEAH! On Sunday we saw our surgeon, Dr. Meyers. No bacteria had grown from the fluid that was tested and Dr. Meyers was positive enough that it was just lymphatic fluid that she stopped the antibiotics Sunday afternoon. They decided to send one more sample of fluid to be tested and the initial results were also negative for any bacteria. Jessica did very well the entire hospital stay. The only down side is her weight. They took out her NG tube during surgery and she had it out for about a week and a half. But when we were admitted last Thursday,she had dropped from 19.5 kg to 17.8 kg. It is common to lose some after surgery, but everyone felt that we needed to replace her feeding tube, so we did on Sunday. It is difficult to watch the toll that treatments take on Jessica's little body. She is so amazingly strong, but the side effects are still there. I just have to be more on top of her diet and pack it full as often as I can. For now we are starting back with feedings through her tube just at night, unless we don't start to see weight gain soon.
It is just nice to be home. Jessica loves being home, and for me, it is hard to even want to leave just to run to the store. Just very glad to be home!
We are exactly one week off schedule. Jessica will be admitted this following Monday for a round of chemo. Then she starts radiation Tuesday morning which will last for 14 days with the weekends off. Thank you for all of your thoughts and messages. We feel so much love and support always!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Home away from home

Primary Children's has definitely become our home away from home. And that isn't all bad. There is some feeling of security being close to the doctors and nurses who know Jessica and what is going on. A little frustration over coming home when we shouldn't have, but even that said, glad to have had a day at home, just enough to regroup a little and be together as a family! I think I posted that we were released from surgery on Monday, but it was actually Sunday. We had to wait until Tuesday because of Jessica's radiation simulation appointment. The interesting part is that we had a CT scan right after the radiation apt. Back at primary's. It was ordered by our oncologist just to help aid the radiation doctor. We left soon after the CT which is when the radiologist would have been reading the CT. We now know that the CT showed an infectious fluid where Jessica's right kidney had been. For whatever reason this was not communicated as it should have been. It was a blessing that on Wednesday Jessica started having a fever. It was midnight Thursday morning that I called the on call oncologist who at that point said to go ahead and treat the fever and to call back in the morning and talk to the surgeons. Well at 4 a.m. Her temp. reached 103 so I called again but asked for an on call surgeon this time. The surgery resident that I talked to immediately pulled up Jessica's information on the computer and right away saw what could be causing the fever. She couldn't make the call on her own, but was pretty sure that we would need to return to the hospital. By about 8 a.m. We got the word that we needed to return for them to drain the infection area and administer antibiotics. We flew out at 9:30 and arrived at the hospital soon after 11 a.m. Thanks to Aunt Helen. I know that I say this all the time, but we have the most amazing family. We are so blessed with amazing family on Cody's side and on mine. With a total of 10 siblings, our wonderful parents, and Aunts and Uncles, we have felt overwhelming love and support from every single one of them. I love my family! I love them so much! My emotions run high when I think of the many sacrifices that our family makes in our behalf.
Thursday, at 4 p.m., a drain was placed in Jessica's lower back to drain the area where her right kidney was. She has started an antibiotic called Zosyn, which she will take for 2 weeks. We will stay in the hospital until the drain stops releasing fluid. It may prolong chemotherapy,
but hopefully not radiation. They are testing the initial fluid that was taken from the sight. It is unusual for this kind of infection in the area where the kidney was. It could be something from the removal of part of the liver or possibly something from the removal of the tumor.
Hopefully we will know soon. Jessica does feel some discomfort from the entry of another tube, but she has had no fevers since we arrived
at the hospital. I am just grateful that she had the fever long enough for us to make a call and for the right person to see the scan. The
infection would have eventually shown itself, but it could have been much more complicated later on. There are always, always, always blessings that come from challenges! This has become my journal, so forgive my rambling. I took advantage of both Jacob and Jessica napping at the same time!
I want my children and my wonderful husband to know how much I love them! The separation of a family during times like these is probably the most difficult thing. It is hard on everyone. But we are in this together, no matter what, and we try hard to be strong for each other. Jessica's little brother Caleb and her two older sisters Annalise and Alyson are the greatest strength to Jessica. She loves them so much and feels of their love for her! And how grateful I am to be their mother! It has been really hard on them, hard to understand everything, but they have amazing strength and love that pulls them through! Jessica couldn't ask for a more loving and concerned father. and I certainly couldn't ask for a more loving and supportive husband. Cody has had a lot of pressure dropped on him and he as more than
stepped up to the plate. We will all make it through! We are all kind of like that song says " stuck like glue", which also happens to be one
of Jessica's favorite songs! Together forever no matter what!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back to the Hospital

Earlier this morning Chandra, Jessica, and Jacob caught a flight back to Salt Lake. Jessica had a fever in the night that caused some worry. It looks like she will have to have chest tubes put back in to drain fluid from her lungs and will also need fluid drained from the area where her kidney was removed because of an infection in that area. She's been readmitted to Primary Children's for the time being.

This whole experience has just been a roller coaster. Things start looking up and then they take a turn, but that's just how it goes. Jessica is a tough little girl who we all love very much. We love Jessica and her whole family and are praying for the best.

Iva(Chandra's sister)

**Update: It doesn't look like she'll need chest tubes, but does still need fluid drained from her kidney area.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Out of the hospital!!

Jessica was released from the hospital Monday the 14th at about 5 p.m. YEAH! Jessica has recovered much more quickly than we all had expected. She is doing so well! We are still waiting on the pathology report, but unless something comes back completely unexpected it will not change the chemotherapy at all. The doctors have decided that the tumor responded so well to the more aggressive treatment that even if pathology still shows more normal wilms, they will continue with the same treatment, which makes sense! Jessica has her first radiation appointment tomorrow, which is basically a practice run through and planning appointment for the actual radiation treatments that will start next Tuesday, March 22nd. She will also have another CT scan tomorrow at primary's, which will aide the radiation oncologist in his plan for Jessica's treatments. We will head home tomorrow around noon, enjoy the rest of spring break in St. George and then head back Sunday the 20th to report for appointments Monday morning. Jessica will meet with the surgeon and then her oncologist. After those appointments, they will admit her to the hospital for a round of chemo. There will be 3 drugs given, but she will only have to receive hydration after and just be watched overnight. Then we start radiation which will be at least a week, possibly two. Radiation is all outpatient, but happens everyday. They should be short visits. The hope is that at Jessica's simulation appt. we will find that she does not have to be sedated each day. Jessica can do it, I know she can!!
Each visit we meet or learn about other families who have and are facing some very big challenges. It is amazing to watch and learn from others. We will all have struggles in our lives, that is part of the plan, but how we react to these challenges is the key. We can learn much from the challenges we face. Through our challenges I really believe that we can become better. We know that life is not always easy, but we know that it is worth it! As we go through challenges with the right perspective, our capacity to love, learn, and move forward, grows. We realize our own potential and often surprise ourselves. I am grateful for the strong examples of families who have been through and overcome so much. We are all in this together.
**Well it is now Wednesday. I never seem to complete a post all in one night. We arrived home Tuesday night. Jessica's simulation for radiation and her CT scan went well. We made it through and were so excited to get on the road for home! We will head back up this Sunday to report for appointments and chemo on Monday. Radiation will start Tuesday. Jessica will have to have 14 days of radiation which will keep us up in S.L.C. for about 3 weeks, because those days consist of the 5 day work week. We may come home on at least 1 weekend, we will see how we are feeling about the drive. Jessica is doing well. She is much more tired and has had a little bit of a temperature at times, but overall is recovering well. She is so happy to be home. There really is NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Thank you again, for all the thoughts and prayers! You are all a great strength to us! So grateful for good friends and family!**

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smiles before and afer surgery!

Almost 2 days after surgery and Jessica is still smiling! She is doing very well considering how major her surgery was. They removed her right kidney, an adrenal gland, her appendix and diverticulum, part of her liver and diaphragm, and peeled/cut tumor away from the vena cava. They also placed her port, which is the central line for chemo treatments. She had a picc line in her arm up until a week before surgery. 11 tumor specimens were sent with the pathologist. We should have some good information by next Monday, as far as the pathology report. Jessica had an amazing surgeon, Dr.Rebecka Meyers. We are so grateful for the amazing doctors and nurses here at Primary Children's. It is a blessing indeed, to have the technology that we have and the trained Physicians who can perform these operations that save lives!

Just a day after surgery and Jessica is still trying to smile. Her first night was tough on her. It took them a little longer to get her pain managed, but they made the needed adjustments and by the next day things were much better.

The morning right before Jessica went in for surgery.
We came through some bad weather Monday night as we traveled. At some points it was a little scary. Soon after we passed through Fillmore, the freeway closed from Fillmore south. We were lucky to make it through. We were headed to Farmington to Amelia's, but decided to stop at Aunt Helens in South S.L.C. to avoid another hour of bad roads. We all love Aunt Helen's. We always feel so welcome. We arrived between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. and there was Aunt Helen out shoveling snow for us. THANK YOU ESPLIN FAMILY!!

Aunt Helen and Grandma Chipman with Jessica just before we headed to the hospital Tuesday morning. Jessica was absolutely loving all the snow...which was a whole lot and now is completely all melted.

Grandpa and Grandma Chipman with Jessica and Kate.
Two days before surgery, we all spent the afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa Chipmans. Jessica's cousin Kate came down from Farmington with us last week when we were up for the CT scan. We knew we were returning soon for surgery, so we got to bring Kate home with us! Kate and Jessica had a super fun week together!

Jessica with her Uncle Josh and Aunt Julia.
Just a couple of Jessica's favorite people.
And that winning smile that we all love!!

Kate, Jessica, and twin cousins, Emmy & Abby.
Just relaxin' having root beer floats at Grandma & Grandpa's.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Surgery Update

After being in surgery for 7 hours, they brought Jessica out at about 7:30 this evening. The surgery ended up being a bit more complicated then they'd thought. The tumor was removed along with the appendix and part of the liver and diaphragm. Part of the tumor was also around the vena cava, which was one reason it took longer than expected.

She is doing pretty well, all things considered, but is very uncomfortable. They expect she'll be in the PICU for another day or two and will remain in the hospital until she fully recovers to start radiation treatments, hopefully in about two weeks.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Jessica and her family. We're hoping for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Surgery is scheduled!

Our whole family traveled up to Primary Children's with Jessica this past Sunday. Jessica had a CT scan at 9 a.m. and then apts. with the doctors at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday Feb. 28th. We were very hopeful that the scan would show that Jessica was ready for surgery and it certainly did! The tumor itself has responded dramatically to the chemo treatments. Not only does it seem to have pulled away from the liver, but it no longer encases the superior vena cava (major vessel of the heart- hope that I am wording that correctly). It does still line the back of the vessels, but the surgeon feels very confident in a safe removal! The tumors in the lungs are now very small much different from what we first saw. Jessica is scheduled for surgery Tuesday, March 8th. We will know the exact time on Monday, March 7th. While in S.L.C. for the appointments we spent some much needed family time. We played with our Carlson cousins and went to the Gateway childrens museum. All of the kids had a blast! Jessica loved it there!

Friday, Feb. 25th, was an eventful day for Jessica and our entire family. Pine View High School held a special assembly for Jessica, and Mom, Annalise, Alyson, and Jessica had a girls night out to Seusical Jr. at Fossil Ridge Intermediate. The musical was outstanding!! The girls giggled through out. With Horton on the tree saying "I said what I meant and I meant what I said. An elephant's faithful 100%" Jessica said, "Mom, we have that book." Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Cat in the Hat were our good friends James, Mark, and Jeff. Other good friends were part of the musical! An amazing job was done by all!

It was the Mr. PVHS assembly at the High School. This was an amazing exerience for our family to be a part of. It is some what uncomfortable being the recipient of so much love and support, but at the same time we are blessed with many amazing experiences and this time was from the students and staff at Pine View High School. Each of the contestants were nominated by different clubs in the school and the cause that was chosen to raise money for was Jessica. The assembly was fun and entertaining, but truly showed the love that so many people have for Jessica and for our family. Many tears were shed as we watched this amazing act of love happen for Jessica. We will never forget that day. Thank you PVHS students and staff! You are a great example and strength to Jessica and our family. Another fundraiser is happening Friday, March 4th, at PVHS for Whitni Nisson, recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It is a benefit concert for her and her family from 7 to 10 p.m. that day. There is a great deal of love and support from our entire community for so many families who are struggling.

Caleb, Alyson, Jessica, and Annalise, with Brianne who is a member of the service club and a good friend of our family who helped to put together the Mr. PVHS assembly. Alyson and Annalise were escorts for the contestants along with 6 other very special friends of Jessica's; Brooklyn, Brecken, Eden, Lainee, Macey, and Sadie. We are very grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends!

Annalise and Alyson, thank you for being such great olders sisters for Jessica, Caleb, and Jacob. It isn't always easy for the siblings to go through an experience like this. They struggle at times. It is often hard as a parent to be the way we should for all of our children as we go through trials. I am just grateful for each one of my children. Cody and I both love them more than they will ever know!

Aunt Julia with Jessica at the PVHS assembly. We are so lucky to have such amazing family support. Aunt Julia is a very special Aunt to all of her nieces and nephews. What would we do without our families? What a blessing they are!
Jessica with Jacob at our hospital stay in St. George on Feb. 18th. She stayed for three days because of a fever and having zero immune system, but even through another hospital visit she stayed happy and upbeat!

On Valentines Day we met Cody for lunch and he took the kids to the nature center to see the ducks. It always feels good to be out having fun together! We are very lucky to have such a great Dad! The kids love spending time with Dad and he makes as much time as possible to spend time with them. He always comes home from work with an exciting story to tell them and gets them excited about the things they are going to do together!

Good friend Isaac, Jessica, and cousin Jason! Can you feel the love!!
Jessica and Caleb playing on the hill behind Grandma and Grandpa Chipman's house. We love the St. George winters! And we love Grandma and Grandpa's house! Lots of memories are made there!
As nervous as surgery makes us, we know that Jessica is in good hands. Normal recovery time can be up to a week, even two. Radiation will follow around a week after surgery and that will be everyday for at least a week. They can also give her chemo while she is receiving radiation. We are just very grateful that the cancer has responded the way it has. We know, without a doubt, that many prayers have been answered!