Brandon Hayslip

September 1, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Jeff had many interests, but he loved shooting, hunting, reloading and just talking about firearms. He loved the AR15.com forum and reached out to his family there in his last two months with us. They rallied around us like the best of families do.

Well, another in the AR15.com (ARFCOM) family, Brandon Hayslip, has reached out and I want to share his story here. This is from the donation site (https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/srh5/brandon-s-journey-with-the-big-c-?utm_source=giveforward&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=dashboard&shareid=2565902:

The Hayslip’s journey with the Big ‘C’ started on November 4th, 2010. Brandon had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer at only 29 years old. After an emergency tumor resection surgery on November 6th, and a fairly routine recovery Brandon started testing for some genetic mutations because of the lengthy cancer history, and was informed that he has the MLH1 mutation of Lynch Syndrome. He started Folfox w/ Avastin chemotherapy on December 23rd, 2010 with 12 treatments scheduled every other week.On June 30th, 2011 Brandon was officially in REMISSION.On June 27th 2014, 3 days shy of 3 years cancer free, Brandon and Christina received the devastating news that the cancer has returned, just weeks before the arrival of their first child, Aria Zanne. He initiated chemotherapy again just days after Aria’s birth. Unfortunately, due to adverse side effects to medications Brandon is not responding well to treatment. He is having difficulty with his kidney function and with a blood clot in his neck he is requiring extensive hospitalization and treatment.
On August 9th Brandon had surgery on his abdomen to repair a bowel obstruction. During the surgery, they found 3 tumors, one of which was inoperable. It is involved with major blood vessels and the kidney ureter.

***UPDATED*** Brandon is now home with hospice care, and according to Brandon’s wishes, do our best to transfer to a facility at the end. We need your prayers that God allows us the ability to do our best to meet those wishes, both with timing and finances.
We are incredibly humbled by the outpouring of donations to the GiveForward fundraiser for us. As they have had to make some very difficult decisions, it has truly ministered to their spirits to have that to allow them to do our best to meet Brandon’s wishes. And, as much as it has comforted Christina, it has comforted Brandon so much more. Without life insurance (denied since diagnosed so young) this is truly helping to calm his financial fears for Aria and Christina. So we thank you, not just for Aria and Christina, but especially for ministering to Brandon. 
Brandon and Christina have made an impact on many of our lives. They are always willing to provide encouragement, compassion, or lend a helping hand. After their previous journey, they felt called to launch a cancer ministry to provide for others battling the Big ‘C’.
Despite Brandon’s battle against cancer, Christina’s challenges with Lupus, and the unexplainable timing of the recurrence of cancer, they have never wavered in their faith of God’s plan for their lives. Anyone following their journey has seen them continue to give glory to God while ministering and encouraging others.

To view Brandon’s full journey visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brandonhayslip

8/14/14

August 14, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

The kids, Mom and I had a wonderful vacation last week in Gulf Shores. We played on the beach, ventured farther into the ocean than I can remember ever going myself in all my life (I was always too afraid SOMETHING would TOUCH me! Heaven forbid!), buried the girls in the sand, marveled at seashells, played with tiny crabs in the night. We got our hearts pumping with ziplining and parasailing. We checked out their modest zoo and had hands-on experiences with a snake, an alligator, and kangaroos. We shopped. We ate. We laughed. We swept and brushed sand off of everything, multiple times, and visited the beach again to track in more sand. The condo on the beach was perfect. Waking up and going to the balcony to sit and watch early-morning beach-goers fish, run, walk, play, was so relaxing. I’m definitely a beach kinda gal. And I LOVE that I didn’t see a single mosquito!

It has only taken about three days to get back in the groove of work and home life. I’ll tell you, walking into my cluttered home after being in the uncluttered condo triggered a bit of anxiety. Oh, I need to… clean that… put that away… fix that… finish that… look at the size of the grasshopper the cats left us! Don’t worry. I calmed down and decided to do none of that, except dispose of the grasshopper. I try not to put too much pressure on myself anymore. If I can live with a little mess and it’s not important, then why not? If it really bothers me, I’ll do something about it, but until then, I tell myself (sometimes out loud) IT’S OKAY. Priorities, y’know?

I stumbled upon a beautiful soul, a blogger named Glennon Doyle Melton (http://momastery.com/blog/). Her blog is chock-full of painful, yet inspiring essays of her own and other bloggers like her. Women who have dealt with heartache, addiction, loss, and powered through it. I’ve been reading for a couple days, creating a pool of tears on my keyboard. I guess you could say I’m in a sad place at the moment. (How? You just got back from a great vacation.)  I dunno. Reading those essays has helped me feel more connected. I’m not alone. And maybe if I feel EVERYTHING (sadness, grief, guilt, fear, anger…) at ONCE, I’ll use it all up and will be done with it. Ha! I’m not that naïve, but it somehow feels good to cry, to let the hurt in for a bit, and just BE in my humanness. It’s as though I’ve been wound up tight just keeping it together and to relax, to really let go, allows the tears to flow.

And then in comes Cody, my big bruiser of a cat, who purrs, nudges my hand, curls up on my lap and looks up at me with loving half-slit eyes as if to say “Are you done yet? I could really use a scratch behind the ears.”

7/24/14

July 24, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

(Okay, I’m getting lazy and just using the date for the title of my posts now. )

I’ve been staying busy, creating more projects for myself. Maybe so many projects that I’m overwhelmed. You know how you get so many things on your plate that you just don’t know where to start, so you wind up not doing anything? I’m not there… yet. After I get the Herringbone wall done, I’ll move on to the tile around the fireplace. My home office is also driving me crazy because I’ve stashed things in there from other rooms. Maybe today I’ll do some tidying up. Or maybe not. I need to color my roots too. I also need to get some actual work done. I guess that takes priority, darnit.

I was sitting on the couch the other night, on the opposite end from where Jeff usually sat, and just stared at his empty spot. I imagined him sitting there, laptop in hand as usual, snickering at something he’d just read or watched on some obscure site. He had a wicked sense of humor. I next imagined him pale and conked out on the couch, feeling miserable after chemo. What is it about my brain that leads me THERE, to THOSE memories, the ones that still tear me apart? Jeff and I may not have been deeply in love, but we deeply cared for each other and it was absolutely heart-wrenching to watch him go through what he went through, and to feel so powerless to help him. He didn’t deserve it. He was supposed to beat lymphoma and be better off, gaining some empathy and education, a new appreciation for the life he had been given. He had visions of his hair growing back in orange, so we were waiting to see if that would  happen. He was supposed to share his story and encourage others, that they too could beat lymphoma. He was supposed to get active with lymphoma causes, organizing fundraising walks (or shooting matches). We could see our lives after lymphoma. Who knew it wasn’t to be?

Some conspiracy theory types say that a cure for cancer was found long ago, but because cancer treatment is such big business the cure has been kept under wraps. You also have your alternative medicine types who say things like baking soda or apple cider vinegar cure cancer. As with any “treatment”, there are often side effects. I’m still confident that the treatments chosen were the best attempts at curing Jeff’s disease. His cancer was just a son-of-a-bitch and his body couldn’t handle the treatment necessary to kill the cancer.

I ran across a couple videos on my phone. It’s nice to hear his voice, even though the videos are silly :) I hope you enjoy them too. One of these is already included on an older blog post, but now they’re both on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMxZKqXa2XM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gquSbetYqPE

This time last year

June 15, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Before I get too sappy, let me say Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there! And also to the moms who pull double duty as both mother and father. Raising kids is a wonderful honor, responsibility, challenge, three-ring circus… and I feel blessed to have three awesome little (though one is not so little)  humans to call my own. They sure make life interesting.

Last year for Mother’s Day, Jeff enlisted the help of our dear friend, Ginny, to make sure I had a gift on Mother’s Day because he was too sick to get it himself. Last year was Jeff’s last Father’s Day. Would we have celebrated differently if we had the tiniest clue it would be his last? Hell yes. I’m sure we would have done lots of things differently. We had such high hopes.

So if I’m not thinking about what was going on this time last year, I think about the firsts happening this year. Travis’s first Father’s Day without his father. Many first holidays to come with one less person to celebrate. November and December will be especially hard, but I don’t dread it. I accept it, though I’ll still try to make the best of it. I know that pain accompanies comfort and the pain will pass. For now, it just needs to “be”.

Trying

May 27, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

I got a tattoo on the inside of my left wrist that says “choose happy”. I believe you can choose how you react to whatever is thrown at you and I wanted a reminder to myself to choose happy. It takes so much energy to choose otherwise. However, I’m finding it hard to realize my mantra lately. I find myself blaming myself for much of my kids’ shortcomings. They’re my responsibility after all. Jeff said I was too soft. My ex blames me too. I never could stand up to my ex. Seems my girls can’t either. I feel so powerless. Like such a failure. It’s not a good feeling.

Bionic Grandma

May 17, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

My mom had hip replacement surgery Thursday and is doing very well. I call her the bionic grandma. She is impressing the nurses and doctors. She’s just amazing. I hope I have her strength and energy when I’m her age! It’s been really weird being back at Harris Hospital. I didn’t think there would be a “thing” about being there. I had taken my neighbor for a day surgery at another hospital a couple months ago and she said she was reluctant to ask me to take her, what with putting me in a hospital environment again after everything I’d been through with Jeff. I poo-pooed her and said I was a pro at this hospital stuff. I didn’t have a problem then. Being with Mom, back in the same hospital, sitting in the same surgical waiting room (even in the same seat until I moved), has triggered some unpleasant flashbacks. At least she’s not in the same area of the hospital as Jeff was. Thankfully, she goes home today.

Oh, I fixed my daughter’s computer! I’m pretty tech savvy, but Jeff has always been the hardware/network guy. I handle the software. I properly diagnosed my daughter’s computer problem as a bad video card and replaced it last night without a hitch. Now I get my home office back :)

Travis has been invited to participate in summer school for most of June. I want to give him every opportunity to keep up with (and maybe surpass!) his peers, so I took the school district up on the invitation. I’ve also arranged for him to get continued speech therapy over the summer and a couple weeks of summer camp. Boredom is the enemy!!

I had a dream last night that I was in a giant pharmacy – like a Walgreen’s but convention center size. (I tend to have really dumb, boring dreams.) I kept looking for cotton balls and saw myself walking right by MILLIONS of them. I sat down to rest and there was Jeff, kneeling beside me and he laid his head in my lap. He had thick, wavy hair! I ran my fingers through it and just said “Damn, I’m glad you’re back.” He didn’t speak. It’s like he was there, but not really. I hugged and kissed him, but he still didn’t speak. He did help me find the cotton balls, though.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 11, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

To all you great Mothers out there, I hope your day was at least half as good as mine was. My darling kids walked to Walmart yesterday to get gifts and surprised me this morning with a giant balloon, funny yet tear-jerking cards, some pink daisies, and a box of my favorite chocolates – Turtles. I also got a group hug :)  I then got busy with a list of me-do’s (can’t call ‘em honey-do’s anymore).

I colored my roots. Got paint from Home Depot and painted the exterior trim around my front door. Installed my storm door. Installed a peep hole in the front door.  Attached a kick plate to the front door. Spray-painted a piece of furniture. Attached the drain to my bathroom sink since I had previously covered some crazing around the drain hole. Did three loads of laundry. Cleaned the wood floors. Vacuumed downstairs. Watched Long Island Medium with Kristen.

I had boundless energy today. I feel loved. I feel appreciated. I feel proud. I feel…tired now.

Sigh

April 28, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Jeff’s birthday is Wednesday. I brought this up to Travis last night as he splashed in the tub. He said, “But Dad died?” I said, “Yes, but it’s still his birthday and he would be turning 46.” He asked if we could have a party and cake for Dad. I told him we could do something special. We could make one of Dad’s favorite cakes – spice cake or strawberry. Travis voted strawberry.  :)

We’re doing okay, all in all. Sometimes my mind will drift and I’ll see flashes of the past year, like each moment is a photo that someone is tossing in the air randomly. Deeeep breath. Choose happy.

Busy bee

April 24, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

WHEW! Our home is undergoing quite a transformation! My wonderful friends worked hard on the fence and have most of it done. Awesome work!!

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SUCH a helper!

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POP of color :)

I decided to paint the kitchen. I think I’ll invest in a paint sprayer because that has touched off more painting ideas. I also decided to replace the baseboards. So that has kicked off a huge project that should keep me busy for quite a while. I have been gradually replacing the builder-grade gold/chrome fixtures in the house and just replaced the entryway chandelier and a hall light. I’m quite pleased with myself :)

I took Kristen and Travis to “Music on the Patio” in Keller last night and heard Emerald City Band. They’re a very energetic, fun band! If you ever get the opportunity, check them out. They play in Dallas quite often.20140423_192328

I’ll get Travis signed up for a couple weeks of summer camp and have Kristen signed up for dance. I’m trying to talk her into gymnastics again too because she is so darn good at it! Maybe Alex will even do an art camp… we’ll see.

Jeff would be shaking his head at me as I flit around the house from project to project, saying “Yes, dear, that looks great”, but I think he also appreciated that I don’t sit on my behind for long.

Another project bites the dust!

April 6, 2014 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

New friends Javier and Holland knocked out those juniper bushes like they were saplings! Now you can actually SEE the house. I’ll put something much smaller there – fountain grass and/or flowers.

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