Scars in the Sunlight

With Shelly Vaughn

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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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And just that quickly (to you all, not me) another week has passed and it’s almost time for another chemo. Thank you to everyone who has checked on me to see how things are going. This week was pretty similar to the last one, so I’m wondering if maybe there is some semblance of a predictable response here. The first couple days after treatment I felt ok but very tired. My neuropathy is worse on Saturdays and Sundays then subsides slowly into Monday and Tuesday. But the gabapentin helps it tremendously. I have intermittent bone pain, but nothing like the intense pain with the A/C chemo. I’m not too nauseous (YAY!!) but still have mouth sores and a crazy sensitive tongue that interfere with eating. (I have prescriptions for it, and I’m doing everything I can.) These also are not as bad as before and don’t start until around Monday. I’ve managed to eat a few new foods this week- cucumbers, bread dipped in soup, and a few bites of cheesecake (thanks, Jen Wedo!) though applesauce and slushies are still my favorite. I’m confident that I will have gained another couple pounds at my weigh-in tomorrow. My fingernails are tender, especially on my index fingers. Cinnamon Leonard, my “personal manicurist” 😉, has helped me keep them looking ok while I still have them. I still have moments where I’m just tired of all of this and want it to be over. But I try to keep the big picture in mind and realize that tomorrow I’ll have half of my chemo treatments finished!!! Halfway, people!!! That’s progress.

This week’s confession- it’s hard for me to trust God and to pray boldly for healing and for this to never return- mostly because of the implications then if it really would return in the future. Following the suggestion of my friend, Christina Cheronis, I’m asking for you all to pray for that and help carry it for me until I can do it myself. Thank you, as always, for the unending love and support. We’re doing this!!!!!

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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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Easter… a holiday, a nice lunch, a reason to see family, a day to remember Christ’s resurrection. Whatever today represents for you, I hope it was a lovely day for you all. This year, our circumstances meant that our plans for the day were different than usual. It started with a quick egg hunt and baskets in the morning (which almost didn’t happen because I was so exhausted last night). We woke up laughing, seeing that a curious creature opened half the eggs that were hidden outside and enjoyed a lot of Kit Kats and Reese’s. Some animal out there most certainly had a sugar rush and stomach ache this morning. We made it to church this morning as a family, though I was admittedly not feeling very well. Nothing bad- just nausea and fatigue. I came home and went directly to sleep for a couple of hours. I woke up to see that Rob had taken Liana out for a little adventure, which provided some sweet alone time for Olivia and me. When Rob and Liana came home, we heated up some delicious leftovers and played card game that a friend gave me. She gave it to me right after hearing of my diagnosis, so that I had an activity to do with the girls even when I didn’t have much energy- exactly what was needed today. We sat out on our deck, enjoying our family and the sunshine, eventually listening to the Pens game and eating snacks as the sun set. Dessert today was vanilla ice cream sprinkled with strawberry Quik. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out. My cousin, Amy, taught me of this deliciousness when we were kids. And I can only imagine her smiling from heaven as she watched me eat it with my kids today. Not sure what she would think about my bald head that would match hers, but I’m guessing she’d make a sarcastic joke that would make me smile. And to top off the night, I laid with my youngest as she fell asleep wrapped in my arms tonight. That never gets old.
So although the details may not be interesting to anyone other than myself, they mean the world to me. Because this Easter Sunday had the least amount of “holiday tradition”, which allowed me to soak in the simple sweetness of laid-back moments at home. And that simplicity allowed space for the meaning of Christ’s resurrection to stay at the forefront of my mind. What a blessed day.


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Not So Bad

I was ready for the pain. I had so many remedies ready for the neuropathy pain-medicine, cooling towels, bath gloves, oils, lotions. I was prepared for it to kick in overnight… but it barely did!!! I woke up with my right hand swollen and not flexible, but not throbbing or burning and not nearly the level of pain I felt last week. So far my feet feel fine and my left hand is just slightly uncomfortable. I’m so excited!! I’ve also been able to eat a few things aside from my applesauce and slushies! Things are looking up and this girl is hopeful!! Have a fabulous Easter weekend everyone!!! Thanks for all the prayers… they’re helping!

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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.