Sunday, April 01, 2012


I want to share something with all of you. This is a long post, but I promise it's worth the read.

I moved to Eugene, OR almost ten years ago to attend graduate school. I didn't know anyone when I got there, and I was very lucky to make some amazing friends who will always be some of the most special of my life. One of them from that year was David, a sophomore at the time who was a convert to the LDS church and who was preparing for a mission. He had the most amazing testimony of anyone I knew, and he was really a wonderful friend to me that year. Although we have kept in touch, I haven't seen him since he left for his mission nine years ago and afterwards moved back home to San Diego where he got married and started his family. I have been so sad this week to hear the news that his wife passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. My heart breaks all over again every time I think of him living without the love of his life, and of his two beautiful little children who will never know their Mama.

I never met Carla, but I know she made David very happy. This is the Christmas Letter she sent out in December. I cried when I read it four months ago, and I just cannot stop thinking about their journey now that she is gone, so I'm sharing this letter with you. They are amazing people. I am impressed by their ability to stay positive and to recognize blessings from Heavenly Father when going through such adversity. I doubt I would handle it so well, and at the very least, I'm grateful for such an example to look towards when I face adversity of my own.

Hello again dear family and friends this wonderful Christmas season.

2011 has been another adventurous year for us and we thank each of you for all of your prayers, support and love. One of the side effects to my chemo is losing my fingernails, so it’s a bit tough to type this, but it really makes me grateful for the simple things.

To begin the new year, David started his last semester of law school and had an internship where he protected immigrant workers from sweat shop conditions. In February, I got a PET CT Scan of my whole body and found that my cancer had returned, but this time it was in my lungs, breast and bones, (my left femur, pelvis, ribs, spine, and tail bone). It was a bit overwhelming to hear that I had stage 4 cancer; I felt like it was spreading everywhere and so, so quickly! Last year was crazy being pregnant and going through surgery. I didn’t know what was in store, but I felt that in the end, everything would be ok. My doctor recommended I transfer to City of Hope in Duarte, CA (about 25 minutes away from our house) which specializes in cancer treatment.

By April, I was able to transfer to City of Hope and had my first appointment with my new doctor. The plan of attack: chemo. On May 5th I had my first round and I was surprised at how sick I got. It was pretty horrible. Every three weeks I would sit for a 10 hour infusion of chemotherapy and every week I would do a treatment called Eurbitux which would help direct the chemo to attack my specific cancer. So every Thursday became infusion day.

On May 18th, David graduated from Loyola Law School! It was such a proud moment when his name was read and he walked across the platform to receive his diploma. Everett, Elsa, and I know how hard he worked and cheered extra loud. Soon after, the dreaded study sessions for the bar began; and they felt like they never ended.

In June we headed to the Fontana Half Marathon. David ran the half marathon with my sisters Cathy and Cassia and some of our friends. Cathy and Cassia carried my shoes the whole race and I got to cross the finish line with them, getting a finisher’s medal! I was sad before because I was unable to run it, but going across any finish line just is amazing.Next year I want to be able to run again.

The California Bar Exam showed its ugly face at the end of July. After 18 hours, in three consecutive days, David was just glad it was finally over. By August we needed a break, so we took the kids to Disneyworld! We felt that if we were going to be in Florida, we had to see David’s mission, so we visited two of his areas, Jacksonville and Crescent City.David’s mission really changed his life and he talks about it so much. I was so grateful to finally be able to meet some of the people he taught and grew to love. Afterwards, we had so much fun at Disneyworld! My mom came to help with the kids and I got an electric scooter so I wouldn’t have to walk. It was so nice to celebrate David’s completion of the bar! And I got a week off from chemo. The kids loved it and so did we!

When we got back to Los Angeles, I went to surgery to get a portacath placed in my chest for my infusions. While I was under, my doctor informed my dad that the tumor in my left lung was growing even during chemo and there wasn’t much else to do for me. So my amazing dad got on the phone with as many people he knew to get a second opinion. We also found out that my tumor was close to my heart making it difficult for “normal” radiation to happen, so my dad found a doctor in Florida who specializes in high beam proton radiation which could pinpoint my tumor and focus there. So we left the kids in San Diego and flew back to Florida for this treatment at Shands Medical Center in Gainesville.We stayed at “Hope Lodge” for the week long treatment and what an experience that was.It was such a blessing to be in a communal living amongst other cancer patients. We met so many wonderful people who are going through similar battles and they were all so inspiring. I responded well to the treatment and so many people made it possible! Thank you all for your donations!!! It was amazing!

In September, David started his new job, a public interest fellowship at CARECEN.He practices immigration law, with a focus on representing asylees and victims of violent crimes, and absolutely loves it. It is always nice to have him come home happy.

In October, our baby Elsa turned the big 01. We still can’t believe it has been a year since she was born. I am always amazed at how smart she is. Last year they told me the risks of having surgery when pregnant, and they were very concerned about her brain development. She has no brain problems whatsoever, and is so amazing to watch! She is chasing her brother around and being very independent. She loves to play with her baby dolls. She was a very cute witch for Halloween and Everett loved being Captain Hook and going trick or treating with his friends.

On November 10th I had my last chemo round. 9 rounds of chemo (8 months) made my body tired and some of the side effects have been pretty debilitating. So they said I would have to stop so my body could recover. I will continue with my Eurbitux treatments for "maintenance.”

Nov. 18, David found out that he PASSED the California Bar Exam!!!! He was so ecstatic! It was a great moment when he looked up the results on-line. I am so proud of all his hard work and ability to stay focused. He was sworn in on December 1st and is officially official now as a licensed attorney.

December 5th, Everett turned 3 years old! What a big man he is—he was so excited.We went to Disneyland to celebrate. He is now beginning potty training (thanks mom). He loves to pretend and insists on being called Captain Hook or Buzz Lightyear. He loves being a big brother. He started Joy School this year and has been thriving.

I had a CT scan done November 28th and was waiting for the results to write this letter, but they were inconclusive. I still have something in my left lung but it could be scar tissue or it could be cancer. On December 20th I have a PET CT to determine what it is, and of course we’re hoping for that Christmas miracle. If you want to get the news of the results, check us out on facebook (“Caring for Carla”).

This year has been humbling at times and triumphant at others and we pray that Heavenly Father helps us see more clearly the miracles that he pours onto us each and every day. We wish you all the merriest of Christmases and the happiest New Year!

No comments: