Thursday, December 11, 2014

Standing as a Witness

September 3rd was a free day at home playing catch up.  I really needed it.  Lincoln and I enjoyed the day together and he was my little helper right by my side.  I was busy getting ready for Young Womens that night-- we were doing a special evening preparing for Young Women in Excellence.  The girls are going to wear formal gowns and have exhorts and everything. It is going to be a beautiful night. So we decided to have a night of preparing the girls. We talked about refinement and being true princesses. One of the classes was on presence and composure and I was in charge of teaching the other class on modesty and purity.  Some of my family (extended) were wondering why I hadn't passed this assignment to someone else in light of all that I had going on. I considered it, but really felt like I needed to be there.  
 I was very excited about the night. I planned to show the Alex Boye music video, “Virtue Makes You Beautiful,”  then talk about what motivates us to be modest and what modesty is according to the “For the Strength of the Youth” pamphlet. I also I brought some clothes to show them how to take stylish clothes they loved and make them modest.  (Here is the video. It is so fun.)

Well, I got to the church and the video wouldn’t work.  I was so sad that things weren't going as planned but just went with it and it turned out great. I noticed one girl with a smirky smile on her face like she thought this was a little foolish.  She was just barely learning about the gospel so I wasn’t hurt or really even surprised, but I instantly said a little prayer that I would be able to help these girls recognize the blessings available to them as they live pure and virtuous lives.  I immediately thought of my MRI experience I had had just the day before, and the protection of my garments.  I was a little apprehensive sharing such a personal story about such sacred things but the prompting was so strong.    
I told the girls that being modest now will help prepare them to make covenants in the temple that can bless their lives in so many ways.  I told them that they can’t expect to dress immodestly now and then just one day go to the temple and make the switch to being modest.  Modesty is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.  I shared that when they go to the temple they will make covenants in regard to modesty and purity and they will have the great blessings of wearing the temple garments as part of their covenant.  As we keep our covenants we are  promised protection and that protection is real.  I then told them my experience with the MRI and the protection I knew I received from wearing my garments.  The spirit was so strong in the room and I could see that the young sister could feel it.  It was an amazing experience.
   As I pondered on my day I thought of how grateful I was for my MRI experience, and the opportunity to share it with amazing Young Women. It reminds me of the line in the Young Women theme which says, "We will stand as witnesses of all things." That day I was able to stand as a witness of God's protection and power. I also thought about my good friend, Angela, who said I would one day be grateful for cancer.  Well today in one small way, I was.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

MRI, Miracles, and Angels

September 2 was our MRI appointment.  I was very nervous about it.  The doctors told me that it was a pretty safe procedure and it didn’t use radiation. However I had also heard of many people who have had them and experienced extreme headaches after.  Shaun and I had prayed super hard that all would be ok. Dr. Glen the Oncologist said that this appointment could last 3 hours, so that also made me nervous.  I've never had an MRI before but everyone who had told me how loud it was. Just before they took us back to change they took us in a little room and had us sign a waiver.  They had to do a special consultation since I was pregnant, letting us know what we were doing and making sure we were ok with it...this didn't exactly strengthen my confidence in the "this is completely safe for your baby" idea.  
They took me to a changing room and gave me this gown and told me to take everything off but my underwear.  I was a little confused because as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I don't wear your normal underwear. I wear garments (a religious top with cap sleeves and bottoms that go to the knees that are worn under your clothes). I wondered if I should leave them on or not.  I peaked my head out and asked Shaun what he thought and he was thinking they probably would want them off.  I agreed and began to change when I had the thought, “Don’t take them off, leave them on.”  I took a minute to consider where that thought had come from. As I did I remembered the promised blessings that come from wearing them worthily - I decided to leave them on. 
They took me back and told me it should only last about 45min to an hour. I was so relieved.  I lay on my back and they got me all situated and then moved me into this long tube.  I haven’t ever been claustrophobic until that moment.  I just started to feel a little panic set in. I tried to just concentrate on breathing and relaxing all while focusing on the opening at the end of the tube above my head. (This is great practice for childbirth.) I was able to gain control when they started a little test run.  I had asked for the headphones and I wanted to listen to classical music. However when the noise started it didn’t matter what I was listening to. The machine was so LOUD!  I was so startled…it was nothing like I had imagined. 
I got through the practice test and then they started the real thing.  All of the sudden I got super nervous again.  I was worried about my baby and things started feeling really tight again.  I thought, "I'm going to push this button and tell them I don’t want to do this anymore."  I started to say a little  prayer that my baby would be safe and I would be able to calm down. The night before I was expressing my fear for the baby and this test to my sister Niki. She told me that I should pray for guardian angels to protect me and my baby. I did just that while I was laying in that tube. Right then I remembered that I was wearing my garments, and I remembered the promised blessings of protection that they provide.  I also became very aware that I was not alone in that tube.  I could feel the presence of heavenly angels surrounding me and my baby.  I knew that we both had the protection of heaven and all was going to be fine.  It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. I calmed down immediately and then I noticed in my headphones that there were beautiful hymns playing.  
In the Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 it says, "...I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."  I had experienced this promise exactly this day, and was I was filled with peace. Needless to say the rest of the MRI was a breeze.  In fact a couple times they asked me if I was breathing cause I was so relaxed.
    I couldn’t wait to tell Shaun about this amazing experience and as I did of course my emotions got the best of me and once again we were both reminded that Heavenly Father truly knew who we are and what we go through. I was so humbled and grateful.
When we got home that night I ran to a Relief Society dinner our ward was putting on.  I hadn’t been home very much but I felt like I should really go because the sisters in the ward had been so supportive and kind and I never see them because I am in Young Women's.  So I went. I really couldn’t eat anything but salad but it was fun to get to know some of the sisters better.  After the dinner was over we played a game and then the relief Society President, Sister Boothe, spoke.  She talked about the power we have as women and daughters of God and how much we are capable-- of especially when we all work together.  We had just done a quilt and children's book service project and they had everything that was made or collected on display. It was amazing what our little group of sisters had accomplished.  I don’t remember the number but it was A LOT!  
Then she talked about the miracles that they had experienced as a ward recently due to united prayer.  In closing she told the sisters about me and asked them all to join in a special Relief Society fast that Thursday night in my behalf.  She expressed her testimony of the power that comes from fasting a prayer and especially as a united group of sisters.  I was so humbled to be in that room and could not keep the tears back as I felt the love of each one of those sisters and the love of my Heavenly Father knowing that He is aware of me.  What a wonderful blessing it is to be apart of such an amazing organization as Relief Society and to have so many wonderful women, some of whom I don't even know, fasting and praying for me. I know the power a righteous group of women carries and I am so grateful.  

It was a day full of miracles and love. As I got on my knees my heart was full of thanksgiving for a loving Heavenly Father who knows and loves me and also a ward family who works to emulate the Savior in word and deed.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

An Angel from Heaven

August 29-September 1, 2014

These days were full of family time and a lot of research, phone calls, more research, and more phone calls.  We were trying to find, research, and talk to every homeopathic, natural doctor in the world, practically.  We talked to a lot of different people who have heard of ways to cure cancer naturally and those who have had their cancer healed naturally.  We set up phone consultations with many different kinds of doctors.  We had people contacting us everyday with great leads and information.  I felt like there was a whole army searching for the right treatment for us.  We entered all the info into the spreadsheet and we began to eliminate the things that would not work for a pregnant mom and treatments that just didn’t feel right.  It was amazing at how we were led during this process.   We only had a couple of options we were seriously considering  left and we were actually already applying some of those.  I had began juicing carrots, beets, celery, and apples 3 times a day to get as much nutrients in me as possible.  I was taking a lot of vitamins and supplements.  I was also blending greens 2 twice a day.  You can imagine how badly I wanted to just chew food.  Every once in a great while I just needed a steak and Shaun made sure I got it.  I stopped eating any sugar- including fruits and natural sugars- and thanks to my amazing neighbors, Judy and Kendell Barrows, who made sure I had a gallon of alkaline water to drink everyday and many more healthy eating tips. We were so grateful for so many who were working to help us find anything that would help.
On Friday night the 29th I got a call from the referral in Las Vegas...her name is Rachel.  She said she was on her way to Salt Lake right then and she would love to meet me really quick and drop a few things off for me to read and try.  I was so excited.  She also said, “I haven’t been to Utah in 8 years and we just happened to be coming this weekend."  I was so grateful.  We ended up meeting around 9pm in the parking lot at KFC.  I have to tell you that just before we had left home we were putting the kids in bed and Lincoln had been crying...pleading with me not to leave anymore.  He didn’t want me to leave his sight or go to anymore doctor appointments.  It really tore at me and when Shaun and I got in the car I just started crying.  I knew we were just starting this journey and I was scared and I hated seeing Lincoln so sad and I knew the other boys wey re being so brave and helpful but everyone was worried.  
By the time we pulled up to KFC I was trying to pull myself together and I thought I had done a pretty good job, but when I got out of the car and started walking toward them I couldn’t help it.  This woman I had never met before opened her arms with complete understanding. She knew exactly what I was feeling and I could feel her love and compassion.  Not just Rachel but her husband also.  He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me just like a dad would.  After we got that out of the way she and her husband quickly told us their life story.  Man can she talk fast.  Rachel had so much information and things she had learned and studied through the years; she was so excited and had such faith in me and my body and the Lord.  She told me, “Tenille cancer is an amazing journey and when you are finished with it you will be so grateful for it.”  I hadn’t up to that point ever thought I’d be grateful for it.  I knew I could get through it, but be grateful for it was something entirely different.  
Rachel had been pregnant 21 years ago with her 5th child when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer.  It was bad!!  I think even with chemo she was only given a short amount of time to live.  So she opted to go home and fight it naturally and get her baby here.  She knew about the herbal world a little from her mom and grandma, but she wasn’t a pro. And there was no internet yet so she went to the library and poured over books and began doing everything she knew to get her body healthy.  She came across a guy who had a tea that was very helpful in cleansing the body and had evidence of shrinking cancer tumors.  It's called Esiac tea. He sent her a bunch and she began using that and all the other things she could find to make her body strong.  She said they lived in this little apartment, they had just moved to Vegas, and her husband worked two jobs just to pay for all the herbs and stuff she needed to heal.  They didn’t have doors on their cabinets in their kitchen, no stove, and only a little fridge and microwave.  They were so poor and it was summer and hot and they only had a swamp cooler in the hall.  She would just lay there in the hall, pregnant and sick, and her kids would bring her medicine and encourage her.  Her oldest daughter would make lunch for the other kids and basically take care of things around the house. Rachlel worked hard to make her body super strong- and then her body got rid of cancer.  
That was 21 yrs ago and her little baby is now married and just had a little baby of her own.  I was feeling humbled and grateful for my circumstance at that moment and also amazed at her faith, hard work, and positive attitude. She gave me a bunch of herbs and told me to continue my diet of healthy clean eating.  I told her I was basically starving because I didn’t know what was going to make things worse or better and EVERYONE had a different opinion.  She said, “Tenille study the word of wisdom and follow it.”  If the spirit had not testified of what she had been saying already, it did right then.  Duh...she said eat clean and smart but don’t starve.  If your body is calling out for it eat it just make sure it's clean- unless it’s a candy bar.  My very favorite thing she said all night was, “Don’t worry Tenille- you haven’t had your last Snickers.”  This amazing women came swooping into my world that night like a Fairy God Mother. She gave me hope and confidence in all the feelings and impressions I had had during all my appointments.  She reminded me of how amazing the bodies that God gave us truly are and shared a lot of her herbs with me.  I’ve rarely met a person as giving as she is.  She didn’t even know me but I felt like her daughter.  She said, “Someone did this once for me and now it’s my turn to give back.”  She said when she heard my message on the phone she felt an immediate pull and connection to help me.  She told me that she would be going back to Vegas in the middle of the next week and she would love it if I came down and we could do a 3 day detox.  
It was an amazing experience for both Shaun and I.  When we got back in the car I had tears of joy and thanksgiving and we were both just awe struck by the whole experience. That night I was feeling scared, weak, frustrated, and helpless. Then Heavenly Father sent down an Angel from heaven full of love and hope, letting us know that it was all going to be ok and we could in fact do this. I didn't know if this path would be the one that we would choose, but I knew there was a path for us and Heavenly Father was aware of us. This trial might in fact stretch us and our children to our very limits and it might seem to difficult to bare sometimes, but that night, like so many times, the Lord in His tender mercy steps in and rescues. That night I saw what enduring a trial well with the Lord looked like. Rachel was full of light, life, and joy. She had come through her trial on top and although I didn't know her before I could feel the love, charity, and faith in Jesus Christ she had acquired during her trials. It made me a little excited for the future...if I can endure as well as she had, I know my faith in and understanding of the Atonement will grow. And I just might acquire some of the Christlike attributes I need to return back to my Heavenly Father.

"All of these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
D&C 122:5–8

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ultra Sound & Baby Doctor

August 28, 2014
       Again we made our way up to Salt Lake early in the morning for the ultrasound appointment at 8:30 a.m.  We had our sweet neighbor and friend, Becky Pendleton, volunteer to come over in the morning and help get our kids off to school and watch Lincoln for the day.  Once again I am so grateful for willing and loving friends that my kids love and I trust.
This was an exciting time.  In fact, it was the first ray of sunshine in a long time.  I was really nervous because of course I want a girl and I just knew it was a boy- but really at this point who the heck cares- a healthy baby and healthy mom is all I care about...RIGHT?? (NOT.)  We got in and they did all the normal stuff, measurements, checking all the organs, looking at the brain, and spine.  Finally it was time to see what the sex is.  Well by now in all our other ultrasounds we knew exactly what we were having, but this little stink would not give us anything.  A couple times we thought we saw girl and then we would think we were seeing boy. Then the technician would say oh that’s just umbilical cord.  Well, we tried forever and I even got up and walked and went to the restroom...we did everything to try and get the baby in a good position.  After 1.5 hours, not joking, she went and had the person who looks at the pictures read them and make sure she had taken all the pics needed and they decided that they were 70% sure it was a girl.  WHAT!! How are we supposed to go home and have a "guess that baby" party with the boys?  What do we make a cake that is 70% pink and the rest blue?  Seriously…
Oh, well. We DID find out that our baby was looking really good and secretly I was thinking it was a girl because all our boys measured about 2 weeks ahead of schedule by 20 weeks. They are so big- but this baby only measured 3 days early.  (Yay. Maybe I'll finally have a 7 or 8 pounder.)  I will say that this long ultrasound was a tender mercy for me as I was able to just sit there and enjoy watching this little miracle inside of me.  I felt so blessed and knew that we were in for a ride together but we would fight to get her/him here safely.
Well the fun was over as we made our way to meet with Dr. Silva our OBGYN specialist.  This was my 3rd or 4th day of appointments and they all last forever and I am always starving by the time we leave.  Seriously, they need food for pregnant ladies doing testing all day...water doesn’t cut it.  Anyway, the doc came in and right off the bat it turns into a difficult conversation full of tears.  He like everyone else acknowledged that there is no easy answer but my life is very important.  He said he wished he had a ton of evidence on this but he didn’t… sure this had happened 30 times and most of the time it all works out great and the baby is healthy.   However he did say that he is here to get a healthy baby also, and he won’t take a baby if it’s not going to make it.  We were very frank with him, too.  At this point we had no test results that could tell us if the cancer was spread farther than we already knew, so all of this was hypothetical.  We told him we really wanted to try some natural things if the oncologist would give us anytime.  We told him we didn't like the plan of doing chemo while I was carrying a baby and we would love to hold out until our baby could be born VERY safely-- not kind of safely. He listened and for once understood and even said he’d work with us if the cancer was giving us time.  He told us that we really needed to study our options out and be careful. I have to share my impressions I was having at this time. Here I am sitting in an office talking about my fate and the fate of my unborn baby with so many other factors to consider, like 4 kids and a husband. I am very much aware how important these factors are and everything the Doctors are telling me makes perfect sense, but the clear message in my heart and in my mind was, "you cannot do chemo at this time." It wasn't fear or the protecting mom feelings it was just a knowledge that there is another way for me right now and starting chemo is not it. How do you explain that to your doctor? They have experience and a ton of studies to back them up and I have "The spirit is telling me there is another way."  We did our best to share what we were feeling and we left feeling confident in this Doctors abilities and grateful for his willingness to work with us if our tests turned out good. In the mean time we were working and praying hard to find that "other way." In the Bible Dictionary it defines faith as..."Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11:1Alma 32:21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation."   Today faith is what I'm holding onto.  How grateful I am that there is a loving Savior who possesses these attributes, knows, and loves me, and whom I can trust in.  This knowledge gives me the strength to have Faith in the words of the spirit, "You can't do chemo right now, there is another way."   

We went home and told the boys the doctors couldn’t tell for sure what we were having but they were all very excited about the 70% girl prediction.  It was good to have a night at home with the boys. In fact, we have a whole weekend all to ourselves, and all I wanted to do was gather my family around me and hold them close.