Fairfield,

Save Our Dad: This IS The Update You've Been Looking For

2/15/2017 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

August 2016, when we thought we were going to lose Erik's dad, Den
You're not gonna believe this! I'm still trying to process it...

About six months ago, we moved our family from Utah to California to Save Our Dad (read about Den's fight against cancer). It didn't look good. In fact, as you can see from the picture above, he looked like death.
Den snuggling with Kylo (our cat) while Daisy (our dog) demands tummy rubs
The general advice we were given was to make him comfortable and to say our goodbyes, because once cancer spreads to the bones, you usually have less than a year to live (especially if you're as weak and emaciated as Den had gotten).
Den, eating his daily Kozy Shack tapioca pudding and snuggling with our cat (Emo Kylo Ren) and our dog (Princess Daisy) while trying to figure out a Wheel of Fortune puzzle.
With lots of prayers, chemo, puppy and kitty snuggles, and a whole bunch of Kozy Shack and homemade tapioca pudding (thank you for the amazing recipe, Alton Brown!), Cheetos Puffs, and Big Daddy Ice Cream Sandwiches, he got back up to his target weight. And, as we were able to announce in October, the cancer started shrinking.

I haven't gotten to post many updates this winter because we've been fighting colds and trying to keep Den healthy. A bad bought of bronchitis gave us a scare, but he's finally back up and running, which, in Den's case, means back to playing pool at the senior center. 

Den's had six rounds of chemo now, and the last PET scan showed the cancer was not only gone from the bones, but that only one cluster of lymph nodes was "active" (suspicious). This was great news! It looked like there was only a small area with cancer still, so the upcoming biopsy would tell us what sort of treatment he needs and we'd plan from there. 
The biopsy was actually a bit scary, and not only because of his medium risk status for surgeries. If you're squeamish, skip this paragraph. They put a scope/camera down his esophagus, then put a needle through the wall of the esophagus, into the suspicious lymph node to collect the tissue sample.
Den, in the hospital, after the biopsy
When the news came, I couldn't stop crying. The biopsy was completely benign. They'll be doing scans every few months to be sure, but for now, Den is cancer-free!!!
A cancer-free Den!
Some might be wondering why we're so astonished by this, isn't chemo supposed to get rid of cancer? Well, yes, but not only has this been a very short treatment period, but, aside from a weakened immune system, he had very few side effects from the chemotherapy (he was able to eat the entire time while actually gaining weight, and never once had to be hospitalized, as we were told to expect!) Not only that, with his heart problems and other issues, treatment options were extremely limited. We are so blessed to have been able to get a treatment that was right for him, actually worked, and worked quickly!
We are so thankful to everyone who has shown so much love and support these last few months. We could not have made it without you! Here's a video message from Den:

#makingcancersuckless #lymphoma
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    family fun

    An Epic Valentine's Day

    2/15/2017 Laura Watkins 0 Comments

    As far as Valentine's Days go, this one rocked! We started with a wonderful morning at our LDS Temple in Oakland, which is where Erik and I got married fourteen years ago. (Learn more about our temples here.) In fact, it's also where his parents got married and mine too!
    Fountains, bridges, and palm trees lining the courtyard in front of the Oakland Temple
    Any temple is a wonderful place, but this one is extra special to us, and being there just felt right. I always feel so much happier after a visit. The Oakland Temple is one of my favorites because 1. Look at it! I love the Asian inspired design, the gardens, etc.:
    Oakland Temple grounds seen through one of the bridges (Image Source)
    Flowers in bloom on the terrace garden of the Oakland Temple
    2. It's full of memories. Not only did my parents and pretty much Erik's entire family get married there, but...
    Erik sat me down on this bench, overlooking the bay, got down on one knee, and popped the question
    When we were dating, Erik and I spent a lot of time at there doing wonderful work inside the temple, wandering the terrace gardens, and sneaking kisses on the stairs. It's also where Erik proposed to me. 
    Den sat on the bench (pictured above, the bench you can barely see on the lower right corner), and told us how being there reminded him of our wedding, his other son's wedding (they also got married there), and his own. Such a special place!
    That afternoon, we got to set up our Valentine's Day spread. 

    Our poor daughter was really upset this year because it's her last year in elementary school and they wouldn't let her class do Valentines! But she really enjoyed our little party, so we hope that helped a bit.


    My Hallmark Kiss Kiss Bears collection minus the Christmas ones that broke ages ago :(
    We finished off Valentine's Day with homemade Belgian waffles topped with berries and hand-whipped (because I couldn't find the beaters for the mixer—guess what...Erik found them in 2 seconds after he got home! Grrrrr) whipped cream. So good!
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