Sunday, January 30, 2011

Update on the Men in My Life

2011 is already racing by.  I can't believe February is knocking at the door.  I have received many inquiries into the status of my Daddy as well as to my husband Mike who's condition has fallen out of the spotlight now that Daddy has been in it.  For those of you who may not know, Mike was diagnosed in the summer of 2009 with Multiple Sclerosis.  I can't believe it was that long ago.  You can read about our journey in my previous posts:  

Unfortunately Mike accidentally deleted his blog, journaling his thoughts and daily struggles with MS, when he deleted his old email account.  I am so sad that we no longer have his words of inspiration and perspective.

It has been a trail of smooth and rugged terrain over the past year and a half.  We have so much to be grateful for and I thank my Heavenly Father daily for this amazing man that is my eternal companion.  It has been difficult for me to witness the effects of this disease on him.  Tasks that are easy for you and I prove difficult for someone who struggles with issues of equilibrium, beyond extreme fatigue, inability to manage body temperature, constant shooting pain in your leg, numbness in various parts of your body, random twitches and shocks, and the frustration of telling your body to do one thing and it doing another or nothing at all.   Holding your baby, going up and down stairs, walking or sitting for too long, staying up late, getting over a simple cold, and so on are challenges that you wish weren't.

Of course I've discovered that Mikes suffers from all this and random other things not because he complains, because he does not, but because he will make jokes about it or I'll watch him struggle or I'll have to beg it out of him.  I can usually tell when something is wrong, but have a hard time getting him to admit to it.  In the beginning I seemed to forget some days that he was sick, but it has seemed like lately the physical reminders have increased.  

At times I battle with feelings of severe discouragement over his condition & our future as well as feelings of overwhelming inadequacy for the task of being the right kind of support for him & our children, but always always am I met each and every day by a loving, faithful, encouraging, and hard working husband.  He is a pillar of strength for me who continually points me to our eternal source of strength, our Savior Jesus Christ.  I have gone so long without worrying about our future due to the fact that I know my Heavenly Father is always mindful of my family.  How do I know this?  Because he has proven it time and time again.  So why do I allow those moments of doubt and fear to creep in?  I guess I doubt myself and my ability to handle it all.  At those times I am reminded through that still small voice that I am not required to handle it all by myself.  The words of one of my favorite scriptures {shared by my cousin Shelise so long ago} are whispered in my heart, "ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along." {Doctrine and Covenants 78:18}  I love to be led.  That is one of the greatest feelings and experiences in life, to be lead by God.  I pray for his continued guidance as we meet whatever may come next.

My Daddy is holding up fairly well under the circumstances.  He was able to be home for Christmas which was a miracle in itself. This photo of him and Felicity is on Christmas Day, both in their Christmas pjs.  He has received 3 rounds of chemotherapy since having to be in the hospital for 25 days and has been well enough to be at home and even to resume a lot of his church duties as stake president as well as going back to work a few times a week.  My mom drives him into work and has adopted a neighborhood in Whittier as her home away from home.  Many days he is able to work from home.

Since his release from the hospital my parents have met with several other doctors, getting "second opinions" regarding my father's diagnosis and treatment.  From what they have been told, the type of Myeloma my father has is very rare, maybe 200 cases in the entire country.  This is what made it so difficult to diagnose in the first place.  My parents are in the process of deciding under which doctor they will be doing treatments.  Right now he is on a cycle for chemotherapy in which he has it 4 times within 2 weeks and then off only 1 week before the cycle begins again.  The 2nd treatment day is always the roughest with 2 chemicals instead of 1.

One of the biggest battles that my Daddy has had over the past month and a half has been an unrelenting, heavy cough which has kept him from sleeping and recovering properly causing various side effects.  He has undergone multiple tests to try and determine its origin, but they have been inconclusive.

Just as my amazing husband, my incredible father is as positive as ever.  It is great to see a smile on his face, especially when he is with the grandkids.  Owen and Eyan have enjoyed some special time with grandpa playing the Wii, doing puzzles, and watching those silly shows that grandpa likes to watch like "Wipeout".  He is learning a new normal and I think that it the latest challenge for him.  But Dad enjoys a challenge because that is what life is made of, challenges.  I know that he will "come off conqueror"!


  1. Hang in there Briana! You are amazing. I can barely handle it when the kids spill a smoothie all over the carpet! It's nice to get some much needed perspective and inspiration from you. I was explaining to Brayden the other night about Mike's disease and how he can join Ray and I in fasting for him and he got tears in his eyes because he was sad for uncle Mike. We pray for your family, Mike and your Dad each day! I know prayers are heard and answered. We just need patience and courage! Love you guys!

  2. Thanks for the update Briana. I've thought about your family a lot wondering how things are going. I love your parents and feel for them and you. I've always wondered how your husband is doing and how you're all coping. I thought it was interesting how you mentioned 'finding a new normal'. Kendall and I have mentioned that several times in our life after major events. Life is changed forever and its a matter of not trying to have your 'old life' (because that will only bring depression and unhappiness), but finding a 'new normal' and choosing to be happy with it. I've been asked several times to talk or give lessons on trials. It always makes me uncomfortable because it makes me feel like the things we have dealt with are somehow more of trials than the average person. If its one thing I've come to realize over the years is that everyone has trials and struggles. Some people's trials are just more noticeable than others. The other thing is that happiness is a choice. Its not bestowed upon you. You choose to find it and nurture it. It sounds like you are finding your happiness to accompany your struggles. I'm sure you'll be greatly blessed for it. Although, it doesn't mean there aren't still some tears from time to time. Trials still stink! Isn't life interesting? You and your family will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers for relief, peace and comfort. Tell your parents how much we think and care for them.
    Carinne (and Kendall)

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  4. My love to you my sweet friend. I did not know about your individual family's struggles. Your sweet husband is amazing. May the Lord continue to bless you. I am happy to hear of your father's progress in the face of the trial. Our prayers and love will continue!
    love you all! The LeBarons

  5. We too thank you for the updates on your family ... and the amazing 'men' in all of your lives! Your attitude in facing your challenges continues to inspire all who watch. When we found out our boys had asthma, a very minor ailment by comparison, but in David's case was life threatening on several occasions, I had to come to grips with it and quit trying to pray it away ... but rather prayed for comfort, guidance and knowledge in dealing with the situation. Only then was I able to receive the calm and understanding that is available. You have done this and so have your parents ... prayers are answered and our Heavenly Father is in charge, we just have to trust in Him and in His plan. Thanks again ... We send our Love and Prayers!! ~ The Harrison's

  6. You my lady are one incredible person. You are gifted writer and I can feel your emotions and faith in your words. Thank you for opening up your soul. So grateful your dad is doing "better". I had no idea about your sweet husband. Wow! I would be under the covers sucking my thumb. You inspire me. :)

    Ruth Taylor

  7. Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement and faith as well as stories of inspiration!! I need to hear all these. You are so complimentary of me and I appreciate it.

    Yes Ruth there are days when I have laid on my bed and just cried and more days where I wish I could, so sometimes to hard to feel like I'm handling it well.

    There are days when I only make it through when I receive such comments as all of yours. I appreciate you stopping and taking the time to write them.

    Love, Briana

  8. Briana,

    While my toughest darkest moments have been very different from yours (so I can't pretend to understand how difficult it must be for you at times) and I would NEVER choose to have to repeat them :) I also can't imagine the person I would be today without those trials. I think the biggest realization for me was that once I suddenly & unexpectedly knew what it felt like to grieve and wake up to that terribly deep pain that drives you to your knees to plead with the Lord like NEVER before, it suddenly seemed like an inordinate amount of people around me were suddenly dealing with the same kind of wrenching pain themselves. At first I was almost overwhelmed by how many friends it seemed had suddenly lost a loved one, received news of terminal illness, were going through divorces, and the list went on. But then it hit me that the world hadn't suddenly taken a turn for the worst in the wake of my own difficulties :) but instead I was suddenly acutely aware of others' deep pain in a way I'd never been able to understand before. I comprehended the nature of and the need for the Savior's atonement in an entirely different way than I would have been able to without those necessary it was that He experience EVERY pain and bear every human grief in order to have true compassion and bind up every broken heart. I must be honest in saying I hope I don't ever have to face anything quite so tough again, but life doesn't seem to work that way so I may just have to :) so I have to remind myself how those trials changed my very nature and allowed me to know my Savior more personally than I ever had or have since.

    You are amazing Briana and the perspective you have on what your sweet dad & husband are dealing with is nothing short of inspiring.

    A C.S. Lewis quote I've gone back to time and time again reminds me that there IS a great purpose (there MUST be!), as difficult and senseless as it seems sometimes:

    "...The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed--might grow tired of his vile sport--might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't."
    (CS Lewis, from A Grief Observed, chap. 3, para. 17)

    Sending you a big hug!!




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