Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 22nd - Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day

Guest blogger - Micki

Today is March 22nd Lynch Syndrome Hereditary Cancer Awareness Day.  Proclamations signed by Ohio and West Virginia Governors along with several other states. 

Rachel started this project last year, she had letters for supporters to sign at Relay for Life and send to Columbus.  Rachel wanted to bring awareness to this horrible diagnosis.  With the help of friends and family Rachel's goal was achieved.  Her childhood friend, Aryn, submitted the proclamation to West Virginia and it was signed in enough time to get a mention on a local tv morning show.  Mom and I handed out Lynch Syndrome informational pamphlets to general practitioners, gynecologic practice, Veteran's Affairs, physician's assistant program and cancer care center.  Because of Rachel's efforts and legacy more families will be better prepared to prevent Lynch cancers.

~Micki, the big sister.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday - (guest blogger - Micki)

Happy Birthday Rachel, my best friend and little sister.  A birthday tribute party was held last Saturday night complete with cake, appletinis, 80s music, naughty limericks, goody bags and great friends.  Tonight I picked up Iris and Vera, and met Mom, Spence, Eva, Mary & Don, Amy & Wesley and Jason for dinner at Western Sizzlin.  We enjoyed sweet tea, Texas toast, sirloin tips, country fried steak, baked potatoes with cheese and hot wings and brussel sprouts from the salad bar (all your favs).  

missing you.

~Micki, the big sis.



Rachel's 35th birthday party, January 2011

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thank you (Guest blogger - Micki)

I know it's been a while since I've posted and I told several people that I would keep updating Rachel's blog (I will continue to post).  It's not possible to put into words how I feel now, without my best friend and sister.  Getting back into the work routine was difficult, Rachel was part of my day.  When I had a few free moments I would call and check on her or she would text me something funny or ask if I was going to visit her.  The weekends as well are not the same, we would call each other if a stupid movie was on, that is, if we weren't together watching one or taking Iris and Vera somewhere or just sitting and talking.   Actually, nothing is the same. 

THANK YOU
My post tonight was to thank everyone for their kind words and generous acts during Rachel's battle and beyond.  From Facebook friends and loyal readers of her blog to family and close friends and even strangers;  people writing letters & cards and encouraging thoughts to Rachel,  bringing food, donating to Rachel's charities, driving hours, flying across the states, sending care packages, presents for Iris & Vera, bake sales, organizing suppers, creating awareness about Lynch Syndrome, collecting money, organizing fundraisers, donating airline miles, lighting a candle, saying a prayer, sitting with her and holding her hand.  Rachel was always so overwhelmed by the kindness of people, during this process I know how it feels to being on the receiving end of such generosity.  Thank you again - our families appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Micki

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

for my Sister (guest blogger - Micki)


Sleep My Sister
© T. Hutchinson 

I wish you sweet sleep, my sister dear.
Although there's so much that you've left bare
I hate that you had to endure such pain
On my mind, your saddened eyes have left a stain.

I want to know what crossed your mind
Unspoken words you've left behind
Undone things we'll never do
No sharing thoughts you never knew.

A peace has fallen upon your head
A taste of sorrow we have been fed
It really is like a hole in our lives
One swiftly dug but carved out by knives.

But I have hope that those sleeping will rise
The Bible says that God will open their eyes.
No suffering, sickness, yes not even pain,
Those who did good, eternal life they'll gain.

So... sleep on my sister, sleep tight
For now with you the sky is night.
But after night will come daybreak
Therefore I will wait hoping to see you awake.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Service & Travel information (guest blogger - Micki George)


Following is information for friends and family that will be attending the services:
For those flying in from out of state:
MOV Regional airport in Parkersburg, WV has numerous direct flights from Cleveland via the Continental carrier.  Several flights throughout the week and on the weekend. The flight schedule for MOV Regional airport can be found here: http://www.flymov.com/flight.html
Two other airports are located a bit outside our area in Charleston, WV and Columbus, OH. If travelling to these airports you will need to make additional travel plans to commute into the area for the viewing and services.
Viewing:
The viewing will be held at Leavitt funeral home, Friday, December  16, located at 801 Victor Street Belpre, OH. Hours for visitation will be 2-4pm and 6-8pm.
Service:
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 1:00 PM at the Porterfield Baptist Church with Pastor Matt Morrison officiating. Graveside memorial services will be held at a later date. Porterfield Baptist Church is located at 39 Hollywood Drive, Little Hocking, OH.
Hotels:
Several hotels are available in the Parkersburg and Marietta area, all which are a short distance from Belpre and Little Hocking where the viewing and services will be held.
1.       Comfort Inn Parkersburg:  Rooms are available at $105.00 per night. This hotel is very near to many restaurants and the Parkersburg mall. They offer a free hot continental breakfast (per their website), free wifi, and an indoor heated pool.  (Address = 401 37th St, Parkersburg, WV)
2.       Blennerhassett Hotel:  Rooms are available here from $139-169 per night. A historic hotel in downtown Parkersburg with very beautiful rooms.
(Address = 320 Market Street  Parkersburg, WV 26101)
3.       Hampton Inn (Marietta):  Rooms available at $109 a night.  Offers a fre hot continental breakfast (per their website) and free wifi. (Address = 508 Pike Street, Marietta, Ohio)
In lieu of flowers, the Rachel requests donations be made in her memory to:

Lynch Syndrome International
PO Box 5456
Vacaville, CA 95688
http://www.lynchcancers.com

Inheritance of Hope
P.O Box 90
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
http://inheritanceofhope.org/

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.LeavittFuneralHome.com.

Obituary - (guest blogger - Micki George)


Rachel George Greenwalt, 35,  passed away on December 10th at her home, surrounded by her family, after a long and courageous battle with Appendix cancer.  

She was born January 31, 1976 in Marietta, Ohio to Robert George of Coolville and Erma Nolan Rutter of Marietta.

Rachel lived and died in her own way and was admired by many for her fighting spirit, generous nature and sense of humor.  She enjoyed time with her daughters & family, making her famous salsa and blogging.  Rachel was a graduate of Belpre High School and earned a degree in Mass Media from Washington State Community College.  She proudly served in the United States Navy from 1994-98 as an F-18 plane captain stationed at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada and as Yeoman to the Command Master Chief with HM-15 at Corpus Christi, Texas.  Rachel’s chosen career was her dream job, morning radio personality on WNUS, entertaining the Mid-Ohio Valley with her quick wit and spunky personality.   Rachel was a certified lactation counselor, rescued two greyhounds, raised money for the American Cancer Society and created awareness about Lynch Syndrome. As a self proclaimed, “Jane of all trades, master of none”, Rachel’s most beloved role in life was that of Mother.

Rachel is preceded in death by her grandparents, Jim and June Nolan of Belpre; grandfather, Lawrence George of Coolville and her aunt, Lucy George Bennett of Lowell.

She is survived by her two beautiful daughters Iris, aged 5 and Vera aged 3; her husband, Jason Greenwalt;  her parents, Robert George and Erma & Spence Rutter; her sisters, Michele George and Eva Rutter; her brothers, Corey, Luke & Sean Rutter; her grandmother, Josephine George;  several aunts & uncles and cousins.

In lieu of flowers, the Rachel requests donations be made in her memory to:
Lynch Syndrome International
PO Box 5456
Vacaville, CA 95688
http://www.lynchcancers.com

Inheritance of Hope
P.O Box 90
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
http://inheritanceofhope.org/

Local donations can be made in person to Rachel George Greenwalt account at Riverview Credit Union, 403 Main St. Belpre, Ohio.

End of a Journey - (Guest blogger - Micki George)

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

Rachel ended her long, courageous battle with cancer on Saturday afternoon, December 10th surrounded by her loving family.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No more hospitals (guest blogger - Micki George)

Rachel left Camden Clark Memorial Hospital (CCMH) to return home on Monday, December 5th.  She was admitted to the hospital on Monday, November 28th after experiencing a seizure at home.  Rachel was receiving medications to prevent any further seizures during her stay at CCMH.  She also received hospice services and transferred to a "serenity room" to provide comfort and privacy.  

 Rachel is now receiving hospice care in the comfort of her home.  Her wishes are to be home, where she can be with her girls and be surrounded by their happy giggles and hugs & kisses.

She is being cared for around the clock, never a second is she alone.  Mom and I have been reading facebook posts and cards to her, letting her know how many people are thinking and praying for her.

Rachel has been fighting since May 2009 and her courage has touched so many family members and friends (new & old).   Her long journey is nearly over.  Rachel is resting, her pain is under control.  She will not be going back to any hospital.

~Micki

Sunday, December 4, 2011

back tracking (guest blogger - Micki)

I wanted to talk about some events from November.


Sky lantern launch
November 18th, Friday night at Belpre boat ramp behind Hardees was a sky lantern launch to show support for Rachel.  The event only involved 3 days notice due to weather (winds must be less than 6 mph).  We had planned on launching 50 lanterns (each one takes 2 people to launch).  On the 18th at 6:45 pm family and friends began arriving.  There was plenty of help to unwrap the lanterns and direct supporters to write messages of love and hope on their lanterns.  WTAP was there filming for the nightly news and WNUS sent a van with speakers to play music.  The event was beautiful, more than 50 lanterns were launched and the unofficial participant count was at least 100 supporters.   Rachel was amazed at the showing of support when she saw the 11 o'clock news and home video.

Visit from an old friend
November 21st, Monday, Rachel's dear friend, Jamie, arrived from Austin, Texas for a visit and stayed until Wednesday.  He brought Rachel a special knitted pumpkin hat and Iris &  Vera cowboy hats.  Rachel and Jamie enjoyed each others company, snuggling and laughing about their time together in Texas.  Jamie was given the title of honorary "Uncle Jamie" to Iris and Vera.  Jamie's travel schedule allowed him to make a another short visit back to Belpre on Monday, November 28th before returning to Texas on November 29th.  He spent his last night in the hospital with family, while Rachel was being treated for complications from her cancer.  It was easy to see why Rachel held Jamie in such high regard as a friend, he was so devoted to her during his short stay and now I would consider him part of the family.  

This picture was taken on November 22, 2011.

Treatment in Texas Early November, Rachel was accepted for a clinical trial at Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center after returning home from UPMC (Pittsburgh) for placement of liver stents (10/27/11).  Plans were made for her to fly with Dad to Dallas for treatment.  After several phone calls with nurses, it was discovered that Rachel had already received the drug used in this trial.  The trip was canceled. 

*more posts soon.

Thanks again for all the messages of support.

Micki





Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving update (guest blogger - Micki)

Rachel wanted everyone to know that she had an enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend even with a short visit to the hospital.  Wednesday, November 23rd, Rachel was admitted through the ER at Marietta Memorial Hospital (MMH) as a result of a fungal element in her bloodstream, she also had a bacteria infection that needed treatment. While at MMH, she received a blood transfusion.  Rachel returned home Thanksgiving afternoon for some overdue rest.  A belated Thanksgiving dinner was held at Rachel's house on Saturday, November 26th. She joined a crowded kitchen & living room full of family for a traditional feast.  The girls, Iris and Vera, were excited to watch the lighted night parade in Belpre with their cousins.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time for Giving Thanks (guest blogger - Micki)

Micki here writing on behalf of Rachel.  This is a short post, I will write more later about the sky lantern launch, visitors and the trip to Texas.   I just wanted to say "Thank you" to all Rachel's supporters and cheerleaders! She is very thankful to have so many family and friends showing that they care and love her.

~This picture was taken Thursday, November 17th, 2011.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

little things are not so little (Guest blogger - Micki)

Micki here - Thank you for sending the emails to Rachel, she appreciates them and is overwhelmed by her supporters (often from people she has never met). 
Yesterday, Wednesday November 2nd, Rachel had a busy day with several visitors. Her favorite visitor is the person that brings Tea from McDonald's (half sweet/half unsweet), it happened to be Dad.  Mom and I were there all day looking at pictures and organizing. Rachel spoke about future plans, some unpleasant topics that need no further elaboration.
Dad picked up Iris from school to take her to dance class.  Iris was a little grumpy which made it challenging to get her dressed.  I finally got her in pink tights and black leotard and had given up on brushing her hair. Rachel was on the couch armed with hair brush and detangler. Iris stood still and Rachel, with a mother's love, brushed out a school day's worth of tangles and put her shiny blonde hair in a pony tail fit for a dancer.
Uncle Don had dropped off some delicious home cooked food earlier in the day and returned later with Aunt Mary for a short visit.
I left in the evening with Rachel resting, catching up on some sleep before Iris and Vera returned from church when they would inevitably be waking her up with hug & kisses.


The big sister - Micki




*This is one of Rachel's favorite pictures with Vera - taken in the emergency room in September before she went to UPMC Pittsburgh.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

For my lil' sister (Guest Blogger - Micki)

Hello, Micki here (the big sister).  I am guest blogging for Rachel.  Since her last post she has had several doctor’s appointments and short stay at UPMC Montefiore (Pittsburgh) under the care of Dr. Zeh and Dr. Slivka.  She decided not to continue with the clinical trials in Canton with Dr. Gabrial.     
The evening of Monday, October 24th she was admitted through the emergency room at UPMC. 
On Wednesday, October 26th she had 2 stents placed in her liver to drain toxins.  Rachel returned home to her beautiful daughters on Thursday, October 27.  She is receiving home nursing care so that she can stay at home and avoid future emergency room visits.   Rachel was visited by the hospice nurse but decided against receiving their services so she would still have the option of TPN (IV nutrition).  Her pain is being controlled by a pain pump and she is on oxygen to help her breathe.  

On Friday, October 28, 2011, she recorded herself reading a Disney Princess book for the girls, enjoyed some Kentucky Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes & gravy and green beans and spent the day with Mom, Vera, Misty and me hanging out.

I will continue to provide updates on her blog and on Facebook.

Continue to pray, send good vibs and positive energy her way.

Please feel free to share your stories and pictures about Rachel, how you met her or an adventure you had her, either here or on Facebook.
If you want to send her a private message you can email me at michele.lee.george@gmail.com and I will read them to her or send a card to her home address 803 4th St Belpre OH 45714.

The big sister,
Micki

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If Only...

What if?....  If I'd have just...  Things might be different if....

I wish those phrases weren't even speakable.
So, people- I have neglected you.  But hopefully you understand that instead of blogging, I chose to sleep.
Where to start, where to start?
Well since last we met I was on a clinical trial in Canton, feeling like crap, on Home Health (a step away from Hospice) and pretty miserable.
A relief to the misery- My friend, Nancy, came out to visit for Labor Day weekend.  I haven't seen her since last year at the reunion.  Nancy and I met inthe Navy, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1995.  Wow, can't believe it's been that long.  I still consider her one of my best friends even though we go for sometimes weeks without a phone call.  We know the friendship is there.  Just like when Karen came out to visit, I didn't feel great, I slept a lot and we didn't get out and about except for a trip to the mall on a rainy Labor Day.  My husband kinda gave me hell about it... that I didn't give her the grand tour of the Mid-Ohio Valley but Nancy understood.  She came out to visit with me- not to go sightseeing.  We just wanted the chance to be in each other's company- whether it was on my back porch, on the couch, in the car or at the mall.  I miss her already.  My Dad took her to the airport when it was time for her to go because I was feeling awful and because I knew I couldn't do 'goodbye.'

Nausea is a bitch.  It's the reason-well the MAIN reason- for my ridiculous weight loss.  I'd been fighting it forever it seemed.  Go back and have a lookie-loo at my posts, and there it is.  Over and over again.  My hair has been falling out.  It's' prettty thin and so am I.
A little over a week ago I was feeling especially nauseous.  It felt like there was something stuck in my guts that didn't know which way it wanted to go.  I tolerated it for as long as I could and just decided to head once again to the ER.  They're getting to know me there and I don't like that one friggin' bit. 
After some X-rays the docs come back to tell me there may be an obstruction and probably a perforation.  Time to move to a bigger hospital for treatment.  Well, if you've read this blog for a while- you'd know there was NO WAY I was going to Ohio State University Medical Center for treatment because that would put me right in the hands of Dr. Arnold again since he's the head of gastro-intestinal oncology there.  No thank you.  I thought of Cleveland Clinic and told them I wanted to go there- but then I thought of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where they have a special division dedicated to PMP and told them that's where I wanted to go.  My first instincts haven't been kind to me so the fact that I passed on Cleveland Clinic is okay with me.  I know I'll hear about how great Cleveland Clinic is- and I am well aware.  I am not anti-C.C. - I just made a choice. I was in the ER for 15 hours- UPMC was full and trying to get me a room... once I got a room, it was the waiting game for a ride there.  Thankfully my nurse was pushy and got a ride even though it pissed off her higher-ups.  We've written a thank you letter.
When I finally got to UPMC they ran tests and yadda, yadda, yadda... "Let's wait it out because you've got a lot of tumor and we couldn't get to your obstruction and perforation even if we wanted to."  So bowel rest it is.  This is on Friday.  No food... just occasional ice chips.  There really isn't anything to do about it.  You know- I don't know what I think or thought anyone could do about it except a colostomy- but I'm told there might not even be enough bowel to do one and there is just a LOT of tumor.  Regardless- I was happy with the doctors and staff.  Monday I was EXTREMELY irritated.  I wasn't getting answers and I don't know why, but the docs didn't perscribe the amount of Ativan I have been using.  Look- so what if it's addictive?  it's anti-anxiety.  Can I HAVE THAT?  Can you just give me the mental rest that I need?  Once that was squared away, All was MUCH better.
I talked to the palliative care people... yes, yes, I know who they are.  It comes down to wants and wishes.  Let's just be real, you know? 

I'm on IV nutrition now.  Here's the kicker- I FEEL BETTER.  I'm no longer on the clinical trial in Canton- no Erbitux which could hinder surgery if I actually HAD surgery.  Am I making the right choice?  Who knows?  If only (there's that phrase) I'd have gone to UPMC on the 13th of May, 2009, things MIGHT be different.
I can't live with that constantly eating at me.  But it does pop up every so often.
I'm still here.  I don't know how much longer.  There are times I feel the clock winding down and there are days I feel like there isn't a damn thing wrong with me.
Regardless- I am taking care of "things" if you know what I mean.  That doesn't mean I'm admitting defeat- because as long as people around me believe there is something just around the next corner, I have to keep going.


How do I do it?
There are 2 answers to that question- and they are sleeping soundly in their beds right now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Who Beats Cancer? (Guest Blog Post - Rachel's Friend Cindy)

Who beats cancer?  Who are the people that you see on TV who talk about how they defied the odds and slayed the monster that is cancer? 

There is an article on Triathlon Competitor online that describes how John Klish, a 30-year-old deaf triathlete and engineer beat his cancer.  He attributes his success at the hard work he's put in ever since he was young.  Deaf Triathlete Beats Cancer

We can't forget about Lance Armstrong either.  He says that he "never felt like he was dying".  Might that be what made him a success story?  Lance Armstrong TC

My maternal grandfather fought it and lost - but then again he'd lived a life full of hard work, success, sadness, children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.  My maternal grandmother fought the cancer monster too and lost the battle less than a year after her husband (my grandfather) passed. 

I don't want to leave anyone feeling depressed, though.  My friend's toddler son had a devastating form of cancer.  While he fought for his life in a hospital bed, the doctors pulled Dana into a conference room to tell her that her son was going to die.  Ironically, it was at that moment that she knew that her son wouldn't die from cancer.  She told me that it was like God spoke to her and told her that her son would.  He battled his cancer for 6 years and beat it. 

So I guess the question is now how we define beating cancer, but when we define beating cancer.  Maybe all of our friends and family who are afflicted by the awful disease beat it every day that they continue to grace us with their presence.  Maybe that is how we should measure fighters like Rachel - as winners who are victorious already. 

Or maybe the only person who can measure Rachel's success is Rachel herself.  But in my book, she is victor already. 

Cindy Rios-Myers
http://www.cindyrios.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shortness.

It's been fairly quiet the last week or so.  I had chemo on Thursday last week.  I have to go early to get the festivities started so I'm not there until 6pm like last time.  They start pushing the meds a little faster and your body doesn't know whether to sweat, sleep, cry, run away or what.  It's a discomfort that I can't even describe.  I LOATHE it.  And the pills I'm supposed to be taking as part of the trial make me want to throw up just looking at them. 
I'm trying to get organized because  I don't want to leave behind a mess for the girls because there's so much I want to make sure GETS left behind.  Gotta pic and choose.  Since I'm just leaving a big tote full of stuff of 'me'.   Cards for each of their birthdays up to 20 or 25.  Then wedding cards, graduation cards.  I'm working on a journal of just feelings and what happened each day.  My sister will have to dedicate a nice portion of her house to "Rachel Stuff".
I've said it before- and I'll say it again... If you have cancer you should get a personal assistant.  Some of the information out there is wrong,  and some is just ignorant.  No one knows when it's time to see a specialist, so they can' make the right decisions.  Plus Someone needs to be the asshole and demand the real answers- the patient shouldn't have to play the bitch role.

That aside- Iris started Kindy for real on Monday.  She loves it- all happy faces when she comes home.  The only problem... she wants to ride the bus.  I wouldn't care except logistically it doesn't jive so she's gonna have to suck it up.  She may ride on occasion since I am no longer allowed to drive.  Yeahhh.  So I have to depend on someone who can go "Right Now".  So someone at my beck and call.
Then in 2 weeks- Vera heads to Preschool 2 days a week- 9:30am-1:30pm.  I don't know if that makes me feel guilty or feel better that I'm not just shoving the girls off to my mother-in-laws while I sleep.
I really can't get enough sleep.  I just can't.  But I'm going to start dividing up some REAL times to be with them- quality- and quantity.  Mommy guilt is the worst kind.  No one is harder on you about your kids than YOU are right?  I'm going to try reading this book "The Council Of Dads."  And possibly get that rolling.  Then there is a thumbprint necklace that I want to get for each them.  And I HAVE to get those 2 lullabies recorded for them.  Even if it IS just me talking singing into my microphone on my phone. 

My friend, Karen came in for the past weekend to visis just a couple of days.  She was here last Thanksgiving if you met her.  It was wonderful to see her.  She rushed to get the ticket because she's afraid I'm on my way out.  Hey- nothing wrong with being honest.  I do look like death, but I'm working on it and I'm sure it's hard for people to see me at all.  Ick.
Karen waited on me- beck and call.  We didn't do much but talk and I'm glad.  I'd have rather done that than go out clubbin' or whatever.  She hugged me goodbye like it's the last time she would see me.  I guess it's possible.  I think like that sometimes- but not always.  You can swim in that self pity until your fingers get all pruny, it doesn't do any good.  Don't get me wrong- I've been known to do that, but something snaps me out of it.  I count on it.

For everyone who sent cards and flowers- thank you a million times over.  Each act in itself is a pick-me-up.   Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

If you want to know about me and my physical being- I'm still sick and I think I find another cancer nodule on my torso every other day.  Some days I'm good to go- and could take on the world- other days I just need to sleep until it isn't possible to sleep anymore, I feel nauseous, can't eat, am sore all over for no reason and so on, and so on.  But I think the days are close to even.

And I don't know what to think about the next plan of action.  I don't have one.  Maybe the ovarian chemo.  Rally I'm just waiting on that vaccine to work.

Okay everyone- hug your babies- even if they are sticky.

Best,