Cancer

Teri and Richard

“Be a woman of Christ. Cherish your esteemed place in the sight of God. He needs you. This church needs you. The world needs you. A woman’s abiding trust in God and unfailing devotion to things of the Spirit have always been an anchor when the wind and the waves of life were fiercest.”
― Jeffrey R. HollandCreated for Greater Things

Anchored in hope — an important phrase as I begin my journey as a cancer patient.  This is a new journey for me.  I do feel hope for the future and gratitude for wonderful care.  For the past three weeks we have focused on identifying the type of infection that has caused my persistent pneumonia.  Last Friday our focused changed as we received the pathology results from Mayo Clinic.  Adenocarcinoma.  It was difficult for the doctors to share the diagnosis.  It was a sharp turn of events for us all.  It was a defining moment.  It was a moment of courage.  It was an opportunity to find hope.

Tomorrow I will have a PET scan to determine if the cancer is isolated in my lungs or if the cancer is in other parts of my body.  The pathologists are also running several tests to see if they can identify mutations in my lung samples.  It feels funny to hope for mutations.  If they exist, we are able to target the type of chemotherapy.  This will be a blessing.  On July 13, 2016, we meet with our oncologist to finalize our treatment plan and get started with treatment.  I have a big mountain to climb.  I can’t wait to begin!!

Hope is found in many places — prayer, scripture study, reflection, and love of family and friends.  Thanks to so many who have expressed their love and concern.  Together we will travel together as we work to restore my health and find strength through hope.  We will use this blog to keep you posted on my progress!

 

Never Stop Striving

I love the beauty of fall — crisp morning air and stunning sunsets.  A reminder of the bounties of life.  A knowledge that our labors are rewarded as we never stop striving to grow, strengthen, cultivate and transform.

This fall has brought great learning opportunities for our family.  During the past two months, we have been with my mother and prayed for her health as we continue to watch the devastating effects of a major stroke.  Richard and I have also reverently bowed our heads and prayed fervently for safety and protection of our children.  Finally, I have felt my body change as I become more dependent on oxygen support to accomplish my daily tasks.  I am slowing down just a little.  Throughout the fall season, we have reached deeply in our souls as we relied on the fruit of our labors.  The learning and faith that has developed over many years.  The determination to raise our eyes to the heavens and follow Him.  Our commitment to never stop striving.  An understanding that all is well!

I listened carefully as I observed my mother dedicate her energy to learning tasks throughout her speech therapy.  Some of her conversational speech has returned.  She still struggles to recall names of pictures, letters, and sounds.  I smiled as I recalled her teaching kindergarten students these very same concepts for more than 30 years.  The right side of her body is getting stronger and she is able to walk with the help of a walker.  Amazing!  She is a strong woman who is willing to work very hard to return to independence!  We are cheering for her each step of the way!  She inspires each of us to not give up — to continue to strive to become our very best self!

Our children continue to be watched over and blessed.  Richard and I will always recognize the divine intervention they receive.  We have experienced some of our most frightening and also most joyful moments during the past few weeks.  The delight comes from the joy of gathering and spending cherished time together.  Halloween was a delight!  I loved seeing the trick or treaters come to the house!  Both of the kids came home to help answer the door, share goodies, fuss over me, and chat.  It felt so warm and cozy.  I count that night as a great memory that I hold close to my heart.  A reminder that as we continue to strive to love each other, as our Father loves each one of us, we will receive tender mercies that are more than we can describe.  Continue to strive to love your family in deep, eternal ways.  The blessings will come!

My last blog was written during my most recent hospital stay.  I ended up being hospitalized for eight days as I fought a nasty infection.  I was finally discharged with a high level of oxygen support.  CT scans indicate there is moderate progression of the cancer with additional metastasis of lesions on my vertebrae.  I also struggle with increased pain with lesions in the sacrum area.  Here is the good news!  I still have some healthy lung tissue without any disease.  I have not been on active treatment during the past nine months and my quality of life has allowed me to experience so much of what I love.  I have portable oxygen tanks that allow me to leave the home.  Friends and family have learned to come to the house and visit when I have a difficult time getting out.  My oncologist has found a new clinical trial that I may be a good candidate for.  It does not include any immunotherapy which is a huge bonus for me.  We are waiting to see if I have been accepted.  He wants to help me so badly.  I am surrounded by both an amazing medical team and care givers.  I strive each day to live life to the fullest!  To capture the simple things that bring such joy.  To love those around me with sincerity.

I read an insightful letter from the son of a dear friend.  In closing, he included this beautiful thought:  “Never stop striving until you see the face of God.”  What a beautiful compass as we continue to try — to learn, to think, to love, to become, to understand things of the eternity.  I love each one of you!  Remember, never stop striving in this season of bounty and gratitude!

 

Watch Over Me Through the Night

This past Thursday night was long.  The clock slowly ticked as my dedicated nurse sat across from my hospital room wrestling whether to call the doctor again for the fourth time in the middle of the night.  I was admitted earlier that day because my oxygen levels would not stay in the normal range even with additional oxygen support.  At this critical point, the nurse and doctors had given me all the oxygen support available in this care setting.  The question remained if I should be transferred to ICU.

I had smiled at this good nurse before trying to sleep and said, “Breathe with me tonight.”  I had a sense we might be moving into a few difficult hours.  I had no idea that she would literally watch over me through the night.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Right by my side.

A monument of dedication and care that can never be repaid.  It is one of the most tender gifts I have received throughout my cancer journey.  As dawn approached, I finally turned the corner and my body found the right rhythm.  Heart rate slowed and oxygen levels were maintained.  How do I express my gratitude?

Have you ever felt your soul crying out, “Watch with me this night.”  “Stay just a little while.”  Our Savior, Jesus Christ, felt this deep plea during His last days.  When deep despair is bound tightly around your soul, He is there.  Watching over you.  Angels are also there on both sides of the veil. Of this I testify.  I believe we are watched through the night more than we know.

Miracles continue to happen.  We have identified a fierce infection that has ravaged my body.  The medications are beginning to work.  I have turned an important corner. My medical team is highly-skilled and collaborative.  Together, we are making the right decisions.

And so I reverently express, “Watch over me through the night.”  My cup over flows.  My eyes are raised to the heavens.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  All is well!

Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!

Text: Henry F. Lyte, 1793–1847    Music: William H. Monk, 1823–1889

My Two-Year Cancer Anniversary

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kintsukuroi ~ “to repair with gold” ~ the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

My cancer journey has woven threads of strength into my life.  My life is more beautiful for having been broken.  I recently listened to an insightful devotional speech by Professor Beth Luthy.  Through study, I realized I have become a wounded healer.  One who has been sanctified and then compelled to share learning and bless others with rich compassion.  I have learned to say, “Thy will be done.”  My increased faith has provided hope and a deep desire to serve.  I wait and listen carefully for ministering opportunities.

June 24 will always be the day when my world shifted.  My cancer journey has taken me to the top of mountains and plunged me into deep valleys.  I have been asked to swim in deep water.  There has been chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials.  The cancer has metastasized to my bones, and I have transitioned to palliative/hospice care to allow my body to recover from treatment and other complications.  I have grieved the loss of energy, hair, fingernails, sleep, future plans, my ability to breathe deeply, and a change in career.  This is temporary grief.  It is like saying goodbye to an old friend and then embracing a new opportunity.  It is part of the sanctification process.  I prefer to focus on all I have gained — wisdom, kindness, appreciation for each day, deep love for my family, a sure witness of blessings through the Savior’s atonement, sanctification of my soul, strengthened relationships with dear friends, love for nature, sacred reflection, inspiring music, and a deep understanding of our Father’s love.  Threads of gold.

I am happy.  Truly happy.  Tonight, my entire family was gathered around me.  I am encircled by so many who lift and love me.  It is inspiring.  They are angels in my life.  I have been blessed each step of the way.  I am never alone.  How can I complain?

Tomorrow I start a new chapter of this journey.  I have developed tumors and lesions on my sacrum.  Richard and I met with our radiation oncologist last week and developed a five-day radiation treatment plan to help alleviate pain in this area.  Another great doctor who was well-prepared for our visit and willing to help me find the highest quality of life.  A new member of our team and family.

Hooray for two years!  I have beaten many odds.  I rejoice in my life and the sweet experiences that continue to unfold.  I keep working to find ways to bring strength and health to my body.  It is part of my fighting spirit.  I have been broken, wounded and yet my life has become more beautiful.  I continue to win the battle and look forward with brightness — anchored in hope.

 

Memories from the past two years — diagnosis day (I had just been released from the hospital ~ you can sense our emotion through our body language), a new hair do, helicopter ride in Kauai, and treasured family pictures.

My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee

Today was not an easy day.  Yes, hard days do come every once in a while.  I needed this day to refine my soul by cultivating gratitude and not leaning towards feelings of despair.  You see, difficult days can become some of our most magnificent moments.

I am known as a glass half-full kind of girl.  Sunny side up.  Take lemons and make lemonade.  Chin up!  I want to be known as one who quietly ministers.  My mission has always been to bless others. Well, this morning my chin quivered . . . for just a few minutes.  Cancer just felt so real.  For some reason, deep abiding grief also felt real.

The light came as I listened to a beautiful musical arrangement with words from one of my favorite scriptures:

And with everlasting kindness will I succor thee,
And with mercy will I take thee ‘neath my wings.
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!

These words were studied a few years ago as I worked with others to plan a local women’s conference ~ Isaiah 54:10.  Since that time, the message has resonated within my heart.  His kindness will not depart.  Several witnesses of this truth were captured this very afternoon.

First, I had a personal visit from a young man who came to my home to follow through on a previous commitment — a demonstration of kindness and personal integrity.  When I realized he had graduated from high school just a few hours earlier, I quickly rescheduled our appointment.  Window washing can wait.  High school graduation should be celebrated all day with those we love.  I was so impressed with the fact he was willing to put aside his own celebration in order to follow through on his word.  It was a strong reminder that we are surrounded by great young people who will one day become our leaders.  We are in good hands!

Next, a good friend came for a visit.  During our conversation, I shared the recent experience I had with the Jordan Education Foundation as we awarded the Teri Timpson Legacy Scholarship.  My sweet friend presented me with a card that contained $700 from former Lone Peak Elementary teachers.  The money was given as a donation towards future scholarship funds.  I can’t express how much this meant to me.  This gift was provided by some of the best people you will ever meet.  We are united in our love and dedication to ministering to others.

Finally, I slipped to my knees and expressed gratitude for the kindness shown to me and my family throughout the entire week.  My thoughts included a visit from a beautiful group of young women who planted flowers and bushes at our home.  I also recognized how important it is that my health has stabilized and I have not lost any weight the past month — this is important!  I rejoiced in the fact I have not needed additional oxygen support for the past eight hours.  I celebrated that two dear friends with cancer have found success through their treatment plans.  There is so much goodness in my life.  How can I not be thankful?  How can I not recognize that through Him all is possible?

We all have moments where we feel forsaken.  Left alone for just a short time.  Today I have been reminded that His kindness will never depart from our lives.  I know His kindness is everlasting.  I am grateful for important lessons remembered this day.  Magnificent moments.

 

 

Mother’s Day and Miracles

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The unique traits of women.  Those who help us to become our best self.  Noble women who make courageous decisions.  The tender touch that heals one who is hurting — both physically and spiritually.  One who is always there and cheers for our success.  Women of faith who quietly serve and love others.  Women who can see our potential when we can’t always find it ourself and who gently help us make course corrections that bring success.  All accomplished with patience, kind words, honest feedback, and a divine example.  The very essence of motherhood.

IMG_5321We recently celebrated Mother’s Day.  I honor my mother who has always helped me to feel loved and nurtured.  She is lovely!  Her friends and acquaintances speak of the many times she served them.  She made courageous decisions during her life that helped her return to college and earn a degree in elementary education.  My mother retired the first year I started teaching fifth-grade.  She would come each week and volunteer in my classroom.  I never wanted to disappoint her!  Together, we have shared a passion for education.  We have also shared a calling to serve those around us.  In her declining years, we are now helping her with more of her daily care.  I am grateful for my sister, Valerie, who has opened her home and created a place for her.  I pray for my mother’s comfort and understanding of the deep love I have for her.  She is noble and valiant.

IMG_5322I immediately loved my mother-in-law.  We met in November 1981.  She created fun whenever we visited!  Richard recalls his mother gathering with her friends around a large quilt in the living room and and working late in the night as they laughed and enjoyed being with each other.  For our wedding gift, she presented me with one of her beautiful quilts.  It is a treasure.  She raised a wonderful son who has always treated me with great respect.  She was honest with all around her.  I think that is a great quality!  She loved beautiful, colorful things.  My mother-in-law passed away in November 2015.  I think of her often.  A few weeks ago, Richard’s sister came to our home and put colorful decorations in our yard.  A little something to cheer us up!  My first comment when I walked out the door was, “Your mom would have loved this!”  I know I will see her again.

One of my greatest honors is to be the mother of Brittany and Bryce.  Our children were born within my heart through the adoption process.  Raising them has been a divine calling.  A blessing from heaven.  It has been the desire of my heart to help them understand their great purpose.  To be grounded in goodness, faith, and courage.  To know how deeply I love them.  Every minute of every day.  I will always pray for their success.  We never give up on each other.

We spent a wonderful weekend together.  Richard, Brittany, and Bryce brought a variety of flowers, treats, and heartfelt notes.  My soul was content.  It felt like a little piece of heaven.  They know how much I rejoice in the beauty of the earth.  It feels as if my senses have been heightened to appreciate the loveliness around me.  The most important gift was the time we spent together.  Another perfect moment!

And now for miracles — a few weeks ago we had a little scare.  My oxygen levels dropped very low.  Even with oxygen support, I struggled.  I could hardly lift my head without feeling faint.  The change was sudden.  I wondered if I would ever regain my strength.  Fortunately, my palliative care PA came to the rescue.  She taught me how to use medication to help my body relax and recover from a breathless state.  She stayed right by me, coached me, and reassured me.  What a gift!  Our bodies are miraculous.  My strength is beginning to return.  During the past few days, I have been able to go without continuous oxygen support for periods of time.  If I could attempt a cartwheel, I would give it a try!  Hooray for miracles!  I know I am being watched over.  Thank you to a loving Father in Heaven who continues to provide me with a cherished window of time.  How great Thou art!

“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother”

 

 

 

 

A More Excellent Way

“Acting on even a twig of faith allows God to grow it.”               ~ Henry B. Eyring

I often awake during the night.  When sleep does not return, I focus on study and reflection.  The house is still, and I capture the opportunity to strengthen my learning and increase my faith.  I was touched last night by the gentle thought, “You have been blessed to find a more excellent way.  Everything will be fine.”  A more excellent way — isn’t that what we all desire?  The simple reassurance that all is well.  The understanding that life is rich, sweet, and joyful.  The importance of relationships with God and those we love.  A more excellent way.

This simple truth is priceless knowledge.  I am grateful to find the courage to acknowledge that my family will also be fine.  That is all I ask — sweet blessings for those I love.  My cancer journey has refined my soul and provided an avenue to teach and testify.  As my faith increases, hope fills my soul and my desire to serve others intensifies.  Thus, I do remain anchored in hope.  My entire journey has been anchored in hope.  What a beautiful miracle — I have been willing to open my heart to a more excellent way.

I was recently asked to think about the topic of faith.  My response went something like this:  “When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we believe in Him as the Son of God.  Faith leads to action – obedience, repentance, service and genuine love. It is the sweet assurance that, through the Savior’s atonement, we may return and live with a loving Father in Heaven. Faith is sacred to me – a reverent acknowledgement that we can understand and accomplish all that is required of us. Faith brings richness to our mortal experiences. We know that through faith we receive inspiration and promptings that help us to become true disciples.”

During this Easter season, I reverently acknowledge my faith and relationship with the Savior.  He is our Redeemer.  Our Friend.  Our Healer.  Our Exemplar.  He is the Son of God who atoned for our sins.  Our Messiah.  He is always there.  He has shown us a more excellent way.

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Mahalo

Mahalo means thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards, or respect. Our time in Kauai envelopes the emotion of mahalo with an additional expression of reverence. A reverence for beauty of the creation. A reverence for solace of the soul. A reverence for tender expressions of love. A reverence for gentle care.


I have tried to capture the appreciation I feel for this magnificent adventure. Our travel took a little extra coordination of time, events, and medical care. Who is crazy enough to dedicate one entire suitcase to medical supplies? Thanks to the encouragement of my hospice team, we packed that suitcase with confidence. And, we boarded the plane with a prayer in our hearts we would only need the daily supplies and not the “emergency” items. Richard and I chose to live life and in turn created eternal memories together. My lungs embraced the clean, moist air. Each breath punctuated my appreciation for this window of time we have shared together. Mahalo to my extraordinary caregivers!

I have marveled at the grandeur of this lovely island. Just this morning, we observed the most beautiful rainbow that stretched over a lush valley filled with several shades of green. We have thankfully paused to capture gushing waterfalls, observe turquoise ocean water, breathe in exquisite flowers of all shades and varieties, feel the coolness of sandy beaches, and marvel at blazing sunsets. We have courageously found great adventures — helicopter rides, luaus, boat excursions, lovely drives around the island and up to the canyon. Mahalo to the breathtaking creations of which we are a part!

Our visit has been soothing to my mind and body. The gentle rhythm of the ocean pushing in and pulling out is mesmerizing. I find myself breathing deeply in this same rhythmic fashion.  The longer we are here, the more my thoughts are stretched in the same direction. I cherish time for deep reflective thinking. I tend to arise early and listen to the variety of birds that welcome the new day. Another quiet moment to express gratitude for my many blessings. Mahalo for this time of healing — solace for my soul!

This is a tender time. We take advantage of each minute to demonstrate kindness, compassion, and love. Oh, sweet love! Our expressions of appreciation have become more quiet. A deep look that conveys a knowledge of covenants and blessings. A tender touch to help manage pain and convey warmth. As I look at pictures, I realize the toll cancer has taken on my physical body. Richard describes me as “fragile.” What we have learned is love endures all physical changes. Mahalo to my eternal love!

I bow my head in gratitude and reverently whisper, “Thank you for this sliver of time where we have celebrated beauty in my life.”  Kauai has provided sweet moments to be remembered forever.  Mahalo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Standing Ovation

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
― R.J. PalacioWonder

Today was one of those perfect days — the kind that captures a piece of heaven.  My very own standing ovation.

I was an invited guest at Principals’ Meeting.  It was an honor to attend and be surrounded by many remarkable leaders.  My relationship with each is rich and deep — we have worked, celebrated, cried, learned, struggled, laughed, and established high expectations together.  This has been the work of my heart since 1996.  Outside being a wife and a mother, my focus on student learning has filled my life with some of my grandest moments.  Today I was reminded of the vital role relationships play in each of our lives.  The gifts that we cultivate as we love deeply.  The opportunity to learn from great thinkers who are both young and old.  This learning is captured in a special video that is included below.

I shared the following three thoughts with my dear friends.  First, it has been an honor to be your colleague.  Next, I will always want the best for each one of you.  Finally, life is a journey — never forget that I am right by your side cheering for you!

It has been said that, “Gratitude is a memory of the heart.”  Today, my heart is overflowing!  I continue to focus on choosing to live life to the fullest and remain anchored in hope.  Thank you, so much, valued friends.

 

Memories

I have recently started organizing — papers, closets, drawers, journals, and pictures. There is a fun button in my photos app entitled “memories.”  The phone will gather pictures and group them by theme, date, or location.  You simply select the group and enjoy a beautiful video highlighting moments and people that you love.  I sorted pictures related to my cancer journey and shed a few tears as I relived just a few points in time from the past 19 months.

Emotions are tender.  Gratitude runs deep. I am still fighting and doing my best.  I cherish sweet abiding peace and days filled with family and friends.  My life is in His hands.

There is no way to capture every person or moment that has sanctified my soul.  You will just get a taste of beauty that has surrounded me and my family.  If you watch carefully, you will find great joy as well as deep illness etched on my face.  This is my journey!

 

Healing, Hospice, and Holidays

I have determined that healing happens through unexpected measures. The past few weeks have been filled with doctor’s appointments and a lengthy stay in the hospital.  I have developed a serious staph infection in the pleural liquid by my right lung.  It was fascinating to watch four different teams of doctors work together to share their vast knowledge and come to consensus on a course of action.  The miracle began as I saw the emphasis shift from merely a clinical case to the “whole patient.”  One by one, these busy individuals would stop by, share advice, and listen.  My hospital room became a place of healing — both my physical body and my very soul.  As I prepared to return home, one doctor came to review discharge instructions.  At the end of our conversation, she grasped my hand and said, “It has been an honor to be your doctor.”  Another doctor sat by my side and gently whispered, “We want what is very best for you.”  She had come to my room way past normal hours to share this message of healing.   A third doctor came for interesting and stimulating conversation.  I love that she had confidence in my ability to keep up with her.  Just this evening, I received a text message from the research nurse that stated, “This life is a journey for all of us . . . please know I am here to support you however I can.”  A few months ago, I had not met any of these remarkable people.  Now, I am benefitting from the art of healing.  I will slip to my knees this evening and give tender thanks for those who lift and heal.

Richard and I made an important decision today to move to hospice care.  After consulting with my oncologist, we realized I can no longer continue with the clinical trial chemotherapy drug.  My immune system becomes so compromised while on chemotherapy.  We can’t risk the possible side effects as we continue to battle this ugly infection.  Because I will no longer be in active treatment, I qualify for hospice care.  We feel hopeful this care will provide me with the best quality of life for the longest time possible.  I now have access to medical care twenty-four hours a day.  Many of my challenges, e.g., high fevers from the infection, will be treated at home rather than in the hospital.  My oncologist asked me what my goals are right now.  My response was simple — to spend as much time as possible with my family and dear friends.  Hospice will allow this to happen while keeping me at home.  That thought makes me smile.  This is a major shift in my care plan.  It is also a remarkable blessing!

I love the holiday season!  Christmas music, a sweet focus on the Savior, and family traditions all help me to rejoice during this time of the year.  Here are a few of my thoughts on why Christmas is so important to me.  First, one of my favorite hymns is “The First Noel.”  I always smile when I explain to others I was born with a three-quarter time soul.  The smooth waltz tempo that lifts my heart.  This is one reason why I am drawn to the this beautiful hymn. I also understand the important message as I marvel at the kindness found across the globe centered around Jesus Christ.  Can you imagine a silent night many years ago when angels heralded the birth of our Savior?  My cancer journey has helped me draw near to Him.  It seems fitting that I humbly raise my voice in refrain, “Born is the King of Israel.”  Next, I felt well enough to attend sacrament meeting last Sunday.  The choir sang inspired songs.  The spoken word helped me reflect reverently on the birth of Jesus Christ.  I thought about the Savior’s role in my life:  Jesus Christ — Our Redeemer.  Jesus Christ — Our Healer.  Jesus Christ — The Prince of Peace.  Sacred moments that I will treasure.  Important thinking I will record in my written journal.  I cherish inspired moments when I continue to learn line upon line.  Finally, on Christmas Eve, we have a family tradition where we gather around the tree and each member of the family brings something to share.  We have shared songs, videos, a special picture book, scriptures, love, and laughter.  I can’t wait to share my part this year — it will be a treasure that each member of the family can carry with them.  My special message of love.

And so, you can see a lot has happened.  Major changes have occurred.  Tremendous blessings have been recognized.  I am humble and grateful as I recognize His hand in my life on a daily basis.  There are many dear family members and friends who continue to minister to my every need.  I will forever be grateful.  And, I will continue to embrace each day with faith, courage, and hope.

Merry Christmas from the Timpson family!