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Valerie’s Story

As you may know, Valerie slipped away on Sunday, July 3, 2011.  Her battle against metastatic cervical cancer was heroic and upbeat.  She never lost her cheery disposition.

Read the incredible memorial for Valerie on the Association of Mormon Letters (AML) Blog .  

See Teresa's cancer fighting efforts at:

Watch the video Teresa made: Why I Run To Fight Cancer!

Hi, this is Teresa, Val's sister.  Val is pretty busy with treatment and stuff so I'm keeping her page updated for her.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011, is when Val's journey started.  We had been chatting on the phone and she mentioned something to me about her health that didn't seem right.  I encouraged her to make an appointment to get it checked right away, and if you can believe it, she did it!  She made an appointment that very day.

She went through several appointments and tests and we just thought everything was "normal" female problems.  Val, herself, thought it was a "prolapsed uterus".  Nobody was jumping up and down wanting her to get a biopsy right away. And we weren't worried because to our knowledge, there hadn't been a cancer in our family for several generations.

Monday, March 21, she visited with an ob/gyn in Nephi who told her he believed she had cancer and he wanted to schedule a biopsy in the hospital for the next day.

I'm sure several of us had the same reaction.  "Are you sure he said it for sure WAS cancer?  He wasn't just saying that was one of the possibilities? Cause you know, doctors do that, they tell you everything it might be and it usually turns out to be nothing." 

Tuesday, March 22
, she went in for the procedure under general anesthesia.  I was a wreck.  The longer it went without hearing from her, the more I worried that they had found something.  I wondered, if they found cancer and she was already under the anesthetic, if they would do a hysterectomy.  I finally got hold of our sister-in-law, Kristina, and she went over to the hospital to find out. 

Kristina happened to run into her own ob/gym in the hallway and asked him how she could find out about Val.  Well, turns out he was the one who had done the procedure and he was headed to Val's room right then so Kristina was there when he gave Val the news.  It was cancer, all right.  Lots of it.

May 23.  Skipping ahead to where we are as of May 23, (and I'll catch up on the blog updates for the last two months as we go), the cervical cancer has metastasized to her lungs and brain.  The cancer responded very well to the abdominal radiation and we are hopeful that the brain radiation will be as effective.  Then she'll have a bit of a break (we think) and they will start the chemo.  P.S.  Having the cancer in the brain disqualifies her from the Avastin trial.  That's okay, we just have to change our thinking.  P.P.S.  We are hoping that the steroids and brain radiation will remove some of the neurological symptoms that we've been seeing.

Keep your eye on the goal, not on the journey
Val's cancer caregivers have told us that the goal is not complete elimination of the tumors.  Rather, at this stage, the goal is to both keep them from getting bigger and to keep them from spreading.  Consider this a "maintenance phase", very much like with diabetes.  You have to be alert and take care of this the rest of your life.

Stay hopeful:
I realize that this is very scary.  A lot of people might think, why put yourself through the treatment, it seems worse than the cancer, sometimes.  To that I say, this is a very sacred journey to take with Val.  If you get to feeling anxious or overwhelmed, talk it out and get some hugs... and then come back onto the journey with Val.  She needs every one of us.

I knew someone who was in cancer treatment for 20 years.  I never knew that's how it worked!  Her cancer had metastatized just like Val's.  But she got on all the government programs, took classes to work on a college degree, and lived as well as she wanted to. I wonder, sometimes, if the Lord let me have this experience with Starla so that I would be ready to be this journeymate with Val.

Please post your messages to Val, I'll make sure she sees them.  And write about your own part of the journey with her, we will all love to read it.

Bless you!


Let this little song lift you as you support Val: