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Diana's Health

I'm not really sure how to begin this page. It is probably one of the hardest things for me to do. To those of you who know me best, you may or may not realize that I am a very private person and difficult to get to really know. Andy could tell you a lot on this subject. Well here goes - I'll do my best to keep you up to date on what is going on with my progress. The best place to begin is the beginning, it has been a fast ride since the middle of January, when I thought I was going in for my routine yearly mammogram exam.

I'm not even sure that I like this new color I feel branded with. I never really liked pink, now I have very mixed emotions about it. I know I'm going to need some time alone to deal with what will be happening to me.

January 21, 2008
A day I thought that I was going to visit three different doctors and not have to take any more days off from school unless I decided to. Well, the dentist visit went well, then the doctor for my blood pressure meds, and finally the mammogram at 4:00 in the afternoon.
January 29, 2008
Had to go back to St. Anthony's for an ultrasound, I've had to do this in the past so I thought no big deal. Well the doctor came into the room with lots of gloom and doom sort of information. I needed a biopsy, the lump didn't look good, looked really bad, but couldn't tell for sure what it was. Lots of good news there for sure.
February 6, 2008
Well, I've gone through other core needle biopsy procedures, why should this one turn out any different. It will be nice to have a few days off and rest - or so I thought any way.
February 7, 2008, 2:35 p.m.
Well the phone call came in that has completely changed my life. I now am among many others who have had to battle breast cancer. The information was confusing and my head was swimming in all of the information.
February 8, 2008

We went to meet with the nurse who called with the news. She answered questions and gave a vast amount of information. Who to go see, what to do, what would happen, and above all this only increased my chances of getting this again by 1%. Well, lets see - 1 in 8 women will get this on the average now, so where am I with all of my family history. What? You have family history of this? Oh, don't worry. Yea, right, easier said than done for sure.

We went to visit my OB/GYN to ask her advice on the situation and what would she do if this were her. Funny thing - it was her a few years back and this is what she did and who she saw. So, we have basically done just what she has done.

February 12, 2008
I don't remember the date, but Andy went with me while I had an MRI done. It wasn't a difficult procedure, but I'm a person who needs air and the air was blowing on my arm making it cold, and not past my face to keep me going. I thought that I would not make it through the last two pictures as I was beginning to feel gee in my stomach. Add to that the magnetic pull on my stomach area and I was praying that I would make it through this process without embarrassing myself. I hate that. You see I wasn't laying on my back, I had to be on my stomach in a strange position so that they could get pictures of my breasts. Arms were stretched above my head with an IV sort of thing for some sort of dye to make everything clearer in the pictures.
February 18, 2008
Andy and I met with a wonderful person who is going to be doing my surgery. For the first time in weeks we received what I call hopeful news. If I opt for a double mastectomy, then I should not need any follow-up radiation, or possibly chemotherapy since we caught this so early and it is so small and slow growing. If I desire reconstruction we need to see a plastic surgeon for more options. We decided to do that.
February 21, 2008
We met with the plastic surgeon. He doesn't want to do reconstruction right away, because I will need radiation and that will cause other issues. Scar tissue will form around the implants and make for a mess when it is time to deal with that. We tried to explain that we were fairly sure I would not need any follow up procedures, but he wasn't so sure. Upon leaving Andy and Dr. hit up a friendly conversation, that led to us knowing probably more than we should about my two doctors. We feel comfortable with both of them and certain that all will go well. Andy told the two doctors to get together and decide if what I want done at one time can happen and make it happen.
February 25, 2008
I'm at school, on lunch/prep and the phone rings with news of when surgery can take place if I want. Well sure I want this thing over with! Wait a minute - that fast? Mixed emotions are going through my mind, but I want this over and out of my body. I want to start getting better.
February 28, 2008

Today is my first day off from school. I miss the kids already, but have to take care of me.

Today at 1:00, I have all of that pre-hospitalization forms to fill out, blood work and EKG. Hopefully, I'm healthy enough to make it through all of the procedures. It is supposed to take an hour, but we all know that an hour in the hospital is a long time.

Well, I was right - the hour turned into an hour and a half. I had a nurse entering information who didn't know how to type! (See kids be this a lesson - she didn't think it was important back in high school. She was going to be a nurse!) I do know all of what will be going on for surgery though and knowledge is comforting. Surgery should take about 2 hours and then some time in recovery. Then they will have to find me a room. Hopefully, it will be a quiet room.

February 29, 2008

This will be a long day. I'm not used to having surgery in the late afternoon, although I was warned that this is the time of day when my surgeon liked to do surgery.

I have to be at the hospital at 12:15 today. They are going to put some dye in so that when I have surgery they can check my lymph nodes to see if they are involved. I will also have some wire markers placed to mark the lump so that they can test the correct lump. At 3:30 today, I will have my surgery. This process will take about 2 hours and some recovery room time afterwards. Then a stay in a hospital room for a few days. I'll try to keep you posted.

Supposedly the hospital is wireless and I can use that if I want. I'll add more when I can. The day I can't move my hands to type we will be having problems.

A note about surgery and the shots to discover the sentinel node. The radioactive fluid that they inject into your breast has small metal particles that they will massage into your breast so that it will begin to flow to your lymph nodes that are involved. This "shot" will burn a lot, but you have to do this process in order for the Dr to know what nodes will be taken during surgery. While they take pictures of this process you might be able to watch the process. The nodes affected will "light" up and be easily seen.

Surgery wasn't too bad. I had to have an IV in the top of my foot that wasn't all that comfortable, but manageable. I couldn't bend my ankle without pain from the needle so I didn't do it and limped around when I needed to. The recovery room wasn't bad although it seemed like I didn't want to wake up very well. The pain from the procedure wasn't too bad, but the first ice chips weren't very nice and I had a few dry heaves for a little while.

March 1, 2008
I got to come home at 4:30 - I'm a little afraid, but know that this will be easier for my caregivers. ;-)
March 2, 2008

It is easier at home than at the hospital, I'm feeling a little better each time I get a nap. This will be a long recovery, but with all of the help from so many friends and God, I will get through.

I'm glad I came home!

March 3, 2008
Needless to say Andy gave me my computer to add to this. We see the plastic surgeon again on Thursday and the surgeon on Monday. We are to know in a couple of days if all is well - meaning did they get everything. So far it looks like they did, but the official people have to read the test results - you know we don't know how to do that. ;-)
March 4, 2008

I'm feeling a lot better this morning. Almost feel human - for those of you who have been through surgery you know what I mean by that. I'm still helpless in that I cannot move my arms. I have to have them down to my side and can only move my elbows or my hands (not much fun). I'm hoping for more movement after we see the plastic surgeon on Thursday morning. We go to see the other surgeon on Monday and maybe they will take these drain tubes out then, maybe not.

Some of the Wheatfield Chamber members are cooking meals for Andy and I, they say he needs a break too. I've gotten many cards, care packages and flowers, and a really neat wire tree of fishing lures! I appreciate them all and want to say thank you for each one.

Well, I got tangled up in the pillows in the bed and something let go. I'll go to the surgeon in the morning to see what happened.

March 5, 2008

Everything is good and ok. The drains are fine, and I'm alright.

We got the pathology report on the lymph node today. I'm fine. NO CANCER there! So, I should not need any follow-up treatment. Thank you for all of the prayers that have been answered. I know that they all helped.

Tomorrow, I see the plastic surgeon and he might take the drains out. We go early - 9:30 so hopefully I'll feel up to adding to this about lunch time. ;-) I'm also hoping that I will be able to move after this visit, even if it is a little bit.

March 6, 2008

Andy's Birthday.

Today we went to see the plastic surgeon - I got my drain tubes out! HURRAY! I was amazed at just how long each of them was. They were about 8 to 10 inches long and then another inch or two was also in side. Getting them out was interesting - there was a couple of stitches holding them in, which I didn't even feel. I feel so much better with them out. I'm amazed that it hasn't been a week and all-in-all I feel pretty darn good. Not always the strongest, but not hurting all that much and able to do some things that do not require anything more than moving your elbows. We see the surgeon and plastic surgeon on Monday so that will be a very long day for me. I'm going to add some information about reconstruction as there are so many different options and most people have no idea what any of them mean.

Family and friends have been bringing food off and on. It is nice to get to try so many different dishes. Thank you each and everyone!

March 7, 2008

Not much planned today, hopefully resting from yesterday. It is amazing how just doing anything outside of what has become routine - just exhausts me. By evening, I'm really tired and talking on the speaker phone gets rough. I cannot hold the phone up to my ear so the speaker phone is a necessary evil. I really hate it when Andy always put me on it when we spoke, but I really understand the need now.

I went into the office today with Andy and printed out some stuff for the service on Saturday for him. He made arrangements/prearrangements and such. I had my little heater in the office to keep it toasty. I also got my hair washed at my favorite hair dresser - Alley Cuts in Wheatfield. I needed a good head scratching. I want to go to the Legion tonight for fish, but that depends on how tired I am. Will need to take a nap for sure.

March 8, 2008

Andy had a graveside service this morning and a friend came and took care of me. I'm beginning to feel the soreness of the bruises today, but a good 'ole pain pill will take it away.

Reconstruction: There are several options with reconstruction, actually three. 1. Is when they take muscle and fat from your abdomen and slide it up under the skin to the breast area and rebuild what they can. 2. Is when they take muscle and fat from your back and slide it under your skin to the breast area and rebuild from there. 3. Is when they implant a bag and inject silicone a little at a time to stretch the chest muscle in the breast area. After a while the implant has to come out and a permanent one has to be put in.

There is always good and bad with all options, options 1 & 2 work nicely and you use your own materials, but there is a chance that the tissue will not "take" and will die inside of you and cause a bigger problem. There is also the problem with the abdomen option that you can have hernias much easier because of the lesser muscle issue.

I have chosen the third option with the implants and they say they will begin expanding them in a week or two. I'm in no hurry for now.

March 9, 2008
Today was a "tired" day. I did a few things, but mostly just slept off and on, and watched TV. Life was good.
March 10, 2008

Today I was supposed to see the surgeon and the plastic surgeon, but I'll end up seeing the plastic surgeon at 1:00. I'm hoping that I will be allowed a little more movement, but we'll see what happens.

Lynn is also going to fix my hair today.

I'm FREE! I can take a shower, move my arms (boy does some of that hurt) slowly and carefully. The shower was the best thing in a long time. They will start expansion next week - we'll see how that works.

March 11, 2008

Today, Andy and I will go to NJSP for the yearly blood work that is offered to the teachers and their spouses. I'll pick up some of the student work and call it the end of the nine weeks. We'll probably go and eat breakfast at Fingerhut's like we have in the past.

It was good to see everyone that I ran into this morning. I really miss each and everyone of you. You don't know how much strength I draw from our friendships, but then again maybe each of you know that, as we help each other get through another school day. Keep your heads held high and reach for better things in life. Remember those teachers who helped to make a difference in your life.

Ok - off the soap box. I'm going to take a break and rest some today. In case some of you didn't know. We hit a deer this morning coming over to the school and wiped out my suburban. Hopefully it will be fixed before I'm ready to come back to school. I'm alright and that is what matters. Tell others to be careful for me and everyone stay safe so I can see each of you when I return after Spring Break. ;-)

March 12, 2008

I'm feeling really good this morning. It is amazing how much arm movement you lose when you aren't supposed to move for 10 days. I'm at a point that I can reach about 4 to 6 inches above my head without too much trouble or pain. I also seem to be sitting up straighter today. It is amazing the "little" things that you do not realize until you have to pay attention to them.

Last night was also the first night in my own bed. I've been using our hospital bed that I bought several years ago. Many people in the family have used it over the past few years. It is really very comfortable.

March 13, 2008

I helped Andy at the funeral home yesterday. Even got another nap there, they are not as good as being at home, but the phone rings both places so can't help when that happens We made this really good dish for supper - smoked sausage, green beans, potatoes, and kraut, with brown sugar to taste. Really is a good dish and fills you up really well.

Supper was provided by The Belstra's - beef stew.

Andy is on a funeral and I plan to try and figure out all of these papers I brought home the other day.

March 14, 2008

I can't believe we slept until almost 7:30 this morning. It felt so good too. So far so good for today. We should be heading to North Judson on Tuesday. The school is changing our life insurance company and I have to have end of the nine weeks grades ready for Parent/Teacher Conferences on Wednesday of next week.

Thanks go to Schnick's Good Eats for my lunch today - Jeff the owner makes the best creamy mushroom soup there is. It was so good today!! Thanks to Jeff and the girls.

We have a visitation/memorial service tonight. There is also the Catholic Church Fish Fry so I'll get some really good fish tonight for supper.

March 15, 2008

Mom and Dad are heading home from Florida today, should be home in a couple of days - sometime Monday.

Last night was rough - not having a gallbladder and eating fried foods can always hold interesting problems. I'm really tired today and need to rest as we hope to attend the last night of the school musical tonight.

News on the truck - $3500.00+ in parts were damaged when Andy hit the deer. Good job Andy!

I believe the Virgie Church Fish Fry is tonight and is sure sounds good for supper. (I'm not so sure that this sounds good right now feeling the way I do. I know they have wonderful fish though.)

March 16, 2008

Sunday - maybe go to church this morning and rest the rest of the day, since I have to see the Drs on Monday. That always takes a lot out of me.

Yes, I made it through church and going to Rensselaer for dinner at the fair grounds. It was a good chicken meal provided by the fair board as a fund raiser. I can't believe how nice the fair grounds look when I remember how the grounds looked when I was a teenager. Keep up the good work!

March 17, 2008

7 years ago, my uncle was killed today in an accident at Inland Steel. A gas line blew up. Today is also his wife's (my aunt) birthday. Sad day, but life goes on.

I see the Drs today, plastic surgeon at 12:45 or so, and I'm not sure when I have to see the surgeon, they haven't called back just yet. I'm getting really frustrated with this one nurse who does scheduling at his office. We called Monday for an appointment and haven't heard from her, we called Wednesday to see if she forgot us, and we got cut off. Well, I now know when the appointment is - 11:00 a.m. so we'll have to do something for lunch. Also, need a Sam's run, but who knows how much energy I will have. Hopefully, I can rest Sunday to get ready for this day.

Well, we saw the surgeon today, see him again in 6 months. I'm doing a wonderful job of healing keep it up! He suggested that we see an oncologist just to be sure with everything, so we are going to NorthWestern in Chicago on Tuesday of next week.

We could not see the plastic surgeon as he had emergency surgery all day on someone.

March 18, 2008

I made it to school to finalize grades for the nine weeks and signed up for the new insurance offered by the school. It was good to see some of the students I did not get to see last week when I stopped by. I think it helps me as well as them to visit.

We had lunch today at Schnick's Good Eats and saw many good friends. Thanks to Jeff for making my favorite soup again. He knows I like it and is keeping the place stocked just for me. Thank You!!!

March 19, 2008
Today was a tired day. I don't know why, but seems I need one every so often.
March 20, 2008
Hopefully today we go to the architect about the plans for DeMotte. Hopefully this will be the last time and all will be set for building the new funeral home. We also have to go to the tax accountant today - oh so much fun for sure. The Tax man is sick so a day next week is set to try again.
March 21, 2008

Good Friday - No School - Spring Break begins for most schools in the area. Running day, Andy took me to the Dr in DeMotte to have a mole taken off of my arm. Then we ran after lunch to get my toe nails taken care of. Andy's being so good running me around today, I wish I had my truck and could drive.

March 22, 2008
Saturday -
March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! Going to church for sure, and eating a goose here at home and resting!

March 24, 2008
Monday, my usual Dr visit day, except they forgot to call me with an appointment. We'll call them in the morning and see what to do. I'm usually the first one after lunch and get squeezed in the way it is.
March 25, 2008

Going to Chicago to NorthWestern to see another Dr. at 1:00. Hopefully all is right and no other treatment is still the plan and just a "pill" for the rest of my life to make sure the cancer doesn't come back.

Ok, news from Chicago - my tumor will be sent to California to be tested further. They will determine how likely I am to have cancer show up somewhere else in my body in the next 5 to 10 years. This test will take at least 14 days. If it determines that I am at a low risk, then nothing more than a pill a day will be needed, if I am determined to have an intermediate or high risk then one round of chemo therapy will be done - which will be 4 treatments that will be about 2 or 3 weeks apart for a period of time. I should be able to do this in Crown Point with Chicago monitoring what is done. I have a 50/50 chance for any of this, so we will see what the Lord has in store for me next. At this point I can also be part of a study to help determine if chemo helps women who have had breast cancer to prevent it from coming back in other organs in the body.

I may also have a genetic test to determine my genetic risk for what has happened and what the future might hold for my descendents. Not a pretty picture if this is genetic, but it very well could be. I have too many people in the family tree that have had this issue over the years.

I think I've reported this correctly, I'll have to have Andy double check this when he gets home.

March 26, 2008
Driving to town is getting easier each time I do it. I wish my truck was fixed, but anyway. I'll use Andy's until it is.
March 27, 2008
Having a "blue" day today. Don't know why - just down and crabby this morning - or so Andy says anyway. Nick and Amanda will be back from the Wisconsin Dells this afternoon. We are going out with Amanda's folks and the kids tonight for a little while. ;-)
March 28, 2008
Today Andy and I had lunch at Stephanie's Cafe - great place to eat for sure. Also, I got to go and get my nails done again. They were looking pretty sad since I had them done just before surgery. Went to Hollywood Nails in DeMotte, Holly Hebda is the owner and is making a start of a new business in DeMotte. She did a really good job. I also, got to deliver our taxes to the accountant in Rensselaer, thanks to Deb Smundin who drove me, since I am a little afraid of driving so far, after already driving so much today. I'm really doing pretty good with the stamina thing. No naps in a while, but look out for when the body says it needs one.
March 29, 2008
Probably going with Andy to LaPorte to pick up cremains. Will maybe visit the Michigan City Outlet Mall, as Andy wants another pair of "Clark" shoes. Amazing how you don't know anything about comfortable shoes, until they have a pair, and suddenly this manufacturer is just great. Hopefully the weather will not be too cold for me. Muscle crawlies happen more when I get cold.
March 31, 2008

Hoping to return to school, but will have to double check with the plastic surgeon from last weeks visit. Might not be able to go to school every day for the first week, maybe just half days, not sure what will be the plan, but hoping this is the day.

Going to try a half day today, since I have to go to the plastic surgeon's office in the afternoon. Everyone thinks I might be doing too much, but who knows. I've been putting in some really long days at the funeral home the last couple of weeks My school schedule is three classes, lunch and prep of an hour, then the last three classes and go home. I should be able to take a nice rest at lunch/prep like I do once in a while when I need it.

Well, I managed a half day of school. The kids were really glad to see me and I was really glad to see them. I was tired by lunch time, but I think some of that was because of doing one round of stairs - I won't make that mistake tomorrow. Walking is much easier and I'll do more of that and the elevator.

Went to the plastic surgeon today and they put 60cc's of saline solution into the implants. It didn't hurt and actually feels better than what it did. The "crawlies" are not as painful as they have been. We'll see what happens in the next few days. Sometimes it takes a few days for someone to get sore from this process. Next week Tuesday after school I'll get some more.

April 1, 2008

April Fool's Day - always a day for the jokesters. The students always like to see if they can trick me, most have learned that they cannot. Hopefully, I will be sharp and on my toes ready for their tricks.

Today went pretty good. I was involved with two students who were having serious words in the hallway, another teacher was backing a student up towards me and I had no where to go. I thought one of them was going to accidently hurt me. So I said such, poor student thought that he did hurt me and finally got the principal to bring him up after the situation was over so he could talk to me and make sure I was "ok". The effects you have on students some days and over time. He's a decent kid, but had a rough upbringing to this point. I'm doing well. Was a little sore at the end of the day today, but that was to be expected.

April 2, 2008

Going to the dentist this morning. I've decided to take Wednesdays off for the next week or two. Work a couple of days, have a day off, work another couple of days. We'll see how it works.

The trip to the dentist went well, teeth are doing really good.

I wonder why it is though, that people have to make remarks about having your breasts as large as "Dolly Parton's" or bigger. It really isn't funny and this process hurts. The muscles in your chest have to be stretched to allow for the size that they will be. This stretches your stomach muscles and all other muscles under your arms, around your back and chest area. Even the muscles in your neck feel the stretch. I haven't found all of them that hurt just yet. Arm movement is another issue, everytime you gain movement, something happens and you have to restretch your muscles. It is doable, but just rolling your shoulders can be interesting on a cool day. Lifting a laptop computer is sometimes too much and other times like a piece of paper. I'm complaining, but trying to make everyone aware that not everyone finds jokes that hit so close to home funny. Think how you would like it, you do your best to laugh with them, when you are crying on the inside.

April 3, 2008

I went back to school today - had a really good day. Energy level was really good all day. Went with Andy to the Wheatfield Chamber meeting. There will be some really neat new additions to the Sandhill Crane Festival this year. I hope everyone likes them - check out the Chamber website at for more details in the future. I have to have some time to get all of this on the site and new flyer. Should be really interesting!

Oh, for those of you following the truck vs deer saga. - I finally got my truck back from the shop tonight. I can't wait to drive it again. The cloth seats keep me from sliding around so much. Unfortunately, I forgot it is also a few inches taller than our other suburban.

April 4, 2008

TGIF! I'm doing pretty good today, not too tired. The elevator is not working at school today, so I'm having to navigate the stairs. I'm sure that I will be tired later today because of it. They are supposed to get it fixed, but I've known of students getting stuck in it and I'm a little afraid of that issue.

We are going out for supper with my parents and Nick & Amanda to DeMotte American Legion for their fish fry.

April 5, 2008

Today the weather is supposed to be so spring like. I'm sure I'll be wishing to be outside, but I'll have to be careful and not get too cold. Don't want to get sick, or get those muscle cramps/contractions in my chest. They are painful at times.

All of the guys worked outside on the yard. I wish I could have helped, but couldn't do anything anyway. I worked on making a math facts DVD for the students at Liberty Elementary. Hopefully it will help the kids learn their math facts. What ever happened to just memorizing those facts and just knowing them as a result of the memorization? Calculators may be fast, but for simple math, memorization is still the best.

April 6, 2008

Sunday - was supposed to be a day of rest, but we have visitation. I did well until about 6:00 at night. Then I was really getting tired and ended up going home.

The weather is so beautiful outside!

April 7, 2008
Monday - Today went well. I'm tired but not too bad. I wish I could sleep at night, but never could in the past few years. My students in a few classes do not seem to understand that they need to do their work. They didn't do the work while the sub was there, and wondered why they ended up with low grades for the last nine weeks. Student are expecting good grades for doing nothing at all. I have a couple of students who claimed that they turned in an assignment when they didn't. The document was created after the end of the nine weeks. Life stinks for this right now.
April 8, 2008
Tuesday - I'm supposed to go after school and get more saline solution added. I hope it will be like last time and not hurt while they are adding the liquid. I've had more muscle stretching issues this week, but it's not too painful for now.
April 9, 2008
Wednesday - the extra day of rest for this time. After Monday, I'm sure that I will need it.
April 12, 2008

Saturday - Today, I lost my father. He passed away at the University of Chicago. We were all with him until the end. He will be deeply missed. Services will be Wednesday/Thursday for now. Last night he feel again, and hit his head. Did his usual and didn't want to go to the hospital. He suffered a bleed inside his skull from hitting his head. He didn't wake up this morning and was transported to Porter Hospital in the early am., then on to Chicago where he passed away this evening.

So much for going to school this next week.

April 13, 2008
Sunday - Well, visitation will be Wednesday from 3 until 8, and the funeral will be at 10 in the morning on Thursday. Memorials may be made to the Trinity Presbyterian Church building fund. Dad looks wonderful, but then again that happens at our funeral home. I have a lot of pictures to share with everyone. I have to go now, have to make sub plans for the week. Thank you everyone.
April 14, 2008
Monday - Today we picked out Dad's casket, he will get what he wanted along time ago, an oak. We then had to pick out cemetery plots - that was difficult, he wanted to be on a sand hill - had to have drainage, don't want to have water all around me and leaking in so that I have to swim - he'd say. I think the flowers were the most difficult - or maybe by then all of it had hit really hard again. I managed to get more paper work at the funeral home finished and have the slideshow and memorial folder to get ready today. Andy has to travel back to Chicago again for the death certificate - the place locked up the safe at 3, and was still open till 4, but would not file the certificate for him. Needless to say he wasn't really happy.
April 15, 2008
Tuesday - I thank God that my son, Nicholas found such a wonderful person for his wife. Amanda scanned most of the pictures for Dad's show, as I tried to help, but ended up doing so many other things getting ready for tomorrow. The kids have really helped a lot through this whole process, I hope that they know (I've told them) just how much I appreciate all of it. I think that I'm as ready as I can be for the visitation, this is going to be rough for sure, but with God's help we will all get through this process.
April 16, 2008

Wednesday - I don't know why - I'm dreading this afternoon, I guess that I am content knowing that Dad's spirit is in heaven, and that I have him to check on. He looks so much more peaceful than he did in the hospital. He would not have liked to have been that way for any length of time.

I received a call from Northwestern University Hospital - the results of my tumor growth have been determined. A low risk is a score of 0 to 18, an intermediate risk is a score of 18 to 31, and well I scored a 20. This test is to determine the chances of the cancer returning somewhere in the next 5 to 10 years. We will return to Chicago to see what the Doctor wants or suggests for a course of prevention. I've already been told that I'll have to have my ovaries taken out, might as well have everything taken out at that time.

Wow, what a testimony of how many people all of us have touched. There were over 500 people who signed the register book tonight. I know that there were people who could not stay and wait as they had other commitments. I (We) appreciate them at least stopping by and checking on us. It was a busy night, but we were expecting it and all went fairly well. To those who stood outside and waited their turn - thank you.

April 17, 2008

Thursday - Today was Dad's funeral, other than being really tired I'm doing pretty good. For some reason today was better, I guess the realization that Dad is in heaven and can now take care of all of us has settled in. It was a little dreary this morning, but then the sun came out and was so warm and so much like spring. It was a beautiful day. Dad would have loved it.

My house feels like a flower shop - thank you everyone. I appreciate each and every one. I guess I'm comforted in the fact that the last thing I could do for Dad was to make the funeral as perfect as I could. I think it was a wonderful tribute to an honest, hardworking farmer, who loved his family and God. He always tried to live life his way.

April 18, 2008
Friday - 7 weeks from surgery this afternoon.
April 19, 2008
Saturday - I'm really tired today. Trying to wash bed linens and just pick-up some things around the house. Andy is trying to campaign a little. It has been really rough for him to do this with all of my Dr visits and how busy we have been at the funeral home. We manage and what will be - will be.
April 20, 2008
Sunday - Dinner at Mom's
April 21, 2008
Monday - Have to go to the plastic surgeon, should get 60 more cc's of saline fluid and find out when or what else to do. Should just go every week and get filled more and take a week off every once in a while.
April 22, 2008

Tuesday - big day appointment is for 3:00 - will find out what course of action to prevent the cancer from coming back in the next 5 to 10 years we will have to go through. I'm scared again, but know many people have gone through this process and survived. We will see what is suggested and choose a plan.

News on me – We just got back from Chicago seeing the Oncologist. Under normal “old” standards I would not have radiation or chemo therapy, but there is a new test that is fairly reliable on predicting the chances for reoccurrence somewhere else in the body. Well, I fall in at 13% chance it will come back sometime in the next 5 to 10 years, but with 4 doses of chemo, I will lower that even lower. It is totally up to me what I want to do. Well, I’m sure you guessed that I will be starting that as soon as I can. If I get going then I will be able to be finished just before August and still able to enjoy some of the summer. Anyway, that is where I am at the moment. Having a little rough time dealing with it mentally, but want to get this started to have it finished.

April 23, 2008
Wednesday - I'm going to try to go to school today. I hope I'm not too tired.
April 24, 2008
Thursday - Hasn't been the best day. It isn't fun trying to pick out a wig. Nothing is like your own hair and style no matter how you try to find one. Then there is the try this on for size only - white hair, all puffed up on top - I've never had so much hair on my head before.
April 25, 2008

Friday - Went to the Oncologist in Crown Point - Dr. Drasga. Seems like a really nice person, and they did their best to try to cheer me up today, but for some reason the last few days I've been really down. Doctor told me that after this, I shouldn't get cancer again. That would be nice, it's just the thought of everything you have to go through for this. You have to kill good cells and bad cells in your body, feel like crap, possibly get sick and throw-up, and become so weak that you can end up in the hospital with just a fever. I hope it doesn't turn out that way. There are some meds that can be given to help with the nausea and vomiting. The first round they say is the worst as you don't know what to expect or how your body will handle it.

I was surprised that they wanted to start so soon. I guess don't put it off any longer than you have to. I've been so tired this week. I think that last week and this week with so many different doctors appointments and things that have to be done I'm just exhausted.

April 26, 2008

Saturday - Working with Andy ~ Nick and Amanda have some sort of concert tonight at Valparaiso University in the Chapel.

The concert was with the Valparaiso community band/college band and Kankakee Valley High School. It was really good and I have a good part of it on tape with I will transfer to DVD dependent on how busy I am this next week after Chemo.

April 27, 2008
Sunday - Tried to rest - did get some.
April 28, 2008
Monday - Back to school to get midterm grades to the office.
April 29, 2008

Tuesday - Have to write lesson plans for the rest of this week and most of next week. Will be off from Wednesday until Wednesday, but have to see the plastic surgeon on Thursday in the middle of the day so Thursday will be out of school too.

April 30, 2008
Wednesday -First day of Chemotherapy.
Everything went well. I drank too much liquids for me and we had problems finding a vein, but one on my thumb decided to work and held out for the whole process. I'm not feeling any nausea for today and hope all of the meds will keep it away for now. Have found the "right" wig finally.
I’m tired, but it’s probably because I didn’t sleep well last night – Andy’s snoring and the cat’s loving me bothered for 2 to 3 hours.  Anyway, will take a nap and drink some more to work this stuff out of me in the next 24 to 48 hours.
May 1, 2008
Thursday - So far this morning am feeling well. Still no nausea and hoping for the day to continue like that. I have to have a neulasta shot to help with my blood cell count so that it doesn't bottom out like it will do sometimes. This will make the bone marrow get to work and really start production of the needed new blood cells to fight off all of this.
May 2, 2008
Friday - So far this morning, I'm just a little tired and seem to get hungry every couple of hours. Don't need much to eat, but just something. Nice excuse for a snack. Mouth has a funny taste, but they said that might happen. Later, my large bones decided to kick in with the pain from the Newlasta (sp?) shot. The shot makes the bone marrow start working overtime making new blood cells. It's really starting to kick me hard. I'm afraid to take something for the pain as most will hide/mask a fever and the doctors may need to know this if I do develop a fever. Oh well, will get there.
May 3, 2008
Saturday - Man, this stuff is really getting to me. I'm so tired and run down feeling and my large bones ache so bad. I can't hardly move. Walking and just getting up is a major struggle, but I'm not going to give in. Still don't want to take anything - I'm afraid of a fever and what that can develop into. Not good issues either way. Just not feeling well today at all, getting tired of feeling like this stuff is getting the best of me. I have discovered that "hair" isn't what it's cracked up to be, a hat works just as well and actually feels more comfortable at times. "Hair" also does not work with hooded sweatshirts, the hood pushes the "hair" up and causes issues.
May 4, 2008
Sunday - That's it - I'm not going to take this any longer - no fever so far, so here goes with the massive IB stuff. It sure helped and the more fresh air I got today the better I felt. Still had to rest and take a nap, but those are little things when compared to always feeling this way no matter what. The IB helped with the pain so I could feel like I can move - I don't like feeling helpless when I can do things, but the last two days, I just didn't even feel like I could do any thing.
May 5, 2008
Monday - Had the best night sleep in a long time, actually slept 6 hours before I woke up. Bones are aching, but not nearly as bad, a more tolerable pain. The pain doesn't just come and go, or stay around, it is a sharp, stabbing traveling pain, then just a deep ache that will not quit. Not much you can do about it at all, but deal with it.
May 7, 2008

Wednesday - Trip to Indianapolis to pick up the oil painting of Dad, from the Indiana Funeral Directors Association - NOPE, Andy will get this, not sure I could take it or the trip.

Well the election results last night totally blew us away. Thank you everyone who voted for Andy. He was totally surprised with the results.

May 8, 2008
Thursday - Trip to Plastic Surgeon, then blood work, then wig fitting, but I like it the way it is; I've also discovered that just a hat is fine too. If you don't like what you see then don't look - I'm dealing with this my way and controlling what little I can control about this whole process.
May 9, 2008

Friday - Hope to go back to school today if my numbers are good at the doctors office with the blood work. Don't want to go back when one little germ will send me to the hospital.

Went to school today, what a mess.

Got my numbers, whatever we are doing we are to keep it up. My numbers are totally normal, not as high as they were before I did the chemo, but they are all in the average range.

May 10, 2008
Saturday - Went to Sam's Club and Olive Garden for lunch.
May 11, 2008
Sunday - Mother's Day without Dad. Had Mom and Dale over for dinner and supper. Nicholas and Amanda came back from her folks and we had pork chops on the grill. Nick really knows how to grill well. I'm really tired this weekend. Sleeping well, just not getting the added rest for some reason. Andy and I got Mom a pink iPod Nano and a speaker system.
May 12, 2008
Monday - Back to school.
May 13, 2008
Tuesday - Back to school.
May 14, 2008
Wednesday - Blood work to check my counts again. All looks really good, almost as good as before I had the first treatment.
May 15, 2008
Thursday - Back to school.
May 16, 2008
Friday - Back to school.
May 17, 2008
Saturday - Be at the lake? Yes, it was really nice in the afternoon. We got the boat in and on the old lift. The new electric lift lost the electric with the flood and other issues, but should be hooked up soon and then we can get the other boat down too.
May 18, 2008
Sunday - Be at the lake? Yes, it was cool, but warm in the sun. I got some International things.
May 19, 2008

Monday - second chemo treatment if counts are good. Yep, we are on for today - treatment starts at 10:00 hopefully and will take almost 4 hours. This will mark half way through the treatments! HURRAY!!

Well, I made it through the chemo today and they did not have to put it in my thumb this time. All went well and worked out just fine. The Doctor asked me how I was doing and I said fine, feeling good, he looked at my counts and stuff and said there wasn't much he could tell me as I was doing so well. Just keep up the good work and could I use a hug. Well, who couldn't use a hug! Always, and so he took me into the chemo room and things got started, at about 11:00 and by 2:00 we were finished. The next time should go just about as well or better. Doctor did tell me to use the pain pills for the few days after the neulasta shot and not to be so tuff, they are there for a reason and I should use them for that reason!

May 20, 2008
Tuesday - Have to have shot (neulasta) to rebuild blood cells.
May 21, 2008

Wednesday - Should be a bad day. Have to stay away from big crowds and people with colds! Foods will really taste bad, actually not taste, but texture. Get hungry, but just can't find anything to make it all work. Can't tell if full, but definitely know when empty.

Doing pretty good today considering - I took some Motrin to help with the bone pain from the neulasta shot. I'm feeling weak, but that is all part of the chemo. Weak I can deal with knowing that in a few days I will feel better and stronger. I am not going to be able to attend some graduation parties I was hoping to attend, but will be there in spirit. I have to make sure that I do not get near large groups of people and then can get contaminated with germs. I'm so glad to be doing this at this time of the year, when most people are not sick with colds, but I still have to be careful of germs - I do not want anything to slow down this process or to send me to the hospital for an infection. Please understand.

May 22, 2008

Thursday - Should be another bad day. Have to stay away from big crowds and people with colds!

I will be heading to school - after everyone has gone home - to collect all of the late assignments that the students should have turned in. I have someone to drive me!

May 23, 2008
Friday - Today should be a day of getting better every hour - or the more fresh air I get the better I feel. At least that is what happened last time - we'll see what happens this time. Hopefully heading for the lake to spend the weekend. Have to stay away from big crowds and people with colds!
May 26, 2008
Monday - Memorial Day
May 27, 2008
Tuesday - Finals begin at school - should be there. Blood draw - counts came back wonderful again.
May 28, 2008
Wednesday - Finals - should be there.
May 29, 2008
Thursday - Finals - should be there.
May 30, 2008

Friday - Teacher's last half day. Graduation in the evening.

Well, it was a tough week, but I made it. Three days was a little rough, but I was glad for a nap after school on Tuesday and Wednesday, helped to make the week work. I was also glad for final exams, because there wasn't any teaching so to speak. Life lessons were still happening. It is amazing what parents do not teach their kids these days and how they want to know, or have no common sense. Trying to teach this is even more difficult as they do not understand, but sooner or later it sinks in to some degree. People wonder why I'm afraid of where this generation will take the world, some of the students coming up will make wonderful leaders, others will never make it.

June 2, 2008

Monday - Blood draw at 11:00 a.m. Mom and I are going to do a little shopping. Counts are again as good as the first round. Doctor cannot believe how high they are and how fast they return to normal.

Also, went to see the plastic surgeon, and got another fill. Will see him again in a couple of weeks for probably the last one. Then will wait a while and have the final surgery for this.

June 3, 2008
Tuesday - Heading to school to get some curriculum work completed, have to spend the whole day there.
June 4, 2008
Wednesday - Went shopping at the Michigan City Lighthouse mall - got some new shoes, kitchen gadgets, and lots of things Andy needed. Went to the China House in Valparaiso for lunch - that was really good. Headed to the lake, but when all of the storms came up we headed back home.
June 5, 2008
Thursday - Helped Nick and Amanda plant flowers around the house, well, Andy did, I supervised. Lots of hostas and stellas! Then Andy got busy at the funeral home.
June 7, 2008
Saturday - My Birthday -
June 9, 2008
Monday - Third chemo treatment at 9:30 a.m.
June 10, 2008

Tuesday - Went to pick out a headstone for Dad this morning. I didn't know it would take so long to do such a task. We knew what we wanted, but WOW!

Andy got approval from the DeMotte BZA, to build the funeral home south of DeMotte.

June 11, 2008

Wednesday - Should be a bad day, but I'm not feeling too bad. Tired, but the bone pain is more manageable. Eating is always a task for this week. Food sounds good, but not much taste, or doesn't even feel good. Textures are interesting for sure. Trying to keep my body not so acidic as it happened to turn into with the last treatment. We'll see what happens.

Andy has a memorial service tonight at the funeral home. I really miss being there too, but it can't be helped.

June 12, 2008
Thursday - We are hoping to head down to the lake, so I can rest some more and Andy can finish up the one last task that we want to do down there. Need to get the electric boat lift working - it works, but no electric at this point.
June 13, 2008
Friday - Well, we made it to the lake yesterday. Andy found out more of what I have been going through with each round of chemo. He thought he was paying attention, but was really too involved with what needed to be done those other two rounds, and this round he had to take care of me after the funeral. Fortunately, some things this round were better and some were not. Those "down" days are absolutely horrible and there is no other way to put them, you are so weak and your large bones ache so bad. Yes, pain pills are there, but they really make you "out of it" and that isn't much fun either. One round, I felt like my whole insides where part of an acidic pit that did nothing but burn as if on fire, this time, that didn't happen. Don't know why, but anyway, I'll take it. This time though lots of water and then running to the restroom too many times, not having the strength in my legs to hardly get me there and back to the couch. I've had that weak feeling through all of the "down" times. Just can't find the strength to do anything but take care of the barest essentials. Sleeping isn't easy either. For some reason there are other GI track issues too. Gas is a real issue and taking Gas-x doesn't really help because of the amount that is produced. I wonder if I should try a whole box and see what happens.
June 14, 2008
Saturday - Felt a lot better today. We went for a boat ride and then something on the motor went out so we had to pull start the engine. When Andy got the motor case off he found something was burnt, so he at least knows what to try and replace to see if it will work. Always fun at something.
June 15, 2008

Sunday - Father's Day - Happy Father's Day to all who are Dad's. I miss my father. I miss what he used to be when I was younger.

June 17, 2008
Tuesday - Computer class
June 18, 2008
Wednesday - manicure
June 19, 2008

Thursday - Blood draw and see Dr. Mike (plastic surgeon), should be the last fill and maybe set up when this fall I'll have my implants changed.

Finally got my numbers for the blood counts - everything is like always - normal. I've been really tired lately though.

June 21, 2008
Saturday - Coroner's Conference in Fort Wayne
June 22, 2008
Sunday - Coroner's Conference in Fort Wayne
June 23, 2008
Monday - Coroner's Conference in Fort Wayne
June 24, 2008
Tuesday - Coroner's Conference in Fort Wayne
June 25, 2008

Wednesday - 3:00 appointment with the Genetic Doctor to see if all of this is a genetic issue or just the luck of the draw.

Talking with a genetic counselor is like taking genetic class again. Even though I have so many people with breast cancer in my family - the only one that they are concerned with is my cousin who was the same age as I was when first diagnosed. They are more concerned with people under the age of 50 who are diagnosed than the over 50 crowd. I do not understand that part, but any way - there is a 6.8% chance that this breast cancer might be genetic. Hopefully, my insurance will cover the cost and we will know for sure one-way or the other. Want to know for future generations and what they can do to help prevent it.

June 27, 2008
Friday - Andy was working at the funeral home and I went to Hollywood Nails and Spa, for a healthy check.
June 28, 2008
Saturday - Went to the lake for the day, was hoping for the weekend, but the phone rang from the funeral home and we are home again. Andy will be able to go with me for my final chemo at the moment. Hopefully, all will allow this.
June 30, 2008
Monday - Hopefully the final chemo treatment. Have to watch Mom's dog - Jake, when I get done with this for the rest of the week.
July 2, 2008
Wednesday - Brother, Dale's Birthday.
July 4, 2008
Friday - Happy 4th of July!
July 5, 2008
Saturday - Hopefully going to the lake for part of the festivities this weekend.
July 7, 2008

Monday - An information/comment entry - each dose of chemotherapy is just that a dose. You do not "get used to it" or "it doesn't get more difficult or easy" or anything else. Each dose is different - you think you know what to expect, but it doesn't always react the same, I had day one the day of chemo - I'm all hyped up from the steroid/anti nausea pills (had to take these pills the day before/of/after) - then they put in the chemo, it made me tired and my knees rubbery. The second day I had to have a neulasta shot to help my body rebuild blood cells - each time it made the large bones (thigh, upper arms, spine, etc.) ache at the joints, my knees and hips at times felt like rubber when I stood on them. Then day three - to day five, feeling incredibly weak, tired and UCKY! Almost sick, but not - at times wondering if I did throw up would it all go away? For the most part I did well - I didn't get the nausea which is supposed to be really bad, but kept wondering about the UCKY feeling I did have. Food is terrible, smells incredible, but just is texture - the worst part is a bite does have taste and suddenly it changes to something that is totally horrible tasting. Now that the treatments are over I get to look forward to taste coming back and staying, but for some reason it doesn't seem to becoming back as quickly - just don't know. People think that I've been doing "ok," well I have been considering all of the "bad" things that could have happened, but I've also felt really terrible with all of this. Sometimes I'm so weak that just opening a can of vegetables and microwaving it is difficult.

Another issue that isn't fun - the main chemo drug causes you to loose your hair to some devastating degree. Why is it that everyone is so worried about that issue? Yes, I've lost almost all of it - should have lost it all last month, but you know I'm not doing this like the "book" either with my blood counts so this isn't happening like the book either. I don't understand why no one seems worried about how I'm doing for "real." It's the hair - that was probably the most emotional part of this whole process - that and loosing my father just before I found out I had to do all of this. NO - I'm not particularly fond of my wigs - they look great, but they are hot and itchy. My head sweats like crazy for some reason now. Some people get cold and some get hot.

You really find out who your "real" friends and family are too. They say, "I've been telling everyone you're doing so well" - how would you know? You haven't called me or stopped by the funeral home or our house to find out how I'm feeling or doing? This web page allows you to know what the process/progress is, but I haven't been totally honest here maybe you don't understand what "bad" days are - don't want you to really know just how horrible this process is. I'm so glad that I do not have to do this as long as most patients have to. I chose to do this because I didn't like the 13% chance of the cancer coming back in the next 5 to 10 years - remember? Think long and hard before you or a love one has to go through this process. I'd never make an elderly person do this. I see so many of them with their children telling them it will be alright - The poor soul is over 70, feeble and weak already and you want them to go through this process - take how many treatments per week, then do it all over again in three weeks! What is their quality of life? Mine for a week wasn't there, but the knowledge that this was a preventative measure rather than an only hope helped.

THANK YOU to all who have sent emails, cards, stopped by the funeral home, called, etc., YOU will never know how much you have meant to me through all of this process. I hope that some day I can return the uplifting knowledge of "someone caring" that you gave me - hopefully not for the same reason though. I appreciate each and everyone of you MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW.

July 10, 2008
Thursday - Have to go see the plastic surgeon and then have blood drawn for my counts.
July 11, 2008

Friday - Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary, today will be rough for sure. We went out for supper and went somewhere that Dad would never have gone. We went to the House of Kobe, in Merrilliville. It was good, but don't tell them you have a large party - they tack on a 20% tip that the waitress sure wasn't worth. Glasses were empty well before they were filled for sure. The entertainment of watching them cook our food was fun. Many of us are pretty good cooks anyway and it gave us some ideas on another way to cook foods. It was fun and we all agreed when it was over that Dad would not have gone there, he would have gone to the Golden Corral next door. ;-)

I did get some good news today. I had some genetic testing done to see if breast cancer is a family trait, since I have so many in the family who have had this. Anyway, it isn't - no mutated gene - but this isn't 100% sure, but pretty sure. What a mix for sure. Makes you feel a little bit better about the whole thing. They just suggest that females obtain a base line mammogram between the ages of 30 and 35, and at 35 to 37 start doing yearly mammograms. That the family can handle.

July 13 to 19, 2008

I thought that I would give weekly updates as not as much is happening daily.

Mom, Dale, Andy and I went to visit our ancestors graves in Illinois on Tuesday. Dale had never been there so now he knows where a few generations back are laid to rest.

Thursday was a visit to the plastic surgeon and getting filled for the last time. We will see him again in September to schedule the final surgery of swapping out these implants and putting in the ones that can stay forever. Andy had to go to the fair to be at the republican booth in the evening. I stayed home because it was so hot.

So thankful for rain on Saturday! We really need some more after all of those hot days of fair week.

July 20 to 26, 2008

Sunday is Andy and I's 29th Anniversary - I hope my taste buds are working by then.

Monday - I have an appointment with Dr Drasga (chemo Dr) should see him again in three months for another blood draw and how I'm doing.

Well, Dr. Drasga thinks I'm completely cured and should never have to go throught any of this again. (That would be nice for sure.) I will see him again in October and then every three months for two years, and then every six months for another three years. He's debating on what to do after this time.

I'm beginning to feel stronger every day - school begins in two weeks. I sure didn't have much of a summer to rest, but will see how the year goes. I'm also still fighting with sore shoulders. Boy, I'm glad I have some time to get used to this before I have that last surgery. I didn't realize just how long this takes to get my muscles used to this process. I'm not only sore on the front, side (under the armpits) and my back. I've discovered that working at a table or desk isn't a "fun" thing. It pulls more muscles than just sitting as the arms end up being used to prop oneself up. I know that this will be an issue at school as well as grading papers.

July 27 to August 2, 2008
This has been a really busy week for us. Trying to deal with the realization that this is basically all over with other than dealing with doctor's appointments and such just to be sure is sometimes overwhelming. My hair isn't growing back as fast as I would like, but I guess I could deal with being almost bald a little longer. I'm not sure I want to deal with this the rest of my life though. Andy says to be glad I'm still here - I am, but I guess like everything else we always want more. I am also having issues with dealing with the fact that school starts so soon and I do not have any free time on my calendar to go to the lake. I sure hope the weekends are open once school starts. I had wanted to go fishing this summer. Dad was going to help me figure out how to fish the river down at Monticello, he just might have to wait until next summer to help me out.
August 2 to 9, 2008

Well, I already know that we are going to have the caliphone in the parade at DeMotte. I will be at my usual spot, driving my truck pulling the trailer. Andy says he's not walking this year as his leg is so sore from all he has done this summer and not resting it like he should. Oh well, I bet that he walks some of it. We bought something to go on the trailer this year so we'll see what everyone thinks of it - NO I'm not going to tell you what it is - come and see for yourself!

Well, we did not need to use the surprise - a top to keep it somewhat dry if it rains. Also, we were busy at the funeral home, so Andy was not at the parade. I hope you enjoyed the caliaphone this year.

I'm getting to the point I'm not sure what everyone wants to know anymore. I do know that if it weren't for AFLAC, I would be having a lot of financial issues right now. Between finally hitting the large deductible and maximum out of pocket amounts from our insurance - AFLAC has helped to cover almost all of that. I am thankful for taking out the extra policy several years ago, even though someone else wondered what I was thinking when I did this. Yes, it was some money out of my pay check each pay, but now it was well worth it. Even if this would not have happened, it was worth the peace of mind to have it. I just didn't realize how good it was!

August 10, 2008

August 12, 2008

The 10th would have been Dad's 70th Birthday. We were so busy at the funeral home I just kept busy. I'm not sure that always being busy is a good thing.

School begins - what a summer! Well, I survived the first "teacher" day. Fortunately, the classroom wasn't as hot as it was last week when I went in to work for a little while. Tomorrow students will return to the classroom.

This week was pretty good. Wednesday, I came home, ate supper and crashed for the night, but Thursday and Friday were much better.

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