Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Year End Summary aka Christmas Letter 2011

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and loved ones! May Christ’s presence be your treasured gift!

Our year has been full of activities, surprises, difficulties, and rewards. Besides the usual schooling, babysitting, quilting, historical society activities, Sunday School ministry in Denver, etc… This is what happened this year:

In January, Beth flew to North Carolina to spend three weeks at cousin Shari’s, helping after the birth of the newest little Earhart. While Janet got to be judge at the town election, the rest of the family hosted missionaries from Russia, Richard and Judy Grout.

In February, Jason got his wisdom teeth out and interviewed to work at ACE Hardware with Jeffrey. We bought a used 8-passenger van. Our dear friends, Brent and Alicia Susan, and daughter, Tirzah, came for a fun visit. At the end of the month, Rowen, Janet, Beth, and Emily drove to Joplin to see our kids and to go on with them to Indiana to the Bus Convention (Children’s Ministry Convention). Jeffrey and Jason stayed home and worked at ACE. We all enjoyed the Bus Convention immensely. The workshops were inspiring and the evening services were a blessing. We loved seeing old friends and meeting new friends.

After arriving home from Indiana, Janet had a routine mammogram. Because it was suspicious, the following week, she had a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and then the next week, a breast biopsy. On March 22, we learned that she had breast cancer on the right side. Then followed a flurry of appointments with surgeon, plastic surgeon, and MRI. One very good thing that happened during all of this, was learning that Tim and Brenda were expecting a baby in November!

Beth passed her driving test in April. Jason and Beth took the ACT test. Jeffrey had his second gum graft surgery. Beth, Jason, and Emily had Achievement testing. The Steve Geise family, missionaries to South Africa, were here for a short visit. On April 28, Janet had bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, staying overnight at the hospital.

May was spent waiting on Janet as she recovered from the surgery. The girls took over all the meals and housework. The highlight of the month was Beth and Jason’s high school graduation at Colorado Heritage Education School Services (CHESS) in Greeley. Janet got her drains out the next morning, just in time for the simple graduation party for Beth and Jason at our house with >60 guests. The following week, Janet and Rowen visited Dr. Ann Stroh, the oncologist we selected after learning that two of the eleven lymph nodes were positive for cancer. After this, Janet had a PET scan to rule out cancer anywhere else “from the eyes to the thighs.” Thankfully, the PET scan was clear, and on May 31, Janet had a Power Port placed in her upper left chest for chemotherapy.

On June 1, we were eating breakfast when we heard a noise in our garage, then a knock on the kitchen door. Rowen went to the door and found that Randy, Joy, and family had come for a short visit “on their way” to South Dakota for camp meeting! We packed all the fun we could into the two days they spent with us! The girls started attending Bright Lights Bible Studies with a fun group of homeschooled girls in Greeley. Knowing she would start losing her hair two weeks after the first chemotherapy, Janet decided to donate the bulk of her hair before starting chemo. So on June 3, a friend helped with cutting off 33 inches to donate to Locks of Love. Chemo number one was on June 6. Janet was fortunate to get a bone marrow stimulating shot the day following each treatment which kept her from going too low in immunity. After several days of hair falling out dramatically, on June 18, the family cut off the rest and shaved Janet’s head. The following week, Rowen, Janet, Beth, and Emily went to Joplin. It was time for the annual Woods Reunion, and also Janet’s dad’s Retirement from Ministry Party. It was a fast, hectic weekend, filled with lots of people that we love, and we were back home again to have the second treatment on June 30. We left Emily in Joplin to help with VBS and other children’s ministry. She had a great month with her brothers’ families!

In July, Jason spent a week in New Mexico at a primitive youth camp called Keep Camp. Jeffrey and Beth were the only “kids” at home, and Jeffrey was at ACE a lot, so Beth was busy taking care of so many things for the family. July 21 was Chemo #3. July 28, Tim, Brenda, and Emily arrived home and we had a fun time as Tim and Brenda stayed a few days.

In August, Beth and Emily sang at two nursing homes with their Bright Lights group. Janet had Chemo #4 on the 11th. Jeffrey flew away to Cincinnati, OH to God’s Bible School to begin his college career. Janet and the girls helped give a baby shower for a dear friend. Emily started 8th grade, the only student in our home school! Jason took his test and got his driver’s permit. Rowen bravely began driving with him and found him to be the least scary new driver that he has trained!

September 1 and 22 were Chemo treatments 5 and 6, and we were done!!! The girls started back in Bright Lights Bible Studies. Beth was in charge of all the advertising for the Johnstown Historical Society Quilt Show and Craft Fair.

Besides the Quilt Show in October, the highlights included having the Power Port removed and going to the Brown Cabin west of Colorado Springs for the 19th-21st. The vacation was to celebrate our 28th anniversary and being done with cancer treatment! The weather was beautiful and the kids had a great time hiking and exploring in the mountains. Janet enjoyed things tasting normally because of the chemo effect wearing off.

November brought returning strength to Janet and a beginning to the five year follow-up anti-estrogen meds and a drug trial participation to prevent recurrence of cancer. We were able to go to Joplin for a couple of days to see our new granddaughter, Charissa Joy, born to Tim and Brenda on November 12! We also got to see our grandsons, Quil and Micah and their parents. We spent Thanksgiving with most of the Scoles family in Columbia.

We are thankful: for God’s help throughout the cancer treatments, for Rowen’s job and relative good health, despite his diabetes, our children all walking with the Lord, and for God’s faithfulness to supply our needs. We are looking forward to having all the family together for Christmas here. We are trusting God’s presence and help throughout every uncertain day ahead. We know Who holds tomorrow!

Much love from the Johnstown Albertsons, Rowen, Janet, Jeffrey, Beth, Jason, and Emily

P.S. Thank you to each of our faithful blog readers who already know all the details of this year! We have been too busy lately to blog, but when we get time, we will get all the pictures up from our visit to the new granddaughter, and Thanksgiving pictures.


Co said...

Janet, looks like your hair is coming back in. Isn't it great to have some head covering in the wintertime?

I'm so glad that you are finished with treatments and on your way to a healthy you!

May God bless you and your family this beautiful and holy Christmas season.

We have so much to be thankful for, don't we?
In Him,
Colleen Edblad

The Dickinsons said...

Surely enjoyed reading this. Our hearts have been SO SAD with y'all this year in all Mrs. Janet has faced and we've tried to pray for her/y'all very often! I was SO GLAD to read that she got her taste back.

Thank you for staying faithful to God!