Thursday, July 9, 2009

Biz Plowmen Wood.

This is the cancer story of our amazing Elizabeth Plowmen Wood.

"I found out just by chance. I had no other foreseeable symptoms but being enemic I was actually feeling really healthy. I was running about twenty five miles a week, taking a pilates class, school full time and working. I was feeling really healthy. It was caught on a blood test. Then that led to more tests. Then that led to a cat scan. Then that led to a biopsy, then another biopsy. Then the nurse's assistant called and said, "You have Hodgkin's Disease." Just as a side not, she did not know what that was. It would have been nice to have a medical professional tell me what I was just diagnosed with..... Anyway. There was a lot more testing they had to do, and it's funny, but every time I got news it was worse than I thought it would be, but really, I was getting the best news possible as far as fighting the cancer would go. Hodgkin's Disease is the most curable cancer for women, so if I had to choose, and it seemed I had no choice but to choose, this was the cancer that you would pick as far as survival rates go. Then we found out I had eight tumors inside my body. The biggest was right between my rib cage and my heart, about the size of a grapefruit. The combination of the size of my biggest tumor and where the others were placed pushed me into stage three instead of stage two. The survival rate goes down slightly, but I honestly believe that the treatment for the higher stage cancer was the one that I needed to go through. It is much more concentrated. It is twelve weeks of treatment, sometimes once a week, sometimes twice. There was medication to take every day. The treatment for second stage is every two weeks, but it would have taken longer to complete. I needed to get through this as fast as I could, even with the additional treatments. It turned out to be a good thing for me. My mom fed me as much healthy food as I could eat, which at times wasn't much. But she juiced for me every day. She knew that I wasn't going to be able to eat enough to get the energy I needed, but I could drink in the morning and get a load of my daily vitamins. And she had me taking extra vitamins to help protect the rest of my body. To help keep me strong. I think this saved my life. I know this did. The doctors at the Hunstman Institute said that they only see one or two patients a year that do as well as I did. Think of the number of people treated there a year. I have no doubt that my mother's diligence was a leading factor in this. 

That being said, it was not easy. I did feel sick. I felt tired. It was hard and it took a toll on my body, mind and spirit. I remember many of my nights were spent asking why this had to happen. Why now in my life when I felt I had been doing so much right. Why when I had met the boy that I was already in love with. I cried most days. But I felt a great release from letting out my emotions. My normal way of doing things had been to bottle up my emotions until one day they would explode, and then to start the pattern over again. But my sorrow for what I was going through was so close that I couldn't contain it. I lost my hair. This might have been the hardest thing to happen. I could hide the scars, my nausea, the pale skin. But I could not hide that I was loosing my hair. This hurt the most. I mourned the loss of my hair. My family often cried with me, which helped strangely. It was a comfort to know that I was not alone. That my ache and burden was being carried by those around me. I felt as though I was being carried by unseen forces. People who I could not see cheering me on. And though it was the most difficult time in my life, it was also the time that I was most sure that the Lord new of my struggles. And though I could not see it, I knew that it would be okay. It would be hard, but He would not leave my side for a moment, even the times when I couldn't feel Him there. 

My father gave me a wonderful quote which I read each morning during this time, and still quote to myself as a personal mantra. It was from Elder Wirthlin's conference talk. He said, "Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come." The words were perfect. Sunday will come. What a beautiful thought. I could be made whole again. We saw this miracle come to pass. And it was a miracle. My Lord had proved His side to me, that He would not leave my side. 

There was much joy during this time, as you can imagine. I received more Priesthood blessings at this time then I think I have my entire life, and that is saying something with a father and five older brothers. I could honestly feel the power of the priesthood. I could feel the strength and love of the Lord pouring from the mouths of my father and brothers and they asked the Lord to help me through this. There was a protection from other things so that we could focus on what needed to be done. There was protection, even if it wasn't the miracle I had plead for. 

We laughed still. If there is one thing that my family loves to do it is laugh. There was joy. There were moments that I could forget about things. There were glimpses of happiness that could fill up the moments that weren't. There was a lot to be thankful for. There was my mom, who never once left my side. My father helping to ease my stress. His gentle nature coming out more than I had ever seen it in my life. My brothers, who would stand between me and any harm, now having to hold me up instead. And there was Jeff. My light. He was my joy. I can't imagine someone standing by while this was going on and being willing to stay. But he was. He stayed right by be. He courted me. He never acted embarassed to be the guy dating the girl in a wig. I often say, "He loved me through cancer." It's the truth, and such a beautiful thing. He loved me at my worst. The Lord had given me this great gift. The knowledge of how my future husband would love me: unconditionally. He had proved it. The Lord had given me one of the hardest things to go through, I believe, but He didn't leave me alone once. He didn't turn His back on me. He showed that I was His child, and that He loved me enough to have me grow in ways I couldn't by myself. 

I would like to end with my testimony. I understand now that there is power in prayer, for I could feel the families and friends praying for me. I know that the Savior descended below all things, and that is how I was able to make it through. I believe in the power of eternal families, and that it gives us extra strength to overcome trials. I believe that we go through those things so that we can be closer to our Father, and more fully understand His plan of Happiness, and to learn about compassion and faith. The gospel is set forth to help us through this life, no matter the outcome of the things we go through. It is the truth and the only way we can sustain our happiness in the life to come. "

Thursday, June 25, 2009

5k Cancer Walk

Hello my name is Aubrea Gibbons and for one of my Young Women value projects (Good Works) I am doing a 5k cancer walk.  What my 5k will be, is 3.1 miles that can be walked, jogged, or ran.  There will be an entry fee of five dollars per person or 10 dollars per family.  Extra donations would be appreciated.  At the end of the 5k all of the money that has been made will go to the American Cancer Society for research and other various things to prevent cancer.  Don't worry this can be taken at any pace and it is not a race.  If you feel you can't do it have your children or grandchildren come for you. Please help me in helping the American Cancer Society.

For any more information on Cancer or Cancer prevention please visit

Questions about cancer.

The following information is from
What Is Cancer?

Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells.

How a normal cell becomes cancer

Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person's life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair injuries.

Because cancer cells continue to grow and divide, they are different from normal cells. Instead of dying, cancer cells outlive normal cells and keep forming new abnormal cells. Another difference between cancer cells and normal cells is that cancer cells can invade (grow into) other tissues. Being able to grow out of control and to invade other tissues makes a cell a cancer cell.

Cells become cancer cells because of damage to DNA. DNA is in every cell and directs all its actions. Most of the time, when DNA gets damaged the cell can fix it. If the cell can’t repair the damage, the cell dies. In cancer cells the damaged DNA is not repaired, but the cell doesn’t die like it should. Instead, this cell goes on making new cells even though the body does not need them. These new cells will all have the same DNA damage as the first cell does.

People can inherit damaged DNA, but most of the time DNA damage is caused by something we are exposed to in our environment. Sometimes the cause of the DNA damage is something obvious, like cigarette smoking. But many times no clear cause is found.

A cancer cell has many mistakes in its DNA -- having damage in just one spot does not cause cancer. Even when someone inherits damaged DNA, more mistakes in their DNA are needed before a cancer will develop. Staying away from things that are known to damage DNA (like smoking) as a part of a healthy life style lowers the chance that more DNA damage will take place. This can reduce the risk of cancer -- even in people who have an inherited tendency to get cancer.

How cancers grow and spread

In most cases the cancer cells form a tumor. Some cancers, like leukemia, do not form tumors. Instead, these cancer cells involve the blood and blood-forming organs and circulate through other tissues where they grow. But sometimes the extra cells in these blood cancers may also form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

Cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body, where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. It happens when the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels of our body.

But no matter where a cancer may spread, it is always named for the place where it started. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Prostate cancer that has spread to the bone is metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer.

Not all tumors are cancerous. Tumors that aren't cancer are called benign. Benign tumors can cause problems -- they can grow very large and press on healthy organs and tissues. But they cannot grow into (invade) other tissues. Because they can't invade, they also can't spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). These tumors are almost never life threatening.

How cancers differ

Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular kind of cancer.

How common is cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly half of all men and a little over one third of all women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

Today, millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person's lifestyle, for example, by quitting smoking and eating a better diet. Often, the sooner a cancer is found and treatment begins, the better are the chances for living for many years