—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Shannon’s Journey, 22

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This is the twenty second chapter in Shannon’s journey and for once we’re not in a doctor’s office and she’s not getting weighed, poked and prodded. No doctors or nurses are going to ask her how she feels and she’s not gonna get chemo as I go home to write about it.

This last weekend in May is a happy occasion, because Shannon, her family and friends have gathered in a place called Fernley, which is a place I know most of you reading this have probably never heard of, to celebrate Shannon’s daughter Shelby’s double graduation. Yep, a double graduation, cuz she got her AA degree a week before she got her high school diploma.

Actually, I suppose Shelby coulda just skipped that whole last year of high school, because the only degree anybody cares about is the highest one you got and she could’ve easily transfered to UNR on the strength of her AA alone.

But that’s another story, this is Shannon’s story and never have I seen her happier and feeling better.

But alas, some pain is gonna come again, but not this day.

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Here are Shannon and her daughters. Have you ever seen prettier and happier girls?

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.
Shelby smiling to beat the band. And she’s got every right to that smile, because what she did is hard. Shelby has not been tested yet for the BRCA1 and BRAC2 gene mutations and hopefully when she is tested it’ll come back negative.

For those who don’t know about BRAC1 and 2, they are genes that make tumor suppressor proteins. And these are pretty important proteins, because they work to fix DNA that’s damaged. When either one of these genes is mutated, they don’t do their job, which is fixing the bad DNA. And because they don’t do that, cells have a much better chance of going very bad, you know, like turning into cancer.

And that is why Shannon got cancer.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.
Katlin has been tested and she has the BRCA1 gene mutation, so in a few years she’s going to have some hard decisions to make. But, God willing, maybe not, because the advances made in cancer immunotherapy recently have been astonishing.

Sadly, not everyone’s a candidate and not all kinds of cancer can be killed of by your immune system yet. But they’re getting there. If you’re interested, you can google “cancer immunotherapy” and read about it.

So hopefully by the time Katlin would have had to make those tough decisions, she won’t even be worried about it, because cancer won’t be a problem anymore. It could happen.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.

And here’s the girl who’s the star of the party, getting ready to drink a toast. Actually, Shannon was a bit of a party star too, because she’s graduated from those chemo sessions. Yep, no more chemo for her.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.

One of the advantages of having a party in your honor is that sometimes you get presents. Do those kids look jealous?

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.

And Shannon kissed a baby.

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And the baby kissed her back.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.

Here Shannon is with her mother, who came with her dad from Colorado to share in this moment, Shelby’s and Shannon’s.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.
And here she is with her parents, who came all the way to Northern Nevada and that’s just great, it really is.

I’d be remiss, if I didn’t mention again, that Shannon’s had a lotta support, from family, from friends and from her employer. I just can’t imagine how horrible it would be for someone, who’s going through what she’s going through without support.

Actually, yes I can, because I’ve met people who have, people who’ve wasted away and passed away in a hospital bed in their living room, with only a caregiver with them when they died. So in that respect, cancer notwithstanding, Shannon’s pretty lucky. She’s got cancer, but she’s got people who care.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.

And here’s a photograph of Shannon, with Kevin, her ex, and their kids, Katlin, Shelby and Kyle.

Photo by Wedding Shots, Wedding Photography,  <a href="http://www.weddingshots.org">http://www.weddingshots.org</a>, Reno, NV.
This day, the last Saturday in May, was a happy day. And silly me, for reasons I don’t know why, I thought all of the pain and getting tired was over for her, that it was all gonna be downhill. But, you know, I did know better, because I’ve read lots about cancer, breast cancer specifically, but I guess I put it all out of my mind.

But when I got the following message from her this morning, I knew the road ahead for her was still a long and winding one.

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Hello Ken, so here's an update for you. I'm still doing four hours at work, but when I come home I need a three or four hour nap.  Its very frustrating! My leg pains are getting worse, not better and today I cut all my fingernails way short because they are starting to lift from the nail bed. Its really quite gross, but not painful. At this point my fingers are almost completely numb.

I go in on Tuesday for another round of herceptin and on the 5th of July I meet with Dr. Riganti again to go over future plans and herceptin treatment.

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So she’s still having problems, still can’t work a full day, still has problems paying her bills. Sometimes I wish I could just take a time trip to about a year in the future and write one of these chapters. You know, a chapter that says she’s cancer free, doing great and can maybe afford to take her kids to Hawaii for a week or so. Wouldn’t that be cool?

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