The Eulogy and some thoughts

I know mom has a lot of friends that would have loved to have been at her funeral service last week.  I thought that you might enjoy reading her eulogy.  My mom’s sister, Sharon, wrote the first part.  I wrote the rest along with Patti and Bruce Spencer, who gave the eulogy.  Also, I realize that for me, writing is therapeutic.  I will probably be writing things about my mom for months and maybe years to come, but I will most likely do so on my personal blog, which you are welcome to follow: http://www.thepieceofglass.blogspot.com.  At some point in the near-ish future, I will also post the pictures and thoughts that people have emailed to me about my mom.  I actually thought more people would do this.  If you have had any great experiences with her, please email them to me at pieceofglass@gmail.com.  Once I post everything that is sent to me, I will make a book out of this, my mom’s blog, which I will keep for my children to read.

One of my mom’s greatest desires and biggest concerns was that she would remain an important influence on her grandchildren.  Since she had so many significant experiences over the years with people other than me, I anxious to compile some of them for my children to read as they grow up.  When you happen to think of a special memory with my mom, please feel free to email it to me at your leisure.  The more, the merrier! :)  I hope you are all doing well and focusing on what you want to create in your life, since that was my mom’s greatest desire for the people she loved!  Here is the eulogy:

Ruth Van Buren Stevens

Good morning, family and friends of Ruth Van Buren Stevens. We are Bruce & Patti Spencer from Mission Viejo, California, and have known Ruth for 25 years. She is a dear friend and we are honored that her family has asked us to participate in this celebration of her life.

Ruth was born on June 25, 1949 in Belleville, Illinois, the first of Howard and Alice Van Buren’s four daughters.  She was raised in Warsaw, a small resort community in the Missouri Ozarks.  Ruth spent her formative years there, graduating from Warsaw High School as Valedictorian in 1967.  She exhibited leadership qualities early in her life.  She taught piano and accordion lessons in her family’s music room as a teenager and designed and sewed her own clothing.  She formed strong friendships in grade school that lasted her entire life.  She is still considered a favorite daughter of her hometown after all these years.  Ruth attended Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas after graduating from high school.  She met and began dating Mitchell Knapp in the summer of 1968 while she was home from school.  The following summer, Ruth had the unique opportunity to go on an Archeological dig in Jerusalem.

In January of 1970 she transferred to the Pasadena, California campus of Ambassador College and was married to Mitch in June of that same year. They moved to Merced, California after their marriage, to serve in the ministry.  As a pastor’s wife, Ruth was loved by the congregation they served.  Her common sense, strength, and natural interest in people made her an incredible asset wherever she went.  She was a gracious and energetic hostess, and thoroughly enjoyed serving.

In 1972 Ruth became friends with some local artists and began selling their paintings.  Her natural ability with people made her an incredible saleswoman.  She drew people to her effortlessly with her charisma and warmth.  In March of 1974, Michael was born. A few months later, the young family moved to Rockford, Illinois.  Shortly thereafter, Ruth became involved in the health food industry and began building a business in her first network marketing venture. In 1978, when her daughter Michelle was born, she was so involved in her business that baby Michelle frequently traveled with her, even attending board meetings where her mother was the only woman present.  Ruth was ambitious about her business, but included her children at every opportunity.  Mike and Michelle often complained that they could do her sales presentation in their sleep because they had heard it so many times!

After her marriage ended, Ruth moved to Southern California with her two small children, where she soon became involved with Sunrider, an herbal nutrition company. Ruth loved networking and was a natural at it.  Her love for people and her desire to make a difference in their lives were the forces that continually propelled her forward professionally. Her thriving business grew to include people in nearly 40 countries!  She was an inspirational leader, mentoring people in their businesses as well as in their lives.  Her focus as a leader was to inspire people to connect with their personal mission in life.  Ruth was always focused on teaching people correct principles.  She spent a great deal of time teaching and training people in business, but to her, business was all about personal relationships.  She was constantly encouraging others to reach their dreams and to fulfill their potential.

When I first met Ruth about 25 years ago, I knew she was a great businesswoman. What I did not know back then, but what I later came to realize, is that she was also a great woman. Ruth was a born leader. People gravitated to her, and wanted to do what she was doing. She led by example. No one worked harder than Ruth. She worked hard because her goal was to help other people realize their dreams. It was never about how much she could have for herself. Even when Ruth was traveling, she was focused on the people she was helping. We would always have to stop somewhere to buy post cards, so that she could send her team messages of encouragement from different parts of the world. At Christmastime and on other special occasions, she would send handwritten cards and notes. For someone as busy as she was, this often took an extraordinary amount of effort. But it was important to her, and she made it happen.

The most important turning point in Ruth’s life was when she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in November of 1984.  This decision influenced everything she did in her life from that point on.  She had a deep testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and was always valiant and true to that testimony.  She loved to serve in the church, and especially enjoyed teaching, which she had the opportunity to do for many years as both a Relief Society and a Gospel Doctrine teacher.  People loved to go to her classes because she was so knowledgeable, and was such a powerful teacher.  She was always passionate and had a way of bringing the scriptures to life.  In everything Ruth did, she was “all in.”

Two of the happiest days of her life were when her teenage children chose to be baptized, Mike in 1990 and Michelle in 1993.  Both Mike and Michelle served missions for the church. Ruth was able to pick up Mike from his mission in Argentina in 1995, and Michelle from her mission in New Jersey in 2002 – both were experiences that Ruth treasured.  She loved traveling on business, especially when she was able to take her children.  Ruth, Mike and Michelle traveled to many countries together. Ruth deeply cherished the friendships she made in her travels.  At one point she had a second residence in London while working extensively in Europe with her business.  Working in Europe was an absolute joy for her.

With all of Ruth’s traveling, she made time to see her parents and family as often as possible.  She was a devoted daughter and sister, and provided the way for her children to have strong relationships with their grandparents even though they lived far away.   She would sometimes have her parents come and stay for more than a month at a time at her home, creating memories that her children cherish to this day.

Although Ruth has been recognized as an entrepreneur and a leader in business, she was not widely known for her many other abilities. Ruth enjoyed cooking, sewing, gardening, art and music. She and I shared some of these interests. In former years, we both sewed most of our clothing. We were both garden nerds, taking cell phone pictures of flowers that were blooming in our gardens, and were excited when our fruit trees were bearing, or the strawberries were ripe. We both played the piano–Ruth was a piano major when she attended Ambassador College. Many of Ruth’s family members have artistic talent, and she had that gift as well. Ruth delighted in her grandchildren, and wanted them to know what she believed and what was important in life.

In 1996, when Michelle was heading to college, Ruth was inspired to move to Las Vegas.   After having lived in Southern California for 14 years, she awoke one morning with the prompting that God wanted her to move there, and that is just what she did!  On the way to Provo, Utah to drop off Michelle for her first year at BYU, they stopped in Las Vegas, found a house, made an offer on it, and continued on their way!  When Ruth made up her mind, she wasted no time in implementing her decisions.  She never resisted hard work; there wasn’t a lazy bone in her body!

Ruth and I went through many challenging times together. Regardless of the nature of the crisis, she was really good at making lemonade, and sometimes even lemon meringue pie, out of the lemons that life occasionally tossed at us. She always looked forward with a positive attitude, and was a great example of creating a desired reality through visualization and positive thinking. I believe that if it had been possible, Ruth would have visualized herself out of her last challenge here on earth. But like the Savior, she recognized that Father’s will needed to be done, and agreed to fulfill his purposes.

In 2004, Ruth uncovered a new passion in her life.  Along with her daughter, Michelle, and daughter-in law, Carrie, she began creating an education system called “By Divine Design”.  Together, they taught others about the colors, shapes, patterns and styles that would allow their true beauty to shine. Ruth absolutely loved to share this knowledge, as it had completely transformed her own life.  It combined the things she was most passionate about in life: helping people to understand their divine nature and embrace their true identity, and being involved with her family.

Ruth was a great mentor to many people, helping them to  look their best, and to dress in a way that would allow their true spirit to shine through. This was not an endeavor of vanity: as a facilitator, Ruth helped people to be their best and true selves. She loved this quote: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

In 2006, Ruth left her Sunrider career behind and joined  Monavie, a nutritional juice company with inspiring leadership where she again poured her heart and soul into empowering others to fulfill their potential.

In 2007, Ruth became a grandma, an event she was incredibly excited about.  At age 57, she definitely felt that it was time.  She assisted at the birth of her first two grandchildren, who were actually born in her home.  She loved every moment with her precious grandchildren.  Nothing in her life trumped her desire to be a part of their lives.  She travelled to Bear Lake, Utah as often as possible to be with Mike’s family and spent time with Michelle’s family at least once a week here in Las Vegas.

In 2009, she met Curtis Stevens, the man who would become her husband and eternal companion.  He heard her speak at a church fireside and was deeply impressed by her stature, wisdom and beauty.   Curtis convinced Ruth that they were meant to be together, and they were sealed in the Las Vegas temple in July of 2010.  Her greatest unfulfilled desire became a reality with this marriage; she loved being Curtis’ wife.  Their blended family consisted of seven children and thirteen grandchildren. Curtis unselfishly served Ruth through every moment of her painful and difficult battle with cancer, and she loved him all the more for it. His love and support has been complete and unwavering, and we all are most grateful to him for his dedication to her.

Among the many tributes to Ruth that have been received was this one from Randy Larsen:

My heart is so full as I think of Ruth’s amazing spirit and life. She truly played huge in life. She inspired me and others with her light and joy and she manifested the glory of God that is in her to everyone. She inspired others with her faith. Ruth, you are now liberated from physical pain, yet your spirit will continue to liberate me and others of pain and fear because of your courage and faith. I am eternally thankful for your heart and inspiration and light.

To know Ruth was to love her.  She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend.  We have all been touched by Ruth’s radiant life. She radiated love, light and beauty to all who knew her. She was like a shooting star whose bright light could be seen and felt by everyone, and then suddenly was gone. But she’s only gone from our view. Many of you have expressed “Rest in peace” in regard to Ruth. I know that she’s in peace, but I don’t think “rest” is part of her vocabulary. You can be sure she’s busy fulfilling her next assignment, and loving it. Ruth’s courage and faith will continue to inspire us all.

Ruth, we know that you are with us here today. You have touched all of our lives and we are better people for it. We miss you, but know that you are actively engaged in serving others as you served us. May our Heavenly Father be with us all in your absence, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

A few details

I have been asked about a few things, so I wanted to make sure you had the following information:

1. Okay, no one asked about this, but in case you didn’t know…mom didn’t want people to wear  black to her funeral.  This is a celebration of her life, after all!

2. If you would like, you may like to sign the online guest book for her at: http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Ruth-Van+Buren&lc=1011&pid=164802255&uuid=74fd8b05-ec19-4109-be99-5fe618644e64&locale=en_US

3. If you would like to send flowers, they can be sent to 375 North Hollywood, Las Vegas, NV 89110…however, they need to arrive between 7 & 9:30am Wednesday morning (the 22nd)…this is the address of the church.

4. If you are interested in donating to something in mom’s name, I know she would love to support Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  She was treated so incredibly well there.  Everyone who faces cancer should be so lucky!  She also was on the board of the Utah chapter of Child Help, which helps stop child abuse.  Their link is: http://www.childhelpwasatchfront.org/

I hope you are doing well, and if you are attending the celebration of mom’s life on Wednesday, I look forward to seeing you!

Obituary

Ruth Helen Van Buren Stevens was called home on May 12, 2013 surrounded by her family in Goodyear, Arizona at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Born June 25, 1949, in St. Clair County, Bellville Illinois, she was the daughter of Jacob Howard and Alice Richardson Van Buren and the oldest of four daughters.  She showed her excellence in leadership early by graduating valedictorian from Warsaw High School in 1967.   Ruth was a successful entrepreneur for over 40 years, traveling to 39 countries and touching thousands of lives as a powerful leader and mentor.

Her many tremendous accomplishments over the years are too many to enumerate, but her greatest passion was her family, whom she loved and served faithfully throughout her life.  She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend.

Ruth is preceded in death by her father, Jacob Howard Van Buren.  Her survivors include: husband, Curtis Stevens of Las Vegas, Nevada; mother Alice Van Buren of Fulton, Missouri; son Michael (Carrie) Knapp of Bloomington, Idaho; daughter Michelle (Jason) Glass of Las Vegas, Nevada; grandchildren: Weston, Sophie, Lilyann, Esther, and Brighton; and her sisters: Sue Ann (Kenny) Jackson of Fulton, Missouri; Karen (Bill) Kahler of Warsaw, Missouri; Sharon Van Buren of Warsaw, Missouri; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Services will be held on May 22, 2013 at 10:00am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 375 North Hollywood Blvd., Las Vegas, Nevada 89110.  Following the service there will be a graveside service at Palm Northwest Mortuary 6701 North Jones Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89131.

A Peaceful Passing

Mom passed away at 11:50 this morning.  This is certainly the last thing I ever wanted to have to tell you.  After her procedure on Friday, they had to leave a tube down her throat to give her full oxygen.  I know she hated that thing down her throat, especially because she couldn’t talk.  Well, you all know much she loves to talk!  My Aunt Karen started using the doodle app on her iPad for mom to write with her finger to communicate.

Yesterday morning the doctor explained that the cancer was so far progressed in both of her lungs that they simply could not stop the bleeding.  I was shocked to see how much she was bleeding when we arrived yesterday! She was getting another blood transfusion when we arrived, and her grip was strong.  She felt strong.  I wanted her to talk to me so badly!  She was able to write a few things on the iPad app though…one of the first things she wrote was that she was seeing herself healed and cancer free!  I asked her how she felt and she said peaceful.  She felt every prayer for her and was so grateful.  We read her all the texts and facebook messages that you sent yesterday.  She asked that we read her scriptures about healing.  We read scriptures for a long time.  You know how good she is at focusing on what she wants to create!  She was exerting every ounce of faith and strength in her spirit to be healed.  I know that there is absolutely NOTHING, save it be the will of God that could keep her from being healed.  She fought to the very end with dignity and courage.

Each of the grandkids got to be close to mom and hold her hands, or just slobber on her a little (maybe not a good time for a joke, but you know baby kisses are more like little slobbers)!  As soon as Sophie saw grandma, she immediately tried to hop up on the hospital bed and cuddle with her.  She wanted to so badly, but there were too many tubes and things going into various veins in her arms.  Without question, mom LOVES those kids.  I am truly sad that they will not grow up with her being a part of every important event in their lives.  That really breaks my heart.  My only consolation is that I know she will perhaps have an even greater influence on them in unseen ways now that she is not bound by a physical body.

Even when we thought she was sleeping, mom would respond to us by nodding or shaking her head or opening her eyes to gaze at us and make sure we knew she was alert and sharp.  We just sat, holding her hands, rubbing her feet and talking.  I kept searching my mind for what I should say, as though there were some grand important thing I needed to make sure she heard from me.  But since I have talked to her almost every day of my life I think she already knows everything I might possibly want her to know!  We mostly just visited about great memories we have together.

Mom’s blood pressure became weak as time wore on.  They gave her medication to keep it higher, but at some point they maxed out on the amount of medication they could give effectively (meaning that they could give more, but it wouldn’t do anything).  At some point in the late evening, mom was too weak to write on the iPad.  She drifted into a deep sleep that, when I think about it, was probably more like a coma as her blood pressure dropped more and more.  I kept feeling her poor chest rattle and struggle to breathe.  No blood came up during the night, but the doctor said he was certain that the lungs were filling up with it still.  At some point before she fell asleep last night she found out that her sister Sharon was flying in this morning.  The doctor had told us when we arrived yesterday that it was only a matter of hours before she would leave us, so I couldn’t leave the room.  I just had to be with her.  It was amazing that she made it through the night, but I know she was waiting for Sharon to come.

When the doctor came in this morning, he told us that she was suffering and we needed to decide when to take out the oxygen thing, which was basically keeping her alive.  He urged us that the sooner the better.  I felt strongly that she did not want to go yet.  I knew she would at least want to wait for her baby sister, Sharon, to arrive.  As soon as I vocalized this, Mike agreed and mom’s blood pressure almost doubled!  Even the doctor said he thought we were right, and that she could hear us talking which is why her blood pressure numbers improved.  That was reassuring.  I know, even in her weakened condition, that she felt us all there.

After saying a family prayer we decided that it was time for us to remove that awful tube in her throat.  We knew her body was in shock and that her liver was shutting down.  We felt that if through an 11th hour miracle she were going to be healed, it wouldn’t really matter if the tube was in or out.  As soon as they took it out, she seemed so much more peaceful and comfortable.  I think she was ready.  We all gathered around her, holding her hands, stroking her forehead and hair, giving her kisses.  I held my daughter, Sophie, up to give grandma one last kiss.  I don’t think the kids are old enough to comprehend what all that means, but I’m glad they were there.  I know mom would have wanted us to all be there, just as we were.  We felt the Spirit abiding with us, and after she took her last few breaths the room filled with an even greater feeling of peace.  It was so very peaceful, and I felt like mom won.  She was strong through the last test of her mortality.  I felt relief for her, and after a few minutes my Aunt Karen made the comment that she could feel her cheering us on already…we all agreed!

I will miss my mom cheering me on with her ever constant faith and optimism.  I will miss her voice, her embraces, her wise counsel, her encouragement.  I will miss going to visit her every week with the kids.  I will miss the way she interacted with them, and their excitement to see Grandma Ruth.  I will miss her every day for the rest of my life.  If I didn’t know I would be with her again in a future day, I don’t know how I would go on.  But I will see her again, and I know that the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.  My hope is in Him, for He overcame all.  How thankful I am for this knowledge.  I love my mom for teaching me to follow Jesus Christ.  She taught by example, and she has left a phenomenal legacy for her children and grandchildren to follow.

Thank you for all of your strength and prayers during this battle.  Your love and friendship has meant the world to my mom.  Tentatively, the funeral (aka celebration of mom’s life) will be held Wednesday morning, May 22, in Las Vegas.  I will continue to update you in the near future.

Meanwhile, please email me your favorite memory and picture you have with mom if you would like.  I want to put something together if possible, and I would like each of you to help with this.  My email address is pieceofglass@gmail.com.

Thank you again for everything.

Much love!

Michelle

Delicate Situation

Yesterday mom was re-admitted to the hospital.  Her hemoglobin count was again way too low, and she was just extremely weak.  We were all very concerned last night, but perhaps because of so many prayers she was finally able to have a good night’s sleep.  My Aunt Karen said she looked much better in the morning, and I’m sure that the blood transfusions helped a great deal.

They did a CAT scan to figure out where her lungs are bleeding and discovered that the cancer in her lungs had grown a lot since she got to the cancer center 3 weeks ago.  (Holy cow…has it only been three weeks!?!?)  The doctors were shocked at how rapidly it has progressed.  I guess this is extremely unusual.  They seem shocked at every turn, and from what they have said, mom’s situation is highly unusual.  She says they are working furiously to help her, especially now knowing how serious the condition of her lungs is.  Up until this point, they have been mostly focused on shrinking the brain tumors.  They scheduled a procedure this afternoon (she is in now) to put a scope down into her lungs and assess where the bleeding is coming from this time.  There are a few growths, and they need to figure out which one is the source of the bleeding.

This morning while Curtis was telling me all this over the phone, he made a comment about how weak mom’s lungs are right now.  I then heard mom, in true “Ruth” style, interject that her lungs are getting stronger all the time!  What a great thing to focus on.  Mom is so strong, and she is a fighter.  I have seen her surmount some pretty steep obstacles in her life with sheer determination, hard work and great faith.  You better believe that while she can’t physically “work” her way out of this one, she is exerting all of her mental and spiritual effort to win this war!  I never understood the term “battle with cancer” until last year.  Now I find myself in the midst of it, exerting every ounce of faith I have, knowing that God alone can heal her.

Thank you for fighting with her, for standing in your own faith and petitioning the Lord on her behalf.  She tells me over and over again how she feels your prayers.  She says that considering what is happening to her body, she feels pretty good.  I am praying fervently for her doctors to be inspired.  They need heavenly guidance to know how to help mom, because this enemy in her body seems to be a lot different from the cancers they usually treat.  I sincerely hope and pray for the right answers to come to their minds.  I keep seeing a visual in my mind of the Savior touching her lungs and healing them.

Meanwhile, mom had a couple of girl friends from high school come and visit her today!!  They are in the area visiting a family member and came to see mom.  I know she loved that!  I am so thankful my Aunt Karen and Uncle Bill are there right now.  Yesterday and today have both been really strenuous, and having them there has been a blessing for both mom and Curtis.  I can’t wait to go tomorrow myself.

I am anxious to hear the results from tonight’s surgery.  I hope it is another good night and that everyone is able to rest well. I know all of this is very hard on Curtis, too.  I’m sure he hasn’t slept well in a long time.  I am off to do about a million things to get ready for tomorrow.  I will do my best to keep you posted.

Thanks for all the love!

Michelle

*****UPDATE: They are done with the procedure and discovered that due to where mom’s lungs are bleeding, the only way to attempt to stop the bleeding is by doing another thing where they go up through the femeral artery and block off the blood flow to those particular areas that are bleeding (sorry for the massive run-on sentence).  This is the same thing they did a couple of weeks ago.   They will be doing this on Monday.  Mom is in intensive care now, with a tube down her throat…she is on 100% oxygen.  So glad I’m going to be with her tomorrow! Please pray that we will be able to have a good visit with her this weekend and that she will have the strength to truly enjoy her kids and grandkids!  After all, it IS Mother’s Day weekend!

 

One day at a time

As is always the case, this week has been a mix of good and bad news so far.  On Monday mom had to have a blood transfusion again of two units of blood.  She was a bit weak that day but seemed better the next, due to increase in her hemoglobin levels.  It seems like every other night she coughs up much less blood, leading everyone to believe that her lungs are on the mend.  Then, the following night seems to be a rough one.  Last night was a rough one.  And, her hemoglobin levels are dropping again, although they are not terribly low.  These seem to be the two big issues: lung bleeding and hemoglobin levels.  I know the doctors and nurses are monitoring these levels, but as of yet there doesn’t seem to be any idea about how to fully resolve these issues.  Please pray that mom’s body will stabilize in these areas so that she is able to effectively fight off the cancer!

Mom wants everyone to know how proactive she still is with her nutrition.  She is drinking several green drinks a day with Reveal, high quality organic food, alkaline water, and a whole host of highly nourishing supplements.  She is trying to keep her body as alkaline as possible, and has never been more vigilant about what she eats and drinks.  It is still difficult to chew because of the numbness on one side of her mouth, but she is trying to eat as much healthy food as possible…she is a little too thin and they really want her to put on some weight!  She has also been using her Wellness Pro, which is an electrotherapy machine.  She is doing absolutely everything she possibly can to help herself.

Tonight my Aunt Karen and Uncle Bill arrived for a visit, and I am so thankful they are there.  We will be there this weekend along with my brother and his family, and I am just praying that she will feel good enough to really enjoy the visit.  Today she started having pain in her back, so I really hope that goes away!  Thank you, as always, for your love and prayers.  On the bright side, brain radiation will be done on Monday!  That will be cause to celebrate.  I am hoping that by then they will have determined what kind of cancer this is and possibly have an idea of the best plan of attack!

It seems like there is an awful lot of waiting for answers.  Mom’s patience absolutely amazes me.  I think it is a blessing that she is able to have peace in this process, don’t you?  I am not saying that it’s a cake walk for her…it is quite difficult still, so thank you for your prayers….they are very much appreciated and needed still!

Until next time ~

Michelle

The Refiner’s Fire

Yesterday mom was finally able to get out of the hospital.  I know she has really enjoyed being in a hotel yesterday and today, although last night she coughed a lot…so the bleeding in her lungs has not stopped.  This is one of the major concerns, and the doctors still haven’t decided the right course of action to make it stop.  When I asked mom about it today, she told me that she is just praying for it to heal!  She was pretty exhausted from all the coughing last night, so she said she had a completely relaxed day and did nothing but listen to conference talks (from the general conference of our church last month) and MOTAB  (for those who don’t know, MOTAB is an affectionate term for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).

She said that she had a lovely, peaceful day today.  She could feel people praying and fasting for her and just soaked in the Spirit!  Thank you so much for giving so much love and positive energy to her.  Mom doesn’t have much energy at all right now.  She said the two things she is fervently praying for this week are 1) that her lungs will quit bleeding and heal and 2) that she will have more energy next weekend so that she is able to really enjoy the time with her kids and grand kids (we will all be there together for Mother’s Day).

I am thankful, as always, for mom’s attitude.  She can’t do as much as usual to serve others, but her greatest desire is to help the one way she can – by encouraging people to draw close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and to help them re-connect with their personal missions!  Any opportunity to serve another by encouraging them gives her joy…it is what she has done her entire life!  I am inspired by her ability to focus on what she wants to create, even while in the refiner’s fire.  She is not used to being dependent on others, but right now she has to embrace it…no use fighting against it!  If God is refining her to become a more perfect instrument in His hands, which she knows He is doing, she has no desire to fight that.

Meanwhile, she has some visits to look forward to!  Kris Woolley, a LONG time family friend who was close friends with my brother Mike all the way back in high school (they have remained good friends all these years) is coming to visit mom tomorrow!  She is so excited for his visit.  Our families have remained in touch for many years and it is just a special blessing for him to come and see her!  Also, sometime this week my Aunt Karen (mom’s sister) and Uncle Bill (Karen’s husband who just barely returned from a year in Kuwait) will be visiting mom from Missouri.  My mom has been trying to convince Karen to come visit for years!  Their visit will be another huge blessing to mom.

Meanwhile, the brain radiation starts back up tomorrow.  On Tuesday they are also going to do a special radiation on the vertebrae that is most affected by the cancer.  The doctors are working feverishly to come up with the perfect treatment plan for mom.  It is extremely complex and they still don’t even know what kind of cancer she has!  While you are praying for mom, please also pray for the doctors.  I am praying that they will be enlightened and given heavenly direction as they devise the very best treatment plan.

It is still almost unbelievable to me that mom is really in this situation…to know that she needs oxygen to support her every breath!   I am eternally thankful for the knowledge I have that her life is completely in God’s hands.  I know that He loves her even more than I do!  Nothing can bring greater peace than this knowledge.  Thank you for your continued prayers.  I am expecting miracles!

Michelle

Still in the hospital

My  mom wanted me to make sure and write a post to let everyone know that she still hasn’t left the hospital.  She is bleeding a little bit from her lungs again, and they have determined that it is from two other tiny growths in the lower lungs.  The spot where they radiated has for sure quite bleeding, and the cancer in that area has been destroyed, so now they are trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding in the new area before it gets worse.  Right now it isn’t too bad.

On the bright side, radiation treatments are going well and she hasn’t had any obvious side effects.  I am thankful that mom’s mind is sharp as ever.  And, she was using her right hand to cut a grapefruit this morning!  She can’t really feel it, but there is some tingling and her dexterity has improved dramatically, which means the tumor is starting to shrink and reduce pressure on that part of her brain.

Mom is hoping to be out of the hospital this weekend.  I hope she is right!  Meanwhile, if you have sent cards to the hotel, don’t worry…she’ll still get them while she’s in the hospital because Curtis has been staying there ever since he brought the dog, Leon, back.  Poor Leon has been hanging out in an empty hotel room every day.  He probably wonders what the heck is going on!

Those who are members of our church fast the first Sunday of every month, which is this Sunday.  I know that quite a number of friends will be fasting specifically for mom this Sunday, and she wants to make sure you know how appreciative she is!  She continues to feel an outpouring of love from you and your prayers mean more to her than you can possibly imagine (or maybe you can imagine)! :)

We will pray that they are able to swiftly stop the bleeding.  I keep imagining pure white light from the Savior flowing through her body and consuming the cancer as it flows.  Cancer is strong, but it is nothing against the power of God!

May God bless you all for your goodness and friendship.

Have a great weekend!

Michelle

Good Vibes

Yesterday, Dallin and Karree Larsen and Katy Larsen flew in to visit mom.  It was the day of her first brain radiation treatment…which the doctors said went perfectly.  This is the note that Dallin posted on facebook about the visit:

“Yesterday Karree and I, along with Katy Holt-Larsen, were blessed to travel to Arizona to visit with Ruth Van Buren, an amazing and virtuous woman and dear MonaVie friend to so many. She is going through a challenge with cancer and is in the cancer treatment center. We went down, hoping to be a blessing to her and to show her our love and support. As is always the case when visiting with Ruth, she gave me, Karree and Katy, so much more than we could have ever given her. Her graciousness and gratitude for life and the beauty of life was inspiring beyond words. I invite each of you to remember Ruth in your thoughts and prayers. She expressed to me her desire to let all her MonaVie family know how much she loves you and how strong her faith is in God. She expressed how this setback has allowed her to become even more acquainted with God. Yesterday was about a More Meaningful Life. Life is precious. Treasure each breath. We love you all.”

I know mom was thrilled that they took the effort to visit her, and that it greatly uplifted her.  I can only imagine how foreign it must be for someone who has spent her whole life so capably serving others to suddenly be on the receiving end, but mom is graciously and gratefully accepting all the love and support!

Today the main cancer doctor (why can’t I remember his name???) said they still don’t have the result back from the biopsy…apparently, they can’t figure out what kind of cancer mom has.  They have sent it to the mayo clinic to try and figure it out.  It seems that whatever she has is very rare, and is not the same kind of cancer that invaded her saliva gland last year.  This is all rather surprising…and I hope they figure it out soon!

Today mom’s friend from Seattle, Janine Boyle, is with her in the hospital.  This has allowed Curtis to come back to Las Vegas and pick up some much-needed items – clothes, supplements, and Leon (the dog)!  Another good thing is that mom will most likely be released from the hospital tomorrow!  She will continue with the radiation treatments on her brain – there are 8 more to go – and after that they will start on a very complicated plan to attack the cancer everywhere.

Mom wants everyone to know that she is not desperate or weighed down in fear…but I think you already know that!  She knows that she will be healed only through the power of Jesus Christ.  The doctors are amazing, and we are praying for God to guide them, but she knows that this is 100% in His hands…which is why your prayers mean so very much to her!

If any of you would like to send her a card, this is the address of the hotel where she will be staying:

Town Place Suites Marriott                                                                                           13971 Celebrate Life Way                                                                                    Goodyear, AZ 85338

I hope you are having a great week!

Michelle

 

One thing at a time…

Today has been another good day.  The doctors have decided to do 10 days of radiation on the brain before doing anything else.  Shrinking those tumors down is priority number one now that her lungs are almost not bleeding anymore.  They are confident that the radiation will be successful.  She is already gaining some motor skills back in her right hand, which is due to the steroids.  Even though it is numb, she can actually do something with it.  I am excited for her to be able to use her right hand again…can you imagine what it would be like NOT to be able to use one of your hands at all!?

One of the side effects of the steroids is increase in appetite.  I never in my life thought I’d hear my mom say the words she said to me tonight, “I’m glad I’m so hungry…I really need to get some fat on my body!”  I had to laugh out loud when she said that!  It is truly a blessing for her to be getting an appetite though.  She could use a little “beefing up” before they start chemo…which will most likely be in two weeks right after this radiation is over.

It is remarkable how very tedious and precise and scientific the radiation is…the doctors spent hours today working on exactly how much radiation to do in exactly which spots.  They are using the cat scans, MRI results and pictures from her previous radiation treatments to determine EXACTLY how to do it all just right.  I know almost nothing about it all except that it has to be perfect.  There is one area of her brain that was already exposed to radiation, and they cannot use as much in those spots.  They made her a mask today, and apparently it is pretty tight and uncomfortable.  When I asked mom why it has to be so tight, she said because they have to hit the tumors with radiation exactly the same way every day. 

So, her first brain radiation will actually be tomorrow.  One thing that really encouraged me today was what the doctor said…that although they say memory loss is a possible side effect, they have NEVER seen it happen with a single patient.  So, it is not common.  Let us pray that the radiation will be effective, and that her brain will be protected.

I am amazed on a daily basis how powerful everyone’s prayers are.  The feeling of love and comfort has been palpable these last couple of days.  We are filled with the hope that only Christ can bring.  How thankful I am for Him!

I know I keep repeating this, but I can’t thank you enough for your friendship, love and prayers.  You are all amazing people.  I love to read your comments, and I am nourished by your faith. So thank you!

Michelle

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