Monday, March 17, 2014

good news

Happy St. Patrick's day! Brynn and I made GREEN cookies today and also took a little trip up to the cancer center with Daddy. Braden had a chest x-ray and lab work done last week and everything came back perfect! No more scans until summer!! He didn't need any luck, we knew it was going to be good news.

We've done a lot of thinking about the past year as Braden's "cancerversary" came and went. One year ago Braden was just starting treatment. It all feels a bit like a blur to us and occasionally when we talk about it we look at each other and say, "Did that really happen?" Regardless, we are so thankful we are on this side of it and plan on staying there. God has revealed a lot to us this past year and although we hate melanoma, we are forever stronger because of it. I recently read a quote that I have gone back to several times and I love how it relates to this season of life for me.

 "Where you are today is no accident. God is using the situation you are in right now to shape you and prepare you for the place He wants to bring you into tomorrow. Trust Him with His plan even if you don't understand it."

Braden is 100% back to normal and has had some positive changes in his life including a new job. I also made a change to day-shift at work which is definitely a big change after four years on nights, but it's a great change for me and our family. And, my new favorite time of year is approaching...MELANOMA AWARENESS TIME. (March Madness too...GO SHOX!!) You know how I feel. Get your skin checks people, wear sunscreen, and PLEASE don't lay in a tanning bed. That's all for now, but there will be more.

Friday, December 20, 2013

merry christmas

This isn't news to most of you as I couldn't contain my excitement yesterday when we got the ALL CLEAR on Braden's PET scan he had last week. Those words were music to our ears and we are feeling a big weight lifted off our shoulders today. There are absolutely NO signs of cancer in Braden's body. Crying happy tears!!! Dr. Reddy is going to watch Braden closely this next year. He will have chest x-rays every 3 months and another PET scan in 6 months.

Ironically, exactly one year ago today Braden had his original mole removed at our dermatologists office. What a year it has been! Never did we dream that the little mole on his back would bring us to this point. 2 surgeries, 2 PET scans, 6 months of treatment, complications  in his eyes and all of the ups and downs in between. But...we made it! Lots of prayer, lots of faith and lots of support from so many wonderful people. I am so very happy to say "SEE YOU LATER 2013"... you won't be missed! You know what I want for Christmas? I want everyone reading this to go get a skin check at your local dermatologist and then tell your friends and family to do the same!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  We thank God for you!

Braden, Andrea & Brynn

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I know I have been a horrible blogger lately! Life has been busy in the Bottenberg home and for the first time in months it's not because we are busy with all things melanoma. No appointments, no labs, no scans, and no feeling lousy. Braden is doing awesome! He had his first appointment in weeks this past Monday and I am so happy to report that his eyes are showing significant improvement since he has been off of treatment. We are so thankful and relieved by this news. Prayers answered! The past couple months have been wonderful and as Thanksgiving approaches I have been reminded many times of all I have to be thankful for! I love this time of year and I am so happy we can enjoy it!

My beautiful cousin and her handsome new hubby tied the knot in Colorado! Being with family and celebrating their special day was so much fun!
Brynn and Halle had very important jobs at the wedding!
I just love these kids!
We got to spend a couple of days in one of our favorite little towns!
My sister and our kiddos
Finding the perfect pumpkins for our porch!
First trip to World's of Fun. I am not sure who had more fun. Papa or the kids?
Celebrating our 6th anniversary!
My Strawberry Shortcake
This sweet little girl had a 1st birthday!
We broke out the warm PJ's. Even Bear wanted to snuggle!
Too sweet not to share...


Saturday, October 12, 2013

BIG news!!!

It has been a REALLY good week! We met with Dr. Reddy on Thursday and got the news. We will not be resuming treatment. Braden is officially done!! I think we are still in shock. At this point, it just isn't worth the risk to Braden's vision and the research supports stopping. Although Braden didn't complete the entire year, we feel really good about the decision. He has a long life ahead of him and we really don't want to compromise his eye sight! Dr. Reddy continues to be very reassuring that we have completed the most important part of treatment which is the vigorous first month. So proud of Braden for making it over 6 months. After being off treatment now for a couple weeks, he is feeling fantastic! He even push mowed the yard today:) These are big achievements!

Thank you so much for all your prayers, love and support. The next step for Braden is a whole body PET scan in December. They will also be watching his eyes and we pray for complete healing! I continue to pray that Braden gets stronger each day. God continues to show us how awesome he is! We have completely given this to him. There is no room for doubt or fear in our hearts. We would have never made it this far without all of you!!

Our wonderful oncologist Dr. Reddy!!
Everyone knows Braden loves oncology nurses;) Thank you Lisa for getting us through some rough days! You are the best!!
We took our little good luck charm along!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

change of plans

Finally fall! After a rough summer we have been anxiously awaiting fall. We have been looking forward to another season down and getting closer to the half-way point which thankfully came and went. I feel like we have been moving along on cruise control this month. Until today. Braden had a routine eye exam last week and unfortunately they found spots on Braden's eyes caused by poor circulation and small hemorrhages. They are certain this is caused by the interferon. Dr. Reddy and Braden discussed this on the phone today and treatment has been put on hold for now. We meet with Dr. Reddy in a couple weeks to discuss everything in more detail, but as of now, the risk of more damage to Braden's eyes is too great to continue. Braden will have his eyes rechecked in 8 weeks to see if the spots are improving. Although they can't guarantee this won't cause permanent damage, they feel his eyes will eventually heal. I have so many different emotions. Obviously, Braden needs this treatment and it is a little disheartening feeling like we are no longer going to be "doing anything" to prevent a recurrence of this ugly disease. Dr. Reddy was very reassuring that from a melanoma standpoint the MOST important part of treatment was the first 4 weeks of high dose treatment. He is very happy Braden has made it 6 months on this rough stuff. So for now we just wait...and pray. 

Tonight I was laying with Brynn and I was thinking about the fear in my head. It occurred to me that although Braden is taking time off from treatment, we are still doing the MOST important thing we can be doing for Braden...PRAYING. It is far more powerful than any medication a doctor can give. Today I opened up my Jesus Calling book to a devotion I frequently go back to. I first read this a couple days after Braden was diagnosed and it has brought me so much comfort.

"My face is shining upon you, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face to face with Me, your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad of problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out "Help me, Jesus!" and I will lift you up. 
The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today's waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future. Stay close to me."  
We are planning on making the most of this little break and enjoying this season! I have been begging God to hurry this year along, but Braden and I have so much to enjoy despite these circumstances. God is carrying my burdens. How awesome is that? I will continually give it over to him. 

Monday, September 9, 2013


Feeling so blessed tonight to be surrounded by such great friends and family.  This week marks a couple of milestones for me.  The first being that I have reached the half way point of my treatment, and the second is my six month chest x-ray came back clean, NED (NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE)!!  So with the good news, Andrea decided to surprise me with a last minute party!  Andrea and I feel so fortunate to have so many awesome people in our lives.  As for how I’ve been feeling- The past few weeks have been great.  The week off from the shots was a nice break and a chance for my body to recover.  As always, thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers! God is good all the time!

Thanks for the cake(s) Alicia!!! ;)
Hannah ready to party for Uncle B!
Love these girls!!
Some of the greatest friends in the world!!
And greatest neighbors in the world!
Thanks for keeping us laughing, Angie!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

cabin life

Our vacation came and went way too fast! We had the most wonderful week with my parents at their beautiful cabin in Colorado. My little sister Ashley came along also and we had the best time. It was a great get-a-way! This trip was extra special because we celebrated my Dad's 60th birthday while we were there. Brynn also got to experience her first (but not last) trip over Engineer and Cinnamon Pass. She was such a trooper as we spent a LOT of time on the trails. She loved being on the 4-wheeler! We also saw a black bear running through an open meadow one afternoon while we were out riding. It was quite an adrenaline rush...hence my lack of pictures to prove it! Like always, we made lots of new memories. Leaving the cabin is never fun. We can't wait to make it back! 

Braden hasn't had a shot in over a week now and he is feeling better and better each day. His appetite has increased, his body aches are gone and the fatigue is improving. Tomorrow it is back to reality as he starts up again. I know he is not looking forward to it, but I think this break was refreshing and he has renewed energy to keep fighting. We are nearing the half-way point! Knowing we are almost over the hump is a great feeling.

"I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber." Psalm 121: 1-3

Ready to go!
The crew
Moose and baby moose
Dad and Mom trying to find shelter in the hail storm! Ouch!!
On top of the world!
Happy Birthday Dad!! We celebrated with great Colorado neighbors and friends!
Meet Lucy...Brynn's new friend who came to visit most days in hopes of a good snack!
Brynn and Papa