31 07 2016

Sky’s MRI today — STABLE. Sky’s tumor has not shrunk, but it has not grown. We’ll take that as a win. She’ll start another round of chemo next week and will have another MRI in late September. As always, I tip my cap to my bride for all she does and all she must endure in this relentless fight. Simply awe-inspiring. Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. Sincerely appreciated. Love the K3

May MRI…

4 06 2016

STABLE… that’s the result of Sky’s MRI this morning at UCLA. Perhaps even a wee bit more tumor shrinkage. Lots of prayers have been answered, and Sky has rebounded well between monthly rounds of chemo, only to look the next round right in the eye and do it all again. Next MRI is scheduled for late July. Hoping for a medically boring couple of months. Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. I am in awe of my warrior queen and grateful to get to share the news!

Shower God

19 05 2016

So indulge me, dear friends. Decided to take a walk down memory road.


I talk to God in the shower.


Case in point: our daughter was starting kindergarten and there were two very different teachers. There was the hard-lined teacher, Ms. C. (the one we wanted) who guaranteed “your kid will learn to read in my class.” Or Ms. H. (the one we did not want), the teacher who was “touchy-feely,” “mushy-gushy,” and all the words that meant she was not going to get our ultra-cherished, hyper-intelligent, brilliant daughter up to speed on her reading.

That morning, I stepped into the shower and began to lather up. As I shaved my legs, I pleaded my case with God. “You have to make sure our daughter gets Ms. C. It’s the only way she’ll ever learn to read. And isn’t that the most important thing, learning to read. It’s a fundamental element of any kid’s education. I mean, what if she doesn’t learn to read? Sure, she doesn’t care. All she cares about is smurfs and tree frogs.”

And you know what He said? “Have I ever failed you yet?”

Roughly 13 years ago, I learned that I had brain cancer when I was eight months pregnant. I was in my last trimester when I found out I had a ping-pong ball-sized tumor setting up camp in my left frontal lobe.

May 2002. I’m 30. Out-to-here pregnant. I’ve entered the waddling stage and loving every guilt-free-chocolate-eating moment. I am on the countdown for my baby shower. The theme: “Rock the Kasbah.” I’m told I can lounge on pillows, which basically screams: “We’re terrified of watching a pregnant woman wrestle her way out of the crispy jaws of a wicker chair.” I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Ever. And then, one day while in my office, “working” (I was looking at baby names online), I hear the UPS truck pull up. I look out the window, hoping for that adorable Moses basket and then…

I wake up strapped to a gurney after having a gran mal seizure.

A pregnancy condition, eclampsia, was first suspected. I was released from the hospital with the diagnosis of “Adult Onset Seizure Disorder.” Oh, and by the way, you can’t drive for 6 months. Whaaaaat? But how am I going to get to my baby shower, and the baby’s room is barely decorated, and and and…

The next night I had another seizure. After another scan, we were told that the cause of the seizure was a tumor. Whaaaaat? But I had never felt dizzy or had headaches or felt nauseous, none nada nessuna.

I was immediately admitted into the High Risk Pregnancy Ward, where I stayed for six weeks until our beautiful daughter was born. (Sorry for the mom-brag.) Seven days later, I was transferred to another hospital for brain surgery. The surgeon told us that he was confident that he had “gotten everything.”

One week later, we were in our surgeon’s office to review the tumor’s biopsy results. With hopes of “please let it benign,” we were floored to learn that my tumor was a Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme. There is no Grade V.

I won’t see my daughter take her first steps.

My husband did all the talking while I did all the crying. To their credit, the doctors handling my case were extremely positive and quick to remind us that although the tumor wasn’t curable, it was treatable. I was young, in good health and a woman – three factors that put me way ahead of the norm in terms of life expectancy. The ordered course of treatment: Seven weeks of daily radiation with monthly oral chemotherapy. Even though I knew that the radiation and chemotherapy would be hard, I was surprised at how much the treatments drained me. The medications I took made it unsafe to nurse my daughter and too tired to stay awake through a single bottle-feeding. I was spending most of my days knocked out in bed just trying to keep down chicken broth and crackers. And, thanks to seven weeks of intense radiation treatments, I was losing my hair.

I still remember the day I was in the shower and chunks of my hair just began falling out. I didn’t even have to pull. I was weak, exhausted and overcome by depression.

But God was there. I’ll tell you how I know.

My radiation treatment took one “Our Father” to complete. For those of you not familiar with this prayer, it begins, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

About week five of my radiation treatments, I couldn’t say the prayer. I just broke down and told God, “I can’t feel you. I can’t find you anywhere. If you are here, you need to give me a sign.” I slogged to the changing room, got dressed and went out into the waiting room. There were five women who were being radiated every day at the same time as me. Linda, one of those women, saw that I had been crying and wanted to pray for me. She then asked me my name. “Sky Kunerth.” She stops and says, “Wait a minute, does your husband write for the show ‘Friends’?”

Really? Really? I’m in the middle of an existential crisis and you want to know if my husband writes for “Friends”? As a matter of fact, my husband does write for “Friends,” Linda. What question is so important that you would take time out of praying for me to ask? Are you wondering if the Friends are friends in real life?

No, she did not want to know if the Friends were friends in real life.

She said, “Darlin’, I’m already praying for you.” I thought how is that possible? Well, it turns out my husband, way before he was my husband, worked at International Dairy Queen in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And Linda’s sister also worked there. She still does.

Stick with me, here comes the good part.

Linda’s sister had started a prayer circle for a former co-worker’s wife and asked Linda if she wanted to be in it. Linda said yes and her sister told her to pray for a “Sky Kunerth.” Linda was already praying for me. And just like that, God made sure I knew that he was right there, and had been the whole time.

Back to my Kindergarten story…

My husband and I walk up to the school, our daughter between us holding both our hands, playing “swing me… again… again… again.” A volunteer asks for our last name and lets us know that our daughter’s teacher is… Mrs. H.

As we walked toward Mrs. H’s class, I gave God a real dressing down. “Mrs. H? Mrs. H!? Dammit to all hell, God, you really screwed us on this one. All that talk in the shower about how you’ve never let me down? Well, this is a big one, because now you’re messing with my kid. And let me tell you, Big Guy, if you think for one moment –”

“Mommy, mommy, look! A red-eyed tree frog.”

And there, sitting in Mrs. H’s rocking chair, was indeed a red-eyed tree frog. Our daughter’s most favoritist animal. And Mrs. H quickly became her (our!) most favoritist teacher.

Cut to: present day, 8 ½ years later.

I’m going on my 4th recurrence of the brain tumor. Yes, three brain surgeries. Nearly 60 rounds of chemo. And this f’in tumor just can’t take a hint. This past Tuesday, I had a seizure. It wasn’t my first, so I felt it coming on and I turned the back of my chair toward the door so my daughter wouldn’t see me. And for all my “in the moment” preparation, guess what? I fell out of my office chair, hard. And when my daughter came into my office to investigate the noise, she saw me on the floor, seizing.

This being the first one she had ever seen, she shrieked from the room, “Mom’s having a seizure!” My husband came into the office and soothed me. When I was done seizing, I cried. I cried for what my daughter saw, because my seizure was so scary and no child should have to see their mother like that. I cried for my husband who, when we said our vows, hadn’t signed up for this “worse.” I cried for what I was going through. A fourth tumor? Welcome to my “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret” moment?

At dinner that night, my daughter came to the table and pounded on it, angrily. She kept repeating, “This isn’t fair to me! This isn’t fair to me!” Her words, her anger, her fear, these are all emotions I’ll never forget.

And so I returned to the shower God. And He told me, “Replace the word ‘me’ with ‘us’.”

I did. And I do. Because it isn’t fair to anyone. But everyone – my friends, my family, my husband, me and especially my daughter – will be better people because of all the things we have experienced.

So whenever I need to pray or seek guidance or just have a good ol’ chat with the Big Guy upstairs, I’ll jump into the shower, turn on the water and lather up. Because that’s where I find Him. In the shower.

May 2, 2016

5 05 2016

Dear Family and Friends: After another seizure last week, Sky’s docs moved up her MRI to this week.  (Originally scheduled for the end of May).  Her scans were STABLE.  They increased her anti-seizure meds, and she started her 5-day regimen of chemo again on Monday night.  She is scheduled for another scan on May 31st.  Thanks for your continued love, prayers and support.
The K3

March 28, 2016

28 03 2016

Sky’s MRI today… some GOOD news! After two rounds of chemo, (and just 28 days since her last MRI) her tumor has shrunk. There is definitely a noticeable difference between today’s scan and the scan just 30 days ago! Very grateful for this news and for all of your continued thoughts, prayers and well-wishes. Sky will continue her monthly chemo regimen, but will get a reprieve from the monthly MRIs. Her next scan will be in two months! We’ll take it! Thank you all once again.

Love, the K3

March 1…

29 02 2016

Sky’s MRI today: Stable. Which is good news. The tumor has NOT grown since last month, which indicates that the chemo is likely starting to do its job. Doc says that they typically don’t see tumor shrinkage until the second or third round of chemo. So, Sky will start her next round later in the week, and she will have another follow-up MRI in a month. Grateful for little bits of good news. Thank you all for your continued love and support.

January 31st…

23 02 2016

It occurred to me that not everyone is on Facebook and not everyone runs into us at the Malibu grocery store, so it is entirely possible that some of you are hearing this news for the first time, and I apologize for the lateness in posting this.

On January 31st, Sky suffered a seizure while working at our church’s pancake breakfast.  It was the first seizure she’s had in a very long time, and it was a different kind of seizure, as Sky did not lose consciousness. We hoped that this was an anomaly… another bump in the road to her recovery from surgery in May.

However, the following morning — at what was her normally scheduled 3-month follow up MRI — her doctor noticed ‘a spot’ on her scan.  The spot was the cause of the seizure and indicated that her cancer had  returned.

Her anti-seizure medication was increased, and Sky was put on immediate chemotherapy — the same oral, 5-day dose, she had hoped to never return to.  She hates the drug, hate the side effects and hates being the patient. Despite all that, with only a moment’s hesitation, she agreed to return to the treatment.

So, the journey continues.  She will continue monthly rounds of chemotherapy indefinitely in hopes that the tumor will shrink and eventually disappear completely.  Her doctor is hopeful — based on her earlier success with the drug — that this treatment will act as a bridge to a newer, better, less-debilitating form of treatment in the future.

She will return to UCLA on Monday, February 29th for a follow-up MRI where we will learn more.  Again, apologies in advance for the late posting of this news.