28 February 2010

More Gravy, Please...

Been a while since I've blogged.  Some of it is time management while I work, manage doctor appointments, get taxes done, rest, etc.

Several developments over the last couple of weeks.  Feeding tube got inserted and all has gone well with it - basically means I've not used it.  Best news is that the PET scan from two weeks ago show that the tumors are all dead.  There was no metabolism showing in the areas where the tumors were so we have had "complete response" with the chemotherapy.  While I am extremely thankful and blessed by that it does not alter the course of treatment for radiation.  I'm thinking it is kind of a scorched earth approach.  So I'm on the front end of seven weeks of Monday through Friday radiation treatments.  Seven of thirty-five complete.  Nothing too much to report with that other than mouth starting to dry up and just some very slight tenderness at this point.  I'm getting used to the process.  The restraints are getting less troublesome as each day passes and the care givers are very supportive.

I continue to feel generally well but get pretty tired most evenings.  Starting to have some queasiness but not outright nausea at this point.  May be coming as cumulative effects of chemo and radiation progress.  It is pretty controllable with medication.  The doctor wants me to fatten up.  He's concerned about weight loss in a couple of weeks.  Ironically Kim and Tess are trying to diet while the doc is telling me to eat 6 times a day, have lots of ice cream, mashed potatos with gravy, hot dogs, and whatever other high calorie, high fat foods I can get in me.  I told him my biggest fear was getting through this then dying of a heart attack.  He responded that I wouldn't have to worry about a heart attack if I didn't get through this.  Good point.  Kim is pushing me to eat all the time as she should be doing but there is only so much I can do.  Don't think I've lost any weight this week but not sure I'm putting in on like the doc wants.

Continued prayers are appreciated.  It is very encouraging to know there are many, many people out there supporting me.  Thanks for all you are doing.

08 February 2010


Had my regular appointment with the medical oncologist today.  Everything staying on track as we move to the radiation treatment phase.  Normally this would be the day I start another round of chemo but because we are starting radiation there is a change in the course of chemotherapy.  With radiation I go to weekly visits for chemo using what Dr. Ahmed called a "gentler cousin" of the Cisplatin with which I had previously been treated.  We are switching to Carboplatin, which is radiosensitized (made more effective by the radiation).

Went to the radiation oncologist after seeing Dr Ahmed and began to get all the fixturing for the treatments which we are targeting to begin next Monday (15 Feb).  The plan is 5 days a week for 7 weeks.  The radiation treatments are a relatively precise exercise so all the work today is about how to make me immobile during the treatments.  I literally have to wear these leather cuffs to restrain my hands and pull my shoulders downwards out of the field of treatment.  In addition there is this custom fit mask that fits over my face to hold my head still.  If I was the least bit claustrophobic it would be game over in about 30 seconds or less.  It will take some effort to not be freaked out for this process.

Tomorrow I have a feeding tube inserted.  3-4 weeks after radiation starts it will become difficult to swallow and talk.  We'll  try to manage the pain but expect to have to be fed through this tube for a while.  Should heal up 2-3 weeks after radiation is done.  After that this thing should be gone.  Another PET scan on Friday.  Looking forward to those results as we should see a significant and quantifiable reduction in the tumors.

Keep up the prayers.  I think we're getting to the tough part.

31 January 2010

Round 3 Update

Round 3 has been going pretty much as well as the first two rounds.  The main difference seems to be that with each round the side effects go a little deeper and take a little longer to work through.  I've been trying to keep up with work and Kim would tell you I've been doing way to much.  Which in fact led to our first kind of scary incident.

On Friday of chemo week I went to the oncology center to dump the pump.  I'd been working a lot of hours during the week and Friday was no exception.  Problem was that Friday I wasn't keeping track of what I had to eat or drink.  On the way back home from the doc I blacked out in the car for a few minutes.  Kim kinda freaked (of course, who wouldn't) but stopped the car, got me revived and back home.  Hit some high cal drinks and got some food in me and everything came back to normal.  Quick consult with the oncology office, everything OK.  Big thanks to Jim and Krista for helping get things settled down.  I'm sure I haven't heard the end of that one yet.

Late this week I started having a low grade fever that came and went.  Wasn't too worried about it until it started to spike yesterday.  My immune system is now at it lowest point in the cycle so I called the doc.  Had to run in for some quick blood work and a shot to boost my white count.  That and some antibiotics got me back on track.  Nothing that was a big deal.

So God continues to protect me throughout all this and I can tell you that even knowing where these tumors are I cannot find them any longer.  I know they are not completely gone and I'm not at the end of the road but I am extremely encouraged by the results.  I also continue to be amazed by a gracious God who knows my needs and fears and gives me what I need to meet and overcome them.  People bringing over meals, neighbors shoveling the driveway (yes, we actually had a significant snow in Evansville), numerous cards and emails.  Thanks to all for you continued prayers and support.

18 January 2010


I praise and thank the Lord tonight.  We had a very good check up with the Dr. Ahmed today.  The MRI results from last week were in and the tumors have shrunk by half.  This is in the "better than expected" category.  Part of the discussion today was to check and alter the course of treatment if necessary.  Based on the success of the treatment and how well I have been tolerating medication we're going to go with a third round of chemotherapy before moving on to radiation.  The clear statement from Ahmed today was that we were looking to cure this, not control it.  The chemo gives the best attack on the system overall to kill any potentially undetectable cells elsewhere in the body.  It also continues to knock back the existing tumors which makes the field requiring radiation smaller.

God has been very good to me throughout this treatment.  He has protected me from any but the mildest side effects and has begun the healing process through the doctors to whom He has led us.  He has brought my friends and family, and many others whom I don't even know, close to me for prayer and support.  I cannot be more blessed and thankful for those who have lifted me up.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.  The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.  The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.  In my distress I called to the Lord; my cry came before him, into his ears...He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

-Psalm 18:1-6, 16

11 January 2010

Life Without Spit

I'm pleased to be writing this evening that chemo round two has gone quite well.  Everything pretty well back to normal again at this point.  MRI coming up on Thursday morning, results to be reviewed on Monday, then round 3 or on to radiation.  I have to admit, the longest lingering and seemingly most impactful side effect has been dry mouth.  I have trouble generating enough spit.  The result of all this is that things taste funny and I have to drink a lot of water.  I'm clearly not suffering.  Which really causes me to think about what lies further ahead for me.  The drama of the initial diagnosis and first treatment has passed.  I am completely thankful that I have had very little other than discomfort through it all.  But no spit?  Is this the worst of it?

Suffering - no not at all.  Not like those I have seen over the last few weeks who have been battling a disease for years.  Not at all like someone who has endured poverty or hunger.  Or like those who have been unjustly held captive or tortured.  And certainly no where near the suffering that Christ endured on our behalf so that those who believe can enter heaven to spend eternity with Him.

So to this point my life has only had moments of discomfort.  I am not looking forward to the radiation treatments as I will be barely able to speak or swallow.  I'll eat through a tube - can't wait.  I'll probably want to complain but hope I don't.  I hope to rejoice in my condition, whatever it may be, recognizing that there are those who are much worse off than I and who have no earthly hope of relief from their condition.  It's my desire to take my inspiration from those who live by faith and the knowledge that this life is but vapor and passes quickly.  Surely I'll be able to manage through these few short weeks.

28 December 2009

Check Up and Round 2

The holidays have been far more enjoyable than I had imagined they would be.  Except for my hair deciding to fall out on the morning of Christmas eve everything was quite normal.  I've been blessed with good results and comfort during the holiday season.  In case you haven't seen the new look I am sporting ...

Had blood work and a check up with the doc before chemo today.  Everything OK on the blood work and pretty good news from Dr. Ahmed.  Seems the two known tumors in the lymphs have shrunk significantly and he had trouble locating them just through feeling for them.  No indication from the doc as to whether that was expected but I sure feel good about it.  He also said I was tolerated the meds very well especially since this is what he described as a pretty "hot" course of treatment.  So while we are far from declaring victory this was all in all a very good, at least in my mind, interim report.  None of this do I take credit for, of course.  I can only attribute it to the right course of treatment and the power of all your prayers. 

I am extrememly grateful for all of your support, all known and unknown.  Please continue with your prayers as I know this is contributing towards achieving a positive outcome.  As I have stated before, it is all very encouraging and uplifting for me.

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes in the coming months.

21 December 2009


Getting a portal implanted - $6337
One round Dr. Ahmed's Magic Elixer - $9746
Having a great bunch of friends and family - $$Priceless$$

Seriously, you all have been a great support as I went through this first round of chemotherapy.  I weathered the first cycle really well with only some minor level of discomfort and everything at this point is largely back to normal.  I'm really thankful I will be able to enjoy the holidays without having to deal with side effects from the treatments.  Next round begins the 28th.  I'll be a real dud by New Year's eve.  Kim is going to have to either prop me up in a major way or find another date.

Speaking of priceless, I can't help but contemplate the greatest gift we've all had bestowed upon us.

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  Mat 1:21

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."  John 1:14

Merry Christmas