Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Wind Up

Hi everyone,

Thanks for thinking about us. We had our whirlwind tour of Southern Illinois over the weekend, returning last night. Alto Pass is where my Dad's family lives, except for the Dad and his portion of the family, that moved to Pontiac Michigan in the 30's. After taking my Dad and Brother Dennis to Alto Pass (south of Carbondale) in 2001 we have gone back to the family picnic twice, including this year. It was very moving to see the places my Dad called home, and to meet some very wonderful people, all related some how to me.

We had the pleasure of meeting Evelyn this year, a breast cancer survivor. She had great words of encouragement for Deb. We will miss Tempa and Raymond, first cousins to my Dad, who left us this past year. We miss most Melvin, who taught us a lot about being friends and showed us the pleasures of gardening when we were there last. I know his wife Joan, and all the family miss his humor, and his love.

Perhaps I'm taking this blog thing too far, as now I've given it to our benefits department at work and a wonderful person at Blue Cross who is most helpful with figuring out the medical bills for us. It continues to amaze me how many people say they are praying for us, because such a volume of prayer will surly speed to God on the wings of his angels.

Deb is doing well with the exception of acid reflux and fatigue. She seems to be a bit more tired as this goes on, but we expected that to be the case. She continues to face all the treatment, knowing surgery will come soon, followed by more chemotherapy and radiation. She could be depressed but she is an inspiration with her patience and perseverance. Plus she looks so cool with all the various hats and wraps.

Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.Charles Dickens

We are very glad to know our friend Danny has now entered the monitoring phase. He and Marge will now concentrate on keeping his weight up (boy, do I wish I had that issue) and healing as he has a check up and blood work in six months.

So, we are at another way point. Deb has chemo next week, and after that the doctors will decide the next step. As we wait, we are buoyed by the love and prayers of so many of you, our friends and family. Remember my mom in your prayers, as she waits for our Lord to come for her. Her road hasn't been easy, and she has amazed the health care workers with her ability to hang on here, but there must still be something for her to do, before she leaves.

Remember those who you love, but perhaps haven't seen or spoken with in a while. With so much death around us, celebrate life with a phone call or a letter to someone. Make their day special, and your's will be special too!

Don’t let death be your cure for procrastination.

God Bless all,


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Goodbye to Sebastian

Hi everyone, and Happy Father's Day!

It was four years June 5Th that my dad left us. I suspect that every father's day will bring the memory of his passing to me and the rest of the family. Oh, by the way, if you're looking for something good to read, consider picking up a copy of "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom. It's a terrific book about spending one more day with a departed parent.

Deb had her third chemo on Thursday. She was very tired on Thursday night and Friday, so she didn't go with Sebastian and me to Chicago, but rather stayed home and rested. Friday was her birthday and so when Sebastian and I came home we had Ben Thomas over and did some great steaks on the grill.

Deb was still tired on Sunday morning and missed church. Nothing too much different about the chemo experience this time, and a sense of routine starts to build.

The next chemo is July 3rd so we will see after that how the tumor has responded. I believe the doctors are intentionally vague so that patients and their families are not holding unrealistic expectations. So much of this treatment depends on how the individual patient reacts, and then adjustments are made on the fly. I expect that if the tumor has shrunk, surgery will be scheduled to remove it. That will be followed by chemo and perhaps radiation.

It was an emotional weekend anyway with Sebastian leaving on Saturday for Germany and his family. His flight left O'Hare about 2:30pm and was scheduled to arrive around 6am in Munich, about 11pm Chicago time. He wrote to say he arrived very tired and still battling the cough he had for about two weeks before going home.

He had just returned from Philadelphia where he spent a week with daughter Erin and her husband Rob. He saw New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, with lots of history including ground zero, the Statue of Liberty and all of the monuments in D.C. We are very thankful to Erin and Rob for taking the time and making the effort to host Sebastian.

I took Friday off and we went to the Sears Tower to really see Chicago. We had lunch at Blackies and visited my office to see the really important people in my life, or at least that's what they asked me to say.

Looking back on having Sebastian makes me glad he was here and grateful for showing me what having a son (I have three daughters) would have been like. He was really a treasure to have. Good student, helpful and dependable. I think I still favor the daughters. No competition for the TV remote, the PC or the chips :).

Deb is missing him. I know we will miss having a new student but it will be easier not having one this next year until Deb's health is more certain.

Deb's sister Anita had all the family over for Father's day today. It was a great time, as usual. Kathi and Erin called to wish me a happy father's day and happy birthday tomorrow.

We are going to southern Illinois next weekend for the Harrell family reunion.

Finally, I feel like we have received a special blessing from God because of all of your prayers and good wishes. Your cards and notes are so precious. Deb seems visibly lifted by the outpouring of love she receives every day. There is a lot of stress in our lives right now, but we feel so blessed to have good friends helping us.

Please consider praying for Danny, our friend who is still battling cancer and the effects of radiation. There are so many people for whom cancer is a lonely battle, as they are old or without friends or family. Please pause a moment to remember them with a special prayer. Ask God in all his mercy to heal and comfort them, for we know he is the Great Physician and His love endures forever.

God Bless You All.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Hello everyone!

We've started to experience some routine with Deb's cancer treatment. Blood test every Thursday, Chemo every three weeks, visit the doctor every week. But in the routine is the comfort of predictability, not the edgy uncertainty of diagnosis and treatment plans. A fancy way of saying not much has changed in the last week.


Both Dr. Weyburn and Dr. Compagnoni think there is some change in the tumor. It started out the size of a lime, so perhaps now it's a small plum? A walnut? We won't know until after the last chemo on July 5th, and probably a MRI exam, just what will happen next. Will it be small enough for surgery or will further chemo reduce it more, so the surgery will not destroy the breast.

After surgery comes radiation and more chemo, we understand.

Deb is doing particularly well with this hair thing. She now has a variety of hats and scarves to wear, including some scarves she always wanted to wear but could not find the exact ensemble to compliment them. Her wig looks great on her and so she has lots of options. I wish I did.

There were several articles in the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times the last few days about breast cancer. It may have something to do with the charity walks for cancer going on now. One article explores a new medication aimed at reducing the risk of cancer returning after the initial treatment. New thoughts on radiation treatment are discussed too. It appears that even after a successful initial battle with breast cancer, and a clean bill of health, there is a statistical possibility of cancer returning.

Sebastian left for Philadelphia yesterday for a week with Erin and Rob (and Quinn too). He is excited to explore new American cities and is hoping to see some of the landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Mall in Washington D.C. His flight was delayed a bit but when Erin found him at the baggage carousel he was helping an elderly couple with their baggage. He is a terrific guy!

Soon he leaves for Germany. We will miss his smile and his laugh. We are the richer for his being here. What will we do without the King of Queens and the NBA?

We offer our prayers for all of you that may be in a battle too. Life is both a joy and a struggle. While we are preoccupied with our issues, we know that there is a lot of hurt, loneliness and health problems out there. We take a lot of comfort in the certainty of prayer and faith.

Please accept our thanks to everyone for their prayers and thoughts.

God Bless