Monday, August 27, 2007

Wonderful Monotony

Hello everyone,

Deb's chemo sessions have been going very well. She is very tired after the sessions on Thursdays, but is able to go to work on Friday. She has much better energy and although she still tires easily, she is able to do a lot. Cooking, laundry, accounting and so much more. Deb celebrated her 30Th anniversary at Kemper on Friday.

Now the focus shifts to the continuing shrinkage of the tumor. We will have to wait until we have a more precise test to see what it actually looks like, but we expect a follow up MRI within the next two weeks or so.

We continue on with the certainty that God watches over us and that your prayers are heard and answered. We thank each of you for reading this blog and sharing your time with us. We may never personally know or be able to thank each person who helped with their prayers, but we thank you for your wonderful efforts.

"When we walk to the edge of all the light we have, and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on... or we will be taught to fly." ~ Frank Outlaw

We have been taught to fly, to be certain of what we see, and to have faith in what we cannot see. Please continue to remember all those who struggle with cancer, and also those who are in remission.

Our warmest wishes for a great week and a good holiday.

Dan and Deb Harrell

Thursday, August 16, 2007

We're Shrinking!

Hello all,

Good news yesterday. Dr. Compagnoni, Deb's surgeon was excited about a definite size reduction in the tumor. Chemo will continue for a while and Deb will probably have the tumor marked, which involves placing metal pieces at the points around the tumor so it can be found by x ray.

Continued shrinkage may delay surgery for a while and could eliminate it altogether. We don't want to get to far ahead yet, but this is a wonderful development, praise God!

The other good news is that Deb is having a much better time with chemo now then before, with less fatigue and more energy. This is probably due to the switch to Taxol. Other than double cheeseburgers from Mickey D's before chemo, she isn't excited by food. Most everything lacks taste. She did go to the Stage Stop in Wilmot with the girls this week and said she could taste the steak. No surprise there.

Last Saturday we drove up to the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago WI. Their speciality is apple pie baked in a paper bag. It was delicious. Lot's of other stuff there too, like cherry brats, cider baked ham and other pies. A very cool place.

We now have baby bunnies. We have to watch Strider the wonder dog, so she doesn't hurt them. They were naked things last week and now they are furry hopping things that you can tell will be rabbits soon. We have a Robin's nest in the evergreen that fascinates Strider. She stands on her hind feet and peers into the tree to see the nest.

Deb has been doing a lot of weeding, so the yard looks great.

We continue to pray for others who have health problems and thank those that pray for us.

More later,


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another step forward.

Happy Saturday!

This is a week that went according to the normal plan. Deb felt rested and energetic most of the week, with the exception of Thursday evening after having chemo. In fact, Deb could not believe how good she felt. Truly a great blessing.

The plan is two or three more sessions of chemo, then a MRI to see if any reduction has occurred, and then surgery, or more chemo and another MRI. There is some thought that the tumor has reduced in size. Most people with cancer, if the blog sites are any indication, want to have get it removed from their body as soon as possible.

Cancer seems test our emotional, physical and certainly our spiritual reserves every day.

The highs and lows we experience are mostly due to the uncertainty of the outcome, and the speed bumps and setbacks all along the way. If everyone reacted the same way to treatment, we'd all have a better idea of how this is all supposed to come out.

The physical reaction to having large vats of poison dumped in one's body every week or so are so individual and varied that they cannot be predicted with any certainty. Of course the brochures all talk about the nausea and hair loss, but the loss of taste is probably the biggest thing bugging Deb right now. Except me, of course. She just can't taste much. Things I think are spicy just don't give her much reaction, except when they start doing the bongos in her stomach.

And to think, that after surgery, more chemo and perhaps some radiation, which brings a new and different set of reactions.

Spiritually, we are doing very well. We are part of God's plan and we praise him for a good life and His grace and mercy. God may have allowed this to happen, but it is our reaction to it that says more about our walk. Sure, we are optimistic, and we have been, and yes, the initial diagnosis was positive for a recovery, but we both know that anything could happen in the next few months. We would rather enjoy what we have and look to the future with hope and thanks than have bitterness or regrets.

Deb continues to get wonderful cards and messages, many prayers lifting her toward God's embrace. Giving her the certainty of God's healing hands and the love of so many people.

We miss our ability to travel and visit friends like Skip and Dorothy, Joe and Kim and Kathi and Jim. Even doing much locally is unpredictable, as we both try to catch up on everything on the weekend, especially rest.

This weekend is the 60 mile Susan G. Koman breast cancer walk. You will know them by their caps and scarves covering their heads, by their pins and clothing that says we have cancer. But more, you will know them by the look in their eyes and the smiles that tell of battles fought, some won, some lost, of those that came before and sadly, those who will come later. When you see them, give them a hug. They will all know you care and smile all the more.

May those who love us, love us. And those who hate us, may God turn their hearts. And if he doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankels so we'll know them by their limping.
Celts, Ancient

You gotta love the Irish!

Thank you, everyone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Marching to a different beat

Dear Friends,

Deb had her first week with Taxol. She was tired on Thursday night and Friday, but had a great surge on Sunday when she returned from a outdoor wedding shower. This week she has been tired, but today she feels well enough for dinner. So tonight I let her open the cereal and get the milk from the refrigerator. Kidding, kidding, kidding. OK. She fixed a nice meal tonight and I helped with the dishes.

She misses her sense of taste the most. Perhaps it's her sense of smell, but most food doesn't have enough taste to interest her, not that she's given up eating, but most food tastes bland. There are some of her favorite vegetables and fruits she shouldn't eat, so that adds to the bland diet too.

We have been working in the yard the last few days, cleaning up an area where we took down a tree and the weeds took over. Couple that with the 90 degree temps we've had and it becomes a bear out there.

Deb goes for chemo again tomorrow. We believe that she will be checked by a MRI in three or four weeks and without significant reduction in the size of the tumor, she will probably have surgery. Following that she will probably have more chemo and perhaps radiation.

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't. Blaise Pascal

We continue in faith to face this journey. We couldn't sleep at night or focus on anything else if not for our faith. The power of your prayers and the grace and mercy of God, continue to make all of this bearable for us.

A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.
- William Arthur Ward

So, we struggle to find the words to say thank you to so many people who say silent prayers for Deb, and in doing so, change our lives and theirs in ways unfathomable.

I'd like to ask all of you to say a prayer for all the care givers out there. I've been blessed that Deb hasn't had to have much help. She still does the laundry, cooks when she can and pays the bills. But there are those, such as my sister Diane and her husband Ken who have cared for my bed ridden mother for two years, every single day. They are typical of so many who struggle to care for the difficult, and try to deal with their own feelings of resentment and hopelessness. We can easily identify the lame and the sick, but consider those who have no visible sign of the struggle they face everyday.

Thank you for reading this and for your comments.

God Bless