Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Schedule

Hi everyone,

Deb is scheduled for surgery on Friday, November 2, 2007 at Centegra in McHenry. The pertinent details are as follows.

Centegra Northern Illinois Medical Center, 4201 Medical Center Drive, McHenry, IL 60050Phone: 815-344-5000. Our address is 1902 Hunters Lane, Spring Grove, IL 60081. When Deb comes home, you may call us at 815 675 6130 or write to Deb at

Surgery is scheduled for 3pm. I imagine Deb will be in the hospital for a couple of days. I'll be off the next week after her surgery to be with her.

As you can imagine, for a girl who never had surgery or was in a hospital as a patient from her birth until May of this year to have her medi port implant, she is having some problems with sleep and stress.

She will have a mastectomy without reconstruction. We don't know about the aftercare yet, whether radiation will be involved or not, but she visits the oncologist tomorrow and I'll post anything that qualifies as new information.

I read the old posts of this blog over the weekend, and I was amazed how this journey has moved along and the changes in our feelings. Through it all, we have had the support, love and prayers of many fantastic people. People, some of whom we don't know, and will never meet, have added their petitions to God for Deb's healing and the restoration of her complete health, both physical and emotional. All we can say is may God bless you.

We acknowledge God knows how this will end, and has known since the beginning of time. We believe that we will see some day how our brief life fits into the fabric of time. We know our human emotions of fear and doubt exist because we are not perfect in our trust of God's plan for us.

Take care, all of you, and make Wednesday a spontaneous hug day. Trade a hug for a smile from someone who needs an emotional pick me up.

A Psalm of Life
Poem lyrics of A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Tell me not in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,Was not spoken of the soul. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each tomorrow Find us farther than today. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave. In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act, - act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead! Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sand of time; Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o'er life's solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us then be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.



Monday, October 22, 2007

Decision Time

Hi everybody,

We went to the surgeon last Wednesday, after an updated MRI on Monday. We stopped at the hospital to pick up the report before the appointment and of course read it in the car. It indicated that except for edema (swelling) there wasn't any evidence of a tumor.

We met with Dr. Compagnoni and she gave us the perspective on the MRI report. While it would seem to be good news that the tumor is undetectable, she still wants to proceed with a mastectomy, a complete removal of the breast. They will also remove some lymph glands, with a check by a pathologist during surgery to help make sure no more lymph glands than necessary are removed.

The next issue was about potential reconstruction. Would Deb want to have something implanted or not? The options are to use abdominal tissue or an implant of saline or silicone. Abdominal tissue is removed below the navel, which is the least likely alternative to cause issues later. There is a scar and the potential for the abdominal muscles to be sore for some time. The recovery time can extend to six or seven weeks.

Using a saline or silicone implant reduces the hospital stay, but at the time of surgery a expander is inserted with a pump. During a several month period the pump expands the skin over the chest wall so that when all treatment is finished, a permanent implant can be inserted. is the web site that discusses implants.

Deb is still doing homework on this, but leaning toward not having reconstructive surgery. She can have it in the future, of course, but would like to heal more quickly and her life style isn't going to be affected by her decision not to have an implant.

I know that Deb is starting to struggle more with the enormity of cancer, surgery to remove a breast, and the aftercare. There is also the reality of repeated checks and the potential for a recurrence.

If not for the kindness shown to us, and all the prayers from so many people, we would be lost. There has been a flood of information and events as this is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So many people with cancer, and so many family members and friends struggling with care and support for the victims.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear -- not absence of fear.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.

So many have trod this path before us, without the advantage of the medical care we have now, so we will make our choices and leave it in God's hands.

Thanks to all for your caring. It is impossible to describe how your love and warmth makes it possible for us to endure, sometimes even with humor!

God Bless all of you,


Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Twerp is Dead

Hello everyone,

The end of chemotherapy. It began on May 3rd, and no one could have made me believe then how it would affect Deb over time. Everyone has side effects of course, but somehow, even though you know they will happen, and you read the list, my mind at least, could not process the information. Nor did I understand the loss of taste, the rash and the extra side effect like the pain in her fingers and toes. Deb does such a good job with this, never complaining and working most every day. She made cookies and took them in with her to show her appreciation to the great staff at Dr. Weyburn's clinic.

I spoke to a friend Wednesday and he related that his wife, a nurse, had the identical treatment and developed chronic congestive heart failure as a side effect from the chemo, so praise God, we seem to have dodged all that.

Next Wednesday we visit the doctor to determine the surgical schedule, decide on reconstructive surgery options and see how the new MRI looks. I plan to be off when she has surgery for a few days.

Today is Deb's thirty year high school reunion. Two other couples are going that we attend church with, so we will have some friends there. I'm looking forward to going, it should be a blast.

Oh yes, as all of you know, we have Strider, who seems to feel a responsibility to protect us from everyone and everything. But there was a dog who she grew to like. She would bark in that special way she has when Twerp would walk by with his master, Bob. Strider would rush out to greet both with no barks or growls but with her tail wagging at 100 miles and hour. Twerp was a long legged black dog who seemed to love everyone and every dog, very hard of hearing but always willing to have a treat. Bob's constant companion since his wife died five years ago, Twerp liked ice cream after dinner and a warm buttered English muffin for breakfast. Too old to chase rabbits and squirrels anymore, he delighted in resting with Bob on the bank in the front yard and watching the world go by. Twerp died three weeks ago, and Bob is doing his best to understand and deal with the loss of his best friend. Because as we all know, dogs supply unconditional love in this sometimes unloving world. Twerp was sixteen, old in dog years. Will Rogers said that he didn't know if dogs went to heaven, but when he died, he wanted to go where they go when they die.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Surgery and Decisions

Hi everyone,

Deb continues to medicate for a rash that is improving, but is still present on her ankles, hands and face. She is taking extra B 6 tablets to help with numbness and pain in her toes and the tips of her fingers. She is taking steroids to help with the rash and her hair is coming in gray. Yikes!!

Deb's surgeon examined her on Wednesday and after speaking with her oncologist, Dr. Weyburn, called Deb at work to tell her about the next steps.

A MRI will be done and then Deb and I will meet with Dr. Compagnoni, her surgeon, to discuss surgery. The current medical opinion is that a mastectomy will be necessary rather than a lumpectomy.

Deb will have to decide if she wants reconstructive surgery first. If so, then she would meet with the doctor recommended by Dr. Compagnoni who would preform the reconstruction at the same time at the breast surgery. Deb would have to decide between two implants, silicone and saline or using the tissue from her abdomen. The main difference is the recovery time, six week or more versus two to three weeks for the implants.

After surgery Deb would take an oral medication and have radiation treatments. The number of treatments could reach thirty or more.

Deb is doing well with this, but we plan to meet with Pastor Tews to get some help dealing with our emotions. We realize there are no guarantees, either for the surgery or after, and this is still a frightening time for us.

We had a good weekend with terrific weather and topped off by dinner at Deb's parents with pot roast and noodles. We even took Strider to visit. She was beside herself with happiness going on a car ride that didn't involve the groomer or the vet.

Please renew your prayers for Danny and Marge, and all those like Deb that face cancer.

On a wonderful, positive note, a miracle has allowed Molly Brown (don't you just love the name) to have the medication line removed from her chest and to stop wearing a back pack filled with the medication twenty four hours a day.

When Molly was diagnosed with what the doctors called an incurable lung disease shortly after birth, six years ago, she was sentenced to a life without most of the enjoyments typical babies and toddlers enjoy. She couldn't swim, and all of her clothes had to accommodate the line and the backpack. Can you imagine what her first day was like without the gear? He mother wrote a note about what it was like. If you are interested, please write to me and I'll send it to you. I tried to read it to Deb and had to stop several times to regroup. Molly's mom's sister is married to Deb's brother. This is a real miracle. Praise God! Unsinkable Molly Brown indeed!

My e mail address is for this blog.

Take care everyone, hug one another and pray for each other.