Sunday, December 19, 2010

A weekend of surprises.

Hi Everyone,

Not the weekend I'd thought we'd have, not at all. Deb had her first chemo on Thursday, and was out of it Friday all day. Very tired and a bit of an upset stomach. She said even that soon her taste buds were affected, something that took longer last time. Her scalp seemed to feel different, a harbinger of complete hair loss that will start within the next two weeks.

Saturday was her sister's 50th birthday party and so based on her feeling better by 6 PM we went. The food was terrific and we had a great time. We were the first to leave at 9 PM. And then something happened that had never happened last time at all. Deb had a completely miserable night. She couldn't lay flat in bed and even more couldn't sleep.

I went to church without her and found her sleeping when I got home. She's sitting at the table trying to finish some Christmas cards. Everything is behind this year. And no Christmas letter. I must admit I could think of much to say that would be cheery. Anyway, tomorrow is another day. And God will lead it through it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The First Steps

Hi Campers

Deb had her power port put in on Tuesday. In addition to accepting chemo and providing a port for the weekly blood tests, apparently it can be used for contrast medium, such as what was inserted before the CT scan.

Kathlena Rule spent the day with Deb at the hospital as the port was installed and a bone scan and CT scan completed. Kathlena is part of our small group through the Chapel. Our group is wonderful. What a blessing.

When I got home Deb was really wiped out. She ended up sleeping on the couch with Strider for a while. Later she moved into our bed and slept all night. She had pain, but she said it was manageable.

Yesterday she spent the day dealing with pain from the abuse of surgery. When I got home we had some soup and relaxed as much as possible. Deb still found time to fold the clean laundry. I helped her shower. She said being under the water felt terrific.

Today she will have the first of six chemo treatments. She will go into work for a while first. Her sister will be her back up if she can’t drive home. We don’t know what to expect this time around because different chemicals are involved in the treatment.

Deb and I are glad the treatments are under way, so the healing can begin. We expect surgery in May and radiation treatments until July. But, when have we been able to see the future. It’s in God’s hands and He loves us. That’s all we need to know.

God Bless Everyone.

I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for. ~James H. Boren

Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway. ~Mary C. Crowley

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Long Journey Starts

Deb is scheduled to have a power port put in next Tuesday (12/14/10) and on the same day, a CT scan and a bone scan. Deb would really like to know if cancer is present in any other part of her body.

The chemical cocktail of Taxotere and Cytoxan will be injected on Thursday (12/16/10) and every three weeks until the total treatments number six. She will have blood tests every week to monitor white blood cells.

Tonight she has her hair cut short in anticipation of losing it all, probably after the second chemotherapy treatment 1/6. Following treatments will be on 1/27, 2/17, 3/10 and 4/7, followed by another round of tests.

TAXOTERE is a microtubule inhibitor indicated for:
• Breast Cancer (BC): single agent for locally advanced or metastatic BC after chemotherapy failure; and with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide as adjuvant treatment of operable node-positive BC (1.1)

What side effects can this medication cause?
Docetaxel injection may cause side effects. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, changes in taste, extreme tiredness, muscle, joint or bone pain. Hair loss, nail changes, increased eye tearing. Sores in the mouth and throat and redness, dryness or swelling at the site where the medication was injected.

Cytoxan (Cytoxin) is an antineoplastic medicine. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of malignant cells. Cytoxan (Cytoxin) may be used alone but is often given with other anticancer medications.
Cytoxan (Cytoxin) is used to treat Breast cancer

Side-effects include chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), bone marrow suppression, stomach ache, diarrhea, darkening of the skin/nails, alopecia (hair loss) or thinning of hair, changes in color and texture of the hair, and lethargy. Hemorrhagic cystitis is a frequent complication, but this is prevented by adequate fluid intake and Mesna (sodium 2-mercaptoethane sulfonate). Mesna is a sulfhydryl donor and binds acrolein.
Cyclophosphamide is itself carcinogenic, potentially causing transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder as a long-term complication. It can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. It can cause temporary or (rarely) permanent sterility.
Other (serious) side effects include:
• gross and microscopic hematuria,
• unusual decrease in the amount of urine,
• mouth sores,
• unusual tiredness or weakness,
• joint pain,
• easy bruising/bleeding,
• existing wounds that are slow healing.

Last time Deb had most of the usual side effects.

I suppose it’s not all that great to know in advance what to expect. Chemicals that cause side effects, followed by surgery and then radiation therapy, with no certainty that all the efforts of skilled and caring physicians will be successful or that even then, cancer won’t come back down the road as it did this time.

That’s why Deb (and I) put our trust in prayer. We know that we don’t know, can’t be sure and may lose faith in the medical community, but that God is with Deb and will be throughout this ordeal. When her hair is gone, her finger and toes numb or painful, food tastes tinny or just awful, and when it’s a mighty struggle to just get out of bed, He will be holding on to her and stroking her head. He will be the peace and calm in a storm of pain and suffering. Her pain will draw her closer to the cross.

So thank you for reading this and for your expressions of kindness and your prayers.

Please also remember Jack McKevett, my buddy, who is treating for advanced cancer right now. Pray for healing, and also peace and calm for him and Dee.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Saint Augustine

Love to all,

Dan and Deb

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News, Not so good.

Hi everyone,

Deb's surgeon and oncologist has determined that the main tumor in her right breast is three and one half by four centimeters. About an inch and one half by a bit less than that.

The one in the left breast was six centimeters.

So we've learned that the anti cancer drugs, Tamoxifen, did not prevent this tumor, but since lobular tumors are not detected by mammograms, it's possible this tumor was present for some time.

We don't have the exact plan yet, but it appears it will start with the insertion of a power port for chemo and blood work. is a link to a site showing a port.

We assume that chemo is intended to shrink the tumors present and to kill any other cancer cells present in remote areas.

Deb is understandably disappointed, saddened, a bit angry and would like to get on with the program. Her emotions seem to be a bit tipsy right now.

Now the good news. Many people are praying for Deb. She is very strong and has the will to beat this thing again.

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.
Lance Armstrong

Once you choose hope, anything's possible.
Christopher Reeve

And so as so many others before, Deb will choose to fight like hell and have faith that whatever God's will is for her, she will accept it but never stop asking Him for healing and peace.

Thank you for reading this and above all, thank you for your prayers.


Monday, November 22, 2010



It’s been approximately three years and seven months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and just over three years since the removal of my left breast. I had my first colonoscopy in October, a mammogram and my first bone density scan a couple of weeks ago, all with positive results. I have been seeing my oncologist and surgeon on the every 6-month plan and my radiation oncologist and general practitioner at least annually, always with good results. So imagine my surprise when during my latest visit with my surgeon on Tuesday November 16 when during the exam she “felt something”. She continued the exam and decided to check more thoroughly via ultrasound and then thought it prudent to perform a biopsy. This was a lot more than I had bargained for going into this appointment.

I had never thought much about how I might feel or react at learning that the cancer might return. Well, now I know. As I left the exam room, my whole body was shaking and by the time I got into the car, I was sobbing uncontrollably. I called Dan to fill him in, called my manager, as I had gone during my lunch time for the appointment, to let her know and then I went home; however, I didn’t go straight home. I made a detour through the McDonald’s drive-through for a Big Mac and fries; something I hadn’t done for a very long time.

I was told I could get the biopsy results on Friday November 19. In an effort not to alarm my family, I chose not to mention the biopsy until knowing the results. My hope was to be able to announce at Thanksgiving, “Yeah, we had a bit of scare last week…”. Well I got the biopsy results Friday and heard the words once more, “You have cancer.” I’d pretty much already resigned myself to the news being the worst and remained composed throughout the day; however, by the time I got home I was very tired; it had been a rough week physically and emotionally. The cancer is in the opposite breast and is lobular, the same kind I had before, which is why it wasn’t detected by my recent mammogram. (Dan did a great job of explaining all this in one of the earliest posts to this blog, so I won’t get into it here, but feel free to go back and read the earlier posts, especially those of you who are new to this blog.) I called my immediate family (for me the hardest part of the ordeal) to inform them and Dan let the girls (Kathi, Krista & Erin) know. We also met with our small group from The Chapel last night, a group of folks we are very thankful for.

Dan and I met with my surgeon this afternoon. She examined the biopsy site and did some more poking and prodding. We discussed my cancer history, agreed an MRI was needed to get a better handle on the size and placement of the tumor and discussed possible treatment plans, but could not decide on a definite path until we get the results of the MRI and my oncologist provides his thoughts. We left feeling encouraged, but not overly optimistic. My MRI is scheduled for tomorrow. I’ll meet with my surgeon Tuesday November 30 to review the MRI results and discuss a feasible treatment plan.

As most of you reading this know, Dan was the author of all the posts last time around and because he has a way with words, will be picking up this one after this initial post of mine. I may still jump in from time to time.

I want to thank all of my family and friends for their unconditional love and support that is already being conveyed. You are very special to me. We believe that God has a plan for this and we are content to remain faithful and as calm as possible. Keep praying!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Ruminations

Hi Campers, welcome to Friday the 13th!

I haven’t been too excited lately about life in general. Combined with my apathy, is the oppressing heat that keeps us indoors, and you get a television watching couch potato.

I’m not sure what has come over me. My 65th birthday came and went, without too much hoopla, and we’ve had enough rain that the flowers, grass and trees in the yard are beautiful.

Strider (the wonder dog) has an internal medical problem that is somewhere in her skull and cannot be completely diagnosed. It has caused her left eye and the side of her face to look as if she had a stroke. Our vet recommended we ride it out and we will visit the vet every six weeks or so to have an exam. Strider will be eight this year.

Our church, The Chapel, is opening a McHenry campus, not too far from us and we will worship at the McHenry West High School on Sunday mornings. We’re excited about the start up even though we switch from Saturday night worship to Sunday. Deb and I will be involved in several things at first until we get more people and then we will be in training mode. We also have a terrific small group we like a lot.

I’m looking through the other end of the telescope now. Reversing the lens allows me to see the present as a result of the past, I guess.

Every president and most elected officials, it seems, are not only reviled in the media but they are under such intense scrutiny that I wonder how they govern or why they would want to serve. I think it becomes apparent that most of them survive by promising the electorate anything for a vote and so start running for re-election the day after they take office. We coerce them with the threat of block voting for someone else, and they rob Peter to pay Paul until we have our financial backs to the wall, and still we borrow money to keep Illinois afloat. Why would anyone delude themselves by thinking that our elected officials are any different than the constituency that elects them?

Illinois is TWENTY ONE BILLION in debt. And that’s not counting the enormous undervaluing of the state and local government pensions. How did we get that way?

They say that hoarding has become more common in the last few years. Two Chicago Tribune stories in the last month told of a couple found buried (dead) under mounds of stuff in their homes. In one case a hole was cut in the roof to extract someone who could not even touch the floor. Our savings are down, and our debt is up. Even taking away the massive amount of money lost of the home debacle, there is still trillions of dollars owed by Americans to satisfy the lack of financial discipline over the last forty years.

Was it the lure of easy money the last few years that led so many to live above their means? Did we think that a day of reckoning would never arrive? Is our live now, pay later, responsible for the rampant obesity and health woes? When the bills come due, and they always do, will we understand how we got there and be ashamed?

We have made America the champion of a disposable life style. We have moved from the bedrock that was American values to a mean spirited people who are more concerned about the latest technology than supporting good works with their time and money. And it’s not just stuff, but relationships, marriages and friendships that suffer, wither and die too.

We have no time for anyone anymore. We’re impatient with our spouse, our children and family. We are always in a hurry, afraid it seems to let time have its way with our lives. We resent the intrusions of life. The child who is ill, lonely, or sad, the neighbor who needs help or the poor people that are everywhere, never register on our radar screen because we are so self-absorbed. We have become the rich fool from the Bible.

And our anger. Where did that come from? Road rage, parents killing children, people on stabbing sprees, murder-suicides, it defines American culture today. Harsh words, escalating arguments, some settled with fists or guns, permeate our cities. People beaten with baseball bats, by strangers who didn’t know them. Mental derangement or uncontrolled anger? Hard to decide.

It may be that generations behind us will be different. They won’t care as much about stuff and power. The old guard politicians will make way for those who really want to govern, with equality, fairness, compassion and honesty. My bet is that the other 49 states will get there before our land of pay to play here in Illinois.

Or it may be that people will finely see that for every dollar spent by government, you and I have to pay taxes equal to that dollar and one more for the government worker for his wages, fringe benefits and retirement costs. We can only defer those costs so long before we collapse under the mound of debt.

I would be nice to un ring the bell, put the genie back in the bottle and go back in the past to when life was simpler, more predictable and maybe more fun. I don’t know what year that would work. Maybe 1955? 1925?

The only peace I seem to enjoy is reading a good book or taking a nap. Not much of a recipe for all our social ills, is it. So tonight I’ll curl up in my recliner and fire up the 52 inch big screen and watch the ball game or the PGA Championship. And I’ll wonder where the heroes of government are today. Do we have a John Adams or a Thomas Jefferson out there? Who would we compare to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln today? We need courageous leaders in Illinois who will root out corruption and waste and be accountable and transparent.

But perhaps most of all we need people to demand fairness and honesty and then have the courage to model that by paying their fair share of taxes and supporting efforts with time and money to help those who suffer most. We need more humble servants, we have enough leaders, it seems.