Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tired and Tired of Being Tired

It has been another three weeks of medications and this is the rest week. That also means a trip to the doctor, blood tests and a look at where we stand. Nothing has changed. That is the good news and the bad news.

Kathy continues to do OK with the medication. She wears gloves most of the time as her hands are sore and get leathery unless she keeps them moisturized. They are red and achy just like her feet. She can't really open up bottles or cans or anything as her feeling in her fingertips is not good. It makes me more valuable.

Her blood count on the white blood cells is good so her risk for infection is pretty good right now. Her hair is growing back, mostly on the top of her head but pretty much everywhere (like places it never used to but she can't complain because I have more hair in my ears and nose than on the top of my head). The tumors aren't growing so we live with all the side effects.

Her red blood cell count isn't so good so she is border line anemic. She has a hard time getting going in the morning and is always tired. The scary thing is that she is a little light headed at times. A couple nights ago she got up to use the restroom and fell down. It got me pretty excited as she banged into the dressor with her head. She was OK and a little wiser from the experience but just one more thing to live with. They say it isn't severe enough to warrent a blood transfusion or anything which made her cry cause she just has to buck up and live with it. She is tired of living with everything.

The other day in church I leaned over and said what a lousy year it had been and how I was glad it was almost over. She said some good things have happened too. I said, oh yea, name three. She wispered, "I came home from the hospital". Enough said.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week Off Meds and All is Well

Kathy went back east with me to Mark Forsyth's memorial service. I needed the help both emotionally and travel wise. It seems the older I get the worse I travel. I don't mind the flights from a safety perspective. I feel totally safe. What bothers me is all the hassels of flying. The long lines, the scanning, the shoes on and off, the tiny seats and no leg room. What I hate the most is the worry about my carry on luggage and whethor I'll find space for it. That and knowing where the bathroom's are really seem to concern me. Weird, I know, but bathrooms have become a big part of my life.

Kathy flet well enough to go with me. I bet most people didn't notice that she was wearing a wig. They did see the arm all bandaged up due to the lymphodema but I doubt many noticed the red, pealing fingers and hands and the redness on the knees and bottoms of her feet. She didn't complain or bring up her aches with anyone, she rarely does. I guess that is all good, it was a time to mourn and not a time to discuss our problems.

Kathy has just decided to "man up" when it comes to her battles. She does an excellant job. I just hope I can continue to man up too. I've realized this past two weeks that I'm just as sensitive as I always was and that I can cry at the drop of a hat. This is not a good thing I don't believe. We have a long way to go with this cancer thing and my father still has a lot of health concerns too. I can do all I need to do but I'm just afraid I'll not feel the way I want to feel. When I start to bawl it can get others a bit concerned.

We all have troubles, no? This is Kathy's week off the medicines. She gets to recover some from the buildup before she starts again next Monday. We like this week.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kathy CT scan results

Well I'm still suffering from the blow of learning that Mark Forsyth died in a crash two days ago (see my yesterday posting). I found an article in his local paper that was disturbing and it seems they don't know a lot about what happened. I still can't absorb this right now.

In good new.... and thank goodness that there is some. We found out that Kathy's latest CT scan results indicated that the tumors have not grown in any location. The only negative from last CT scan was that there was some unidentified cloud in the lung but even that is gone. This means a lot of good things. She gets to continue on the same medication which is great since it is just a pill twice a day. The side affects are noticable but not too drastic and her hair can grow back.

Right now her hair is longer than mine and she will be showing it off more and more in public. I still like the wig but I've never been able to talk her into the blond or redhead wigs I wanted. Oh well, she looks good with the ones she has.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two Passings

My mother passed away on Monday, October 26th. She had been going downhill for some time and could no longer swallow without the food or drink going into her lungs. She was taken to the hospital on October 18th and after a few days we were told what the outcome was going to be and the choices to be made. Mom refused to be fed thru a tube and so tough decisions were made to let her slip away. She came home on Friday and passed away on Monday. She went peacefully and quietly surrounded by friends and family.

The funeral was held October 31st and was attended by many friends and family. Dad, Rosanne and husband Chris and Kathy and I went to Utah for the burial. She was buried on November 3rd next to my brother James who passed away in 1963 due to injuries from a motorcycle accident.

We got home last night and this morning when I came to work the first email I received informed me that one of my closest lifelong friends (and the inspiration behind these blogs), Mark Forsyth, was killed in a car accident last night. The shock and the pain is still pretty intense and I'm not able to focus too much on my work. I loved the guy. He was one of the most caring people I know and a great friend. He and I had both settled in the San Franciso Bay Area after college and even worked for the same company for a couple years. Having him near by was great even though we didn't get together as often as I wish.

We had recently talked and he had told me how much I had meant to him and the example I had set. Funny, I thought it was the other way around. Mark got me started on gospel study and mission preparation. I have often thought of those High School years and the great friend he was to me. I will miss him. My heart goes out to Liz and their family.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good News From CT Scan

I think we got the best news so far from a doctors visit yesterday. Kathy had a CT scan just before we left for Idaho to take Michael to school. We thought the doctor might call us while we were gone but she didn't so we went to the appointment yesterday with our usual amount of concerns and nervousness. But it turned out to be our best visit yet.

The CT scan indicated some of the spots on the lymph nodes on her chest had gone "off radar" or schrunk enough that they don't show up. Also, there was no indication of progression in the liver. That is the first we have heard that in some time so that was the news of the day. The only negative was that there was a little fluid in her right lung that they couldn't understand why it would be there. It could be so many things and the amount wasn't enough to cause too much concern. They will keep their eye on it for the next scan and if it continues they may take a sample (via needle) and analyze. We hope it goes away.

With the results of the CT Kathy will be able to keep on the same medication for about six more weeks. Two weeks on, one week off. Then we will see what is going on. The medication she is taking is oral so it is nice and convenient and her hair is growing back in. She likes that.

The side affects from the current medication is that she has tender hands and feet. She can't open lids on things very well or do intricate things with her fingers such as counted cross-stitch. Towards the end of her two weeks "on" medication she gets sore feet where it hurts to stand up and start walking. But that doesn't last too many days and subsides when she goes "off" for a week. We will see if this continues. She also has to deal with the medicine burn she gets on her arms whenever exposed to even small amounts of sunlight.

Side effects-----they stink. But overall, the results were good and we are happy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Dosage Reduction

Kathy visited the doctor today on her 3 week chemo cycle. She has been suffering more side effects from her drugs. Her non-wrapped arm looks like it has a severe rash and her hand on her wrapped arm does too. It is a chemical reaction between her drugs and the sun. If she is out in the sun at all she gets the rash (or burn). It is annoying but the thing that seems worse is the sore feet she has because of the drug.

It isn't the feet in general, but the bottom of her feet. They are sore and tender so when she gets up to walk she is in pain for the first 20 steps or so and then it gets a little better. If she wears softer shoes it is better than barefoot on the floor. I have to admit it is a bit humorous to watch as she gets up and moves about (cause she can't just sit still). She looks like a grandma and even though that is exactly what she wants to be she looks like an old grandma when she walks. I try not to laugh but I did last night. Now I regret it.

The doctor told her to reduce the chemo dosage. It is a pill so easily done. This is her week off of chemo so we hope the symptoms will clear up some and she will feel a little better.

I guess give the circumstances it isn't too bad. She isn't even complaining yet. It is all very factual about how she feels every day and what she needs to do feel better. So we have to feel grateful it isn't worse.

Kathy will get new CT scans in the next couple of weeks and we will see where she stands. She has noticed some of the bumps and lumps have receded and that is usually a good sign. We'd like to see some of that in the liver, but we'll take victories wherever we can.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Change in Dosage

Well, it has been awhile since I last updated everyone on Kathy's treatments. She switched over to an oral chemo treatment which, of course, if really nice and convenient because she doesn't have to go 30 miles to the hospital to have her chemo. We haven't been on it long enough to know how it is working but we do know what the side effects are.

At our family reunion Kathy started to notice a blister on her lip. This is disconcerting after her hospital stay with so many mouth sores. She was also experiencing tendor feet. Both I think were mentioned as possible side effects. She called her doctor while we were on vacation and they told her to stop taking the medication until they could see her.

Kathy saw her doctor on Tuesday and they have reduced the dosage some and want her to begin taking the medication on Monday the 10th. The lip sore problem has in the meantime gotten much worse. The blister is much bigger and her lower lip seems to be split open some all along the lip. It is sore and she can't eat everything without it bleeding. Kissing is out of the question------dang it.

Hopefully, the side effects will be softened before she starts up again. School starts on Monday as well. Fun times ahead.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kathy Udate from Kathy

Here is an email Kathy recently sent out. It is better than I could do so I just cut and pasted.

Dear Friends and Family:

Before I go into my "report" that most of you have requested, I want to let you know that we just got back from a wonderful family/friend vacation down the coast of California and had a wonderful time. 16 out of 22 of us on the trip road approximately 350 miles on bicycles. I drove the "sag wagon", or watched the scenery. It was great.

I tell you this because only a week before the trip my chemo had to be cancelled due to low white blood counts. I was also showing other signs and symptoms that the current chemo regimin (Taxol and Avastin) was becoming quite toxic in my system. I was already scheduled to have a week off of chemo for the trip, so I ended up with a two week break that gave my body a chance to recover a bit and to feel great, overall, for the vacation. The Lord truly does answer prayers.

Yesterday, the Monday after returning from the Coast Ride, I had new CT scans done and received the results today at my doctor's appointment. Most of my cancer turmors continue to be stable--that's the good news. Unfortunately, the tumors in my liver showed some growth. The growth was in the millimeters, but it was growth nonetheless.

So, with this slight growth along with the side-effects that were becoming more difficult, my doctor recommended that I change my chemo treatment affective immediately. I did not get chemo today and am, in fact, done with Taxol and Avastin. Next Monday I begin taking a new drug called Xeloda which is in a pill form. I take this medication twice a day for 14 days then take a week off. The side effects are expected to be quite manageble.

The doctor had a whole list of options to choose from for this next phase of treatment, but I chose the Xeloda mostly because it is a pill and I will get a break from the weekly infusions. My lymphedema in my right arm has gotten out of control and I will need to be going to physical therapy for a few weeks in August to treat that. I also have a family reunion to attend, a week of camping with friends, and a son to get off to college the first week of September, so the pills seemed the perfect option to free up my life a bit while I deal with these other things. I feel really good about this decision.

My sister, Darlene, was with me for the doctor's appointment and we both noticed as Dr. Chew described the different medications and options available, that she said "over the years of treatment..."--I like to hear that!

Thanks to all of you for your love a support. I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful set of friends and so many family members that are so concerned. I apologize if sometimes I seem a bit impatient with your "concerns" on my behalf. I often feel perfectly normal and wonder why people are always making a fuss over me. Ahhhh, well, I still need to learn a few things.............

Love to all--Kathy

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Well, last week I said how I had become so comfortable that I hadn't asked about the white blood cell count. Last night I asked. It had been very low last week but just enough that they could go ahead with the chemo. Today, before they started the chemo Kathy was informed that the count was too low. Her doctor is on vacation and they will email her but they dont' know if that means a delay for a few days or what. Since this is a short week and next week we are on vacation it looks like no chemo this week or next.

It is frustrating. Not only for Kathy who plans her life around these chemo cycles but for those who help us. Today, Darlene drove from the Bay Area to help and simply got her there and took her home. About 200 miles round trip just to hear that nothing is happening. Sorry, Darlene.

On the other hand it is probably good. Kathy had more side effects this week than usual. Her arms broke out in a rash/burn from the chemicals and the sun combination. It has been over 100 degrees this past week and that may help her sinuses but now it seems it hurts her in other ways. In addition she is having her hands and especially her knuckles peal and they are very sore. Maybe two weeks off is good at this point.

On Monday the 13th she has another CT scan and we see what is changing.

The whole process is frustrating. Especially if you have the kind of personality where you plan and plan and keep on a schedule. Chemo and cancer can't be scheduled.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All Good So Some Family Stuff

Kathy had her chemo today and our daughter-in-law Kathryn went with her. It is the quick version today since she doesn't have the Avastin every time. They were done by 11:00.

Kathy is doing well with the treatments and is just mostly tired. I can tell that I am getting much more comfortable with the whole thing again because I haven't asked about her white blood count for more than a month. Is that because there is no reason to worry or that I just am too comfortable. I don't know.

A friend of ours in the ward, Kimberly Cope, also has breast cancer and is going thru chemo for the first time. Actually, she has had her last treatment. She got really sick after every chemo and after her last time she ended up in the hospital with an infection. Any infection during chemo is very dangerous. She was in the hospital for four days.

It is things like that that keep me pondering. It doesn't take much. But I dwell too much on the negative.

The bike trip is coming along nicely. We have 22 -24 people going and it should be a fun group. I think most are going to be ready for the ride. Some more excited than others but whatever.

David and Kathryn are pretty settled into our home for a little bit. I think it is going well but what do I know, I'm just the Dad. David will start working for a medical translation company. THey will send him to various hospitals around the area when Russian interpretation is needed. We aren't sure how many hours he will be working but it is something. Maybe he can get some translation work on the side. The FBI thing is going very slowly.

Mike is getting ready to go to BYU-Idaho in September. All registered for his classes and stuff. He is the first of our family to go there so it is all new to us. I think he is getting more excited or resolved to going there. I think he will like everything but the weather.

Well, that is all from me. Kathy says she still loves me so life is still good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good Week Off and Now Back to Work

Kathy had a good week off of chemo. She rested a lot and regained some of her strength. She had her chemo treatment yesterday and feels better today than she did a few days ago. That is great news.

We will keep a careful eye on things for the next couple weeks as we get ready for our big bike vacation. We leave July 6th for a week of riding down the California coast. We go 350 miles in 5 days ending up at Santa Barbara. We are counting on Kathy being a driver of one of our four vehicles. So we all have motivation to see that she remains healthy and strong.

Once we get back she will have another CT scan and we will see. For now, things are going very good.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Week off and Doctor Visit

The good thing about the cycle Kathy is on is that one week a month she doesn't get chemo. That is a week of recovery and feeling a little better. On the other hand it is the week she is the most tired because of the buildup of the drugs from the previous three weeks.

Anyway, cycle 1 of the Avastin and Taxol mix is done. Kathy is much more tired than she was before this cycle and that was more tired than when she was not on chemo. She sleeps 9 or 10 hours a night and takes at least one 2 hour nap a day. I may have that wrong but not by much. By the time I get home from work and dinner is over, she is pretty much wiped out and ready for bed. Consequently, I haven't seen too much of her awake lately it seems.

She saw her doctor today and talked about being tired and the bloody noses she has been having. She has been doing this nose rinse thing twice a day to help stay the sinus infections but they have been giving her bloody noses. She has been having bloody noses like twice a day which is the same number of times a day she does the rinse. So each night as she readies for bed she brushes her teeth and rinses her sinuses and gets a bloody nose. This of course happens when she is exhausted so it has been a stuggle. Bloody noses happens to be one of the side effects of the Avastin.

It could be a lot worse. She still gets around, serves in the temple one day a week and keeps the house running. At half speed she does more than me.

Cycle 2 of this treatment starts next Tuesday and goes for three weeks. Then we leave for the bike trip down the coast. There are 22-24 of us going and we planned on it being Kathy's week off treatment. Lets hope that works out. When we return from the trip she will have another CT scan and we will hold our breath to see what is cooking in her body.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Three More Treatments and Going Well

Kathy has had three infusions with the Avastin and continues to do well. There is some evidence of some side effects but not too many.

Due to complications with insurance here first infusion on the new chemo mix was delayed to May 22nd. She then had the second on May 28th and the third yesterday, June 3. That means that next week she has not chemo. That is always welcome.

There was some concern after the second treatment last week that our insurance would not cover the Avastin. Finally, our doctor, Dr. Chew, called the insurance people and "Chew'd them out". It is all straightened out and no longer a problem. Good thing because that stuff is expensive.

The biggest side effect continues to be tiredness. She sleeps longer than usual every night and takes one or two naps every day. We can't really complain about that when friends of ours are fighting nausea every day. We feel lucky.

Kathy continues to have numbness in her hands and feet, feels cold often, and her hands have tender spots and the skin peals off to some extent. The skin peeling thing was getting worse and worse before the hospital stay but has been much better since. We are just watching and waiting and praying.

Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Treatment Plan Based on CT

How long can a good thing last. The CT scan results pretty much told us that things were progessing in the wrong way and after visiting with the doctor it was confirmed. There is some progression in the liver (our biggest concern) and other places. That means that the chemo treatment with just Taxol isn't doing enough. Our doctor has recommended adding Avastin in with the chemo treatments and still have the Taxol.

Avastin has certain side effects and Taxol has certain side effects. So the combination doesn't do anything but complicate life. She currently has numbness in her fingertips and toes, fatigue, quesiness and a few other ones that are livable and not noticable to anyone else. In fact, you wouldn't know she was suffering unless she told you all the side effects. Fortunately, all these side effects are not keeping her from doing what she wants to do and enjoying life. So it is good.

She is at chemo right now. Will probably be about 3 hours before she comes and picks up the car. Maybe she can take me home with her and I won't have to ride home the 28.39 miles. You see, there are some good side affects from all this.

We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And the CT Results Are........

We got the results back from the Doctors Assistant. Our Doctor is out of town but we wanted to know the results as soon as we could. The good news is that there has been very little change in size and scope. The bad news is that about the only place there has been any increase in tumor volume is the liver which is the area we are most concerned about.

We are pretty sure this will mean Kathy will have to change her chemo mix to add another chemical but won't know for sure until next Tuesday. We will just have to see and then we'll let you know.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Wait For CT Scan Results

One of the difficult things with Stage 4 cancer is the constant tests that are done and the important implications each test brings. Every two months Kathy will have a CT scan to see where the tumors are and whethor they are growing, shrinking, or staying the same.

This last Monday Kathy had another CT scan and we are waiting for the results. If all goes well, the CT will confirm that the tumors have not spread or grown. That will mean she can stay on the same chemo treatment she has been on since the hospital. She has done well with the chemo since the hospital with few serious side effects so this is a big issue. If the CT scan shows the tumors have spread or increased in size she will have to add another chemical to her chemo mix. The problems and side affects can increase substantially with a new mix and you don't know what that will mean for quality of life. In short, the CT scan will dictate our life for at least the next two months.

The goal is to stay on the same chemo treatment as long as possible. Changes mean bad things. It means that the disease is spreading and we need to try another way of combating the problem. Sadly, the disease always mutates and so it is a matter of time before the cancer figures out a way around the chemo and you have to try another line of defense. The end result is pretty certain but it is how long you can delay it and the quality of life you can maintain that determine what you do.

So we wait. Aggravating, draining, waiting. Grinding, depressing, waiting. Dragging, worrying, waiting. Waiting is not a strong suit of mine.

I'll post another blog when we get the results.

In other news. David graduates this weekend. He will be moving in with us for the summer as he tries to get established in the translation world.

Michael's HS volleyball team won their conference and went to the playoffs but got beat in their first game. They didn't play very well. He was chosen as an all star to play in an all star game a week after the tournament ends.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feeling Good

Nothing really new this week. Kathy had her second infusion of this cycle. In two weeks she will have her CT scan again to see where we stand. That will be an important day in determining whethor she adds a new chemical (Avastin?) to her infusion.

Yesterday we went to lunch after her chemo and read about the possible side affects of Avastin. They aren't good. One of them is sores on the tongue and mouth which is one of the major things she suffered with in the hospital. We both hope she doesn't get that side effect.

I've been reading about the paranoia of the swine flu. I think in different terms. What about all those chemo patients out there? What if they get sick? I think we will have to be more careful than normal. Too much to lose.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cycle 3 After Hospital Stay Starts Today

Today Kathy received the first infusion of cycle 3 since her hospitalization. She made it thru the critical week without any sickness or complications. She feels good most of the time and the chemo doesn't knock her down.

Last week she met with her doctor and she and Kathy agreed that until the tumor volume or size increases that she should just stay on this treatment and not add another chemical. That is good because she is doing well and any additional chemicals will have side effects. So the decision is that she will go thru this cycle (three weeks of chemo once per week) and then get another CT scan. If the CT scan shows no tumor growth she can remain on the current treatment a bit longer. If it shows new locations or larger tumors or more tumors then another chemical gets added to the mix.

That means another month at least of feeling pretty good. That means another month of happiness (unless of course she gets sick or her white blood cell count goes down or some thing else).

Anyway, this Friday is our 27th anniversary and our two sons at BYU will be home for the weekend. No big plans but we celebrate each of these events as significant mile stones. We are happy to be where we are.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So Good It Worries Me

Things have been going so good with the chemo that it worries me. How long can this keep up? Even with her blood count down (at least it seems down to me) she breezed thru this latest infusion without feeling too bad or slowing her down. In fact, she even invited guests over for a few days (Friday and Saturday).

If it had been me I would have wanted to stay away from everyone to make sure I didn't get sick on this critical time. Not Kathy, she doesn't want anything to slow her down. We had guests over and then she prepared a lesson for Relief Society and stood and taught her lesson with about 30 women in the room. If it had been me...........lets face it, she makes us all look kinda whimpy.

This week there is no chemo. She will have time to get the blood count back up before the next infusion of poison (aka chemo) on the 21st. I believe the plan is for her to get a second chemical added to the mixture. I don't know what that chemical is or what side effects it might have. We will just keep hoping and praying.

The handicap accessible shower in the downstairs bathroom is complete. It looks really nice with the tile we picked out and stuff. We got clear glass shower doors so we can continually admire our tiled shower. Oh yes, we are that materialistic. I think it will work to be able to push a small wheelchair into the shower and have it usable. Hopefully not necessary but we want to be prepared.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Round 3 Today--Things are Good

Kathy got her 3rd infusion today which means she gets next week off. Her sinus infection seems to be cleared up and she feels and looks good. Her white blood cell count is only a 4.5 which is what I worry about because she can't really fight infections much when it is low. It will go down with this treatment so we have to be careful where she goes and who she is around.

Mike caught Kathy's sickness and is in Las Vegas for his school volleyball tourney. He called and sounded rather miserable and knew he got it from his mom. In spite of that his team won all there games yesterday. He got a good nights sleep and feels much better today but they lost their first game. The team is surprisingly good this year after basically losing all their starters to graduation last year. Fun times.

Our bathroom remodel is done as of today. A new handicap accessable shower down stairs for visitors and just in case. It is nicely tiled and looks great. I don't know how much it cost and probably don't want to.

Just as we finished up the bathroom I discovered that there is a leak by our front door that has been there for a year or two and is rotting thru the front wood paneling. It now has to be torn out and examined. Unfortunatley, the panelling from the bathroom remodel has been thrown away. Would have been cheap but not now. Oh well, it is only money. Compared to the other issues in our lives right now it is not very significant.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Kathy has been struggling for the past six months with draining sinuses. This has lead to several sinus infections. The last one occured in January and may have been the precursor to her hospital stay. To say the least they make us nervous.

She is suffering with a cold and possibly a sinus infection again. She coughs a lot and then goes downstairs to sleep so as not to bother me. She is on medication again for a sinus infection and she underwent her chemo infusion yesterday. We are just praying that this isn't deja vu. Every little thing is a danger and there are no small risks. Life is brittle.

Otherwise things are going great. She isn't sick at all from the chemo and it is sometimes hard to tell that she is being treated. Other than the physical reminders of course.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kathy Rides Again

This week we have been enjoying the time off from chemo. Kathy's strength is nearly 100% as evidenced by the fact that she wanted to get out on our tandem bicycle and ride. We rode around the neighborhood but Kathy complained she wanted to "get out and go somewhere". So we hoped out onto the open rode and went down to where my old office was in Serrano and back. We rode a total of 6.87 miles (yes, we are that precise). The next day she felt fine and now we are going to be increasing the time and speed to get her legs back.

When Kathy first came home from the hospital she could barely make it up and down the stairs more than a couple times a day. Now she tots the laundery and everything else up and down and is as active as ever. What a change and what a blessing (not just the laundry part).

Kathy had her chemo infusion today. This is the first of round two of the post hospital era ("PHE"). Her blood numbers look good and I probably won't be nervous again until the third infusion of round two PHE in two weeks.

Thanks for your prayers and concern.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Great News and Bad News

Life if full of ups and downs and that is especially true when you have cancer and even more true when you are on chemo. We live for results of blood tests, CT scans and other sophisticated indicators.

Last week Kathy had a CT scan and on Friday her doctor called and told her that much to her surprise the results indicate that the tumors have shrunk even further!! This, after being off chemo for six weeks while she was in the hospital and recovering. It is nothing short of amazing. I was telling a friend of mine at work about it. He and his family have been praying for Kathy for some time. When I told him the results and how amazing it was he said matter of factly, "Do you suppose God had anything to do with it?" That about sums it up. How else can it be explained.

We went to Monterey last weekend to see David and Kathryn. Kathryn had been having some problems with the pregnancy and we wanted to see them and help if possible. As we were driving there they called and said they had received confirmation from the doctors that there had been a miscarriage. I feel so sorry for them. I think this is especially tough when it is your first pregnancy. They seem to be handling it well and we hope there are no further complications.

Life is full of ups and downs.

Monday, March 9, 2009

CT Scan today and chemo tomorrow

Kathy is at the doctor right now to get her CT scan. She will get these every three months or so to compare the progress of the cancer tumors. Last time we got the good news that the tumors had shrunk an average of 54%. We are anxious to see what the result is after the delay in chemo from her recent stay in the hospital. Hopefully we'll have the results by the end of the week.

The third infusion since the hospital stay is tomorrow. So far the first two have been painless. She has not really had sick days but just a couple "more tired" days. Really, really good.

We are remodling our downstairs bathroom to add a walk in (or roll in) shower. This is just in case Kathy or either of my parents need to be at our home and can't climb the stairs to the two showers upstairs. It is moving along and fortunately Kathy is well enough to follow up on things like deciding the tile and other things. Otherwise I'd have full reign and it would not come out the same. I wanted a black and white bathroom but it will be a blue/green decor. I really don't care but she does so it is a good thing she is well enough to take care of the process.

So far the additional shower space has been framed and the demising of the current wall will come down today. Kinda fun to come home and see the change to the front of our house.


It may come as a shock to everyone but we are going to be grandparents for the first time. We received a package in the mail from David and Kathryn and they had written on the outside, "open together". We couldn't figure out what it was. It wasn't close to either birthday so why would they send us some thing when we were probably getting together in a few weeks.

As we unwrapped the gift it was clear that it was a picture frame. We figured it must be some funny picture they took of us in Monterey but still didn't know why it couldn't wait. When we got thru all the foo foo stuff (colored wrapping paper) the picture said "Photo of Baby Ricks coming Fall 2009".

Kathy started crying and I averted my eyes so nobody suspected me of doing anything unmanly.

We are going to be grandparents for the first time sometime around Halloween. The significance of this can only be felt by those whose life's are limited. One more requested event to be checked off this year. Now, if Matthew will please get his Eagle this summer that could be two things.........

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Second round today

I was hesitant to have Kathy start chemo last week because she just wasn't doing that well and I was concerned she wouldn't be strong enough. I was wrong. Kathy continued to improve after the infusion last Tuesday and really had no noticeable effects from the chemo. Probably because she didn't have any other buildup of the chemo in her system but whatever the reason she is stronger today than last week and is going in for round two today.

She is about 90% back to normal. Last Saturday we even ventured a drive to Stockton to watch BYU volleyball. It was our first night out in over six weeks. It was nice, just the two of us on the long drive. Good times.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kathy starts chemo again today

Well, here we go again. Kathy has been regaining her strength but it has been very slow progress. She is up and helping around the house more all the time but still wears out quickly. Last Saturday we went grocery shopping and when we went to the second store (yes, I actually shopped) she rode the little mobile shopping cart. It was fun but also an example of how tired she still is.

Today she met her oncologist and they determined that she should start chemo. After all, the cancer hasn't been on hold and we need to fight. We all hope and believe that Kathy will do better now that she doesn't have the Sutent in the mix of drugs she is taking.

She should feel good until about Thursday night and then be even more tired until about Saturday night. We are all praying that this goes well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Three Week Hospital Stay for Kathy

Kathy began chemo therapy again last October. She had exhausted all the non-invasive medications to fight her stage 4 breast cancer and chemo is the last option. We had switched oncologists about six months ago for several reasons, one of which was to be able to participate in studies done by UC Davis Medical. This allows Kathy to be in studies that will benefit other women with cancer even if it doesn't help her. Kathy volunteered to be included in a new study when she began her chemo which combines two known cancer fighting drugs......just not two used together. One drug, tomoxofil (I'm not really sure of the spelling) was used in her chemo treatments in 2005 and the other Sutent (an abbreviation) is known to fight another kind of cancer.

In October Kathy began taking Sutent daily (a pill) and received weekly infusions of tomoxofil. She received the infusions for three weeks and then was to take a week off before starting the cycle again. She had two cycles before Christmas. Each infusion causes the white blood cells to go down and her overall drug buildup to increase so she feels worse after the third application than the first. We could tell exactly how long she would be sick and for how long.

After a little break for Christmas where we went to Monterey for a week with the boys, she started up the cycle again in January. All went well until she just about started the third infusion. She got a synus infection and was on medication for it but was thought to be in good enough condition for the chemo infusion. For a couple days after the infusion she felt OK but on the day she should feel bad she started to feel really bad. The next day was worse and we thought it was because of the sinus infection. We gave her some cold medication and she slept for most of the next two days but didn't get better.

Finally, on Monday, January 19th I had Jennifer Hunsaker, a good friend and nurse come by to take a look. I thought Kathy was dehydrated and she had fainted the previous night in the middle of the night. Jennifer said we needed to get her to an urgent care facility because she needed liquids right now. By this time Kathy was throwing and diarrea too. We were losing the battle. Kathy was so week we had to carry her out to the car.

When we got to the urgent care facility we found out she had a fever of 104. For chemo patients, when white blood cells are depleted, this can be life threatening. We rushed her next door to the Emergency Room at Folsom Hospital where they began emergency treatments. She was in bad shape. In the midst of all these other problems she also had developed pneumonia.

It was a tough few days. She would sleep most of the time and not very restfully. We transferred in an ambulance from Folsom to UC Davis down in Sacramento so she could be close to her oncologist who has physician rights at UC Davis. She received an isolation room used primarily for bone marrow transplant patients but it was ideal for Kathy. They put tubes in her neck, down her throat and everywhere else. It was not pretty.

Her digestive system had stopped working. They listened with there little stethoscopes to her tummy and couldn't hear a thing. They said it wasn't that unusual with chemo patients but they sure seemed worried about it. Finally, after about three or four days there were some rumblings in her stomach and the doctors breathed a sigh of relief.

The Sutent drug seems to have done a lot of damage. It made her skin peal all around her knuckles on her hands causing the to be sore and ugly. But, worse than that we found out after they wanted to start feeding her real food that her mouth and tongue were covered in sores. They told us that if it was on her tongue it was also all thru her digestive tract. That was realllllly ugly and she needed morphine to eat. Finally that healed.

The last major problem was that her digestive system still didn't function properly and even though they put a lot of fluids in her, more was coming out. So, internally, she was still dehydrated. Man, how much fluid does it take? The doctors didn't really know what to do but speculated it would right itself and thought if they put less in than less would come out. I think even I could have predicted that so there must be more to it but that is how it was explained. That turned out to be the solution and she was finally pronounced good enough to go home on February 7th. That is almost three weeks.

Right now she is recovering at home. She still doesn't get up from her comfortable chair too much but she does putter around the house and get stuff done.....especially on the computer. We are all glad to have her home and see a slow but steady increase in her strength.

We are especially grateful for all the people who have taken care of her at the hospitals and for our friends who have provided meals and support. It seems everyone we know has Kathy in their prayers and that is a great comfort. It helps.

We will be OK.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tour of California

Thanks to Mark Forsyth we are in the new world of blogging so I'm trying this out to see if I'm technologically smart enough to include pictures. On Feb 14th Daniel and Mike and I went to the Prologue of the Tour of California in downtown Sacramento. This is a picture of Lance Armstrong. We stood at a corner so we could watch them all slow down and come extra close to us. It was pretty cool for those of us in the family who love cycling.

Daniel had flown home from BYU to see his mother and spend the long weekend with us. It was just a coincidence that the Tour of California was in Sacramento on the same day. Kathy wasn't strong enough to make it but we had fun anyway.
Hello everyone! This is Kathy. I've been home from the hospital for a week now. The recovery is really slow, but it is steady. Thanks for all of your love and support while I was in the hospital. I am supposed to start chemo again on Feb. 24th if I feel strong enough. I will not continue with the clinical trial as some of the problems I had in the hospital were a result of my trial medication. Wish me well......Kathy

Thursday, February 12, 2009