Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What a year!

Livin' it up during infusion -- December 19, 2012

Guess what?
A year ago today, Harv had his colonoscopy.  It was not a good day.
Guess what else?
A year ago tomorrow, Dr. Whitt told us Harv had cancer. That wasn't a fun day either.
And you know what?
A year ago on Friday we found out it was stage 4. It was a kinda scary day (a lot kinda scary).
And, for the rest of 2011, we were filled with uncertainty, fear, chaos, trying to plan for the unknown...

But guess what?
For all of 2012, we have been encouraged and loved and filled with HOPE.
Part of that reason is because Dr. Lin was an encouragement -- by simply proceeding with an optimism that made us a little less fearful.
Part of the reason is because Dr. Pietro removed the ugliness from Harv's colon.
Part of the reason is because we have been surrounded by people who have loved us, and prayed for us, and helped us.
And, part of the reason, is because God has given Harv's body a wonderful response to the chemo and has given his body the ability to respond with few side effects....
And, all of those things have made our lives much richer and fuller... and HOPEFUL.

We met with Dr. Lin this morning and the plan is for Harv to come back in 3 weeks for a PET/CT scan which will be followed (probably the next day) by some more chemo (but no Avastin). And, in the meantime, a consultation with the surgeon will be scheduled so we can plan the liver surgery. Dr. Lin says that the surgery is a big deal. He and Dr. Park (the surgeon) will discuss the details of how/what will take place -- and what is best for Harv's situation.  The decision of whether to kind of burn (something called Radio Frequency Ablation (Definition here) ) the smaller tumor or cut it out has not been made. But, they'll do what they can do to get rid of that smaller one and cut out the remaining yucky section.

And, so... Harv's upstairs killin' some more cancer...and I'm down here giving thanks for an amazing support group (which includes family, friends, doctors, nurses, aides, classmates, co-workers, counselors, & nice people everywhere) who have helped us not only survive this year, but who have made it a year full of blessings beyond our imagination.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a 2013 full of peace, love, joy and HOPE.

We love you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I interrupt this flow of posts about cancer to bring you just some plain ol' Carrie thoughts.

We'll be back on Wednesday with an update on Harv....

I believe in gun control. I don’t understand why people feel that they need access to guns… I know it’s our constitutional right, but WHY do we need them? HOW exactly am I safer if my neighbor has a semi-automatic weapon? And, who needs a machine gun to go hunting?

But that’s not my point today. My point can be found in the following disjointed thoughts:

  • The one who killed those children did not own a gun. All four (!!!!!) guns belonged to his mother. (Why did she need FOUR guns?)

  • He was obviously mentally disturbed. And, I believe he would have found a way to kill someone or something regardless of the availability of guns…but having guns available just made the situation way more awful.

  • What prevented him from getting the mental help that he needed? It saddens me that he was so disturbed and found no help that calmed him. My guess is that he was tortured in his mind for a while… he was messed up. He was in pain. It doesn’t excuse the killings, but it’s an explanation.

  • Everyone is upset because there were so many children killed… not just children like in the Columbine massacre and the other situations, but kindergarten children. And, I’m upset about that, too, but there are thousands and thousands of people (whose lives were just as valuable as those 5 and 6 year olds) around the world who are killed…. They live with perpetual violence. They are children and adults who just happen to live in violent parts of the world, or who live in the middle of drug dealing/gang wars, etc. They see violence. They die. They watch their families die. Every dang day. And, because it’s not at “home” we don’t feel it, but it’s there.

  • I agreed with people who said that the media is focusing too much on the perpetrators of these crimes and less time on the victims… and then I read a point that makes sense. The media is just doing its job… We don’t want to know, but we also don’t want to NOT know. We’d blame them if they didn’t report and we blame them if they do report.

  • I think the bottom line is that we’re all sad. We’re all grieving. We are trying to blame someone so we can explain things… It can’t be explained in a way that we’re all gonna like. It was awful. The killer was in hell before he shot the first bullet. He should not have had access to guns. Those twenty-some people should not have died. AT. ALL. 

(P.S. I don't want to get into a debate...I know you won't all agree with me and that's fine...) 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Short summary: Two or three more rounds of chemo and then most likely surgery to remove one lobe of his liver. Dr. Lin will confer with the surgeon and we'll know more about surgery later. Hopefully, surgery in January-ish.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Last week, I was given the huge blessing of being able to get away by myself for 3 nights. It was much needed and much appreciated. A couple from our church has a guest house behind their house at Birch Bay and they graciously opened the door for me there.  I am very thankful for that.

Tomorrow we go back to Seattle for Harv's CT scan. It is this scan that will help determine the next steps in his treatment. Surgery is possible, but not definite. If dreams came true, I think, the tumors in his liver would show up in the CT scan as very well-defined, which would make surgery possible. And, I THINK that it would be ONE surgery in two parts  --- (1) to remove a smaller, tumor in one part of the liver and (2) the removal of a-whole-nother section of his liver. Evidently, one can survive with only a 1/4 of the liver. 

Honestly, the "dream coming true" sentiment is mine. For some reason, it just SOUNDS better to cut out as much of the ugly as possible. But, I'm not positive that Dr. Lin will think that's the best option. It all depends on how the liver looks in the scan.

The one sure thing is that Harv will be on some form of chemo -- most likely oral -- for the rest of his life... surgery or no.

Celeste has stayed busy at her work and with her class at Whatcom and with her social life. I imagine that there are things she might change if she could, but she handles things well. We are thankful that she's here and that we've had some "regular life" time with her.

Sarah and Hannah also seem to be doing well. School, this year, has been packed with lots of learning and stretching and growing. The cross country season is over, but they continue to run pretty much every day after school with occasional time in the weight room, too. 

Harv is soaking up the time he's having to heal. Walking when he can, playing guitar, reading and enjoying his various gadget hobbies.

I, however, continue to struggle with letting go of what was and embracing what is. How in the world does one really DO that?  I'm trying, but I feel kind of like a little girl in kindergarten clinging to my mama and not wantin' to let go. 

We are looking forward to the holidays...a slightly slower pace and, hopefully, pleasant winter weather. ☺ 

We are thankful for you all. We appreciate your prayers as we move into what we hope is a new, productive, time of healing.

We love you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Just met with Dr. Lin... All of Harv's numbers are moving in the right direction. He's very pleased with the way things look. The number that shows how much the cancer is circulating is ZERO! And, Dr. Lin said that with conventional treatment, most patients with Harv's diagnosis would be resistant to the treatment at this point. Harv, however, is continuing to be receptive... And THAT is a VERY good thing.
We'll come back on the 20th for a CT scan and then a decision will be made about whether to do surgery or stick with oral chemo as maintenance. tired as we are (mostly me), we are thankful that Dr. Lin is making a difference for colon cancer patients -- worldwide -- and specifically, in our lives.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We head back to Seattle tomorrow for Harv's 3rd round of chemo. If we're lucky, this will be the last round before potential surgery. Please pray, think good thoughts, keep your fingers crossed, or whatever you do -- that we will see enough progress in the coming weeks that chemo will not have to go beyond tomorrow. (I'm kinda tired of chemo and it's not even going into my body.) GFW! Get the heck outta my husband's body you insane, stinkin', obscene, evil cancer!! I mean it!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And, the chemo continues...

Went to Seattle yesterday for another round of chemo.

Had a good visit with Dr. Lin and Harv's numbers are still good. There's a number (I don't remember what it's called) that measures how many "floaters" there are in Harv's body. The number is pretty good right now, but it's a number to keep watching. If it gets higher, Dr. Lin will probably introduce Harv to a new chemo drug (which I can't remember right now...Oxsylipratin(?), perhaps...)

Dr. Lin told us that he wants Harv to remain on chemo as long as possible before surgery to give the cancer less of a foothold when he has to go off for surgery. I THINK that Harv would remain on Xeloda regardless, but truthfully, my brain is kinda full and a little tired and I find it hard to keep up with it all.

All in all, the trip was fine. Chemo wears Harv out and he doesn't feel great afterwards, but he's handling it pretty well. He experiences some indigestion on the first few days after and that's uncomfortable -- especially at night -- so he has some meds for that and I'm gonna get him one of those wedge pillows that will help keep his head elevated at night without giving him a crick in the neck.

Thank you all for checkin' in on us. We 'preciate it more than you know.
Love you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We had a good appointment yesterday with Dr. Lin. He spent a lot of time with us. And, while he didn't really give us any different news, it was good to talk through things.

Harv completed the first of three rounds of chemo. He received pre-meds to help with nausea, some Avastin and some Irinoticin (sp?). I think it's too soon to really say, but so far his major reaction has been fatigue. I am praying that that will be the only side-effect.

Dr. Lin believes that it'll be better to try to handle all of the liver surgery as one surgery because of the danger of causing the (my word) floating cancer cells to move around too much. He compared it to digging a hole and there's almost no way not to drop dirt when you do that... So, he believes you limit the spread if you make fewer cuts. Surgery, however, won't happen for a while. Gotta get through these three rounds of chemo and then have a CT scan to see where we are. He said it's best to wait for surgery until the patient has been under chemo for a year. That'll be around January-ish.

Harv's CEA count is still pretty good -- 3.0 -- so we're keeping the cancer aware of our attacks. And, he's gained a bit of weight which is also good. 

I'm hoping that his having some time to get stronger this summer will be helpful as he receives these rounds of chemo.

We're planning to take a weekend trip to Portland to watch the girls in a cross country meet this weekend. I am praying that he feels good during that trip. Fatigue is pretty easy to manage on a trip. Anything else would be inconvenient.

Every day we thank God for our support. All of you have supported us in many, many helpful ways --an AMAZING gift in a less-than-ideal time.

We love you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tomorrow is first of three rounds of heavier duty chemo... Praying that we kick that cancer outta his liver.
Pray with us.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A week from today, Harv and I will go back to Seattle to start the first of three infusions. He's been "lucky" for a few months 'cause he's only had to take the oral chemo. The last time we went, they gave him an infusion of a more easily tolerated drug called Avastin. Next time we go, he'll be receiving two infusions -- both of which he had at the very beginning.

All in all, he tolerated his chemo well at the get-go, but I'm a little bit nervous this go-round. We've been so fortunate in his response to the chemo. And, truthfully, at the beginning my biggest fear was his reaction to the chemo and how that would affect the rest of us. I'm a little bit concerned this time, too.

You know, the part of cancer that scares me the most is the crappy way the patient feels during treatment. I do NOT want to lose Harvey, but I also don't want to see him feel bad. 

For some reason, within the past week, he's been having mouth sores. And, in particular, he has a big one on his tongue that makes it difficult to talk. He has a week without any chemo (oral or otherwise) so hopefully, he can get those cleared up before the "big guns" come out next week.

I know that we don't get to choose everything that happens in this life. I also know that it doesn't hurt to ask God for what we want 'cause sometimes it really does make a difference. Please begin now praying that:
  • his mouth sores heal
  • that his response to the combo of drugs for the next three times will be dramatic and swift
  • that he will have VERY MINIMAL side-effects from the additional chemo
  • that I will be helpful and pleasant and loving in spite of my extreme annoyance that there is cancer of any kind in anybody... (If I think about it more than a second or two, I get pretty angry.)
Thank you, friends, for your support. I can't get over how much y'all do for us.

We love you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
  - Gilda Radner

(P.S. Stop it, you silly Northrop Grumman-ers!!! ♥)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This morning Harv and I went to Seattle to meet with Dr. James Park, a surgery specialist at UW Medical Center. Harv met first with a physician who thoroughly reviewed his medical history. Then, we were given about a 2 1/2 hour break while the team met to discuss Harv's case.

When we met Dr. Park, he basically said the same thing that Dr. Lin told us two weeks ago; that there would need to be more chemo before surgery is an option. He's of the opinion that an additional chemo should be added to really knock the remaining cancer out. He will talk with Dr. Lin and we'll see what specific changes there will be to the chemo plan that is currently in place.

Right now, Harv is scheduled to go back for a round of Avastin in two weeks. It's possible that they will add Irinotican (sp?) which is one of the 3 original drugs he was given in January.

And so, we continue... (I kinda feel like saying "UGH!") But, it's not bad news...just people being careful to make sure we get rid of all that evil stuff -- which really is a good thing. I just wish we could have a break from medical appointments. (Seriously, it's fine. I might be a little bit tired.)


When we got back from Seattle, we had an early family birthday celebration 'cause Harv's gonna be FIFTY!!!  We celebrated with a cake that marked some important milestones for this year. (I didn't make it, but isn't it lovely?!) And, Harv got a cider press and a bag for his netbook!!! Woo hoo!

We are very thankful for all that has been accomplished in 2012. WHAT A YEAR!

We love you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Many thanks

There are SO MANY people who have helped us throughout this year... in MANY, MANY ways.  Sadly, I haven't written thank you notes to each of you, but I hope that you'll accept my public "thank you." The Southerner in me feels like it's really wrong not to do it individually, but the reality is my brain sometimes gets overloaded.

Though I am STUPENDOUSLY thankful for ALLLLLLLLLLLLL of the many gifts (time, food, money, love, prayers, thoughts, words, etc.) that you have given, today I want to say thank you to Northrop Grumman.

Those of you who work at Northrop Grumman know why I'm saying thank you. And, Amy Caro, you in particular, understand why I'm saying it.

All of you have made lots of things possible and have made our lives easier in many ways. You have definitely let us know you love us. Now, stop it. (I say that with LOTS and LOTS of love and appreciation in my heart.)

We are doing well. Harv's taking it easy and I believe it's helping him heal. He's been able to concentrate on getting stronger and healthier... 

But, truthfully, we don't need anything right now. There may come a time when I need to give a "shout out" to friends and family, but right now, we're doing well.

Harv will celebrate the big 5-0 next Sunday (Sept. 16th). We're gonna have a family celebration and we are truly going to give thanks for 50 wonderful years... almost 20 of which I've been able to be a part of.  And, we are going to give thanks for all of the friends who have made the last year so much easier and hopeful.

We love you all.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Turns out Avastin isn't traditional chemo (less hazardous & we were told it's a "biologic") & is usually very well tolerated. It cuts off the blood supply to the tumor. He still needs to GFW! 'cause his CEA count was 4.8 today. Hopin' the Avastin does it's magic.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Quick note: Tomorrow is the first of four chemo infusions for Harv. He's had this drug (Avastin) before but it's been awhile. Please pray for minimal side effects and dramatic results for what's left of the tumor in his liver.

We leave here at 6:00. Appointment at 8:30.

The girls have their first XC meet tomorrow. Hoping that all goes quickly and smoothly so we can get back in time to see them run.


Monday, September 3, 2012

This is a blog entry that I wrote last year as my babies were heading into high school... I'm praying the same things again this year as they head into 10th grade.

Dear Heavenly Father,

A "minute" ago, my little babies were heading to kindergarten. Our worlds changed and grew and got more interesting and scary and happy. They loved learning and they made good friends and had wonderful teachers.

And, they took a step or two away from me.

Tomorrow they start high school. 

I pray, Father, that their worlds change and get more interesting and a little happier. I also pray that they'll have opportunities to grow -- sometimes in ways that they wouldn't choose so they learn how to adapt and move on. 

I pray that they learn a lot and that their minds grow. I pray that the teachers they have will stretch them in good ways and help them to become all that they can be as life-long learners. I pray that they will learn to work with teachers --- even if they may not "click" completely. I pray that you will teach them how to resolve any conflicts they may have and that you will give them the gift of diplomacy and a quiet, gentle spirit when dealing with others.

And, Father, I pray that you will surround them with good friends. Friends that build them up and encourage them. I pray for friends that may think differently, but have strong, healthy values. I pray for protection for them -- even if they might make bad choices. I pray for wisdom and kindness and trustworthiness for them and for the friends they make.

I pray that they will love high school and that they will each -- separately -- find their niche. That you will guide them now towards the things that they will do later in life. And, I pray that you will give them lots of successes with just a sprinkling of disappointments to keep them balanced and real.

I pray, too, Father, for me and Harvey. I pray that you will give us wisdom, kindness, diplomacy and a quiet, gentle, supportive and loving spirit. 

What blessings you have given me in these sweet "little" girls. Please help me to be just what they need in a mama as they start high school and throughout their lives.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm not sure it was realistic, but I was hoping that Dr. Lin would tell us today that we would be finished with trips to Seattle for a while. I was hoping that the only thing Harv would have to do was to continue the meds he's currently on.

No such luck.

Harv's CEA count is still within normal range (3.8), but Dr. Lin wants to kick the cancer that's still in the liver outta there! So he's giving it a big push. Harv will have treatment with Avastin (one of the infused drugs he's had before) through the end of October and continue with the Celebrex and Xeloda.  After the treatment with the added Avastin, he'll see where we are. 

But we're planning for surgery (which we've been told can be done laproscopically) after the additional chemo to get rid of any potential risks in the liver. The surgery will only be able to take place after he's been off of Avastin for at least six weeks. The Avastin can sometimes cause bleeding problems.  We will wait to hear from the surgeons at UW and probably schedule a consult soon.  (And, just for some fun information... the liver is starting to regenerate normal stuff... The areas that once were cancer ridden are regenerating healthy stuff! Woo hoo!)

But, first! We'll head back down to Seattle next Wednesday for a little time in the infusion room. (Kinda wish all this wasn't happening right when school begins, but c'est la vie!)

We continue to be thankful for the care that we're receiving. 

And, we continue to be thankful for AMAZING gifts of time, talent and treasures that you people KEEP SHARING with us!!! Goodness gracious! I think you're going overboard. ♥

Please pray for all the people all over the place who are not as fortunate as we are.  It grieves my soul every time I go to SCCA and see people who really don't feel good.  

Many, many blessings to you all.
We love you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Harvey is doing very well. He has been affected a little bit with side effects from the increased dosage of his chemo, but, really, life is going pretty well. And, he's using this time to get stronger and healthier. Not traveling and not worrying about the stress of work has been a good thing for him, I do believe.

He's been hiking a lot and is almost finished with his goal of hiking all of the trails of Galbraith Mountain. Raney has enjoyed helping him out with his goal.

Sarah and Hannah have had a good summer. They took driver's ed and scored very well on their final written test. "Highest scores in the class." Right this minute they are with their friend, Anna, at their annual Camp Friendship. This year it's on Vashon Island for a few days. I am thankful that they have special traditions with their life-long friend. It's a gift. All of it.




Celeste is getting settled in with her job at Sprint and her second class at Whatcom. She stays busy and seems to be doing pretty well overall. She might also add that she's continuing to adjust to (and, perhaps occasionally enjoy) life in Bellingham with the 'rents and the sibs. ☺

Not to minimize what anyone else may be feeling AT ALL, but I continue to struggle. And, it finally hit me yesterday that my life has been full of BIG, unwanted events since 2008. Deaths, illnesses and extended family struggles...which also feel like loss to me. Every year since 2008, there has been some form of loss -- either a loss that directly or indirectly affected me. EVERY DADGUM YEAR.

I expect myself to be absolutely fine and pleasant and cheerful. It may be that I'm expecting too much from myself, too soon.  A friend told me once that her counselor had told her that it takes about a year to go through the grieving process -- and when you add more loss to that, you must also add more time to the healing process. Ugh.

While that information may not sound so great, it IS helpful for me to realize it. It helps explain the way I've been feeling and allows me to give myself a little grace.

That is all for today... Just thought I'd share a little of what's on my heart. As always, your prayers are appreciated...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Earlier this week, we received a box from the mail-order pharmacy where we get Harv's chemo. We didn't open the box because we (incorrectly) assumed that it had the correct amount of pills -- the 14 that should've been added to his earlier prescription + the new prescription.  He opened the box today and we found out they had only included the 14 that should've been added. 

So I called the mail-order pharmacy to investigate. It's sort of complicated to relay it all, but just try to imagine ominous music building up slowly in the background as I discovered that they were waiting for a pre-authorization from the doctor (WHO PRESCRIBED THE DAMN PILLS IN THE FIRST PLACE!). The calm, lovely, patient Carrie turned into MEAN LADY. Long story short, the pills are on their way. (ugh!)

Why do drug companies do that?! Dadgummit! Every call we receive from the mail-order pharmacy is a recording. You'd think that if someone were ordering CHEMOTHERAPY that it would be important enough to have a REAL PERSON let them know that the order was not approved. (I better stop. My blood is starting to boil again.)

Anyway! Thankfully, we got that resolved.

In other news, Harv and the girls (and Raney!) are on a father/daughters camping trip...and Carrie is enjoying some time alone in the house. (I can't believe that Raney went, too.) I haven't done very much -- counseling, cleaning out the (amazingly disgusting) food recycle bin, a craft project, ran a few errands, etc. 

But today (with the help of my counselor) I realized that all my control-freakism and impatience and frustration and anger all come from fear. Fear. 

If I say I'm afraid, then what does THAT mean?! I don't WANT to be afraid. I've tried so hard not to be in denial, but I've been holding back the fear... And, if I'm afraid does that mean I don't have hope? And, if I don't have hope, then what happens? 

I'm still processing it all...

But, for now -- we are thankful that Harv is doing well -- though, I think the increase in the chemo dosage has increased a few of the side effects (tired, perhaps a mouth sore or two). He's been hiking 6-8 miles on Galbraith 5-6 days a week. He found out there are between 98 and 100 trails on Galbraith and he and Raney have hiked all but about 15 of those. Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say?!

Thank you, friends, for continuing to pray and for loving us. I sure wish we hadn't started down this road, but you people have certainly helped make the journey easier.

We love you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Arndell's Came for a Visit!

A few months ago, one of Harv's friends from work called to let us know that he and his family were gonna be out this way for a family wedding. So, they added a little bit onto their trip and wanted to come see us.

Harv was thrilled 'cause he likes Jim. They enjoy hangin' together when  they go on work trips. I was thrilled 'cause I've heard stories about Jim for a while and I've heard his voice on speaker phone when Harv's been on conference calls or other work-related calls. He's always seemed nice and I can tell he's a good friend to Harv.

I've also heard Cindy's name and Connor's name. And, even though I hadn't met any of the family, I was pretty sure that I was gonna like 'em. (Turns out I really DO like 'em all.)

When they arrived, one of the first things Jim said to me was: "I want us to make sure we take a picture before we leave. We came all this way just so we could be in the blog."  

Made me feel pretty special that people (well, maybe just one person) aspire(s) to be featured in the blog I'm writing. 

And, so, I obliged! 

We had a really good visit, they're all very easy to be around and I'm VERY thankful that I could meet them.  I look forward to more times hangin' with the Arndells...


Sunday, July 15, 2012

To read about Dr. Lin's research and fight against colon cancer, read this article.

First Study Targeting Colorectal Cancer Stem Cells to Begin

And, if you haven't read my post from Thursday, scroll down and find out the latest.

Love you people!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thankful Thankful

Harv's appointment, yesterday, was scheduled for 11:15. After I got him settled in, a friend picked me up for a DELICIOUS lunch and a walk. (Thanks, Annie! Great lunch and great visit!)

I got back to the hospital at about 2:30 and he was just about finished. Turns out that PET scans aren't really that much fun. First of all, they have to use a catheter (NOT comfortable). Then, he has to lie perfectly still while they do the PET scan -- part of which includes filling his bladder with liquid while they clamp off the catheter. And, the lying still part lasts for FORTY minutes. Totally still for FORTY minutes! 

He was happy to have that over with. And, when it WAS all over with, we headed to our hotel -- which was right by the water. We settled in a bit and then walked to a fun restaurant called Wasabi for happy hour dinner. Good deal and a good dinner.

After dinner, we just walked around a little and enjoyed the sunshine.

And, watched the boats a little bit, too.

This morning, we eased into the day with a cup of coffee before we headed over to the restaurant of choice (Portage Bay Cafe) for breakfast. It was yummy. You should go there sometime.

And then, we headed over to our appointment with Dr. Lin. It was scheduled for 11:00, but we got started a little late. And, when the door opened, Dr. Lin introduced us to Dr. Jorge Ramos who has recently moved to Seattle from Connecticut to be a Fellow at UW.

He went over the results of the PET scan with us...and began by saying that, though the news was good, the PET scan was "a little abnormal" but that Dr. Lin was not concerned and did not consider the abnormality a setback. We would find out more when Dr. Lin came in in a few minutes.

Harv's CEA count is 2.0 -- still normal!!! There were other numbers that I don't understand fully that were also very good.

When Dr. Lin came in, he compared the CT scan from December with the PET scan/CT scan from yesterday and it was a BEAUTIFUL comparison!  

First of all, there are no signs of cancer in the colon anymore. So, now, they're mostly lookin' at the cancer that has been in the liver.  And, secondly, the cancer that's in the liver is almost totally gone (or it appears to be gone) except for one spot that "lit up." The radiologist compared that spot to the last CT scan which was done in May and it appeared to him/her that it was a new spot. But, when Dr. Lin compared it to the December scan, it was a spot that had been there before. Truthfully, I can't remember whether he said it looks the same as it was in December or if it's smaller, but he didn't think it was anything to be overly concerned about.  But, we will be focusing on how to get that cancer to die, too.

And, that's another thing! The spots that showed up as big and ugly in December, appeared to be dead now. We could still see the area where they were, but now, they seem to be inactive -- or dead.  (Can I get a witness!! Wooooooooooooo hooooooooooooooooo!)

So... now, we have to "devise a strategy to go after the 'hot' ones" -- which for now, means staying the course (Xeloda + Celebrex), but it may include radiation and/or surgery in the future.

Dr. Lin explained that the purpose of this PET scan was to determine if the cancer has spread anywhere else and IT HAS NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because we got started a little late this morning, we were a little late getting lunch. We found out about a place (sort of) within walking distance and we had a warm walk there. It just so happened that it was almost across the street from where we ate breakfast (hahaha)... And, it was gooooooooooood. You should go there, too.

Now, we are at home and happy to be here. 

I'm happy that I get to see my siblings in a little over a week and not worry about Harv's health. In the meantime, though, I get to go have my colonoscopy on Monday 'cause I'm 50!!!!!  And, if you haven't had a colonoscopy and you're 50 or older or have other reasons why you should go... you should GO AHEAD AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.  I mean it!

We are so thankful for you all. Thankful that we chose the right doctor for us. Thankful for a successful treatment. Thankful for people who want to research and find a cure. Thankful for medicines that work. Thankful for the people who check us into appointments and take blood and do PET scans and read PET scans and make life better.

We are also aware of people who are not in the same situation as Harvey...who really feel awful and, perhaps, are not having the same level of success. And, we say a prayer for them and for their doctors and for the people who love them.

May all the world GoFightWin! with abandon!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

PET scan tomorrow

Tomorrow morning Harv and I head down to Seattle so he can have a PET scan. This will determine (in a very specific way) how much cancer is still in his system. We think the only cancer left is in his liver. The PET scan will confirm that and will get even MORE specific about the cancer that's in the liver.

Today, he's not supposed to exercise at all. And, can't have anything to eat or drink after midnight tonight. Tomorrow he'll have IV fluids with a radioactive dye that will light up the areas that have high sugar content. That will take a long time to infuse all those fluids. They told him he can't even read during the infusion because the eye movement is considered exercise and might produce sugar that would light up in the PET scan. They will also insert a catheter during the procedure so that all the liquid that he will have infused won't be confused with "wrong" sugar.

The morning procedures will last about 3 hours or so. So, I'm gonna hang out with a friend while he lies still and tries not to "exercise."

And, then tomorrow night, we're gonna stay in a hotel in downtown Seattle. Kind of like a date night. And, I hope we get to eat some delicious food downtown, too.

Thursday morning we'll meet with Dr. Lin so we can find out the results of the PET scan.

That's what's comin' up.

Prayers appreciated.

(Not feelin' especially "write-y" so it's pretty much just the facts.)

Love you people!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Today a friend shared a link to this article.

It's worth reading...

I love my family who have fought or are fighting for their lives.

I believe cancer sucks like nothing else... but I also believe we (all of us-- whether we're the ones with the cancer or the ones that love those people) can come out on the other side a little bit stronger than we were before.

Happy weekend, people.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Have been thinking about all of you lovely people a lot lately. 

First of all, I want to say that if you don't see a blog update, then things are going pretty well. "No news is good news" applies.

Secondly, I keep thinking about how many of you have done things and how many of you are still doing things for us and I wanted to say THANK YOU again.  I have been derelict about writing thank you notes. Somehow, this "event" has overwhelmed my ability to follow through the way I would like to do. 

It's not the way I like to do things, but if you have done ANYTHING AT ALL for us over the past six months,  please know that we have received your gifts of love with gratitude -- overflowing gratitude. People have sent books, spa gift cards, restaurant gift cards, and more. More than one person has cleaned my house -- more than once. People have encouraged and loved and helped... People have sent cards and notes and they have called. And, people have listened to our frustrations or concerns or my idiosyncrasies. People have also helped us out with the girls or the dog or both.  And, people have brought DELICIOUS meals. Not to mention some yard work, garbage duty and lawn mower mechanics... 

The list is long. Our gratitude runs deep. Deeper than you know.

We love you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Just received this link from Dr. Lin...  Sharing with you.

Wall Street Journal article  (click here to go to article)


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seattle Visit

Today's visit was very good. Harv's CEA count is 1.6... His white blood count is slightly low, but it's been that low before. That count is most likely due to the chemo. He has gained 13 pounds since his last visit. (He's eating like a horse!)

Dr. Lin said that unless there is a new growth, Harv will probably continue with the oral chemo+Celebrex plan for a while. He continued to tell us about many of his patients who have had great success with this same treatment -- some of whom are 12 years out from diagnosis!

We go again next month for a PET scan which will give us a more accurate picture of what's happening in his liver.

Harv has felt very good over this past month. He's been focusing his energy on getting stronger and healthier. As I mentioned earlier he's eating well. He has made it a priority to get in a few good hikes a week. He's adjusting to life with a colostomy bag.

His goal is to use this time to make the most of feeling good... And to get stronger in the event there might be a different or challenging treatment in the future.

We are thankful for the results from the surgery and from the continued treatment.

And, we are thankful for the continued love, prayers and support from you all.

We love you all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Yesterday I celebrated my 50th birthday...

My day began with my friends picking me up early to go to breakfast... Turns out, though, that the breakfast place didn't open until 8:00. So, we went to Tony's and got a latte before we went to eat.

This was MY latte. Isn't it beautiful?!

We had a stranger take our picture at Tony's.  I don't really have a plant growing out of my hair.

Then we went to Skylark's and ate a yummy breakfast.

I pretended I was a queen...(if you look closely, you can see my tiara.)

These ladies helped me celebrate.

I was a little nervous having so much attention, so Amanda ordered me a mimosa to help me calm down. :-)

And, then, I was whisked away to have a morning full of spa treatments.

And, when my massage was over, my friends were waiting outside for me so we could have another mimosa to toast my grown up years.

Harv picked me up at 1:00 and we went to lunch at Anthony's. Lovely, slow paced lunch.

Then we got home I found out that someone had arranged to have our deck beautified and warmed up. 

Rumor has it that our wonderful friends from Northrop Grumman gave us the gift of deck beautification. I was TOTALLY overwhelmed. I know lots of planning went into making it happen and it was so much fun that your gift to our family fell on my birthday. LOVELY.

And, after all of that, Celeste made a delicious dinner and we had a yummy cake for dessert (not sure why I didn't get photos of that).

Thank you friends and family for loving us all...and me, in particular, on this day. ♥

It was a wonderful birthday!