Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chemo Day #3

Today we met with Charlie Pietrick, a nurse practitioner at SCCA. He did a lot of review of what's happening with Harv -- as in questions, etc. He prescribed a low dose of blood pressure medicine to help with those numbers a little bit. We'll still have to monitor it to make sure that the blood pressure meds + the injections don't lower his blood pressure too much.

CEA count is slightly higher than it was two weeks ago... I think Dr. Lin might not call it a significant rise, but it also is not significantly lower -- which is what I was hoping for.

Have I mentioned that I'm a little tired of the Seattle trips? There are oh, so many good things about this journey... Harv and I have had LOTS of time together. We've gotten to explore Seattle and get to know it a little better. We've met wonderful people at SCCA who have taken and are taking care of us. I love seeing patients who are maintaining a cheerful disposition in spite of treatment. And, friends in Seattle have been generous with their time and resources. 

But, I tell you what! I do not love seeing sick little children and people so tired and sick that they must be in a wheelchair.  I do not love seeing fear and uncertainty in the faces of young couples as they start their own journey. I do not love seeing older people come in with their family members and face the unknown. And, I do not love all of the unknowns when it comes to our family either.

We have not been given reason NOT to continue to hope and so we will keep on hoping for progress in his treatment and for success in the outcome. 

As always, the support and encouragement from our family and friends is a major part of the success we've seen so far. 

Thank you for loving us.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chemo week

When you have chemo every-other week it's amazing how fast those weeks can go by... 

This Thursday will be the third in the three round series... We show up early Thursday morning for blood-work and chemo later in the afternoon.

Last time, there was SLIGHT improvement in CEA count, but not huge. We are hoping that this time there will be marked improvement in the numbers.... So, that after this round of chemo, Harv will be ready for liver surgery #2.

I am pooped. (And, I'm not even the patient!) I am so ready to have a break from trips to Seattle. (And, Harv's the one who has to go everyday!) I keep kickin' and screamin' for "normal" but it ain't happ'nin'!

Please pray for our family: 
* for Harv to sleep well and feel rested and for progress in making those liver tumors shrink.
* for Celeste to meet new friends and feel "at home" in her new role at work and continue to be happy with her job
* for Sarah and Hannah to have a good start to their JUNIOR (11th grade!!!) year in high school
* for me to be at peace and just as lovely and pleasant as I can be.  

We love you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A word from M. Craig Barnes

(whale photo from Google)

This morning, I read the following while I sipped my coffee.  It kinda hit me. I don't totally feel this way right now, but I think you've heard me say that there have been many times when I want to throw myself on the floor and kick and scream so that things can be the way I want them to be. 

And yet... I know there's a bigger plan.  

Thank you, again, for the many ways you have supported and continue to support our family.

Love to you all.

Riding Around in Sheol
(from Extravagant Mercy by M. Craig Barnes)

Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 
                                                                       -Jonah 2:2

Read Jonah 2:1-11

To avoid the mission God had given him in Nineveh, Jonah tried sailing to Tarshish. Yet God has his own unique ways of getting us where he wants us to be. So Jonah got to ride back to Nineveh inside the belly of a great fish. The three days he spent in that fish did wonderful things for his prayer life, which may have been more important to God than getting Jonah to the right place.

It is easy to get lost in the critical debates about whether or not this story really happened, but that misses the point of the Scripture. Sure, I think it could have happened. God can do whatever he wants. The real question, though, is not whether it did happen, but whether it does happen. Do people still start off in one direction, then get swallowed up in something awful, only to discover that the crisis has actually brought them to the right place with God? You bet that happens. I see it all the time.

Sooner or later, we all spend time in the belly of Sheol. It's the place where you thought you were going to die, or maybe even the place where you wished you would die. It's so dark there that you can't find any reason to keep hoping.

Now you are at the hardest part of the story to believe. Is God really using this for good? Absolutely. Your ability to see that, however, will depend completely on your prayer life while you're riding around in Sheol.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pretty good chemo day... Harv is pooped, but feels relatively normal. Thanks for your continued support and prayers.  Two days with a pump and then a few more days without having to go to Seattle. Weeeee haw!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bus ride!

Today was a success! Harv caught the early bus and arrived just in time to take a city bus to SCCA... He was in and out of his appointment in no time. Caught another city bus back to the bus station and enjoyed a cup of coffee and lunch before the return bus brought him back home.

Thank you for your prayers. This is a simplification for us.

Tomorrow it'll be an early appointment so he'll drive down and back. And, then Thursday it'll be round 2 of this chemo regimen...

I am wiped out. I didn't do too much today, but have very little energy.

Please continue to pray for a good night's sleep.

Love you, people!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Home again, home again jiggety jig...

We had coffee this morning at the amazing Milstead & Co. Coffee place.
If you're ever in Fremont in need of delicious coffee, go there!

Yesterday Harv and I decided that we didn't want to stay in a hotel anymore so I checked bus schedules and discovered that there was availability on the Tuesday bus to Seattle. It was at that moment that we decided to check out of the hotel early and come home after this morning's appointment. 

We are home. Ahhhhhhhhh!

Harv will ride the bus down tomorrow for his shot and then ride home in the afternoon. We are hoping for no delays in either the bus trip down or the appointment. He has only a small window between appointment and catching the bus for home at 1:00. Please pray for smooth everything tomorrow.

He'll drive down on Wednesday morning because the appointment is too early for the bus to take him... 

And, then, Thursday we're back to an infusion day. 

Things have gone well overall, but he still has a rash on his stomach where the first few injections were given. He's using Benadryl cream and ice packs to relieve that. His blood pressure is borderline hypertensive, but not in the dangerous area. Just need to keep an eye on it.

We are hoping that his blood work on Thursday shows that there are fewer circulating cancer cells and that progress is being made.

I would appreciate prayer for a little bit of peace and rest. I feel a little bit "keyed up," as my mother used to say. Neither of us has slept really well lately, but I have a feeling that some of the reason is just 'cause we're gettin' older. :-/  Whatever the reason, I sure would love to wake up feeling really rested and refreshed.

Thank you, again, wonderful people of the world! Sure do appreciate all of your support and encouragement.

Love you.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The rest of our week...

It feels like we've been in Seattle FOREVER...and it's only been a little over a week.  We are thankful that we've been able to stay here, but we miss home.

Friday, Harv had his treatment and then we moved out of our 2nd home away from home... It was a lovely place and so generous of our friends to let us stay there.  Later in the day, we went to the Obliteride venue to pick up my packet for the ride.

The festivities that evening included a couple of acts that were great! One, was a guy named Mike Brookshire, a Georgia boy!! He sang some good country songs and he also sang "Dixie." I didn't know that song moved me as much as it did, but I kinda felt like I was in church singin' that song. :-) 

And, then Michael Franti and Spearhead performed. They got the crowd jumpin' and dancin' and havin' fun with beach balls.

Yesterday, I rode my bike for 25 miles (34, if you count the ride to and from the event) to raise money for Fred Hutchinson Research Center... So far, the event has raised over 1.4 million dollars! It was a well-organized ride (there was a 25, 50, 100 and 180-mile ride for people to choose from). A couple of things that impress me: (1) ALL of the money that was raised by riders is going to research!! ALL OF IT! (2) Someone (I can't remember his name) donated $$ for FIVE years of Obliteride so that we can continue to provide "The Hutch" with research $$. For the next five years, all (as in, 100%!!) of the $$ raised by riders will go to research so that they can find a way to obliterate cancer!  Thank you, again, to all of you who gave to this cause. Somehow, someday there will be an end to cancer. An END!!! NADA. ZIP. ZERO. Sounds good, doesn't it?!

When the ride was over and I was back at the hotel, I was WHOOPED. Partially, it was emotional. And, as you might've guessed, it was also physical exhaustion.

Harv and I are kinda ready to be back in Bellingham. We think we've figured out a way for him to make the daily "shot trips" down on his own. We have some investigation to do about public transportation in Seattle, but I think it's gonna work well. 

And, while he's handled the shots well, he has experienced some high blood pressure (which I don't like) and an itchy rash around the injection site. The rash was sort of expected. The blood pressure thing was not. The nurses don't seem too concerned. They're keeping an eye on it and we're waiting to hear back from Dr. Lin about what, if anything, to do about it. But, I'm sayin' a prayer that it gets straightened out.

Today, we're just gonna hang out...and I'm imagining a nap sometime in my future.

Thank you for loving and supporting us. Thank you for being a part of my team to obliterate cancer.

Love you people!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

So far, so good

Harv started the new injection yesterday... So far, so good with the last set of shots and the first one from yesterday... Still praying for no side effects for the remainder of this set. (Last day -- the 14th. New round of chemo on the 15th)

Sarah and Hannah arrived on Tuesday approximately 3 hours late from New Orleans. SO happy to see them!

They had a great trip and I'm so happy they were able to go. I think they grew up a little bit...which makes me nostalgic, but not sad. They met some nice people and did some good things and lots of fun things. But I will say that I am hap-hap-happy that they're home!

And, while we've been here, Celeste has been holding down the fort in Bellingham... Yesterday, she called to let us know that a proof of Harv's book arrived. We FaceTimed about it:

It was a fun little video chat. Sometimes we forget that we have that capability, but it's always good to have a face-to-face conversation.

And, while we were on the phone with Celeste, Raney got in on the conversation:

That, too, was a fun little "conversation." :-)

Harv slept well last night and woke up feeling pretty good. In fact, he's felt pretty well for most of the days. We are hoping that he continues to feel well and experiences little to no side effects. In addition! We are hoping that the drugs are shrinking the tumors in his liver and that he'll be able to have surgery to remove any tumors that might be there.

We are so thankful for the generosity of friends. Goodness, gracious alive! It's so great!

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for lookin' out for us!

Many blessings.

P.S. Found this card the other day. I liked it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday, August 5th

Nothing to report about Harv... He's had more energy today than other days. No achy-ness. No fever. No nausea.

We have moved to our new home away from home...It's waaaaay out in Shoreline. :-) Very nice... 

We are very thankful for the people who have been so kind to us -- and there are quite a few.

And, btw, I decided to ride the 25 mile ride in Obliteride on Saturday. I feel a little bit whimpy about that, but I also feel like it's the right decision. I will aim to ride further next year. Just don't think I can make 50 miles happen this year. Fortunately, the distance I choose to ride doesn't affect where your donations will go. Still, the money goes to save lives...providing funds for research that can seriously make a difference. Bless you people who gave so generously!!! Thank you!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday, August 4th

Shot #2 happened this morning... It went well. 

Afterwards we went to the Ballard Farmer's Market where I wanted to buy some of everything and ended up buying nothing. Harv got pretty tired there so we came home about an hour after we got there. He took a nap for about an hour.... Before that, he complained of muscle aches in his calves, but that seems to have gotten better.

Mid-afternoon we went to a concert at the Ballard Locks with our friends, Chris and Dianne. They brought a picnic and we just visited and had a nice time. While we were there, a giant boat came through and we watched how the locks work. Pretty fascinating. We also saw the fish using the fish ladder. BIG OL' salmon trying to get to the ol' home-place. That, too, was amazing.

And, now, we're hangin' out for a little while before we hang out a little more before we go to bed.

Tomorrow we leave our home away from home in Ballard and go to Shoreline for a few days. I really like Ballard. I'm gonna miss this place. 

Very thankful for friends. Very thankful for friends of friends. Very thankful for the generosity that we have been shown.

Many blessings, friends!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday, August 3rd

Shot day#1 - Please pray for no bone pain and no fever (common side effects)... Also, today is the day that the pump will be disconnected! Weeee haw!!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Doing fine right now

Just wanted you to know that Harv is feeling pretty good... Today is the only day we have in this cycle that we don't have to go to the hospital... So, we slept late, had some DELICIOUS coffee in Fremont and now (at this very early hour) I'm gonna take a nap. Harv is messin' around with the computer... Later, we hope to go to a good dinner place...and then, tomorrow, we begin the white cell builder shots.

Praying that those do the trick without unpleasant side effects.

Love you people!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's been a long, full day, but not bad. 

It started with a chemo/pharmaceutical teach which was overwhelming and very "informationy".... We are currently waiting for the pump infusion people to show up and hook him up so we can go to our home away from home.

In the middle of Harv's infusion, I met my friend, Chris so he could give me the key to the place where we're staying. So thankful for the generosity of these people (friends of Chris and his wife, Dianne) who don't even know us!! 

Another prayer request is that I would quickly learn to get around Seattle without freakin' out. :-)  Need to be able to find my way around...and right now, it's all so mysterious and puzzle-y.

Thank you for praying. And, thank you for doing all the other wonderful things you do!

Day one is almost over...gettin' ready to move on forward with this thing!! 

Kickin' cancer's butt!!!

You 'member when you were in school and the teacher handed out the syllabus and you looked at it and thought "There's NO WAY I can get all this done!" And, "What if i don't remember part of this?!" That's how I feel after our chemo/pharmaceutical teach this morning.

Please pray that I do all the right things and that I remember what I'm supposed to do to help Harv.... And, please pray that things go smoothly. I sooooo don't want him to feel bad...