Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cancer Free!

Dr. Senecal called and said that Dave's CAT scan from last Thursday came back all clear!  We have believed since December that Dave's cancer was gone, now a simple scan confirmed it.  While we are overjoyed, we are still "in the midst" of healing and doctors appointments.  Dave hasn't started feeling better yet, in fact he's felt worse and we still are waiting for a surgery date to put his insides, well...back inside :) 

I'd be remiss if I didn't inform you that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. But, it is one of the easiest cancers to detect at an early stage, which greatly improves the chance of a cure.  If you want to "help" us, then go get a colonoscopy!  We have a storybook ending to a scary chapter of our lives.  I don't know why God chose to give us a second chance, but He has.  I think I will remain a "blogger" a little bit longer since we'll continue to deal with this for at least 5 more years.  Maybe in that time God will reveal why this has been part of our journey or maybe He won't.  I just don't want to miss anything He has for us.

The blue ribbon above represent colorectal cancer (Dave said it should be brown, Julia says that's disgusting!  So go the conversations in our house...).  I'm thrilled we get to attach "survivor" to that symbol.  God has revealed so much of Himself to us, I wish I could give Him a name (like Hagar did, "You are a God who sees" in Genesis 16), but that name would be too long for this blog!  He has been the one Constant in this turbulent year.  Steady.  Strong.  Present. Trustworthy.  Good.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, I can't say it enough...we couldn't have weathered this year without you!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Final Round!

This day seemed quite anti-climactic.  We went in for our 9am appointment.  The nurses checked with Dave about his neuropathy, it has been pretty bad (for him).  We had a scheduled appointment with our Oncologist at 9:20 so they decided to wait to begin treatment until we saw Dr. Senecal.  He decided to stop the Oxaliplatin (the chemo drug for colon cancer) that causes the neuropathy.  Dave still received the Leucovorin (a vitamin that helps the chemo be more effective) and the 5FU (chemo).  Then they hooked him up to his pump he carries with him for the next two days and we were off.

Well, that wasn't quite it...I did bring in cookies and dark chocolate with a thank you card, the staff has been amazing!  Everyone was excited for us, said they'd miss us.  I went up mid-way through the treatment to visit some friends that are sadly, just beginning their journey with Cancer.

It was a little surreal taking the elevator up.  While this is a different hospital than where we were for diagnosis and surgery, there were many similarities that flooded back memories.  A sunny day, over-sized windows, foamy hand sanitizer every 6 feet, machines buzzing as they cut through the silence, unknowns hanging in the air, nurses busy at computers, food under blue domed lids to hide it or keep it lukewarm, awful hospital gowns (though Lloyd pulls it off well!).  It was strange to walk in as a visitor. It was as if years had passed since that was our life, yet it has only been months.

I was struck with how unique each of our stories are...cancer used to be grouped into one big category in my mind.  I'm realizing how vast and complicated this disease is, how each person reacts differently to the disease and treatments, how it is no respecter of people.  No one is immune to the effects.  There is a sign where Dave receives his chemo that says, "Whoever said winning isn't everything never fought cancer".  I do hate cancer and I do believe we beat it.  I am still grateful for all it has taught us.  I hope we are better people because of it.

Anyway, Dave has a CAT scan on May 24 and a colonoscopy and surgery sometime soon.  The doctor gave us the game plan for the next five years (including appointments every 3 months).   And there you have it.  Told you it was anti-climactic.  But then again, we don't want "interesting" or "exciting" when it comes to cancer....boring is good.  So here's to our boring day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday

Dave was craving a "normal dad" day : ) so after school we went to Tolmie State Park in Lacey.  We've been there one other time and they have one of my favorite paths! 

This picture is the three of them trying to quickly build a canal to a "lake" before the tide covers it up completely.  It was totally under water in less than five minutes, but it was lots of fun to build.

It was just what we needed.  Family, sunshine, water, paths, walking, exploring, being silly.

Tomorrow begins Dave's last chemo treatment!  He was "accessed" today (he has tubes hanging out of the port in his chest).  Tomorrow they will give him drugs, then hook him up to a 46 hour pump.  Thursday he'll go in and they will disconnect him.  Then more fun begins.  They will schedule scans and/or a colonoscopy.  Then surgery in about 6 weeks.

Dave is still feeling pretty lousy and is really ready for all of this to be behind us.  (pun intended!) 

I'll update more after tomorrow.  Please pray the chemo does it's full work and that Dave can endure well whatever is ahead.  In the mean time, here is a video of our kids "unwinding" after a day at school.

video

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Blech


So this picture kind of sums up how Dave is doing these days.  Round 7 hit him the hardest.  Actually, I think it is the accumulation of chemo that is finally catching up to Superman. 

He's lost lots of energy, has frequent headaches, this cold weather has his neuropathy on high alert and he lost part of both eyebrows.  Yup, you heard me right.  It looks like matching bald spots on the crest of his eyebrows.  He shaved down what was left since it was quite the fashion statement and he's not into being trendy.

Food also isn't tasting great (since he can't have anything yummy that is no surprise...).  I think he's hit the "rut".  We are post-diagnosis, post-surgery, post-the-newness-of-chemo and pre-what's next?  And feeling pretty awful in the in-between time. 

We have started communication up again with Dr. Klatt's office (Dave's surgeon who was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer).  He is still set on doing Dave's surgery.  We keep calling back and forth and don't have a date yet, but Dave should have a colonoscopy in a few weeks, then surgery another month later or so.

I think I said this before surgery when we were just doing "nothing" after chemo and radiation.  This in-between time seems the hardest.  Other times you have the distractions of treatments/doctor visits/etc.  Now though you just wait.

Round 8, the final round, is next Tuesday.  On Thursday, May 10, Dave will be completely finished with chemo!  This is definitely reason to celebrate, but it is making Dave slightly crazy.  He is pretty worried how he'll do since this last time was so hard.  We are almost there though, the finish line is around the corner...maybe somebody needs to throw a cup of cold water in his face to refresh him for the last leg of this race...wait don't do that, unless it is room temperature water, cold hurts....

I'll update again next week ~ take care and eat more fiber!