Monday, November 26, 2012

And it's time for some good news

Aaaaaand round four of this whole ordeal. 

I woke up this morning feeling really well. The jaundice was much reduced from yesterday and the pain was a lot less as well. As I write this tonight the pain is almost completely gone. I had lots of energy and drive today and was able to work all day at work. It was actually one of my more productive days in a while. 

I've been waiting all day to hear back from my regular oncologist. They have been waiting to receive my records from the local ER from the weekend. Once I heard that I used my motivational skills to get this process rolling. Once my regular nurse finally talked to my oncologist he was not concerned considering how well I was doing and all the information from the weekend. So we are going to go back to normal and unless something dramatic happens we will assume this was all a complication from the procedure and nothing more serious. I will have more blood work on Friday to make sure things are headed in the right direction.

You can imagine this is quite a relief for Kendra and I. It has been an exhausting weekend and we're both very thankful for the outcome. I am confident this is in no small part to the overwhelming amount of prayer and intensity of those prayers that many of you were sending our way. 

Cancer has many ups and downs and it's hard not to over react or under react. We learn to take things a day at a time and not much further. The unknown brings much anxiety but the wonderful part is what I do know. 

I know God is in control, and He loves me. I know His plan is perfect. I know there is peace in the storm if I surrender my fears, wants, ambitions, and worries to Him. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The weekend that won't end

Well after a weekend of roller coaster like ups and downs I thought we were at least done until Monday. Silly me. This afternoon while out getting our Christmas tree, Kendra noticed that my eyes looked very yellow. Jaundice. We were getting a tree because I was feeling so well. The pain was still there but much less. Overall I had energy, alertness, and felt much better.

However the jaundice changed things again so after calling CTCA for advice we headed back to the ER tonight. My blood work came back the same or better on all areas as yesterday. There is no infection. So they did an ultrasound to see if there was anything noticeable in the bile duct, gull bladder, or liver areas. If there was that would indicate something that needed to be addressed urgently.

The ultrasound showed nothing out of the normal. So in conjunction with the Dr. at CTCA the ER Dr. discharged us still thinking it's rare but possible all of this has been due to complications from the Theraspheres. It could also be related to changes in my cancer. That would be more worrisome.

We are obviously praying this has been a long scary weekend but nothing more than that. We will consult with my regular oncologist at CTCA to see how they advice us to proceed. Again, I feel much better, my blood work was not alarming, and neither was the ultrasound. However we still haven't done a cat scan due to the radiation which would give us the most information about the tumors.

Please pray for my family. It's very difficult for them to have all these unknowns, some of them potentially very serious and nothing they can do about it. I have no idea what the next couple days look like. I will know more once I talk to my Dr. tomorrow. In the meantime we will keep taking things a day at a time.

A nice little Sunday

What a roller coaster this weekend has been!

Late last night I spiked a fever and pretty much felt like garbage all over. The fever must have broke in the middle of the night because I was up almost every hour dealing with night sweats. I was able to sleep in a little this morning and am generally feeling really well right now. The fever is gone, the pain is less and there aren't any other side effects right now. 

Right now I'm watching Kendra and Colton make Christmas ornaments, I'm listening to the MSU basketball game on the radio, and we're going to go get our Christmas tree this afternoon with my father in law's help. 

This journey is such an up and down battle and in the middle of a "battle" it can be easy to lose sight of the "war". We constantly remind ourselves that God is always in control. A friend of mine commented on one of our status updates and said, "Stay strong and know you are safe in God's hands today and every day."

Isn't that the truth? We're always safe in God's hands, and I know that's where I am. We aren't always guaranteed to be comfortable, but I do know he'll protect me and watch out for me. Even though I know this promise it was good to be reminded during our little episode. 

So every time I feel a pain in my side as I breath I'm going to take that opportunity to thank God for all that I have and the opportunities he's placed in front of me. I know I'm safe, so the next step is to be obedient. 

It's easy to worry and get lost in anxiety but that's me telling God I don't believe in His safety or I don't want it because I can do it better. This is where trust becomes difficult, when my idea of the future may not match up with God's plans. However I've read the end of the book and I know that no matter what happens God's plans will not be foiled, His plans for me, for my family, and for the world. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

...aaand, we're back.

Hello friends,

We are back home after a (thankfully) short trip to the ER.  Essentially, we didn't get much news, but our ER doctor and CTCA doctors think that Ryan's pain is likely a reaction to the treatment.  That's not necessarily normal, but after running tests (all which showed nothing of concern), it appears that is the most likely explanation.  Also, since his pain could possibly even be attributed as a muscle strain/spasm in a normal, healthy person, there is even a possibility that he may have tweaked his side.  Ironically, we were almost in a car accident on Wednesday just a short time after his procedure - someone cut in our lane and I had to slam on my brakes after they did the same thing right in front of me.  We slid back and forth and came extremely close to hitting them.  Ryan may have braced himself and it wasn't too long after that near-miss that he started to feel really poorly.

So, since blood work seems to be nondescript and none of the doctors seem up in arms about this pain, we are not going to be alarmed, either.  We are grateful for your prayers and covet them in the coming days as Ryan tries to relax and manage his pain through ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

We love you all.


Headed to the ER

Kendra and I are on our way to the emergency room this morning. The pain in my back has been manageable over the last couple days but is not getting noticeably better. I actually slept through the whole night last night, but as I woke up it is still there when I breath and move wrong. 

After consulting with our doctor's in Chicago they advised we head to get a check up at our ER. This pain is not normal for the Therasphere treatment and so they don't know what might be causing it. 

This is very frustrating, scary, and not at all what we wanted to do this weekend. However we're going to err on the side of caution and see if we can't get to the bottom of things. 

Please pray for us..

1. Please pray for Kendra and I. We have been through some up and down weeks lately and were really really really looking forward to four straight days with Colton doing family time. We had to send Colton to her folks house this morning.
2. Please pray for wisdom for the ER Dr's. I'm slightly skeptical that they'll be able to figure anything out. This is a very complicated case and there are so many variables. The risk of being wrong is great and it can be a worry to us. 
3. Please pray for the elimination of the symptoms and for my healing. We still pray every day for God's will to be done no matter what. Pray that we would have opportunities to honor Him no matter what. 

God is good. His blessing and mercy is unending and never failing. He knew we'd be heading to the ER today and so this is part of His plan. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful, yet worried.

Hello friends,

This is a day to remember what the Lord has done for us!  We are grateful for His provision and his mercies and since last year, we have tried to live each day with Thanksgiving. (See this previous post.)

Yet today is a concerning day.  I write this post from a Marriott in Kalamazoo - another day, another hotel.  We came here last night to rest before our family's Thanksgiving dinner today in Gull Lake.  However, Ryan has been having increasingly concerning symptoms, most notably intense pain.  We are not sure why the pain is here.  He has had slight, intermittent pain throughout his whole journey, but not this prolonged and not this severe.  He literally can hardly breathe or move.  We are unsure whether or not this is cancer metastasis, or simply irritation from yesterday's procedure.  We are praying for the latter.  We are also praying for wisdom.

We will keep you posted, but in the meantime - enjoy your Thanksgiving and please pray for us!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Hello friends, Ryan's therasphere treatment starts at 9 a.m. Eastern.  Please be praying!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Answers to Prayer!

Over the last couple of days I've seen many prayers answered.

Here's another one many of you were praying along with us.

The Theraspheres radiation treatment is now scheduled for next Wednesday the 21st! Which means we'll get the treatment before Thanksgiving. Things have moved much faster than what we were told was possible. I think we all know why.

I wanted to give you all an update and thank you again for your prayers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hooray! Good news!

ALL SYSTEMS ARE A GO FOR THE THERASPHERE TREATMENT!  Apparently the whole mapping procedure was a success; Ryan's body is adequately "set up" for the treatment and he will be sent home soon.  His mom has been texting me updates all day.  He is groggy and in a bit of pain from all the poking and prodding, but he will be alright. 

We are waiting to hear from scheduling to see when his actual Y-90 treatment will take place: maybe as early as Thursday or Friday this week, perhaps Monday or Tuesday next week, or perhaps even the day after Thanksgiving.  Is it wrong to drop my husband off at the hospital and then go hit up the Black Friday sales?  (I'm completely kidding.)

God is good and His plan is always best.

Thanks again for praying so much for us.  We love you all.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Don't forget to pray!

Just a quick update to remind you that tomorrow is Ryan's mapping procedure and lung shunt.  These tests will determine whether or not he is a candidate for the Theraspheres.  It is critical that we pray him through tomorrow!

Another prayer request is that he can get the actual procedure done ASAP.  We want to lose as little "ground" as possible.  We are both nervous and edgy about all the time that he has been off of treatment.

Not much else to say tonight.  Please, please just pray - and thank you, because I know that you already are.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's not normal to feel so ...... normal

I've been off chemotherapy for a couple of weeks now. After the last set of scans we decided to move towards an aggressive and relatively new form of radiation called Theraspheres. Basically they'll inject radiated glass beads (smaller than the width of a hair) into my body which will then flow through arteries and veins to target the cancer internally.

We've been waiting for some scheduling conflicts to work out and I don't have a full update but here's what we know now. I'll be getting the "mapping" procedures done on Monday. This includes some blood work, but really it's a trial run to make sure there are no abnormalities in my vessels and that the radiated material doesn't leak into my lungs. Then the following Monday the Dr.'s will review my results to determine if we move forward. There is very little chance of a complication but just because it's unknown makes it worrisome. Please pray that all these test go well and there are no issues.

If I clear all the tests then I'll most likely receive the injection the Thursday after Thanksgiving. This is later than we expected and it has been frustrating trying to work around multiple Dr.'s schedules and Thanksgiving. The concern is how long I've been off of treatment. You can't do chemo for a couple weeks before the radiation. Not knowing it would take this long I've been off treatment longer than I expected.

This is a bittersweet circumstance. We're nervous about not treating for a month and a half. I do trust that God is in control but this isn't what I would have liked. However not doing chemotherapy for this long has allowed me to feel great the last couple weeks.

I forgot what it felt like to feel so normal. I have more energy, I've been able to help out more around the house, even played volleyball this week. More than that I've just felt more like myself. The indescribable effect of a year and a half straight of chemo has become my new normal. It affects my energy, my motivation, my appetite, everything. These drugs are designed to kill things and they do their job well.

I don't have a lesson or point to make. I just wanted to give an update on what we've been up to lately. I'm extremely excited to go to Chicago this weekend. I get to see my youngest brother Corey complete his final college football game. I can't tell you how proud I am of Corey and the Godly man he's become. He's a leader on his team and has been an incredible encouragement to me over the last year. It's so exciting to see what God's got in store for him.

I will also be giving the devotional to the team on Saturday morning. This will be the third time I've had the privilege of speaking to this team this year. I don't know what their win loss record is after hearing me but they keep asking me back. It's extremely rewarding to be able to encourage and hopefully inspire these young men to live their lives fully committed to Christ. Please pray for me as I really want to make sure what I share is what God has for these men to hear.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. Kendra and I don't get tired of hearing "I'm praying for you". We don't take it for granted and we know we're only in the position we're in right now because of God's grace and your constant lifting us up. This has been an up and down month for us and we have needed all the prayers we could get. Please pray that the procedure goes well, that the cancer is not spreading, and that my family would continue to be protected from the toll and effects this could take on them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Is Wednesday more important than Tuesday?

(In the most dramatic voice of all time...)

"This Tuesday the fate of the world rests in your hands. Your vote and your vote alone will save all of humanity from imminent and complete certain destruction. The choice is simple. Candidate A will close the holes in the ozone, save the unicorns, and bring our country back to the good ole days of milkshakes, leisure suits, and wood paneled cars! Candidate B hates you and everyone you care about. They revel in your pain and suffering. Nothing they do has ever been, is not currently, nor could ever be remotely successful because they're the worst human being ever."

In my younger years (I know I'm only 26, some of you are rolling your eyes pretty hard right now), I used to get pretty animated about politics. I was very excited that I turned 18 on a presidential election year. I exercised my right to vote then, and took it seriously... until I got into the booth and learned that judicial candidates don't have party affiliations next to their name.

Whoops. Missed that one. Hopefully eenie meenie miney moe was spirit directed that afternoon because that's how we overcame that bit of poor planning.

The last presidential election I was 22. This time I was married, had a full-time job and felt much more "adult". I don't know if that was why I felt so much more anxious than the first time around. I remember the night of the election I stayed up way too late. That whole day I furiously checked the internet, the news, and the radio for some sign or indicator that my candidate was winning.

I was afraid of the consequences of the other guy winning. What would it mean for America, for me, for my family some day? The stakes felt so important that I was uneasy and irritable all day long.

This year things are quite a bit different for me. I still care. I still take it seriously, and know it's a special privilege to live in a country where I have the right to vote. I believe we should be informed, discerning, and judicious in our decisions when we cast our ballots.

So what's changed? I'm not worried one bit about who wins. I'm not anxious, nervous, or concerned about the outcome.

What it boils down to is God will still be the sovereign God of the universe on Wednesday morning. His plans can not be thwarted no matter who is President of America. My daily walk with the Lord should not and will not change based on who the President is. My purpose is still the same, the commandments I've been given are still the same, and God's plan for the world is still the same.

The question I've been struggling with lately is, why was I more emotionally concerned about elections in years past than I was about unsaved friends and family, orphans, or suffering people? I rarely, if ever, have stayed up late at night full of anxiety about the salvation of the people I love. Can you relate to this? Maybe you're a better person than me. I felt pretty guilty when I realized where my priorities have been the last couple years.

Cancer changes things quickly. I'm not advocating disengaging from society and not playing your part. I'm not saying that voting isn't important. Quite the opposite.

What I'm asking is: do you care more about what President you're following or what purpose you're fulfilling?