Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two to Go…

Just two radiation treatments left now.  That drive to and from Cleveland takes a lot out of me.  But then I remember that at least Jeff isn’t hospitalized.  He is able to come home after every treatment.

The side effects from the treatments were really severe.  This past weekend, he wanted to attend church but got very sick as we were getting ready to leave.  He was able to hold it together for about forty-five minutes on Sunday afternoon while our good friend Angie took some family portraits. 




Jeff was worried about his appearance knowing that the radiation can cause the skin to burn and blister, but I reassured him that his skin was clear.  (I noticed today, though, that he looks like he is sunburned all over his head now.) 

Having the session at our home meant that Jeff wouldn’t have to travel in the car or try to walk in an unfamiliar setting.  (Going down the deck steps made me nervous enough!)  Not long after Angie left, Jeff was terribly sick again, but I am so thankful he was able to participate.  We had a good time being silly, tossing leaves and just being outside for a little while.

At Monday’s treatment, the doctor gave Jeff the OK to start steroids again.  The effect really is dramatic as far as relieving the nausea and headaches.  What a blessing that is!  But he will also have to take the other meds now to deal with the side effects of the steroids.   I think the relief that the medication brings is worth it.

We meet with the medical oncologist on Friday to hear what comes next.



Angie Arthur has finally started her photography business, and I am so excited for her.  I think she is amazingly talented!  Clicking on her logo below will take you to her Facebook Fan Page.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

So far…

Jeff has had five of the ten radiation treatments.  He goes this Monday through Friday to receive the rest of them. 

We have been blessed with friends and family that have stepped right in and said, “Tell me what you need.”  The kids were taken care of and dinners were prepared and dropped off.  Both efforts were such a huge help since we didn’t have any say in the scheduling times for Jeff’s treatments. 

The side effects have been hard.  The treatment only takes a couple of minutes, but by the time we are about thirty minutes down the road, he has a splitting headache.  Nausea follows soon after.  I am hoping that once his treatments wrap up on Friday, he will start to feel much better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Change of Plans

Yesterday’s visit to the Cleveland Clinic was a difficult one.   Jeff’s new MRI showed more changes in the optic nerve as well as in his brainstem.  That being interpreted means the leukemia is continuing to infiltrate his brain.

The team of oncologists responsible for Jeff’s care consulted other even more specialized oncologists and determined that the best course of action is to discontinue chemotherapy and begin whole brain radiation.  Today.

So I’m rearranging schedules to accommodate this new development.  That’s just the way life is sometimes.  Unpredictable.  We plan ahead to the best of our ability with the information we have.  And sometimes we get new information that forces us to change gears. 

You might be surprised to know that Jeff and I both slept very restfully last night.  How is that possible?  Well, a couple of thoughts come to mind.  But, mainly, we are just that sure of God’s goodness.  This is rubber-meets-the-road kind of faith in practice.  And I tell you what, I am so glad to know God!  I can not imagine how someone could digest the kind of news we received yesterday without being confident that God is faithful and good and wants to bear all our burdens. 

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.  
--Joseph Scriven

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.  I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” Psalms 3:3-5

Monday, October 19, 2009


In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I would like to introduce you to my Gramma Maxine.  Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, she battled and won.  I do not recall her ever being depressed or discouraged other than commenting that everything tasted like metal while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  (I remember her saying that the only thing that tasted good was French fries. )  She took that diagnosis like a soldier and asked what the best battle plan was, then followed it-- mastectomy, chemotherapy, wigs, bone scans, and all-- until she prevailed.


She remained cancer-free for a number of years.  On the day this photo was taken in 2003, she told us that the cancer had returned in her other breast.  She also told us she would not be fighting this time.  It was hard for us to hear, and harder to accept.  But she was ten years older now, and I believe she wanted to enjoy the time she had left.   “Chemo was too hard,” she said.

She made it until September of 2004.  Long enough to see our youngest born.  Long enough to hear Jeff’s diagnosis that August and tell me she had peace that he was going to make it.  She died a couple weeks later and went home to be with Jesus. 

I miss her so much. 

I ♥ Faces is celebrating survivors and honoring the fallen this week.  Clicking on the badge below will direct you to their site where you can view other photos and read their stories. 


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Think on These Things

A dear friend of mine sent a message last night suggesting I meditate on Phillipians 4 before going to sleep.  That is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, and so I thought I would share part of it with you, too.

Whenever a situation is looking dismal, remember these words:

Phillipians 4:6-9 

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 

So I am reminded to lay my cares at the feet of Jesus through prayer, and fill my thoughts with things of beauty and truth and goodness.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MRI and Treatment #4

This is something I’ve been dreading.  While I desperately want to know if the radiation and chemotherapy have helped, I am frightened at the possibility that the news might be that the lesion has grown.  Will an MRI be able to show the difference between the inflammation that the chemo obviously causes and an actual change in the size of the lesion?  I don’t know.

I’m afraid to know.

And yet, I do need to know.   The doctors need to know, of course.  Is the treatment working?  Do we need to be more aggressive?  Is he ever going to see clearly again?  Questions, questions, questions…

The uncertainty is enough to make me crazy.  And when I start feeling that way, I remember that God sees clearly and knows everything that lies ahead.  I can trust His goodness even when I don’t understand His plans.

Praying for good news from Monday’s MRI and for a smooth procedure on Tuesday for treatment #4.


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Monday, October 12, 2009

Alone Time

Having two Type-A personalities share the same living space 24-7 is not really the best scenario.  Add a little stressor like, oh I don’t know, say Cancer, and things can get pretty dicey.   Jeff is home and sick, and I should be overflowing with compassion and understanding.  I find myself sorely lacking.  My patience is thin.    At a time when I should be bending over backwards to make him comfortable, I am more prone to bicker over silly things.

Any couple that enjoys a successful marriage will tell you that time spent apart is healthy.  The trouble is that when I decide to go ahead and take some time to get out, I feel guilty that Jeff is sitting at home with virtually nothing to do.

It doesn’t seem right.

Over the past month or so, a couple of Jeff’s friends have come to pick him up and take him to lunch.  One of the things Jeff has missed about working is the daily social interaction, so going out for lunch and good conversation really makes his day.  That has been a help to me, too.

But I wish I could figure out something else that he would enjoy to pass the time.  So far, the books on CD haven’t been a hit.  He says listening just makes him sleepy.    (Except for the Bible. He has listened half-way through that in just two months.)

So if you are praying for us, you can be asking for God to give me patience and inspiration.  I’m all out of ideas.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


It seems the recovery period after a chemotherapy treatment is a slow dance with a heavy-footed partner.  How many days can you go around with the nausea and pain before begging for steroids to “cut in” as it were?

Jeff’s headache and nausea were becoming increasingly worse over the weekend, to the point where he actually was thinking this was as bad as the last treatment.  I asked him on Tuesday if he was ready to start a steroid taper, but he wanted to see how he felt Wednesday morning. 

He awoke feeling absolutely miserable, and decided he had had enough of the pain killers and took two Aleve instead and asked me to cut up his steroid pills into the appropriate dosages for the next five days.  By mid-afternoon, Jeff was feeling so much better.

Now you might be wondering why someone might be reluctant to take something that helps so well.  I suppose it could be different for every individual, but for Jeff, the side effects of steroids are very frustrating.  He can’t sleep more than an hour at a time.  They make him sweat, and then his skin breaks out.  He feels irritable.  His joints become tender.  And then there are the long-term side effects for his heart as well, and that really bothers him.

But steroids may just be the only way to get through these treatments. It was nice to have Jeff feeling well enough to get out of the house for the day.  I had several errands to run, and we got a lot accomplished along with lunch at Chick-fil-A and an ice cream cone later in the afternoon.  (That’s more food than he’s eaten in four days!)

When he’s feeling better like today, I can actually picture him feeling normal again someday.  And so, I’m thankful for the steroids for giving him relief.