Thursday, December 12, 2013

What's Up???

Dennis' New Treatment

Dennis started the new NovaCure treatment on December 2.  We are still trying to getting used to the logistics of carrying around batteries and planning for how long we can be gone before he runs out of power.  Dennis is finding that even when he is home it is easier to run off of the batteries instead of plugging into the wall unless he knows he will be in one place for an extended period of time, like at night when he sleeps.  At least when he is on batteries, he does not need to shut everything off and unplug before he can move.  I’m learning how to change the electrodes and I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it.  I am actually teaching a friend how to do it also in case I am not available when he needs a change or as Dennis says, “In case you are not in mood where I want you to do it.”  This treatment is not easy in that it is cumbersome and so visible.  On the positive side, there are no side effects with it.    He will have an MRI at the end of January but the doctor told us that the first MRI on this treatment often shows pseudo progression so it is not a good indicator of if the treatment is being affective.  We continue to pray for complete healing and restoration. 

Beating the Odds

It has been 18 months since Dennis was first diagnosed.  If you have done any reading on GBM, you know that he has already beaten the odds.  We are grateful for this and trust he will blow the statistics out of the water!  In those 18 months we have struggled, grieved, rejoiced, celebrated…LIVED!  We remind ourselves often that if we dwell too much on what the future may hold, we miss out on what the present is giving us.

A Look Back

As I look back over these 18 months, there are so many things for which we can rejoice and be thankful:
  • Dennis has never had a seizure with this.
  • Dennis has struggled with fatigue (which at some points has been pretty overwhelming), word finding and has recently had some balance issues but overall he has done well following major brain surgery.
  • Our insurance continues to cover the costs of his very expensive medical bills.
  • We are blessed with a large group of friends who have used their individual gifts and talents to help us over and over again.
  • Our financial needs have been met, sometimes in unforeseen ways, during all of this.
  • Brooklyn has flourished in our family despite all of the stress of dealing with a very serious illness.

And those are just the highlights.  I won’t bore you with all of the details but most of them are in earlier posts in this blog if you want to go back for a review. 


On the Home Front


On a bit of a sad note, we said good-bye to our golden retriever, Abby, on Monday.  She would have been 15 in February.  Abby came into my life before I met Dennis and has been a wonderful part of our family for all of these years.  Her sweet temperament will be missed in our house. 

Have a Great Christmas

I trust you all will have a wonderful holiday season.  We will celebrate our Saviors birth with both sides of our family.  We hope you also have the opportunity to spend time with your families in the weeks ahead. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Attempting Normal

I’m beginning to believe that “normal” is highly overrated.  For the most part, as long as life is “normal” we don’t even think about it but once “normal” has been disrupted, it invades our core being.  We ask questions like, “Will life ever be “normal” again?” 

Frankly, life is never “normal.”  There may be patterns to life that makes us feel like all is “normal” but in essence, each day or season of life is diverse and by its diversity, makes our lives a beautiful tapestry rather than a monotone existence.

Some times are full of the vibrant colors of life – new children, major goals that are accomplished – and others are shades of gray or even black – illness, sorrow.  We are living in one of those gray areas of life.  Yes, there are smatterings of color along the way that brighten this time and help carry us along. 

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is important to look back at all those bright spots along the way that keep us going even when life is far from “normal.”
  • Friends who continue to pray for us.
  • Emails, cards and calls that come our way, often just at a time when we need someone to help carry us through the day.
  • Old friends that have celebrated with us the exciting times in our lives – marriage, Brooklyn’s arrival – and new friends who have only known us during this difficult time of Dennis’ illness but have opened their hearts to us.
  • Meals, rides, project help, packages, visits…So many ways people have encouraged us and so often they have come at times when we were at the end of our strength but had not even shared our needs but God placed us on their hearts.
  • Help with Brooklyn after school, during Dennis’ appointments or just to give her a break.
  • Medical staff who could see just one more person with cancer but instead, know Dennis as a person and show compassion.
Yes, we attempt “normal.”  In a few days, we will host our “normal” Thanksgiving gathering.  We will be surrounded by friends and family, enjoy a typical Thanksgiving meal, watch some football and enjoy some good conversations but under all of it is a current of "not-quite-normal.”  But in this "not-quite-normal” time, we have been blessed in ways we never would have experienced otherwise. 

So as we approach this holiday, we are thankful for so many blessings God has given us. As we move into yet another season of this cancer journey, although we enter it with much foreboding and dread, we know God is walking through this with us and will have many vibrant colors to brighten this path as well.

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Prayer requests:

  • Dennis’ new treatment starts on Monday, Dec. 2.  Please pray for him during this time. 
  • We are in the process of insurance approvals for this new treatment.  Please pray for their approval.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Treatment - What's Next

We met with the doctor today.  The original tumor sight had some bleeding in the tumor.  Because of the bleeding, Dennis cannot stay on Avastin.  The risk of a serious hemorrhage is too high.  Two options were available to us at this point.  They could use radiation again.  Until recently this would not have even been an option.  Radiation was used once on the brain and that was it.  Methods have been developed to do radiation a second time if over a year has lapsed since the previous radiation.  However, with radiation comes a high risk of cell death of healthy cells in the brain and the loss of function from it.

The second option is the Novacure or NovaTTF, it goes by two names, that disrupts the cell division in the cancer cells but does not affect healthy brain tissue and has minimal side effects.  The only real side effect is tender skin from the tape.  This is the option we have chosen.  There is planning and insurance approval that has to take place over the next few weeks.  Dennis will start the new treatments either the Monday before Thanksgiving or the Monday after Thanksgiving.  There are some drawbacks to this treatment.  Dennis will need to have his head shaved so that the device he will be wearing comes in contact with his skin.  None of us are looking forward to that.  He also needs to be plugged into the device at least 18 hours a day.  When he is home, he can plug into the house current.  He will have batteries to use when he is not home.  The pack weighs around 6 lbs that he will be carrying around all the time.  Although we think this is a good option at this point, it is very hard to process through all of this.  We hope with time that it will become somewhat routine.

Dennis also is scheduled for an MRI of his spinal column.  Since the brain and spinal column work together, the doctor wants to make sure that no new tumors have developed outside of his brain.  He is doing this as a precaution.  If they would find any tumors in his spine, they will use radiation to destroy them.

The second tumor in his brain is gone.  This one may redevelop now that Dennis is off of medication.  If it does, the doctor will direct the Novacure to that area as well.

We are totally spent emotionally.  This has been a very hard couple of days.  We don't like that this new treatment will be so visibly obvious to us all the time.  With all the other treatments, it was easier to "forget" all that was going on.  

We continue to trust and rest in the care of our loving heavenly Father.  We know he loves each of us and has a plan and purpose for this difficult time in our lives.

Please continue to pray for us.

  • Peace as we await the start of this next treatment.
  • That the spinal MRI will be clear.
  • Dennis - to gain strength now that he is off of the medication.  (It will take several weeks to clear out of his system.)
  • Ellen - I am emotionally drained.
  • Brooklyn - as she processes all that is happening and for us as we guide her through it.
We love you and appreciate all you do for us.  Dennis will be able to get out and about with this new treatment so don't hesitate to call and see if he wants to get out.  It helps him not to just be at home all the time.  Thanks for your prayers and care you have so generously given to us.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

MRI Report

Dennis’ MRI report was mixed news.  The tumors have not changed.  That is the good news.  The are basically where they had been when they did the last MRI.  However, there appears to be some bleeding so he cannot continue with the current medication.  This might explain why he has not been feeling great recently. 
So, where do we go from here?  We will know more when we see the doctor tomorrow but he is leaning toward a treatment that we have been asking about since early on in this journey.  There is a device that has been developed that delivers electric impulses to the brain that disrupt cell division.  (Normal brain cells do not divide whereas the cancer cells do divide.) It has shown some good results and produces almost no side effects.  Dennis will need to wear this almost all the time except when he is in the shower.  You can learn more about it at:   Dennis said he will have to get some new hats to wear with it. 

So, keep praying for us as we enter a new type of treatment and that this proves to be the one that will kill off these nasty cells. 

UPDATE:  The doctor took another look at the MRI and the one smaller spot appears to be better or gone.  This is encouraging news. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today is THE DAY

Today is the day we both dread and look forward to.  It is the day our lives revolve around.  Eight weeks and then THE DAY arrives.  Yes, today is MRI day. 

Two weeks ago if you would have asked Dennis, he would have told you, “I just want to have the MRI to find out what is going on.”  He felt strongly at that point that he was ready to know.  For the last several days it has been more of a foreboding.  Do we really want to know?  What if the medication is not working?  Are the symptoms Dennis is having side-effects of the medication or are they an indication that this beast is growing and interfering with his movements and strength?  If the medication is not working, then what?  Frankly, our options to combat this are growing short.  If you look at statistics on survival after diagnosis, Dennis right now is at the point of the average months past diagnosis.
So, today we wait.  MRI is at 11:20am.  There is a possibility that the doctor will call this afternoon with results.  If not, he usually calls first thing the following day.  We will meet with him on Wednesday.  If the MRI is stable, it will be a routine check and Dennis will then receive his next dose of the same medications.  If the MRI has changed, we will discuss other options that still are available.
Please keep all of us in your prayers for peace as we wait and as we hear the news and for clear direction on treatments moving forward if we need to make changes.
We will post here as soon as we have any news. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

MRI Around the Corner

We are on the homestretch for the next MRI.  In two weeks, Nov. 11, Dennis will have an MRI and then we will most likely hear from the doctor the next day with results.  We will actually see the doctor on the 13th.  The weeks leading up to an MRI are full of mixed feelings.  We want to know what is going on but also dread finding out.  We have had the experience of relief when the news is positive and the blow of word that the tumor was back and growing.  As always we appreciate your prayers during this time. 

I know most of you read this blog to find out how Dennis is doing.  If you have not seen Dennis for awhile, you would notice that he moves a bit slower than he used to.  This is largely due to his feeling off balance most of the time so he is very careful in how he moves.  We are unsure of what is causing this balance issue.  It could be medication side effects.  There is also the possibility that the tumor is causing the problem.  We might have a better idea on which one of these scenarios is the cause after the next MRI.  The other issue that challenges him a lot since starting this medication is fatigue.  He is really tired most of the time.  This is expected as his body is being attacked, not only by the cancer but also by the medications to fight the cancer.  He tries to get a lot of rest so he can do the things that he wants to.  He has learned that getting overtired on one day will snowball into several days of being extremely fatigued. 

As far as how he is emotionally handling all of this, it varies.  Sometimes it is very discouraging.  Yesterday we were discussing how we both have been going through the “stages of grief” (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) in regards to his cancer.  I think we have to some degree or another been in every stage and revisited them several times.  There are times we just want this all to stop.  We want Dennis to just feel good and to be able to look forward and go on.  There are times we look ahead and face the reality that unless there is a miracle in his healing, that our time together is growing short.  Overall, we try to focus on today and enjoy it.  To look at the blessings in our life and not on the losses and be thankful each precious day we have together.  In light of this you might be thinking we have given up hope – I can honestly say that is not the case.  Our hope lies in the hands of our Savior who loves us and has this all under control.  He will continue to walk this journey with us and meet our needs along the way.  We know the outcome we would like, but we trust our Heavenly Father to do what is best for us and to provide for all of our needs along the way.

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support.  We need them. 

Please pray for:

  • MRI on Nov. 11 that it will show no new growth.
  • Wisdom in how to handle the side effects of the medication.
  • Dennis as he continues to deal with his limitations and the changes that he is living with.
  • Brooklyn as we help her to understand what is happening to Dennis and how this fits into God’s love and plan for her life.
  • Ellen as she handles many of the details of Dennis’ care on top of the normal ongoing responsibilities at work, as a mom and a wife.  (Frankly, there are times I feel like I am at the breaking point on what I can handle.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some days...

It’s hard.  Gut wrenchingly hard! 

There are days and sometimes weeks that I sludge through the mud pit of life and wonder exactly how much longer it can go on like this.  How can I make it one more day with more things to do than time, less patience than I want to have, and tears that are kept barely below the surface…and not always kept there.

Managing life around medication side effects
Getting to and from work
Surviving and being productive at work
Listening to a second grader read (reminds me of why I only taught second grade one year!)
Playing with Brooklyn when I am exhausted
Arranging rides for Dennis
Taking care of normal things around the house
Making meals – ok, I’ve never been great at this
Swimming lessons
Piano practice
Old dog – wondering when I watch her get around if we will have to make “the decision” soon

You get the idea – very ordinary things but when coupled with watching the person you love more than anything else in this world deal with a horrible cancer, it just floods over me sometimes.  I’m living there right now and it is just plain hard.  I want it over.  I want to wake up tomorrow to life pre-cancer.  To giggles from Dennis and Brooklyn playing together and my most annoying problem is figuring out a way to teach the young dog how to be quiet. 


That is not God’s plan for me right now.  For some reason He is allowing us to walk through this time.  To learn to lean so hard on Him and only Him.  To listen amidst the pain to His voice and learn that He is all I need and that He is walking with me through this. 


I adjust my focus.  Remind myself to concentrate on the blessings that surround me.

A box of goodies that just arrived on my desk that I was not expecting
Giggles at the arcade last night with Brooklyn
Today – we have today and we are together
A job that allows me some flexibility
Friends near and far that help meet our needs – rides, tree trimming, meals, a shoulder to lean on
A new church family that has embraced us

This new normal is not easy but it is part of God’s overall plan for our lives.  We may never understand the WHY but I trust and cling to the One who is in charge of each detail of our lives.


Dennis had the second dose of his new medications today.  Please continue to pray that it is killing every cancer cell.  Also, pray that he handles this round better than the first one.   He really has struggled with the side effects of these new medications. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Starting New Treatments


New Medications

After 28 days of being off of all medication Dennis’ MRI showed very little growth.  We were very pleased with this as we were concerned about the amount of growth and/or possible new tumors.  Dennis was then placed into a new study drug trial, had numerous tests and finally on Wednesday he started the new medications. 

The standard medication used at this point is Avastin.  Dennis is on that medication now.  (Recent studies have shown that Avastin does not work with newly diagnosed patients but has been used for a number of years with patients with regrowth.) In addition he is in a trial drug program.  He saw the doctor on Wednesday prior to starting the new medications and he did well on his neurological evaluation.  The first two times he is given Avastin, they give it very slowly in case of a drug reaction.  Dennis had no reaction from it.  He will go once a week for treatments.  He will receive the trial drug every week and Avastin every other week.  He is more tired since he is on medication but that is to be expected. 

How are you doing?

We are often asked, “How are you doing?”  It is easy to give a report on test results and reactions to medications but that is not what most people as asking when they ask this question.  Most days we do OK emotionally.  There are days when this overwhelms us.  Are we tired of doctors, medications, MRIs, waiting on test results…?  YES!!!!!  Frankly, it is exhausting sometimes.   We tend to live life in 8 week chunks with each MRI approached with apprehension and stress.  We make plans always with a disclaimer that it depends on how Dennis is feeling and that we me need to change them if his condition and/or treatment changes.  But mostly, we try to live and enjoy each day.  Personally, I have never been so exhausted in my life – at least not for such an extended period of time.  I feel like I used to feel in the weeks leading up to Christmas – more to do than there is time to do it.  I’m so thankful for all the help our friends give us along the way and for boss who understands as well.  I know we could not walk this road without each of you by our sides.  Brooklyn is doing well too.  She had a very hard time dealing with the news that the tumors had grown.  We helped her to understand that if we spend today worrying about what may come; we lose the joy of today.  She is doing better with this. 

Not Our Plan A

Recently our pastor preached a message that touched both of our hearts.  He preached about how God is directing our paths even when our lives are not fitting into our Plan A vision for them.  We are definitely way off of our Plan A at this point.  You can hear the sermon here: (The first 16 minutes is a church vision talk. The sermon starts right after that.) 


Please keep us in your prayers.

  • Dennis continues to tolerate the new medications well and that they destroy all of the cancer.
  • Strength for the day-to-day living that at times is overwhelming and exhausting.
  • Wisdom as we guide Brooklyn through this journey.


Monday, September 9, 2013

MRI Report

Dennis had an MRI today as a baseline for the new medication he will start early next week.  He has been off of any medication for almost four weeks and we were nervous about what this MRI would show.  We wondered if it would show more tumors and/or substantial growth.  I just talked with the doctor and the MRI report was good.  The doctor described it as substantially stable.  He said if there is any growth it is about 1mm.  We are very thankful for this.  His blood work also looked fantastic.

Dennis will be registered in the new trial later this week and should start the new drugs either Monday or Tuesday, depending on when they arrive at the hospital.  Please pray that Dennis handles this medication well and that it kills off the tumors.

Also, please keep me in your prayers.  I'm fighting off some sort of illness and not feeling very good at all.  I'm on antibiotics but not getting better.  I would appreciate your prayers.  I'll be seeing the doctor later today to see if there is anything else they can do to help me at this point.  Also pray that Dennis does not pick this up.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Choosing to Trust and be Thankful

I strongly believe that we are not a victim of circumstances.  We always have a choice.  But what about when life throws us curve balls that we can’t control?  We do not choose these events and frankly have absolutely no control over the outcome.  As we were driving back from our recent vacation to South Dakota, I was thinking about the choices I am making in regards to Dennis’ cancer and the impact it has on our lives now and may in the future.  I certainly cannot control this and did not choose it.  However, I do have a choice in how I respond to it. 
You see, at times, it is overwhelming.  I dearly love Dennis and my picture of our life together included growing old together.  My picture looked something like this – two elderly folks, sitting together on a porch swing, holding hands and just being together.  After adopting Brooklyn that picture included grandchildren and a son-in-law.  With Dennis’ diagnosis, that picture changed.  Short of a miracle, he won’t be part of that picture.  So what does that picture look like now?  I think there are two distinct pictures that could develop and my choices will determine which one occurs.  If I choose the path of bitterness and regret, that elderly lady sitting on her porch will be bitter with  a frown on her face and most likely will be very lonely because who really wants to be around someone who is bitter an angry.  On the other hand, if I choose the path of thankfulness for all of the years God has given us together and look with anticipation for what is ahead, that picture changes drastically.  No longer is there a frown but in its place is a smile and a sense of peace and joy.  There are people there, and not just immediate family.  Others surround her as she shares her joy, peace and love that develops from a heart fixed on her loving Savior and she realizes that this life is only for a moment and what lies ahead is far greater. 
I am choosing to trust God for what lies ahead.  I’ve had several passages of scripture challenge me in how I approach the days ahead. 
Matthew 6 ends this way:  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  In light of this, I am enjoying today and the time we have as a family.  Tomorrow will come and God’s grace will be there when we need it.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18: Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  Although this load seems so heavy at times, in light of eternity it is momentary and light. 
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  Wow, this is a challenge to keep my thinking right.  So I will focus on what is true – Dennis is doing well right now and God is fully in control of every aspect of this journey.  God loves us and knows what is best for us even when it makes no sense to me.  God is good – ALL THE TIME!
Although I often cannot control or change what is happening in life, I can choose how I respond to it.  I’m choosing to trust and to be thankful!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What the Doctor Said

We saw Dennis' doctor today and he explained several possible options for treatment.  He was leaning in one direction but went through the pros and cons of each.  After discussing them with him, we felt his inclination had merits.  The MRI does show progression but it does not appear to be extremely rapid.  Because of this, Dennis and I chose an option that requires him to be free of any medication for 28 days.  He will then enter a trial program that will pair a drug that is standard treatment for recurrent GBM tumors with the trial drug.  He will receive the trial drug one day each week and the standard treatment drug every other week.  These drugs work by starving the blood supply to the tumor.  If Dennis would experience any indication/symptoms of tumor growth during these days off medication, we will revisit this plan and most likely start the standard drug immediately.  Please pray during this time that the tumor does not grow or that God would miraculously intervene and totally remove it.  Wouldn't that be amazing to have the MRI on September 9 show no tumor?!?!?!  He will have an MRI on the 9th and on the 11th he will reach the 28th day off of medication and they can process him into this trial.  Most likely he will start the medication on the following Monday, Sept. 16th.

We are trying to get some vacation time in during this period where Dennis has been feeling pretty good.  We don't know how well he will handle the new medication.  He still tires easily but we plan carefully and are able to do some fun activities.  We were recently in South Dakota for a week and had a great time.  We did a lot of driving around and seeing things but no hiking or overly tiring events.  Here are a few highlights of the trip.

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

We hope to do a weekend camping trip this weekend and get to Chicago another a weekend too before his treatments start again.  We have wanted to take Brooklyn to Chinatown and to Navy Pier.

Please keep praying for us.  Here are some specifics to pray for:

  1. No or minimal growth of the tumors while Dennis is off of treatment.
  2. That Dennis will easily tolerate the new medications and most importantly, that they will be successful.
  3. Brooklyn - she really handled the news that the tumor was growing very hard.  She is doing better after we discussed it and assured her of God's love in all of this.
  4. For Dennis and me as we seek God's direction and peace as we walk on this path.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MRI Results

Dennis had an MRI today.  This is the first one since he started a new medication for the regrowth that occurred 8 weeks ago.  We were hoping to see no additional growth but unfortunately that was not the case.  There has been some growth and the doctor wants to move onto other options.  We will know more after meeting with him tomorrow but it appears they will start a new type of chemo and another trial drug.  

Please be in prayer for us as this news was disappointing.  In the midst of it though we are comforted with knowing that God is still in control and has a plan in all of this.  Also, pray that Dennis will tolerate the new treatments as well as he has the current one.  We will post more after we have met with the doctor.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013


There are conversations that I wish I was not having.  Many of them are with Brooklyn.  Sometimes they are subtitle teaching and other times very straight forward but I hope I am helping her prepare in case Dennis does not beat this terrible cancer.  

I’ve answered the question recently, “Is Daddy going to die from what is in his head?”  Ok, I’m glad she trusts us enough to ask and not just worry but how do you tell a child who finally has a Daddy whom she loves and who loves her, that she may lose him?  We chose to be honest.  Our response was, “We don’t know and the doctors are doing everything they can to help him.”  We also promised her that if a time comes when they can’t help Daddy anymore, we will tell her.

Last night she was sleeping with me because Dennis is spending a few days with his family.  Brooklyn asked me, “Are we still a family even though Daddy is not here?”  I could have simply answered, “We are always a family, forever.”  But I chose to take the opportunity to teach her that death does not separate a family.  We talked about how my Daddy is in heaven but he is still my Daddy.  I reminded her that God was with Daddy where he was and with us at home.  She loved that and soon settled in and went to sleep.

We have stopped at the cemetery where my Dad and grandparents are buried and talked about what happens when someone dies.  I am so thankful that I can assure her that although their bodies are in the ground there, they are with Jesus and that someday we will all be together again.   

There are conversations with Dennis about “what if…”  I’m so glad we can talk openly about this but it is another conversation that I wish there was not a need to have.  

And then there are the conversations with my Heavenly Father that are filled with petitions for complete healing and restoration, peace as we walk through this journey, and grace to glorify Him during this difficult season.  

A friend of mine told me she has been praying Psalm 34 for us.  As I looked up this Psalm, my heart was knit with the psalmist’s heart.  Brooklyn and I have started memorizing this Psalm.  It is bringing me great peace and comfort. 

Psalm 34
1I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting...

If anything describes what is happening right now it is waiting.  Since we learned that the tumor is back in two places and started new medications, we are waiting.  We are waiting for the next MRI.  Dennis will have the MRI on August 20 and we will meet with the doctor on August 21 to discuss the results.  It is so hard not know if this medication is halting the growth of the tumors.  And so we wait.
Dennis has blood work each week to monitor the new medication. So far, it has been good.  We are thankful for that. 
Dennis has been feeling ok lately.  He is doing ok with the fatigue.  I think to a large degree, we are getting much better at managing it.  We are much better with planning and knowing what events will tire him out and when he will need a nap or a break.  
Thank you for your on-going prayers and support.  We know God is the source of our strength.
We recently had some family pictures taken.  Here are a few of our favorites.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dennis' Doctor Visit Today

We met with Dennis' doctor today.  Some of the news was hard to hear so I'll get that over with first.  The tumor has returned at the original location and there is also a small tumor at another location.  That was especially difficult to process but it not unusual in this type of cancer.

So for the rest of the news:
There is a test drug that Dennis will start tomorrow.  He will also be back on the chemotherapy he had been on before.  This new drug (ABT-888) works by enhancing the effectiveness of the chemo.  This trial is about to close as it has the number of patients it needs for this phase II trial.  We are thankful it was still open.

If this drug does not work for Dennis, there are many other options that will be explored.  That was encouraging.

Dennis will have another MRI in eight weeks.  Please pray with us that there will be no growth in the tumors. That is the goal in brain cancer.  Tumors rarely shrink or go away as the brain does not easily remove dead tissue.

Our doctor had told us this drug has been showing some good results but he was not real specific on what that meant.  After we had met with the doctor and Dennis had some blood work done, we were waiting for an elevator to go down to have some lunch at the cafeteria.  We ran into the doctor who had done Dennis' radiation.  He remembered Dennis and commented on how great he looked.  We told him where we were at and he wondered what drug he would be starting.  He told us, "We have seen some very good results with that drug."  Wow, we felt like God placed him there just to encourage us about where we are heading.

We anticipate that Dennis should do well on these drugs as he handled the chemotherapy well last time.  The most possible side effect would be lowering of blood counts which could make bleeding more likely and/or he could be more likely to get infections.  They will do blood work every week to keep an eye on these possible side effects.

Please keep praying for Dennis as he starts this new drug.  We are discouraged by the regrowth but encouraged by what we were told today.  We are thanking God for the good doctors and hospital we have right here in Madison.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Regrowth on MRI

Dennis's MRI results were not what we had hoped for. It shows some regrowth. The doctor told Dennis that he will restart the chemo he was on and add another drug to it. Please keep praying. We believe God is able to fully heal and restore if that is His plan. As we talked with Brooklyn about this, we reminded her that God's ways are best even when they are not what we would desire. We firmly believe that. Thanks for your prayers. We will know much more after seeing the doctor tomorrow.

As I got ready this morning, this song was going through my head.  I had not thought of this song in a very long time but God knew I needed this message for what we would learn a few hours later.  

What though the way be lonely, and dark the shadows fall,
I know wher'er it leadeth, My Father planned it all.
I sing through the shade and the sunshine,
I'll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent, My Father planned it all.

There may be sunshine tomorrow, Shadows may break and flee,
Twill be the way He chooses, My Father's plan for me.
I sing through the shade and the sunshine,
I'll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent, My Father planned it all.

He guides my fal'tring footsteps, Along the weary way;
For well he knows the pathway, Will lead to endless day.
I sing through the shade and the sunshine,
I'll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent, My Father planned it all.

A day of light and gladness, On which no shade will fall;
Tis this at last awaits me , My Father planned it all….
I sing through the shade and the sunshine,
I'll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent, My Father planned it all."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Waiting for MRI Results

Leading up to MRI weeks in some ways is becoming routine.  We can actually have “normal” days and not be totally obsessed with the pending MRI but then the day arrives.  Today as I sit at work, I feel the dread, stress, grief…not sure any of those words actually capture the anticipation that accompanies waiting on the results of the MRI.  It just lingers in the back of my mind on  my heart as we wait. 
Even though I am convinced that we will hear that the MRI is clear again, it thrusts me back to the very first MRI that started this year long journey.  What if this MRI is another turning point in this battle?  And then I remember that even if it is, God will walk along that road with us too.  We have seen Him provide abundantly this past year in our lives and will continue to do so in the days ahead.  
I continue to pray for full restoration for Dennis not just that this monster never returns but restoration of his stamina, short-term memory and language skills.  Our God is able to do way more than medical science sees possible and even more than we can imagine.  In God’s grace, He may choose to fully restore Dennis or He may not, but what he chooses will be what is best for all of us.  We believe that with every fiber of our being. 
So, as you pray for us this week, pray for our sense of God’s presence during our wait on the MRI results as well as our peace regardless of what those results may be.  Mostly, pray with us that God will be glorified in and through our lives. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

MRI on Monday, June 24

Dennis has an MRI every eight weeks.  The weeks between MRIs go so quickly.  He will have his next MRI on Monday, June 24th.  The doctor generally calls us the following morning with the results.  Dennis will see the doctor on Wednesday.  We hate the days leading up to an MRI week.  Each time one of these roles around it is harder than the one previous.  You’d think they would become routine but that is not the case.  Since the recurrence rate is so high – almost 100% - with this type of cancer, the further away we are from the surgery and diagnosis, the more we feel like the odds are stacked against us.  With that said, we find great comfort and peace in knowing the outcome is not dependent upon medicine but on the sovereign will of God.  Please keep us in your prayers as we approach the MRI and results next week. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It Has Been a Year

Today is the one year mark from Dennis’ diagnosis.  I can’t believe how quickly time flies by.  In two weeks Dennis will have his next MRI.  Seems like only a few days ago we were waiting on the resultof the last one.  Dennis is doing great.  Last week we had a 50th birthday party and one year cancer victory party for him.  We saw so many friends and heard from others in emails and cards.  Dennis was exhausted after it but had a great time.  Thank you to everyone who made this special celebration possible.  Here are a few pictures.

Monie and Brooklyn making punch.

We got the call that changed our lives on June 8th and on June 11th Dennis had the surgery that removed the tumor.  It is hard to believe it has been a year and yet at times, it seems like the longest year of our lives.  During that year we have seen God work in marvelous ways. We don’t know what this year will hold but we trust the future to God’s hands. 

Brooklyn is out of school.  The electric bike Dennis got is working well for them to get around.  The local bike shop was able to attach a kids Burley to it so Brooke rides in that.  The health club is about 1.5 miles from our house and they have been there for her swimming lessons.  This gives them some ability to get out and allows Dennis to use the bike in full electric mode if he gets tired.  Not the greatest form of transportation if it rains but it gives them many days when they can get out.

Brooklyn has been learning a lot since school got out.  She now can ride her bike without training wheels and is doing great with her swimming lessons.  She is also reading more and doing it because she wants too. 

Please continue to pray for Dennis.  His next MRI is June 24th and we have an appointment with the doctor on June 26th.  Usually the doctor calls us the morning after the MRI with the results so we should get the report on June 25th.

We will pass another major milestone in our family on June 28th – our 10th anniversary.  It is hard to believe it has been 10 years.