Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting By

Dennis Update

16 radiation treatments down and 11 to go.  This has been a very hard round of radiation.  Dennis is exhausted most of the time and is struggling some with short-term memory.  We won't know until this is all done and some time has passed if any of this is permanent.  We would expect that at least the fatigue would get better.  Please keep praying that the radiation kills the cancer and leaves healthy brain tissue alone.

Dennis' Birthday

Today is Dennis' birthday.  He woke up tired and not feeling great.  We realized he had missed his medications last night so he took them this morning and is sleeping them off  as I write this.  Some family is coming by later today so we are hoping he feels better when he wakes up.

He is enjoying the birthday cards and notes of encouragement you are sending.  I'm sure they will brighten his week as they continue to arrive.

Around the House

I am so thankful for all of our friends who have helped us with projects around the house.  With Dennis not able to do this right now, I just get overwhelmed at time.  It often means I have little time to spend time with Dennis and Brooklyn but because of your help, it makes these times possible.  Thank you.

I'm also thankful that Dad often let me help him in projects as a kid and that Dennis and I have done a lot of projects together over the years.  Both of these men have made me competent with power tools and I can figure out a solution to some home repairs.  I've used these skills on two home repairs recently.

On Mother's Day we had a downpour and it was evident that we had clogged gutters.  I thought a simple trip up a ladder and I could reach in and clean them out but that was not to be.  Instead, the  clog was about several feet down in a curve in the pipe.  A few tools and disassembling of the pipes and we were back in business.  In the 11 years I have lived at this house, we have never had that happen!  I was soaked to the skin when I was done.  I'm laughing about it now but was not amused the day it happened.

Then last night I decided to check why the dryer was taking forever to dry a load of clothes.  When I looked behind the dryer there was lint all over.  On closer inspection, the vent tube was bent and had holes in it.  I don't even want to go into how much lint was stuck in the pipe.  So, a trip to the hardware store for a few pieces to splice two pipes together and a new pipe and we are back in business.  The dust and dirt was not the best for my allergies but it is done.

I told Dennis, "Aren't you glad you didn't marry a bimbo who could not do any of this stuff?"  I figure  I can at least make an attempt at these projects and if I get stuck one of you just might get an emergency phone call.  ;)

Prayer Request

Please remember to pray for Dennis during these last 11 treatments.  He is so tired of feeling nasty.  It has been a tough time for him.  He will finish them on June16th.  Pray also for Brooklyn and me as we try to encourage him and support him along this difficult road.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Radiation is Hard

Dennis will pass the half-way point with radiation today.  He has 13 treatments left.  It has been a difficult time with this round of treatments.

Radiation was hard last time but it has been awhile since that last round and you tend to forget the specifics until you are in the midst of them.  Last time he had radiation he was also on a trial drug and chemotherapy.  We had hoped with him only being on radiation that it would not be so hard this time but it is proving to be exhausting.  His treatments have been in the afternoon and he spends much of the morning resting or sleeping.  Often he gets home and does the same in the evening.  He had started a new medication prior to the treatments but he was really struggling with the side effects from it.  It is used to help prevent damage to healthy cells during the treatment but in this case, it was impacting his quality of life so much they decided to not use it.  They have done this before and it has been OK so we are comfortable with this decision. 

We are finding that Dennis has little ability to do much beyond going to his appointments and resting.  We are grateful for friends who have offered to help with lawn cutting and some outside projects that need to get done this summer.  I am continuing to work full-time and the addition of these chores was beginning to overwhelm me.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude for our friends who continue to step in and assist us.  You are a blessing in our lives. 

On Sunday Dennis wanted to go to the fireworks at Brat Fest in Madison so after church he took a long nap.  We got to Brat Fest, found a place to put down our blankets and relax and wait for fireworks to start.  Of course we had to have brats, so I made a run to pick up brats for all of us which we enjoyed while we waited for the fireworks.  We enjoyed the fireworks and the time together as a family.  We have learned to plan for activities to include times for rest and not to plan for things that last too long. 
Dennis and Brooklyn at Brat Fest

Please keep praying for us as we go through this.  Pray for Dennis as he completes the radiation that he will have the strength he needs and that it is killing the cancer cells.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It Is Well with My Soul

Today in church we sang this old hymn and I found myself thinking, "Can I honestly say that it is well with my soul? Do I really trust my Savior and more than that, say in my soul that all of life's trials and blessings are well with my soul?"   To be totally honest, I can't say that 100% of the time but I can say that  I am learning to rest in God's care and say, "It is well with my soul."

The last 10 days have been rough ones for Dennis. Radiation is tough and so is a medication he is on.  Most of the time he is terribly exhausted.  Just getting to the hospital, having the treatment and coming home will exhaust him.  He is also struggling again with walking and balance. As you can imagine, this is discouraging. He has 20 more treatments over the next four weeks so we have a long way to go yet.

Please keep him in your prayers. Your words of encouragement in emails and notes are appreciated too.

Please pray for the fatigue to subside and for the radiation to be effective and for it not to destroy healthy brain cells in the process.

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's Good to Look Back

I started reading back through this blog and our journey these past two years. Wow, what a great reminder of all the ways God has provided for us during these two years.

  • People who have provided rides to more doctor appointments than we can count.
  • Financial provisions that came just when we needed them.
  • Sermons, notes, words of encouragement and specific Bible verses to meet our heart felt needs just when we needed them.
  • Friend who have done yard work, cut down trees, taken Brooklyn to school, made meals.... amazing!
  • Great medical care at a hospital and cancer clinic right where we live and in our insurance group.
  • Dennis has done much better than most people with this type of cancer.  He does struggle with fatigue and some walking problems during the last six months,  but overall he is doing well.
God has been so good to us. In the Old Testament, God often instructed His people to construct memorials to remind them of how He had provided for them and to tell their children about His provision when they saw them. This blog is our memorial to all God is doing for us and a story to share with Brooklyn in the years ahead.

God has taught us so much over these past 23 months. We have been refined during this trial.  I have learned so much. Dennis and I were discussing yesterday how things that would have seemed stressful in the past just aren't any more. I think some of that is because we realize how unimportant the cares of this world are in light of eternity.  But mostly I think it is because we have seen God provide in so many ways and so many times that I am learning to let go and leave it all in His hands.  In one of my early blogs I wrote about how I am a fixer by nature. I always would try to fix whatever came into my life. Now I see that is not what God wants from me. He wants me to rest in His plan to take care of everything and to trust Him and wait for Him to take care of it all.

We don't know what the future holds in all of this but we know and have experienced God's working and provision in our lives and know He will be there in our future to meet our needs.  Knowing this brings us great peace.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What's Next?

We spent the afternoon discussing Dennis' next steps in battling this cancer with his neuro-oncologist and the radiation oncologist.  I'll spare you all of the details and sum up what we learned and where we are heading.

A portion of Dennis tumor is active.  You must treat this or it will continue to spread.  The best option is a type of radiation that has been pioneered by his radiation oncologist.  His first round of radiation was a high dose radiation delivered very quickly.  This radiation is a low dose delivered via a pulse over a longer period of time.  It has worked well for this type of cancer.  They don't talk about curing this cancer but providing quality time.  There are several factors that predict good outcome from this and Dennis has those all in his favor: at least 1 year from initial radiation (Dennis finished radiation in Sept. of 2012), overall functioning level and one other one that I can't recall at the moment.  It is impossible to predict how long the radiation will be effective for him.  There are a few people who have gone extended periods of time without a relapse and we will continue to pray and leave this is God's hands.

After Dennis finishes radiation, they will keep monitoring him with regular MRIs.  If it starts to grow again, there are a couple of things that his oncologist is considering for Dennis.  The options are somewhat limited but there are still a few options. Both of Dennis' doctors take the time to talk with us and answer questions.  They are very open and honest with us and we appreciate that very much.

Please keep praying.  We are doing what we can medically but we know an even greater physician who is able to intercede and totally remove this cancer.

In the weeks ahead, please pray for Dennis as he begins this treatment and a new medication.  Pray for tolerance of the medication as well as for strength for Dennis.  The radiation and the medication can make him tired.

Dennis will need daily rides to his appointments.  I have posted next week's rides to his help group and will post additional rides as soon as I have the appointments.  If you are not in his help group but would like to be, there is a link in the upper right corner that will take you to the sight.  Sign-up there and we will get an email.  You will receive an email back from us that approves your request.  You must respond to that email to be in the group.