Thursday, October 28, 2010

another CT scan

     It's a bit confusing, I thought I had one more CT scan but actually had three, one today in the radiation oncology dept, then two more on Monday.

     Today was interesting. I met Terence, the CT technician, he showed me his CT scanner ($1.5M) from the inside out....he is very thorough, told me each step of everything that was going to happen, just before it happened. I laid on a narrow bench, glasses off, he lined me up with the CT, moving me in and out of the CT donut hole several times as he did so.

Then the mask. I'm still laying on the bench with my knees up, still lined up with the CT. The mask starts out a flat piece of white plastic mesh, he heated in warm water to soften it, then stretched it down on my face, holding it place for 5 minutes, shaping it across the bridge of my nose and both eyes, until it hardened. He put my name on it and several alignment marks. Then he strapped both of my hands to a counterweight, so as I straightened my legs against a foot board, the weight pulled my arms straight and shoulders towards my feet, kind of like those torture things from the middle ages.

I asked him "what if we are in the middle of this scan and you drop dead, how will I get out of this thing?" He said "just holler, somebody will hear you." I think he was serious.

So, I'm still on the bench, chin up, shoulders down, arms straight, body stretched out straight, all alignment marks aligned, mask on, holding very still... he says, "see if you can get loose"....

JK. Not really. He started me in for the last time, slowly; as my eyes passed through the center of the machine, I saw the blue rays coming out, I closed my eyes, we went in to about my belly button, then he put it in reverse until I was out. Pretty slow ride.

The resident came in to review the scan, it looked good, I was done.

I forgot about the background. When I first went in the nurse inserted a needle into the vein in my arm. A little later Terrence pumped in something to give the scan a little clarity. When the scan was done, Terence removed the IV. I have a copy of the scan coming in the mail, showtime to be announced.

They will use this scan to calculate the alignment of the ray guns. First treatment currently scheduled for 11/18. On Monday I'll address the other 2 scans.

How long has it been? A month?

How long has it been since Don was diagnosed .. a month, two months? 
Nope, just last week. How could that be? How can a week be so long? 

We have been very high strung and I for one, am getting tired from it. 

We are starting to settle into reality. It's been surreal to say the word cancer. 
To see the word oncology on the signs pointing to our destination.

 Nurses, computer screens, appts., probings, parking, lots of people. 
Lot's of decisions being made with long term consequences. Do we really have choices? Or are the decisions already made? 

Don has a GREAT attitude, he makes it so easy on US. He doesn't complain or whine about anything. 
It's almost like a mystery ride .. wondering what will happen next? 
All the while, trusting that the engineer has it all under control. 

I'm pretty sure I don't understand the train that's coming down the track or how we will be effected by it. 
We will have to take this journey one day at a time. 

A friend said that the Lord's grace is here for us today and if we live in today we are amply supplied with the strength we need, it's when we try to take on tomorrow as well that is when we find difficulty in coping. 
So - here today and that is all. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tumor Board

Well we never heard of a tumor board before today, but today we went to one. On Mondays the doctors and residents involved in the different cancer cases at VA and Duke meet to discuss treatments, then meet with each patient to inform him of their conclusions. We had two ENT surgeons, a radiation Dr, chemo Dr, a dentist, and another oncology Dr, and at least 5 residents- all crowded into an exam room with Mary, Benjamin, and myself. Benjamin had his notebook. Most of the doctors are Duke doctors.

We found out from the head ENT surgeon that he always prays for his cancer patients, and that the Lord led him to look for the tumor at the base of my tongue.

(I found out that the first anesthesia I had last Thursday gives similar attributes as alcohol; I was talking and answering questions just prior to going in to the operating room, but don't remember any of it. I wonder what I said??)

I will have 7-8 weeks of radiation therapy five days a week, 35 to 40 total treatments5-6 minutes each, and three chemo treatments, starting 11/18. The first 2 weeks I shouldn't feel any side effects, but then it's downhill from there. The last week will be the worst. Painful. Severe sore throat. When I'm done the inside of my throat will feel like it has a severe sunburn. The outside of my neck will be reddened, leathery, with no hair. I'll probably be on a constant diet of smoothies. The Dr said he doesn't want me to loose any weight, that's okay, I'm good at that.

     There is an 85% chance of a potential cure, with the surgery option after that. It's always better to know what your options are, way better that the unknown.

     The dentist said I need to get a cavity repaired before any treatments.

     On Thursday we go back for another CT scan, this one to build the mask and develop the plan of attack for the 6 or 8 radiation accelerators. They bolt the mask to the table to hold my head and neck secure while using their ray guns on me, one false move and they hit the wrong spot, there goes the glottis!

     Sometime before the 18th we will meet the Chemo doctor.

     So all in all, we feel better about the whole situation, we know now what is going on, who is doing what, probable side effects, chances of success, when we'll be done. And we hope and pray that God's will be done.  


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Worship

This morning's worship was awesome!! Praise songs of being thankful for His trials, thankful for His strength. As I sang, there were some stanzas I could not finish, His worship was fantastic.

The sermon on Ps 92:12-14  "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green..." (I like the last line.....)

Then prayers. I told the story of the garage sale but couldn't finish it... I was over whelmed again by His grace. Pastor Mark called me up to the front to be anointed with oil, and for the elders to pray over me. They were joined by 8 or 10 more men of the church. Their hands on me were trembling with Power, they were hot with His Strength... although we over use the word awesome sometimes... This was Awesome.

They prayed for complete healing. His will be done. If He wills it, I am healed.  If He wills it, I have cancer. Or anything else in between. God's will be done, to His glory, in His righteousness, for His use,  Amen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Garage Sale

The Lord has had us working on a garage sale before we knew we needed one. 

As our kids grow up and move out/become independent, we realize we do not need a big house anymore, so we downsize. 

Mary has been going thru the family's stuff like a wild woman (helped by big, surly, "you really don't need that any more" Ben K), giving Benj and Elisa their stuff, figuring just how much stuff she and I need, and figuring out what to do what he rest of the stuff. We had scheduled a garage sale for today last week sometime.

 On Thursday we found out I had cancer. And that we would have to drive to the VA hospital or the Duke hospital in Durham for treatment 5 days a week for 6-7 weeks. 

That's a lot of gas money. And I didn't have it.

But God already knew that. 

     So He sent his messengers, my brothers and sisters, with help. 

     This morning we changed the reason for the garage sale from 'downsizing' to 'raising money for gas to get us to and from the hospital for treatments.' 

     God had laid two words on one of my brother's hearts:  "fast track".....

     By days' end, we had the gas money for 7 weeks of driving back and forth to Durham, and that's NOT COUNTING the money made from the garage sale! Thank you brothers and sisters!! God is AMAZING!!


Don tells about his cancer

As you may know I have been monitoring a lump in my throat with my Dr, it is on the left side just under my jaw bone. 

First we thought it was a bug bite, it went away with an antibiotic, but it came back. 
After that we thought it was a limpoma, I have several of those harmless but ugly lumps in the fatty layer of my arms and chest. 

But it grew, so they took a CT scan, saw the masses on the scan, determined that a closer look was needed, then last Friday took a needle biopsy of the lump. This biopsy showed atypical (not normal) cells that 'could' be lymphoma cells (the bad ones). But there wasn't enough material from the needle biopsy to determine that. So the DR wanted to take the lump out, do a biopsy of it to determine what it is, then develop a treatment plan. 

     When I went in to surgery today (Thursday October 21st) , and as I was being preped for surgery the Dr said the plans may change, he had seen a spot in my throat on the CT scan that he wanted to biopsy prior to removing the lump, the dr continues, if it was cancerous he would know where the lump in my throat came from (the lump is actually a swollen lymph node) and would not have to do surgery to remove it, but treat it instead. The biopsy was obtained with "pliers" again, my throat is very sore.
     It turns out there is a small tumor at the base of my tongue, a squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cancer categories are basal, squamous, melanoma. So I got the two lesser ones, basal on my cheek from too much sun and squamous in my throat from smoking. I smoked for 30 yrs and quit 12 years ago. Not soon enough. 

     Anyway, we are going back to the VA on Monday to meet with all the Drs involved and develop a treatment plan, a combination of radiation and chemo. Treatments will be everyday, M-F I think, for 4 to 6 weeks. I asked him if I would lose my hair (he didn't get it), he said maybe.       

     Please continue to pray for me, we aren't done yet. I am excited for God's journey. Don

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's fair to say we are not going on a journey with cancer

I love Don's attitude. He is so funny. The title of this blog is to reflect his attitude towards this adventure.
Just today Don was standing in kitchen, as we were talking about the what ifs .. he flexed his muscles and grunted like a marine and said

"I'm not afraid of cancer, I was made to fight it .. HOOAH!!!"

and I believed him.

When I was creating this blog I had to add an additional expression to hooah cause that term had already been used for a blog. I thought of several words things like victory or strength or success but Don said he wanted it to be 777.
I know that I love that number expression because it's something about God's favorite number, but I wasn't sure what it meant exactly so I looked it up.

The number seven has deep spiritual significance. It has been held sacred by the Hebrews ...
 It represents perfection and holiness.
It is used throughout the Scriptures and in this sense is the Almighty's Number.
We read of:
  • Samson's seven locks of consecration. (Judges 16:13-19)
  • The seven pillars of wisdom's house. (Proverbs 9:1)
  • The sevenfold sign of total commitment and dependence (2 Chron. 29: 20-21)
  • The seven lambs to attest the conclusion of a peace treaty. (Genesis 21:28-30)
  • The seven fold sprinkling of blood before cleansing was complete. (Lev:16:19)
  • The seven week count to Pentecost, the seven year count to the sabbatical year and the seven times seven year count to the Jubilee year. (Lev. 23:15, Lev.25:1-9)
  • The seven candlesticks, seven churches, seven stars, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, and seven plagues mentioned in the book of Revelation etc.

I was very encouraged because
our journey is not with cancer .. our journey is with the Lord God Most High.

Taking a deep breath

We had some news.  Looks like Don has cancer. Squamous carcinoma stage 4.
Don and I will post our family's journey as we go through this with our Lord Most High.