Monday, January 18, 2010

New plan update

It's Monday, MLK day and many of you are probably home from work and/or school. Hope you have a great day off! Relax and enjoy.

It's quiet here in Houston this morning. The sun is shining bright and the temp is supposed to go to 65 degrees today - 70's for the next 2 days! Yikes!

I took Greg to the airport this morning and he'll be arriving home after lunch. Ian left yesterday to return to DC. Tiffani will be with us for another week.

Tomorrow, Matthew will begin his new chemo that was specifically chosen to enhance the radiation treatment.

This past Friday, Matthew had a "simulation" to give the radiologist the information to formulate the plan for the radiation. She (Dr. Fran McAleer) will be working on that plan this week. Depending on how long it takes her to sufficiently prepare, Matthew will begin the treatments by this Thurs or Friday, or at the very latest, Monday of next week.

Instead of the 2 weeks that we were told originally, it will be 4 weeks of radiation treatment (weekdays only). Each treatment will most likely take about an hour - beginning to end. That along with the chemo treatments will put us at the hospital a minimal amount of time which is good. Matthew will have plenty of time to rest. Two of the most prevalent side effects are fatigue and nausea which increases over time as he takes more and more of the radiation. Fortunately, one of the chemo drugs has very few side effects but the other does. Matthew has taken both of these before. The doc has given Matthew meds to help at least tolerate some of these.

Since last Wednesday when the surgery was cancelled and the plan completely changed, we have been adjusting. I must admit, I haven't been able to answer emails very promptly - I just didn't have it in me. But many of you have sent emails & Facebook comments of encouragement and reminders that God's timing & plan is perfect and we must trust that. Thank you. We have needed to hear that in the midst of our disappointment. A good friend reminded me of the "Footprints" story where there was only one set of footprints on life's journey and that was when Jesus carried the person - we are definitely being carried in the arms of our Lord at this point. Thank you for being His angels as you help "carry us" with your prayers, love, cards, calls, and emails. We are SO blessed to have you in our lives.

When I have more information on the radiation schedule, I will let you know.

May God bless you wherever you may be today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Surgery is cancelled for Jan 14

Wednesday morning Matthew's doctors decided to cancel his surgery due to the results of the scans/CT's/tests of the past 2 days. (It is not off the table - only postponed.)

The positive is that the cancer has not spread and his liver enzymes and bilirubin numbers are good. Unfortunately, the liver radiation treatment in December did not make enough improvement in the liver to make it in good enough shape for the abdominal surgery.

Sooooo...... the plan is to do a more conventional type of targeted radiation to the liver along with chemotherapy that helps the cancer as well as makes the liver more radiosensitive for the radiation. We see the radiologist tomorrow and Matthew will probably begin the new treatment next week. We'll be here for at least 2 weeks, may get to come home for awhile and then will return for repeated tests to see if surgery may be an option in March.

It was tough to hear but the decision was made by both the Oncologist and the Surgeon. We knew it had to be the right thing. We also know it has to be right because we (and you) have and continue to pray for God's guidance and His plan to be accomplished. We are claiming that today.

We were able to catch Stan before he boarded the plane and saved him the trip. Tiffani wanted to come on anyway. Looks like we are in for a few days of movies and eating out - a mini-vacation, if you will.

We will see the Radiologist today (Jan. 14) and Matthew will begin treatment next Tues.

We are regrouping and praying for the grace to be flexible. I told the guys that it's like training for a big race in the Olympics, getting your feet in the starting blocks and having the race canceled for a later date that is undecided!

I will continue to send updates when we know more about the upcoming schedule. We cherish your love and support.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 Houston Update #2

Good morning. Hope all is well in your world today! I just wanted to update you on things in Houston so far for this trip.

Greg left Saturday and drove ALL THE WAY to Houston - 16 1/2 hours! He did well stopping often and listening to "books on tape".
Martha took Matthew and I to the airport on Sunday. We left right on time at 6:30 p.m.. We arrived early in Houston - @ 9:00 our time - 8:00 Houston time (CST).

Monday was a grueling day with appts, exams, tests, and scans. We began at 9 a.m. and left the hospital at 9:30 p.m.. Matthew was definitely a trooper. We're very glad to have Greg here with us this visit.

Today there are more pre-surgery appts and a full body Pet-scan at 2:30 p.m. We begin the schedule at 10 a.m. and should be finished by 6 p.m. - better than yesterday.
Another great aspect of today is that Ian is flying in this afternoon. It'll sure be good to have him here with us.

Yesterday, in the appt. with our surgeon's Physician's Assistant, the possible side-effects of this surgery and chemo wash were explained again in detail. They are daunting. But we know that for the past 3+ years, God has protected Matthew from the many side effects and permanent damage of the various chemos he has been on. We know He will continue to protect Matthew but I would ask for your specific prayers in this regard. Thank you.

Tiffani and Stan will be flying in tomorrow and we look forward to them being with us. We are praying for safe travel for Ian, Tiffani, and Stan.

There are MANY of you that have contributed Marriott points to help with our accommodations while we are here for such an extended stay. Thank you SO much. I want you to know that we are in a Residence Inn less than 5 minutes from the hospital. We are in a suite with 2 bedrooms/baths with living room/kitchen combo. It's a great set-up with one bedroom/bath downstairs and one up - kind a loft situation. There's a pull out bed in the sofa in the living room so there's plenty of room for us to spread out. A breakfast buffet is available each morning. We feel SO blessed to be here!

Thanks for letting me "chat" with you this morning. I would like to be having a "one-on-one" conversation with each of you this a.m. and this has helped me do just that!


Friday, January 8, 2010

To Houston for Surgery

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years. Ours was quiet but ended up being amazingly busy.

The last time I spoke to you, Matthew and I were on our way to Houston for his liver treatment in December. We are happy to say that Matthew recuperated very well from the treatment and his liver enzymes have been lower which is a good sign and the doctors are very pleased with them. This is an especially good way for Matthew to go into surgery. Matthew will have scans the first of next week that should give us some results of what this treatment actually did in the liver.

We are leaving this weekend to go to Houston. Matthew's tests will begin Monday, the 11th. He will be admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with his surgery being scheduled for Thursday the 14th. We don't know the time for the surgery but I would say she'll begin early since it will last 10 to 15 hrs. The surgeon's name is Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan.

Greg, Ian, Tiffani, and even our beloved pastor will be there for the surgery. Family will stay various lengths of time for the first week or so. Greg will be there at least until Matthew is discharged from the hospital. Matthew and I may be there as long as 5 or 6 wks for his recovery and follow-up tests and treatment.

I will be keeping everyone posted along the way.

This is an amazing opportunity for Matthew and his future health. We are so thankful for the way God has continued to work in his life and the lives of those around us who bless us in SO many ways including the doctors and other medical staff that will care for him in the coming days. Thank you for all the ways you support us - through your love, prayers, smiles, hugs, encouraging words, cards & emails, and gifts of money, sky-miles and Marriott points as well as taking care of our home and our cats!! We continue to be so humbled by the generosity of so many. God bless each of you!!

Love and blessings,