Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That's all folks...

This is me (Derek) writing this post.  Since all the others have been written by my mother or my sisters I figured it was time I put in my thoughts.  All my Chemo treatments are finished.  All my Radiation treatments are done.  After spending nearly half of the past year in the hospital (and the other half in neutropenic quarantine) I am finally finished. 

Of course there is still much to be done.  The scans and the check-ups will probably never cease, and getting physically/mentally back in shape will be a long road.  But I'm ready to move on with my life.  After a three year hiatus I will be starting school again in January and hopefully I can find a job.  

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  I honestly could not have done this on my own.  I have a wonderful family, both immediate and extended.  I have amazing friends, both at home and abroad.  I can't thank you enough.  I thought it would be appropriate to write this final post.  Hopefully there won't be any more need to update you about my health.  Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Derek rang the bell at PCMC, signaling his final exit. They made a big fuss over him, of course. He's made some dear friends among the members of the staff there. We're happy he's home again. Doctors have recommended that he receive some radiation on his lungs, but Derek will make that decision after he recovers from this last chemo treatment. I can't tell you how thrilled we are to put the chemo chapter behind us and move on to new and better things (like college, spring semester). We have learned countless lessons throughout these past ten months, and we feel that our family has changed for the positive. Your faith and prayers have kept a dark and dismal cloud from settling in on us. That has made all the difference in the world. Thank you!
Now we'll see what his hair looks like when it grows back. Blonde? Red?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Final treatment!

Derek left on Tuesday for his 14th and concluding chemo cycle. (Somehow his timing has been such that every holiday has found him in the hospital!) We are told that 9 months of chemo is record time. We were originally told to plan on 12-18 months. Derek may need to have radiation on his lungs. They will discuss this with the radiologist while there, and will make those decisions later. We're praying that he will sail through this 5 day treatment with no complications, and that he can begin the healing process and move on with his life. We can't begin to thank all of you for your continued support!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22, 2010

It's taking longer to rebound from each treatment. It's a good thing we're near the end. On Tuesday Derek spent time at VVMC to receive platelets, then again on Friday to receive red blood cells and more platelets. We'll know tomorrow if he is finally ready for that last chemo cycle. We have wondered why he has done so well emotionally. Although this regimen has been harsh, he has been able to stay on top, keeping a positive outlook most of the time. Depression hasn't gotten in the way. We are convinced that your sincere prayers are keeping him healthy emotionally, as well as helping him heal physically. He is being carried by the prayers of those who care about him!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 7, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,
For you who are trying to keep up on Derek's treks northward, I'm sorry. I'm lousy at updating this. By Friday he was physically able to go through another cycle, so he's now doing the 3-day thing at PCMC. He'll be home again on Monday. This is his 13th treatment (out of 14). It's taking him longer to recover between treatments, so who knows when the last one will be. We're hoping it happens before September. Thanks for hanging in there with us.
--Ever Onward, the Paynes

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010

Well, we thought we were going back up to PCMC last Wednesday, but it had to be postponed again. He received another transfusion here in Cedar City, and is now physically ready for another cycle of chemo. Derek, Alan, and David will drive to PCMC this coming Wednesday for three days. (Sounds like a party!) Derek just sold all his rock climbing equipment, putting the "extreme sport" chapter of his life behind him. It was hard to do, but he didn't want the temptation in front of him. Since his spine may be compromised, he will look for other activities that are not as physically stressful. Biking, swimming, maybe? Definitely no marathons.
We just heard that our young friend, Erik, is cancer free. So thrilled for him!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 18, 2010

Home again. Only 2 more chemo cycles to go! We're hoping he'll be able to go through the 13th session in two weeks. He is tired, but doing well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,
Just began chemo cycle #12. Derek will be in the hospital (SLC) until Monday. He has done well these past few weeks, gaining 14 lbs., staying energetic and upbeat. Our family just read the account in the Book of Mormon about Alma and his band of followers who were in bondage to the Lamanites. The Lord made their burdens light and they were able to bear them up with ease. We have felt this happening in our family. Derek has felt that either his burdens have become lightened or he has been strengthened and more able to bear them. He has discovered that he feels pain and discomfort differently, that the same pain that he rated as a "10" six months ago, he would rate maybe a "3" or "4" today.
Truly a great blessing!

( Mosiah 24: 14-15, Book of Mormon)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30, 2010

Derek has finally been given the O.K. to go back up north for treatments, after three weeks of low blood counts. He and my parents left early this morning. While up there he will be scanned (CT scan) to see if the tumor is gone. We all hope it is, but even so he has to finish out the treatments. He is doing well now, but we hope this doesn't bring more crazy side effects.
Just found out that the CT scan showed nothing in his lungs and just a tiny bit of tissue left on his spine. After this session, only 3 more to go.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21, 2010

New Post: just found out that Derek's blood counts are still low, so his next treatment will be postponed for another week. (Immunity is high, just the platelets are low). Now we can see why we were told in the beginning to plan on a year to complete chemo treatments. It seems that his body is taking longer to bounce back. We'll just plan on another week of good eating and good family times!

June 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Derek!
These past two weeks have been good ones. Derek has had a healthy appetite and is making up for the weeks he couldn't eat. He managed to put on several pounds these past two weeks. He even drinks 32 oz. of a spinach smoothie every day! (I push them while I can:) He did have to receive blood last week, and will be going back to PCMC on Wednesday. While there, he will have a CT scan, which will show the state of the tumor (or hopefully, the lack of it). After all he's been through, I can't believe that a tumor can possibly survive. The fact that he has (survived), amazes me. He will also begin his 11th chemo session. This is the 3 day one. Thanks for you continued prayers, and for your investment in our welfare. We love you!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,
Derek has only four chemo sessions to go! He finished #10 a few days ago and is home in Cedar City for the week. I spent last week at PCMC with Dave and Derek, and we had a wonderful time together. The last time I was there was during Christmas vacation for that dreadful first treatment, more than five months ago. The mood then was somber and emotional for all of us.
The contrast this past week was amazing to me. We actually had a good time, and the mood was happy and hopeful. Each day, nurses seemed to hang out in his room, spending a lot of time joking around and talking. It was fun to see the relationships Derek had with them all. A home away from home. He also enjoyed visits from some of his friends who live in the SLC area.

Good news: Derek's stomach is healing, and he is able to eat again! He will head back up to SLC this weekend. With only 4 sessions to go, the light at the end of the tunnel is growing bigger and brighter. We are hoping to be over and done by the end of August.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29, 2010

Derek and my parents are on their way up North today. It's close enough to Derek being neutropenic, so they wanted to be close to Primary Children's in case Derek gets a fever. Since it's happened before, they want to be near a hospital that knows what's going on with Derek. My parents and I thank Aunt Jan again for putting everyone up; we know it's not easy. We also thank everyone for their continued support and prayers. Thanks very much.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 23, 2010

Derek received his last radiation treatment on Wednesday and is home for a week. It's been six weeks since he's been gone, and we're thrilled to have him home again.
Little did we know how hard radiation would be on his stomach. We figure it is because of the area being radiated, but it has reeked havoc on his stomach lining, so that he still can't eat. He is able to drink some water, but continues to be "fed" through the IV. The last time he ate real food was about 2 weeks ago, and will likely have to eat this way for another week or two, depending on how quickly his stomach heals. He spent the evening with a group of friends Friday and had to carry his "survival kit" (backpack of IV fluids) with him. We are so thankful for the faithful and understanding friends he has! He looks forward to being with them, and they have continued to stand by him whenever they (and he) are able.

He also underwent his 9th chemo treatment while at PCMC last week. (Five more to go, which may take until the end of the year because of delays from the dreaded side effects). At least he'll be able to eat again (we're hoping soon!) His beautiful dark eyebrows and eyelashes are almost gone and he is incredibly skinny, but he has what is most important: a humble and trusting heart, and an optimistic attitude.

Thanks to all of you who continue to care about and pray for Derek, who put his name in the temple whenever you attend, and who offer your help and service. We can't adequately express our gratitude for all your kindnesses. We love you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, 2010

Derek is being fed intravenously now, and the radiation treatments have been postponed until Wednesday. He is scheduled for chemo treatment, as well, but we'll see if they decide to go ahead with that. They actually wheeled Derek in to receive radiation today, but Dave didn't feel good about it, so he stopped the radiologist. He discussed his concerns with a doctor, who decided to postpone treatments. Derek received some red blood cells and is feeling more alive.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 9, 2010, Sunday

I wrote just a day or so ago, but I need to add to that. Yesterday Dave took Derek into PCMC because of a low grade fever and concerns about dehydration and weight loss. Derek hasn't been able to keep any food down, or drink as much as he needs. Signs seem to indicate some damage to his stomach, from the radiation. I'm sure they will look into that. I know that Dave won't allow the next radiation treatment to take place until they have some answers. Today they will give Derek something to help the food stay down. If that fails, they will give him "nutrition" through his IV. (I doubt he has any more weight to lose...) They are also keeping him hydrated, intravenously. Another chemo session is scheduled to take place this week, but we'll see...
I asked Dave how Derek was taking all this, and Dave said, "He never complains."

I feel comforted, knowing that Dave is right there by Derek's side. I feel that he is acting on promptings as he asks questions that haven't been considered or expresses concern over decisions made. He takes personal responsibility for Derek's well-being and makes sure he is informed. Yesterday, Dave stopped the nurse from giving Derek the neupogen that had been ordered, since it was twice the amount usually given. They checked back with the doctor, who changed the order to the correct dosage. They thanked Dave for catching the error. (Dave isn't obnoxious in his questioning. He actually apologizes before he expresses his concerns:).
He said that a doctor came into the room wearing several pagers. She was covering for four other doctors!
Dave has also noticed a difference in the women doctors. Generally, they express more sympathy, take more time, and seem to pay more attention to the details.
Dave will be staying in the Leavitt's apartment this week, so he can be closer to the hospital.
Thanks, Dixie and Anne!

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 7, 2010

I talked to Derek on the phone and he asked me to "update the blog so people don't think I'm dead". Life has been so busy that I've almost forgotten about this blog. Derek left four weeks ago (can it be that long?) for radiation and chemo treatments at PCMC/LDS Hospital. He and Dave have been staying at Aunt Jan's and Uncle Don's homes throughout this time. At this point, Derek has only 6 more treatments of radiation left (yay!), so he'll be done a week from Monday. After that last treatment, he'll begin his 9th chemo session. After that (around the 19th), he may be able to come home for a week or so.

It's been almost four months since we discovered that Derek had cancer, and during this time of emotional upheaval in our family, we have become more aware of the goodness of people. Our eyes have also been opened to the serious problems that many other people are dealing with. We've realized how true it is that we should "treat everyone as if they are in serious trouble, and you'll be right more than half the time" (Elder Henry B. Eyring).

During these months, we have felt a continual peace overshadowing our home. Although we're concerned, and our prayers have become more earnest, we have never felt panic or fear. We know there is a plan, we know that Heavenly Father is in control, and we have faith that He will do what is best for Derek. We believe, as Grandpa Payne would say, "Good will come of this".

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24, 2010

Derek's first two weeks of radiation are over; three weeks to go. His chemo treatment that was supposed to happen last week, was postponed because of the sores that seem to always appear after the 3-day regimen. These sores cause such discomfort for him that we were really hoping they would stay away this time. But come they did. Thanks to his Aunt Jan for giving Derek and Dave a home during these weeks, keeping her home sanitary (it always is), preparing healthy meals, and handling all the other stresses that come with this kind of thing. (Of course, being the Relief Society President gives her plenty of practice--or this will push her over the edge).
The radiation treatments take place at LDS hospital for only five minutes a day, and the chemo is administered at Primary Children's through an IV. So, next week when he does the week long chemo, he will be transported to LDS hospital each day for the radiation, then back again to PCMC. This doubling up of treatments will begin this Wednesday.
The good news is, because they postponed the chemo, Derek's immunity level is high, so he can socialize with friends and family. The sores are also going away, allowing him to eat "real" food, instead of drinking everything. He is in good spirits, and we are all doing well.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10, 2010

Home on Friday and off again on Tuesday, this time for six weeks! Derek begins radiation treatments in SLC this week, and since they overlap his chemo treatments, he will have to stay there most of the time. He will be able to attend Church tomorrow (a rare blessing these days).
We are doing well, taking one day at a time, and slowly learning to "cast our burdens at His feet".

Thanks, all you family and friends, for caring about us!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010

Derek and Dave just arrived home today after a week long chemo treatment at Primary's. It is good to have them back! Derek came home with an hearty appetite and a happy heart.
In the last post, I spoke about a surgery to remove the rest of the tumor. However, that has all changed. Derek and Dave met with the team of oncologists and the radiologist to discuss this, and it was suggested that they do radiation to kill the tumor-- no surgery at all. Dave asked the surgeon what he would do if Derek were his son. The surgeon explained the delicate nature of the surgery and the complications resulting from it, and told him that although he enjoyed the challenge, the chances of removing all the cancer was "remote", and they would likely need to do radiation anyway. So, next week, when they return to Primary's for the regular chemo treatment, Derek will also receive 5 days of radiation along with it. The radiation will be just 10 minutes a day for 5 days, and the chemo will be 3 continuous days. The radiation treatments will be over in six weeks, and of course, the chemo will continue as planned (he just finished the 6th out of 14 treatments. Almost half way done!)

On the way home from Salt Lake, the car's engine started acting funny, so they pulled off the freeway and checked under the hood. Dave found a leak in the hose, which (for the past 100 miles) had been spraying gasoline all over the hot engine! They moved away from the car and waited until Dave could safely fix the problem. Through snowstorms, heavy rains, and car problems, Heavenly Father has kept us safe and taken care of our needs. Thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21, 2010

The past few days have been good ones for Derek (and consequently, our family). He has been feeling well. He attended Church today and enjoyed visiting with ward members and friends. Our ward Relief Society made him a beautiful quilt with personal messages of love and encouragement penned on each block. Derek was surprised and humbled by this act of love. He enjoyed reading the messages, and now it occupies a prominent place on his bed. Thank you, Cedar Meadows Ward!
Thanks, also, to those who have sent messages in the form of letters, cards, phone calls, and other means. You have no idea what a great boost they are for Derek's emotional and spiritual well being.
During these past few days of Spring Break, he has been able to get out and join some of his college age friends, a welcome break from us, I'm sure.
We are grateful for these "good" days. But even through the bad days, we have been blessed with a continual feeling of peace and yes, even happiness.
Tomorrow Dave and Derek will drive back to Primary's for the next chemo treatment (the week long one). They will also meet with the doctors to discuss his upcoming surgery to remove the tumor. This surgery will take place mid April.

"No pain that we suffer, nor trial that we experience is wasted."
--March 2010 Ensign

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14, 2010

I know that I just published a new post yesterday, but since some of you have been waiting for news on his current condition, I'll update again.
Derek's white blood cell count has been at zero for the past two days, meaning he has no immunity against infection, illness, etc. This usually happens about 7-10 days after chemo. and it lasts for a few days. That's when we are especially careful. He had been feeling pretty miserable because of side effects, so he asked his dad to give him a blessing so that he would be able to sleep. When Dave performed the blessing, he felt Derek's head and discovered that he had a fever--103 temp.
So, we headed to the ER here in Cedar City. We waited for what seemed like hours before they finally performed the necessary tests. His fever was slowly rising as the infection was taking over, with no white blood cells to stop it. No one seemed to be in a hurry. Medical staff came in and out, doing their thing. When they finally got the results, they rushed through the door with the news, "He's neutropenic!" Dave, who was feeling quite frustrated with the delay, and had repeatedly told them that he had no immunity, replied, "You think?!?"
It is now Sunday night and Derek has been given antibiotics and a blood transfusion. He is looking more alive. (It was a somewhat scary night). Tomorrow he will receive platelets. His fever has gone down and he will hopefully be released in another day or so. I'm sure his regularly scheduled chemo treatment (this Wednesday) will be postponed until he is well and able to eat again.

Tuesday: I'll finish this update. Sunday night Dave and I left Derek alone in the hospital (Cedar) so we could get a good night's sleep. Dave went back in early Monday morning and found that Derek had had a nose bleed in the night, which they couldn't stop because of the low platelets in his body. After futile attempts to stop the bleeding, they called Dixie Medical Center and had someone drive up and deliver the platelets. This was about 2:00 AM.

He is at home now and feeling well, in comparison. It is so good to get him back!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13, 2010

No plans of surgery to remove the tumor yet. While we know that the road ahead will still be rough going, we are rejoicing over each bit of progress. No swelling in his hands this time, and his appetite has been good. He went to church last Sunday and assisted in the blessing of his new little nephew, Noah. Our family was all there and it was a happy time! (We won't dwell on the part when he had to leave the meeting and throw up in bushes...:)
Derek is dealing with some difficult side effects (this time the mouth/digestive sores have revisited, along with pain on his feet), but he quietly deals with the discomfort and carries on the best he can. We have found that the hardest "side effects" are the emotional ones: watching friends go to school, train for marathons, etc. and not be able to join them. For those of us who are older, a year goes by too quickly, but for a 21 year old, the road can be long and lonely.
We are so grateful for your sacrifices: visits, temple attendance/prayer, and your own individual and family prayers. They are making a difference, not only in Derek's health, but in our entire family's emotional well-being .

Friday, March 5, 2010

March 5, 2010

Good news: The latest MRI, PC and bone scans show that the cancer in Derek's lungs is gone. His bones and heart look good, and the tumor has gone from 7.5 cm down to 2.0cm. They can now surgically remove the tumor and are planning on that soon. We were expecting radiation along with chemo, but I'm excited to report, no radiation! They will continue chemo treatments for the rest of the 14 weeks just to make sure the cancer is completely gone.
We thank you for your prayers. We continue to rely on them.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1, 2010

This past week seemed better for all of us. Derek seems to have weathered this last chemo go-around better this time. Either that, or he's just putting on a brave face. At least no major side effects that are visible. He went to the Institute fireside Sunday, and has felt like getting out whenever he has the chance. Tomorrow he and his Dad will go back to PCMC/Huntsman and have some tests taken: MRI, CT, bone scan, EKG. It will be interesting to see the results. This will be the first time since they first discovered the tumor. All in all, we are all doing well. Thank you for your concern for our welfare!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb 20, 2010

Derek just arrived home this afternoon from a week long session at PCMC (4 down, 10 to go). He is doing fairly well. The swelling in his hands has gone down, and he is able to eat. He lost 13 lbs., but gained 4 back, so Mom is loading his food with extra calories to keep up the momentum. (Cream for Derek, skim milk for the rest of us). A few days after being at the hospital, he was told that he was switching rooms. They had lots of patients coming in who were higher priority. Since they only had 30 rooms left for 35 new patients, Derek was moved to what the nurses called the "projects", one of the exam rooms in a doctor's office. He didn't care. He made friends with a girl next door who was battling leukemia, and whose treatments were much harder than his.
The hardest part of this 5 day treatment is that the chemo drugs cause hallucinations, so Derek just sleeps most of the time. Dad was worried about him, so one night he just slept in a chair in Derek's room. That was a hard night, so the next night he decided to trust that Derek would be taken care of.
People ask us when we will know when the cancer is gone, and when they will do more tests to know the condition of the tumor. We were told that they would do more tests on that within the month. When he goes in again, they will do an EKG to check his heart.  We will know more then.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 17, 2010

Thanks to all of you who included Derek in your last fast. He was able to attend sacrament meeting this past Sunday.
Dave took him to PCMC yesterday where he began his 4th chemo treatment. They'll be back on Monday or Tuesday. We're praying that he doesn't experience the side effects that happened as a result of last treatment. His hands are much better, and the mouth/digestive tract sores are healing. We don't want to go through that again! (It could be worse, I know, but we want the best).
Another tender mercy: since Derek was sent home last week to "heal" (no chemo treatment), his blood count went as high as it's ever been. During this time, members of our family had the flu. If Derek had had the chemo treatment as scheduled, this flu would have come at the time when his immunity was zero.
Our hearts go out to Eric Gray, who is going through another kind of cancer. He's only 16, and a great kid.

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 11, 2010

Dad took Derek to PCMC on Monday to test whether his kidneys had suffered any damage. The test came back favorable-they look fine. After the test, Derek met with the oncologist to begin the next chemo treatment. (This would be 5 days) After looking him over, Dr. Wright decided to postpone this treatment for another week to give his body a chance to heal. His hands have been swollen (Derek says they feel burned from the inside) so that he can't use them much. Also, his mouth and throat are covered with mouth sores, and throughout his digestive system, making it difficult to eat. They returned home on Wednesday and he has been feeling a little better each day.
On the bright side, his immunity level is high right now. He is able to attend CHS ball games and watch Alan play. As usual, Derek is upbeat. When he feels the mood in our home getting too somber, he gets us all laughing again. He doesn't like Mom and Dad to worry. Thanks for the empathy you show us and for your faith and prayers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

February 6, 2010

Thank you for the comments you leave on this blog, and for the concern you express when we meet. Thanks, especially, for the faith you are exercising through prayers and temple visits.
We would appreciate it if you would add Derek to your fasting again this Sunday.
His hands have swollen so much that they are painful to the touch, and he can't bend his fingers. His mouth and throat are also full of sores, making it painful to swallow. Derek goes up for another treatment on Tuesday. We're not sure we want him to go through another treatment while he is dealing with these side effects. Thank you all for standing by us!

Thanks to Derek's mission for sending him such a meaningful gift! (The missionaries in his Australian mission all wrote personal messages, and Pres. and Sis. Lee compiled it into a book). Derek spent hours pouring over the pages and reliving memories of the wonderful people he served with for two years. President and Sister Lee, if you are reading this, please know that we are so grateful for your continued concern for Derek. It amazes us that, even though he was released from his mission, he was not released from your hearts. You continue to make a huge impact on his life.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31, 2010, continued

David brought Derek home yesterday from his 3rd treatment at PCMC. Derek was weak and ill. It is hard not to feel discouraged during times like these. As we know more about this kind of cancer, we are finding that serious side effects are the rule, not the exception. When he goes for his next treatment, he will go through a test to check his kidney function. They are concerned about that. Although he didn't feel well, he was able to attend Sacrament Meeting today. He hasn't been able to attend for more than a month now. This evening Derek regaled us with stories of his mission. He kept us laughing while he shared entertaining experiences. His positive attitude and sense of humor will get him (and us) through any difficult times ahead.
Some of you have expressed a desire to help in some way. Please know that your sincere prayers and expressions of concern help lighten our burdens. We feel your prayers!
Times of discouragement have been few. Most of the time we feel hopeful and at peace. Thanks for your continued support.

Spinach Smoothie

My mother has always been health conscious, but for the last couple of years, she has been into making "Spinach Smoothies". These drinks are very healthy, but may seem strange to some. Many people have asked her what is in them, and I am here to reveal her secret recipe. It may not sound pleasant, but it is actually pretty good.

Spinach Smoothie:

A little water
Handful of spinach (raw, washed)
Ground flaxseed (tsp)
Any or all of the following:
apple (cored)
orange (peeled)

Blend together and enjoy!

Note: The flavor of carrots are mild and blend in well. However, you need a heavy duty blender (like Vita Mix to puree it). If you have a juicer, you can juice the carrots and add the juice).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jan 28, 2010

Dad and Derek are up at PCMC for his 3rd treatment. (Only 11 more to go) This time it's a three day stint, and Derek is enduring this much better than last time. They'll be back home again on Saturday. Derek told us that several of his friends visited him two weeks ago when he was at PCMC. That meant a great deal to him. Thanks to the University 7th Ward for the card and picture. It was very thoughtful.
People are always asking how my parents are dealing with this. They seem to be doing O.K. At least that's the way I see it. They are trying to keep an eternal perspective, and they know that this trial will help them become better people.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 23, 2010

Derek's university ward brought him a big card with personal messages written all over it. It's been hard for him not to be able to go to Church. He hasn't gone since Christmas. Since we don't know how high his immunity level is, he stays away from public places. On Mondays they take a blood sample to see what his blood counts are. If they are high, he celebrates (preferably with friends. I guess he's sees too much of his family).
We dodged a bullet a couple of days ago. Derek had symptoms of an infection, but didn't mention it to his parents until dinner time... We found he also had a slight fever. We were instructed to get him to the hospital if he ever had a fever. A friend told us that these were the times that got scary. He likened the dosage of antibiotics that would be administered to a 12-gauge shotgun after a flea. Needless to say, we wanted to avoid that. As his temperature climbed, so did our concern.
I thought of a recent email sent by Derek's Aunt Jerri, who is serving a mission with her husband. She shared her thoughts on faith, and a talk given by Elder Bednar, who said that we must leave the light and enter the darkness, expecting that we'll be okay. We prayed for an answer and were inspired to know what to do for him. Throughout the evening and night, we treated what we felt was the cause of the infection. By morning his temperature was back to his normal 97.
Derek's sister-in-law also shared some thoughts she had about Christ healing the blind man. When asked who had sinned, this man or his parents, Christ replied, Neither, but that the works of God may be made manifest in him. We've seen the works of God made manifest over and over again. Thanks to all of you for your prayers, your uplifting words, and your kind acts.
Our hearts are touched whenever we hear people simply say, "We're praying for Derek."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home again from PCMC. This go around totally wiped him out. Derek said that friends and family came to see him while there. Although he was "out of it" much of the time, he was grateful for the hours they spent visiting the "sick and afflicted". Here are some pictures.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010

I've been meaning to get to this for days now. Right now Derek is at Primary's with his dad, undergoing his second chemo treatment. This one will be 5 continuous days of IV. It is interesting to us that they hydrate his body with bags of water before they begin chemo. I understand that his healthy cells will survive much better if they push the hydration before the treatment. After the water push, they give him the first dose of chemo, then flush his system with more water, then more chemo. (He is no stranger to the bathroom during all this). Derek began losing his hair while he was home this past week, so he just shaved it all off. His blood count was high on Monday and Tuesday, so he was able to spend time with some of his friends. He was glad to be out of the house! Hurray for friends!

While at Primary's, Dave met up with Alisa, our niece, whose 2 year old son just received a new kidney. She spends her time going back and forth from her son's room (who doesn't want her to go) to her husband's room (who is the donor). She also has a 5 month old baby.... Our prayers are with them, as well.

We are so thankful for your emotional support. Our burdens become light when we're surrounded by good friends and loving family!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 9, 2010

We've just seen another miracle. The cancer has NOT spread to his bone marrow! This is great news because of where the tumor is located (spine and left hip). Since the beginning of this, we have been told that ( given the size of the tumor and the length of time it had been growing before being discovered), the cancer had likely metastasized (spread) throughout his body. Having cancer in his bones would certainly complicate the situation.

We've been praying specifically that the cancer would not spread, making his chances of recovery greater. (The spots they saw on his lungs may or may not be cancer, but the treatment would be the same whether it is or not).
Given the aggressiveness of this kind of cancer, the fact that his bones are clean inside and out, is truly a miracle and a result of the many prayers offered for him.

Another blessing is that the pain has subsided in his hip. For months he has been taking pain killers every 4 hours around the clock. But the last few days he has gone for 12 hours before taking another one. He just doesn't hurt as much; we're not sure why.

Thanks for the messages you have written. They have been uplifting to our spirits. We count ourselves extremely blessed to have supportive family and friends.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 7, 2010

Derek is home and doing pretty well. One of the doctors told Derek that he endured the first chemo treatment with flying colors. We are still waiting on test results to see if the cancer has spread to his bones and/or nervous sytem. I don't know if they would change their treatment if they knew. We asked why they were treating this cancer so aggressively (so much chemo so frequently), and they said, because he was young and could handle it. We must have looked doubtful, because they assured us that they would lengthen the days between treatments if his body was not able to meet the challenge...
We were told that he will start losing his hair in about a week, so he has been working on a beard in the meantime. Just as well enjoy it while he can! His immunity is quickly dropping, so we are being careful not to bring any virus' in the house, and keeping everything as sanitary as possible. (That is a challenge, with all of us coming and going, not to mention me being with young students all day).
Dave will take him back to Primary's for another treatment this next week (this time a 5-day regimen).
We are doing much better that we ever expected. We feel divine help on a daily basis. I'm certain that all the prayers being offered is a huge factor in this. So again, thank you!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

January 2, 2010

We learned how to give Derek injections of neupogen, to raise his white blood cells. Actually, Dave will give the injections; I don't have the nerve. Derek may just give himself the shots he needs.
Our minds are whirling right now with all the information they have been giving us. The most difficult part of all this is watching Derek go through it all. The nausea, pain, and other discomforts are heartrending to watch. The food they send up goes back down, untouched. (If he can't drink the raspberry milkshakes, he'll never drink my spinach smoothies!:) Now that his first cycle of chemo is finally over, we're wondering what challenges await at home.
Don't worry about us; we're staying positive. We know everything will be OK; sometimes the little things become big things.

Again, thanks to all of you who have helped us with food, also emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I wish we knew who gave us the Christmas Jar...(if you're reading this, please know that your generosity was touching to us. Thank you!)