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!)