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!