Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Thanks

This isn't the "typical" blog about Dave's cancer, but I needed to put this out there with Thanksgiving being a week away...Holly

What I'm Thankful For
I have a hard time expressing myself in words sometimes, but I really want to convey to you what I'm thankful for.
As I continue through this journey with Dave of his battle against cancer, I've come to realize how people truly care. Sometimes I get so down thinking that our world is crumbling around us, but, each and every day I'm reminded that there are so many genuine people that really do care about others and what is happening in their lives.
I've learned to appreciate each day and only really live one day at a time. With Dave going through chemo, each day is different, you never know what to expect. But that's ok, you just do what you need to do to get through that day, be thankful that you've had another day and get rested up for the next day!
I am thankful for Dave's family and the fact that we went to see them in Knoxville over Father's Day. I'm so grateful that his Mom and sister, Barbara encouraged Dave to have his leg (big muscle) checked out when we got home. I'm actually thankful that his Mom called almost every day asking if he had gotten in to see a Doctor yet! This is the time that we needed the prodding to see the doctor that eventually led us to getting the diagnosis.
I can't tell you how thankful I am we live near a city with some of the best doctors at Emory (Crawford Long). I'm amazed at the chain of events that led us to Dr. Monson who will eventually do the surgery on Dave's leg, and Dr. D'Amato who is managing his chemotherapy. These doctors are both top notch in their field and I thank them both for the care they are providing for Dave (and the tough love from Dr. D'Amato with the chemo)!
People's generosity amazes me and I'll be eternally grateful for how people have been so kind to us. Our neighbors are some of the best that anyone could ever ask for and I'm indebted to them. Every time I hear Bob or Kevin's lawn mower or leaf blower in our yard, I almost cry. These guys just get out there and take care of our lawn for us and I can't thank them enough.
Dianne (my next door neighbor) immediately offered to coordinate the meals for us and for those who know me and my lack of organization, I'm again, eternally grateful. So many friends, neighbors, gals from church, have brought us amazing meals and believe me, I have 3 men to feed that like good food! I've definitely learned the art of portion control (for myself) to be honest with my weight loss endeavors, but have enjoyed so many delicious dinners. Just knowing that a few meals a week are being provided has eased my mind of what needs to get done around the house, so I'm very thankful for all the people that have brought us meals.
I'm also thankful for the support of loved ones. Family has come to stay with me to help with Bryce & Kyle when Dave has been in the hospital for his chemo. The weeks he's been in the hospital are exhausting for me and I truly appreciate those who still love me even when they see me at my worst. I know I can be ornery when I'm tired, (I really am trying to work on this), but I appreciate all those that still love me after seeing me with "warts and all". (No, I really don't have warts, just the expression seemed appropriate!)
I'm thankful for the family that has traveled to be here to support Dave. Taking the time out of your busy schedules is difficult these days, but I'm so appreciative of the time you've spent here helping us during this time.
The support we've had from the teachers and staff at the boys' school has been amazing. I know that when Dave is in the hospital, the kids are truly cared for and the teachers are keeping a close eye on them for me. This comforts me so much, because I love my boys so much and I know they are hurting when their Dad is in the hospital. Again, I am just so thankful for the people in our lives.
To know we have so many people praying for us on a daily basis is overwhelming. I truly know that God is carrying us through this journey and we aren't making it on our own. I believe that daily, God is showing me His mercy and grace and with so many people lifting us up in prayer, I am at peace. When people ask, "And how are you doing?" I honestly respond, "Fine". I couldn't say that without God's grace and the support of all those around us.
Most importantly, I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband of 21 years. I truly understand the vows we took, especially the part, "In sickness and in health". It's not easy all the time, but being the help mate to Dave is something I don't take lightly. His attitude through this whole thing has been amazing and I'm thankful for his spirit. It would be so easy to be so depressed, but he is really fighting this and wants to beat it. I'm so thankful he's my husband and I want him to be for at least the next 42 years!!!
Enjoy this time with family and friends and truly think about what you have to be thankful for. We love you and thank you so much for being there for us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I declare the worst of Round #5 over!

Well, I’m back home from the hospital now and feeling pretty good. (If not for the nasty hospital food, I’d probably be feeling great.) My white counts as of this morning are now almost normal and my neutrophil levels are out of the critical range, so I’m clearly on the way back up. And since the low neutrophils are typically the only serious problem I encounter during a cycle, I think it’s safe to say that the worst of Round #5 is behind me.

Thanks to all for your thoughts, prayers, and support.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Still in the hospital

Hey, it's Holly again (using Dave's laptop)...anyway, he's still in the hospital and hopefully will get discharged tomorrow (Saturday). It's a good thing he came down, his neutrophyls were pretty low yesterday (around 60) and are coming up slowly...about 300 today. The docs say he can usually go home when the counts get up over 500. At least they weren't as low as last round! The doctors also ran some bacteria cultures which so far have come back negative. As long as they keep coming back negative and his neutrophyls keep coming up, he should check out of here tomorrow!

He's feeling pretty wiped out but is hanging in there. He'll be glad to get home. So, that's about all for now, thank you for your continued prayers and support. Holly

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dave's Going Back to the Hospital

Real quick note here...yes, Dave is going back to the hospital for neutropenic fever...I'll post more tomorrow when we have some details.

Dave's got a fever...

Hey, it's me, Holly. Just wanted to keep you up-to-date...Dave's been really, really weak today and now he's starting to run a fever. We'll see what the doctor wants us to do...hopefully, the fever won't be going any higher, (100.6 right now), but I'll let you know what's happening as things progress. He's been extremely tired today and since he white counts were in the critical level yesterday, we're not too surprised about this. Sooooo, keep your fingers and toes crossed that it's nothing serious....that's all for now!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

White Counts Critical

I got my lab results back from this morning and the charge nurse has noted that I have critical white blood cell counts at 0.6. Other stuff is low too, but not quite critical. This makes me very susceptible to neutropenic fever and infections in general. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated here as I would really like to avoid any unscheduled hospital stays.

If I can make it through the next few days (and nights) without incident, I should be fine.

Thanks for your support,


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Update

Sarcoma Q & AOK, time to head back to the classroom for a bit. Do you know what a sarcoma is? Well, this helpful t-shirt aims to answer that question. Please read carefully . . . .

Front side of t-shirt (click picture to zoom)

Back side of t-shirt (click picture to zoom)

This was actually the official t-shirt of the Atlanta Walk for Sarcoma Awareness event, held back in mid-July. I had asked for a t-shirt months ago, but they had run out. Since then, however, Dr. Gina D’Amato ordered more for her patients and I got mine on Monday when I checked in. Yeah!

You’ve Got Mail!When I got home from the hospital late Thursday, Bryce informed me that I had “lots of mail”. It turns out that a number of students from his 4th grade class had sent me handcrafted, personalized “get well” cards. This was yet another very kind and touching statement, which I credit to Bryce and his teacher Ms. Wilkins. As you may recall, a month ago this classroom sent me a large “get well” poster, which is currently hanging on my porch.

Nausea Mostly Under ControlThough I’ve been fighting some nausea since I’ve come home from the hospital, the Emend seems to be keeping it pretty well in check. At 3 days out of the hospital, I’m pleased with how things are going.

Round #5 Not Over YetThough it’s easy to get excited about being out of the hospital and done with the Chemo portion of Round #5, my toughest battle with this round still lies ahead. It seems as though always around the 5-day mark (post hospital) that my white counts drop to nothing and that I become quite susceptible to neutropenic fever (which happened after Round #1, #3, and #4). I really would like to avoid any unscheduled ER trips this round and see that my white and neutrophil counts come back on their own from the comfort of my home.

A heartfelt “Thank you!” to family, friends, and supportersThe importance of support during a time like this cannot be overstated. And fortunately for me and my family, we have been very blessed with an outpouring of support from our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, church, and job, not to mention the dozens of acquaintances I’ve made through email and posts to this blogger site. I have to say that it is quite remarkable that people care as much as they do.

We have friends and neighbors providing us with meals, mowing our yard, watching our kids, and providing us with the emotional support that we need. Quite honestly, I don’t think that Holly and I could fight this battle without them. I only hope that one day we can repay them for their kindness and generosity. Certainly this experience has taught me just how deep human compassion can and should go.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Early Parole Begins Today

Well, it looks like I’ll be getting out today on “good behavior”, starting sometime I guess about 3:00pm. That’s a little later than I had hoped, but earlier than it could have been. Hopefully all will go smoothly with the discharge papers and the “parole board” so that I can get home at a good time today.

All things considered, this round has gone fairly smoothly. I had some minor discomfort with the nausea, but nothing too bad. As usual, Holly brought me lunch every day, which I am quite certain helped a ton. Avoidance of prison food is a must for survival under these conditions. And Holly (as you might have guessed) has built up quite a reputation here with the prison staff here, exchanging exquisite baked goods for leniency and special favors. Several workers are already hooked on her 7-layer bars , and her irresistible banana nut bread is getting smuggled in today. (My apologies to the nurses on this floor for the prison analogy – the nurses here are all just wonderful!)

Tomorrow afternoon I head back down here briefly for my Neulasta shot. And hopefully during this upcoming week, I will not experience any neutropenia (low white blood cell counts) that would land me back in the hospital again. I’m just not sure we can handle any more unscheduled hospital visits. Trust me, it’s bad enough just being in “jail” for the chemo, but it’s always far worse when you’re here for an unscheduled stay and you feel like you’re on “death row”. That’s definitely a sentence I’d like to avoid!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Round #5 begins now

Well, I’m checked in at Crawford Long Hospital (room 7130, direct dial 404-686-7130) until later Thursday afternoon. Still waiting for chemo, though they should have that flowing within an hour or two. Not much to report at this time, other than I’m feeling fine (for now at least) and am looking forward to getting out on Thursday.