This blog is for Jim Marventano's family and friends to review his status and updates while he goes through treatment for Stage IV Colon Cancer. We can beat it together!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Change of chemo, so he's not in the trial

Something I believe I forgot to mention in my previous posts is that now that we've opted to go with a new chemo regimen, Jim isn't in the clinical trial any longer. Truthfully, it was a little hard to leave the trial. While in the trial, it sort of felt like he was helping. With what I'm not sure. But it definitely felt like Jim was contributing to the greater good.

By far, the toughest part about being out of the trial is the fact that we don't get our weekly dose of Deb Grey like we used to. Deb is one of the clinical trial coordinators, and she's the BEST. Every time Jim had chemo, she'd take a chunk of time and talk to us - in part because she had to ask Jim health-related questions for the trial, but also because she's just an all-around caring person. Sometimes I hugged her so hard that she might have felt that I was closer to a static-cling pantleg.

Getting to know Deb was most definitely one of the best benefits of participating in the trial. She's shared our joys, and our pain over scans that weren't as great as we'd hoped. She's called us at home and checked in on Jim, and me, too. She gave us the motivation to keep going through times when we questioned whether or not it was worth it.

Now that Jim is out of the trial, we're still getting calls and caring from Deb. I don't know how some of these people do it - she's held Jake for me during tearful doctor visits, she's played with Rachel and set up coloring trays for her, she's shared stories of vacations and stories of her kids with us. The people at the Vince get so personally vested in some of their relationships. It must be hard. It's got to be frustrating to see the emotional and physical rollercoaster of cancer. But at the same time, I imagine it's going to be a thrill for her, and for some of the others, when they get to hear the savory words "No Evidence of Disease". I'm not sure how we'll ever thank these people that give us light, encouragement, motivation, and comfort. Deb Grey is someone we'll cherish in our hearts forever.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Go ahead, make my day

Well you might think this post is related to "I hate it when people are nice to me", but actually, this one is about the battle with the organic diet.

Let me start by saying that we're still on the organic path; however, we eat a lot of non-organic foods because sometimes I just can't find the things I need in organic. And I've completely broken down on the whole organic milk thing. Paying $6.25 for a gallon of milk is just outrageous. We're drinking Dean's Milk (which claims not to use artificial growth hormones and they supposedly milk their cows until they're antibiotic-free until they put them on the production line). I had to supplement the organic produce with regular because I found myself leaving the grocery store with...nothing much. I finally decided that it's better to eat more fruits and veggies and get organic when I can.

Every once in a while, Jim will go completely renegade and demand bratwurst on white hotdog buns, yellow mustard, pork&beans, root beer, and yellow corn chips with cheese sauce from a jar. When he starts making demands like that I let him go - he's got a look in his eye that says "Don't mess with me on this one".

As you know, food has become something of an issue because Jim's tastes have changed as he goes through chemo. I'll bring something home that he's liked before (brussel sprouts, beans, soups) and he'll turn up his nose. I've been pretty accommodating in the past because, well, he has cancer. But that all took a turn while Jim's Mom and Sister were here.

One of the many luxuries of having Janet and Judi visit is that they cooked dinner for us every night. A whole week where someone else bought the groceries and cooked - what a delight. And the food was GREAT! Not only that, but I got to combine two of my favorite activities - watching Oprah and drinking wine - as Janet took care of the kids and Judi did the cooking. That's enough to write a song over.

So where am I going with this blog?

Jim ate everything. Everything. Everything. Without complaint. Not even so much as a scrunched up nose. WHAT the...? I should be glad that he ate like that, right? He's been refusing to eat beans for quite a while now. One night Judi even made beans and he ate them!!!!! You could practically see the steam coming out of my ears over that one.

Now, neurotic as I am, my first inclination was to question my cooking abilities. I mean, isn't that the first thing you thought while reading this? I'm no Martha Stewart, for sure, but I can most certainly make an edible dinner. And I'm only steaming my beans, so messing them up would be pretty tough. When I confronted him later on the bean issue, he said "but I ate them for you" - ah, you ate them for me? He said that he wanted to make me happy by eating his veggies. And that probably would have been fine provided I hadn't written to the world that he's got eating issues with my food. But to not turn anything away? Even the beans? He won't even let me bring beans home!

So, things came to a head (long after poor Judi and Janet left, who are most likely reading this with a look of dismay because they were just happy that Jim was eating) this week. My new Cooking Light came and there are some really good looking recipes in it.

I found myself challenging my chemo-challenged husband by saying things like "Hm...Chipolte Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry and Avocado Salsa?" and then quickly looking at him to make sure there wasn't any hesitation. I then gave him the wicked eyeball while I read off the next title "Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs?" (pineapple is newly on the no-no list), and he still agreed to that, although with a bit of hesitation. Hm. More challenge: "What about Snapper with Spinach and Tomatoes?" Now I can hear him swallow a giant "gulp" - {crickets chirping outside} - "that sounds good," he managed to squeak.

Food shouldn't be a show-down, but hey, if he's willing to make exceptions for his Mom and Sister, then by-golly he can bend for me, too. He can at least try some of it. Lately it seems that my restrictions list is longer than what I am allowed to buy. And Rice Krispies don't count.

So far he's eaten the snapper and the pork tenderloin without complaint. Tomorrow night are the shrimp and pineapple kabobs. We'll see how he does with them. I'm thinking he'll manage to choke some of it back while I stare at him intently with my "Go ahead, make my day" look. And like our three-year old daughter, he has to try some of everything.

Oh, don't look at me like that. At least I haven't cooked up a brussel sprout-bean-pineapple-soup medley. Yet.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Laugh if you will, but Wisconsin is the BEST!

It was sunny and 70 here today, with a slight breeze. We went to church and ate brunch out. At church, a friend mentioned that another friend of ours might have a return bout of cancer. This friend (we'll call her S because I haven't yet asked her permission to write about her), is one of the happiest, best, friendliest, coolest people I know. And she's only an acquaintance.

The day I met her, we started talking about Jim's cancer and she told me that she, too was a cancer survivor. She's been cancer-free for 5 years. You know how you meet someone and you instantly know there's a connection? She's one of those people. For me and for Jim - she's really awe inspiring with an attitude and sense of humor that cannot be beat.

So we got word today that S may have cancer again. We immediately went over to see her, and as it turns out, she's still waiting to hear. Argh. The waiting is the worst part. She doesn't get her scan until Thursday of this week. She won't have her results until MONDAY the 30th. That is just NOT right. Can you imagine sitting around for the next week, wondering if you have cancer?

I was glad we went to see her. We wanted her to know that she's got our support all the way. She just seems like one of those people we're supposed to know. I'm not sure why, but I'm certain that the reason will present itself over the next year.

After we went to visit S, Rachel and I shopped a little, picked up grass seed, and came back to putter around the yard. She played with the girls next door while I started spreading grass seed. It was a lusciously sunny day. There's nothing like the first day that really feels like summer. Our neighbors set up their trampoline and the girls exhausted themselves "helping" and then finally jumping.

Even Jim and Jake were able to get in on the action after their afternoon naps - they came out and sat outside with us to get a little Vitamin D into their systems. Good for both of them. Jim, because he's cooped up, and Jake, because he's pasty white like me.

While the girls were jumping, I got bored of grass seed (see Headless Angel), and went inside the house to start dinner.

That's the kind of place Wisconsin is. Sunny days, and lots of them. We're able to let our kids play outside without watching every single step they take. We're able to easily connect with other people who might need our support through cancer (or better yet, though a cancer scare, but a benign tumor), able to hear that a friend might need us through another friend at church.

Cancer sucks. We know it does. But I am constantly reminded that we are in the right place at the right time. When he beats it I'll bet Kohler will do something totally Norman Rockwell like have a ticker-tape parade or something like that. Don't laugh - it's Wisconsin.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I hate it when people are nice to me

We had a good cryoablation follow-up visit with Dr. Siddique today. He checked out Jim's side (the insertion points for the needles), went over the scan with us, and told us that he'd like Jim to come back in for more ablation in a month or so.

Dr. Siddique was a little concerned with Jim's night sweats. Things haven't gotten better with Jim's core temperature. He's not running fevers, which is good, but at the same time, you can imagine how frustrating it must be for him when he has to get up four times a night and change his clothes because he's drenched in sweat. It's hard for him in two ways - it's annoying to wake up like that, he's resorted to sleeping on towels so that he can change them when he wakes up; and it's frustrating because he's not getting a full night's sleep. So he's exhausted on top of chemo nausea. Any way, Dr. Siddique had them schedule a CT scan for Jim next week so that they can make sure there's "nothing exciting going on in there", as Dr. Siddique put it. Of course once he said that, Jim was immediately convinced that there's a massive infection festering away on his liver. Great.

Jim's doing okay, but he's pretty sick. He had to ride to the hospital with a bucket today, just in case. That made him crabby. Then the visit with Dr. Siddique, while successful, put Jim into a bit of a panic with the whole infection thing. (By the way, Dr. Haid's theory is that since there's so much dead tissue in there, his body is treating the tumor as a foreign object *but it's not infected*, so he's basically sweating it out. Dr. Haid hasn't missed the mark once in the last seven months, so I don't think he's wrong now.)

After the visit with Dr. Siddique, we went to the Vince so that Jim could have the pump taken off. He was even crabby with Brenda and Joan, who are basically the people that keep Jim going to the Vince. Pump out: done. Then, we had an exciting development - we've been asked to be on the Patient Advisory Committee. Yippee! We are really excited about that. This is a great opportunity for us to help other newly diagnosed people and their families. So today we met with the coordinators of the committee.

Here's where we get into the title of my post - "I hate it when people are nice to me". While we were sitting with Ken and Darlene (the coordinators), she looked at me and said "So how are you doing?" I said "Oh, we're doing okay, Jim's not feeling so well today." Then she said, "No, I mean, how are you doing?" Oh, she means me...Kate. Not Jim, me, the kids and the ball and chain we call cancer. Usually when people ask how we're doing, they mean Jim specifically, or all of us. I typically gloss it over by saying something like "We're managing" or "We're doing okay" or "Jim's going through {fill in the blank} but he's handling it well and recovering nicely". It's not that I don't appreciate people asking after us, but typically people aren't looking for me to launch into some diatribe about Jim's health. So my standard answers usually work pretty well.

But not for people that know what it's all about. When someone asks about me, and they really want to know, I find that I wrinkle my nose to keep from crying, and I say "I'm okay". Why do they have to be so nice? It's so much easier to keep up my I'm-in-control-and-I can-handle-it-all facade. Keeping rigid is what keeps me going some days. Sometimes I fear that I'll become a gelatinous, crying blob and I won't be able to recover enough to support Jim. And then who would make him meals that he won't eat?

I also got the happiest flowers from our friend Stephanie. Sometimes it's little things that make or break a day. (That's not a request for flowers, by the way, this is just running commentary.) But the flowers were addressed to me. Not to Jim, me, and the kids. Sometimes getting something of my own relieves a lot of burnout. I'm aware that the cancer journey is about Jim, but it doesn't mean that I don't hurt for him. While he goes through the pain and sickness of surgeries and chemo, I go through the pain and sickness of watching the person I love go through surgeries and chemo. I know that this recovery and return to whole health is all about Jim. And that's why it's so easy to lump how I feel into how we feel. I feel guilt that I am struggling with this, too. After all, it is Jim that goes through the surgeries and the chemo - not me. And I feel terrible that he's going through it.

So my aforementioned 1% of my time where I'm not completely cool and collected and rational is often spent opening my mouth and inserting my foot. How can my verbal words be so graceless when my written words seem to convey how I really feel? Why is it so hard for us to admit to, or express vulnerability to the people we care about, or the people that care about us? No one wants to look foolish, but when I'm blogging about the fact that my husband has the least designer kind of cancer, aren't we past that?

Maybe it's that when I cry, I'm not a pretty crier. Mascara runs all over my face and I end up looking like a wreckage zone, and I can only allow that to happen near the comfort of my own home. Maybe it's that I don't want Jim to know I'm weak. I don't want him to think I'm not going to be able to recover and own up to the marriage vows I made him - in sickness and in health. Maybe it's that I don't want my kids to see me cry. Or the other people in Kohler. Whatever my reasons, I sometimes wish that people weren't so nice to me. It's much easier to attend to the business portion of the cancer ordeal rather than the emotional portion.

Fair warning: if you see me and say something nice, and I respond in the idiotic, it's not that I don't appreciate what you said. I most certainly do. It's that my words don't work as fast as my foot, and I oftentimes find that my foot makes it into my mouth faster than the appreciative words can make their way out.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Pot Rack

I mentioned in my last entry that I've offered Jim several superficial incentives for beating the cancer. One being a pot rack. Since we did the addition on our house, Jim's been desperate for a pot rack. He's wanted a pot rack since we lived in Atlanta, but the new kitchen in Atlanta didn't warrant a pot rack either.

Admittedly, this kitchen doesn't have much cabinet space. But aesthetically, the kitchen cannot handle a pot rack. It's a small space. I fear that a pot rack would bring the ceiling down so low that people might feel they have to duck.

The pot rack has been under negotiations since last February. Here's how the negotiations typically go:
Jim: I think we need a pot rack there.
Me: No.

Jim: Why not?
Me: It won't fit.

Jim: I think a pot rack would look nice.
Me: No.

Jim: We need the space.
Me: I don't care.

Jim: I want a pot rack.
Me: No. And it would cover the light.

Jim: I can put in can lights that shine through the pot rack.
Me: No.

Jim: I want a pot rack.
Me: No.

So here's my declaration for all to see - Jim: beat the cancer. The moment we hear "No Evidence of Disease" we can drive down to Milwaukee and buy you a pot rack. You can choose the pot rack of your dreams. You can buy a Cadillac pot rack.

Jim had chemo today. He was there for a long, long time today. Every time he gets chemo, they have to make sure that they have the ability to draw blood from his port. Lo and behold, they couldn't get a blood draw today. Sometimes a "flap" of blood can develop over the port hose that goes into his vein. So they have to administer meds to break up that flap.

Jim was very tired today. He slept through almost the entire chemo session, despite the fact that he was armed with a movie that his friend Stephanie sent him (Wedding Crashers - he hasn't seen it yet). It takes a lot to gear up mentally for chemo. A lot of the patients sleep while receiving chemo. It must take a lot out of them. Often the nurses administer an anti-nausea medication that also acts as a sedative. So the mental exhaustion coupled with an anti-nausea med really does a job on the patients. I guess it can be a good thing, since most of them are there almost all day getting their chemo.

At least I know I'll have my kitchen pot rack-free for another month or so.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tough Day - Emotionally and Physically

Jim had a tough day today. Our church is starting a series on Parenthood, which sounds positive and exciting (and it is), but when you have cancer, it brings up questions like "will I even be here to parent my kids?". Today was the first time I've seen Jim so upset since his diagnosis. It must be hard for him to look at our kids and wonder whether he's going to be able to watch Rachel learn to swim, or whether he's going to get to see Jake play t-ball. Or anything beyond that.

Logically, we know that Jim is way outside the statistics. They really don't even apply to him. After all, the average age for colon cancer diagnosis is 72. Other people whose prognosis were worse than Jim's have bounced back from Stage 4 cancer.

In every day life, we get so caught up in making plans, making treatment choices, going to chemo, going through surgery, getting blood tests, taking medications, visiting the pharmacy, making organic meals, going to tai chi, updating the blog - these are all really just activities that keep us busy and make us feel like we have a sense of control. We tend to get so busy in the process of things that we forget that what we're going through is a ridiculously stressful situation.

Sure, getting chemo is a step in the right direction. It's the right thing to do. But mentally, it's tough to go and receive chemo when he didn't ask for cancer in the first place. I can see where people would get really bitter in a scenario like this. We didn't ask for this. We were just going through life, minding our own business, when the cancer reared it's ugly head. Now we're left with a "challenge" that we basically have to win. The stakes are just so high that I imagine the pressure could really blow some people out of the water.

I guess our flurry of activity is a coping method. After all, if we just sat around every day to dwell on how high the stakes are, we'd both get depressed and have a hard time putting up a fight. At least this way, we feel like we're doing something. We're contributing to his eventual victory.

Jim had a tough day physically, although early in the morning he mentioned to me that he felt it was the first time he was able to get a full breath of air. His core temperature is fluctuating all over the place. He's freezing cold or sweating profusely. It's almost like he's in detox. This is all normal, according to the doctors. And he's stopped taking the vicodin they gave him for pain relief. He's still got a lot of pain in his back, but he's not really crazy about the vicodin. I think part of the issue physically is that he's dealing with so much emotionally. At least I think that's what's going on today.

Did you know that almost 1/4 of cancer patients start getting sick before they get their chemotherapy? The anticipation of what's coming makes them sick. Although I think he's been improving physically, he knows what's coming tomorrow. Tomorrow. The darn chemo again. Sometimes I feel like begging for a break for him, but at the same time...if he takes a break it could set him back, and that's the last thing we want.

When I'm calm and I can maintain my sense of perspective on the situation, I try and tell him that even though this is horrid, when he's done he can go back to being himself. That's something that is really eating at him today. He hasn't been "normal" Jim since September 13, 2006. 7 months of not being yourself. 7 months where your thoughts alternate between "I have cancer" and "Am I going to beat it?". 7 months of "treatments". In the overall scheme of things, this may be a bump in Jim's road of life. Granted, mentally it will always be a pretty BIG bump, but if he beats the cancer, he can go back to being Normal Jim.

Thus far meditation and prayer have helped me remain calm and maintain my sense of perspective on the situation 99% of the time. The 1% typically happens when I'm not at home - when I'm alone, driving somewhere in my car. I know in my heart that Jim can beat it. I know that Jim knows he can beat it. Heaven knows that I've offered him lots of superficial incentives to beat it, including a trip to Hawaii, a pot rack (future blog entry), a lifetime of foot massages (another future blog entry), and a new planer (woodworking tool). All that on top of the obvious incentive for beating the cancer - life.

I guess even the most collected people are entitled to a moment of panic and doubt when the "C" word comes into their lives. I hate cancer. I hate it. I hate it that my Jim isn't Normal Jim. I hate it that he has to deal with stress like this at such a young age. I hate it that he has to worry about things that he shouldn't have to worry about. Blissful ignorance and a sense of immortality should be something he can have, just like the rest of us.

I'm giving him some time. I know he can beat it. When he does, I'm planning to shake my fist at the cancer and scream "GET AWAY FROM US! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!" I then plan to do a happy dance in Dr. Haid's office when we hear the words we long to hear most in life: "No evidence of disease."

It's sad how cancer changes your perspective - shouldn't the words we long to hear most in life be "I love you"?

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

How do I get myself into these things?

One of the women here in Kohler, Sue Field, is running the Boston Marathon this weekend. She's running with the Dana Farber Institute's Marathon Team. The Dana Farber Team is pretty neat - every member has to raise a certain amount of money (I think Sue's goal was $5000 and she beat it), they have to run a certain pace, and they have to write an essay to apply for the team. The money goes toward cancer research. Sue Field lost her Mom to metastic breast cancer. She's also in charge of the athletic program at the YMCA. She set up a neat competition for Y members - we can run a marathon over the course of five days. We pay $26.20 and run/walk the 26.2 miles, divided however we want over the 5 days.

Of course I signed up. I was excited to see that the money goes to sponsoring Sue and the Dana Farber team, and I'm delighted that she's doing the Boston Marathon.

Of course, when I signed up, I didn't take into account the fact that I haven't been running since September.

Jim's Mom, sister, niece and nephew left yesterday morning. It's feast or famine on help with the kids. Yesterday was definitely famine. So things got a little hairy and I never did my five miles. That leaves me doing seven miles per day for the next few days. SEVEN MILES?! YIKES! Poor planning on my part. Jim still can't lift more than 10 lbs, per doctor's orders, so I really can't leave Jake with him for any extended period of time. This morning I took both the kids out, but only made it four miles before they started to get restless. Tonight I did another 5.5 miles. Thank heavens because I was starting to worry about whether I'd finish or not.

I am an overachiever and a procrastinator by nature. Usually I set lofty goals (see my Headless Angel entry!) and then put them off until it's too late to get anything done. God help me, I'm going to get this "marathon" done if it means walking the entire thing on Monday. I want to do this. The money goes to cancer research. It's a great opportunity. There's no physical reason why I can't finish it.

Truthfully, I sometimes feel guilty about exercising when Jim isn't able to run, too. Jim only considers running worthy of his time. Walking just doesn't cut the mustard in his mind. Apparently walking is for the "weak". In the past, I've always hated him going out to exercise without me. Not because I wanted to spend time with him while exercising, but because I secretly feared that the time he'd go out running without me would be the time he suddenly, magically, got thin. "You missed it, Kate! This was it! This was the big one! I'm thin! Too bad you stayed home!"

I know in my heart that one exercise session does not a healthy person make. I know that once Jim kicks the cancer he'll be able to run to his heart's content. But it doesn't make me feel better about walking out the door right now, while he's short of breath from all the poking around with needles near his lungs. I can't wait until he can start running again. Then I can go back to worrying in my neurotic way about whether or not he's going to hit the magic run without me. I just know he will.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Launching My Medical Career

Since Jim's diagnosis, I've been considering changing my career path to something in the medical field. I'm not sure what I want to do. Originally I thought I'd go into massage therapy, and offer free massages to the patients at The Vince. But when I mention massage therapy to my friends and loved ones, I always receive a haughty laugh and the "um, no." When I question it, their response is "Kate, you don't like people. And you certainly wouldn't want to touch strangers." Oh. They got me on that one.

I've also considered medical transcription, which isn't exactly helping anyone, per se, except the doctors. But at least I'd be doing something. The only thing is that I'm a hunt-and-peck typer. I'm a fairly fast hunt-and-peck typer, but I still don't have the proper form nonetheless.

Nursing: I thought I could do it right up through Wednesday, April 4th at 12:03 pm, when one of the new nursing assistants came in to give Jim a Foley Catheter. Watching that being inserted was enough to scare me out of nursing. The poor guy was so nervous - it was his first time doing a catheter. Poor Jim was nervous because it was the guy's first time doing the catheter. There's not a ton of dignity as a patient, I've got to say. I don't think I can inflict pain on people like that. Obviously nursing is a very compassionate field - it takes a special kind of person. Maybe that person isn't me. Plus I despise needles. I gave birth to two kids with no drugs in order to avoid the whole needle thing (and, by the way, I'd do it again without drugs if given the choice). Why would I want to step into a career where I have to stick people with needles?

Physical therapy? No, too much touching.

Nutrition? Hm. Maybe, but it's not something I'm passionate about even though I'm more educated.

Research? Too much math.

Nursing assistant? Nah. I might as well be a nurse.

My last resort is training to be a medical writer, wherein I would translate medical information into brochures, marketing materials, and educational materials that people outside the medical field can understand. It's a possibility, but I question the job prospects. Especially in SHEBOYGAN. As great as the medical care is, I'm not convinced they're going to need scores of medical writers.

So far the two careers I keep revisiting are nursing and massage therapy. I guess I'll start my research. I guess the real point is that I want to help people, and after seeing what cancer patients have to go through, they could really use people who care about them and their plight. The nurses that have helped us - at the hospital and at the Vince - these are the kind of people I want to be when I grow up. Caring, compassionate, good people. People who are so awesome that I swear the healing begins when they come into the room. People that make our day. People that make Jim's surgery pain subside the minute we see them. Those are true heroes. They are helping Jim kick the cancer every day. The very sight of them is calming and positive.

Jim's recovering - slowly. He has pain in his chest and back when he inhales. So, every time he breathes in, it hurts. He's short of breath, so physical exertion - even walking the stairs, is hard for him. He's taking some pain medication and that seems to help a little bit. Dr. Haid said that all these things are normal. We just have to wait them out. All of his blood levels are fine, which is exciting. And so far he's not shown any risk of infection, which is thrilling.

Jim starts chemo again on Monday. His new chemo combination causes a rash that makes him look like a teenager on a double-dose of hormones. He's covered in pimples. His hair was hurting last week, and we thought it might fall out. The real reason that his hair was hurting is because his scalp basically blistered as a result of the chemo. It's clearing up now. And Dr. Haid gave Jim some gel that he can put on his skin to help control the rash. We can't let the rash get out of control because I've read there's a possibility it can do some longer-lasting damage to his skin. The good news: the nurses got all excited when they saw the rash. They said that's typically a sign that the chemo is working. Hooray!

One step at a time. We will move the cancer out one step at a time. Cancer is not welcome in our lives. After Jim is completely healed, I hope that we can use our knowledge to help other people win their fights. I hope we can provide a tenth of the inspiration, commitment, and caring that people are currently giving us.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Successful Day

Hello friends and family-

We had a good day today. The Interventional Radiologist, Dr. Siddique, was able to get 80-85% of the largest tumor. He wasn't able to take the entire thing because the tumor is so big. That being said, he considers the surgery a success and fully expects that Jim will be scheduled for more cryoablation next month in order to get the rest of that tumor, as well as anything else that he can see on Jim's liver. We are very excited.

Jim went into surgery around 1:00 today. Apparently Jim doesn't do ultra well in the recovery room, because he was there for quite a while and they gave him some morphine. I don't think they were expecting to give him morphine. But once he was back in the room he really pepped up, and although they gave him a patient administered morphine drip, he didn't use it. He suffered through starvation the entire day, so he was really excited about eating some hospital food for dinner. I think they do that on purpose. I cannot think of a single scenario in which anyone would enjoy hospital food unless they were starving.

Jim's Mom is at the hospital with him right now. He's recovering well. He's happy, and he's happy with the results.

And we got three really cool visitors today - the Director of Pastoral Care from our church, Mike; Jim's friend Ken, who's been a pillar of support for us; and best yet, one of the nurses, Chris. Chris wasn't working, but she knew we were there for the surgery. Now that is dedication. We were so happy to see her.

Love to everyone. We'll keep you posted on Jim's recovery. Things are looking good.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Into the Bogle

Thanks to Tom, Judy, and Aimee.

These are the people who heard my cry for red wine, and, well, delivered red wine. So tonight, as Jim and his Mom are peacefully reading and spending their time relaxing and mentally preparing for the day ahead, I'm...drinking the wine. Yum. Tom (a dentist, and a clever one at that) actually sent me a red wine prescription, with as many refills as I need. A prescription for Bogle Red Zinfandel. I promise to keep up my flossing, Tom. I love the prescription.

Judy and Aimee were just as clever (although, truthfully, I drank Judy's wine within hours of delivery and coerced her and my friend Susan into drinking it with me under the "Grey's Anatomy" guise), Aimee's arrived today with CHEESE. These people are speaking my language.

I was really joking about actually sending wine, but the gifts are a delightful treat, and you can all rest assured that they shan't go to waste.

In the meantime, Jim seems calm. Today we got the first physical evidence of chemo since he started treatments in October. Vectibix can cause a rash, like pimples. So far they've arrived on his forehead, nose, chest and shoulders. After a lone treatment. Also, the Irinitoncan can cause hair loss. They said about a 30% chance. Jim's hair on the top of his head is hurting, like knives stabbing into his head. His best guess is that the chemo is monkeying with his hair follicles, but because he has so much hair, and because it's rather tough, he believes his hair is putting up a fight and will most likely decide not to fall out.

Please keep us in your prayers for tomorrow. We have a lot to look forward to. We have faith in this doctor. We have faith that we are taking steps in the right direction and that Jim will be healed and restored to complete health. We are looking forward to seeing our beloved 2K nurses. And we're thankful for everything that we have. A beautiful family, a great support network, friends that define the word friendship, a strong faith in God, and that my Jim will be healed. Every day is another step toward complete healing.

Get your wine glasses ready. I fully expect to write a great report tomorrow night. It's Bogle Time!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

There's No One Like Mom

Let me start by saying that we seem to have returned to whole health here in our household, albeit a bout of cancer. Thank heavens, because the whining was really starting to get to me. Including my own.

Yesterday was the day that the shot to boost Jim's white blood cell count was supposed to start hurting. So far, so good. Admittedly, Jim is exhausted. More tired than I've seen him in several months. BUT, his Mom arrived yesterday to help us take care of the kids while Jim has his surgery on Wednesday, and I think that's helping him.

Most of you probably know that Rachel is a complete Daddy's Girl. I've always joked that my kids have the worst case of the Oedipus complex. Toward the end of last week, that fact became painfully clear - as Rachel was using her energy to recover, it made her a tad crabby. And when she's crabby, it's my fault. All of it. No matter what it is. Even if I'm a mile away, it's my fault. So obviously the end of the week got a bit trying. But there's an interesting element to our relationship. During one of her worst fever episodes, Jim tried to help her get a drink of water, and she just wasn't doing well with him. I picked her up and she hugged me and clung on as I got her some water. And, no matter what, she loves to have me tuck her into bed at night.

Sometimes, especially when you're sick, there's nothing like Mom. I believe that Jim is in good spirits and feeling reasonably well because his Mom will be here for the week. Today Jim and his Mom watched the kids, and I had the good fortune of going to Chicago to see the BodyWorlds 2 exhibit. Alone. A blessed two hour drive. Alone. An afternoon of human bodies injected with plastic. Alone. Another blessed two hours in the car, alone. Can a day get much better than that? I think everyone wins! Jim and his Mom got to spend a little quality time together, the kids got to spend time with their Mimi, and I got a respite from life.

Moms just have that je ne c'est quoi that no one else has. And every mom has just the right measure for her kids. (Well, most moms, anyway.) Moms have cool hands when you have a fever. They listen when you're feeling afraid, down, or alone. And they know just how to make you feel better. Only a Mom tucks you in just right at night. Only a Mom knows how much Nestle Quik to put in your chocolate milk. Only a Mom knows just the right time to visit or call.

We have an exciting week coming up. I'm glad Jim's Mom will be here to help with the kids, make a few of Jim's favorite dinners, provide comfort and support, hope and encouragement. Those are the things a mom does best.

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