Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh Noooo...

It's Mr. Pumpkin! Happy Halloween from Lisa!

Back at Motts predicted, we are back at Motts. Side effects of chemo 6 are same as round 4. Had a few great days at home and then Lisa abruptly changed speeds. She slowed down quite a bit yesterday and was complaining about her mouth. I was having trouble understanding her yesterday evening.

She spent most of the day today sleeping and having Mike monitor her temperature. She fluctuated all day and at 6:30 spiked to 101.2. That's a "go directly to Motts, don't get out for 2 days" card. So, I got her up here about 8. We went thru ER, had blood work drawn, X-ray done and were admitted to our room around 10:00.

Due to some complications with the room, we packed up a 1/2 hour later and moved to a new room. Lisa was awake most of the time, but didn't want to be moved or touched. She was definitely having some pain. They gave her some codeine/Tylenol downstairs and then some morphine once we got settled in. She's sleeping now, and until these sores clear up we'll be keeping her on some pain meds, as well as antibiotics just in case she's fighting an infection.

So.....bummer....she'll be here for Halloween. Her sibs have promised to get her candy. They have trick or treating here tomorrow and I'm sure she'll clean up if she feels like leaving her room. I'm hoping Mike can bring the kids up to visit and maybe carve/decorate Lisa's pumpkin. We'll have to see how she feels.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Next Steps

Lisa has been doing good, running around like a nut the past few days, but just like the last time she had this round of drugs, she hit the wall today. Needing a lot more sleep and having trouble eating and as the day went on, she sounded like she had marbles in her mouth...must be the mouth sores starting. We're doing what we can giving her the "magic" mouthwash and hydration. Hopefully we won't have to go to Motts like last time.

Got a call from doctor today. Lisa will have a scan Tues 11/4 (the same day Maranda's consult with the neurosurgeon is scheduled). Fri, 11/7 we will be meet with the general surgeon to discuss Lisa's scan. Lisa is scheduled for surgery on 11/13, at this time they estimate 8-12 hrs of surgery (more details when we meet with surgeon on 11/7, I hope) and a 7 day thru 11/20 if all goes well. After that, the plan is that we will be home for 3 weeks and then Lisa will go back in for the radiation and transplant which will be a 3-4 week stay.

Not sure what will be done for Maranda....but hopefully if she has to have surgery, it can be done around the same time as Lisa's stay so we can get the family plan or at least an upgrade to a suite!!:)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We're Home

We came home last night. After hydration and blood, Lisa was rearing to go. She walked out of the hospital on her own two feet pushing a baby stroller. She said she was hungry the whole way home. She ate pizza, crackers, pretzels and all kinds of stuff when she got home. She slept thru the night and is running around like a nut right now.

We'll be keeping a close eye on her to try to assure she doesn't get the mouth sores she got last time she had this particular chemo treatment.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Well, Lisa scored again. Tonight--Thursday-- the U of M athletes came around. This time, Peter Vanderkaay was with them. He is a two time Olympic athlete. Winning a Gold and Bronze medal in 2008 and a Gold in 2004.

You can see the medals draped around Lisa's neck in the picture. Couldn't quite convince Lisa how cool this was...but I thought it was pretty neat. I wish he would have had more time to chat. Lisa just wanted him to leave the necklace with her.

She has finished her chemo, we are just doing hydration and waiting to find out what caused her temp to spike. Nothing showed up in bloodwork, so docs might let us go home tommorrow if she doesn't spike again. Let's hope!

Some people have noticed that I've been pretty quiet this week. I've just been having a hard time getting my head around some things. Rather than take up a lot of blog space, I've saved the entry elsewhere. For those of you who are wondering what's going on in my head and who want a lengthy read, you can access my thoughts by clicking HERE.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday 10/23

Mike here again from Mott's. Lisa's been tolerating this round of chemo well enough. Even the "normal" rounds of nausea couldn't keep her from diving into her chicken nuggets and fries yesterday from "The Chicken Nugget Store". Some of you might recognize the store with it's big golden arches logo out front. If everything goes as planned we could get out of here tonight at about 8 PM. Woohoo! That's about all for now. I guess it was sort of an uneventful week, but we like it that way.
... 2 hours later ...
10:30 AM - Temp. is at 102. We're not getting out of here tonight... More later when we find out what's causing it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday 10/20

Mike here again (From Mott's Hospital) Here's a snapshot of the kids this past weekend. We are back at Mott's for the 6th round of Chemotherapy. Looks like surgery will have to wait for a few more weeks. The team here at the hospital decided they'd like to reduce the masses even further before going in after them. A bright spot in this is that she'll be home for Halloween - so long as she doesn't crash about then. (low platelets or white blood cells or something) Hey, maybe she should dress up as a "low hemogoblin".
Maranda is now aware of her condition as well. She was shaken at first. The thought of surgery frightens her most I think. (Us too) We're trying to move up the date to talk to the neurosurgeons about her condition to this week since we're here. We'll pass along any updates as they become available.
Thank you for the constant stream of prayers and positive energy, they continue to sustain us.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday 10/18

Mike here with the latest update from our doctor as of Friday night...

"Lisa's masses everywhere have significantly shrunk. That is the good news. The bad news is they are still there in several places and they are still wrapping around several arteries and veins that will be hard to do surgery on. So...the surgeons are still talking to the radiologist and to myself and others. The plan is not yet set, but there are two options depending on what the surgeons think they can do. We will either admit Lisa for the 6th cycle of chemotherapy on Monday, or she will be going back home, but with a plan in place for surgery. This is less than ideal that the masses are still present in a way that makes surgery difficult, but good that they have shrunk. The discussion about neurosurgery is still ongoing as well, but some believe that it might be best not to do surgery there, but to do radiation specifically to that area after transplant is completed."

So the news concerning Lisa is somewhat bittersweet as you can see. That and the news of Maranda's diagnosis is still stinging. My head is buzzing these days with diagnosis and treatment plans and all sorts of unanswered questions. After thinking things over time after time I keep ending asking myself WTF. I really have to wonder if God really knows what He's doing. He certainly has a lot more faith in me that I do.

All that said, we had a great weekend and hope you did too. We took the kids to Bird's Big Pumpkin's with our dear friends the Holowicki's. All the kids picked out pumpkins and then we went raspberry picking, out to lunch, and then over to Linda's brothers house for Ray's 17th birthday party. The kids had a blast. Hope you were able to enjoy yours as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Preliminary Results

A direct quote from Lisa's doctor who responded via email:

The CT scan I looked at with the radiologist and EVERY one of the masses is much much smaller. They are still there, but small! That is great now I need to get with the surgeons, Dr. Mody, and the neurosurgeons to figure out what we do next.

Yeah....a sigh of relief!! And some prayers of thanks....things can only get better...right?!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Remember to Pray at 11:00am EST

Lisa is having her test done tomorrow.....all those reading offer up a prayer at 11:00am EST...perhaps we can shake the heavens with our requests.

Also....not able to get into details right now regarding Maranda (and please do not ask her about this because we have not told her yet) but apparently her scoliosis is caused by a rare condition (of course) called Syringomelia. Syringomyelia (sear-IN-go-my-EEL-ya) is a disorder in which a cyst forms within the spinal cord. This cyst, called a syrinx, expands and elongates over time, destroying a portion of the spinal cord from its center and expanding outward.

At this point in time we don't know exactly what this means except for what we can get from the Internet. We will be setting up a meeting with a neurosurgeon to discuss could be observation, physical therapy or surgery. Info seems to indicate surgery is most successful option, but this is a chronic condition that can possibly re-occur over time. As a child it manifests as scoliosis, as an adult it can cause headaches, pain and sometimes result in some disabilities.

jeeezzzz...Mike and I are off to drink!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Warm Weekend

Hope everyone enjoyed the warm weather and their weekend. We sure did. Lisa, Mike and Chrissy drove up to Golden Pond to visit Grandma and even brought her back for a day. Mike and Lisa got a little flying in today and took Grandma back home.

This week is going good so far. Wed Lisa will get the injection for the test that will be run on Th and F. Those results will let us know whether or not there are any tumors that can be removed with surgery and how well Lisa is responding to chemo. If surgery is possible, it will be scheduled soon.

We have 9 states that are still not represented on the prayer chain....Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming....the hope is that on Thursday when Lisa's test are being run at 11:00a.m. EST, everyone in all states can say a quick prayer.

If you haven't placed your order for Lisa's bracelets, please do it asap...I'll be placing the order by Tuesday close of business.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Busy Week

So sorry for not posting's been a busy week. 2 MRIs, a brace fitting, bloodwork, PT appts and oh, school, catechism, karate, soccer and gymnastics.

Here's what we know:

Maranda sailed thru her MRI....getting the results to her doctor, not so easy. They were given to me on a CD which I attempted to drop off at the doc's office when I had Lisa's bloodwork drawn. This turned out to be a 25 minute process....the doc's office doesn't have a receptionist and I wasn't successful in flagging down a nurse. Finally I just went thru the doors and looked around for a nurses station. When I found it there were 4 people sitting there who all looked at me blankly when I said I needed to drop something off for Dr. Farley. Apparently the don't work for her and didn't know who she was. After 15 minutes of discussion, we decided they should just leave the CD in her mailbox because they thought it would take a week (?!) to get it to her via interoffice mail. I know she is in on Mondays, so my hopes are she gets the CD this Monday. I'm assuming she have to send it off to have a lab read it before we know the results of Maranda's MRI.

Her brace fitting went fine. The orthotist was very friendly and really put Maranda at ease. She got to wear this stylish cotton form fitting sock and he did measurements on her body with a no casting...yeah! He will be custom forming her brace and should have a preliminary cast for her to try on in 2 weeks. If it fits properly, we'll bring it home. I'm sure her father and her are thinking of names for the newest addition to the family. Getting answers regarding insurance coverage has been a stinking at this point, I've given up and am just keeping my fingers crossed that it's covered. We'll know soon enough.

Lisa's week went well. She's had a runny nose and been a bit more sleepy, but other than that she's holding her own. Her blood counts were not the highest, but they were just enough that we haven't had to get any transfusions this week. She had her MRI on Th night and we anticipate we'll get the results for those next week once all the rest of the tests are done.

Speaking of tests.....her MIBG scans have been bumped a day because of all things.. the Columbus Day holiday. Apparently the company that sends the die needed for the test are not open on Columbus day so the hospital had to reschedule all the appts. She will be having her MIBG and CAT scan this Th.

I'm still on my quest to get every state on the prayer list. We are still missing Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, spread the word if you know anyone in those states! I'm thinking we should have a nationwide moment of prayer this Th at 11:00 to pray that the chemo is working...that Lisa's cancer be operable and survivable....that she beats the odds and goes into remission and stays there for the rest of her life, not the 2 years most children diagnosed with this cancer get. That all of us have the strength to live through this and learn from it no matter what the outcome and truly appreciate the gift that our lives are.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Counting blessings

Maranda completed her MRI today. It was an hour wait before we got started and then it took an hour to complete her scans. She was anxious, but she did exceedingly well in the traditional machine (the Open MRI machine she was supposed to be in is only available on Thursdays...ya think they would tell you that when you call to schedule an appt for an open MRI). I'll be dropping the results off this week with the doctor and they can let us know if there is anything else we have to deal with!! Maranda is scheduled for her brace fitting this Thursday.

Lisa is doing better. She's much perkier and has only thrown up once in the past two days. She has been eating more as well...yeah! We're still giving her hydration just to be safe. She goes Monday for her bloodwork. Hopefully her counts will be good...she's a bit more tired than usual which usually means her hemoglobin is down...we'll see.

Starting this Thursday and thru the following week, Lisa is scheduled for a series of scans. These scans will determine how the cancer is responding to chemo and if any of her tumors can be removed with surgery. If surgery is possible, it will happen before the next probably before Halloween. Have no idea what this entails...not sure how many tumors there are, nor how many surgeries would be required...whether they would do one surgery or many....this is what the scans will help determine.

After surgery, she would have approx 2 weeks to recover before chemo 6. Four to five weeks after chemo 6, will be a "big" chemo followed by Bone Marrow Transplant and she would be inpatient for at least 3 weeks. The "big" chemo involves some different options to choose from based on her response to prior treatment and what the doctors feel is best based on current clinical studies (statistically this has always been a tough cancer to beat, so these studies offer us the latest and best options)

Once "big" chemo/bone marrow transplant is done and she has had time to recover, she will have radiation treatment. Not sure at this point how many doses of radiation would occur...that's a bridge we will cross as we get closer given all the elements that can go awry between now and then.

I was just thinking the other day how quickly things can change and how those changes impact the "blessings" you count. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought I would be doing at this time, I probably would have said working hard at my job, practicing yoga, perhaps becoming a Master Gardener, maybe getting my Professional Organizing dream off the ground. My blessings would have been my husband, kids, health, financial security.

I would have never thought to answer dealing with cancer and never would I have found a way to see it as a blessing. Cancer---blessing---that's crazy. But, the other day I realized that because of the cancer I am able to spend more time with Lisa. I know not all of it good times, not all if it puke-free, but it is more time than if she was healthy and still in daycare. Cancer has also bonded many family, friends and people in our community who love and support us. Cancer has reinforced our belief that even in hard economic times, there are good companies and great bosses who stand behind you. With all the time we have spent at Motts, I realize how lucky we are...there are a LOT more things that we could be dealing with. So I count my blessings each, friends, community, jobs, food, income....we are happy and content...our kids are up, running around, can communicate, feed themselves, dress themselves. I can feed and dress myself! . Every day, I try to remind myself that life is a blessing and it's important to appreciate that day, because once it is gone, you can never get it back. Life is good, but it is precious and finite.

So once again, I pray that God helps me to live today as if it were my last, because you never know, it just might be.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Me & Jamie should all feel sorry for Jamie....look how tall she is...that's got to be tough!

Mike has been updating the I won't disrupt his upbeat posts...let's just say that Lisa does handle the puking a lot better than the rest of us

To all those of you who still don't have a Lisa bracelet, I apologize. We ran into a problem with the manufacturer....they took our order, took our money and now they can't find any record of either. I'm working on disputing the charge with our credit card company. In the mean time, I will be placing an order with a new company. If you would like Lisa bracelets, please fill in your name and how many bracelets needed by clicking here.

Thursday 10/2

Mike here again and it's Thursday morning. The week has been manageable with Wednesday being the worst so far. This is mainly because Lisa wasn't interested in eating or drinking at all and complained about her lip and inside of her mouth being sore. Linda took it upon herself to call the doctor and have more hydration bags delivered since the last one finished on Monday night. They definitely help to top off her fluids and she seems better on the days she has them. I hooked her up last night and it appeared to help today since she was more energetic this morning and said she felt better. (Although she's sleeping as I type this.) The throwing up still comes in the morning pretty regularly with another bout in the afternoon so it's strange how days like these seem like "good" ones. I took her in this morning for another blood test. So far this week her numbers have been acceptable, say a prayer that they continue that trend as well as no complications i.e., fever, bad mouth sores and the rest. Thanks everyone for your support! We'll update again soon.
......... 15 minutes later .....
Just got the call with her blood test results [sigh] low hemoglobin, low platelets so we're heading to Mott's for transfusions. More later.
......... It's later, 4:15 PM to be precise and were done with the platelets and about half way through the blood. We should be out of here by 5:oo - 5:30. With all the fluids topped off we should be set for a cool but sunny weekend. BTW - Maranda is going for her MRI on Saturday morning so send a few her way if you're able. Thanks everyone!