Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bracelets for Mom

Would you like a "No One Fights Alone" bracelet supporting Mom and so many that are fighting or have fought cancer? Mom has one and I'm going to order some for family and friends. They are only $1 if I order 50, so please let me know if you're interested. Thank you, John Shumaker, one of Mom & Dad's long-time friends, for taking care of the cost of everyone's bracelets. I will deliver or mail them to you, so it's super easy!

Please let me know by this Wednesday, March 4th. Available in Youth (6.75"), Adult (7.75") and Extra Large Adult (8.75"). Just leave a comment, send a text {kathleen} or email {} and let me know what you would like and your mailing address. Thanks!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

MD Anderson Follow-up & New Plan

Second Appointment at MD Anderson
Mom & Dad went to Houston for a follow-up appointment with Dr. V on Tuesday. This was a very thorough meeting, including discussion of all prior blood work and scans, treatment options and other clinical trails around the country.

A review of her blood work and CT scans over the last several months showed a progression of the tumors in the liver and that the liver has been severely compromised. Since many of the chemo drugs filter through the liver, it is important to carefully monitor the liver function before proceeding with any new treatments. Dr. V recommended that if Mom's blood work looked okay in another week, she could try a different chemo combo--Abraxane, Gemzar and Xeloda (AGX). Mom has had Abraxane and Gemzar before, but the Xeloda (pill form) would be added to hopefully help the other drugs work better to shrink the tumors or "kill the cancer!" as mom would say.

Dr. V also recommended that Mom have another blood transfusion to give her a boost. Dad asked about the trials going on at Sloan Kettering and Johns Hopkins. She said that while Mom might be eligible for some of the studies, the treatments are very aggressive, not proven and might not be worth the time. While it was a very difficult appointment, it was important to fully understand the limited liver function and remaining treatment options.

Mom & Dad are SO silly! After their tough appointment, they went over
to take more pictures with the paintings on the wall at MD Anderson. HA!
Mom was so hot in the desert while we were having snow in Dallas! :)

They found some real flowers at Cracker Barrel in Conroe
and they even had dinner next to the fire. 

Back Home for Local Appointment
Today, Mom had blood work and they met with her local oncologist, Dr Xiong, to discuss their appointment at MD Anderson. They decided that she will come back on Monday, and depending on the results of new blood work (liver function, specifically), she will receive the new chemo combo as recommended by Dr V. Mom will be able to receive this treatment in Fort Worth, so they will not have to travel to Houston. Yay!

Based on her labs, Mom qualified for another blood transfusion (2 units). They went to Baylor after her appointment, and she received the transfusion this afternoon. Dad said her color looked much better afterward. Hopefully this will make a difference for her. So thankful for people that donate blood to make a difference for people like Mom!

Your continued positive thoughts and prayers for healing and peace throughout this journey are appreciated!! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Initial MD Anderson Visit

On the way to Houston, Mom and Dad stopped for a break at a favorite place--Buc-ee's! Mom even ran into a long-time friend!
Mom & Buc-ee :)

They made it safely to Houston, and after a short night's sleep, they reported to MD Anderson at 7:30am on Thursday. It was a full couple days with lots of waiting, lab work, meeting with their medical team, more waiting and having a CT scan. Mom said they took more pictures than she'd had during previous scans.

They met with Dr. Varadhachary, her primary oncologist, a couple times. Mom and Dad both liked Dr. V and kept hearing that "she's the best" from other people at the hospital. That was great to hear! Dr. V modified Mom's pain medicine, but they didn't talk much about treatment options. She wants to review the new CT scan, blood work and talk with Mom's local oncologist. Their next big appointment with the doctor will be this week. I will update as we know more regarding this next visit.
Dad sent us these pictures while they were waiting.
He said, "There was a lake by the hospital and Mom went crawling in the swamp" and
"Oh look! Mom's looking for birds in those trees!"
HAHA! I had to do a double-take to realize it was a picture in the hospital. Love them! 

After their many appointments, Mom and Dad were able to rest at Tommie & Polly's condo--which was a wonderful gift! They also had a little date night. So happy Mom and Dad had this time together!!
Love Mom's smile! Dinner at T-Bone Tom's Steakhouse
as recommended by Tommie and featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives!
Enjoying the Kemah Boardwalk!

Thank you for your continued prayers of peace and calm for Mom and Dad, for the doctors, new treatment options and for Mom's pain to remain under control. Thanks and much love! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chemo, Transfusion & MD Anderson Update

Appointment on 2/12: Cancer Markers, Pain Level & Chemo #18
Thursday, February 12th was another chemo day and Mom and Dad met with Dr. Xiong prior to the infusion. The cancer markers decreased from 34,090 to 30,800. We were thankful the markers went down, but hoped to see a greater change. He was also concerned about the decrease in her red blood cell count and scheduled her for blood work after chemo.

One of the greatest concerns over the prior week was that her pain had increased. Her discomfort is primarily in her back and abdomen from the tumors in the liver. She went from only taking the pain medicine occasionally to needing much more. The doctor added the lowest dose of morphine to her daily medications. So far, this has made a difference in her pain level and we hope that continues!

Part of Mom's Text: "Morning!! I'm here for #18 Kill the Cancer!!!!"
Appointment on 2/17: Blood Transfusion Scheduled & Cancer Markers
Today, February 17th, Mom had an appointment to check her red blood cell count after the last round of chemo. Her count was low at 7.6 and she is scheduled for a transfusion in the morning (2/18). They anticipate that she will need one pint and it should take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. She has been extremely exhausted and we hope this will make a big difference for her! We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for a successful transfusion.

We were told people could make blood donations in Mom's name, but Carter BloodCare has discontinued the program. Any blood donations would be wonderful, but will not directly help Mom with her transfusion. 

Mom was called in for an unexpected appointment with Dr. Xiong after the blood work. He wanted to check on her pain level, which has been better with the morphine. Also, he let her know that her cancer markers have increased. They went up from 30,800 to 68,666. It is very tough to see this increase, but also good timing that she has an appointment at MD Anderson this week--see below!

MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
After about a week delay due to name spelling issue, we heard good news from MD Anderson. She has been accepted and she has appointments in Houston this week! We are very thankful to the Rains family for offering their condo to Mom & Dad during their visit and to the friends that have offered assistance while they are in Houston. We are hopeful and prayerful that they will have additional treatment options available to "Kill the Cancer!" as mom would say. I will be updating the blog as we hear more information from her appointments.

Having Fun
Mom & Dad had a date night to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert in Duncanville a couple weeks ago. They really enjoyed the performance! They also went out for burgers with Jonathan, Elaine and Haleigh last weekend and we celebrated Valentine's Day together a couple days ago. Valentine's Day has always been a fun holiday in our family. Mom and Dad give the best Valentine's Day gifts and we enjoy celebrating the love day together! 

Granna & Granddaddy with Haleigh at Kincaid's

Celebrating Valentine's Day with Jillian & Oliver
Mom had lunch with her work family at Cedar Ridge Dental.
This is her close friend and dental hygiene partner, Jessica.

That's it for now, but I will updating with information soon regarding her transfusion and their trip to MD Anderson. Thank you so very much for your love, prayers and support!! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Courage & MD Anderson Referral
When I think of Mom & Dad's journey over the last six months, I am reminded of this verse. Mom has shown strength and courage. Dad has provided tremendous love and strength, especially when Mom needed it most. They are a special team.

Mom has had two more treatments since the last entry and she's doing pretty well. The side effects can be tough--the mouth ulcers are back, along with fever, more nausea and she's had some trouble sleeping at night. She does an amazing job keeping a positive attitude through it all. We hope she can continue to stay healthy through this crazy cold / flu season and that Dad recovers from his cold quickly.

Mom and Dad met with the doctor at her last appointment on January 29th. Dr. Xiong shared with them that the cancer markers had decreased from 42,330 to 34,090, but he is concerned the number is not decreasing fast enough. He would like them to have a Plan B and since she does not fit in the clinical trials at The Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders where she is being treated, he has referred her to MD Anderson in Houston to see what other options might be available. We are hopeful they are able to meet with the doctors soon and receive good news of alternative treatments. We appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts as they pursue these new options.

Text from Mom on Jan. 15: "Morning all!! Ready to start #16 Kill the Cancer!!"
Text from Mom on Jan. 29: "Well here I am for #17 chemo kill the cancer!!!"  

We had an impromptu outing to the park a couple weeks ago. It was such a beautiful afternoon and we were thankful for the time together!

Granna & Granddaddy with their Grandkids, Haleigh, Jillian & Oliver

We appreciate your continued love, kind thoughts and prayers for Mom and Dad. Your personal blog comments, texts and calls are appreciated and very uplifting throughout this journey. We are thankful for you!