Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Hello and Merry Christmas to you all!
I hope you are all still marveling in the joy of the season and I hope you are still in your pajamas like we are. It is a balmy 58 degrees here in Kansas and the girls are itching to get on their new razors that Santa delivered.
Hal and I are happy just sitting and enjoying the time. We received the best present of all on Christmas Eve when I woke up and was feeling better. My balance has improved and I don't find myself puttering around as much. The girls and I made our cutout cookies and lots of good stuff for Christmas breakfast. We also had fun making lots of yummies for our special Christmas dinner at the Book house where we were blessed to meet six young nuns here form France. I cannot begin to tell you the impression they left in my heart with their stories of their travels of evangelizing all over the world. The kids especially enjoyed them so and Zoe was quick to get an interview of each of them. Thanks Mike and Sarah for such a special day!
Well our next step is to get my vocal cord fixed. Once again we are blessed by friends who can help us out quickly. Dr. Garnett who is the guru of voice just so happens to be a friend and has gotten me in so quickly. This Monday at 1:00 he will put me under for a short time and inject my cord with a solution that will temporarily get my voice back and improve my swallowing. This will last about three months and then it will be an ongoing process to get the cord back to normal but he is confident it will come back with time.
I have completed nine rounds of radiation and should be done by Jan 5th.
Thank you everyone who has driven me to and from the hospital countless times in not such great weather and for always offering up your time in any way. My love and whole heart goes out to Hal who has taken care of this family over and over again. I always knew he was a gift to me but these days he my lifeline, my rope and he is forever pulling me back in. Please continue to pray for us, for strength and healing and for you we will continue to pray as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nothing Beats Home

It is so awesome to be home and so comforting to be home with my family. This past week was certainly unexpected and stressful but at the same time gave us some peace and much needed calm to our lives. I am doing well but a bit shaky and uneasy on my feet. I am not sure if it because I have been in bed all week or if it is symptoms from the radiation. Regardless, if you see me lost I know you will all help me find my way back on the right path. I have completed five out of fifteen treatments and should be done by first week in January. I have started on another anti hormonal therapy drug which will be a wait and see if this works kind of thing. I wish I could be more specific with what the plan is but that's the beauty of life, we have no control nor plan, just the peace and trust in God to see us through. I hope you are letting Him see you through your tough days. Not just the trying to catch up with presents and Christmas cards, but the hard times,the crosses that we all bare and are sometimes just too busy to see. Take the time to listen to what you most need right now. I dare you to sit down and look out your window at the beautiful arrangement God has put before you today. Give your crosses to Him and begin a new day!
I can't tell you how overjoyed I was at being able to attend the girl's Christmas show last night.They were so excited and so beautiful and so darn grown up. It was also so nice to see alot of you and be enveloped with so much love and warmth. Thank you over again!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Hi everyone -- Hal again....

Through the many caring hands God provided over the past days, Ann was well enough to come home tonight! The family was able to sit down together for dinner provided by friends and light the candles on the Advent wreath as we talked about the day's events. I commented that I thought our family had received an early Christmas gift -- Ann coming home. And, that it was about the best gift we could receive. It was then that Grace piped up and said "Except for Jesus being born"...Ann and I smiled and cherished the moment.

So, I type this message of praise and thanks to all who helped us thus far through this journey. There remains 11 additional radiation treatments, recuperation from being in the hospital and whatever else lies ahead but we know that God works all things to good if we cooperate in His plan with each other. It is really an amazing thing to watch God at work through each of you -- please know that you are remembered in our prayers each day.

This was likely my last ghost writing session as I expect Ann to take back over this blog tomorrow and beyond -- this is good news as her humor is much better than mine.

May God bless you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bring on the radiation

Greetings all -

This is Hal -- I'm filling in for Ann today on the blog...

Just the facts:
Ann received her first round of radiation today and the "zapping" takes about 10-15 minutes. A simple in and out. She is doing well after the treatment but does best when she lies flat in bed -- hence my duty on the blog.

The hope and plan is to have a few rounds of the radiation and see the symptoms abate -- a decision regarding discharge from the hospital will depend on progress on the symptoms (lots of pain and pressure in the neck/head/shoulder).

Ann and I continue to be blessed by so many wonderful people that take their time this holiday season to go out of their way to pray for Ann and contribute so many other acts of charity towards our family. Thank you so much from both of us.

A wonderful Advent:
We reflect what a great Advent Season that we are having -- we are able to enjoy this time where things have slowed down for us to reflect on preparing the way for Christmas. Isn't it amazing the way that God can get our attention? We hope that you too are able to simplify and spend time and create wonderful memories for you and yours this season as well.

So, take care and Prepare the Way...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can You Say Whirl Wind?

This week did not start out nor is ending the way I had ever planned but then again when do they ever? As I blog, I am sitting in a very comfy bed at the KU Med Center Hospital where I have been since Monday morning. It all started with some scary dizziness and severe pain from the top of my head down to my shoulder all on the left side. For those of you at church last Sunday you may have noticed my personal escort service helping me out to the hall. I became really lightheaded and a little out of it. Thanks to the Bechles and Petersons for acting so quickly and taking such great care of me. Again the entire Sacred Heart community astounds me with their love and devotion to me and my family. I could not have been in a better place to pass out.
Anyhow Hal took me to the ER where they ran some tests, scratched their heads and sent me home. Another episode happened when I was dropping the girls off at school the next morning. Thankfully it occurred after I left. It came on pretty quickly while driving and I pulled over to the nearest street where I quickly called Hal. This time it was really scary and much much worst. Hal was there within 5 minutes and brought along a blood pressure cuff. The docs in the ER told us if it happened again to get my pulse and BP. He couldn't get a reading the first two times but then came up with 80/60 and I was sweating profusely with no relief. We decided the best thing to do was to call the ambulance where they escorted me back to KU ER. This time we got the oncologists called in and started to get the answers we needed. Apparently I have a few tiny tiny lymph nodes hinging on a pretty important nerve that controls the left side of my face neck and shoulder. When the nodes are just in the right position they can cause my bp to decrease and all kinds of other not so fun stuff. I have been in lots of pain, mostly severe headaches and shoulder pain but no more episodes since being admitted. So the plan is to radiate the nodes that are involved to shrink them and release the pressure off that nerve. I start therapy tomorrow and will have fifteen treatments once a day. I should be done by Jan 5th and they believe that by the second or third treatment I should definitely be feeling tons of relief. I will be staying here until at least Friday where they can monitor my symptoms and make sure I am responding.
Now, for those of you who are worried or upset or frustrated. Please don't be. This is not a big deal. As a matter of fact, the doctors say that this is a rare case and quite interesting to them. If it wasn't for the tiny nodes being right on top of that nerve they wouldn't have even taken any action against them. This is just another bump in the road and is not a turn for the worst..
For those of you at school with the girls please give them an extra hug a wink a laugh just to let them know that things are fine. They have been hearing things through classmates and their concerns are up a bit. Hal brought them by last night which gave them relief to see just how mom is doing and what a hospital even looks like. They especially though it was cool to go to the cafeteria and pick out anything they wanted and then eat in bed with me.
Thanks to all of you who call and offer your time to me and the family. I usually say it amazes me at how everyone is so giving but it is just how you are and how you have given your life to Christ and in return live your life as He did.
Thanks to ALL! Love, Ann

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ann Experiments With Drugs

Tuesday was filled with one scan after another. They looked at everything from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and thankfully found nothing of concern. Another appointment with the doc Wednesday and then up to the treatment room for my very first dose of an experimental drug they have no idea what will do to me (sounds like I am back in college again). I asked if they gave out special t-shirts to the very few of us who have been "chosen" for the clinical trial but no such luck. The med was uneventful and I was home by 7:30. My love and thanks go out to my wife Sarah for dropping what she had planned on her day off and coming with me. You can always ease my mind and make me laugh even when I am sitting naked in a room with you awaiting the results of some pretty scary tests. Thanks friend!!!
I feel good today and did my usual things. I will be back at the cancer center every two weeks for the treatment until they tell me to stop coming.
To those of you who are concerned. We are doing well. The girls have been informed that a wee little bit of mom's cancer either stuck around after chemo or missed me so much they have come back. They give me extra loving which I will take any day and they remind me of pure acceptance and love no matter if mom's hair looks like a boys'.
Happy Advent to all!