Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Update on Mary: Time To Eat

Mom went to see her oncologist yesterday. The good news is that her cancer marker was down again. This chemo is really working. All of the reports from her recent scans and tests have been positive. The problem is that Mom is very thin, and she does not weigh enough right now to get chemo, so her doctor has given her a few weeks off to fatten up. He has suggested some changes in her diet and in her medication so that she will hopefully gain some weight.

Please pray that in the next few weeks mom would be able to put some meat on her bones and regain some of the muscle that she has lost. Please continue to pray for relief from pain as well. Thank you all for your ongoing prayer and support. Your prayers continue to strengthen us as wee face so much uncertainty.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Update on Mary: Chemo

Thank you all so much for covering Mom in prayer today. She felt so encouraged by your response.

She did get chemo today. Her weight was stable and her blood counts were fine. Please pray for her to be able to eat, keep her food down, and gain weight. She is very thin and needs to get some meat on her bones. Pray for reduced pain and that she would begin to see benefits from her chemo. Please continue to pray for her strength, both physical and mental.

Mom always wants me to communicate how much she appreciates your prayers and support. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Redefining Victory

Dear Mom,

Two years ago this month you were diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The statistics said that if we were lucky you would have six to twelve months to live. You were so sick, we wondered if that could even be true. Though I was thirty three weeks pregnant, I wondered if you would even meet my son. Your oncologist encouraged you to begin a palliative chemotherapy regime, because he felt it could improve your quality of life and make you feel better. You did, and even though it made you sick, and gave you mouth blisters and nausea and weird aches and pains, you kept going. Even though you had to sleep 90% of the day, and were on so many narcotics that you could barely speak sensibly, you kept going. You fought.

Slowly your health began to improve. You could eat again. You gained weight. You were able to leave the house, cut down on your pain medication, and then small steps turned into leaps and bounds. Your tumor shrunk to half the size it once was. You learned your chemo rhythm, and how to tolerate your treatments and plan your schedule around them. You fought, and you got your life back.

I know that when you got a sick everyone encouraged you to push for the impossible- for a cure. We wanted you to not just fight, but to win the war against cancer. We wanted you to declare total victory, to be cancer-free. Everyone told you that you could do it, because you are tough, stubborn, and determined, truly a fighter. Maybe this wasn't fair. Maybe we shouldn't have asked you to go head to head with an almost unbeatable cancer. What a burden that must have been for you, to try an accomplish the impossible. But you tried. You did chemo, radiation, you ate well and exercised. You fought for your life.

But the cancer marched on. It spread, your pain increased and you had to start a new chemo regime, and you agreed to do it for those of us who love you and are reluctant to let you go so soon. Now you are exhausted. You live in constant pain, on huge doses of narcotics, and without the ability to do much of anything. It seems like you are back at square one. Yet once again, you oncologist is telling you to continue palliative chemotherapy, which he believes will decrease your pain and offer you some more quality time. He, the doctor we affectionately refer to as "Eeyore" for his generally gloomy outlook, wants you to keep going. Your cancer markers are down, the new drugs are working, they just need time to beat back your pain.

I know from where you sit, which I am willing to bet is the dark blue reclining sofa in our family room, the pain isn't worth fighting through because you know you can't win. Barring a miraculous healing or an unexpected medical breakthrough, this cancer will kill you. I know it is important to you that we acknowledge this. I understand that cancer will ultimately win this war. What I want you to see is how many battles you have won in the meantime. I want you to redefine what you think of as victory over your cancer. Victory is much bigger than being declared cancer free. Victory is each and every precious moment you snatch back from the jaws of this ravenous beast. Victory is living when you should have died. Victory is finding joy in what you can still experience and in what you have left to give.

Victory is watching Kenny enter the world, and hearing him call you Jjaja.

Victory is seeing Katie mother her sweet Owen, and kissing his chubby little cheeks.

Victory is watching Emily walk down the aisle (wasn't she a beautiful bride?), and dancing at her reception.

Victory is experiencing the joy on your baby's face when he proudly announced he had a pea in the pod, and snuggling with his little JP.

Victory is watching Nic learn to ride a bike, and seeing Tommy start elementary school.

Victory is celebrating your 35th anniversary in Hawaii with the man who has taken such good care of you and has fought so hard for your health.

Victory is two Christmases spent together, birthdays, Easters, and countless other moments.

Victory is trips and visits and snuggles and games of war and UCLA football games and scoops of ice cream and days at the beach. Victory is creating memories.

Because you fought, your grandkids will remember you. Because you fought you have shared in so many precious life experiences with all of us. You have consoled us when things are rough, you have counseled us when we need direction, you have continued to mother us when we need it. Your choice to fight has been an incomparable gift.

I know that you are at peace with death. Your faith in Jesus has sustained you, and I know your trust in Him makes letting go of this world easier. I know that you do not, nor will you ever, desperately cling to life out of fear. I don't want that for you. But I also don't want you to give up before it is time.

I know your courage is gone, and your will to fight has left you and you need a reason to go on because hope is lost. Pain is discouraging, it has overwhelmed you, fighting cancer has sucked you dry, and at this moment you feel done with your fight because your know you can't win the war. In this dark place, look toward the light. Look at all the God has accomplished in these last two years of your life. Look at how he has used you to encourage and inspire others. Think of all those who come to him regularly in prayer on your behalf. Look at all He has gifted you with, the memories you have made and the time you have spent with your family and friends. Then consider what it means to be victorious. You have already had victory over your cancer. Each day that you live is a battle won.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Update on Mary: Crossroads

Last week was a wild ride. We expected Mom's test might reveal something discouraging (not because we are pessimists, the doctor expected it too), but instead it showed that Mom's cancer had not spread through her intestines as we had feared; at most it is in two very small patches, and biopsies on those areas were inconclusive. Mom's oncologist was cheered by this news, and also by blood work that continues to show that her new chemo treatment is working. Each time they test her blood for cancer markers they have fallen. He feels the best course of action is to continue her current treatment, and he believes that the chemo will eventually bring her relief from the intense pain she is living with. He gave her a week off of chemo to eat hearty and get her weight up, and she has been eating and beefing up this week.

However, (and please know that I have permission to share this, in fact, my mom explicitly asked me to write this) Mom has lost the will to fight. She has no hope. She cannot see past the terrible pain and does not want to continue treatment. She is physically and emotionally drained, and is seriously considering not continuing her chemotherapy. She urgently requests your prayers for tomorrow, as she is scheduled to go in for treatment but does not want to go. Please pray that she will make a wise decision.

Obviously those of us who love her are having a very hard time with her giving up, especially since both her oncologist and her pain doctor feel it is much too early for her to consider hospice care. Please pray that we will deal gently and compassionately with her and that we would have peace with the decisions that she makes.

Please pray that Mom's pain would decrease. It is the unrelenting pain that has driven Mom's spirits so low. That, and her acceptance that she cannot beat this cancer. Please pray that she can see the value in the time she has already gained by fighting and in the possibility of winning some more.

Pray for Mom to have clarity (something that is hard to achieve considering the amount of pain medicine she is on currently) and that she will be able to discern what her next steps should be.

Pray for her to have renewed strength and courage as she faces tomorrow.

Thank you all for your continued prayer and encouragement as we continue this arduous journey. We love you and we are so grateful for your prayers, now more than ever.

Entry/Angry Birds

At long last here are a few more pictures of the new digs. These are photos of the front entry, the only area of the house that is pretty much done. Every room seems to need a little something to finish it off, and we just haven't had as much time as we would like (imagine that) to work on things. Also, it has been hard for me to decide where to hang things on the walls. I realize I can move things if I don't like them, but I'm pretty averse to patching and repainting. Most of the entry has been done for a while, but we just finished our last project, painting and re-covering the chair. It was formerly very hideous (as chairs that one picks off the curb usually are), but nothing that a few coats of paint and some new material couldn't fix.

The curtains may seem like a strange touch, but the flip side of having a door that lets in a lot of sunlight is that those very same windows allow everyone to see into your house after dark. It didn't take us long to decide that we didn't want the entire neighborhood viewing our pajamas. They also help us conserve heat, which has been an added bonus during this very very cold winter.

And here's a before/after of the chair:

A bonus for those of you who made it through all those boring pictures- the boys showing off some sweet Angry Birds tattoos and playing "triplets" this afternoon.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

An update from Tom

Mom met with the oncologist on Monday. He did not have the results of the biopsy but did have a chance to read the GI doctor's initial report. He felt that even if the results of the stomach and colon biopsy were positive (cancer) mom should continue her current treatment, at least for another month, because the current treatment has been reducing her cancer count which has been a good indicator that the treatment is having positive results. Also, he believes that even if the biopsy is positive, these cells are likely the same nodules that were on Mom's CTs since last April. Given the cancer counts, and the initial GI report, he does not believe there is any new growth. The oncologist gave mom another week off of chemo so that she can can her strength and hopefully start chemo next Monday.

Mom will meet with the GI doctor on Thursday to review her report, the biopsy and discuss options for dealing with the stomach and colon issues.

Thank you so much for your prayers for mom and our whole family.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Update on Mary: More Waiting

Mom made it through her procedures on Tuesday, thank you so much for your prayers. They found an inflamed area in he stomach and in her lower intestine and did biopsies. Mom and Dad will meet with her oncologist on Monday and then the GI doctor on Thursday. Until they have these meetings they will not know how things will proceed. Please pray for my parents as they will have to make decisions next week regarding Mom's treatment.
Mom continues to live in a great deal of pain. Please pray that her pain doctor would have some new ideas to bring her relief.
Thank you again for your prayers and concern. I will update next week once we know more.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Update on Mary: Procedure Tuesday

The following is from Amy's dad:

Mary will have both an upper and lower GI on Tuesday afternoon (12:30). Please pray for Mary for her preparation Monday and Tuesday for the procedure. Mary has lost a lot of weight and both the preparation and procedure will be very difficult. Please pray for wisdom and skill for the doctor and peace for the family in whatever results we receive.

And from the Klugs: Since you are praying anyway...please throw one in for Nic. He has a larger than usual blood draw on Tuesday morning. He hates sticks. Please pray that they can find his veins easily and that they can finish up quickly.