Friday, December 23, 2011
I was eager to hear where we were now! After a thoughtful pause Janice said "I think Mike is walking his bike - like pushing it - because the bike is rickety and beat up. The front wheel is bent. Mike is maneuvering the weathered bicycle up the steps... because he is home. And he is in the market for a new bike."
Well said, my friend.
(If you don't want a scene, it would be best to keep me out of the public eye while Highland Cathedral or Gabriel's Oboe are playing.)
On Wednesday morning we headed back to the Siteman Cancer Center, 3rd Floor Radiology, for a CT chest scan. Only this was a happy scan. A scan that will be our baseline for Dr. Haughey's watchful eye over the coming years. They do not expect anything to show up on the scan - and we certainly pray that nothing like another cancer cell ever shows up again, but continued care involves a yearly CT scan of the chest. Dr. H will not scan Mike's head and neck routinely because he can see and feel everything he needs to with a scope of his neck and physical examination of his neck.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I have stated that I felt starved for his watchful eye and comprehensive care. After an examination of the exterior tissues on Mike's neck, Dr. H said that Mike's tissues are getting supple, the way you want them to become. (He mentioned that sometimes after that kind of damage the tissues can get hard.) This was the first good thing.
Then he put the mini-lighted scope down the back of his throat through his nasal passage to view and access the interior tissues. After expressing the situation in medical terms to Nurse Nicole at the computer, he then told us that everything was 100%. Any side effects were the result of radiation - and NOT cancer. You wanted to ask him to say it again and again! He said there was still some slight swelling on the left side, which was to be expected and which is why Mike still has considerable pain. He explained how radiated tissues are susceptible to trauma, even chewing. Even this was spoken in a 'everything looks great' tone.
Our next step is to get a chest CT scan in the morning as our "baseline". It is standard protocol to have all their patients get one because it is something that they will check every year. While they rarely see any future cancer outbreaks for Mike's type & kind of cancer, this would be the typical place for it to go - so that is where they will be watching.
Then we made an appointment to see Dr. Haughey in four months. We made it for April 3, 2012 which would be just two days short of the anniversary of our first surgery.
The amazing, thrilling, hard-to-even-process thing is that OUR CANCER TREATMENT IS COMPLETED. Thanks be to God.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Did I mention that I am eager for Mike to see Dr. Haughey??
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Let me give you a picture of why this is happening by telling you about his day yesterday: He got up at 4am to do chores and participate in a study at work (ie very physical labor.) After meeting Mollie for breakfast at Memories Cafe he spent the entire afternoon chopping firewood with Scotty Gatewood. Then he did afternoon chores at work (it is his chore weekend) and got home at 8:30pm. Since he still has pain in swallowing, his 1500 calorie diet cannot keep up with the 8000 calories he expended! The good part is that he feels good enough to do all of this.
After waking up in the night to worry about it, I decided that my best plan of action is to PRAY his weight back on... while making sure there is lots of good & healthy food in front of him to eat. I would love to have you PRAY for his rebuilding and strengthening with me.
There. I feel better.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Such an arduous, labor intensive project probably inhibited any weight gain over the weekend, but it did result in a big weight off his shoulders for completing this project!
Friday, December 2, 2011
Be thankful for some of your "soft stuff". It looks like HEALTH to me.
They weighed Mike. He dropped another half pound this week to 158.5. We learned that he actually lost more weight in the four weeks post radiation than during the six weeks of radiation - which makes sense since he was sicker and his pain levels were higher, especially in weeks 7-8. Nurse Cindy gave a great pep talk about doing the hard work of eating - and making your calories count. Dr. Zhen said "it took a long time to feel bad and it will take a long time to heal completely" - but everything looks as expected. He assured Mike that when he comes back in 3 months that he will feel much better! We refilled Mike's prescription for the codeine mouth rinse stuff that makes it possible for him to eat with the pain in his throat. They had all seen Mike's article in the Omaha World Herald which was fun. We appreciate these people dearly but are glad we do not have to come back here on a daily basis. Duh.
Our next Dr. Haughey appointment is December 20th at 1:30pm, as he wants to see Mike six weeks post radiation. We are looking forward to that very much.
Speaking of St. Louis, please join us in praying for Janice (as in our home-way-from-home Tom & Janice) as she has surgery on Monday for breast cancer. They caught it small and early... we are praying that Monday's surgery starts and ends their journey. Like a day-trip cancer ride.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Date: 11/26/11 | Community
Thursday, November 24, 2011
How does this happen now that he has started on real food, you ask? Answer: Now that he does feel better he has started putting in regular work hours and doing his regular (hard) work. Since it is still very painful to eat and move anything down his throat, he has not been able to keep his calorie intake higher than his calorie output.
He was shocked when he stepped on a scale at work two days ago and saw the low number. I wasn't surprised when he told me because I saw it coming. There was marital stress in this equation because I spent considerable time & energy encouraging Mike to "snack" and "eat something now" which all sounded like nagging to him. I saw him working long hours on oatmeal for breakfast and bird-sized portions at meals - since I am guessing that his stomach was the size of a walnut.
I am thankful to write on this Thanksgiving Day that Mike has been able to increase his portions and also eat more regularly around the clock. I am also thankful to say that when I suggest a snack he respects the suggestion and usually says yes. He has a true respect for the importance of caloric intake.
I am mostly thankful for him... and that I still have him around to blog about. Thank You Lord for your loving care and provision for such excellent care for Mike... and for all the loving friends and family who are journeying with us. Amen
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Mike gets an effort medal for "trying" some real food every day this week. Last night I made a 12 Bean Soup thinking that the broth would be comforting (and nutritious.) With every bite Mike's whole body contorted in pain until I said "Stop! Not worth it. Your mouth isn't ready!"
I would say we peaked on the pain and discomfort scale this past weekend - and I could not post the photo of Mike's neck burn then. The Blogger police would report the gore and creepy factor. But by today his outer "wound" looks tamer and it would reason that the inside injuries are turning toward healing now too.
Mike is trying to put in his normal hours at work already. I know that he is so very appreciative of all the support he has gotten from everybody at work.
The eleven days from Friday October 28th (his last radiation treatment) to November 8th went slowly. We were told he could get worse, and he did... but it seems like we are rounding a corner. Finally. Halleujah.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Dr. Martin gave us a realistic goal for baseline survival for the next 5 days while Mike will still be in the "burned throat and mouth condition". She explained that the MINIMUM number of calories he can input is 1000 - because any lower and your body will start feeding on itself. (Not good.) We also learned that the MINIMUM fluid intake is 2000ml (or 66 ounces) before dehydration and all its nasty effects kick in.
Our goal for SURVIVAL MODE is 4 protein drinks and 3 bottles of water per day until Mike's mouth and throat are healed enough to eat more. This is a great plan for the next week or so to "get out of radiation without being in too deep a hole."
Later: Our goal for OPTIMAL HEALING MODE will be 2500 calories per day when the effects of radiation stop taking their toll.
Mike already feels better later today after focusing on his fluid intake. And I already feel better knowing we can make a calorie chart and focus on getting 1000 per day for now. It might sound dumb but I have been worried that too little food / calorie intake could take its toll in other nasty ways.
For the umpteenth time, Dr. Tracie Martin has brought sound medical advice to the table - and we are so thankful for her.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
On Mike's last day of treatment they had their own little celebration. Mike told me he was going to run Scotty's "last mile" with him - to which I said "no, you're not". Duh. But I did say he could ride his bike along side of Scotty while he ran which would fit the MikesLongRide theme and hopefully not deplete more energy than he had.
What would we do without friends? One friend said it well this morning "When you don't have hope, you let the hope of friends carry you." Nancy gave a good analogy that tied right in with Melinda's wonderful Cancer Clde poetry : It is like you were in a huge boxing match in which you max-ed out all your energy & resources. YOU WON the match, but you are still going to be sore and achey for maybe months after. Good analogy. She also said (about the two more weeks of cell death): It is like you are pregnant and expecting your baby to come two weeks early. Mark your calendar for two more weeks so you have realistic expectations. (I don't want to... but I will. November 11 - Veterans Day.)
Did I already tell you that the painters finished the exterior painting of the Thomas house just as Mike was finishing his last treatment? We started these "projects" toegther and ended up finishing them together. Abby and I added the pumpkins yesterday for our first official decoration!
As previously stated, this past weekend was rough. An amazing boost was having Abby bound into the house on Saturday afternoon! She drove from Minneapolis to surprise us and to spend my birthday weekend with me. (I almost cry writing this it was such a huge blessing.) She even took Monday off work to be with me... I soaked up every minute. She brought a care package of my favorite snacks foods, my favorite Dr. L reisling and movies. Just what the doctor ordered.
Much to be thankful for...
Monday, October 31, 2011
He does not realize how weak he has gotten. He is still strong in spirit... but I am the one losing steam. I am the one who sees the pain on his face throughout the day & night. I am the one who sees how much weight he has lost under his baggy clothes (like someone who is starving from the effects of pancreatic cancer.) I am the one who hears him gag on the food he tries to eat. I am the one who puts ointment on that nasty neck burn that keeps draining and changing. I am the one trying to be clever enough to make something he can eat - to no avail.
I miss Mike too. I miss having a glass of wine with him at the end of the day. I miss his boundless energy and stamina. And even though it is very hard, I am glad we get to walk through this hard place together. I was going to say that it was like being with the 80 year old Mike over the weekend, but he will be much more spry and bright-eyed at 80 than this. This is way worse than recovering from surgery in the hospital because the effects drag out 4 times longer. He is more weary. I am more weary. I long for the time when he can put healthy nutrients and fresh food into his body for re-building. Maybe I am down because I can't help very much at this stage... because any food I try to feed him "doesn't work."
Sorry to be Debbie-Downer but I am ready for the turn-around and I don't see it coming. I know this is where faith comes in. I know the Lord is walking with us. I know the Lord is sovereign over even this. I know His plan is good. Thanks for letting me be honest... and down... It is comforting to come to the blog and know that you are praying for us...
Friday, October 28, 2011
We were blessed by the way the staff hung out in the hallway to watch and cheer Mike on. We were blessed that daughter Mallory and best friend Devyn came from Lincoln complete with balloons and party hats. We are relieved to be done.
It was a bit sobering when Nurse Cindy had to pull us aside at the end and remind us that "we will have cell death for two more weeks before regeneration starts" and "the next four weeks are as important for nutrition and rest as these six weeks". Ugh. The last three days of radiation has been so painful that Mike has had tears even trying to eat ice cream through the rest of the day and night. His mouth sores are high on the pain scale. (We take Alleve around the clock and are starting on what they call "miracle mouthwash" which will deaden his mouth sores.) We compared this to finishing Graduate School but still having your thesis to write. Don't get us wrong - we are super duper thankful to be done with these stinkin' radiation treatments. The journey is still very taxing and wearying.
Thank you for riding with us.
Mike has been eye-balling this bell from day one. Today is his day.
Wow. We will truly miss seeing these dear people. We got to be there for each other during a very hard time. (We have some after-parties planned when Mike can eat again!)
During our hospital stay in St. Louis I spend most of my 'waiting' time with you on this blog! But at the UNMC Radiation Center Waiting Room, this piece of needlework has been a huge comfort.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Dr. Zhen and the staff at UNMC say compassionately "That is very bad... but that is normal." The real scary part would be the burn effects on the inside that Mike is feeling.
And in the spirit of Halloween and "dressing up" check out Mike wearing one of the girl's skinny jeans. Really. We were talking about how much weight Mike has lost and the girls handed over a pair of their jeans - and they fit! We thought it was especially funny because after many , many years in military fatigues Mike cannot stand wearing anything tight on his thighs. He walked around the kitchen table while we laughed and realized in spades that Mike is fast approaching his high school wrestling weight of 167.
After treatments this week Mike's mouth is so sore in the evenings that he can only manage ice cream and a protein drink for supper. Poor guy. Tonight he is baking bread for the UNMC staff who have helped him these past six weeks. (He is excited to be able to eat his own bread again.)
Sorry to scare you with the photos... TWO TREATMENTS TO GO!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Mike said a good thing is that the pain inside his mouth and throat distracts him from the pain on his neck - and the pain on his neck distracts him from the pain in his mouth. He is a trooper!
A delightful blessing to our week is that Evian and Bella are staying with us all week. Andrew was out of town, and Evian is the photographer for our church's new pictorial directory and is doing photo sittings all week. Evian's presence is amazingly peaceful and comforting and it is a delight having Bella around.
Party at Storz Radiation Center at UNMC Friday, October 28th at 2:30pm! Mike will be crossing this finish line with tired lines on a thin face - but that face will be beaming.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Mike reminds me that he can manage the treatments and the mask - and the burned exterior skin surfaces - but it is the torched taste buds and swollen throat that make this a struggle. Eating is just plain HARD. We were very disappointed to learn that Mike lost another two pounds today. That is nine pounds since we started with another full week of treatment to go. (To put a little more positive twist on that - ONLY 6 TREATMENTS TO GO!) I would call today the low point for both of us. The rather large one-day weight loss makes me feel like a failure of a caretaker - who can't come up with nutritious high caloric foods "that work". What works one day doesn't go down the next... I feel like I am always encouraging Mike to eat something (because I am)... and remember, favorite foods aren't favorites anymore and sweets almost always turn paste-y in a non-taste bud mouth. It is hard. And trying. And frustrating.
But like I said yesterday - God gives grace - everyday. In the midst of this yucky, icky day we listened to the final chapters of our book Unbroken. Oh my. What a beautiful, amazing finale awaited us. We would like to encourage all of you to read these true life stories of Louis Zamperini and his WWII comrades. It was also fun to see the wonderful new paint colors go on the front of the house - and the painters loved the pizza we treated them to at lunch.
Six treatments to go.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
This week it was compassion from Dr. Zhen who had one nasty canker sore in his mouth and voiced sympathetically that he wasn't sure he could endure the treatments that his patients weather...
And this week it was the joy of a new grandchild in the family when Buck and Holly had their first child - Harper Francis Blanc - on Monday, October 17th. We were able to go straight from our radiation treatment to see the beautiful, tiny little girl - and it was even more fun to see the wonder in the new parents' eyes.
Holding babies is one of Mike's most comforting activities so it was perfect after his treatment.
Mike reached a low point last night when (I don't know how to say this delicately) his broth and tofu noodles didn't stay in when he tried an avocado chaser. Fortunately we can laugh about it today. (You have to laugh...) Speaking of, regarding his neck I heard him say to Kiley today "Yeah, my neck is getting really burned by this week and the skin kind of broke down in a couple places... you know, like when you are roasting a pig and the skin cracks". It sounds more gross than funny when I type it... But even with this, he said he doesn't have pain. His complaint is with the lack of any working taste buds. I think we will both have a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasure of TASTE. So much to be thankful for...
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Before radiation was on our radar we bought tickets to see a live performance of A Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul, Minnesota. When Mike wasn't up for the trip, he encouraged me to go and take Hannah with me (who happened to be on fall break). I came home revived for my Cancer Coordinator role and empowered to help keep Mike's weight up. He will recover faster at the end of this if his body does not have to rebuild pounds along with his cellular regeneration.
I feel like I do not have brain space or time to write well right now, but did want to ask for "help" prayers on the diet front. Sending love to everyone out there...
It was special to have Hannah with us for our treatment yesterday and she took a tour of the radiation room before Mike's treatment. I like this photo because you can see a smile on Mike's face even in the mask. No, Hannah's teeth are not being radiated with the eery green light. That is just the laser light that they use to get Mike lined up on the table exactly and correctly.
Monday, October 10, 2011
We just wanted to encourage you faithful pray-ers out there. It is amazing. It is grace.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
It started with massage therapist Tara Currier's wise counsel to focus on healthy high fat foods when she noticed Mike's weight loss. Then on Friday Dr. Zhen's Nurse Cindy gave Mike another mini-lecture on the importance of getting sufficient calorie intake. (She reminds Mike of a Gunnery Sargent - and she is good. ) She has a way of getting the point across in a powerful way. "OK, so how many calories are you getting?" she says in a rough, loud voice. "I'll be happy with 2000 but I would rather it was 2500." She explains that the reason you limit your activities is so you don't exceed your calorie intake and lose weight, while explaining that as much as possible you want to keep living life. She found on Friday that Mike was even a little dehydrated and said if he couldn't keep enough liquid down she could arrange for an IV. She laughed and shared that was one of her 'power tool' lines that tends to keep people eating & drinking. She is stern, but compassionate and regularly says "head & neck radiation is the hardest thing you will ever do".
The diet scene took a good turn over the weekend after a trip to Kvam Family Farm where I purchased farm fresh free-range eggs, local honey, fresh cream and stewing hens. When I told Mark Kvam that I was coming out for some chickens for broth for Mike, he said that he had stewing hens as well. He explained that the birds were older and basically had more good fat in the broth. And boy was he right! This broth was seriously more substantial - and perfect for Mike! Can you see the good layer of yummy fat on the soup? We also realized that Mike can manage eating lightly scrambled eggs now. This makes getting protein into the boy much easier! He wasn't able to tolerate them before so I can only attribute the difference to - prayers. I also purchased some fresh, sweet cream which I add to everything I can. Last night after broth & scrambled eggs I made a dessert drink. Into the blender went ice cream, fresh sweet cream and malt powder. What emerged was a creation that tasted just like our favorite "Sweet Cream Malt" from Cold Stone Creamery. Go figure. We are on to a few good things!
He was away at a Radiation Medical Conference this past week and we were amazed how much we missed his presence at the Med Center. He was back on Friday and shared that he got to see Dr. Wade Thorstad (our St. Louis radiologist). They will be working on some research together and co-authoring a chapter in a book. He said they had some fun banter since Dr. Z told him that "he tried to send us back to him". He also said that he had not seen Dr. Thorstad in four years and didn't know he was bald already. (We could have told him that.) It was heart warming to me when Dr. Zhen commented that it was hard to be away and is hard for him to relax since he is leaving patients during their treatment cycles. "It is not like a surgeon who finishes their work with the surgical procedure. With radiation the care is on-going." He won my confidence another increment with that.
Round 3 Ding-Ding.
Mike's Long Ride comes out strong, ready to fight
And now Cancer Clyde is scared of his bite!
They begin this round, same as the last,
But Mike's mouth is sore from rounds past.
Mike's Long Ride never gives up, and never gives in,
Because it's this dog fight, Mike is sure to win!
This round will be tough, it'll really test his will
But it's Cancer Clyde which Mike is out to kill!
Mike's Long Ride fans are cherrin' so loud,
They are all here, yellin' in the crowd.
"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. " Galations 2:20
October 4, 2011 --- Tuesday Morning --- 19 Treatments to go...
Mike's Long Ride is tougher than nails,
Cancer keeps coming back but each time fails!!
Mike can beat cancer, there's no doubt
Yes, Cancer-free is the desired route!
So we cheer loud and strong for Mike's Long Ride,
While we boo and hiss for evil Cancer Clyde.
We cheer until this battle Mike has won,
And Cancer Clyde will turn and run!
"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." Malachi 4:2
October 5, 2011 --- Wednesday Morning --- 18 Treatments to go...
The two duke it out , as the fight carries on,
But that Cancer Clyde is an artist of con.
But Mike's Long Ride doesn't take Cancer's guff,
And Mike's proved to us, he's really tough.
Through the rounds, Mike has stood his ground,
With Cancer Clyde they go round and round.
Mike's Long Ride is looking so good and strong
This fight will soon be over, it won't be long!
"Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security." Jeremiah 33:6
October 6, 2011 --- Thursday Morning --- 17 Treatments to go...
A turn for the worse, Cancer Clyde is kickin' butt,
And Mike's Long Ride feels he's in a rut.
As they break to the corners, Mike still can't spit
And his veggie shakes taste like .........*#@**!
His Nazi coach finds a soothing drink to make is mouth froth;
Who would have guessed, it's Japanese Chicken Broth!
This will sustain him and help him through the worst,
Mike will lead this round, yes he will be first!
"Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal." Isaiah 26:4
October 7, 2011 --- Friday Morning --- 16 Treatments to go...
Hallelujah! We are ending Round 3!
And we thank God in heaven on bended knee!
Mike's Long Ride is halfway through this match...
He just needs some food to go down the hatch.
He will finish strong and come out the winner
In no time at all, he'll eat a steak dinner!
During this weekend, Mike will enjoy his break,
You may find him 'livin' it up' on a Protein Shake!
Quote from Smith Wigglesworth: "Faith is such a divine establishment of courage in you that courage sweeps you through every condition: You cannot come into the divine order, except on the line of being soaked in the word of God."
He sets up his Bose iPod port and selects the music that will comfort and distract him. He puts in his bottom retainer (which supposedly helps to deflect the radiation coming off his metal filling) and he crawls up on the table. After he is lined up and in position they snap on the mask which holds his head in place (and perfectly still) during the 20 minutes of treatment where radiation beams work the area at risk for cancer cells. I kiss him and tell him how brave he is. I go back to the waiting room and prayer for him... and needlepoint.
We have grown to enjoy our travel time to and from Omaha. Some days we talk most of the way there and back... and some days we enjoy our travel companions, Jane and Lou. Last week we finished the marvelous story of Jane Eyre (Book-On-Tape) and this past week we started Unbroken, the amazing survival stories of Olympic runner and WWII survivor, Louis Zamperini. Mike says that if Louis can survive ship wrecked at sea for 40-some days eating only seagulls, he can survive six weeks of mouth radiation.
We have also enjoyed our waiting room friends, John and Janice Sheehan. They drive everyday from Sioux City for radiation treatments for a non-cancerous tumor on John's brain. We have grown to anticipate crossing paths with them in the waiting room and are sad if we miss them. John and Mike share mask sympathy and daily check up on each other with simple guy banter. It is encouraging to have such healthy looking people in the waiting room with us because quite honestly some of the people in the waiting room look like they don't have the strength to utter even a greeting. We are thankful for these new friends.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Some of the yucky things are: After this week Mike's taste buds took a hit and his mouth continues to get sorer and dryer. This translates to mealtime being a chore and most often uncomfortable. I try to come up with foods that will appeal and deliver a high nutrition value but feel like I have to sit down with a picky toddler who is not interested in eating. I offer a protein malt "if you eat your cheese and edamame." The burns inside his mouth are expected to turn into solid white sores this week. (Sorry for the details.) The doctor tries to prep us for what is coming and it helps to hear him say that this is temporary, that his taste buds will eventually return, and that his right salivary gland will compensate eventually for the loss of the left one.
The photo shows some of the little things we do to try to bring Mike some relief. Kelp is helpful for absorbing free radicals so we are trying Trader Joe's Wasabi Seaweed Snacks. Yum. My wonderful massage therapist (at The Little House Day Spa) made up a special oil for Mike's neck before & after his treatments made from rose hip oil & vitamin e. The radiation does burn his skin on the outside too so a nourishing moisturizer is a must. The doctor recommended a salt water or baking soda rinse to keep Mike's mouth cleansed, so we are using Himalayan sea salt. The fun part is that we bought it in Ireland at Colin Farrell's dad's vitamin store in Dublin. I had been saving it and it seems special to use it for this. All of these "little things" somehow feel a bit comforting and have became part of our daily routine.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
September 22, 2011 --- Thursday Morning --- 27 Treatments to Go...
There once was a guy named Mike
Who loved to ride his bike.
He peddled all the way to the city
For a little radiation-ditty.
Twenty seven treatments to go
But we can have fun, you know...
So as you guessed, this rhyme is not done
I'll be adding to it Until your battle you have won!
September 23, 2011 --- Friday Morning --- 26 Treatments to Go...
One more treatment down and 26 to go
The laser staff you'll really get to know.
We focus on the great things that happened this week,
Like the weather that's been exceptionally sweet.
It's easy for me to say as I go about my day,
"Hang in there, you'll be okay."
The truth is, it's difficult;
Harder than I think.
But remember James 1;
without it you will sink!
Enjoy your weekend, lift your spirits a-new
And come Monday you'll be ready for Round 2
September 26, 2011 --- Monday Morning --- 25 Treatments to Go...
Ding-Ding Round 2
In one corner is the riegning champ, Mike's Long Ride
In the other corner is the contender, Cancer Clyde.
The bell sounds and they dance to the center of the ring.
We know that Mike's gonna whip this Cancer thing.
Cancer throws a blow to the left side
But Mike's right there, no... he won't hide!
Round and round they jab and punch
Mike's gonna win, I have a hunch!
September 27, 2011 --- Tuesday Morning --- 24 Treatments to Go...
Mike's Long Ride wears a mask to protect his head...
Just so Cancer Clyde won't knock him dead.
The mask may be tight, an uncomfortable fit.
But remember it protects from Cancer's evil hit!
So you don't feel good, in fact you feel like crap...
You must get your rest, so go take a nap!
We know for certain that Cancer doesn't stand a chance -
And soon Mike's Long Ride Fans will be doing a happy dance.
"But seek first His kingdom and his righteiousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
September 28th, 2011 --- Wednesday Morning --- 23 Treatments to Go...
Mike's Long Ride and Cancer Clyde go at it some more,
But Mike won't quit - not til Cancer hits the floor!
Cancer thinks that he's "all that"
Mike's here to say "I'm up to bat!"
Mike declares that cancer's done
Mike's gonna it a Grand Slam Home Run!
Mike yells "Get out of here and don't come back!"
"Cancer" he screams "you ain't worth Jack!"
September 29th, 2011 --- Thursday Morning --- 22 Treatments to Go...
Cancer Clyde throws a pretty hard hit,
So Mike heads to the corner to try to spit,
But Cancer Clyde cuts straight to the heart,
Now Mike's mouth is drier than a popcorn fart.
No worries; Mike can handle whatever comes his way,
He'll just keep bottled water with him every day!
Cancer Clde thinks he is sooo very cool,
Especially when Mike can't even drool!
Mike's Long Ride has never for a day felt
That Cancer would win the Championship Belt!
September 30th, 2011 --- Friday Morning --- 21 Treatments to Go...
Well time is ticking; Round 2 is just about done
And Mike's Long Ride, this round, has won!
Cancer Clyde will no doubt come out strong in Round 3;
But Mike's Long Ride will meet him with glee!
We are to 'consider it pure joy for the trials we face'
'Cuz all this testing really strengthens our faith.
So take a deep breath and finish this round strong -
Come Monday you'll be ready when you hear the ding-dong!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
In light of all of this, I thought that the calendar that Jackie Shumake made for Mike at work is especially appropriate. Since we are in the middle of a battle with cancer, Jackie found a collection of military stickers. Every day on his way out the door to treatment Jackie hands him a sticker to mark another day in the radiation trenches. (We are so very thankful for the support of all kinds that Mike gets at work.)
This is the first day that I have not accompanied Mike into Omaha. Daughter Evian met him in Fremont and drove in with him so that I could have The Little House Day Spa open today. It is actually very hard not to be there with him. I am trying to use the time well between our appointments. I have been kind of emotional today. It is a unique time. Thank you for your continued prayers as we fight this thing called cancer.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
On Monday at noon, Mike was getting ready to leave work for UNMC for his first treatment. While he clocked out he was applying some chapstick. Scotty said "That's not going to help." Nephew Cole added "Yeah, you need like SPF 1000."
Mike's favorite thing to say on Tuesday (to anyone who would listen) was "Today is #2... and it feels like #2." Smile. He added that Wednesday would be the 'turd' treatment
Then we have sister Melinda who wrote a poem in honor of today. It is entitled "27 Treatments to Go - 9/21/11"
There once was a guy named Mike... who loved to ride his bike.
He pedaled all the way to the city... for a little radiation-ditty.
Twenty-seven treatments to go... but we can have fun, you know.
So as you guessed, this rhyme is not done. I'll be adding to it until the battle is won!
I heard Mike say to his sister on the drive home: "It's freaky. It kind of freaked me out. I had to have them unsnap the mask a couple times to cut a hole to make it bearable." The photo above shows how tight the mask over his face and head is - the marks show for a good 10 minutes after he comes out. I got a little freaked out when I went into the room before he started to bring him a CD and could see a figure on the table covered with a blanket wearing Mike's shoes with his head attached to the table via a white mask. It is unsettling, especially when they make me leave the room and I could not see that he is comfortable.
Within minutes after his treatment started I did feel a blanket of peace that I can only attribute to the prayers of the saints. As I prayed, God gave me words to ask for Warrior Angels to stand beside Mike and filter any harmful thing away from him. When I heard that the mechanisms on the machine that direct the dosage of radiation are called "feathers", I got even more encouraged to pray that the feathered wings of the Mighty Spiritual Warriors would filter and protect Mike from any harmful radiation.For the first week Mike has a CT scan in addition to the radiation (to confirm that everything is lined up correctly) so he is masked for about 30 minutes. It will be slightly less time in the mask starting the second week without the scan. On the first day (and every Monday) we meet with Dr. Zhen. This Monday he reviewed images of Mike's treatment plan with us. The top photo shows that every time a radiation dose is given, it is in five different gradations from heavy (darkest) to light (lightest.) The middle photo shows the location of the radiation dosage from one angle. Believe me, your understanding of all this is about the same as ours. We are comforted that they attempt to be very precise.
Thanks for journeying with us. The encouragement and prayer support are palatable.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
We established some simple guidelines:
-Radiation five days a week
-Physical Therapy M-W-F (en route home from Omaha)
-Anytime Fitness Workout 3 times / week
-Massage once a week
-An even stronger emphasis on healthy diet with concentration of protein shakes, protein snacks (string cheese & Greek yogurt) - and reducing / eliminating coffee intake
We like the focus on health (instead of cell death). It is a good focus to keep Mike's muscle strength up, and diet is critical because losing weight is a concern with mouth radiation. We are writing this on the blog because it strengthens our resolve. And because basically we covet prayers for all of this.
Let's start HEALTH CAMP!
At the beginning of each Prairie Home Companion show, guests are encouraged to write comments / greetings to the host and they select some for Garrison Keillor to read aloud on the air during the broadcast. This is the second time they have read Mike's on the air! The first was last October when Mike asked for "God's Speed and protection for Marine son Baker Blanc as he left for Afghanistan" - and if you listened to the broadcast this weekend you heard Garrison read "And Mike & Karen happily welcome our Marine son home after a tour in Afghanistan - thanks for keeping your head down."
I thought I would tell you what I wrote:
"Husband Mike starts radiation treatments on Monday, but I think the best way to cure cancer is a big dose of Prairie Home Companion - so here we are. Mike & Karen Blanc Oakland, Nebraska". Even though GK didn't read it on the air, I thought you could read it on the blog. smile.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I cannot help believing that Dr. Zhen is feeling your prayers and guidance for the perfect plan for Mike. I am glad to think much time, energy and thought is being put into Mike's plan. Please keep praying... we are humbled and blessed to know there are prayers being lifted up for us - and guiding the doctors.
Monday, September 12, 2011
On Friday Mike had a CT scan and had his radiation mask made. The CT scan will be used along with the pre-surgery CT scan to map Mike's treatment area. The mask is used to hold his head tightly and securely in place during the radiation treatments (so he doesn't move his head and have radiation shot some random place we wouldn't want it to go.) The bottom photo was taken by the nurse right after the mask was formed around Mike's face and they are cooling it with towels to harden it faster. Mike's comment was comforting to me: "I like the mask for the reason that it will keep my head perfectly still. If they told me to 'hold still' on my own I am not sure I could do it." He did say it was even hard to swallow in it because it is so tight. (I get light headed just writing that.)
We start our treatments this Thursday, September 15th at 2:15pm. And we will have them five days a week for six weeks. The 2:15 time slot was picked because 1.) Mike wants to go to work every morning whenever possible and 2.) there is a certain machine that they want to use that is available at that time. We got to visit the room where Mike's treatments will be administered. The walls and ceiling are painted like it is a tranquil outdoor setting. There is an iPod port so Mike said he is starting with Alan Jackson's Hymns CD to be playing in the background. They said we should plan on about 20 minutes treatment time every day. That allows for getting on the table, and the machine starting, stopping, and changing positions, etc..
-For the Dosimetrist & Dr. Zhen this week as they design the actual treatment plan. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT. This is what determines exactly what gets radiated and from what angles and for how long. The Dosimetrist is the person who actually designs the plan - the one who avoids the critical structure and targets only the potentially cancer-laden areas. Dr. Zhen works with him and sets up the fractions per day and the total dose. Please join us to pray for these critical decisions.
-And for inner and outer strength for Mike. For effective radiation with as few side effects as possible. For "not a scratch to be found on him" at the end. (Daniel 6:23)