Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reunited in Houston

I've been a bad blog poster.  I'm sorry about that!

We are "counting" these days.  Today, the number 10 is significant.  That's the number of radiation treatments Noonie has remaining.  She's had 15 so far and is doing very well.  She  is, however, feeling "sunburn" from the inside out, and she still has a couple more weeks of treatments.  Please continue to pray for her.

We were so close to the Houston Thanksgiving Parade, we were
able to bike there.  Had a doggone good time!
I arrived here in Houston for Thanksgiving and I'll be here until Wednesday.  Our days together here have been relaxing and enjoyable, especially since Noonie has had the weekend off from treatments.

We are so grateful for my niece, Allison, who has been a part of this journey since the beginning. Thanks to her employment as a PA at MD Anderson, that has facilitated things much easier for Noonie to get treatment here.  It is a blessing beyond words.  In addition, Noonie has been staying with her (and so have I) during the treatment periods.

We also counted the number of trips we have made here for various treatments and appointments since March.  It has been five.

Two weeks from today, December 10, Noonie will begin her trip home.  I will be flying down to join her for the drive.  This Christmas will be extremely special for us as we come to the end of a year that has been both trying and God filled.  As we replay this year in our minds, we are already overwhelmed in so many ways.

Above all, we are grateful that the cancer has been disappearing.  We know that so many of you have been praying.  Thank you!

May you be as blessed as we are this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Another Hurdle Crossed ... and Great News!

The view from the pulpit  before the
service.  I didn't feel right snapping
pictures while I spoke. :)
This past weekend, we had the opportunity to speak at a log cabin church near Estes Park, Colorado.  I shared about the ministry of Reach Beyond in Nepal, while Noonie had the chance to thank the congregation for their faithful prayers for her this year.  Yes, even in the mountains of Colorado we've been supported in prayer.



In our last post, it was surgery day and Noonie came through it so well.  She was in the hospital overnight and was amazingly energetic the next day.  We even had a nice Mexican food lunch!

That's why I was dumbfounded when she fainted the next morning.  Yes, she was thrown for a loop, but so was I.  I know nothing about emergency care, so I did what I see on TV-- I called her name loudly.  I started calling 911 when she came to.  I did take a few hours before Noonie felt like getting up and walking around.

Amazingly, we flew out later that day and her energy rose as the day went along.

Here's some miraculous news.  We got the biopsy back from the surgery a few days ago.  The surgeon removed 29 lymph nodes and NONE had any cancer!  Whatever was there is gone.  We cried when we heard the news.  It was totally shocking.  Not that we didn't expect God to heal, but hearing it plain and simple as that was incredible.

Noonie does move on to the next phase of treatment... radiation.  This will kill any tiny cancer cells that may remain.  She has several months of herceptin, an antibody which attacks her specific form of cancer.  There is no side effect to that, and it takes about 90 minutes to infuse, every three weeks through June.

We are rejoicing!  God showed up in a big way.  Thank you for your prayers, love and support.

We head to Houston on September 25.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Surgery Day

I'm sitting alongside Noonie in her hospital room as she recovers from surgery.  She is sleepy but more and more alert as each hour goes by.

Looking good after surgery.

Our day started dark and early with a wake-up "call" (our alarm) at 4:00 am.  We had to be at MD Anderson Cancer Center at 5:30 for Noonie's surgery. 

We are so thankful for our niece, Allison, who has been our confidant, guide and advisor during Noonie's seven-month ordeal.  She is a P.A. in the breast cancer clinic at MD Anderson.  She has led the way for us to assure we get the best treatment possible.

Allison's girls, Lilly (top) and Delaney (bottom)
surprised Noonie last night with a pre-surgery
cake that said "Stay Strong."

Today treatment was no exception.  Noonie's surgeon was Dr. Kelly Hunt, the chair of the Breast Cancer Surgical Oncology Department at MD Anderson.  Allison is her P.A.

Of course, we were a little nervous as we walked into the unknown.  But I am proud of my wife, who has exhibited so much courage through the whole process with its many hurdles, both physical and emotional.  Today, Noonie looked peaceful and upbeat.

That's amazing, because yesterday she had ten hours or consultations, tests and procedures.  We left the Center after 6 pm.

The surgery went very well.  Noonie was here to have lymph nodes removed in the area where her cancer was discovered.  We were praying that not many would be removed, because the side effects in the future can be bad.  She did have quite a few removed, but Dr. Hunt was confident that all the cancerous lymph nodes are now gone.  Pathology will give us the official report in about a week.

Noonie will be here overnight.  We plan to fly home Thursday late afternoon.  Please pray for her recovery to be smooth.  She has kept the pain under control and we want that to continue.  Pray for her healing over the next couple weeks especially.

We return to Houston in a month for the beginning of a six or seven week stretch of radiation.

Thank you for your love and prayers during this time.  We are experiencing God's goodness and presence.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Chemo is Behind Us

Yesterday morning, Noonie and I rang the bell, celebrating the end of her chemo treatments.  The moment came and went so fast that it seems surreal.

We are joined by two of Noonie's nurses as she rings
the bell to celebrate.  The moment was captured by
Noonie's long-time friend, Robin Soles, who is
visiting from California.  She was able to be with
Noonie for this final chemo treatment.

We are thankful for your prayers and encouragement and love all along the way.  Noonie has felt so cared for and embraced by so many in this journey.  God has used His people, our friends, to be there for us.

She just learned from the doctor Thursday that she has had “an exceptional response in erasing the tumors.”  The doctor said she can expect a 95% chance of cure.  The norm is 65%.  You can imagine what joy that news brought us!

From here, Noonie has lymph node surgery on September 27 at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  That will be followed by radiation there for 6 weeks beginning about the first of November.

She will also be receiving the amazing antibody Herceptin through June of next year.  This is administered by IV, but has no side effects.  It is truly a miracle drug that attacks any remnants of the specific type of cancer Noonie has, which is an aggressive cancer.  Many thousands of lives have been saved by Herceptin in the past decade.

In fact, full-length feature movie was released about it called "Living Proof," starring Harry Connick, Jr. We'd highly recommend you watch it.  Extremely educational and entertaining.

https://youtu.be/naoGR2FNqwc

Thanks for walking through this with us.  It has meant so much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Break We Needed


 
This isn't a fire.  It's sunset from our backyard, a reminder of God's power, majesty and creativity.  We notice things like this in the season we are experiencing.

We haven't been too good about updating recently, and we apologize.  We know that so many people are praying for Noonie and you need to know what to pray for.

If you're counting with us, you know that Noonie has had five of the eight chemo treatments.  The last one has caused more lasting side effects than the others.  It is kind of disappointing, because she is off the harder chemo drugs.  But there is nothing predicable about this, as we've learned.

Both sons were in town for Father's Day!  Tommy is on the left (he lives here)
and Travis, on the right, came in as part of a cross-country stopover.
Thankfully, by God's grace, we had planned a week away to get rest and relaxation.  Some call it a vacation, and yes it is.  With Noonie pretty much needing to take it easy, the timing is perfect and the location is perfect for that.  It is indeed a getaway. 

Noonie's next chemo is Friday, July 22.  Many of you have marked your calendars for chemo prayer days, so you might be surprised at the 22nd.  Well, the two most recent scheduled dates were pushed back because of low white blood cell count, which means all future ones were pushed back. 

If you want to mark your calendars again, you can mark them for July 22, August 12 and September 2.  So, Noonie should be done by Labor Day.  Praise the Lord!

What we've learned through this is that life is on hold.  You can't predict how Noonie will feel and which days are going to be "good" ones and which are going to be "bad" ones. Once we seem to have it figured out, we're humbled. 

In spite of this, we have sensed God's immeasurable peace. I have to admit, though, that we needed this week vacation and needed it now.  Thank you Lord.

Pray for Noonie's encouragement.  This wears on her.  She is such an active, vibrant person.  When the curve ball comes, it's hard.  Especially when it comes again and again.  I'm proud of her, as I know you are.  And she needs our support and prayers and encouragement throughout the chemo season.

Thank you!

Jon with Roman and Aria at the 4th of July parade in nearby
Monument.  It started with an F-16 flyover, which was extremely cool.
Actually it started with a pancake breakfast, which we thoroughly
enjoyed.  It was grandpa's outing with these two wonderful grandchildren.

Monday, June 6, 2016

At the halfway point, we thank you for your prayers

We showed up at the medical center bright and early this morning at 8:00 for Noonie's fourth chemo treatment.

Everything went smoothly and we left just after noon.  We are so thankful to have this treatment behind us, the fourth of eight. These first four are likely to be the hardest, so we're hoping for an easier road for Noonie from here.

However, I have to admit that she has been stellar through this.  The week after chemo slows her down considerably, but watching her regain her energy is so encouraging.  In fact, in the week before chemo we both kind of forget she is a cancer patient.

Emails and cards have been coming in from all over, and we know that these represent people who love Noonie and are praying.  In reality, hundreds of people are probably praying.  We thank God for you and we thank God for His intervention.

As I mentioned in the last post. we found out last week that the doctor cannot feel the tumor in her lymph node, so the cancer is shrinking quickly!  May God rid her of it completely.

A week from today, we leave for Houston for consultations and other appointments at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  We will be there for three days, with two flying days on either end.  We'll be meeting to talk through the post-chemo steps as we walk through this season.

Tonight, Noonie is resting.  Hopefully a good night of sleep will give her strength for tomorrow.  Every day is an adventure.

Thank you again for your prayers.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Postponed

For the first time since our cancer season, Noonie and I
were able to take a couple days away to unplug from things.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is just five hours south of us, so we
went there for a couple days over Memorial Day Weekend.
We didn't take this train there, but it is a pretty cool machine.
 
Yesterday was supposed to be the halfway point of Noonie's chemo treatment, but that will have to wait a few days.

Her white blood cell count was too low, so they have delayed treatment until Monday-- hopefully.  She goes in for another blood test today to see if the count came up... which the doctor expects.

But there is great news to share in the midst of this!  The two tumors in her lymph node are gone!  Praise God.  The chemo has shrunk them to the point that they can't be felt anymore.  We are thankful the treatments are working.

The strange but good thing is that despite the low white blood cell count, Noonie feels great.  In the past week, she has gone on a two hour bike ride, swam a mile and has taken numerous walks with Biscuit.  The doctor said to keep it up.

Thanks for your continued prayers as she goes through the next cycle.  After how the last one turned out (the after-effects came two or three days later), we are not sure what to expect.