Thursday, April 29, 2010

Still going good!

Hello! There is not much to blog about today, but I wanted to keep everybody updated. Mark is still doing great with Chemo and radiation. He has not had any side effects from the chemo still and he is getting tired from the radiation, but we can continue to deal with that. Mark really likes his radiation technicians, and they are going to let me go back tomorrow to show me the machine and show me Mark’s mask he has to wear and explain how it works. That will be interesting! We have been receiving many cards and packages and we want to say thank you so much to everybody for those. You will never know how much that means to us. What a blessing!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Encouragement from God

I posted this on facebook tonight, and I just wanted to be sure to include it in the blog as well...

As we are dealing with Mark's brain cancer and now having to be away from our home and our boys during his treatment, I find it easy to get discouraged. I try to keep my focus on Christ, and He helps me stay focused on Him. I have been reminded of His love for me through all the sweet notes of encouragement from family and friends, all the prayers spoken for our family, all of the blessings received via meals, phone calls, etc. A major way that God has spoken to me is through songs. It seems like everytime I really needed an answer from Him, I would get in the car and a song would be playing that comforted me, answered a question, or made my heart swell with joy. I just wanted to copy the lyrics to a couple of those special songs so that I can look at them anytime I need to and also for others who might benefit from these words. (I am thinking especially of my sweet friend, Kami, right now as her husband is also fighting for his life)

"Healing Hand Of God"

I have seen the many faces,
I fear in the pain.
I have watched the tears fall plenty,
From heart ache and strength.
So if life's journey,
Has you weary and afraid.
There's rest in the shadow of his wings.
I have walked through the valleys,
The mountains and plains.
I have held the hand of freedom,
It washes all my stains.
If you feel the weight of many trials,
And burdens from this world.
There's freedom in the shelter of the Lord.

I have seen,
The healing hand of God,
Reaching out and mending broken hearts.
Taste and see the fullness of His peace,
And hold on to what's being held out.
The healing hand of God.

I have touched the scars upon His hands,
To see if they were real.
He has walked the road before me,
He knows just how I feel.
When you feel there is not anyone,
Who understands your pain,
Just remember all of Jesus' suffering

Cast all your cares on Him,
For He cares for you.
He's near to the broken and confused.
By His stripes,
Our spirit is renewed.
So enter in the joy prepared for you.

"Mountain Of God"

Thought that I was all alone
Broken and afraid
But You were there with me
Yes, You were there with me

And I didn't even know
That I had lost my way
But You were there with me
Yes, You were there with me

'Til You opened up my eyes
I never knew
That I couldn't ever make it
Without You

Even though the journey's long
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who's gone before me
He will help me carry on
After all that I've been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God

As I travel on the road
That You have lead me down
You are here with me
Yes, You are here with me
I have need for nothing more
Oh, now that I have found
That You are here with me
Yes, You are here with me

I confess from time to time
I lose my way
But You are always there
To bring me back again

Sometimes I think of where it is I've come from
And the things I've left behind
But of all I've had, what I possessed
Nothing can quite compare
With what's in front of me
With what's in front of me

Doing Good!

There is not too much to post about this time. Things are going really well here in Houston. We have gotten into our routine here. I told Mark is feels like we are newlyweds again – living in an apartment and no kids.  We have been so blessed with people brining us meals that I’m really missing that now that we are here in Houston.  I’ve been making good use of our full kitchen in our furnished apartment. We did receive several gift cards for eating out, so we just rotate between using those and going to the grocery store and buying food for me to cook here. It’s working out really good.
Mark is still doing great with his treatments. He gets pretty tired and needs to rest a lot, but other than that, he’s not having any side effects. He still has his hair and he has not been sick to his stomach or anything. That’s a wonderful blessing! He had blood work done this morning, but we don’t know the results of that yet. I’m not sure that we will be told unless there is a problem with it, and then they would need to add or change some things.
We got to see our boys over the weekend. That was great! We took them to the Children’s Museum here. We had a good time there and just loved spending time with them. We picked up supper and rented a movie that evening. The next morning we had breakfast with them before they headed back to Frisco with Mark’s mom and his brother, John.
Mark’s parents said things went pretty good during the week that they were keeping them at our house. My mom is taking care of them this week. Carter does cry because he misses us, but I think it will get better as he gets used to us not being there. Colin is struggling with his faith right now. It’s hard for adults to understand why such bad things can happen to such a wonderful man, so just imagine how a 6 year old gets frustrated with not understanding it. We will just continue to pray for Colin during this time while we are praying for a miracle for his daddy.
I believe that is all that I needed to post about this time. Thank you all so much for the continued prayers!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebration with a Cancer Family

We met a really nice family in the radiation waiting room this week. Their adult son has cancer and today was his last day of radiation. At MD Anderson, when you finish treatment, you get to ring a bell and people clap and cheer for you. We went early this morning so that we could watch Brian ring the bell. It was so neat to get to be with this special family to help them celebrate this accomplishment. Brian will be having a major surgery in the middle of June that is expected to be 12 hours long with 5 surgeons. Please pray for this family as you are praying for Mark also.

My last post was more of an update than anything, so I just wanted to do another quick post to be sure to express our recent blessings. We found out that our housing expenses will not be covered, but we are being blessed by friends doing a fund raiser for us. It is so amazing to me that people are willing to help us out in this way, and they will never know how much it is appreciated! Also, Mark’s treatment is very expensive. We got the bill from just the hospital part of his surgery and it was $56,000! His chemo pills for 1 month cost over $12,000! So, I cannot express our thankfulness and how blessed we feel for our WONDERFUL medical insurance! God has certainly looked out for us in the area. Although we have to pay for it, the place we are renting is excellent for us. We have a full size kitchen so we have been able to prepare most meals here which cuts down on costs of food tremendously. The lady in charge of these apartments, Wendy, is so very nice. She drives us to the hospital each day and picks us up when we are finished with Mark’s treatment. That way we don’t have to pay for parking and it is so convenient! We are close to places where we can rent movies so we have some restful entertainment each day. We are very blessed with how well Mark is handling treatment! He is a little tired from Radiation treatments and his head hurts a little bit, but other than that he feels fine. He has not been sick to his stomach at all with the Chemo! We are so thankful for that. We see a lot of cancer patients here who have things really tough and it makes us really appreciate how well Mark is doing, thanks to God’s healing hand. We are also blessed with our amazing friends and family who do anything for us and are willing to take care of things for us so that we have nothing to worry about while we are here. So, those are a few of our recent blessings. Thank you again for all of your prayers and words of encouragement!

Monday, April 19, 2010

First Day Of Radiation

I’m sorry it’s been a few days since my last update. We’ve had quite a whirlwind last few days! We drove to Houston last Monday night for Mark’s appointment on Tuesday morning at MD Anderson. We spent HOURS at the hospital meeting with many different doctors. Mark decided that he for sure wanted to do treatment with them, so we got things set for that. He did his simulation with the radiation team so that he would be all ready to start today. They wanted Mark to keep his appointments he had that Wednesday, so we drove home last Tuesday night after he finished everything at the hospital. We went to his appointment with his local Neuro-Oncologist Wednesday morning. We really liked her. She showed us his post-op MRI and that there were a couple of places “lit up” on it. She said they could possibly be tumors, so she felt like it would be important for Mark to get another MRI before treatment started. She knows Mark’s radiation Dr. at MD Anderson really well, so she called her. We got a call about an hour later from a nurse at MDA telling Mark that he needed to go there right away for an MRI. His dad offered to drive him there because I could not miss the doctor’s appointment I had scheduled the next day with my Neurosurgeon. So, I called to cancel the appointment he had that afternoon with the neurologist and he headed back to Houston for the 2nd time in 2 days. He had his MRI that night and then came back the next morning. We still haven’t gotten the results from that scan. He has an appointment each Tuesday, so we will hopefully find out this morning about that when he meets with her. We are now in Houston and getting settled into our temporary apartment. It’s pretty nice and very close to the hospital and several food places. There is a shuttle from here that we can take to and from the hospital. That will help us to avoid any parking fees.
In other news, I did have my appointment with my neurosurgeon last week. He says I NEED to have surgery on my back right away. He asked me about having surgery here in Houston, but I just don’t feel like that would be in Mark’s best interest right now. The doctor is just worried about permanent damage. He said the longer I wait for surgery, the more chance there is of scarring to happen and then I could continue to have this pain even after they do the surgery. I certainly don’t want that, but I just don’t feel like I have a choice right now. I promised him that I would make an appointment as soon as I get back from Houston and then get the surgery scheduled. So, I am just staying medicated now to deal with the pain until I get back home and can have the surgery.
Mark’s first day of radiation went well. He said it was kind of strange, but he did fine. He has tolerated his Chemo really well so far. He has had no sickness, so I pray that continues for his whole treatment. We are going to rent a DVD or two today after his treatment for us to watch tonight. It’s so strange to have so much quiet time. We are really missing the boys already. I am excited for this weekend to get here so we can see them. We are planning on going to the aquarium here on Saturday. I know the boys will just love that. Well, I guess that I will end this for now. It’s time for us to start getting ready to leave for today’s treatment. Thank you for continuing to pray for us!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

MD Anderson

We got an appointment for Mark at MD Anderson this coming Tuesday! We will be leaving on Monday so that we can be there for an 8:30 appointment Tuesday morning. Mark is so excited! This is the most hopeful I have seen him since his diagnosis, so it is very exciting for me as well. Mark is supposed to be getting his stitches out on Tuesday, so I will have to change that appointment. We are keeping his appointments here on Wednesday with the neuro-oncologist and his neurologist, so we will have to come back Tuesday evening. Then we will make our decision about what to do once we have all of the information we need. Mark has really decided that if MDA will accept him, he wants to do his treatment there instead of here. There would be a lot of benefits to doing that even if it was the same treatment plan as here. Although it would be really hard for us to be away from the boys for so long, it would probably be safer for Mark to be away from them. For example, the boys both have a virus right now, and during Chemo that would be dangerous for Mark. Mark's parents have offered to take care of the boys while we are gone if we end up going to Houston for an extended amount of time. They said they would bring the boys to us on the weekends, which is just so incredibly nice! I can't wait until Tuesday to find out for sure what we will be doing so that we can get all of the plans in order for that trip. We have read many encouraging things about what MDA offers for cancer paitents. We want to try the best of everything and have no regrets even if it means we have to make some financial and emotional sacrifices.

I talked to my doctor about my back and he wants me to have the surgery right away, but if we go to Houston, that will just not be at all possible for right now. I really don't want to have the surgery until Mark is recovered from his treatment anyway, so I have to see if I can get him to work with me on pain management until then.

I had my last day at CLC so that I can be with Mark for all of his treatment. I am really going to miss my kids there, but I know this is what I need to do. I am praying for him to recover quickly so that I can return when it starts back in the Fall.

We have not told the boys yet about the cancer. I know that is something that they will not be able to really comprehend, so I don't know how/what to tell them. I want to see if I can find some books or something with ideas on what to say and how to explain it to them.

Mark has started to open up some about his feelings. He kept it all to himself for a long time and he just finally told me some of his fears and the things he has been praying about and thinking about. I think I might look for some specialized counceling for us to go to as well.

I have had my moments of crying since we got the pathology news, but Thursday was the most emotional day for me yet. I'm not sure why, but I could not stop crying that day. I cried hard for several hours straight. I didn't want the boys to worry, so I spent some time just sitting on the front porch letting the tears flow. I finally got myself together and I've been doing much better since then. Now I'm in a determined stage I guess. I just keep telling Mark how we are going to fight our hardest against this cancer and that we are going to pray continually for a miracle.

It's been difficult, but the blessings have continued. We are still being covered in love and prayers. Meals are still coming on a regular basis so that we don't have to worry about cooking. My mom researched and brought us the information about MD Anderson that led us to call them and get an appointment. We are still getting cards and calls from people to let us know that they are praying for us. People are offereing to help in any way they can, including to help take care of the boys, which is what we will be needing most during Mark's treatment. A fundraiser has been set up for us, which is just amazing! We have not had to worry about finances recently, but we are not totally certain about all of the financial matters since Mark will be going on short term disability soon, so the fundraiser is an amazing blessing! Mark is still doing better and better each day. He can walk really well now and doesn't need any more assistance getting around. He still has no pain, and he has had no seizures since the surgery. Mark's parents have done so much for us, especially helping us with the boys and with staying with Mark when I need to do things.

Although this has been a very hard time for our family, we have not lost faith. We know that God is in control and we are excited to see exactly what good He is going to bring from our struggle!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pathology Results

I will update later to add more details, but for now, I just wanted to let everybody know that we got a call from the doctor yesterday about the pathology results and it is brain cancer. It is glioblastoma and Mark will be starting Chemo and Radiation Therapy soon. He has an appointment with a neuro-oncologist next week to find out more information and get started with the treatments.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Home again!

It’s pretty good to be back home. :) There are a couple more challenges with being home than being at the hospital, but it is much more comfortable for sure! Mark isn’t ready to sleep in our bed just yet, so he slept in the recliner in the living room and I slept on the couch next to him so that I could help with anything he needed during the night. We will probably keep this arrangement for the next couple of days.
Colin is at school today and Carter is home with us. I have to work on getting some things done today. One thing is to make a calendar for all of Mark’s medications. He has to take his pain meds, a steroid, 2 anti-seizure meds, a special mouth wash, and occasionally an anti-anxiety med.
The boys are happy to have their daddy home, but it is a little difficult for them too. Mark cannot handle noise or too much movement around him, so it makes it hard for the boys to be boys. They really try to be on their best behavior. They have said some more things that are pretty funny. One thing is that when they went to the hospital, they came in the room and saw Mark with the bandage on his head. Colin seemed a little uneasy about that, so he backed up to me and said, “Mommy, did they cut Daddy’s head off?” Yesterday, when my friend Lisa brought Carter home from CLC, she reminded him to be quiet when he got inside. He said to her, “That’s ok. We can be wild now because Daddy got that thing out of his head.” This is just so hard to make an almost 5 year old understand!
We were blessed with a few more sweet friends coming to visit us at the hospital. Since it was so far away, we were not expecting to get visitors, so we were amazed at the number of people that came to show their love. It was very nice!
There was a moment yesterday after we got home, that things were difficult for us. Mark was trying to tell me something, but he just couldn’t communicate it to me. He has some struggles with his thinking now, which we know will get better over time, but it makes him very frustrated that he can’t think of the words to say. He got upset with me that I didn’t know what he wanted, so I got my feelings hurt and couldn’t hold back the tears. He felt really bad about that. He is the one that had the major brain surgery, but it has been more difficult on me than I ever would have imagined. I do know that God will lead us through this time and I have to learn how to deal with things like this.
My mom blessed us with a meal last night, and we had a huge blessing from Colin’s Kindergarten Class. The students each made a card for Mark. They were so cute and some were just hilarious! They used phonetic spelling and drew cute pictures of hospital stuff. We will treasure those forever.
I have been taking pictures all along the way so that I can do a scrapbook to chronicle this whole journey. Maybe I will post some pictures soon. I took a picture of Mark’s head when his bandage was off, but he doesn’t want to see it yet.
We are hoping to hear from pathology soon. I hate waiting! Maybe it will be today. I’ll post as soon as we know anything though.