Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great Day with Great Results!

Today was a super tiring day, but in the end, it was all good! Mark had his profusion MRI this morning at Baylor North Park. He did fine with it since he had taken some medication to calm his nerves. Once he went back, the tears fell for me, but my mom was with me and comforted me and then I was much better. I don’t know really how to describe the emotions I was having at that point. I know that when Mark was filling out the paperwork and it asked why he was having this scan, he wrote, “Routine for brain cancer”. It just seemed weird. Almost like a dream or something. I have known for over 6 months that Mark has brain cancer, but sometimes it still sounds so crazy to hear that. So I did a real quick, “How could this happen to Mark? Why did it happen to him? How can he have brain cancer when he has not been really sick before? Why BRAIN cancer instead of some other cancer?” Then I was ready to just think as positive as I could, pray, and wait. I spent the hour that Mark was doing the scan cleaning out my purse, talking to my mom and showing her apps on my phone that I think she would like for her new iTouch. Mark looked good when he came out. He was a little loopy and tripped a little on things along the way, but overall he was feeling pretty good. We decided to go to North Park mall across the street for lunch. We all ate in the food court and visited a little. Then we decided to go ahead and go to Baylor Dallas to wait for Mark’s appointment time. We didn’t think to bring previous scans with us, so we dropped off the one he just had done with the office and told them we didn’t bring the last ones. They had to do some work to do a comparison without us taking those. (We promised to never forget past scans again). We went to a lounge area in the hospital and Mark kind of snoozed off and on while my mom and I worked on individual things we had brought with us. Then it was time to go to the doctor’s office. The exam part of the appointment went just fine and Mark answered the questions correctly and did all of the physical things required of him. Then we had to wait a really long time for the doctor to come in. I don’t know how much time it really was, but it seemed like hours. (It was probably 15 minutes or so). I started to pace the floor and I found a brochure for a place that would be perfect for our family and especially our boys. It is like a club for people that have cancer or have family members with cancer. They have sessions for kids that would be great for the boys and a lot of special activities. They have a day camp in the summer for kids and they host a lot of other fun events. The family can just go to this place and the adults can visit with each other while the kids have supervised play. It sounded great! And then I saw that it is FREE! I am so happy I got up to pace today so that I could find out about this place. The doctor finally came in and scolded apologized for taking so long but said it was because we didn’t bring the old scans. She started to put up an MRI sheet on the light board and said, “This is what shows us that the tumor is NOT growing…” I was so very relieved. I know Mark and my mom were too, but I can’t speak for their exact feelings. I just felt so much joy! I wanted to get up and shout “Yea!” but I restrained myself. The doctor showed us how this test today shows if there is any blood flow near the cancer site, and showed us how Mark’s had NO color near that site or anywhere else on his brain! She said that there is no change at all in the scans from last time, which is the best news we can hope for, realistically. (To be honest, I prayed hard last night that God would prove His might by completely filling in the space so that people would have no choice but to give God the glory. I don’t know His reasoning, but He sees the big picture and I don’t, so I will just trust Him.) Anyway, the doctor explained that Mark has been on Chemo for 6 months now, and could technically come off of it now. We all agreed that the Chemo could be the sole cause for the tumor not being able to grow anymore, so we didn’t want to take even a little risk of recurrence. So, for now, Mark will continue taking Chemo 7 days on and 7 days off and he was very slowly start weaning down on some of his anti-seizure meds. Mark is now working on finding the best prices for our trip to London/Paris next month!
The good news didn’t stop at the appointment. When we got home, Mark was surprised with a phone call from Tracy Jones! That is the police officer that he wants so badly to get to meet that we see on TV a lot. He said she was very nice on the phone and they made arrangements for him to get to ride with her next weekend! Mark is more excited than you can imagine about that. Thank you so much to my friend, Krista, and her friend, who was so kind in working this out for him.
Alright, I had such an emotional day that I am feeling physically tired now, so I think I’ll go to bed now. Goodnight to you all and thank you ALL so very much for your prayers! We love you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Special Request

This is a special request for prayer. We need peace in our hearts! We are enjoying this time preparing for Christmas as much as possible, but we have Mark’s next MRI looming above us. I would like to ask everybody to pray for peace for our family. As a special request, I would like to ask as many people as possible to leave a comment to this post. It would be especially great if you could post your prayer for Mark to read. Even if you don’t post a prayer, could you please post the words “I commit”? It is a commitment to pray for Mark on December 28th. That is the day he will have his profusion MRI. That will tell us if there is any new tumor growth or regrowth. What they find will determine if there will be any change in his treatment plan. If a new tumor or regrowth is found, Mark would probably need to have another brain surgery. Also, if there is new growth while he is on Chemo, it could dramatically shorten the amount of time he has here on earth with us. So I certainly ask that you please pray for good results, specifically, a clear MRI. Mostly, please pray for peace. Mark is nervous. He will be taking Ativan before the scan to calm him, but I will be driving, so I can’t take anything like that and I tend to get really worked up about things. So, for a Christmas present for both of us, I would like to see a ton of comments with people committing to have us in their thoughts and prayers on the 28th. I don’t like to ask for things, but I always ask for prayer. I wouldn’t normally ask for a visual confirmation in the form of a comment to a blog post, but I know this would be an amazing gift to Mark. I would love to open the blog on Christmas morning and find that hundreds of people are praying for Mark and our family. So, if you could, please pass along the link to our blog to everybody you know and ask them to do the same. We know that prayer works. If you are reading this because a friend sent you to this site, I want to say a special thank you for praying for our family. Even if you don’t know us, please know that we love you for your commitment to pray for our family! Have a very merry Christmas and God bless you all!

Wish List

Mark sent me a message the other day telling me that he really doesn’t need any material things for Christmas (he is getting some, though!). He said he has been thinking a lot lately about the things he would really like to experience before he dies. He did ask family to just give him money this year instead of other gifts because he wants to be able to travel some places with me. I know a lot of people have several things they would like to experience/accomplish in their life time. Mark has always had a list of things, but he has realized now how short life can really be. I attended a service last week for a lady in Plano who had Glioblastoma. I know that made me really think a lot more about life and how quickly we can leave here and I guess it has done the same for Mark. Anyway, Mark sent in his message 4 things he would really like to do before he is called home. Here is what he sent:

1) Meet George W. Bush
2) Meet Dr. James Dobson
3) Go on a ride-along in a cop car
4) Meet/ride along with a specific lady we see on the show “Police Women of Dallas”

He sent the list to his parents as well. I guess that his mom had the same sense of urgency to make these things happen that I did. Without talking to each other, we each went right to work. :) Mark’s mom has written a letter to President Bush to see if it would be possible for Mark to meet him. She has a mutual friend with him and also has some personal ties to his wife because she is from Midland and went to the same school, a year ahead, of Laura. That would just be so amazing for it to work out, so I’m going to pray extra hard for that one! I called a lady that follows my blog who is with Focus on the Family. Although Dr. Dobson is no longer with Focus, she is working there to see if she can help me get something worked out so that Mark can meet him. A friend of mine said she knows somebody that could probably set us up with a ride along with a police officer. I’m not sure how to begin with the 4th request. Do any of you happen to know Sergeant Tracy Jones? :)

I hope that we are able to make those things happen for Mark, and I especially pray that God gives us a LOT of time to do them! I had a particularly hard time after going to the service for the lady in Plano. I know her family is happy that she was able to survive almost 5 years with Glioblastoma. She passed away last Friday and last Sunday was 5 years since the day she was diagnosed. It is rare for people to survive that long with this cancer, since the prognosis is only 14 months. I always say how happy I am that Mark is doing so well and I feel like he will certainly live longer than the 14 months. After this lady passed away, however, I wasn’t feeling so grateful. I felt very angry with cancer. (I still have not been angry with God. I still know that He sees the big picture, and I can’t. He has proven that He will take care of us no matter what the timing will be. But, I get very mad at stupid cancer!) I cried and cried until I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to scream that I don’t care if Mark survives TEN years, IT IS NOT ENOUGH!! I felt like being a child and stomping my foot hard on the ground and yelling, “Not FAIR!” This can’t be happening to my sweet husband. He is such a good person. He is a man after God’s own heart. He is an amazing father and a wonderful husband. He works hard and honestly. He cares about other people. He is loving and kind. So WHY does HE have terminal brain cancer? He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, he isn’t overweight. He is very healthy other than the cancer. I just kept asking why and thinking that it is not fair. I felt very angry for several days. I finally came back to the point where I can be thankful for each day. Every day IS a blessing and a gift. Mark reminded me that we just have to look forward to as much future as we may have and live each day to the fullest and try to accomplish everything we can while we have the time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Date Night!

I am so very excited about tonight! Mark made plans for his parents to come watch the boys and he made reservations at a restaurant! It’s been a long time since we had a date! I told the boys about it when I picked them up from school and Colin said, “Mommy you are going to need to look beautiful!” I told him I bought a new top today for me to wear and he said, “A beautiful one?” He can be so cute!

Speaking of dates… I think I’m gonna have to watch out for Carter. I saw a little girl talking to him after school and when it was time for the teacher to walk him to the car, she gave him a big hug and a kiss on the head! When the teacher got to the car, she was just giddy with the sweetness of what she just saw. I said, “Is that Victoria that just kissed him?” She said it was. I thought it was because one day I found a “love note” in Carter’s backpack. I asked him who gave it to him. He said, “Victoria. She always loves me!” So cute!

I talked to the school counselor today to see if I could get some information from her and see if she could kind observe the boys for me and see if she could let me know if/when she feels like they may need some help dealing with everything going on. She told me that she was already aware of our situation because of their wonderful teachers and the awesome principal of the school. She has talked to them some and she told me that there were a few days when Carter was having a hard time at P.E. He stayed with her during that time and drew pictures and told her about his daddy being sick. I wasn’t aware of any of this until now, but I am so thankful that he has such amazing people looking out for him while he is at school. Also, the counselor gave me some information about a lady in Frisco that has been in my situation. Her husband passed away from brain cancer and she has young children as well. I am looking forward to getting in contact with her and having a chance to visit with her.

Back to Mark… He is doing GREAT right now!! He went in to work each day this week! It’s crazy. If you just look at him, you would have no idea that he had such a terrible cancer. We are so blessed with how well he is doing now. We know the reality is that this cancer will kill him (unless God provides a miracle which we are not giving up on!), but we know that God is blessing us with some good quality time before then. Some of our other friends with this cancer, wouldn’t dream of being able to go to work. They can just barely function at all at this point. Mark looks healthy and feels pretty good. He gets tired easily, especially on chemo weeks, but it’s nothing too serious. His last neurological exam was so good that the doctor said she would let us wait until after Christmas for the next MRI. He will have that on the 27th. This will be the special profusion one that will show them if there is any blood flow going to the lit up area, which would indicate that it is tumor regrowth. That would be bad because it would mean that it is growing despite of chemo, which means that it is chemo resistant. SO, please pray for them to see NO blood flow to that area, which would mean it is just scar tissue caused from the radiation. I try to never get my hopes up too much, but I really have a feeling that it is going to be a good scan this time.

As always, we appreciate all of the prayers – they certainly are working, so please continue to lift Mark up each day. Love to you all!