Status update

May 4, 2013

Just a quick update from me, Adrienne.  I had my last chemo 2.5 weeks ago...praise God.

Chemotherapy is cumulative and this was definitely the toughest on side effects...nausea, heart burn, mouth pain, bone pain, etc...some of the side effects are very odd like my nose runs like a faucet because I have lost all of my nose hairs!  But it is the pain in my fingers, especially the nails, that have been the most painful. My nails are red and yellow and the skin is very painful...but those will grow out and get better. It is also important to exercise during this process...boy I am slower and much more tired this round than any other and still feeling the effects.  I have to walk much more than I run right now...but that will get better too. I have been lucky because my feet and toe nails have faired very well and allow me to walk and run.

During the chemo process we have also worked on my chest reconstruction by adding saline to my chest expanders - 50 cc's of fluid each chemo treatment to stretch the muscle and skin for the final implants..  The expanders have become very large and very painful.

Those are some of the interesting and unexpected side effects. I am exercising 4-5 days a week, my mouth is so much better, my bones don't hurt anymore from the shot, I am working full husband is so sweet...things really are good.

May 22 I will go in for my final surgery to remove my port from the chemo and remove the plastic expanders in my chest and put in the actual implants.  We have pre-op this Tuesday, May 7th when we will decide what type of implants (saline or silicone).  Silicone has had problems in the past but supposedly those are feels much more natural. Saline just sounds safer.  If you would lift us up in our decision making process, that would be wonderful.  My surgery will be 3-4 hours and is an out-patient procedure.  From there we have the final touches (my first two tattoos...for nipples) and then on June 3 we meet with our oncologist to start the 5 years of estrogen suppressant that is taken orally each morning and has menopause type side effects.

That is a quick update from me...Jeremy will be writing another around the time of surgery.

We love you are some photos our dear friends took for us to remember the strength and love along this path.

Round 4

April 15, 2013

Hey folks, long time no see!
I wanted to take a minute to update you on a few things going on with our girl. First off, I never touched base after her 3rd round 2 1/2 weeks ago. The infusion itself went pretty well, she did begin to react to the Taxotere again, but they stopped it and gave her 2-3 minute to settle and then restarted it and it finished out smoothly. They did the whole infusion at the slower rate, so I think we were at the hospital for 6-7 hours which was a damn joy, let me tell you. This was even with no complications. What a day man, what a day.
The side-effects that followed that infusion were the worst yet. She had some serious bone pain from the shot of Neulasta that I gave her on the Friday night following the infusion. What Neulasta does is stimulate the bone marrow to essentially overproduce white blood cells, which is good because obviously chemo kills off white blood cells.  This is a big deal because white blood cells (specifically neutrophyls, which are a type of white blood cell) are the fighter cells in one's immune system; They're like ninjas that keep infection at bay.  If you recall back to her first chemo, she ended up in the hospital 8 days after the infusion and stayed for 4 days because she got an infection that her body couldn't fight off because her immune system was shot because her white blood cell count was so low...All the ninjas were dead.  The Neulasta makes her bones feel like what a marshmallow in the microwave looks like.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, go put a marshmallow in the microwave and then picture that happening inside your femur. (Better yet, do a Peep) It feels this way because the drug is making the marrow work super hard to compensate for the effects of chemo.  Needless to say, it doesn't feel like sipping a mai-tai on a Hawaiian beach...
So there's that.  She is, for the most part doing better now that we are 2 1/2 weeks out from that infusion.  Sleeping has been a challenge, it's pretty hit-or-miss with the quanitity and quality.  Last night was great, the previous three nights were awful.  Now to be clear, her sleeping on Saturday night was impaired because her darling husband was coughing like an asthmatic sea-horse and waking her up every 12 minutes.  It was, like, ridick. Totes ridick. (For those of you over 45, that means "totally ridiculous")
And no, I have no idea what an asthmatic sea-horse sounds like.But you can imagine.
Now - looking forward.  The 4th and final round of chemo is encroaching and cramping our style a bit. That will be this Thursday and it's really very bittersweet.  Obviously it's chemo, and no one in the history of this great green earth has every looked forward to that.  At the same time, this is the last one and that means that this whole process is coming that much closer to it's own fiery demise.  That's how I view it...we are going to end this thing with grace and poise and go out of cancer and into remission in a blaze of glory! The sweet side of this is just that - the blaze of glory.  We look forward to this Thursday because it marks the end of the chemo portion of beating cancer.  That means only one more weekend of nausea, one more week of bone pain, one more weekend of sleeping 10 hours a day, etc. This means only a few more weeks of slowly rebuilding her body and getting her energy back and working herself back up to full strength.  Chemo is frustrating because the large-and-in-charge side effects like the nausea and bone pain and such are relatively short lasting, but there are some other more covert symptoms that are harder to pinpoint and dont have as overriding an effect on her body, but tend to last longer and fly just under the radar. Fatigue is one of's not something that beyond the initial 5-6 days controls her or straight-up stops her from functioning.  It does sort of pervade everything though and for the first 2 weeks she is all of a sudden sitting at her desk at work and at 1 in the afternoon is just...done. She doesn't see it coming really, but it compiles and then hits her.
This sort of stuff is so frustrating because she just can't exist normally.  She can't just be her lively self and feel like it too.  What I mean is that many times she is acting as she is supposed to (at work, in public, etc.) but there's a good chance she doesn't physically feel as good as it may appear.  That's also what I mean when I tell people she is a damn trooper.  She just soldiers on and gets done what she needs to get done and does it with a smile.  It's amazing really...
So...pray for us in that please.  Pray for endurance and for strength and for rest and repair on her and our bodies. Pray for our attitudes, we are both seriously dreading Thursday.  Not the way either of us wants to spend our Thursday, or the rest of the weekend either.  Alas, such is life.
Her final surgery, to complete the reconstruction will happen on May 22nd.  The details of this are forthcoming, probably after chemo. It's a long and detailed explantion, mostly because I will have to make profuse use of the words boobies, areola, nipple, etc.  I have to take my time to construct this bad-boy ;)
To end with a great story - Last Saturday night, we were treated by some friends of ours to a one of a kind experience.  The called it Bingo, Booze and Boobies.  Aptly named, I must say.  About 25 of us got together at their house, to enjoy pink cake balls, pink cupcakes, pink gumballs, nice beer and wine in pink cups, pink decorations, pink leis, pink PINK PINK.  You get the point... This whole gaggle of people then sat down together to play boobie bingo, where I got to call the bingo numbers.  Because I am who I am, and calling "B-13" is boring, it then became "BOOBIES-13!!!" and so on.  To what words I attached the I-N-G-O, I leave that to your imagination...
These fine people all paid $25 to get in to this event, which was then given to us...did I mention that these friends of ours, on their own dime, paid for all of the food and drink and then gave us all the proceeds from the door?  What an amazing gift. To further give credit where credit it due, it was really special to talk with them and hear how they got to the place where they asked if they could do this for us.  They wrestled with it for something like 4 months and upon the pull of the Lord, they moved on it.  Because they responded to God, we received on Saturday night an amount of money that was almost to the dollar identical to the remaining amount we owe on our insurance deductible last year. God is GOOD.  Oh, and the math does NOT add up with what they were charging at the door, how many people came and how much we walked away with...many people gave far more at the door than they were asked. 
We were awestruck at the generosity we experienced that night.  From both the fine folks who hosted, but then the people who came.  We didn't even know probably a third of the people there that night...and they came to support us anyway.

It was really amazing.  The Lord provides, he will not leave us nor forsake us.  Neither will he you.
Have a wonderful day, for those of you in the Northern Colorado area, drive safely.  Or find an empty parking lot and drive like an donuts like your life depended on it.  Either way, enjoy the beauty that is FINALLY a decent snow total, and thanks from the bottom of our heart for taking care of us and loving us.  Your faithfulness in prayer and support is so appreciated!


March 16, 2013

This post comes to you today from Adrienne. I am so overwhelmed by His mercies that are new every day and every moment. Yes, this has this been difficult...more difficult and unexpected than imaginable - absolutely.  Is it over, no but we are half way through and for that we celebrate.  Today I went for a run around our lakes that was slow, but it was a run.  It was 3.3 miles and farther than I have run since we started chemo. On the first infusion I was in the hospital this, the 9th day after my infusion. I ran today and am not in the hospital and for that we celebrate. We had to do a shot this time that helps my bone marrow rebuild white blood cells (called Neulasta) and that shot was a $3,000 copay and for that we celebrate insurance. My husband has been and is simply A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The care and concern, time and patience, love and selfless giving cannot be be measured, and I am eternally grateful for God's placement of him in my life. I am just amazed by the blessings in our life and one of biggest have been each of you that have rallied around us, brought us food, asked how we were doing, shared a laugh, called on the phone, sent texts, come to visit, sent cards, cleaned our home, sent gifts, done our laundry, prayed for us, pushed us to be better, provided owl pajamas, showed you cared, sent flowers, fixed my hair, financially given, bought flowers for my hair, encouraged my new looks, shaved their heads, exercised with us, created the most amazing workplace, and simply loved us.  With that in mind I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Cancer sucks, but you all are making the journey bearable....even, dare I say, fun.

Keemoe #2

March 8, 2013

Well campers, it was a day...

That started out just fine actually.  We got to sleep in a little, have a nice breakfast together, leave the house somewhat casually.  Then we got to meet with one of our favorite people, a lovely woman named Lauren who is the PA for our Fertility doc.  She is one of the most encouraging, lovely, competent people we've met in this whole process and the 3 of us have developed a great repoir, WHICH throughout this otherwise ugly experience has been such a wonderful relief. She is fantastic and I hope she reads this because she oughta know that we appreciate her so very much. This appointment with Lauren was just a follow-up to the fertility preservation process that Ade underwent a few weeks ago and the basic result of that appt was that all systems are a go.  We have 7 potential Jeydriennes on ice, 3 "straws" of 2 eggs apiece and 1 straw with 1 egg in it.  That means that there are 4 potential attempts that we can make should we decide that IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) is the route we want or need to go.  Lauren shared with us (appreciative that she shared AFTER the fact) that they were statistically expecting to get 2-3 eggs, so the fact that we got 7 is wonderful.  My wife is an egg-making maCHINE!  A regular 1-woman chicken coop. 

As I said, just a lovely way to start the morning.  That was at 10:45.

Then we went to the Breast Center (Or, the "Boobie Center" you might say) for our next step which is where they access her port, which just means they stick her with a medieval torture device called a "central line" somethingorother.  The put a little needle through her skin and into the port that has a flat head on it about the size of a quarter with a 4-5" line coming out of it.  On the other end of that line is a standardized connector that matches that of IV lines and such.  They put a big ol piece of Tegaderm over it and that sucker stays in her body for the rest of the day. After that appt, we tried to have her boobies expanded, and got a little tongue lashing for not making an appt.  (Which was a little annoying by the way because last time we were in we asked to have an appt for the expansions made in conjunction with each of the forthcoming chemo appts and were told to consider it done...apparently such was NOT the case) Pfffffffffffft.

We met with our oncologist just before the infusion too which was great.  It was so nice to see her face-to-face and to get to ask questions and be encouraged that all of the stuff she is going through is normal and expected, even though it sucks.  Our oncologist by the way is a stud...during the whole hospital thing last weekend, we called her no less than 5 times, several of which were between the hours of 10pm and 4am.  During our appt yesterday we apologized and thanked her for that, to which she responded that she didnt mind at all and was happy to do it and that it is a part of doing what she loves to do.  Fantastic woman, that one.

So then we head to infusion and thats where it started to go downhill.  They give her 4 pre-meds which are Benadryl, Dexamethosone, Pepcid other.  They are all either for nausea prevention or to help prevent against anaphylactic reaction to the dilutent that one of the two chemo drugs is mixed with.  Its strange because the drug in question is called Taxotere and it is mixed with some other substance to keep it stable or whatever and its that other thing that the drug is mixed with that people often have a severe allergic reaction to, not the drug itself...and that's exactly what happened to Ade.  She was about 6 minutes into the infusion and all of a sudden and I mean all of a SUDDEN her stomach hurt, then her back hurt, then she started having trouble breathing and she was crying.  I'm telling you this was in 3 seconds, no kidding.  Our nurse Gwen, also a wonderful woman, was so calm and precise with how she handled it.  She immediately stopped the drug, calmly but swiftly walked out of our little cell, commanded someone to call the on-call oncologist, immediately came back in and began to talk to Adrienne, calm her down, gave her another shot of some steroid that she had left to get which helped Ade a great deal.  Anyway, by this time there are 4 nurses, an oncologist, several MAs and then the 4 of us standing in a space not much larger than a public bathroom...we were close.  I'm just sayin.  

It really scared her because of what are both the benefit and drawback to mainlining gets immediately dispersed throughout your body. BUT, that also makes it easy to stop it. She said the reason it was so scary was because it was so sudden.  The nurse told us that the way the pump works, the first 20 cc's or so of fluid are actually just the saline they mix it with - that's why she got 5-6 minutes into the infusion.  Once the actual drug started into her veins, that's when she had the reaction and her body started freaking out. 

SOOOOOO...they then gave her another steroid as I mentioned, (She can now bench 270 by the way...curious.) and the nurse called our oncologist. The recommendation that came back was to wait 30 minutes to make sure the steroid was in full effect and then to restart the drug at half the rate of infusion, so twice as slow as the original speed. After that 30 minute wait, they restarted it and since they just started where they left off instead of actually restarting the pump that means the drug immediately started entering her system again.  Most tense 45 seconds of my life.  But she handled it really well.  No more reaction, no more steroids.  

She did really well after that.  What should have been a 1 hour infusion turned into a 2 hour, and then we still had a 15 minute wait and then another 30 minute infusion of the second drug so after all that and a trip to Sprouts on our way home to get something that is supposed to help with mouth sores, we got home around 8:45.  I made a lovely batch of hamburgers and fries and we enjoyed a nice dinner together somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:45 last night.  That's normal, right?

It was almost a 12-hour day at the hospital, which sucked, but it wasinfused with good people (see what I did there?) and after all...we got to be together.

A thought for you that has been rattling around in my skull as we've been walking through all of this - Please take the time to remember that God has a plan for you and, believe it or not it is to prosper you and not to harm you.  You may be reading this and think I'm completely full of bunk for saying and believing that or anything else about God...but I really do believe that.  There is no question in my head that God has a plan for each of us and that He is in fact, real.  He has so inextricably woven Himself into our lives through this whole cancer thing and we are so incredibly grateful for that.  It's been hard, its sucked, its been scary, we both have experienced feelings of helplessness and hopelessness beyond anything else we've ever known, but I know that I'm glad I haven't had to walk alone. The Lord is faithful in his care, unchanging in his love and grace for us and unwavering in his provision.  He has provided time, sustenance, finances, friendships, love, care, compassion, WONDERFUL family, random acts of kindness...I hope you know these things to be true in your own life as well.  I really do.  I know it to be true in mine and that of my wife - I sincerely pray that you get to experience God in a real, tangible and believable way; whether you've known Jesus for many years, never heard His name, or have heard his name and think I'm full of crap for all of this...He cares.  He loves you. There is hope.

May God bless you as he has us...thanks for reading kids, we love you!



February 26, 2013

Ha!  Suckers...the warden let us out this afternoon, and it is SOOOO good to be home.  We got to leave about 1 this afternoon, and have been home ever since.  She sat on the couch for the afternoon and watched movies and slept and just enjoyed our HOME for the while I got to do some serious sanitizing, some shopping, some prescription filling and various other crap like that.  I think exhaustion is catching up with her, she is so stinkin' tired its ridiculous.  This has been really good for her heart to be home - as quality the care we received, it sucks to be in a hospital for 4 days, let alone 4 unplanned days.  

A dear friend came over tonight with her hubby and kid to give Ade an I'm-losing-my-hair-because-of-chemo haircut, which was so sweet and I gotta tell you...she looks kinda cute.  I mean, like really cute.  I'm not saying that because I'm trying to be the doting husband and I have to say that or whatever...its really kinda adorable!  It'a little spiky number, and at the rate she is losing her hair, she'll have this spiky little number maaaybe through the weekend.  It's just a little sad, but mostly it'll be a cool adventure I think.  It's wonderful to really find yourself in a place where you find out what really matters, and hair really ain't it.

Sorry for leaving you in the dark on this one, its been sort of a crazy afternoon trying to get home and be here and feel good about the cleanliness and such.  We were told that it was probably a virus that leveled her last Friday, and it was something that otherwise she may have never even realized she had, had her body been healthy and chemo free.  Therefore, we have to be super careful with what she exposes herself to, and where she goes.  She is on lockdown here at home for the next few days for sure and we've set up a masking/Purel station at the front door for anyone coming into the house.  Better safe than sorry, because going through that again is NOT worth it.

Have a wonderful evening, may God richly bless you as he has us.

Much love,

One more day...

February 25, 2013

After a morning's worth of silence from doctors and nurses, we finally got to hear from the doc on call, who was great, that she talked with our oncologist in Denver and under no circumstances is she to be released until her neutrophyls are above 1.  They were measured at .44 this morning, and 11 yesterday.  We are less than halfway there, but went up hugely from yesterday to today.  Our oncologist said encouragingly however that once the improvement starts to happen with white blood cell counts and neutrophyls and such it improves exponentially, so that's good.

I have to reimburse you for your $150 after the biology lesson yesterday because it turns out I was wrong.  I told you that her neutrophyl count on Saturday morning was at 7 and yesterday morning was at 11...I was wrong it was not 7 and 11 absolute neutrophyl count as in actual neutrophyls, it was 7 and 11 percent.  Its so interesting to have 5-6 different health professionals throw different numbers and acronyms and names of stuff at tends to get a bit confused.  Of the white blood cells that any one person has in their body, a portion of those cells are neutrophyls.  Neutrophyls are the actual fighter cells, they are the ones that kick the ass of any virus/bacteria etc and a normal range for those is 50-60%.  Now, that having been said, we've been told that her count needs to be above 1 before she can go home, and I actually interpret that to mean that the actual count is above 1000, not that she has to have 100% neutrophyl count.  That's what I mean about 5-6 different health professionals throwing information at you...they all use their own language.  Our oncologist is looking at a neutrophyl count of over 1000, which means that her percentage would have to be 50% based on her total white blood cell count as of this morning, which was 2100.  Make sense? Clear as mud?

Me too.


So...all this means that we are staying another night, which frustrated the girl quite a bit.  She reeeeeeally wants to be at home right now and in her own bed, having taken a shower in her own shower and eaten out of her own fridge.  It sucks royally, but its better this way because if we went home to early and she got reinfected, it would be far worse than what she and we have experienced already.  So...we stay.  Our nurses and the staff have been really great, we've gotten several flower deliveries and treats, I even got a canadian bacon/pineapple/jalapeno pizza delivered a few hours ago! We're spoiled, thanks for taking care of us :)

Please pray for her counts, that her body continues to rebound as it has been, pray for her heart because she just wants so badly to be better and be home.  Its been rough on her.  I'm doing ok, the bed I'm sleeping on is something akin to what I imagine it would be like to sleep on bubble wrap covered in cellophane - its less than exciting.  I scare myself awake every time I roll over.

I'll give a giant hug and a big, wet kiss to the first person to hit up a S-bux and bring me a Venti Pike Place, black, no room tomorrow morning.  I think I could lubricate the engine of my truck with the stuff they serve here. I've got another hug for the second person to do so.

We're good.  I actually mean that.  Her body is on the way up, there is a good chance we will be able to stop antibiotics tonight, she's had a 98 degree temp for almost 24 hours now which is one of their criteria for discharging a neutropenic patient. (Neutropenic = fever/infection due to extremely low white blood cell/neutrophyl levels) We aren't 100%, but man it is so much better than it was on Friday/Saturday/Sunday.  I refuse to blow smoke here, we've been finding out today that the place she was at was potentially pretty life-threatening in terms of the things that could have happened had we not gotten her into the ER when we did and started to get this stuff under control.  Her counts were low enough that she very literally had virtually no ability to fight anything off herself. She herself was not actually in any danger because she was in the hospital and receiving care in time, but had we could have been much uglier.  

We are blessed.  In no sense do I intend to cheapen that statement with fluff or nonsense - I mean it, we are blessed.  We are blessed, it could have been much worse and we have been well loved and taken care of. It's been an awful weekend, and we need to be much more careful for the next 3 rounds of chemo. But we know now what to do, how to take precautions, how to keep her safe and what to do if something happens again. So, we just wont let any of this crap happen again.  Simple enough!

Would someone please do me a favor?  Go outside, make a huge juicy snowball and throw it as hard as you can at the nearest innocent bystander?  Not because I have pent up anger and need to take it out on someone or anything, just because there's 6 inches of snow on the ground and I've been stuck in a damn hospital room for 3 days.  It would just be a shame to waste all that snow, ya know? I just need a little vicarious living.

Thanks folks, have a great evening!  I'll letcha know what the plan is tomorrow!

Much love,

We digress...just a little

February 24th, 2013


Quick note, she started to slip a little this afternoon, got the shakes worse than I've seen at all in this process.  They have given her a pain pump, with an itty bitty little dose of Fentanyl, (a narcotic) because of the pain in her mouth. She has this nasty sore throat that they can't seem to identify the cause of and started to get flem(ier) like I mentioned.

Oh there it is...I just realized why "flem" looked weird...its p-h-l-e-g-m.  I'm an idiot.

ANYway...the sore throat thing really sucks, hence the pain pump.  She has not however had to use it which is nice because narcotics and her get along like ___ and ___.

Becasue of the extra p-h-l-e-g-m, and some difficulty keeping her oxygen levels up they decided to do a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, which they were able to do - chest is clear!  The blood cultures from yesterday morning were also clear, so that means that so far they have found no existence of a bacterial infection.  Which is great.  That does not however remove the fact that something is infected and the general belief right now is that its viral.  Which sucks. Antibiotics don't take care of that.  However, I still stand that we are headed in the right direction and our doc was supremely confident of that as well.  We've had for the most part superb care here (I had to take one nurse out back and have a "win one for the Gipper" with her, and we actually ended up politely requesting a new nurse - we got the nurse from yesterday though and she is great!) and we're pretty happy with how they are choosing to tackle her care.

Please, please continue to pray for her health.  Specifically for white blood cells and neutrophyls to come up.  Quick biology lesson here: of the white blood cells that one normally has, a safe range is 4,000-10,000/15,000 white blood cells per cubic milligram (or milliliter, can't remember) of blood. Of those white blood cells, 50%-60% of them are neutrophyls.  Don't ask me what the heck a neutrophyl actually is, we just know they are the footsoldiers of the immune system.  Adrienne started out yesterday morning with 700 white blood cells and 7 neutrophyls.  Yes, 7.  This morning she was up to 1,100 WBC, and 11 neutrophyls.  Make sense? That's why we are concerned, this is an extremely low number obviously.  A doable neutrophyl count is 500, according to our doc.

That will be $150 bucks please. 

She is better now than when I started this email.  The chills are gone for now, she is warm enough, had a few M&Ms which if you've ever met my wife the sugar-Nazi, you know THAT"S a big deal.  For now we are good.  A scare this afternoon, but we focus on this minute and the movie thats on and the comfort she is currently in.

The prayer at this moment is for her body to strengthen what we have been told is probably viral.  Since all the cultures and swabs (that measure bacterial infections) have come back negative, the next most likely suspect is a virus.  Unfortunately, antibiotics don't work on viruses.  Ya just gotta tough it out.

So...that's that.  Hope you a reading this while sitting in front of a nice fireplace with a cup of cocoa or something in your hands.  Take a swig for us.

Love, love, love!