Sunday, July 22, 2018

Update (7/22/2018)

Today was another tired and sore day for Julie, but better than yesterday.  Dr. Dinh came in this morning and said that everything continues to look very good with labs, Julie's activity, etc.  He changed her diet back to regular so she can now eat "anything" she wants, though there are some obvious things you want to stay away from when your digestive system is raw so she is taking it slow and easy with what she eats.  Dr Dinh felt like there was a real good chance that she will get to go home tomorrow, but he said Dr. Robertson will be back and it will be his call.  We have (and will repeat tomorrow) asked that they be very conservative and not discharge us too early.  However, all of the things we really wanted to happen before we were comfortable going home have pretty much happened.  Her hemoglobin is low.  If it is lower tomorrow we will ask more questions, but Dr. Dinh felt like it would be fairly stable.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Update (7/21/2018) and Something Special that God Started over 48 years ago!

I just realized I never posted an update yesterday.  Julie continues to do well.  She was moved to a regular diet, but it was a misunderstanding between the doctors and the nurses so she ate a little mashed potatoes and grits and got moved back to clear liquids diet.  They just want to be very conservative since she had so many problems last surgery.  The doctor even said that the surgery was so perfect that he couldn't hardly believe it.

Julie has been up walking multiple times today even without a walker.  She is doing really good.  Today has been a harder day with more pain, tiredness, etc., but the doctor had already warned us that today and tomorrow we should expect that then it will start to get better.  They have moved her off of the push-button pain meds and onto an as-needed oral, but that also means she stays sleepy more of the time (also a good thing because she needs rest).

Now for a special story of how God works..........

The surgeon had told me this, but it didn't fully register until I read his report on the surgery and looked up what it meant..... Julie was born with a "redundant sigmoid colon".  This basically means that the very last segment (the sigmoid) of her colon was about twice as long as normal.  This typically causes a lot of constipation and can even cause the colon to get twisted and cause a surgical emergency (though most people that have it don't have to treat it), but in Julie's case it means when they re-connected the sigmoid to the rectum there was plenty of colon to do its job as normal.  What does all of this mean?  It means that there is a real good probability that Julie will not have a problem with short gut syndrome.  She has had a section of her small intestines removed and that will cause her to have to adapt how and what she eats somewhat, but the sigmoid is key is things behaving as normal.  So...... when God was forming Julie's body, He knew she would have to have the sigmoid removed due to a tumor and he gave her an extra one then so she wouldn't be without at this time in her life.  Just more evidence that you can (and should!) trust God with your life and your eternity!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Surgery Update (7/19/2018)

It has been a long day, but a very good day.  We had to be at Mayo at 6:00am today to check in for the surgery.  Dr. Robertson came in a few minutes before 7:30am and went over the last few things and then they had Julie back in the operating room shortly afterwards.  I received a notice from the desk that the actual surgery began at 8:25am.  Dr. Robertson had scheduled the OR for 8 hours, but before the surgery he said he thought it would take around 4 hours.  Around 11:25am the team called out to the desk to notify me that the surgery was going well and it would be about another hour, so I quickly went down to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat.  Around 1:30pm, Dr. Robertson had completed the surgery and came out to talk with me while his team was completing the clean up, etc.  I don't remember all of the details, but there were three basic criteria that he was looking for to be able to reconnect the colon and he said all three of them were better than good (almost perfect).  While he was inside of her he was also looking for any signs of potential cancer and said he did not find any.  He did take a few random biopsies, but he said nothing looked like it could be cancer.  He did have a little scar tissue to cut away, but even that was better than he expected.  He said she did really good and we really couldn't ask for a better scenario for this surgery.  At 3:40pm, they were moving Julie from recovery to a regular room (woo hoo -- no ICU required this time) and we could go up to see her around 4pm.  When we walked in at 4pm she was eating jello and looked great.  Their goal is to start her on solid foods tonight and to have her up walking tonight as well.  We are expected to be in the hospital for 4 to 7 days.  As I write this she is on the self-administered push-button pain meds and is getting good rest.

Thanks to everyone for all of your prayers throughout this whole journey.  God has been amazing in the way He has worked and we are so grateful.  Your prayers, notes of encouragement, visits, etc. have been amazing as well.

To the Glory of God!

Ben

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Good News Report (7/13/2018)


Good news report!
This was taken yesterday outside of Mayo. My sisters Karen and Sheryl joined me for a long day of tests and appointments. I began the day with an ECG (heart), then bloodwork, next an urinalysis, then an 90 minute MRI, then a CT scan, next we snuck out for lunch, and finally we saw the doctor. 
Here's the news: They did not find any evidence of tumors, and my CA125 marker was 9. I have been given the thumbs up for surgery to reverse my colostomy on July 19th. 

Challenges/Prayer Requests: 
  1. He may open me up and discover that my body is not able to be reversed. 
  2. Due to the amount of blood loss at the last surgery, he is expecting to find scar tissue. This may cause my surgery to be up to 8 hours long. 
  3. He will be looking for cancer while he is inside. 
  4. Pray for my body to able to heal and recover afterwards. We are looking at 3-10 days in the hospital and up to 6 weeks recovery.
Y'all, I am so ready! Pray for my caretakers!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Best Valentine's Ever!!!



So I know some of you are thinking that my husband made some grand romantic gesture.

But that's not it. (Actually, this man has shown me love with every appointment we go to, by keeping up with all my meds, when every few days he helps me change out my colostomy bag, by running for a cold washcloth everytime I was sick to my stomach, and when he prayed for me throughout.)

I KNOW I AM LOVED!

No, our gift that made this the best Valentine's Day came in the form of words from our Oncologist.  These are the words he said today, "After reviewing your CT Scan and your CA 125 numbers, you are officially in REMISSION."

Can you hardly stand it???  God is so good to us.  We are so thrilled!

So what does that mean?? Well it means that no more cancer cells or tumors were detected in scans, blood work, and other tests.

We will be checking every 3 months for a few years.

Now for the crazy news ...
They drained 5.2 liters from my body today.  Yes, that's more than last time.  So the Oncologist and surgeon believe it is due to my lack of lymph nodes.  (23 were removed from my abdomen/pelvic area.)

That does mean that my colostomy reconnection will be delayed until they come up with a plan, OR MY BODY HEALS ITSELF. (I put that in caps because I'd love for that to happen!)

So while we are on cloud 9,000,000 with remission, I still have some healing to go!

But just for a moment, I'm going to need you to give a little bit of praise to Jesus!  Because yall, he has been faithful.  Will you join me in that tonight?

Love,

Julie

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Heart of Christmas

I just watched this movie, "The Heart of Christmas".

WARNING!  Do NOT watch this unless you want to cry.

I went through a pile of tissues.

Ok warning over, but I need to tell you that it is a story about a family and their child going through the struggle of cancer. (I didn't read the info. about the movie beforehand.)

Anyhow, this movie really got me thinking about all of the relationships that develop between doctors, nurses, other cancer patients, the techs, the schedulers, the patient's family and the patient.  It's mind blowing how 6 months ago I had never met them, and now I have a close relationship with some of them.  We have been through ALOT together.  And you know what?  They genuinely care.  They are cheering us on.  I'm so grateful for their care and their concern about this cancer and my victory over it.

It also made me think about all of the blessings that have been given to us over the last several months.  You guys have poured love into our family and we can never say thank you enough.  We have heard about the prayers that are being said, we have received your emails, texts, and cards of encouragement, and we have been blessed by your generous giving.  People have traveled from near and far to visit with us--it has truly been humbling.

Along with all of these blessings,  we have also experienced all kinds of new things. 

Right now I am severely nuetropenic.  Which means that my immunization level is almost non-existent.  My doctor has basically made me quarantine.  We can not have visitors/family around because even the smallest infections could cause me to get sick and end up back in the hospital.  In our home you will find us wearing masks, spraying down common areas,  eating no raw foods including fruits and veggies, and being very careful to avoid germs.   By the way this is very common with cancer patients to experience this issue.  Chemo kills the bad AND the good.  It's one of the ugly side effects.  I could sit here and have a pity party--cause it is very difficult to tell your family they can't come around other than to the door to talk across the room. AND It is really hard to call your son and daughter-in-law and tell them that you can't host your granddaughter's 1st birthday party because you might get sick. (A few tears may or may not have been shed.)



Instead I've been trying to find "The Heart of Christmas" in this less than ideal situation.  

The first thing that I believe God arranged for me to experience was a visit in my chemo room this week.  Instead of chemo, my doctor arranged for me to have potassium and magnesium because they were low.  I was put into a large 4 person room and started getting my cocktail through my port.  About half way into my time, an older woman was wheeled into one of the "rooms" by her (daughter--I later found out).  I overheard the daughter tell the nurse that she was the "favorite" daughter.  This made me laugh because my daughters are always telling me that they are my favorite.  Anyways, we began a conversation with this family and soon found out that the older woman and her husband had been stateside missionaries during their marriage.  Over the years they had worked with unwed mothers, women and children who were abused, and a faith-based alcohol program for rehabilitation.  This woman was so gracious and wise (even though she said she didn't consider herself "wise).  She explained how using the things we have experienced--the good and the hard times--were ways we were supposed to minister to others.  Her daughter was just as precious.  She had flown in from out of state to help take care of her mom.  I later found out that she has stage 4 lung cancer and is having surgery on the 20th.  (Please put her on your calendar to pray for her--God knows her name.)  You want to know what?  At the age of 97 this sweet sister of mine in Christ was doing exactly what she was talking about.  She really ministered to me that day.

The second thing God arranged for me was to be blessed by was First Baptist Screven Youth Group last night.  Just yesterday I had posted that one of the things I missed about not attending church was singing with my church family.  Well last night the youth group came and sang Christmas carols outside of our home.  They didn't know it because I was wearing a mask, but I was singing right along with them.  And tears of joy snuck out.  What a joy it was to share that time--me on the inside, them in the yard.

The Heart of Christmas is all around us.  Are you looking for it?  What things has God done for you to let you know that He cares for you and loves you.  It's happening whether you recognize it or not.

Let me encourage you to take a break from your "crazy" and look and see what God is up to.

Love yall,

Julie


Monday, October 30, 2017

10/30/2017 Update

Julie was able to drink a small amount of water, a small amount of apple juice diluted in water, and a small amount of chicken broth today and tolerated it well. She could have probably had more, but she was strongly encouraged by the doctor to take it very slow.

Julie also walked today without the walker (I walked with her as a safety net) and is gaining in strength (ability to get up unassisted, etc.).

Overall, I would say this is probably the best day we have had since before surgery.

Ben