Our New Normal

Today was Tom’s third chemo treatment.  The treatment went well and we now seem to be in a pattern.
Chemo takes most of the day.Tom feels good during and right after chemo because of the large amount of anti nausea meds he receives.The meds stay in his system for two days.Then for a couple of days, he doesn’t feel great-little appetite and very tired. He takes pills that seem to control the nausea.After day four through six, he begins to feel more like himself.His appetite returns, his energy level goes up and life returns to normal so that we almost forget about the health issues.

A friend called it ‘the new normal’.  That is how life is.  Our lives have been turned upside down.   We have many doctor appointments and blood tests filling our schedules.   We don’t plan any activities until we get up in the morning and see how Tom is feeling.  But we are developing a rhythm to the days.

As I look back on the last week, I see that it was filled with wonderful times.  It could be as simple a…

Happy Birthday America & Tom

We have enjoyed many family times in the past few weeks.  Tom has recovered well from his surgeries and we are getting into a routine of chemo and recovery.

This past week we celebrated the Fourth of July along with Tom's 70th birthday. We were at Sandy Pines, the campground where we have a place, for the first party.

We also celebrated our grandson Jack's 15th birthday-even though he has a 70 on his cake.  

Tom had his second chemo treatment this past week.  Our son Tommy took him.  Tommy’s daughter Anna wanted to go too.  Although she is 13, she knows she wants to become a nurse working especially with pediatric oncology patients.  I was worried that the chemo experience would be scary for her but she was a trooper and learned a great deal.  The nurses were eager to show her what was happening and even had her move her chair in closer so she could see exactly what they were doing.
The oncology nurse explained to Tom that his reaction to chemo would follow basically the same p…

First Chemo Treatment is Behind Us

The month of May has been busy in our family.  Our oldest grandchild, Madelynn, graduated from West Michigan Aviation Academy.  Madelynn was honored at graduation because she soloed in her flight training last fall.  Her plans are uncertain for fall but I know she will be accomplishing great things.

All our six grandchildren are such as joy and they have helped their grandpa keep his spirits up and we love every minute we spend with them. 

May also was filled with doctor appointments and hospital visits. Tom had three hospital visits-two for surgery on his cancer and one for the placement of a port for his chemo.
Now it is June and the appointments have continued.  Tuesday, June 20 was Tom's first chemo.  
In preparation for his treatment, Tom had his hair cut short.  I hear that is what his hair was like growing up.  I'm liking the new haircut and I'm going to encourage him to keep it that way even after the chemo.

The visit to the chemo center (Cancer and Hematology Center) l…

Moving Slowly but in God's Timing

I haven’t posted in this blog for awhile because things have been moving slowly in Tom’s treatment.  His recovery from the two surgeries went well.He developed an infection after the first surgery.The first antibiotic didn’t work well.But the infection cleared up quickly with the second antibiotic. Surgery of Tom’s type requires drain tubes to eliminate a build-up of fluid that comes with such a large removal of tissue.  The drains must stay in his chest until the fluid stops. Tom’s drains have been slow to stop.  But it was going well this week and the fluid was slowing down.  Unfortunately, he developed an infection in the area where the two tubes enter his chest.  So, he’s back on the antibiotic for another round.
The discouraging part of this is that chemo can’t start until he’s done with the antibiotic and the infection is cleared up.  We’re looking  June 20 for the start of chemo at the earliest instead of the June 13 we originally planned.
In preparation for chemo, he had a port i…

Weekend to Relax

It is Saturday morning and we are relaxing at Sandy Pines and loving sunshine which has been in short supply this week-literally and figuratively.
But after a discouraging week because of a second surgery, we received good news on Friday.  

Tom had a second surgery because the cancer was present at the edges of the tumor that was removed.  He had to have additional surgery to take more tissue.  We needed clean margins-which means the edge of the cancer had to be seen to assure that all the cancer was removed.
 At a visit to the doctor we received the news-the pathology report showed clean margins!  The best news!  All the cancer is gone from his breasts. This means we can now move to the next step in his treatment. 
Chemo will begin on June 13.  There are several steps to get ready for chemo such as chemo education next Tuesday.  Then he will have a port placed under the skin of his chest on June 5.  This will allow him to receive chemo treatments without having any additional pokes from …

The Journey Takes a Turn

This week we received an unexpected phone call from Tom's surgeon.  Tom's surgery last week did not obtain the clear margins needed to ensure all the cancer was removed.  This means he will have more surgery to remove the rest of the cancer.  This will take place next Tuesday, May 23.
We are reminded that we are not in charge anymore.  Our days and times will be filled with appointments, tests, procedures and we will have to blend into this new world.
Tom is recovering well from the first surgery.  He took his first walk outside today.  I had hoped he would make it to the barn and back.  But the nice weather helped him go past the barn and all the way to his deer blind.  Savi was with us too and the energy and exuberance of a three-year old helped motivate him.

We received an email from our dear friend Kari who has been down this road before us.  She said, "Things being out of your control can absolutely be frustrating and scary,  but once I got  past that ( it takes a while…

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

I want to do a quick update on this week for Tom. 
Our 3 year old granddaughter has a cd that we listen to in the van and she has all the songs memorized.  She loves to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”.  This includes the lines-He’s got you and me brother in His hands.  That has been made very clear to us the past few weeks.
We arrived at Blodgett Hospital at 5:30 AM on Tuesday, May 9.  There were a couple of hours of preparation.  As surgery time approached our children and I gathered around Tom to pray.  Dr. Umali, the anesthesiologist, joined us in prayer by removing his surgery headcover and bowing his head.  That meant so much to me.  It showed me that the doctor recognized that we are all in God’s hands and we depend on His protection for every day of our lives. 
The story of how Dr. Umali got assigned to Tom’s case is another example of God’s hand is at work in ways we can’t anticipate.  The week before surgery, Tom had to have a stress test to okay him for surge…