It Takes a Village to Get Through Treatment

Today was Tom's 13th chemo treatment.  Only three more to go.

The staff at Lemmen-Holton got into the Halloween spirit which made the day more enjoyable.  This is Tara who has been with us since the first treatment.  She is kind, knowledgeable and fun.

Each week at chemo he is evaluated before starting and they give the go-ahead to start.  The first step is a blood test.  Today's lab was staffed by the "Three Blonde Mice".

Last week, the treatment was canceled because Tom had developed neuropathy in his hands.  Neuropathy is numbness and tingling caused by the chemo drugs and it can become permanent. The doctor felt that a week without chemo might help.  As we arrived back in the lobby feeling very discouraged, there was a lady playing the grand piano that sits in there.  She was playing "It Is Well With My Soul" which is a favorite hymn of ours.  It was a sign to us that God is in control.

When we returned today, Tom's feeling had almost completely ret…

For the Record Book

Tom's sister sent us this clip from an article that appeared in the GR Press this week.  Tom's long-held football record for 445 yards rushing in a single game was broken.  Tom was happy for the young man and is going to send him a congratulations card.  52 years is a long time to hold a record. 

Tom's high school football performance gave him opportunity to play college football.  He chose Western Michigan University from among the many offers he had.  After suffering a career-ending injury, he transferred to Cornerstone University (Baptist Bible College at that time).  That is where I met him. And the rest is history.  
Tom is facing his cancer challenge with the grit and determination that he brought to the football field.
This past week he had his 11th chemo treatment.  The doctor said he is doing great and tolerating the chemo well.  She began reducing the amount of steroids he receives and now he is completely weaned from them.  We are happy for that because the ste…

Keeping Your Heart

Tom had his treatment this week without any problems.  His blood numbers had not moved from the previous week which was good news.  He now has 7 treatments left.  We are cautiously looking toward the end of chemo.  There will be celebrating when we are done.

The last post I made was about the 'waiting room' that we feel we are in now.  Our lives have been put on hold while he goes through his treatment.  At each week of chemo he receives a blood test that determines if he is healthy enough to receive treatment.  Each time he receives his treatment, he is one step closer to being done.  But waiting or postponing treatment is discouraging.

Some of our family attends Ada Bible Church near here.  I often watch the services during the week.  The Bible teaching is an encouragement to me.  This week's sermon is part of a series called Choosing Joy Under Pressure.  I have been watching with great interest.

Jeff Manion's sermon this week asked the question, "How in the wo…

The Waiting Room

The waiting room-Tom and I have been spending a great deal of time sitting in waiting rooms.  This morning at chemo we were waiting for his blood test.  That's the first step once  you get to Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion.  When they called his name, they said that they had called him before and he didn't respond.  That was be the worst.  To have missed your call.

At chemo you are seen by different people, so it isn't unusual to sit in the waiting room three different times during your visit.  Waiting room-Blood test;-waiting room- medical check-up; waiting room-chemo room (infusion room) and then you are finally cleared for chemo.  I'm thankful for the care that Tom is getting.  Every week there is no chemo until everyone agrees that he is healthy enough for a treatment.  We always breathe a sigh of relief when they say, "OK, we are set to go."  There have been two times when that didn't happen and it is very demoralizing.  With every treatment, Tom sa…

August Update

Spending time at Sandy Pines has been important for us this summer.  Sandy Pines is a member-owned campground in Allegan County.  It is 27 miles from our house in Alto. We have been enjoying many days there.  It could be sitting around a campfire in the evening or hanging out in the hammock reading. Sandy Pines has many special events.  We've enjoyed a Halloween celebration in July and Christmas in August.  I have decided that summer is a much better time to have these special days.  Trick or treating without a winter coat is great fun.  Decorating your place for Christmas in warm weather is fun.

For Christmas in August, the entire park becomes a Christmas wonderland of lights and inflatables. Santa even comes and greets the golf cart visitors.  

I know I haven't updated our family blog recently.  There are two reasons for this.  First, our journey has had some ups and downs and I've been busy attending to the day-to-day issues for Tom and I.  Secondly, in one sense our j…

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…