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First Chemo Treatment is Behind Us

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

Never a Surprise to God

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It has been nearly two weeks since we received the phone call with Tom’s test results telling us that his biopsy came back showing cancer.  One week has passed since we shared the news publicly. 
Telling everyone was difficult.  How do you find the words to say such a thing?
Tom chose to be public with his news. 
A good friend who has taken the cancer journey before us recommended a CaringBridges page.  She found the comments from loved ones very helpful as she faced her treatments.   We are using this blog and Facebook instead of CaringBridges but the effect is the same. 
Tom and I have been overwhelmed with the response of family, friends-both near and far.  Current friends and those we have lost touch with over the years.  We’ve heard from our pastor and Faith Bible Church family,  classmates, friends from our life in Florida, a former co-worker of Eric’s from his time in Minneapolis.  The notes from all of you have been incredibly helpful and strength building. 
We have heard fr…

Tom's Team

Tom has been a member of sports teams for almost his entire life.  Some of his fondest memories are the friendships he has made through teams.  Softball, baseball, football, basketball.  Now Tom needs a new team. 
Two weeks ago, Tom discovered a lump in his right breast.  After seeing our family doctor, he was sent to Betty Ford Breast Care Services in Grand Rapids for further testing.  Last week we received the news that no one wants to hear-the right breast and nearby a lymph node contain cancer.
Monday, April 24, our family spent the day at Betty Ford Services. The purpose was to hear from the doctors about his diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. We arrived there at 8 am as a team-Tommy, Sherry, Kristen and Eric and Tom and I (Brenda).  Jennifer joined us on Facetime.  We spent the morning meeting with the doctors and support team. 
There was good news from the doctors.  The cancer is not present in the left breast.  Also, the type of cancer is responsive to treatment.  They gav…