"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." -Daniel 2:22
"Do not fear, for I am with you..." -Isaiah 43:5
"...we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion." -Daniel 9:18

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hangin' in There

Kelsey, #1 granddaughter

Al went to radiology this morning to get some more tattoos! They have to tattoo tiny dots on you to mark the exact places where they are to do radiation. That way they can radiate the same exact spot every day. It took 2.5 hours.
He is in pain almost constantly these days. It seems like this problem is progressing very rapidly. The pain these days is mostly in his hips. He had thought it was his back, but since seeing the radiologist, now knows it is his hips (mostly). The hip problems are not the cancer. It is from the cancer treatment - namely, steroids. That is some nasty stuff. I guess that is why it kills cancer.
We are hoping the radiation treatments he will receive over the next 20 days will bring some relief. I am not sure, though, as I believe the treatments are mainly to arrest the deterioration of this area, not necessarily to heal anything.
It is all so much to assimilate in your mind. What the oncologist says, what the transplant doctor tells us, and the orthopedic surgeon, and the back specialist and the radiologist....they all have different ways of looking at the situation.
The oncologist see things in terms of longevity. He is trying every treatment he feels will prolong Al's life. His primary concern is Al's blood and the amount of cancer it contains.
The BMT doc (bone marrow transplant oncologist) looks at the completed procedure and what resulted from that. Knowing whatever the results, there is nothing further he can do unless another type of transplant is called for by the primary oncologist. Even limited success is a good thing for him (& us), it looks great in the research data.
The back specialist is only concerned with what is going on in his vertabre. He prescribes the physical therapy accordingly, even though other problems may make that a painful process. He can only recommend what he feels is the best treatment at the time. At least we postponed the plasty surgery to give the L5 time to heal, but what about the lesions in the L3?
The orthopedic surgeon is concerned with his entire skeleton. The operative word here being "surgeon" (no pun intended) - he wants to operate. Thus the talk about putting rods in his legs to shore up the femurs. Which really freaked Al out....
Enter the radiologist. He really seems like he is very right on. Let's do some radiation in just the areas that need it (right now) and try to preserve as much bone as possible so that if it should come to surgery, there will be bone tissue to adhere the rods and a new hip to. (A hip replacement!) Al was, again, freaked out with all this cavalier talk of replacing major portions of his skeleton.
So here we are. Trying to hang. Start radiation. Try to make some sense of everything that everyone is telling us and who is in charge of what part of his body. In a few weeks (before we even finish radiation), we go back to the primary oncologist who will want to start him on the maintenance chemo, Velcade.
We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family that keep us constantly before the throne of God. I know that at any given time of each day, that there is probably someone who is praying for us. It does make a difference. When Al feels so bad that he can not pray or I am too overwhelmed that I can not pray...that is where everyone else comes in.
With God's help, I have been able to stay strong before Al. Sometimes in my quiet time I cry out to God, but not for Al to see my anguish. Most days, I just try to stay in the moment.
There is no road map for this disease. I learned this past week that there are 7 different varieties of multiple myeloma. It is very hard to find 2 people in the same area that have the exact same strain. So we are unable to compare treatments and get an idea of what the future looks like for us from others.
But there is hope. More and more research is being done for this cancer. There are more treatments available today than there was even a year and a half ago, when Al was diagnosed. Just a few years ago, the prognosis was 3 to 5 years. Now, it just depends upon how well you tolerate the treatments. Some are living 10-12 years.
We also know that heaven waits for us when the battle is over and that God is the only One who is in charge of life and death. We know where we will spend eternity - together, along with most (prayerfully, all) those that we love.
Thanks to those who we interacted with this week - you are a blessing!
Kerry & Kelsey (oldest grandchild, see pix), CJ (getting me out of the house), Joey (thanks for meeting with Al on Sunday), Sherrie, Priscilla & Warren, Winnie (crying with me), Leslie, Diane, Ruth, Melissa, Lori, Ami, Sandra, Anne & everyone in Sunday school, Tim, Scott, Billy, Jeff & all the guys that encouraged Al on Sunday, Jill (giving me something to do), Justin (for being a great son & changing my tire & mowing & stuff)...if I didn't get to you, I will eventually.


CJ Merrell said...

gotta get out of the house again this week... and catch up! love you :)

Kerry Putman said...

Al and Karen, It was our pleasure to visit with you this weekend (and eat some great food!)!
Thanks for making the trip down.
Kelsey's next home game is Friday, September 26th around 6:00ish.
I admire you both and your humble spirit's and especially your great Faith in our Father. Thank you for setting an example for everyone. I will hold you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Al and Karen:
Just finished reading the blogs - past and present. I am humbled by what you enduring - all in faith, boldness and humility.
I must admit that I feel guilty when I get a good repsort from my cystoscopy and the doc says, "all clear! See ya in 3 months". While I praise God for keeping me clear, I still remember the fear and trembling I felt when first he told me, "you have cancer!"
Please know that I pray for you and hurt for you. I pray for God to bless you with comfort, His peace and the pain to depart from you.
I love you! God bless ya real good!
Terry Miller