Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow Part Deux

Hair it it! The moment you've all been waiting for! We have obtained the exclusive rights to broadcast the shaving of Kevin's brain box and are presenting it to you free of commercial interruption.

Brought to you by Suave.

Miraculous !

Hillary has been doing such a great job with the blog that I've gotten lazy about making my own posts.  So while she is making Christmas cookies for Darrell for his birthday (he wanted Christmas cookies instead of cake), she encouraged me to make my own post.

First, last and always, I can not, and never will be able to, express to each and every one of you my deep love and appreciation for the prayers, thoughts, cards and calls that I receive from all of you every day.  Last week I received cards from Bill & Betty Muller (that's right, Bill even wrote in it to me!) and Ruth Zingg.  I receive cards regularly, and it always make me cry to know that even after 4 months, the kind thoughts and prayers still abound.  The financial support is very humbling, and very much appreciated, as well.

The worst of it isn't even the side affects.  The chemo-brain induced fog, feeling cold, sickness, nausea, no physical strength,  not being able to read much due to the swelling of my eyes because of the drugs, all the drugs I have to take on a daily basis, having to give myself shots (today I start having to give myself 3 shots a day), having to travel back and forth to SF for the treatments, and loosing my hair.  Those are nothing compared to my not being able to personally visit with you, hug you, and let you know how much I love and miss all of you.  A very special thank you to all of the young mothers and fathers who send me pictures of their babies and children via my cell phone.  I miss my primary kids a lot.

I've recently read an inspirational thought that I would like to share with you.  Perhaps an insight, perhaps a Kevin 3:7 (false doctrine), but it hit me as I read it, because I believe that it helps to explain the circumstances of my miraculous roller coaster ride with IGM Myeloma.  As we met last week with the world renowned Dr. Jeff Wolf, my primary doctor at UCSF, he simply stated as he walked in the room, "You are a special study".
In all of his years with IGM Myeloma patients from around the world, he had never had one that had gone into complete remission after the initial chemo therapy, and before the high dosage chemo.  My kidneys are nearly back to pre-cancer level of efficiency (80% and "pristine"), when they were hoping for 25-30% initially. We're 2 months ahead of schedule and have been able to avoid 2 heavy dosage chemo therapy treatments.  The statement is from Teilhard de Chardin, a now deceased Jesuit priest who wrote his observations on the spirit.  He wrote, "We are not human beings having a spiritual existence.  We are spiritual beings having a human existence."  To me, it seemed to become clear.  My spirit has been responding to all of your prayers and good thoughts on my behalf first.  Then it is my spirit, bolstered by each of yours, which has an uplifting and healing effect on my physical being.  Not the other way around.  Regardless of how it works, IT WORKS!  The cancer may try and destroy my human existence, but it can never destroy, or even effect in a negative way to any degree, my spirit.  The atonement is real and in process every minute at the Richards' home.

Well, I won't promise that I'll put more of my thoughts and feelings on the blog more often, but I'll try.  Emotionally it is very draining.  As tears stream down my face, just feeling of your thoughts and prayers on my behalf and behalf of my family, the doctors and all those who assist in my treatment and recovery, is extremely humbling.  Thank you for letting me a part of this process.

Love.  Kevin

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow!

I've been waiting to get video from Darrell but couldn't wait longer...

The other day Kevin noticed some hair starting to come out

So for Family Home Evening we decided to shave Kevin's head!

This is Kevin's imitation of Sloth from Goonies,
"Haaay you guuuyysss"

In the end we decided to leave him a little something on top, but it still DOESN'T make his ears look smaller!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday Kevin was doing much better. He got plenty of fluid and a couple pints of blood then they sent us home around 4:30pm. It was a longer drive home and he still feels "foggy" and tired from the toxins but is making progress and even starting to eat a little soup. He slept much better last night in his own hospital bed at home. He needs to continue to stay hydrated to flush out the poison. In a couple of days he will be neutropenic (which means he will have no immune system to fight off inflection). This means NO MORE VISITORS for a while but he has enjoyed having some contact to humans over the last few weeks.

We have 2 appointments with Dr. Bonis is Paso Robles next week and on Feb. 1st we report back to Dr. Wolf's clinic to check his counts and see if he's ready to harvest!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A New Adventure

Yesterday we drove back to San Fransisco because Kevin had a 8:30am appointment at Dr. Wolf's clinic for extreme chemotherapy.

The day started off pretty well but the chemo arrived late so we got a late start on the meds. Around 1:30 they started the cytoxan drip, will he ate lunch. We learned that this dose was actually 8000mg which is 27 times moe than his body is used too YIKES.

(the bag with the yellow sticker is the cytoxan)

They have also been pumping him full of fluid. Originally we were going to have to wake him up every 3 hours to go to the bathroom, make him drink 2 1/2 liters throughout the night, and take more meds. We were a little nervous about this considering his history with not obeying us as opposed to medical staff.

Tara was our nurse today and she took wonderful care of Kevin. She made sure he got a private room, let him sleep when the meds hit, and laughed with us. 

A couple hours after the meds were in him he started to feel nauseous, which is normal but not a great sign considering his history with dehydration. They decided to send him across the street to the "Limited Stay Unit" were he will receive the fluid through the IV and all of his meds. He wasn't thrilled about this but Dale & Hillary were relieved to know he would get the care he needs especially if there are any more problems.

Kevin has never been to this floor or wing before. It's always nice to try something different! He's all set up to stay the night and probably most of tomorrow to continue getting the fluids he needs to flush out the harmful drugs. If all goes well he should be released tomorrow in the early evening.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Plan for the Near Future

Today we met with Dr. Wolf and our "transplant coordinator" Lisa. Even though Kevin's cancer is considered "CR" which means complete remission they still want him to get more chemo before the stem cell harvest. Because of his cancer's aggressive nature & the fact that it could come back at any time they want to make sure they do everything they can to keep it away as long as possible.

We are scheduled to go back to Dr. Wolf's clinic January 21 for a major dose of Cytoxan. He's been getting 300mg, this will be more like 4000mg in one dose. After a few days (possibly a week) his blood counts will come back up and they will harvest his stem cells. They want a lot of them so they can do two "re-plants" in the next few months and one more which he hopefully won't need for ten or so years down the road. Each re-plant takes about a months time and then they are planning for two cycles of post re-plant PACe, which will also be about a month each.  We still have many months ahead of us but we are already months ahead of schedule thanks to our many blessing and miracles which have come about through your continued faith and prayers. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with us it certainly has been an adventure!

Monday, January 11, 2010

More Than We Could Ask For

Today I was expecting to hear from UCSF about the next phase of Kevin's treatment which was to put him into remission with 'super chemo' and then start the stem cell process.  I waited patiently all day and near the end of it I received the call.  The news was not what we expected to hear.  All the results of last weeks day of lab work,  medical tests and the bone marrow biopsy done on Thursday are in! Guess what?  He's already in 'complete remission'!  All his results are 'phenomenal'!  Kidneys included! 

So, he doesn't need the two rounds of super chemo which was probably going to take another two months to do.  He's ready now to begin the stem cell process.  This Thursday we will be meeting in San Francisco with Dr. Wolf in his clinic to learn what exactly will happen next.  Kevin is scheduled to be back at UCSF as an out patient on the 25th for 1-5 days to harvest his stem cells and have them frozen.  Then he is scheduled to be admitted to the hospital at UCSF on February 8th to have the super chemo that kills everything good and bad to prepare him to receive his stem cells back.  They call it a transplant.  Hillary calls it a replant, since they are his own stem cells.  That's all we know now.  Things change so fast, but everything is going our way!

We give thanks to our Heavenly Father for His tender mercies and great love.  We give thanks to all of you for your tremendous prayers and love.  We have been so greatly blessed, we can't even begin to express adequate gratitude for all that we have been blessed with.  We have been blessed with great peace and the assurance that Heavenly Father is aware of us and all our concerns.  He has addressed each and every worry.  He blessed us with Michael Blackwell who made the diagnosis in record time, saving Kevin's life the first time.  He blessed us with our wonderful Dr. William Bonis here in Paso Robles.  Dr. Bonis got us to UCSF where they saved his life not once but two times and placed us in the capable hands of Myeloma experts, Dr. Wolf and Dr. Martin who took care of Kevin during his five week stay in there.  He blessed us with Kandee who has kept us at the Marriott during all our stays in SF.  He has kept a roof over our head and paid the bills through our friends, family, and even total strangers. We owe so many people.  All we can say is that we love you so much and we are truly grateful.

By the way, we were reminded that today is the fourth anniversary of the death of Kevin's father Lynn Richards.  Since his death we have been aware of his presence in the Richards' family's life still.  Every time Kevin is 'mostly dead' or comes out of one of his hallucinating periods, I always ask him, 'Have you seen your father lately?', hoping he would say he had just seen him and he gave him this or that advice.  That hasn't happened.  We choose to think of this coincidence as a sign that Grandpa has been near us and watching over us and celebrates with us today!

Our love to you all, Dale

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Expected Delays

As you may have guessed we will NOT be going back to San Fransisco Monday.  The doctors are still waiting for test results and a lot of paperwork needs to be done before they will be ready to have us back.  The Doc's were getting a little ahead of themselves but hopefully they will have everything they need straightened out by the end of the week.  The new maybe day is Thursday or Friday. But that could always change too. We will let you know when we know.

Sometimes it is a little frustrating for Kevin to have his living quarters in our family room right off the kitchen. (especially because he likes to sleep in till 2pm on some occasions) It has also cut down on sitting space for the rest of us but at least it's easy to clean under...

It can get even higher!
While Dale & Hillary were at church this afternoon, President Scott and Kunz came to catch up. Then after curch we had a nice visit with Cody and TJ.
Kevin has been doing better and better since our last hospital visit. He's even getting around without his cane! We are glad that he is feeling so well before he gets "knocked out" by this next treatment. We are not sure how he will respond to the PACe treatment, all we know is that Kevin is one of a kind and so are his reactions!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support on our behalf, it is all working for his and our good daily.  Kevin got to talk with Dennis which  really made his day. Dennis is back in freezing Alaska and couldn't be happier. He had a wonderful Christmas with his children and grandchildren and has been feeling better mentally and physically since returning home. His counts have even started to come up which make him and his doctor happy :-)

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Today we had a check-up with Dr. Bonis who confirmed that the plan is for Kevin to go back to UCSF Monday or Tuesday to start his PACe treatment. He will receive 4 days of heavy duty chemo that will kill his immune system and take his long wavy locks. Then he will come back home with us to recoup for 3 or more weeks. During this time he will be on strict house arrest and not be able to have any visitors because he will be extremely susceptible to infection. Then he did a surprise bone marrow biopsy, we should find out the results next week while at UCSF. They just want to determine his starting off point before they start the next phase of treatment.

The doctors are planning to treat him with PACe twice before taking out his stem cells just to make sure they get as much of the cancer as possible.  He has made such great progress that everyone is extremely pleased. This is the beginning of another long haul back and forth between home and San Fransisco but we are excited to start the process!

Then the whole family had lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant LoLo's. It was nice to see Destiny again (one of our favorite waitresses) but we missed Annette. It tasted fabulous and was just what the doctor ordered.

Kevin, Candice, Darrell, Dale & Destiny

After relaxing at home for the afternoon Kevin had a visit from his good friend Jay. They enjoyed catching up and laughing about old times. Unfortunately Hillary dropped the ball and forgot to get  a picture, sorry Jay.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Years to Now

New Years

Hillary went out with friends while...

Kevin put together the traditional new Years eve puzzle and it looks like him too!
Cari, Logan, and Maycee came for a visit on New Years day

After church on Sunday Doyle, Helen, and John came by too.

Monday afternoon Hillary drove Kevin and Dale to the Residence Inn in South San Fransisco (our new and lovely home away from home) This was the 1st time Kevin has been up in the car and not the back of an ambulance. He really enjoyed seeing things from our point of view. Monday morning started for us at 5am and went something like this...
Breakfast at the hotel, scarf.

8am Electrocardiogram at the hospital. An ultrasound of his heart which you can see on the screen

Then across the street to Dr. Wolf's clinic were everyone gets to wear these stylish masks.

 Meet with Adam (a Fellow from Poland) and the Wolf man

We had a nice meeting with Tiffany, the social worker for the transplant unit, who's adorable and helpful too
He got to put his favorite uniform back on for a pulmonary function screen.
Then a chest-xray/bone survey (where Kevin earned the patient of the day award) and then raced down the street to get an EKG.

All done FINALLY!!!! Exhausted but Happy to be done, now all that's left is the ride back home.

We stopped for dinner at Olive Garden and Kevin was excited to go to a  restaurant again.
We had a nice and slightly fast drive home (this is why Hillary drives).  Kevin crashed when we got home and slept A LOT after such a big day.

After sleeping in and probably a nap in the afternoon Al & Kathy came by to catch up.