Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Process Begins

This afternoon Kevin received 2 pints of blood to get him ready for chemo later in the day. Around 4:30pm he had a half hour of the new chemo drug Melphalan. (Also used to treat Rhabdomyosarcoma, Shout out to Spencer! Although I don't think this is part of his treatment plan, at least yet anyway) He has to chew ice chips 15 minutes before and after the chemo (a dentist somewhere winces) He also has to rinse his month 3 times a day with a pinch of salt and baking soda. This is all to prevent month sores which is the most common side effect with this drug.

He is still feeling pretty good, ate his WHOLE dinner and has enjoyed watching the end of the Olympics. Tomorrow we are expecting to visit with a doctor about what he should expect to go through over the next couple of days.  They are planning to "replant" his stem cells sometime Tuesday. Yahhhh stem cells we love you!!!

The Process Begins

This afternoon Kevin was given 2 pints of blood to get him ready for his chemo later in the day. About 4:30 Kevin was given Melphalan (a new chemo drug for him) over a half hour and then he ate ALL his dinner

Saturday, February 27, 2010

All Checked In

We waited around most of the day, which we expected. Changed hotels rooms from our roomy 2 bedrooms, 2 bath suite, to our perfect for 2 people room. We were a little nervous that Kevin wouldn't be checked in today and we would be a little squished tonight cause....
we have a LOT of stuff! Preparing to be away form home for a month is no small thing and you must plan accordingly, which translates to "bring it all!"
Thankfully UCSF called with the official word that Kevin would be checking in tonight. We got some dinner in him then went to the hospital about 5:45pm. Waited in a waiting room (oh so perfectly named) till about 7pm when his room was all cleaned and ready for him.
This is his new private room. He snuggled right into bed.

Then started right in teasing and laughing with Ummara from Thailand. She was Kevin's night nurse just before he went home from his 5 weeks stay in Nov./Dec. She was extremely pleased with his progress and to see him walking around.  Being reminded of those hard times reminds us just how grateful we are for the blessings we've received!

Tomorrow he will start chemo. I will update you on this process once we talk to a doctor and I learn what it entails. Thank you for your continued support! 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Moving Forward

Today we didn't have to be at the clinic till noon. It was nice for Kevin to be able to sleep in on his Birthday and enjoy the morning. He had blood drawn and an x-ray to make sure the pneumonia is all cleared up and that he's healthy enough to start the transplant process.  We meet with a nurse practitioner who confirmed that we are A GO. 

Now we wait for a bed to open up for Kevin. We have learned that this is not as easy as it sounds because so many other patients are in for an extended stay as well and the floor is only so long.  They are hopeful that they might have a bed tomorrow which would be great but we've been told not to get our hopes up.  It will all work out for our good as everything else has, so we will be patient and ready whenever they are.

Kevin had ribs for his Birthday dinner and loved them! A HUGE thank you to everyone who called and sent him text messages for his birthday. He was shocked at how many people remembered, sshhhh don't tell on me ;-)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to San Fransisco

We packed in anticipation of being in San Fransisco for a month! Interestingly enough, it's a LOT of stuff. 

This afternoon we were able to visit our dear friends at the hospital because they had triplets yesterday! We were so happy to see mom & ALL the babies were healthy & happy. They are all smaller than babies we are used to seeing but they look perfect, just miniature. Especially little Colton 2 lbs 14oz.

This is proud father Brett with Conner 4 lbs 5oz
They were all resting peacefully. It was so nice to see them all doing well before we left town.

We had a nice drive to San Fransisco and got all checked into the hotel. Tomorrow is Kevin's 56th Birthday! We have the morning to celebrate but have some tests in the afternoon to make sure Kevin is healthy enough for the transplant. He is feel really good and ready to start this process.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Words 'Thank you' Seem So Inadequate

I keep forgetting to thank all those who supported the car wash fundraiser for us that went out of business before anyone could redeem their coupons.  A refund was offered but everyone chose to make it a donation and forget about the car washes they missed out on.  To all of you a BIG THANK YOU!  There have been so many kindnesses extended to us, we will be eternally grateful.

Also I wish to thank the sneaky someone who stealthily slipped and envelope with a lot of cash into my purse while I was in the Primary room and my purse was sitting right next to my son who completely missed the drop.  I've asked several people who were present at the time and nobody has 'fessed up to the thoughtful prank.  Really, you are all so wonderful, my cup is still running over at the generosity of all of you.  Another REALLY BIG THANK YOU!

I also wish to thank all of you who have donated through the Firm Foundation.  For the most part I don't know who you are, because TerryLynn won't tell me!  She says the people who donated through the Foundation may wish to remain anonymous and that she has sent thank you's to all.  She probably doesn't want me to know how much they put in!  ENDLESS THANK YOU'S TO ONE AND ALL!  We are so blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family in our lives.  I could spend the rest of my life on my knees trying to thank the Lord for all that has been given to us and that would not be enough. Love, Dale


Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Head Will You Vote For????

It has been nice to have some time at home and not be in the hospital. Kevin has actually been able to do a little work. It's always nice to feel like you are getting things done instead of watching them pile up. I finally got a portable camera for our laptop and set it up so we were able to skype with Denis & Marie Lozano. Technology is amazing these days!
Dennis is doing very well at home! His counts are good and he is feeling pretty good. He is getting out walking, with his new dog Rika, even though Alaska is covered in snow right now. It was soooo nice to talk and SEE the Lozano's again. Can't wait for our next visit!
He even was able to get out of the house a little. We had a nice visit with our good friends Brett & Betsy and their twins. Betsy (centered) is having triplet boys weds morning. Kevin was able to participate in a blessing for Betsy in anticipation of there boys.

We have also had time to work on the MANY HEADS OF KEVIN. Kind-of like Mr. Potato Head!
Vote for your favorite head by clicking on the Poll!

Friday, February 19, 2010

On the Road Again Soon

We just received word  that Kevin is scheduled to be back at UCSF on February 26th for pre-screening and then to be admitted to the hospital on the 27th to begin the first transplant process.  We've been told to expect to stay for a month.  Once we get there we will have a better understanding of exactly what's going to happen.  It's our understanding that he will receive four days of 'super chemo' that really kills everything.  Their original plan was to include two of these rounds just to get him into remission, but we were blessed to skip those as the 'regular chemo' did the job.  But it must be done before the stem cell transplant.  He will have two tandem transplants with a period of rest in between.

After the four days of chemo, I'm guessing he will be very sick.  It takes about a week for everything to die off.  That will make him neutropenic, which means he will have NO immunity.  They will leave him there where they can monitor him and jump on top of any infections or complications.  After a period of recovery they will put a batch of his stem cells back into him and see how that goes.  We just don't know the schedule yet.

He had a chest X-ray today.  We need that to be clear & healthy for all this to proceed.  He has no indications of any infection now, but aside from a fever he wouldn't have known he had pneumonia in the first place!  I'm sure it will all happen.  We are packing and getting ready to leave as scheduled.

We can't thank you enough for your prayers.  We keep running into people who didn't know Kevin had cancer who are now praying or people who tell us about someone they ran into who are now praying.  We have much faith in prayer.  It has already brought us many miracles and countless tender mercies. We know this is going to work!  But I think this is definitely going to be the hardest part of Kevin's treatment so far.  I don't really know what he's in for.  Maybe ignorance is bliss! Dale

Friday, February 12, 2010


Last night Kevin was released from the hospital and was so happy to be home. He crawled right into bed and stayed there till 12:30 in the afternoon today! He was thrilled to get real sleep.

We are waiting to here from UCSF Medical Center to find out when we are supposed to return to start the transplant process. It might be sometime next week.

He's Molting, here's  360 view of his head and what's left of his hair
His foe-hawk is sparce
(kinda creepy right?)

The sides are very thin and patchy

Don't be distracted by his ears! If you are wondering what happened to the hair in the middle of his head check his pillow :-O

If you are interested in the progress of Spencer (who is 7 & Kevin's nieces son) who has Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (a cancerous tumor in his neck pushing on his brain and the carotid artery) the n click the link below is for his blog... Spencer and his family have been faithfully praying for Uncle Kevin all this time and it is now time for us to turn some attention to his care. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It Was Just Too Easy

We were told that the collection of my stem cells would take 3-5 days.  They collected enough for 3 "transplants" in just one sitting.  "That never happens.  Two days minimum" she said.  At 4pm on that Tuesday, they called and said we were done and that I could come back and have the catheter removed.  Wow.  Another miracle. We stayed in San Fran that night and returned home Wednesday.  As Dale already said in her post, I started feeling ill, so into the hospital, again. Pneumonia, again.

The real reason I wanted to post this is to warn you all about BRONCOSCOPYs.  Today a doctor and 3 nurses ganged up on me.  "It's a very fast and easy procedure.  I'm just going to sedate you, spray a little lydocaine into your throat to numb it.  Then I'm going to put this very small probe down your throat so I can see exactly what's going on in your lungs.  Then I'll put a little saline down into each lung, then suck it back out, so hopefully I can get some of whatever is growing down there.  Then I might put a probe into the scope in order to do a biopsy of the tissue in each lung.  And that's pretty much it."  How long is this going to take, I ask.  "About 10 minutes" was his reply. 

Here's what he should have said. "No food or liquids after dinner the night before.  I'm going to sedate you.  You will be aware of what's going on, you will likely still feel pain and pressure and see things that will definitely scare you.  I will spray lydocaine down your throat, and this will make you gag.  I am also going to spray it up your nose, and this is going to be a very unpleasant part of the procedure.  Then I'll send the probe down your throat.  This is the least unpleasant part of the procedure.  Oh, by the way, when I put the saline into your lungs, it will give you the sensation that you are drowning.  But try not to cough, as that will aggravate things.  And, I almost forgot, when I send the biopsy probe down, you will feel it.  When I take the chunk out of a piece of your lung for the biopsy, it will feel like someone just tore off a piece of your lung.  Well how about that, It'll really take 45 minutes for all of this, but what I meant to say was that the prep work will take 10 minutes.  It will only take about 2 hours for the effects of the sedatives to wear off, so remember, no food or liquids until 2 hours after the procedure."

A broncoscopy is an unpleasant experience.  Make sure they explain it all to you before you let them do stuff to you.  I had to do it anyway, but I let the Dr. know that I wasn't happy about how this simple procedure was explained to me.  YE BE WARNED

Other than that, everythings going pretty well.  Hope you all are doing wonderfully.

Love.  Kevin

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Little Setback

Wednesday night at bedtime after coming home from UCSF that afternoon, I noticed Kevin's cheeks were bright red, almost looked like clown make-up.  I decided I should take his temperature.  He had a fever of over 102!  I called our Doctor, since Kevin had no other symptoms, he decided we could just wait, use tylenol, a see if it would go away.  Kevin has been on anti-virals, and antibodiocs to prevent such a thing.  Well, the fever continued into the next day and peeked at 103 so we took him to the ER and he has pneumonia again.  They got him on iv antibiodics right away.  So for now he is at Twin Cities Community Hospital here at home.  Our UCSF coordinator anticipates that they will keep him for about a week.  We haven't been back yet today.  Our hospital always seems anxious to get rid of him asap, so we will see.

Our little nephew Spencer did well with his biopsy yesterday.  We don't have any news yet.  We will all be fasting this Sunday for him and look forward to that opportunity.  Like us, his family has received an outpouring of love, food, prayers and offers to help.  We are all so blessed.  We will try to keep you posted as we learn more.  We have strong testimonies of the power of prayer.  We have certainly experienced many true miracles because of it and we know that Spencer and his family will too.  

We love you all so much and we are so grateful for your continued prayers and loving support.  We would be lost without you.  We pray for you that the Lord's blessings of health, prosperity and joy will be yours, and that the spirit will tell your hearts that your prayers in our behalf are heard and answered and blessing our lives.  Love, Dale

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quick Harvest!

Another miracle!  Harvesting enough stem cells normally takes 3-5 days, sometimes as long as a week!  They do it in the morning so the lab can analyze it to determine the volumn of stem cells collected.  We went back to the hotel to wait for word.  The call came at about 4pm.  They got all they needed in one collection!  Pretty unusual for most, but not for us!  Now he will rest at home for two weeks and go back to begin the process of 'replanting' the stem cells.  We don't yet have the dates or details.  I'm told that this is the hard part.  

Thank you for your prayers in behalf of our friend Dennis Lozano.  Now we need your prayers for our niece Holly Hemsath Gooch's first born child, Spencer.  It appears that he too has cancer.  They are scheduled to do a biopsy of the tumor on Thursday. We'll find out more after.  The name of the cancer is: Rhabdomyosarcoma.

We looked it up on line and it's pretty scary stuff.  Spencer's tumor is on his neck which looks like the best place to have it.  Best case senario is they remove it surgically and get rid of it all.  It appears that most have to go through a combination of surgery, chemo and radiation.  I did see the word 'cure' in the information and that made me feel much better.  

We have experienced so many true miracles ourselves in the last five months, we know that anything is possible and that Heavenly Father and Jesus will see to it that what needs to happen will happen!  We have that assurance.  So now please help us pray up a miracle for Spencer!  In the meantime, I'm praying that his parents will be blessed with the peace and comfort that has carried us through this trial.  We are praying that Spencer will especially  be blessed with the comforter and be able to endure all the procedures that he will have to undergo without fear and with calm acceptance.  They also have a great support group surrounding them.  They live in an area where there are many great hospitals and medical experts.  We know that this is key.  We are all fasting for him and his family this Sunday, February 7th.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, love and support.  We love you all so very much!  Dale

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Let The Harvest Begin

We arrived back in San Fransisco Sunday evening and moved back into the hotel. We have lived in and out of hotels for months now. We are getting very familiar and comfortable with the back and forth. We actually move into the cabinets and drawers! (Something I had never done before) We are so blessed to stay in such a wonderful place.

Yesterday morning we reported to Dr. Wolf's clinic (across the street from UCSF) for blood work. Then we met with a nurse practitioner, and our case manager. Then we took a shuttle to the Mount Zion Hospital (it's a part of UCSF just different kinds of medicine) Kevin had a new quinton-catheter put into his inner jugular vein, this is the 3rd time. We were done for the day at 2pm and had no idea what to do with ourselves. We have rarely, if ever, left the hospital before dark. We had a nice, quick drive back to the hospital were Kevin rested and enjoyed ESPN again (we haven't had satellite for the last 8 months) while my mom and I took a walk around Oyster Point and the marina it was beautiful!

This morning we were up and going around 5am and reported to the plasma-pheresis room on the 11th floor at 7:45am. It was like a reunion walking through the halls. We got to catch up with lots of of favorite nurses. They drew blood right away to check and see if his counts were high enough to start harvesting and they WERE.  He is now hooked up to the machine and they are sucking those stem cells right out. It is about a 4 hour process and then we will go back to the hotel and rest because the next couple of days will be exactly as this one.
Dina from the Ukraine (we meet her in Sept. in the ICU when she came to give Kevin plasma-pheresis)
The bag with the red in the bottom is the "goodie bag" with the stem cells in it
The line closest to his shoulder is the blood & stem cells coming out of him.
The line closest to his neck is putting the blood without the stem cells back in.

Kevin is doing VERY well and is in great spirits. The nurses are amazed at how healthy he looks, that he's walking around in such a short period of time. We are so blessed to be here at this fabulous medical facility where he is taken care of and watched over by so many. Being here brings our thoughts back to our good friend Dennis Lozano, who Kevin got to speak with last week. We are so pleased that he is thriving at home. His counts are rising some are even in the normal range, he's exercising more (thanks to walking his new dog) and gaining weight. All good news we are so happy that he is feeling so much better!