Saturday, October 29, 2005

October 29, 2005

Yesterday was a good day. Several people provided us with hopeful information. We were told not to pay attention to the statistics and expectancies on the Internet and in various articles. Most people diagnosed with this type of cancer are much older and in many cases already in poor health. At 38 and in good health, I should logically be ahead of the averages, right?

I had lunch yesterday with my friends and business partners Mark James, Paul Richards and Dick Chatterton. I very much admire and respect their opinions. Dick has been battling prostate, renal cell and lung cancer. He provided comforting words and good advice.

I spent much of yesterday travelling with my Dad to hospitals and clinics gathering my test results and paperwork and delivering them to the Hunstman Cancer Institute. The Tumor Board will review my case on Tuesday.

My sister Stacie has been gathering and spreading information. Her work has raised our spirits significantly.

Marianne is dilated to a three. It could happen anytime. She looks great.

Thanks for the prayers and support. Keep them coming and remain hopeful with us.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It's called Cholangiocarcinoma or Bile Duct Cancer. It is rare and normally found in those in their seventies. There is no known cure and it does not respond well to chemotherapy. It is fast moving. There may be a possibility of surgery but we need to seek several additional opinions before making any decisions. Several oncologists and surgeons will be considering my case over the next few days.

Marianne's appointment today went well although she is very, very tired. The baby is fine.

Today was hard but we remain hopeful. We love you all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

October 25, 2005

We spent yesterday at St. Marks Hospital. They took three biopsies from my liver. The tumor is so large that they were going to use ultra sound rather than a CT scan to locate the proper location to biopsy but they ultimately determined to use the CT. They said everthing went fine. I am now, however, having my first real abdomen pain. Before it was a nuisance type pain but now .... On the way home from the hospital, the oncologist called and wants me to have an upper CT scan to look for tumors in the lungs. The CT scan they took yesterday was a little higher than the one they took last week and perhaps they saw something. Just a guess. We will probably have the chest scan tomorrow.

It will take a couple of days for pathology to test the biopsies. We should know much more by Thursday.

Marianne is doing great. She is getting the baby's room ready. I am proud of how strong she is. I love her very much.

The kids are great. Chase and Tessa are off school and they have been quite helpful.

The trip to South Bend was nice and I am glad I went. Everything was exciting and depressing at the same time. It became very clear to me on the trip that no matter what the doctor tells me on Thursday, things will never be the same. I guess that's okay.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

October 22, 2005

Many of you have commented on how much you enjoy and appreciate our web page. I just wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to our wonderful brother-in-law, Rick Pollock, who is responsible for designing and setting up this site.

Mark, Bill and Geret are safe and sound in South Bend. Go Cougars!

Friday, October 21, 2005

October 21, 2005

Marianne and I and my parents visited with the oncologist yesterday. It was depressing to visit a cancer clinic. The facilities were beautiful and the staff friendly and accomadating but it made this week long nightmare seem real for the first time. The doctor allowed us to pepper him with questions even though there is still much to be determined. He showed us the mass on the liver and explained how they will needle biopsy it on Monday. He told us that given my health, age and where the cancer was and wasn't, this was going to be something "weird." He told us that I would likely need to go to specialists out of state for additional opinions before deciding on a course of action. We need to wait for the results of the biopsy. Although the news was sobering, the four of us left feeling somewhat upbeat for some reason.

We left the clinic and went right to Marianne's OBGYN appointment. It was quite a stark contrast. She and the baby are doing great.

Bill and Geret just knocked on the door so I am off to Notre Dame. I am going to enjoy myself this weekend and not think about the odds of the game or life.

We love all of you and appreciate all the kind messages in the guestbook.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

October 20, 2005

We visited with an internal medicine doctor yesterday afternoon. He said the mass on my liver was 8 x 9 centimeters rather than 8 x 9 millimeters as the radiology report had incorrectly stated. We scheduled a CT guided needle biopsy of the liver mass for Monday morning. We also spoke with Stacie's brother-in -law Dr. Mark Jorgensen last night. He is a leading Radiologist practicing in Arizona. We were in the same LDS ward during our Stanford days. He interpreted the radiology report and answered numerous questions. We are meeting with an oncologist today and should have more information.

I took a sleeping pill last night which helped. I am leaning towards going to Notre Dame. We will see after Marianne's appointment this afternoon with her OBGYN.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

October 19, 2005

Marianne and I gathered the medical records last night in preparation for our visit to the oncologist on Thursday. We noticed that the records said that my pancreas was normal. Others have told us that this is good news as pancreatic cancer can be very difficult to treat. Hopefully, we will find the source soon.

Marianne had a tough day yesterday and we took her into the hospital. The baby is fine. Marianne needs to stay off her feet and drink more water.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

From the beginning

I guess I will post under Marianne's name and give a synopsis of the past few days.

My stomach has been hurting off and on for the past 30 days. It kind of feels like one of my kids playfully elbowed me in my upper abdomen. The pain comes and goes. Because I was training to run the St. George Marathon I thought the pain was from training. The pain increased a little during the two weeks before the marathon so I quit running but it was really more of a nuisance type of pain and I did not otherwise alter my daily routine. I ran the marathon on October 1, 2005 with my good friend, training partner and neighbor Darren Nelson and his family. My stomach bothered me some but there were other parts of my body in much more pain. It was a good experience and I am glad I did it.

I did not feel great the week after the marathon but that seemed normal to me. One of my clients, Dr. Rachot, came to see me about a legal issue during the second week of October. I told him about my stomach pain and explained to him that I thought it might be an ulcer. After some conversation he prescribed Prevacid and told me to come to his clinic in a few days if the pain did not decrease.

On Wednesday October 12th I left work early because I was in charge of the Red Cross Blood Drive in our Stake. Chase had been asking us to take him to a doctor for some time because his heel had been hurting during football practice. I, of course, had been telling him to ignore the pain and tough it out (Bad Fathering 101). I finally told him I would take him to the doctor during a break in the blood drive.

Chase, Marianne and I went to Dr. Rachot's clinic together. The doctor poked around on my stomach, asked many questions and then took some blood and a chest x-ray. Chase left with a splint on his foot and crutches. His Achilles tendon was inflamed and he was told to stay completely off his foot for five days.

On Thursday I just did not feel like going to work. Now I rarely feel like going to work but this time I actually stayed home. Marianne and I had a nice day together. Around noon, the clinic called with the results of the blood test and chest x-ray. There was a "bubble" in my chest x-ray that the radiologist thought was pneumonia (we do not know yet whether this is correct). The blood test showed elevated levels of two enzymes and they told me this indicated a problem with my pancreas or perhaps gall bladder. We scheduled a CT scan for the following day.

Marianne and I went to the hospital on Friday October 14th. The CT scan was not a big deal. After I was told we were finished, they asked me to stay to take a few more pictures. They said this was routine and I did not think much of it. They then asked me to stay around for a few minutes because my doctor wanted me to bring the results back to him. We now know that they were trying to locate my friend Dr. Rachot so that he could give us the news.

When we went to Dr. Rachot's clinic Marianne stayed in the car and I ran in to get the results. They put me in an exam room and in a few minutes Marianne came in. She asked why I wanted her to come in and I told her that I had not asked for her. We decided that they wanted her to come in because I am a bad listener and would not remember what they told me.

They told us that the news was not good. The CT scan showed tumors on my liver and on the lining outside my stomach and near my bowels called the omentum or something like that. Because cancer rarely originates in these places, the doctors said we needed to find the origin. We scheduled a colonoscopy for Monday.

We, of course, were stunned. Patrick was at home and we decided to tell him. We hugged and cried for a long time. We called Marianne's Dad who is a retired doctor. He answered many questions and gave us wise and comforting council for which we continue to be grateful.

We were too emotional to see Chase and Tessa right then so we asked our friends the Kings and the Smarts to keep them for the next while. We spent a few minutes with our good neighbors the King's, and at the end Eric told me his heart hurt. That is a perfect explanation of how Marianne and I have felt the last few days as we have shared the news with our loved ones. We gathered at my Mom's house that evening. It was difficult. We are very blessed to have such a close and capable family. If we could harness the energy of my Mom, Kelley, Stacie and Amy we would no longer need to rely on foreign oil. My dad has also been a great comfort as has Marianne's family.

On Saturday night we went to the BYU game with my family. It was a nice night for many reasons. We met Marianne's Dad and brother Bruce at the game and the things they said brought us more hope and comfort. Many months ago my brother in law Geret my high school friend Bill Adamson and I planned a trip to Notre Dame for this coming Saturday. I told them to go no matter what and that perhaps I might even join them. We'll see.

Sunday was hard. It was the primary program and my mom and dad came. Chase gave a talk about preparing to receive the priesthood and Tessa performed with her singing group. It is funny how I seemed to hear for the first time words from hymns I have sung hundreds of times before. I was very proud of Chase and Tessa. Later that day we talked with Chase and Tessa. Chase curled up in a ball on my lap and cried for an hour. I worry most about him. Tessa seemed to know a surprizing amount about cancer. At one point, Chase seemed a little bothered by the fact that Tessa was not acting perhaps the way he thought she should. Marianne, trying to be discreet, told Chase that perhaps someone in the room could not completely understand the situation. Tessa immediately raised her hand with several "oh, oh, oh's". I called on her and she said, "It's me, right." That evening my family came over and my brothers in law Geret and Bryan gave Marianne and me blessings. The few neighbors we have told gathered at the Nelson's home with the Bishop for a short meeting to begin a fast. That really meant a lot to us. My sister Stacie put our names on the prayer roll of every temple in the United States. Patrick and Chase were very comforted when they heard about what Stacie had done.

On Monday morning we met with my partners at work. They are good men and close friends and it was hard to share the news with them. I have no concerns at all about missing work although I will miss being with them.

Later on Monday morning I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. Despite the suggestions from a few others, I am not posting the pictures. Neither showed any signs of cancer. We understand this is good news because colon cancer is very hard to treat. We have appointments for Wednesday and Thursday with an internal medicine doctor and an oncologist. We are still looking for the source. We will let you know.

I am actually feeling pretty good. My stomach bothers me some at night and in the morning but really not much. It has been hard to sleep during the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. because my mind starts racing. I do not feel that tired during the day.

I am enjoying being with my children. What they say seems a little more interesting and important and how they feel when they wrap their arms around me seems a little more comforting. Patrick does not say much but every twenty minutes or so he comes into whatever room I am in to see how I am doing.

Marianne is so strong. She is three weeks or so away from having a baby and she thinks she needs to care for me. I am anxious to get all this doctor stuff over with so that we can focus on Marianne and the baby.

The support has been overwhelming. I am surprized at how much it means to me and my family. Thanks so much for your kind words and prayers.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hello Family and Friends

We are working on a condensed run down of what has been happening over this past week, and as we have updates we will add them. Thank you so much for all your love and support. We really do feel it blessing our lives.