Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday noon

We are now transferred out of ICU and Derek is resting. Dad Sauder headed home, and there's just a few more tubes to come out...drainage from incisions and cath and iv antibiotics. Jello for breakfast, and no nausea thus far. We are glad he is taking pain pills by mouth just fine. He sat up for a couple hours already this morning and came up a floor in a wheelchair to his room 746 on the 9th floor of St. Mary's hospital.

Derek is talkative and feels pretty good overall.

Tomorrow his brothers are planning to come and my parents. It's mild here, 40 degrees, we are glad for good travel roads.

Psalm 103. Especially verse 2 meant a lot to me this morning. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Derek is looking good

Dear praying family and friends,

Derek is doing really well coming out of everything. He asked me to specifically tell you that he believes waking up went so smoothly and moving his limbs went well, and just generally little to no pain is due to your prayers. We are so thankful that he is recovering this good.

We will be back at 7:30am to talk to the dr. again and the plan is to move him out of ICU tomorrow.


Talked to surgeon

It's 7:41pm, and we just got done talking to the doctor. Everything went as expected, and the preliminary pathology is malignant meningioma as we expected. He said Derek was waking and able to move arms and legs, and we will get to see him in about 1 hr.


A nurse stopped by and said they were starting to close which could take 1.5 hrs yet.

Surgery started

Surgery officially started at 10:33am. The markers have already been inserted. Thankful for your comments and love.


This morning so far

We read Psalm 40 together, and have felt reasonably calm and peaceful.  Derek was rolled away from pre-op around 7:30am.  He will be sedated for the procedure to put markers in his back which will help the surgeon know where to make the incisions for the surgery.  Inserting the markers will be first, and we will not see him in between that procedure and the actual surgery itself.  The nurse did not know if he would wake up in between the two or not.  We are in a very full waiting room.  The sun is shining, and Jesus has His strong arms of love around Derek and us.  Thankful for your prayers.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Encouraging Weekend

We had a good weekend at home, spending time with the kids and much of our family. It was good to be able to go to church today and receive so much encouragement from all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We just got back to Rochester with Mom and Dad Sauder in preparation for tomorrow morning's surgery. The kids are with Leann's folks for the first part of this week. It went ok leaving them behind but it was really sad when we first got home Friday night trying to explain everything to them. Lexi seems to be taking it pretty hard, I think she can understand more of what is going on. Wesley gets really sad for a while, but then he's off to play again. Whitley seems to be just taking cues from everyone else and cries when she sees the rest of us crying.

We know you will all be prayerful for us tomorrow. Pray for me that I don't fear the pain and unknown's of coming out of surgery. Pray for Leann and Mom and Dad to have calm strength as they wait through it. And pray that Leann can handle the feelings of helplessness she expects to have once surgery is over.

Derek and Leann

Friday, January 27, 2012

Treatment Plan

Thanks everyone for your prayers. Just wanted to give you an update on our plans.

The MRI taken yesterday of the brain showed what appears to be new tumor growth (since Dec) on the lining of the brain at the rear bottom.(suspected this yesterday from what they could see on the upper spine MRI) This doesn't really change the treatment plan as this will be radiated in the future. This area was not in the surgery area or radiation zone from last summer's treatment. The lumbar (lower) spine MRI showed some tumor growth there as well but they are not as concerned about it because it is less likely to cause paralysis problems and once again the hope is radiation. The CT scan showed no spread to the lymph nodes, lungs, or anywhere outside of the nervous system.

We are driving home now to spend the weekend with the kids and family and will leave with Mom and Dad Sauder after church Sunday to come back up. We have decided to go ahead with the surgery. Monday morning at 6 we are to report to the hospital. The first procedure will be to put a marker in my spine so they can find the incision areas more accurately. Then they will go into the two areas where the tumor is pressing most upon my spinal cord. They will take as much of the tumor out as possible and then patch it with muscle tissue from my leg. The goal of the surgery is to prevent damage to the spinal cord until they can get radiation and chemo going. They expect 3-4 days in the hospital after surgery. Less dizziness than last time, but more pain and risk of damage to nerves and muscle control.

Assuming pathology confirms this to be spread of the meningioma, then radiation would be given that would be less dosage than the first round. They just can't give as much in these areas. It will take 2-3 weeks to heal from surgery before I can begin the radiation. There would also be some chemotherapy, but exact plans on that are not worked out yet.

As for the future, the doctors really don't know what to predict. They have great urgency to get the surgery done and begin radiation before the tumor causes paralysis. They have never seen a meningioma spread to this extent in the spine, so there really is no data behind the success of the treatments. If the tumor does not respond to radiation or chemo, then my time could be as short as months. In the best case medically and with successful treatment it could be a few years. With our great God who can work miracles, it could be that I am healed and able to see my kids grow up.

It is not easy. I cry a lot. Not out of fear, but just as Paul described. I Phil 1:20-24 "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain" He had a desire both to be in heaven but also didn't want to leave those he loved behind. I'm committing the future to God, and don't want to demand a miracle. I'm willing to go or stay, whatever he sees best. He knows so much more about the future than I. I have the full confidence in His power to heal and my prayer is that he would heal. If He chooses not to, it will not be because He was unable, but rather He saw better not to.

I'm praying for all of you my church family. My heart hurts to think of all the pain and tears that everyone is shedding. My prayer is that through all of this we may be drawn closer to the Lord first and to each other as well.

Derek & Leann

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dr. Link's meeting

We met with Dr Link this afternoon.  I had a CT scan of chest, abdomen, and pelvis which is all clean.  He showed us more of the slides from yesterday's MRI and these don't look any better.  There are a couple areas where the spinal cord is compressed very significantly.  He also sees tumor growth in the lower rear area of the brain.

There are two alternatives of treatment.  The first is to start radiation right away and hope that it stops the tumor from growing.  The advantage is quicker treatment, the disadvantage is that if the swelling and growth continues, it is a very risky surgery to do later once this area has received radiation.

The second option is to do surgery now (Monday) and then start radiation 3 weeks later.  The surgery would involve cutting the back of the vertebrae off in the two locations with the largest tumor growth.  he would then cut out what he could of the tumor, and repair the lining of the cord with some muscle tissue from my leg, hoping to give the spine more room.  Then finally put the vertebrae back together.  The disadvantage of this plan is if the tumor grows too much before we can start radiation.  Radiation can't be started until the incision is fully healed.

Tonight I had a full head MRI and lumbar spine MRI.  We'll get those results in the morning.

Please pray for us for wisdom in regards to the treatment decision.  We have felt your prayers throughout today and are humbled much by the love and prayers.  Dad Sauder made it up safely tonight.

Derek & Leann

Spine MRI

We met with Dr Hammack this morning to see the results of the scan. It is very bad news. The tumor is growing in the spinal fluid on the back and sides of my spine. It's not inside the spinal cord yet which is good. It is inside the vertebrae, causing pressure against the cord. It more or less runs from the very top down to the middle of my back. I'm waiting now to get a CT scan of my chest, pelvis, and abdomen. Then tonight I have another MRI, this time of my head and lower back. She suspects it may also be present lower down my back.

Late afternoon we meet with Dr Link, the neurosurgeon. They would like to get a sample they can biopsy so we would know what type of tumor it is for sure. We don't know when this will be yet but she thought soon.

The extent of the tumor is such that surgery will not be able to get rid of it, with the exception of maybe taking pressure off the worst areas. The most probable plan would be radiation followed by chemo.

I'm on a narcotic pain killer now which thankfully allowed me to sleep some last night.

She called this a serious setback. It seems hard to really believe what we are hearing. But once again it's both amazing and encouraging to feel everyone's prayers today. We know you will continue to pray for us and appreciate it so much.

Our children are in Eureka with the Stollers, and Mom Sauder came up with us. Dad Sauder is on his way. We are so loved and surrounded by care and prayers. Thanks be to God.

Derek & Leann

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More tumor

We had Derek's appt and MRI today. The sad news is they found more tumor in his spinal fluid. We do not know much, but it was indicated that surgery would not be an option. We are meeting with the oncologist again in the morning at 8:15 and with the neuro surgeon who worked on Derek last June.

As you all know, we covet your prayers and really appreciate each one of you.

Derek & Leann

Friday, January 20, 2012

Back pain


Derek's upper back, neck, and arms have been in pain for a few weeks. His neck is really stiff and movement is quite limited. We are planning to go to Mayo clinic this coming Wed to meet with the oncologist to have her examine him again and possibly get some more scans. In talking with her this morning, she believes it is very unlikely to be related to the meningioma. He has been getting chiropractic treatment for 2 weeks, but the pain continues to worsen. As we pray through the various fears, we are brought to remember God's love never fails.

Please pray that Derek can have a reasonable measure of relief from the pain and this would turn out to be a simple problem.