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


  1. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" Phil. 4:13. We hope you can feel us praying for you, our dear brother & sister in Christ. We love you. Doug & Cheri

  2. Your family is in our prayers....for healing, peace and strength. Also praying this weekend will be a blessing to all of you.

  3. Derek and Leann,
    These are hard matters to hear. You're so courageous to share openly with us. We want you to know we and many others are with you through whatever God brings your way. You are loved and prayed for by many.
    Kevin and Rachel

  4. Thanks for this update. Praise the Lord that there was no spreading to lymph nodes, lungs, or anywhere outside of the nervous system!

    This past year my husband and I faced a few trials that were filled with grief and I could not imagine getting through them without God's love and the hope and joy He only can give. I'm so glad you're leaning on Him for strength and crying out to Him for your every need.
    We are praying and will continue to do so. Our church is praying for you and hopefully word will spread beyond that.
    What's going on in your life right now is bringing others to their knees before God's throne of grace, which is amazing to me. I love the way the Lord works through our trials.
    Praying for restored health for you and growth in grace through it all!

  5. I have been praying for your two and your family. I loved Stef's comment about our trials bring others to their knees -- that is so true!! And more people are praying for you than you will ever know. I will pray for your kids too; I know they are getting great care, but it is tough to be separated and have new routines. Thanks for the updates, it give us specific things to pray for. May you feel His Spirit and angels around you! Love, Nathan & Laura Wiegand

  6. What can we say? We do not understand. Isaiah 55:9 is our comfort. We love you and are praying for you.
    Uncle Bruce and Aunt Becky

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  8. Dear Derek and Leann, We are praying that God's will be done, knowing as you do that he can provide full healing, but also knowing that he knows best and that all things work together for good to those that love and serve him. We are thankful for your outlook and the closeness to God that you have felt through all this. Your continued faith and trust in him are an encouragement to all of us. Love in Christ, Matt and Cathryn Couzens

  9. It's so clear from your words and the peace you express that your life is filled with God's abundant grace. Thank you for your strong example of faith and courage. You will never know how your attitude influences others who walk (or will walk) through similar trials. Praying for you, Bryan & Lisa Aberle.

  10. Your words show an amazing relationship with God. Thanks for sharing so openly from the heart and keeping us informed. It helps to know how to pray. May God continue to hold you all close to him.
    In Christ's loving name,
    Christy Gress

  11. We will continue to pray for you, your family, and wisdom for the doctors. We pray for comfort, strength, peace, and understanding as you travel this journey. "I will lift my eyes up to the hills where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord and Maker of heaven and earth". Psalm 121:6 Prayfully, Larry and Ida Bolliger

  12. May you continue to feel Gods peace and direction. Thank you so much for your statement of faith. It is so encouraging. We will continue to pray for Gods will to be done and grace to accept His will. Gods blessings be with you all. Our love and prayers, Owen & Nicole Gudeman and family

  13. Derek & Leann,
    Leann, I'm your mom's 1st cousin, and my husband Stan and I know what you are both going thru. Stan had a brain tumor in April. His is GBM. He went through chemo and radiation for 6 weeks, and a month later the tumor was back. He had surgery in July again and has been on chemo (Temador)daily and an IV drip 1x every 2 weeks (Avastin). Praise the Lord, He has given Stan a clear MRI in Sept & Nov., and he scheduled to have one again in Feb. We have literally learned to take ONE day at a time. I know exactly how you feel Derek. God has a plan. He sees the entire picture of our lives. I feel like each day we pick up a piece of the puzzle and put it in the picture, not knowing what the entire picture looks like now. We have learned to just trust Him completely. We have been praying daily for your family and will continue to do so in the future, and ask that you keep us in yours also. Praying God's will in your lives. Stan and Colleen Ringger

  14. Derek & Leann,
    We will be praying for you, your family and doctors as you go through the coming weeks. We are so sorry to hear you have to go through this difficulty. May God be near to you and your family each day.
    Jeff & Jenny Hodel

  15. We, along with our church family, are praying for you. We love you Derek and Leann, Lexi, Wesley, and Whitley.
    -Jeremy and Tammy

  16. I have been following your blog and just wanted you to know you are certainly on my heart, I pray you can FEEL this presence of the Lord as you walk this path. -Wendy Wettstein (Oakville, IA)

  17. We are praying for you and keeping you close at heart. Lots of Love, Brad & Carla