Friday, March 7, 2014

On way home from mayo

Hello to our family, friends, and even some we don't know,

Derek just finished his next trip to Rochester.  This set of appointments was focused on finding out if he qualifies for another class of drugs to fight the cancer.  It turns out that Yes, he does.  This is a positive thing, but we are also cautious because that doesn't mean that class of drugs will work.  We've decided to wait 6 more weeks on the current drug pazoponib.  It has decreased the pain he was having in January, which could indicate it is preventing further tumor growth.  In the meantime, our health care team will begin the approval process for the class of drugs we will pursue next, when needed.

There have been some really difficult times for us in 2014.  In the middle of January, I had a first-time hives outbreak, even calling 911 for help when my face/mouth began to swell.  To this day, I do not know the cause.  According to my doctor, 50% of hives cases are mysteries.  My most likely guess is stress hives, although I didn't feel extreme stress beforehand.  Thankfully, that has resolved.  Then, mid-February, Derek had a short seizure following an increased dose on his chemo.  Another 911 call, but we did not seek evaluation since we were pretty certain of the cause. We lowered his chemo dose again, and that has resolved.  In one way, it's good to know he's taking the upper end of what he can tolerate of pazoponib to fight the cancer.  Our thanks goes out to Tremont rescue 702 for their response and considerate professionalism!

To recap Derek's handicaps, he has leg weakness on both sides, but more on the right.  He uses a walker most of the time, but for greater distance or sometimes ease, he has a powerchair.  He has right facial weakness causing some speech difficulty. Also, some swallow problems, so he uses a feeding tube for the bulk of his nutrition.  His voice is somewhat better since the voice box injection in December, but nothing like it was before cancer.  Some days are better than others with both voice and swallowing.  His right ear is sealed off from a surgery, and he wears a hearing aid in the left.  When speaking with him, it's best to position yourself to his left or in front facing him.  His vision has been good, but we do have to keep the right eye moist since it doesn't close properly.  In spite of all of this, he still enjoys going to work, church, being with family, and playing what he can with the kids.  He also mentions often how good it is just to be with me, which makes me feel so happy.

Our children are doing well at their new school, and I'm loving the schedule we have established.  We have also kept a pretty full social calendar even through the tough times enjoying fellowship and gaining encouragement.  Derek took part in judging the robotics competition in our area last weekend.  He said it was intense, but he enjoyed the opportunity as well.

We will plan another set of MRIs to check tumor size in mid-April.  As always, we covet your prayers for healing, pleasant times together, and Joy in serving our Savior Jesus.  He is so wonderful, beautiful, forgiving, and kind.  He welcomes anyone to Himself for the highest healing, that our sins
may be blotted out.

Love to all,
Leann (& Derek too)