Roger Slideshow

Friday, February 29, 2008

The chemo officially stops dripping tomorrow, but the doctors have decided to keep Dad in the hospital at least until Monday. They want to be sure his condition is stable, and to run some additional labs.

Thank you all for your prayers and comments, emails and calls. It has been a moving experience for Mom and Dad--and for us kids as well--to see how our family and community have rallied in support of Dad during this time.

More details tomorrow. Today was a better day for Dad, largely because the pain meds had been increased. But Dad's main physician, Dr. Stadtmauer stopped by and said that Dad was looking better than he has in a week, and suggested that it may well be that the chemo is doing something good. Peace.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Night Prayer Requests

Today was a bit rougher for Dad. He was feeling still more pain in his back and was running a fever. The doctors have upped the dosage of the painkillers, both oxycontin and oxycondone. Both Dad and the doctors at this point believe that the pain is due to the growth of tumors in his back.

Please pray

  • that the tumors' advance would be halted by the chemo, and that the doctors would have wisdom in treating this latest activity of the myeloma.
  • that Mom would be able to keep Dad hydrated. He has been so drowsy and weak that she has had a hard time keeping him drinking.
  • that his glucose levels would normalize.
  • for Dad's spirits, that the Lord would give him peace and courage.
Today Mom and Dad received a card from Connie Stonehouse (Susie's mom) who said that the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" has been especially meaningful to her during difficult times. Mom quoted from this song during our call:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

October 4, 2008 ~ Multiple Myeloma Race for Research

Roger's Racers will be gathering on October 4, 2008 in Philadelphia, PA. Whether you love to run, walk, or even ride in a stroller you are welcome to join our family in the Multiple Myeloma 5K (3.1 miles) Race for Research. Save the date!

More about MM

For those who are interested in getting a basic grasp of Dad's condition, or for a refresher course, here is a link to the Muliple Myeloma Research Foundation, which provides a primer on the disease, as well as a ton of other relevant info elsewhere on the site. Of course, there is also some good stuff Wikiward. And no, I do not hold stock in Wikipedia.


I entered the room, and after being warmly welcomed with a hug and kiss, I was immediately ushered into a chair and offered some horsd'oeuvres, a bowl of baby cut carrots, ranch dip, cheese cubes and crackers. Where was I? Why, at that downtown establishment, Clark Bed and Cafe! Well, techinically, there is only one bed, and it is occupied, but there are plenty of snacks for all.

Even being stationed in a hospital room, surrounded by blips of machines, the drip of chemo and the unmistakable smell of "hospital", Mom has managed to create a homey and welcoming environment. There is a small refrigerator stuffed (and only those who have seen Mom and Dad's refrigerator at home can fully picture this) with healthy juices and food. Over the sink is a shelf, where silverware, plates, and bowls are neatly stacked, as well as containers of healthy snacks. Under the window is another box of individual bags of crackers, kindly provided by a church friend, as well as a plate of homemade treats. On the wall is a bulletin board decorated with cheerful pictures from grandchildren, as well as kind cards from friends. Overall, it created an environment of love, and even normalcy, in a place that can be devoid of those home touches.

I spent about an hour with Mom and Dad as they ate dinner. Mom has been purchasing frozen, ready made items from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to bring to the hospital for their meals. She said that she was planning on eating the hospital food, and giving Dad the "good stuff", but she couldn't stomach it. She asked, "How do they mess up EGGS? I mean, how can they make eggs taste bad?" So she is making sure that Dad has healthy food as long as he can handle eating, before the chemo makes him too nauseous.

Another blessing is that they were transferred to a nurse practitioner team for Dad's care. This transfer was facilitated by my good friend Susie, who has known Dad ever since we were kids, and who is a nurse on the team. They are glad to see a friendly and familiar face throughout the day as Susie comes in to check on Dad (he is not actually "her" patient to spare them both any embarrassing or awkward situations if he needed to be examined).

All and all, it was a very nice visit, and I was thankful to see that Dad was looking better. Mom also seemed to be in good spirits, and it was really good to spend time with them both.

Latest as of Wednesday Night

Some positive news last night. They were indeed able to unpack Dad's nose--to remove his "tusk," as he called it--thanks to the stabilized platelet count. Thank the Lord that Dad's transfusions seem to be working now--his red blood cell (hemoglobin) count has also improved.

We also found out that the new doctor/nurse practitioner team would include Susie (Stonehouse) Lee, who apparently made a special request to be on it. Hers has been a welcome familiar face, and her presence has been an encouragement to Mom/Karen and Dad/Roger both now and in past visits to Penn. For those of you who don't know, Susie was an elementary/high-school classmate of Daisy's, and the Stonehouses are a way-back New Life & Phil/Mont connection. (I will henceforth go easy on the virgules; that last one was both gratuitous and incorrect, I know.)

Mom said last night night that Dad was looking good, as good as he's looked in the past two weeks.

Dad's current chemo is a CVAD, a fairly traditional chemotherapy blend, administered through a PICC line, which delivers the stuff directly to a large vein near his heart. The acronym indicates the chemo drugs included, which are cyclophosphamide, vincristine, adriamycin and dexamethasone.

I promised info on the scans and biopsy results. There was some expectation of a CATscan floating around; turns out the CATscan was not performed. They did do a MUGAscan to check the health of Dad's heart before the chemo, and everything there looked OK. As for the biopsy, the results are expected to come through Friday.

Daisy visited yesterday, and Mom ran into Sandy at the house, where she has been helping out with the cleaning while Joe keeps an eye on the kids at their place. Cara and Ed had also been in to visit recently, along with Nana and Aunt Sue (Rogerdad's mom and sister). Karenmom also reports good visits with Marc Davis and Steve Young from New Life.

Trying not to overload y'all with info here, so I'll just finish with Mom and Dad's prayer requests. They ask for continued prayer simply that the chemo would be effective. Also, Dad's glucose levels are elevated, which may or may not be an effect of the chemo. He is on insulin to help his body process the extra glucose.

CVAD, PICC, CATMUGAhemoglobinsulinoxycondexamycyclosaline and so on "may or may not" be/do/account for this that or the other thing. Plenty of uncertainty here, which only reminds us that we are not in control, that the workings of Dad's body, like our own, are finally a mystery to all but one doctor. Please continue to persevere in prayer, as Mom and Dad persevere, in faith, through this treatment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Teeny Update Blurb

More later, but I just spoke with Dad briefly. We had to get off the phone when the doctor came in to see him. The latest is that Dad's platelet counts appear to have stabilized thanks to the more or less daily transfusions he's been getting since he was admitted to the hospital Friday. This means that they'll be able to unplug his nose, which has been artificially corked to hold back the bleeding that's been plaguing him for the past week or so. Apparently the platelet deficiency not only prevents the blood from clotting, but predisposes Dad to bleeding in the first place.

I forgot to mention last night that Dad is also on Oxycontin (20 mg twice daily as of yesterday) for the pain. This has meant that he's drowsy, and sleeping most of the day, though the effect of the steroids he's now getting seem to have altered that pattern somewhat.

Mom was home this afternoon to buy more food and other supplies, and to take care of some housekeeping business. In order to spare Dad the hospital food, she's been buying organic foods (pre-prepared meals, whole grains, smoothie supplies, etc) at Whole Foods, storing them in the hospital room fridge, and doing what she can to prepare them there. Dad hasn't had much of an appetite, but she's been doing her best to encourage him to eat.

Talked to Julie last night. She's flying in from Texas for the weekend to see Dad and help out however she can. Julie has taken the initiative to keep many of us out-of-towners updated by phone over the past week.

Daisy will now be contributing here--in addition to her twelve other blogs--so Dad will be benefiting from some real blogspertise. I, meanwhile, was excited just to have added those embedded links up there. What's a link, you ask? (OK, I'll try to refer you to sites other than Wikipedia in the future. Baby steps.) We should be hearing from more sibs/kids in the future as well.

I'll give more news this evening, hopefully some word on the biopsy and scans.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Getting Situated

As most of you probably know thanks to Daisy's email, Dad finally started the latest round of chemo today. The drug is administered intravenously, and he is also on a steroid and anti-nausea medication to help him cope with the chemo's side effects. When I talked to Mom at about 4:00 EST today they were still readying the stuff, "mixing it up downstairs," as she put it; when I spoke to her again at 7 the brew was flowing and Dad was having a negative reaction to it, once again enduring "the sweats"; by about 10 he was doing better and seemed to be in good spirits. Mom said he got into the chair to eat around 5 this evening, and was still in it at 9--apparently all jazzed up on the 'roids. Mom thanks everyone for all their prayers and messages, including those she has yet to reply to. Please pray that Dad--and Mom--will be able to rest, and of course that the chemo will do its thing (without causing too much collateral damage to Dad's already weakened system).

This is Andrew, by the way. Despite my relative youth, I am not all that technoliterate, so I ask for your patience as we get this blog thing up off the ground. Mom's idea was to find a way that she could keep friends and family up-to-date on Dad's condition and treatment without her having to spend the time and energy to compose regular emails and/or call everyone. The plan for now is for her to given Erin and me the latest by phone, daily or so, and for us to post it here. Our hope is to set the page up for multiple authors, so that at least Mom and the sisters--and interested brothers/sons-in-law--can also originate posts and not be confined to the comments section and its lame fonts. Please contact me through the site with any suggestions or questions. I have set up an email for the purpose as well: [Removed]. ("ajclarkZOING!!" was taken.)

The look and structure of this site is likely to change a lot in the near future. Mom and Dad are ruminating on a title and Cara is supposed to supply a photo for the header. And if you're here, hopefully that means that the initial invitation email worked. More to come, tomorrow.

Courage, Dad. We're all praying.