Roger Slideshow

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Radiation therapy begins this week

On Wednesday, Dec. 17th, Roger and I met with Dr. Pinover and the radiation team. They "tattooed" Roger with marks on his trunk which will guide them in their precision radiation. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this coming week he will be receiving the radiation and we hope his severe back pain will soon be relieved. They will be targeting the tumor on his lumbar spine as well as several lesions on his sacrum that showed up on that second set of MRIs taken 1 1/2 weeks ago. This treatment is extremely delicate and potentially dangerous to Roger's spine and spinal cord. We continue to ask for your prayers for the Lord's protection against the harmful side effects and that He would enable the radiation to indeed fully zap the tumor and lesions. After Christmas the radiation will continue; we don't know the schedule just yet.
We are in the midst of all of the craziness that this time of year brings, preparing to celebrate Christmas with five of our seven children and their families. Two groups are traveling in from out of state: Andrew and Erin arrived from Chicago yesterday and Katherine and Rusty and their two children will travel from Virginia on Christmas day. Our children have been wonderful encouragers, supporters and prayer partners through the years of Roger's myeloma; it is a precious gift to be able to celebrate another Christmas surrounded by our large family, whether we are physically together or not.
This week we all lost a family member with has been with us for 18 1/2 years: our ancient little cat Shadow (known affectionately as Foop). This has been hardest for Roger, Cara and me, since we are the three who have been closest to her in recent years. Her going reminds us once again of the brevity of life and the ache of losing a loved one (and it's amazing how much you can love one of the furry variety).
It again brings us to remember that this life is but a brief prelude to the next, everlasting one. So thank the Lord for the joy of Christmas--the Hope of redemption from this fallen world through our dear Saviour, Jesus Christ. Roger and I and our family cling more tightly each year to the promise of our eternal home with the God who loves us and will take us to be with Him forever. (And I, along with Roger and C.S. Lewis--good company--are convinced that the Lord will spread His arms to include our animal friends there as well.)
Thank you for your prayers for Roger this coming week.
We pray for you for a Christmas full of joy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A full week

Well, it's Saturday and we have just finished a full week. Every day but Monday saw us at some type of medical appointment. After seeing Dr. Pinover on Tuesday, we drove down to HUP for our appointment with Dr. Stadtmauer. He confirmed that Roger would have to begin a different chemo regimen since the other has stopped working. He also began him on another four-day course of steroids for an immediate shrinking of the tumor (and lessening of pain), but that is a stop-gap until the radiation treatment will begin. The presence of tumors shows that the cancer is not contained; the protein level reading--which should be available early next week--will tell us how much the cancer has advanced from its low point while the chemo was working. If the number is at an "acceptable" level, and everything appears stable for the next six weeks, Dr. Stadtmauer will see us in January to begin the new chemo treatment.
On Thursday night an MRI was taken of Roger's sacrum, which Dr. Pinover will review for tumors before he begins the radiation. On Friday Roger's orthopedist checked out his shoulder (where he has had pain for several months), and declared that the PT regimen he's following seems to be doing some good. Our next doctor's appointment is with Dr. Pinover on Wednesday, when Roger will get a CT scan and be prepped for the two-week course of radiation, which we hope will begin in the next couple of days.
So it has been a full week, a bit tiring for us, but full of reminders from the Lord of His closeness and His loving care. We enjoyed a wonderful pastoral visit on Thursday by Terry Traylor and Marc Davis from New Life Glenside; the messages we have received from you via e-mail, cards and phone calls have truly encouraged us. Thank you so much for your love and prayers.
We do ask for prayer that the radiation would totally eradicate ALL vestiges of the tumor and that it would not injure the spinal cord, which could result in very serious complications, including paralysis. It is an extremely delicate procedure, especially since Roger has been radiated in this area before. We even dare to ask for prayer that the cancer would not progress quickly and Roger could have several months off the chemo (even full remission)! God tells us to pray big prayers. But we know that God's will is perfect even when we do not understand it, so our prayer is always that we will fully receive all that He gives us with trusting hearts.
May the Lord bless you all this week of the Advent season as we meditate on the coming of our Saviour.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meeting with the radiologist

Today we had our long-awaited appointment with Dr. Pinover, our radiologist. As he examined Roger, the location of Roger's pain had him a bit puzzled: it was lower than he would have expected from the location of the tumors on the MRI. So before he initiates any radiation, he wants to have an MRI done of the sacrum, (the lowest part of the backbone) to make sure that there are no tumors there which might be causing this pain. This of course delays the start of any radiation, so it's a bit discouraging, but we really appreciate the fact that this underscores Dr. Pinover's measured thoroughness. The good news is that he fit in a CT simulation for Wednesday (17th), which is the workup ncessary for the radiation.
Tomorrow we wend our way down to HUP to see Dr. Stadtmauer, and discuss with him all of the happenings since our last visit in October--and there have been plenty. The blood tests taken will show if Roger's protein levels have changed, as sure sign that the cancer is progressing, but we will not get those results immediately. The question on our minds is just what Dr. Stadtmauer will decide to do about the chemo regimen Roger has been on since June.
Please pray for much wisdom for him, for faith and trust for us, and for Roger right now, who is experiencing more pain and will probably have to go onto the steroids again tomorrow morning.
Thank you, Jesus, that you are with us through every changed schedule and bend in the road.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pursuing radiation

Last Thursday the family celebrated a large (27 people) and meaningful Thanksgiving Day. We are so thankful to God for our family and for His leading and care for us all, as He guides us through this maze that is the cancer experience.
Through fits and starts, on Monday we were able to get Roger's MRI's to Dr. Pinover at Abington Hospital for him to review in order to see if radiation is possible on the tumors on Roger's backbone. Dr. Pinover is the oncologic radiologist who radiated Roger's tumors in 2004, so he is the one who can tell if he has radiated these exact spots before. Standard protocol is that if the spot has received radiation,already, that's it; too much incurs damage to the structure you're trying to save/protect.
Dr. Pinover was finally able to do his review yesterday (Wednesday), and called us from his home last night to give us his analysis. One of the tumors IS in the same spot as before. Not good. However, he said that he feels he can figure out a way to do the radiation anyway. Good! Because myeloma tumors require less actual radiation to treat them--they are filled with blood and are not the "solid" tumors of other cancers--he believes that the amount he used the first time and the amount he will use this time will allow him to go ahead with the procedure. Thank the Lord!!! This is a direct answer to all of our prayers.
We do have another hurdle, which we ask you to pray for. Dr. Pinover said that the radiation schedule is so filled up that his scheduling secretary is sure to put Roger in for January. This is just too long to wait, which he acknowledged. I spoke with the secretary this morning and she said she would speak with the doctor about what to do and when. Please pray that all of the preliminary procedures and the actual radiation can be done in December.
Roger is again experiencing pain from the tumors, which began this time right after the second round of steroids finished, so we know the cancer is becoming more aggressive. He is also quite weak and easily fatigued. This is discouraging. But I must say that when we get to a place where we are beyond our own strength, the Lord provides a Bible passage, a phone call or card, a visit, or just the direct prompting of His Holy Spirit to encourage us and remind us of His love and care--and that whatever happens, He has it all under His control. Thank you for praying with us and for us. Your prayers continue to be deep and real blessings through which God is working in our lives.
May you have a blessed week as you prepare for Christmas.