Roger Slideshow

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mom and Dad meet with Dr. Stadtmauer today to determine what to do next. Tomorrow will be the last of the radiation treatments aimed at the large tumor around his spine. Dad is still dealing with pain, as well as the weakness/numbness in his foot. He's walking with the assistance of a cane, and basically just needs to be extra careful as he moves around. Our prayer now is that Stadtmauer and his team will have wisdom and insight in assessing Dad's situation and deciding on treatment. For the pray-ers among you, please pray too that the radiation would shrink the tumor, and that Dad would recover full functionality in his foot. Thanks to all of you for supporting Dad, Mom and the rest of us during this time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A quick note: I didn't get a chance to add this yesterday, but Dad came home from the hospital yesterday morning. The doctors determined from the MRI that there seemed to be no growth in the tumor causing any spinal cord compression. They're not sure what would have cause the lack of feeling and weakness in Dad's leg, but it may be a side effect of the steroids.
Dad will continue with the radiation this week, and see Stadtmauer Thursday to decide on the next course of action.
Sorry so rushed--

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dad was admitted to HUP yesterday evening. He and Mom initially went in to Abington because he was experiencing weakness and loss of sensation in his leg. They took an emergency MRI at Abington before the decision was made to transfer him down to HUP via ambulance. It does appear that this is the result of the tumor's pressure on the spine, though it could well have to do with the radiation on that area itself. We can only pray that the tumor will begin to respond the radiation by shrinking, and that any nerve damage would be temporary. Thanks to everyone for persevering with Dad in this. More later.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear All,
This is Karen signing in, with an update on the past few days. First, Roger and I want to thank every one of you for your prayers, blog comments, e-mails and hugs. You are a very real part of God's blessing toward us during this time.
These last several months have been challenging, and, yes, difficult, on many levels, both medical and spiritual; but there has been a true "good"-ness to this time. It is difficult but deeply good to experience God's soul-searching, wrenching, purifying work in our hearts. Step by halting step we ask Him to help us to trust Him as He roots our faith and hope more fully in Him alone. We are thankful that our Lord does not settle for superficial faith in those He loves, but instead--holding tightly every hand-- leads with such care along the path that is "further up and further in."
As Andrew reported last week, Roger began radiation therapy immediately upon being discharged from HUP. He has received five treatments thus far, and will be finished by next Wednesday. We are encouraged that the pain in his back is lessening, and so far, side effects from the radiation have not been extreme. Of course, we are only half-way through and side effects are cumulative, so please continue to pray that the radiation will not adversely affect the spinal cord and that Roger will continue to tolerate the radiation well.
Next week is our appointment with Dr. Stadtmauer to decide on the next phase of systemic treatment of the cancer. We thank the Lord for this dedicated oncologist who for the past 6 1/2 years has used his skill and expertise to fight Roger's myeloma. We pray often for him, not just in relation to Roger's treatment, but also that God would bless his life in every way. As a matter of fact, through our experience and that of many others, many health professionals are daily lifted before God's throne in prayer--who knows what the Lord will do in their lives as a result?
May the Lord bless you and those you love greatly today. Thank you again for your prayers for us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dad was home from the hospital last night. The decision was made to send him back for another round of radiation with Dr. Pinover, 10 visits, aimed at the new tumor. Though this area was radiated awhile back, the doctors believe it can take more. It seems there's really no alternative, since they believe that--on account of previous radiation--the tissues in this area wouldn't be able to heal were they to perform surgery to remove the tumor. In the meantime, the fear is that Dad could sustain neurological damage on account of the tumor's location on Dad's spine. During the hospital stay, the doctors were frequently coming around to test Dad's reflexes from head to toe; the good news is that he's been spared any paralysis or other loss of function due to this growth thus far. And while further radiation carries a small risk, ironically, of nerve damage, the risk of leaving this tumor to grow unchecked is obviously far greater.

So: Dad starts radiation at Abington right away, today, and in two weeks will go back to Penn to see Stadtmauer, who has two different possible chemo regimens in mind for him. If the tumors respond to the radiation, the hope is that chemo can then once again slow or halt the attack of the myeloma.

Mom and Dad thank all of you for your prayers and encouragement, and are sorry not to be able to communicate with each of you individually. Dad said that during this hospital visit he felt sustained by the many prayers being sent up on his behalf. Please continue to pray that both he and Mom would have the physical and emotional resources to keep on keeping on through what has become a grueling phase in this battle. Pray that the one-two combination of radiation and chemo will knock the cancer back before it reaches that truly critical phase when the protein levels shoot up and the blood levels--hemoglobin, platelet, red and white blood cell counts--start to really drop. Pray that Dad would be clear-eyed and courageous, as well as sensitive and open to the good that God has for him in this.

I was thinking about all this this morning, and remembered this passage from Philippians. Paul's chains are not only literal: to live at all on earth is to be chained, to be manacled to a body that inevitably suffers and decays. To know Christ is to be subject to a complicated double longing: one is the desire to endure chains, to live, for the benefit of others and so that "in every way...Christ is preached"; the other is to have the chains loosed, to be free of the body and be with Jesus, which is "better by far."

"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me."

I know that so much of what is keeping Dad here, enchained to a dying body, is his love for Mom, and his mother, brothers, sister, children and grandchildren. But of course the timing isn't his to determine, and our prayer is that he will be ready and joyful when the time comes, ready to relinquish the one love, and its labors, and to embrace the other, better by far.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

MRI results

Just wanted to let you all know that Dad got the MRI, and it revealed that there is a new, large tumor growing around his spine. This is more or less confirmation of what Dad and the doctors suspected, given the new and different pain he's been having. They meet with Stadtmauer today to decide on a course of action.

Dad has asked for prayer for faith in the face of this discouraging news, that he and Mom would be able to trust God and find his will in all of this. Please pray, too, for the continuing pain, which has been difficult for the doctors to control.

Sorry so little; you'll know more when I do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Turns out they couldn't fit Dad in for an MRI last night, which means he may have to wait until tomorrow. He expects to spend at least another night in the hospital. Our prayer is that the MRI would provide the doctors with a clear indication of where this new pain is coming from, and of what the status of the old tumors is. It's apparently too soon to see the full effect of the radiation, which Dad completed last week, but hopefully the old tumors have begun to shrink. We still hope that the doctors will be able to formulate a new chemo strategy for Dad in light of the recent setbacks. On the upside, last week's blood tests indicated that Dad's white and red blood cell numbers are at good levels, so at least his body is still functioning there.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dad was admitted to HUP today. Last night he was up with intense pain in a new area of his back, and the doctors recommended he come in. They took an EKG, as well as a chest X-ray, to see if his heart and lungs have been affected. He's scheduled for an MRI. We'll know more tomorrow, but for now the pain is under control.

Dad is spending the night at the hospital. I will post more after I talk with my parents in the morning. Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year News

Dad has his three final radiation treatments this week, and a new dose of steroids. He is still dealing with a lot of pain and discomfort in his trunk and lower back, and has been feeling increased fatigue. He's starting to have difficulty with the stairs in the house again, which means his blood counts may be dropping. Those numbers also come in this week. Mom and Dad will be meeting with Dr. Stadtmauer mid-January to assess his situation and to formulate a new treatment strategy. Thanks for checking in, and for praying. Please pray especially that the radiation will significantly reduce the size of the tumors, and that the doctors will be able to find the right combination of measures to beat back the cancer once again. Pray that Dad will be able to sleep regularly at night and have relief from the pain that he's been facing for over a month now. Pray that he would be encouraged and that both he and Mom would be able to experience joy in and through this suffering.

In fact, the Christmas holiday at the Clarks was one of much joy and general goofiness, with many little grandchildren keeping things lively, and Mom and Dad and Erin and their helpers cooking up numerous culinary storms. It was so great to be home, and Dad was very much present throughout the week, and was in fact able to participate in the family festivities far more than last year, when his situation was becoming so dire. After such a difficult and uncertain year for Dad, this Christmas was a precious gift to all of us.