Sunday, September 16, 2018

9/16/18 Provider Fatigue

Dear Friends and Family,

I’ve been busy lately with what Steve terms “provider fatigue.”  In the past two weeks I’ve been in the ER twice, had a surgery to put in a new chemo port on my right side after the one on the left side became infected and had to be removed, had a chest x-ray, have had a long needle suck out fluid that has built up on my abdomen, and of course, have had chemo.  If I never had to visit a doctor, dentist, surgeon, or radiologist again, I would be a happy camper.

After Friday’s chemo I was terribly sick.  Nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, etc. I get depressed and reflective on these bad days, wondering if the joy in my life outweighs the suffering.  Yesterday, the answer would have been no.  But today, I woke up feeling better, able to eat. Steve, Daniel, Renee, Riley, and Jericho are all here, building a lego airport, after which we will head to the park for a bit before naptime.  Today has a good amount of joy—hopefully enough to see me through the next lousy day.   “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

I have had a total of five chemos in this round and my tumor marker has dropped from 3000 (a truly terrifying number) to 703.  This is great news, but it needs to continue dropping a lot in order for me to actually feel better in my day to day life.  I do not know if God has a remission in mind for me or if through the suffering He is preparing me for Heaven where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed.” Rev. 21:4  What tremendous hope the future holds for all who belong to Jesus.

Thank you to all who pray for my family and me.  And to those who have made us the best soup and chicken divan, who have sent cards that cheer me and have dropped by flowers and treats.  I love you all for standing with us in the hardest battle of our lives.


Waiting patiently for swim lesson.

Spinach, cheese, bean quesadilla and apples for lunch.  He likes to announce "I'm a spinach man now!"

First day of Sunday School deserves a chocolate donut.

Seattle Storm Fever!

Long walk at Discovery Park

Just finished her other book, The Great Alone, and now I'm on to The Nightingale.

Daniel has perfected my grandma's popovers!  Yummo!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

9/1/18 Another chemo bites the dust

Dear family and friends,

Yep, it’s me again, Steve.  Gabrielle is still licking her wounds from the sound thrashing I gave her in Scrabble yesterday…OK, so I only won by three points, but it still was nice to see the bold “Steve has won the game!” along with a bunch of flashing stars around my name on that final screen.  Guess I won’t be trying to hide the game next outing!
But, more importantly, Gabrielle had another chemo session yesterday.  We have settled into a routine in which she gets chemo (Taxol) two Fridays in a row, followed by two weeks off, and then we start all over again.  She tolerates the chemo relatively well, but is getting the expected side effects of nausea, fatigue, nerve pain and decreased immune system—all of which she takes in stride, and also give me a very slight (not much) twinge of guilt for beating her in Scrabble.  
Once home, we settled in to watch the Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips with Daniel and Adrienne, about a cargo ship getting hijacked off the coast of Somalia.  For the next hour after the movie ended, I walked around saying, “Look at me! I’m the captain now!”  and “No, games, Irish!  I’m the captain now!”  If those references are lost on you, well then you will just have to see the movie.  Apparently, Adrienne thinks I am quite good at impressions and has now added a Somali pirate to the list of people she thinks I have nailed which includes, but is not limited to Ice T, Steve Irwin, Barney the purple dinosaur and Sean Connery.  She hasn’t seen my Dr. House impression yet.  Am saving that one for later.
I am pleased to report that the chemo clearly seems to be helping.  Her jaundice has cleared up, along with her puffy feet and she generally feels better.  However, she is still collecting fluid in her abdomen and needs to get it drained about every 10 days or so.  Like everything, she is even competitive in that and was disappointed that last time, they only got 2 liters out, whereas the time before they drained 2.5 liters.  To me, in this situation, less if better.
She is just conquering a bladder infection and has been able to cut back from two antibiotics to one.  Also, although this upcoming week is an “off week”, chemo-wise, she still has some doctor visits: one to the dermatologist for a persistent rash, another to check on her old port site which is still draining after being surgically removed two months ago, and one final visit to get a new port put in.  That last one, about getting a new port is nice, it will make getting chemo much easier again.  For the past four sessions, she has not had the power port and they have had to start IV’s each time which can take a while.  It was almost an hour to get the last one started.
So, all in all, we’re managing relatively well in the Dudley/Ice T/Captain Phillips/Barney household.  A final phrase from the movie that we tell each other when cancer is beating us down is this one:  "Everything's gonna be ok, Irish."  
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phil. 4:6-7

Steve (& Gabrielle)

ReneƩ looking elegant as she prepares to officiate the wedding of her friends, Dani and Jeff, at the Beacon Hill Winery in Oregon.

I want a donut wall in my house!

Dani and Jeff, first dance!

After seeing that donut wall, we had to swing through Portland to get some of the best donuts in the world.

Daniel and me on a walk by the sea.

Adrienne, Daniel, and me hitting up the Maltby Cafe for breakfast!

I am on a quest to find the best berry milkshake in Seattle, after having an amazing one at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  First try--Red Mill Burgers.  Seven out of ten.

Steve can't figure out why he keeps running out of shaving cream!

My beautiful daughters!

Dani's Mom, Joan, made a beautiful mother of the bride.