HOME SWEET HOME!

Friday afternoon we headed East out of Portland around 4pm. We did stop for a bite to eat and rest stop, but with fairly good road conditions, we made decent time and arrived around 10pm. There was some fog and some frosty areas, and since the restriction for Donn driving was no longer in place, he did most of the driving. We were exhausted, but what a lift to get home.

Saturday Tim and Ashley brought the kids for a fun afternoon, Melissa brought Marshall and Olivia and we got the best medicine ever…LOVE.

Speaking of meds…Donn is on some serious stuff! (Most of this will be temporary) He is taking a medication to help the liver recover, and heart meds too. We are learning the pill schedule. He also has to inject insulin for the time being, since prednisone bumps the blood sugar up pretty high. This is new and he’s not loving it but knows it is necessary for now.

Today we have really enjoyed a quiet rest. Melissa and Travis came over for the football game and we had salmon at lunchtime. Olivia set the table and Marshall entertained us with her sweetness. Before sunset Donn and I took a drive and saw a couple incredible big bucks.

We are resting and waiting for him to heal up. Donn has blood work labs here on Tuesday. The Dr. will find out what is happening with the liver and kidneys. We don’t know the schedule for next treatment, but it will be ‘Plan B’. Because of the response he had to the drugs, his treatment will be adjusted to avoid the one medication, so his kidneys and liver don’t take such a beating. There will be more treatment to come, just not as brutal, hopefully.

Please continue to pray for this adjustment to so many medications. It’s also hard to avoid carbohydrates, but we are learning.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”                  Love you, Donn and Michelle

Thursday afternoon….

Donn had a procedure scheduled for 10:00 am today to give his heart a little jolt to get it back to the right rhythm. He fasted from midnighton and was transported to another floor. He was being prepped for the procedure when it was noticed that his heart was normal. This was a very cool thing. It does happen without intervention, but usually within a shorter time 24-48 hrs. So anyway just wanted to say Thank You, LORD for this answer to our prayers, and Thank you all for praying on Donn’s behalf.Hope to be back home soon.

Love You,

As of Wednesday…

Donn has had steady improvement and feeling better each day. He’s walking around the seventh floor, teasing the staff and cracking silly ‘dad’ jokes. He is still sick, and a funny color. Appetite is good and he doesnt have diet restrictions, so anything that he wants; he gets. We told him not to get used to that.

We are encouraged by Dr. Curti that things are definitely moving in the right direction toward health, but not there yet. He used the analogy of speeding down the highway at 100 MPH…Donn’s immune system is going over the speed limit still, so he has been given steroids to slow that activity down so the organs are not damaged. That also gives Donn a kick in the pants to move around a little more to regain some strength. It appears to be working.

The function of kidneys and liver continues to improve. Still work to do, and moving to more normal numbers. The heart is out of the atrial fib, now called flutter, basically same type of thing. The rhythm is not right. Tomorrow the plan is to ‘re-boot’ the heart rhythm with a shock.

Melissa came over yesterday, and we had some serious laughter going on in room 708 last evening. I enjoyed getting out for a little therapy. (We shopped at Goodwill where its so much fun to find a bargain at bargain prices, the tag color was purple for 50% off.) It was good for all of us. Reassurance, comfort and lots of love. Timing was good, cause Dad was picking up energy after the first dose of prednisone.

The tentative plan is to maybe be discharged Friday, and head home. The Dr.said he will cautiously ‘pencil in’  the discharge date. So thats where it is at for now.

We love you all so much and have truly been blessed by all the love shown to us! Please continue to pray.

Love, Michelle and Donn

Quick Update…

Here’s an evening update…

Around mid afternoon today Donn started to perk up and became more talkative and more aware of surroundings. It was certainly a great relief to me. I wanted to pass along this info before calling it a day. The Kidney specialist was in around that time and let us know that she did not think dialysis would be needed right now, (however still a possibility)

He is sleeping again after having some benedryl to help with itching. We appreciate the prayers, please continue praying to our Father who cares for us. Love you all. Looking forward to tomorrow with hopes of further improvement so we can go home soon…not sure what day.  Love, Michelle and Donn

End of Week One

Hi everyone.

Donn has sure had a rough time here at the treatment center. He is resting and I think more comfortable right now. He has gone through some substantial side effects that have been very difficult for him, and not over them yet.

His blood pressure is good now, he is no longer on an IV to increase blood pressure. His lab work shows that his kidneys and liver are not functioning real good, however that may turn around and improve with the medication, or possibly dialysis treatment to help clear the kidneys.

We don’t know when he will be able to go home but will stay here until ready.

Please continue to pray for Donn and for me too. We appreciate the love and care and our trust is in God who is good, great,gracious and glorious.
With Love, Michelle and Donn

Brother Donn (from Donn’s brother John)

I popped in on Donn and Michelle today and want to add to Michelle’s email from yesterday. He has had to skip a few treatments because of the low blood pressure and low blood sugar, but they are hoping to get another dose of the IL2 in him tonight. The IL2 tells the white blood cells to fight the cancer cells and this is what makes him sick. The chemo fights the cells on it’s own. I vision it like the perfect battle field. The IL2 hits them hard on the front lines and the chemo flanks’em. Almost feel sorry for the poor little cancer cells…NOT!!! His white blood cells went so crazy that they penetrated his capillaries causing fluid leakage which in turn caused the low blood pressure, but never fail, we have (medics) drugs to cure that. Win one for the Gipper white blood cells. Donn was very coherent and in really good spirits today and we talked about many things. He is tired and would give anything to be able to lie on his side. Be assured that everything is going as planned and the poor little cancer cells don’t have a chance. I will help to keep you informed along with Michelle. Love to you all!

Later, Day Two

Hello friends and family,

Donn is having cancer treatments this week in Portland. He started Monday morning and even though it seems brutal, the treatments seem to be kicking his immune system into gear. Monday morning he had one dose of the Ippy, and the IL2 got started later in the afternoon. So far he has had 2 more doses of the IL2 but because of his blood pressure going fairly low, the 3pm dose was skipped Tuesday afternoon. This is okay, because too much does not help.

The low blood pressure is treated with medication and he is in bed, not up and around. The medicine is working, but he is also feeling really fatigued. This is normal for the type of treatment he is receiving. They explained that the side effects are predictable and they go away quickly when the drug is withheld.

He has had a fair appetite, but didn’t feel like supper this evening. We had visitors, and even though he was feeling pretty crummy, I think it really helps to have some company. Thanks for coming by to encourage and pray with us.

Thanks for keeping him in your prayers; God hears our prayers, and it does us much good to bring our concerns to him in an attitude of trust. I hope to keep you informed through the next few days as best I can.

Love, Donn and Michelle

Day Two

Hi!

Donn is responding as expected to treatment. He had his first three doses, but he skipped the 3 o’clock dose today. Overnight Monday, and today his blood pressure has been low and that is being treated with medications, which are working fine. He has had a fairly good appetite and even enjoyed a little (and I mean tiny) carton of rocky road ice cream. He hasn’t felt like any supper this evening…but maybe later.

Levi and Kathryn were here for a visit and that does help to break the monotony of laying in bed all day/night. It was great to see them. Dave Hoeffner was her also Bert Coombs. Have had several calls and texts as well. Thank you all for your caring and concern.

Donn is taking a nap right now and the plan is if his blood pressure is better, then he will get the 11pm dose. More later. battery low. Love you

Happy Thanksgiving Day Everyone!

We got some cold weather with snow the last couple days. It’s beautiful  clear and sunny right now. The icy streets have turned to slush, and its quiet and steamy warm inside. Donn and I didn’t make dinner plans with anyone else so we’re cooking our own thing here; just the two of us. We did have grandkids over night the last two nights…F-U-N! Olivia was the big girl cousin and helped when Aiden and Loren each had a sleep-over.

A week ago Donn went to Portland for two days of testing in anticipation of the cancer treatments. The nurse called to say the test results were great and treatment will start Monday, Dec. 7. Our plan is to travel to the Portland area Sunday Dec 6th. The first day is a one-day infusion (of Ipilimumab, or “ipi”, or “ippy”) which will take about three hours. Depending on time we get out of there, and Donn’s response to the medication, we could come home same day. If it gets late, or weather is bad, or if Donn doesn’t feel well, we can stay over and travel next day. My workplace supervisors have been so supportive and encouraging. I have a sub lined up for two days.

Three weeks later, Dec. 28th Donn will be admitted for the five day/every eight hours infusion cycle (one initial dose of Ipilimumab, following by repeated doses of Interleukin 2 or “IL2”). I will still be on break from school for that week, so timing is good. He will be in bed with a port near his collar bone to get the meds to him without the stress of needle pokes every time. I will most likely stay at the guest house available to family of patients.This way I can be nearby,yet have a place to retreat for down time.

We are adjusting to the idea that this is going to happen now. I am somewhat uncomfortable with so many ‘unknown’ variables. Donn will be monitored very closely during the treatments, which gives me a degree of reassurance.  I am praying all the time. When going through difficult life experiences there is no better place to be but with people you love and who love you praying for the strength and peace that comes from God. He is good, He is great, gracious, and glorious. Please continue to pray. We love you, and thank you for the love, concern, and encouragement, which has come to us in many ways to assure us we are not alone but surrounded  by a huge loving family.

Michelle and Donn

Will Be Going To Portland Soon

Hello Family,

Last Monday, Nov. 2,  Donn and I met with Dr. Curti at Providence Hospital in Portland for an interview/consultation appointment. (earlier we thought treatment would be at OHSU, but that would only be for surgery, if needed.)  He gave us packets for two different clinical trials to consider. There was information about some recently approved new treatments and Donn made a decision to enter one of the trials. The drugs have been in use for some time, however this plan uses a new combination of the medications. Dr. Curti is a cancer research doctor who has done smaller trials with promising results. A larger number of patients is needed to confirm those results.

Today Donn e-mailed his consent form and will be scheduled soon for a day-long battery of tests…including blood work, treadmill, EKG, MRI, PET scan, I’m not sure what all, but you can imagine it will be a long day.

The tests will give the doctor a picture of Donn’s overall health, and the scans will indicate any change in the lungs or other systems since his previous scan in September. After these tests are complete and he is approved for treatment, he will start actual treatment in two weeks or less.

He will be hospitalized at Providence from Monday through Friday, receiving one dose every eight hours for the duration of his stay. He will have a tube or port near his neck or collar bone for the drugs to be administered through. That bothers Donn some, as he has an aversion to needles, etc. If he tolerates the medication well, he will have up to 14 doses during this first ‘cycle’ of treatment. He will be monitored closely for possible side effects which are numerous and range from mild to severe. If there is a need to pause or delay doses, they can do that. There are also medications for lessening the severity and discomfort of the expected side effects. At the end of the treatment cycle we will return home and rest for two weeks, then return for the next cycle, and so on…the schedule is for about 5 or 6 of these treatments with varied intervals between.

This is what we are expecting, however there is, as always, the unknown. We have shed some tears. We are hopeful. We are getting ready and preparing for this next big step. Donn is currently feeling well and praying he will tolerate the treatment. We have been surrounded by so much love and support from you, our family; and friends, co-workers, and our church family has been so helpful. We know that God is good. He is Great. He is gracious. He is Glorious. It is in God’s hands and we can trust Him.

Having said all that, please continue to pray.
We love you,
Donn and Michelle