Monday, February 6, 2012


Dear Friends and Family,

We are so thankful that even with this latest turn of events (the new cancer growth on Dan's 10th rib +) that we were still able to take our ski trip to Colorado.  The weather had been a little stingy with the snow in the mountains of Colorado so folks were asking us if we still were planning on going.   Looking back over the more than 20 years we have been traveling to Colorado to ski, we realized that while we have had a range of skiing conditions, we had never had a really bad week.  SO.....if this was, indeed, that one bad week, well, we would have little room for complaining.  We figured we could rent bikes and do some biking and/or hiking if skiing was really bad.

After surviving a baggage mix-up at the airport (our fault!) and a blizzard on I-70 as we drove from Denver to Breckenridge, we were able to find new ski boots for me (Jodee) that actually FIT (this is always a huge challenge), get checked into our condo, pick up our rental skis and buy groceries...all before collapsing after a very long day.

The new snow drew MANY skiers to the mountains and Sat. and Sunday were really crowded.  It was just like spring skiing during spring break!  But the rest of the week was wonderful, including a couple more days of new snow.  So once again, Colorado was awesome!!  We skied all 7 days, enjoyed meeting up with friends and got a LOT of fresh air and exercise!

We were happy to get fresh snow several times that week.

The view from our condo resort

Fresh corduroy as viewed from our first ride up the chair that morning.  Couldn't wait to make our own tracks.

A professional photo of us at the top of Peak 7 using our "Epic Mix" passes.  They automatically tracked our skiing...from number of lift rides to total amount of elevation skied.  Amazing.

We would take a late morning break and then a late lunch to try to miss the crowds.

We tried to have relatively "healthy" snacks.  Chocolate is hard to pass up.  And to avoid altitude sickness, we had to drink lots and lots of water.  I do confess to adding a little hot cocoa to my decaf coffee a couple of times.
Leaving the mountain via the gondola after a week of great skiing.
Before we had left for Colorado, we had contacted Dan's former oncologist (now the medical director of Vanderbilt University's Cancer Center) to get his input.  He was very gracious in quickly returning my email as well as setting up a phone conference with us.  From him, we learned that doing radiation on the rib might eliminate the possibility of qualifying for a clinical trial.  This had not been mentioned by our current doctor.  He also said that while the medication to strengthen Dan's bones sounded like a reasonable thing to do, there was no rush to do so and we might want to gather all the info on his options before beginning any particular treatment.  We chose to send him all of Dan's records so the clinical trial folks at Vanderbilt could see if he would qualify for any trials they were doing.  We are SO grateful for this doctor/friend!!

We also met with Dr. Brenneman, an oncology radiologist, to talk about radiation options for Dan. After looking at the current scans, he told us he was surprised that Dan was not having a lot more pain than he is.  He stated that pain would be one reason Dan might want to radiate the rib right now, rather than waiting for a possible clinical trial for a systemic chemotherapy.   He also said that radiating that spot would not categorically eliminate us from all future clinical trials, but would delay that possibility until a new "spot" evidenced itself.   Since Dan was not experiencing anything more than an awareness of this new tumor and an occasional tinge of pain, we decided to wait on radiation there, but scheduled an MRI of his brain to make sure that nothing new was going on there.  We scheduled it for right after our return from Breckenridge.

We did have all of his records sent to Vanderbilt and while we were out in Colorado, we had several conversations with a clinical trial nurse there.  At first we thought there would be a new trial opening up this week, but just after arriving home, we heard it had been delayed.  It would have required much travel back and forth so we were undecided if that was the best route to take anyway....and had been praying for clear direction.  For right now, that decision has been made for us.

Last Wednesday Dan had the brain MRI done.  On Thursday, he talked with Dr. Brenneman and learned that there was a small spot that would need to be radiated.  Appointments were made for a CT scan and mask adjustment (today), a meeting with the neurosurgeon (tomorrow) and the stereotactic radiographic surgery (Friday).  We were disappointed to learn of this additional new growth, but so grateful that it was discovered while still small enough to be able to be treated with this miraculous form of radiation.  And unlike radiating other parts of the body, this will not have an impact on most clinical trials.

We also have an appointment on Feb. 20th with a doctor at the University of Cincinnati who specializes in kidney cancer research and may know of a clinical trial that would be appropriate for Dan.  I'm uncertain whether or not he would function as our primary oncologist or whether we need another one and he would be more like a consultant.  So I am trying to convince Dan to investigate a couple other oncologists in the meantime.

As you can tell, our schedules just got quite a bit busier and more complicated.  But even so, Dan is forging ahead in trying to get the discipleship/counseling ministry up and running at Evangelical Community Church and we are still planning on attending the Christian Discipleship and Counseling Seminar at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN next week (Feb. 12-18)  Several folks from our church in NY are attending as well.  We will be in different levels of learning, but will have some time together, so we are looking forward to that!

With Dan's cancer and treatment, we are still very much in the info-gathering stage.  Please pray that God would make the path clear and that He would provide us with an oncologist who is a good listener, compassionate, knowledgeable and skilled. (We know we are asking a lot, but God is an AWESOME God!!).  We thank him regularly for all of you who have loved us throughout this journey and are consistently praying for us.  We are so grateful for each of you!   Jodee and Dan

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