Thursday, October 18, 2012


Dear Friends and Family,

Yesterday was the day for Dan's procedure.  He was slated for the stereotactic radiographic surgery of 4 tumors in his brain.  He has had this procedure 4 times before but each of those times, they were able to use a custom fitted mask to immobilize his head for the HD Cat Scan and for the actual radiation.  But this time, that newer machine was being serviced as that whole building was being renovated and so he had to have this procedure done at another location (in downtown Cincinnati) with an older model machine.  With this machine they needed to use a metal "halo" to immobilize his head.  That halo was attached to his head with "pins" that went through his skin and pressed agains his skull.  We were relieved to learn that part b/c I thought they actually had to screw it into some of the bone of his skull.  So we were not terribly excited about this but neither of us felt as if we should wait for that newer machine to be up and running (at least 4 weeks) to get this done.

Megan had come home Tues. evening to be with us through the day.  Neither of us knew exactly what to expect other than we were going to be down there all day.  I was glad for the company!!  We all got up before 6 a.m. and were out the door at 6:30 a.m.  

Since we were leaving so early I wasn't worried about traffic.  MISTAKE!  By the time we got to the Norwood Lateral, the traffic for the next exit…OUR exit…was backed up and at a standstill.  That added 10 to 15 min. to our trip and caused some stress.  In the end we were only 2 min. late and no one seemed upset about it so that was good. :-)  We managed to find where we needed to be and we were greeted by our pastor who had beaten us there!  After we visited for a little bit, he read Psalm 145 for us and prayed with us while we waited to begin.

Very shortly we were taken in and started on all the prep…things like paper work, vital signs, explanations, etc.  While this was going on, good friends from our P & G days, Terry and Sue Galvin,  came to keep us company.  Terry has  had his own experience with radiation in that very place so it was great having him there to show us around.  And chatting with good friends sure makes the long day go by faster!  

The doctors stopped by to tell us that there was possibly a 5th tumor that needed to be treated. They would know better after this latest CT scan was merged with the MRI.

By 8 a.m. Dan was off to have the halo attached and the HD cat scan done.  They gave him a sedative that didn't put him "out" but told him that he wouldn't remember anything.  Then they anesthetized the local areas where the pin would be set and attached the halo.  After they had the halo in place, they could attach him to the table in the exact position he'd be in when he received the radiation.  That way the CT scan would allow the doctors to precisely map out the radiation strategy. and replicate it perfectly when doing the radiation.

Now normally, with the mask, he would have had the CT Scan done a couple of days earlier b/c it is no problem to put the mask on and take it off, but b/c this time they were using the halo to immobilize him, they needed to do the CT Scan the same day as the actual radiation.  After the CT scan is done, the oncology radiologist and the neurosurgeon plot out the exact angles of the beams of radiation and how much….sort of a "blueprint" for the radiation.  That takes a few hours to accomplish.  So during that time, he was brought into our waiting room.  They fixed a recliner for him and tried to make him comfortable for the nearly 4 hour wait.   Below is a photo of him after they got him settled.

He was still pretty groggy from the sedative.  The resident told us that while under sedation, Dan had made some "interesting" comments about the Xavier Basketball team.  He had been discussing that topic with the resident right before being take in for the halo attachment so that was what had been on his mind just before the sedative.  I told him it was a good thing he was not talking about me right before going in there…….  :-)

All three doctors…the oncology radiologist, the neurosurgeon and the resident all came in to tell us that after reviewing the new CT scan/ MRI merger,  there were only 4 tumors that needed to be treated.  The other "suspicious spot" was a remnant from a previous procedure.  YAY!

They brought him breakfast and lunch while he waited.  During that time another couple, Sherrill and Norma Puckett,  who are good friends from church,  came to sit with us.   Interestingly, they knew Terry and Sue so we all had a good chat.  Megan was learning a lot about the aches and pains of later years….I know she was thrilled to learn all that.  But Terry was able to chat with her about running and biking and triathlons for a bit so she didn't get totally left out of the conversation.  Plus with back surgery at 19 and 2 collapsed lungs and lung surgery at about 25, she started early on her medical issues so she had some stories to share as well.

When she got bored with the conversation, she had work she could do via computer.  Thank goodness for available wifi there!  It is a huge help for those waiting for long stretches!!

Dan joined in the conversation some, but spent most of the time dozing.

At about 2 p.m. they came to get him for the actual procedure.  I mentioned earlier that the oncology radiologist and the neurosurgeon plot out the strategy with all the angles of attack and the doses of radiation, but I just found out that they don't actually apply the radiation.  A physicist does that.  The physicist came in to the room and explained it a bit more to us and turned on a TV so that we could actually watch the procedure while it was going on.  

At about 3:30 p.m. he was finished and they removed the halo.  We hopped in the car and headed for home.  Dan claims it wasn't as bad as he had anticipated so we are grateful for that.

We won't really have any "results" for 3 months when they do the follow-up MRI.  Please pray that this radiation would be effective in stopping these tumors and that the chemo he is taking will stunt or prevent any new growth.  

As you pray for us, please pray for our daughter-in-law, Karla, and for her whole family.  Her father is now dealing with serious health issues too.

We are so grateful for such wonderful friends and family who make the time to support us with visits and cards and PRAYER!   

With much love and gratitude,  Jodee and Dan

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a little over 3 months since our last update and for that, we are very grateful!  B/c it means that for 3 months there have been no doctors and no tests and no significant symptoms!!  Thank you, LORD!!

We were able to be at our lake house in upstate NY, enjoying incredible weather, wonderful times with our children, grandchildren and friends, hearing great Bible teachers at Camp of the Woods and enjoying rich fellowship at church and the Ministry Center.  We even managed to get in 5 kayak trips.  That is a record for us!  I'll include some photos from those great times at the end of the update.

I know the main reason you read these updates is to hear what is going on with Dan's cancer treatment.  So I'll get on with it.

After a glorious 3 months of relative "freedom" (Dan only had to take one pill twice a day!), we returned home to Cincinnati last Sat.  We had a fairly uneventful trip home, stopping along the way to visit Megan in Columbus. 

You know, anyone I have known who has had a serious illness for any length of time, has often described it as being on a "roller coaster ride".  There are so many ups and downs and the changes are often abrupt and surprising.  The highs are often higher than expected and the lows are often lower than expected.  Today we experience a bit of that phenomenon.

GOOD NEWS # 1:  First thing Monday, Dan was at Jewish Hospital getting his CT scan and bone scan done.  Dr. Crane called right away with the results of the CT scan saying that it looked "stable".   We figured we would have to wait for our appointment with him to hear about the bone scan.  This morning we met with Dr. Crane and got the results of the bone scan.  That, too, showed no change.  In Dan's situation, that is GOOD NEWS!  They always check his kidney function and his blood pressure b/c those are two areas where the chemo can have an adverse effect, but both were in normal range.  We will be carefully watching the blood pressure b/c it was on the high side of normal, but anything with the word "normal" in it sounds great to us!  

BAD NEWS # 1:  After a quick lunch, we headed to Precision Radiation for his HD MRI.  This was to check on the effectiveness of his radiation last May as well as checking for any new tumors.  We had an appointment with Dr. Breneman right after the MRI.  His resident showed us both the MRI from May and the MRI from today.  The tumors that were treated in May are gone but there are 4 new tumors.  One of those is larger than any of the earlier tumors and it is located in the motor region of the brain.  

I can't say we were surprised.  It would be hard to surprise us, I think, at this point, but we were disappointed.  We can't help but hope that the chemo will get such a grip on the disease that it would protect the brain as well, even though we know that the brain is protected somewhat from the effects of the chemo.

GOOD NEWS # 2:  What is good news is that all 4 tumors are still small enough to be treated by the miraculous stereotactic radiation that does almost no collateral damage and seems rather like magic.  It requires that Dan take an anti-seizure medication prior to the event as well as steroids following it for a short time, but all in all, it is normally quite an easy procedure for him to endure.  Yes….I said "normally".

BAD NEWS # 2:  The whole medical building is under renovation and the miraculous machine that does that kind of radiation is out of commission for at least 4 more weeks.  The docs don't want to wait for 4 weeks (neither do we!!) so Dan will have to have this done at the Barrett Center at U.C. with an older machine.  This will not allow him to be able to use the mask that he has used the last 4 times he has had this procedure.  Always before, he could go in and have a special CT brain scan while immobilized in his mask a day or two before.  Then the neurosurgeon and the oncology radiologist would merge that with the special MRI to get a holographic image of his brain to plot out the exact intersections of the beams of radiation.  On the day of the procedure, once again, he would be immobilized in the exact same position in that mask and they could aim the radiation with precision.  

B/c they can't use that machine, he will have to have a metal "halo" screwed into his skull in order to keep a precise lock on his position.  That sounds really barbaric but I know they have done this for many different procedures for years.  Anyway…b/c of this, the special CT scan needs to be done on the same day as the actual procedure and that means that the two doctors have to plot out the map for the radiation on that day as well.  Dan will have to be sedated and anesthetized and will be at the hospital all day.  So this makes it a much bigger ordeal.

They have tentatively set this up for next Wed., Oct. 10 although they need to OK that with the neurosurgeon's office before we know for certain.  We should get confirmation tomorrow.
(This has been changed to Oct. 17 b/c the neurosurgeon was not available until then.  We are hoping to get bumped up to Oct. 10, but that is doubtful.)

As I think back over the summer, I'm so grateful for having the opportunity to sit in on some counseling sessions at the ministry center.  We even got to join in a bit in encouraging others about trusting God's love for them and His sovereignty in all aspects of their lives…..even when it doesn't "feel good" or seem like what we would consider "best".   Each time we remind others of the truth of God's Word, we are reminded as well.  So our disappointment is softened and we are comforted with the knowledge that He knows and it all will be for our (eternal) good and His glory.

We are so grateful to know that so many of you have been faithfully praying for us.  It is almost too much to take in, really.  But it is so comforting to know that.   So once again…thank you, thank you, thank you!  Jodee and Dan

Tom's family brought another family with them and one day they all went to......

The Extreme Adirondack Adventure.  They all had a great time and I was so intrigued by the photos, I'm in training now so that I can go with them next year :-)  The photo to the left is Morgan working her way across one of the more difficult challenges.  All of these are really high off of the ground.

Emma didn't want to miss out!  She took to this like a duck to water!

Matthew thought this was great!  

We had great food, especially when Tom and his friend, Brett, were there.  They did most of the cooking.  On the 4th of July we celebrated my sister, Nancy's, birthday with 2 of Brett's famous Mile High Apple Pies.  YUM!

When Megan visited, she participated in the Piseco Sprint Triathlon and made the front page of the Hamilton County Express! 

The sunsets were still glorious.........

The hikes were full of nature's beauty...........

The kayak trips were full of adventure........

......including the sighting of a bald eagle, although this particular fellow Megan captured on camera  right on Oxbow Lake.

As the summer wound down, the nights got cooler and there were even a few days when a fire in the fireplace felt good and the cabin was warm and cozy.......