Saturday, September 21, 2013


Last night we were privileged to watch our daughter, Megan, be inducted into The Wyoming High School Hall of Fame along with 3 other outstanding athletes.  Each inductee was introduced by someone meaningful to them in their pursuit of athletic achievement who spoke highly of them, not only as athletes but as people.  In those introductions, they highlighted the many achievements the inductee had accomplished and that, of course, usually included setting multiple records in various sports.  Those are awesome achievements that we can understand and respect and if they were ours, we could and would be proud of them.

But there are some records that we'd prefer NOT to own. Dan achieved one of those yesterday.

We returned to Ohio on Monday (Sept. 16) so that Dan could get his diagnostic tests completed and have the radiation for the 2 + possibly a third tumor in his brain that they discovered on his regular follow-up MRI in late August.  In order to plot out the radiation they need a high definition CT scan which they merge with the MRI.  Often, they find new, smaller tumors when they do that test.

Just before returning we got a call from Dr. Breneman's nurse explaining that he would like Dan to have an additional MRI; one that included "spectroscopy" (whatever that is), in addition to the high definitions CT scan.  That possible third tumor could have been one of the earlier tumors that did not respond to the radiation, or some damage from the radiation and this special MRI would help them determine if it needed to be re-treated or allowed to heal.

So Wed. morning we left the house at 6:20 a.m. in order to assure that we could be at the Medical Arts Building at U.C. by 7:30.  They did the MRI there.  It took over an hour.  Dan said it was the longest MRI he had ever had.  Then we headed north to University Pointe (West Chester) where he donned his mask and they did the high def CT scan.

Later that afternoon, Dr. Breneman called to tell us that that all indications were that the "possible third tumor" was a tumor that had not been effectively taken care of by the previous radiation and was larger.   In addition to that, the high def CT scan revealed 4 new small tumors that had not been visible 4 weeks earlier.  So all 7 tumors would be zapped on Friday.

We were pretty disappointed.  We were so hoping that the Avastin would diminish the brain metastasis and that soon he would no longer require radiation treatments.  But then we were reminded that God is THE ONE who is in control....not the doctors and not the drugs.

Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. we dropped Cocoa off at the vet's for her annual shots and grooming and headed back to University Pointe for Dan's radiation treatment.  They had warned him that treating so many spots would take close to 3 hours but he wanted to get it over with so I brought along my iPad and some needlepoint to work on.  A friend ended up meeting me for coffee for much of the waiting time and that really helped the time go faster for me.    Dan said that they gave him a short break after each 2 tumors so he could move a little.

After the treatment which did last just about 3 hours, we met with Dr. Warnick, the neurosurgeon who plots out the radiation along with Dr. Breneman, the oncology radiologist.  He explained what they did and why, noting that according to their count, Dan had just had his 49th brain tumor radiated and for his 22 years of practice, that was a NEW RECORD!  (yay?.....not so much.....)  But wait...maybe we really SHOULD be cheering.  After all, how many people have 49 brain tumors and survive, much less, get to joke about it?  In truth, we are so grateful for this procedure and still amazed by it!!  Not all that long ago, the only treatment that would have been available was whole head radiation and there is no way Dan could have survived, much less gotten by with no collateral damage!!

So after his virtual brain surgery, we called Meg, who was in between appointments, and arranged to meet her for lunch.  Then at 5:30 p.m. we gathered in the lobby of the high school and watched our daughter receive her honors.  (photos at the bottom)

It would be easy to focus on the negatives here...but when we look at where we have been over the last almost 6 years, there is mostly thanksgiving and praises.  Thanksgiving for loving and supportive family, for competent and caring doctors and other medical personnel; for amazingly loyal and committed friends, but mostly for a loving and merciful God who understands suffering and disappointment and chooses to walk through it all with each of us....not merely to comfort us, although He does do that, but to teach us and grow us in ways we never would have otherwise.

So now, after church on Sunday morning and getting to watch our grandson, Matthew, play a football game in the afternoon, we will pack up and head back to NY for our last 3 weeks.  It has gotten pretty chilly there but we are still hoping for a few days of Indian Summer for another kayak trip or two, along with some serious Hands and Feet competition, a couple of campfires and maybe even a few games of Dominos.

Once again we thank each of you for sharing this journey with us.  There is an old adage that says something like, "Many hands make light work."  I'd adjust that a little bit to say, "Many hearts make a lighter burden."   Thank you so much for sharing your hearts with us.    And please keep praying for us to be able to follow Paul's admonition in Philippians 4: 4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Jodee and Dan

Below are a few photos of Megan's special evening.

The four new inductees:  Jill Westerfeld, Megan McCabe, Tim Marty and Ivan Fulton

Congratulatory bouquet from Mom and Dad

Meg with her proud brother, Tom (posed)

The "Keeping it REAL" brother-sister photo :-)

Proud Mom and Dad

Etched in Wyoming High School History 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dear Friends and Family,
Wow!  The summer has come and GONE!  I’m still in amazement (sure to only increase!) at how fast the seasons are flying by these days!  Last you heard from us, it was early June and Dan had just had radiation on 10 small tumors in his brain.

Shortly after that, we saw his regular oncologist and he began Avastin treatments again.  [Avastin was the chemo that he was on for 2 years (2009 and 2010) which eventually suppressed the disease, giving him a remission.  After 2 years on that drug, it began to take a toll on his one good kidney and raised his blood pressure, so they had to take him off of it.]

There is no guarantee that Avastin will be as effective at suppressing the disease this time as it was the first time, but we are hopeful.  The side effects are minimal and Dan is able to enjoy a very good quality of life while taking this.  He receives it by IV once every 2 weeks.  The first time he was on this drug, it was through a clinical trial.  That meant that when we were in NY, he needed to come back to Cincinnati every 2 weeks to receive the treatment b/c of all the documentation that was required for the clinical trial.  Now that it has been approved for treatment for kidney cancer, he is able to receive it here in NY while we are here for the summer.  That has been a huge blessing!

SO....after the initial treatment of Avastin, we packed up our 3 grandchildren and headed to NY.  I’ll get into the summer goings-on later after I finish up the medical update.

In Aug., it was time for Dan’s regular whole body CT scan and bone scan to be done, as well as the MRI of his brain to check on the effectiveness of that last radiation treatment as well as for possible new tumors.  He also had finally gotten an appointment with a back specialist to see if there were anything that could be done to help relieve his back pain.  He went through a grueling two days of tests and doctor’s visits.  

The CT scan and bone scan showed no visible progression in the disease in the body (below the head), PRAISE GOD!  To be completely honest, I was hoping they would see improvement...a decrease, but the only things showing up right now are in the bones and I am just now remembering that the only way they can distinguish between healed or active spots is by seeing an increase in size.  So....there actually COULD be improvement that we cannot SEE.  

When they did the MRI of the brain, they found 2 new small tumors and one area that they have some questions about.  We are PRAISING GOD for only 2 new tumors!!  That is a WHOLE lot better than 10!!  Of course, when they do the high definition CT scan to merge with the MRI in order to plot out the exact locations, they often find one or two more...but even that would be a huge improvement!!  We are hoping that with more time on AVASTIN that even this will improve.

The back specialist said that surgery was not an option.  The cause of his pain is related to the compression fractures and the failed treatment he had several years ago.  As I understand it, the vertebrae are now tilted in such a way that they irritate a nerve causing it to be inflamed.  The back specialist sent Dan to a pain specialist who did an epidural.  The effectiveness can last anywhere from a few days to a year.  

He did get some relief but it seems to be ebbing away quickly.  He was also given some other medications to try for pain relief that hopefully will allow him to get by without taking narcotics, at least in the daytime, so he can continue to drive.  It might take a few weeks of trial and error to figure out the best combination, but we are hopeful.

We will be returning to Cincinnati in mid Sept. for the next radiation treatment.  

I think that covers all that we know right now.  Needless to say, we are so thankful for God’s mercy and grace that has been poured out for us.  There have been and still are, so many, many lessons we are learning along the way.  Lessons like the importance of “remembering”.  God instructed Israel to “REMEMBER” many times....for them to remember all the miraculous interventions he did throughout their history.  I used to wonder, “Why would he NEED to tell them that?  SURELY they would never forget!”  And yet in our own experience on this journey...with all the marvelous things God has done for us....we forget.  With many new challenges on this journey,  the emotions and fears can resurface and you would think we had never experienced God’s great mercy and love.  When that happens, one of the best things about having done this blog is that we can go back and reread what has happened and how amazingly God has provided over the last 6 years.  We then take those fearful thoughts captive ( 2 Corinthians 10:5).  

We continue to be exceedingly grateful for all the prayers and cards and emails...the LOVE that all of you give and give.  Thank you so much!

OK..I promised that I’d add the fun stuff at the for those who are interested in a synopsis of our summer, here we go!

Tom and Karla were not able to join us in NY this summer and we missed having them, but we were blessed to have the grandchildren with us for a time.  They spent the night with us in Cincinnati before we drove here so that we could leave bright ( was still pretty dark at 5:30 a.m.) and early the next day.   

We drove out here on a Wed.  The girls (Morgan and Emma) were going to Tapawingo that Sunday.  Morgan was going for one week;  Emma was staying for two.  Matthew stayed with Mimi and PopPop the whole 2 1/2 weeks!  He kept PopPop really busy!

Each morning we would go to camp.  Dan and I would attend chapel and Matthew would go to the children’s chapel (sort of like Vacation Bible School)  He was a bit unsure if he really wanted to go at first but once there he LOVED it!  As a matter of fact, the second week, he decided to go to “Chapter 2” as well.  That was the hour and half after the children’s program that was more recreation.  But after that, it was PopPop’s turn to entertain!  There was putt-putt and shuffleboard and tennis and arcade games....and then you started all over again!  Whew!! They came home late and HUNGRY!!

Morgan had a great time at Tapawingo.  She kinda wished she had signed up for 2 weeks but she had been unsure about what time demands would be for her club volleyball and they have to register for Tapawingo so early (like in November!) she was being careful.  Emma LOVED it, of course, and even got to celebrate her birthday there.  We made sure she got well celebrated at the cabin, too

My sister from Taiwan, Nancy, was able to be here for 4 weeks.   There was a lot going on and yet I still think she was able to get some rest and relaxation squeezed in.

The summer was full of more family and lots of friends visiting, WONDERFUL speakers at Camp of the Woods, reuniting with camp friends and our New York friends from neighborhood and church....and it even included a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for Family Camp with our Ohio Church Family.

We have yet to do our first kayak trip...NEED to get on that before the weather turns REALLY cold!  But we are so grateful the wonderful fellowship we have already had!

We are so thankful for the wonderful times we have had, the enjoyment of children, grandchildren, friends and extended family, the blessings of Tapawingo, Camp of the Woods, both of our "home" churches and Cedar Campus….blessings too numerous to count!!

Below are some snapshots of our summer blessings :-)
Morgan, just chillin' on the deck with Cocoa

Having fun fishing off the dock

  With all the windy days and rainy days, it was hard getting in a campfire, but somehow, we squeezed it in :-)  I know it doesn't look like much of a fire....but it was PERFECT for roasting marshmallows..really!  

Emma and Matthew had a blast jumping off the boat even though it was pretty chilly that day!

Sparklers made the campfire even more fun!

And of course, S'mores are a must...even amid the smoke!

Loons are one of our favorite sights (and sounds) on the lake

Two of my sisters, Nancy and Susan, relaxing on the deck.

Heading out onto Lake Pleasant one evening to watch the 4th of July Fireworks

Waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for the fireworks to begin.

Emma, our little gymnast.

 Cocoa loves the cabin too.

Enjoying Mimi's French Toast and Bacon Breakfast.

After chapel, it is time for Sticky Buns at The TeePee!

A balloon and cotton candy at Camp of the Wood's Monday night Carnival.  What more could a boy ask for?

Matthew greeting Morgan on her return from Tapawingo.  I think he might have missed his big sister a little.  :-)

This was a serious Dominos competition!

Mimi was teaching Morgan how to bake bread.  I think she's got the hang of it!

Morgan's efforts paid off.  They look pretty good, but they tasted even better.  YUM!

In our ever-continuing attempts to eat more "healthily", we celebrated sisters, Nancy's and Sue's 4th of July birthdays, brother Jim's 7th of July birthday and sister-in-law Alyca's July 22nd birthday with Black Bean Brownies.  They tasted a lot better than they sound and almost as good as they look.

Although Meg was on vacation up here, she couldn't take a break from training for The LOBSTERMAN Triathlon this Sept. 14th.  Here she is getting ready to swim across the lake and back with mom accompanying in a kayak to protect from boaters.

Another gorgeous evening at the lake.

This is Tibbits Auditorium where we spent most of our mornings praising God and hearing wonderful Bible Teachers.

Watching a sailing yacht go through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie.

Cedar Campus was the location for ECC's Family Camp in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

The sunrise view in front of our cabin at Family Camp this year.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Dear Friends and Family,

As you know, the last high definition MRI and CT scans showed that Dan had 10 new tumors in his brain.  The oncology radiologist set up three appointments for stereotactic radiographic surgery (or "zapping the tumors" in lay terminology)  so that they could radiate all 10 without exhausting Dan or  causing too much pain for his back.  The procedure requires total stillness and that his head be encased in a form-fitted plastic mask and  literally bolted to the table.  With his back issues, they were not sure how long he could tolerate being immobilized.  

This past Tuesday, they did the first procedure and he did so well, they were able to do 5 of the 10 with only a little break in the middle to remove the tight mask from his face and let him move a little bit.  That appointment took 2 hours.  Dan was encouraged and felt he could do that again today.

This afternoon, he had the second appointment and they were able to complete the treatments to all of the other 5 tumors.  It seemed to be important to Dan to get it done in two sessions.  I told him if it were me, they'd only need one, b/c with my claustrophobia issues, they would have to put me to sleep, period!  I don't know how he does this while being conscious, but I suspect your prayers are playing into it quite a bit.  We praise God for helping Dan to get through this in only 2 sessions!  And I'm grateful for a friend who kept me company while I waited during both of those sessions!  Thanks, Jennifer!

Please keep praying for us.  We have a meeting with the primary oncologist early Tues. morning to decide what comes next in terms of chemo treatments.  We are both thinking Avastin but are not sure of the other choices just yet,  or even if there are any other choices.

We are still moving ahead with our "normal" plans for summer, holding them loosely, but remaining hopeful that we will still be able to spend much of the summer in upstate NY.

Thank you for praying for us…we FEEL it….and we are grateful!!  Jodee and Dan

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Dear Friends and Family,

Tues. I was driving home from Florida…coming home from a trip visiting my sister and brother-in-law in GA, then stopping by in Haines City to watch Meg swim the open water leg of an IronMan Relay, and then on to spend a week with my mom in Pompano Beach when Dan called from the oncology radiologist's office.   Dan had stayed behind in order to have his brain MRI that is needed every 3 months.  When the doctor stepped out for a moment to take another look at some earlier scans, Dan called to let me know that this MRI had found 6 new tumors in his brain.  We had arranged for him to call me from the doctor's office to let me know what was going on so that if I had questions I could tell him and he could ask the doctor.  

I have to admit that I was taken aback some by this.  I had expected them to find more tumors.  The oral meds just did not seem to be able to suppress the cancer in the brain.  But he has never had that many at one time before.  He explained that they would be treating them just as before, with the stereotactic radiographic surgery, but that they would most likely need to do it 2 sessions b/c it would be difficult for Dan to be totally immobile long enough for them to treat all 6.  They would get started right away by sending him right then for a high definition CT scan, which they then merge with the MRI to create a holographic image of his brain which they use to plot out the exact paths for the radiation.

It was going to take awhile to process that information.  Dan was at home thinking about it and I was in the car, so I had lots of time to roll it around in my mind.  Both of us were wondering if we should be pressing for him to go back on Avastin, the chemo that he was on for 2 years that seemed to suppress the disease completely.  The only reason he had to stop taking it was b/c it was adversely affecting his one kidney.  But it took 2 years to build up that toxicity and he has been off of it now for 2 years.

I was feeling a bit unsettled and decided to just keep driving until I got home that night.  It isn't unusual for us to stop overnight on our way home from Mom's.  It is an 1,100 mile drive.  But sitting in a motel room just wasn't appealing to me at that point and I was holding up pretty well, so I just kept driving.  With the longer days, I didn't even have to deal with much darkness.  I arrived safely at about 10:15 p.m.

Yesterday Dan got to attend the Memorial Golf Tournament in Columbus with Megan.  Her marketing company does their web site so she was able to get tickets and a parking pass.  Plus one of her friends has relatives with a home on the course where they could rest and get some relief from sun or rain.  He told me that his radiology oncologist's office might be calling with the schedule for the treatment for his brain tumors and left me with his schedule so I could straighten out any conflicts.

When the gal called with the schedule, she said they were scheduling THREE treatments b/c there were 10 "iso centers". She really did not know the significance of that, but I was afraid I did.  I asked her if that meant that there were now 10 tumors and she could not tell me.  I suspect she realized that she had given me information that I had not had and should not have heard from her.  She told me that she would leave a message for the doctor to call me to answer my questions.

Awhile later, Dr. Brenneman called and yes, after the high definition CT scan and merging it with the MRI, they found 4 more tiny tumors that need to be treated.  He apologized for our finding out from the scheduling person. So our 6 tumor "event" has now become a 10 tumor event.

Dan seemed to take it in stride but I have to confess it shook me up a bit.  Both of us would love to find a way to stop this disease…all the while reminding ourselves that GOD KNOWS and He is still in control of ALL that touches our lives. It is one thing to know this but sometimes my emotions lag a bit behind my brain.

The 3 treatments are scheduled for June 4th, June 7th and June 11th.  In the midst of that, I'll be returning to the cardiologist for an echo cardiogram and a follow-up appointment.

Then last evening, after Dan returned from his golf outing, he showed me that he has hives all over. We are thinking it is most likely a reaction to his chemo.  He has a call in to the doctor this morning to find out what needs to happen about that.

So….you know what comes next….we need more prayer.  I feel stupid saying it, it is so obvious and yet I feel guilty for asking.  You all have been so generous and faithful with praying for us day in and day out for over 5 years!!  We know you each have health issues and hard things that touch the lives of your families, too.  But when the LORD brings us to mind, please pray for wisdom for our doctors and for HIS grace to fill us with faith and trust in His plan for us.

Thank you so much for sharing this "adventure" with us!  Jodee and Dan

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Dear Friends and Family,

They say "no news is good news", right?  If that, then, does it mean that news, in general, is bad news?  ….Well, if so, it kinda fits todays post.  We haven't had to post anything lately b/c there hasn't been much to tell.  In our circumstances that is a good thing, really.  But over the last few weeks, the pain in Dan's upper back has been increasing.  We were concerned early this winter when he began having pain there, but they checked that out with a bone scan a bit more than a month ago and there did not appear to be any change in the area on his 10th rib on his right side where the one new lesion was found about 16 months ago… we were relieved.  It appeared as if the current chemo was keeping the cancer in check, at least in most of his body except for his brain. The small tumors that popped up there, were being successfully managed with precision radiation.  We went ahead and scheduled physical therapy to strengthen his abdominal and back muscles, hoping to add more stability to reduce the discomfort in his lower back and we think we are seeing some minor improvement there.  But the upper back on his right side continued to be quite uncomfortable and increasingly so.  Anyway, the CT scan done yesterday showed that lesion has grown by about a half inch in one direction and a quarter inch in another.  

We are disappointed…this is hard news.  But not really a surprise.  It is the first thought that comes to mind when one is dealing with cancer and new pain emerges or increases...…whether you are the cancer patient or the loved one… is a reality you live with from day to day.  

We have been so fortunate for such a long time that we were getting very comfortable and maybe leaning a bit too much on our own strength.  

I wasn't here when the doctor called so I did not get a chance to ask questions, but Dan tells me that he is to stop taking his current chemo and he will begin taking a new drug.  I think the new drug is one that he will be taking orally as well.


In the midst of all of this, I was able to take a long-scheduled trip to Chicago with Megan (pictures at the bottom) and a week later, Dan and I were still able to get out to NY to open the cabin for the summer; to see some of our NY friends and for me to be able to attend the Ladies' Retreat from our NY church.  The theme was "God's Lavish Grace".  It was a great encouragement....really good timing :-)  His timing is always good.

We are very mindful of the tremendous support we have been given by each of you….your prayers and encouragement have sustained us through many ups and downs.  And here we are again;  asking for more prayer!  Prayer for wisdom for new treatment.  Prayer for treatment that is effective and that won't have too many adverse side effects.  Prayer for continued and even increased faith in God's purposes and plans for us.  Prayer that even as we ask these things, that our deepest desires will be molded and shaped by His will for us ……and prayers for His "peace that passes understanding".  

Thank you….each of you, for taking this journey with us.  Each step has been a challenge and an adventure.  We are so glad and so grateful to have you with us!!      Love,  Jodee and Dan

The spring flowers were amazing beautiful...just had to take a few photos!

We even managed to get a little shopping done.

It took a long time, but I finally got my "little girl" to The American Girl Store!  :-)

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Cheesecake Factory which was part of Megan's gift to me...she was even willing to share Strawberry Shortcake with me!

Chicago was living up to its nickname of "The Windy City"  It was 10 degrees colder on Navy Piet than it was on Michigan Ave.

Love this city!

We were fascinated by "The Bean" Sculpture in Millennial Park.

Buckingham Fountain, my all time favorite place in Chicago!

And a little dose of nostalgia....Miller's Pub was the site of
my first date with Dan.....amazing that it is still in business after 43 years!

It was a great trip and a wonderful gift!  Thank you, Meg!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back-tracking And Snow Tracks

Wow…it has been way too long since you all have heard from us.  And I know that some news trickled out there back in Nov. when we had a little "incident" that took us to the ER.  Forgive me for not filling you all in better.  You have been so faithful in praying for us and encouraging us….I really do intend to keep you well informed, but felt like I didn't have all the info and the tests and results kept getting pushed back, so I kept waiting.  

So, here we are…almost 4 months after the last radiation treatment and my first update.

Well, as you can imagine and as has already been hinted at, much has happened in the last 4 months.  Thankfully, not all of it is directly related to Dan's battle with kidney cancer, but it is all intertwined and makes up the fabric of our lives (as opposed to cotton…..that's a joke…get it? was a bad joke…moving on….)   Because all the medical stuff happens in the midst of just regular life and we do our best to focus on that "regular" part of life, it is all sort of mingled together in this blog.  But if you want to cut to the chase, just read the next 2 paragraphs and then jump down to just below the photos of Dan at the BCS National Championship.  Otherwise you will get a glimpse of the last couple of months with the McCabes :-)

When you last heard from us, Dan had undergone a stereotactic radiographic surgery procedure with the use of a halo.  They had used precision radiation to zap 4 tumors in his brain, one of which was larger than he had ever had before.  Whenever they do these procedures, they put him on a descending dose of steroids as well as an anti seizure medication for a certain length of time.  Both are meant to reduce the chance of seizures caused by swelling in the brain as it reacts to the changes that take place when the tumors die.  Always before the meds worked like magic and Dan had never had any symptoms at all from the radiation procedure.  Well, there is a first time for everything, they say.  That procedure was done on Oct. 17.  On Nov. 19th, we were both relaxing at home.  We had just returned from a week long visit with my mom in Florida the day before and had been busy that day unpacking and beginning the prep for Thanksgiving at our home later that week.  While watching TV, I heard Dan mumbling and asked him to speak more clearly.  When he continued the mumbling I sat up to look at him, thinking he had perhaps fallen asleep and was talking in his sleep.  He was sitting there…sort of looking straight ahead but not really at me, speaking gibberish.  I was VERY concerned.  I waited a few seconds to see if he was able to get clear speech out and then called our son, Tom, at the firehouse.  My first thought was stroke but very quickly it moved to "more tumors".   Tom had me put Dan through some neuro screening tests like smiling wide (to see if both sides of the face respond equally), pushing with both hands, lifting both legs, etc.  By the time we went through all of that he had me ask him to say "The sky is blue in Cincinnati" and he said it perfectly well!  But we were still concerned.  I took him to the ER and had him checked out for a T.I.A. (transient ischemia attack  or a sort of mini stroke)

We arrived at the ER at about 7:45 p.m and it wasn't busy!  I was so relieved that we got right in.  The ER folks ordered a CT scan and on that they saw some swelling in the area of that larger tumor that had been treated.  They felt that was most likely the cause of the symptoms but wanted to do an MRI and some other follow-up tests to rule out a cardiac related event, so they admitted him.  

After all the tests, it was determined that the swelling was the culprit and he was put on more steroids and more anti seizure medicine.  Those are normally given for a short time but apparently, he needed them longer in this case.  He has been symptom free from that while on the meds.  PRAISE GOD for that!  He was released from the hospital on Nov. 20th late in the afternoon.  We celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday that week, b/c Tom's crew at the firehouse had to work the holidays this year.  Below are pictures from our Thanksgiving Family Time:

It's tradition for Morgan and Emma to come the day before Thanksgiving and help me prepare food for the feast.  Their favorite is cooking the cranberry sauce.

This year they helped me chop the celery for the stuffing.  That takes a long time so it's a big help for me to have it all done ahead of time.  Thanks, Emma and Morgan!!

My brother, Jim, and his wife, Alyca, came for Thanksgiving.  Since we were cooking the dinner, we treated ourselves to breakfast out at The Half Day Cafe that morning.

                                                          Fall symbols set the stage…...

                             The table is finally ready….now for the food!!


The next day, Megan took Dan to the Ohio State vs. U of M game and watched the BUCKS beatthe Wolverines.  Go BUCKS!!

The next weekend we were able to attend an open house at Megan's workplace.  She and Ryan Miller bought a building this year to house their marketing company and they had invited clients to celebrate with them.  We were happy to see their success and to meet with many of their clients and employees.

                              Ryan and Megan ready to greet their guests

                                 Ryan and Dan giving homage to OSU

That same weekend, we celebrated Matthew's 7th Birthday.  It's close to Christmas so we have to work a little at showing him it really is special :-)

We went through the Christmas and New Year's holidays with no more symptoms, praise the LORD!!!  Once again, we celebrated Christmas a day late b/c of Tom's schedule at the firehouse.  On the actual Christmas Day, we had dinner with friends from church and enjoyed the fellowship.

My birthday was celebrated somewhere around this time too......but let's just not go there........

We actually had a little snow before Christmas this year.  It wasn't much but helped us feel as if it were actually time for Christmas.  Over the years Dan has gotten smart and put those outside lights up before Thanksgiving on some nice WARM weekend.  We just don't turn them on until after Thanksgiving.

Karla had to work the day after Christmas when we were going to have our Family Celebration, but dinner was late enough that she could share in the festivities.  Turned out that we got a pretty good amount of snow that day so we had a beautiful "White Christmas".  The only problem with that was that Tom needed to go out and plow!  sigh.  Well, he did his best to be at our house for our Christmas Dinner.  We had a wonderful Christmas Celebration together.

Dan's original schedule for his normal follow-up MRI was the first  full week of January but our daughter, Megan, surprised him on Christmas with tickets to the BCS National Championship Football game in Miami. His beloved Notre Dame Irish were playing The Tide of Alabama and he had tried to find tickets but had had no luck.  She managed to get tickets from a rabid Alabama fan which meant that they had to sit with the "enemy" but at least they could go!   It was a major "fail" on the part of this photographer to not get a photo of his surprise!   He was thrilled and had a marvelous time (well, until the game, anyway….all of you sports fans know how that ended up :-(  )  and got to reconnect with some of his ND buddies and support his favorite team and spend some quality time with his daughter.   SO….the follow-up MRI got delayed a week or so.  

While in Florida for that game, Megan and Dan got to visit with my mom.  It is hard for the grandkids to get to Florida to see her so it is always a treat for her to get to spend some time with one of them.  Meg took Dan and Mom to The Olive Garden for supper Friday evening and I know Mom enjoyed the time with them.

Below are some photos from their time in Florida for the "big game".

Meg, Mom and Dan.  I think Mom looks pretty awesome for 93, don't you?

                   Nothing like some quality father-daugher time!

After Dan returned from Florida he had his full body CT scan and bone scan.  The results of those were good…the radiologist saw no changes so at least the new chemo is holding the disease in check in those areas.   We PRAISE GOD for that and are so very, very thankful!

On Thursday of that week, we had the 3 grandkids after school and for dinner. Tom and Karla needed help with transportation for Morgan to her AAU Volleyball practice.  We decided to have a mini family celebration for her 14th Birthday (which was actually the next day) since we were going to be out of town on the weekend.  I still cannot believe that we have a granddaughter who is 14!  She continues to make us proud with her hard work, her willingness to be responsible and her kindness.  

The next day (Friday, the 25th) he had his high definition MRI and immediately following that we saw his oncology radiologist.  The good news was that the 4 tumors that they treated the last time, using the halo, have responded as expected, with the slight exception of the greater swelling than was expected in the one area.  The not-so-great news is that there are two new small tumors.  Those will need to be radiated as well.  This time, they will be able to return to using the mask, which is a much less burdensome procedure for the patient so we are grateful for that

We asked the oncology radiologist how many times Dan could endure this type of treatment and he didn't really answer that exactly, but said that for the foreseeable future, as long as we kept catching them when they are small, we can keep ahead of the game….sort of like playing "Whack-A-Mole".  We asked about whether or not we should consider returning to Avastin, which seemed to be able to stop the tumors in the brain as well as the rest of the body, but he said that b/c the Avastin posed a fairly certain risk to the one good kidney, it would be wiser to stay this course, beating down the tumors as they appear, as long as the InLyta  controls the cancer in the rest of the body.  Later that same morning we saw his regular oncologist and he concurred with that conclusion.

I can't deny that we were disappointed.  We were hoping against hope that this time the InLyta would have gotten far enough ahead of the disease to keep tumors from forming anywhere but considering the prognosis of anyone who has kidney cancer we are so very fortunate to have a drug that is working as well as it is with almost no side effects and also to have the miraculous stereotactic radiographic surgery available to fight the brain tumors.  We remain so very grateful for all that God has and is doing for us and in us through this journey.  And , of course, we are incredibly grateful for the love and prayers and encouragement of all of you.  You continue to humble us and to teach us about faithfulness and compassion and trust.  Thanks you all so much!  

OK...well that takes care of the "back-tracking".  We are in the midst of making snow tracks right now. The day after the MRI and multiple doctor visits, we got on a plane and headed to Colorado.  One thing that both of us enjoys equally is skiing.  We are spending this week enjoying God's amazing creation while gliding down the mountain at Breckenridge or riding back up on the chair.  The sheer awesomeness of what we see each day is affirmation of God's greatness and power.  What could be more comforting?  

Dan and Jodee