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.