Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Holidays

I promised a friend of mine that I would update this, so here I am.  Sorry it has been a while, but nothing too new and exciting has happened lately, which is probably a good thing.  We are still in the maintenance phase of the treatment so I am up at the Huntsman every other week, and doing Physical Therapy a couple times a week if I can schedule it in.  Everything seems to be improving these days, I am still a little sore in my back but my strength is increasing every day.  Christmas was great, my whole family was in town so the best part was just having everyone together.  Experiences like this one really help you put everything into perspective, and it is a little easier to focus on what Christmas is all about when you are literally just happy to be there.  We had fun going to a few Christmas parties and hanging out with friends and family too, even a traditional Christmas puzzle thrown in there.
It is kind of an interesting thing going through Christmas while you are getting treatment.  You go up to the clinic and see all the other patients at different stages in their treatment too, and in my case you are just happy to be where you are.  I am really so grateful to have Katie and my family looking out for me.  It is easy to get into a negative funk and start feeling bad for yourself, but with so many people around that I love and care for I am blessed to to not get too discouraged.  To sum it up, something strange about cancer helps you to be a little more grateful for the simple things in life, and makes worrying about being stuck in traffic or holiday drama seem quite trivial.  Not that I don't get stressed out too, but hopefully it isn't as intense as it was before.  I want to say thank you as well for everyone who has expressed concern for us and helped us out in any way at all, especially the mystery Sigma Chi brother- we didn't get a chance to thank you but I can't say how kind and thoughtful that was.  We really have been the recipients of so much love, which is amazing to be a part of, especially at this time of year.  We hope everyone has a fun and safe new years and look forward to a more relaxed 2010.

Love Brandon and Katie

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where we are now

This is kind of a "where are we now" post because nothing really exciting has happened recently, but that is probably a good thing because strangely enough an "exciting" night for us usually starts with a 103 degree temperature and ends with me in the hospital. That being said, things have been going very well for us since the whole swine flu ordeal. We met with the Doctor to discuss our maintenance schedule for at least the next year, maybe longer depending on how we do. This next round consists of me going up to the clinic twice a week, every other week to get a Velcade push. This means they will "access" my port (which means they stick tubes into my skin basically allowing them to draw blood as needed and give me chemo or any other drug), do some blood tests on the first visit of the week to see where my levels are (these are various levels they test in my blood to track things like white blood cell counts and other things I don't know much about) and give me Velcade, which is a very small amount of a drug that is part of my chemo regimen. On top of this I have a long list of pills that I take every morning and every night, as well as a daily shot to keep my blood from clotting. There are minimal side effects which is very nice, the worst part is probably just having to go up to the clinic every other week, but we realize it could be worse. This will be our routine for the next year, and then the Doctor will reevaluate me and we will go from there. Right now, I am in partial remission but the Doctor thinks after about two months of this maintenance program I should be in full remission, so we are keeping our fingers crossed. I am able to move around without a cane on my own now, and I have started to work with a physical therapist who is trying to strengthen my muscles and get me back to somewhere that at least vaguely resembles my old life. This last phase of the treatment is not easy, but it is nice to see the end in sight. With most of the cancer gone it would be so nice to just go back to normal, the way things were, but we realize that is going to take some time and that it will never go back to exactly how it was before, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is good to have the holidays approaching and have a chance to see and visit with family and friends, and focus on the important things in life once again. We have learned throughout this experience those important things are the special people around us, and the relationships we build with them. When you are put in the kind of circumstances we have been through this past year, you realize nothing else really matters, nothing in the world. We are so grateful for all of the progress I am making these days, and we really appreciate all of the continued support, treats, cards, and love that is shown to us every day. Thank you so much to all of our friends and family, we love you more than you will ever know.

Brandon and Katie

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Doing much better

For the last couple of weeks Brandon has come down with a nasty case of the flu.  Although his test results never came back (weird) his doctor said he was 98% positive it was H1N1.  It really was a rough one.  I felt like we were back to our chemo days because Brandon was so nauseous and couldn't eat anything for almost two weeks!  Getting swine flu has been one of our biggest concerns since his immune system is so low, but now that he has had it and recovered we don't need to worry so much.  It's experiences like these that remind us just how susceptible Brandon is to germs.  It sure keeps us on our toes!  

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This explains everything...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Home and building strength

I figure it is about time for another update because things seem to be going really well, and I want to share the good news with all of our friends. A lot has happened in the last few weeks, I came home from the hospital two days after I checked in, which is hard to do-they usually like to keep you there for a while to make sure you are really better. The problem, as previous entries have mentioned was that I wasn't getting enough oxygen to my lungs so I had the privilege of carting around one of those attractive green oxygen scuba tanks on wheels (just like my grandma has). I always thought they didn't look that bad, but I am here to say it was no fun, yes I was happy to be breathing without any trouble, but I was so happy to be rid of that little barrel of fun after only a week that I couldn't believe it. I have a deep new found respect for those who have to cart those around where ever they go, and have the giant R2D2 industrial noise maker at home that creates pure oxygen from room air (if you have one you know what I am talking about). When that adventure was over we saw my Doctor, who said that things were looking very good and we wouldn't have any more chemo. There was a chance I was going to do another round of a lighter chemo called depace, but the Doctor opted out of it and said that I was doing so well it would probably do more harm than good. We will know the exact status of the cancer in a few weeks when I go back in to have a bunch of tests done and another bone marrow biopsy (that is the really fun one, just a big needle in your back through the little hole they just made in your bone). It is actually not too bad, and I am really curious to see the results so I am kind of looking forward to it in a weird way. In the mean time I will be on what they call oral chemo, which is basically a bunch of pills that are not nearly as rough as IV chemo, and I will be on that for another year or two. Right now the Doctor said my cancer counts (shown from the blood tests) are so low that I am in partial remission, and on the other side of the coin my white blood cell counts are up, which is good, so I am almost back to a healthy immune system! All very good news that we are thrilled about!! I guess I will need it because I think I am coming down with a small cold of some sort, so keep in mind I love visitors, but you still need to be healthy when you visit.
I have had the chance to get out a little more and take advantage of this awesome weather, I suppose you can only keep me couped up inside for so long before I have to get out. Katie and I have been taking walks around the block to help build up my strength, and it has been very fun. I even went fishing last weekend and thanks to Sato and Rylan I even caught a fish!
I am also seeing a physical therapist right now who has me working out on a stationary bike for half an hour a few times a week and doing some other stretching and really light weights on the other days. It has been a lot of work, and it is hard to start all over again, but I am starting to see some real progress which is always so nice to see. I know we are so lucky to be where we are and doing so well. As you might have noticed, I am feeling better both physically and mentally, and am even back to joking around a bit as I used to. We wanted to thank everyone for your continued support, notes, and love. It really means so much to us, as we are not totally out of the woods yet, but certainly could not have gotten to this point without all of you.

Thank you so much,
Brandon and Katie

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shooting Star

The star patient has now become a shooting star as far as I'm concerned...I can hardly keep up with him! Brandon returned home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon and is now in full recovery mode. He has his oxygen with him at almost all times for the time being until his lungs clear up and get a little bit stronger from this whole engraftment syndrome thing. But, I have to say, the length of the oxygen tube is rather impressive, so he can still be quite mobile without having to worry about where the tank is. He went in for blood tests on Sunday morning and everything looked good enough that he didn't need to get any additional blood put in to help his counts or anything. So that was really good. His next appointment is later this week, so we'll see how that goes and how everything is looking then.

He is not even a couple weeks out from the bone marrow transplant, so his immune system is still pretty low and all his energy is going towards rebuilding it. His appetite is coming back day by day, and hopefully in the next few weeks he'll once again have the energy to get back into his exercise routine. (Personally, I have no doubts!)

Ryan and I were able to get out to UT for the Labor Day holiday weekend and were once again amazed at the progress Brandon has made as well as his continual "can do" attitude. I think because Doan has done so well over the past few months and has proven that he is strong and capable of taking on just about anything, it is easy to take for granted how HUGE each of these treatments are and what a BIG deal it is that he crosses these hurtles one after the other. I don't think I'll ever be able to complain about anything again when I'm around Brandon and Katie. They are such great examples to me of "when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!" Some of my favorite things from the weekend were seeing Brandon smile, laugh, crack jokes, add a little dry sarcasm to a conversation, and call Katie his sweetheart. Keep it up guys- you're amazing!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Star Patient

So, Brandon has had his second bone marrow transplant and everything went as expected. He started out doing all the treatments as an out patient, and has managed to keep away from all outside germs. Quite a miracle considering Katie got a cold right in the middle of everything! But, the Lord continues to help and protect Doan, and Katie is now safely over the cold and back to perfect health. Brandon on the other hand, being the star patient that he is, has had to be admitted to the hospital because his body took to the transplant SO well. You're all thinking, "That doesn't make sense! If he took to the transplant so well, what is he doing back in the hospital?" Well, it's something called engraftment syndrome. Sympotoms are very similar to pneumonia, fever, inability to breath normally, wheazing, etc. The doctors initially thought it was pneumonia, but instead, it's this engraftment syndrome. A very basic explination of this condition is that his body went to work so hard to engraft the new cells and to kill the bad ones, that it went into overdrive, and like a car, has over heated and caused some problems. His main discomfort right now, and the main reason he is in the hospital, is the fact that he is unable to get enough oxygen because his lungs are congested. So, they're keeping him there until his body is able to more normally regulate itself.

While engraftment syndrome isn't very comfortable for Doan, and if not monitered, can potentially be very dangerous, the up side is that it shows that the transplant and chemo treatments have gone well and are doing exactly what the doctors had hoped in terms of fighting the disease and replacing the bad cells with the good. Another positive is that Doan didn't get any mouth sores from the chemo (thanks to Ice Nazi Bobbi!), and he continues to look better and better in terms of his weight and coloring.

Your thoughts and prayers continue to be felt and appreciated. We are all so grateful for the continued progress Brandon has made and know it has been a blessing from the Lord. It has been a crazy few months, and will continue to be a bit of a climb as he rebuilds his immune system, but we're hopeful, optimistic, and continuing to count our blessings. Thank you for your continued support.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Almost 13,000 website visits since inception!

I know many probably just consider me some techy nerd, but I cannot believe what a modern miracle it is to have the internet to share information. Since the website started just a few months ago (April 4th to be exact), Brandon and his story has attracted close to 13,000 hits. Here is what I found out as a website administrator this

That is phenomenal and such an assurance that there are so many people out there that love you Brandon & Katie! I heard the chemo went well and I am looking forward to hear how the transplant went as well. WE ALL LOVE YOU GUYS!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Please Comment and/or Sign Up!

Hey everyone! So, everything is going well thus far with Doan's chemo. Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25th, he'll be having his second bone marrow transplant. No complications are anticipated, but as usual, we really appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers. The next couple of weeks are going to be a little rough as his system makes it's way down to neutropenic, meaning he'll have no immune system, but he did it once already, so he can do it again! It is particularly encouraging for Brandon to be able to see all the people who are supporting him, so please take that extra moment, if you're willing and able to fast, to please sign up on the calendar! Or, you can leave a comment on the blog that you've got him and Katie in your prayers. Thank you all so much. The amount of love and support everyone has shown over the past few months really is amazing, and we are confident that Brandon wouldn't be where he is today without you!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good News and Chemo Schedule

I just got back from my appointment with Dr. Tricot (my oncologist who has been wonderful at the Huntsman cancer institute) and all my counts are looking really good! We had to do a bunch of tests on Monday and all of the test results came back with positive results. There is still a little bit of protein in my blood but we have drastically reduced the amounts since I started this whole process. This news has given us new resolve to hit this next round of chemo with even more energy and a positive attitude. We are so grateful that the treatment I have received has been so effective and we know that we couldn't have done this alone. Thank you so much for all of your thoughts, fasting and prayers- it makes a huge difference to know there are so many people we care about rooting for us. I am basically walking on my own these days, the cane is there usually but I don't really need it, and I have gained about 30 lbs. overall since my lowest weight (only 15 lbs. shy of my old weight)!
I start my next round of chemo therapy tomorrow, Friday, August 21. My transplant is on Tuesday, August 25. From there my immune system will gradually go down until it hits zero and then the transplant cells will kick in with the help of some red blood cell stimulants I will receive and boost my system back up again. The rough part of the chemo therapy is not when you receive the chemo, but its affect on you when it really gets into your body a little further down the road. For that reason, I should be sick within the next week or so, and it will last for a few weeks after that. Unfortunately with such a weak immune system I can't have visitors during this time, but I will be sure to let you know when I am feeling better. Another big advantage we have this round is we are doing it out patient. This means that we will go to the clinic to receive the chemo and do checkups, but I get to come home at night (much better than spending a month in the hospital). We aren't exactly looking forward to this next round, but it is nice to know what to expect and it will be even nicer to have it over with. We are so grateful to be where we are, and to have come so far so fast. My back is getter stronger and less sore every day, and at least for the time being my hair is growing like weeds. Thanks again for all of your prayers and support, we love you.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good R&R at the Beach

What a wonderful treat it was to get to see Brandon and Katie this past weekend in Newport Beach. Ryan and I haven't been able to get to UT to see them for a couple months, so it was AMAZING for us to finally get to see his progress first hand. He looks GREAT! As you can see, his hair is growing back in and his face has a nice, healthy shape and color. His arms and legs are showing muscle tone again and to witness him walk through the sand with very little need for the cane was amazing. When we last saw him in UT, Doan was just learning to manipulate a small set of stairs with his crutches. Now it's a whole other story...Katie's family was staying in a 3rd floor condo, and Brandon was going up and down them like they were nothing! I was so impressed with the fact that he didn't even have to bring both feet up to each stair, rather, just one foot and one stair after the other. Doan- you really are a walking miracle! And to see how loving, patient, and supportive Katie and all of her family are with him was particularly touching.

Brandon will be heading in for another intense round of chemo and another bone marrow transplant in the next couple of weeks, so let's keep climbing those stairs of progress together! I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of this family, immediate and extended, and this entire experience. That includes all of you who have left your comments, fasted, donated time and money, and kept Brandon and Katie in your prayers. Truly inspiring.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blog address =

Dear Friends & Blog Readers,

After doing some researching, I found out how to map to this blog. Originally I had it only URL forward to the real blog hosted at, but now that I have figured it out, please update your blog readers and Blogger "follows" to the new permanent blog address.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Run for Fun for Brandon -- A BIG SUCCESS

Thank you to everyone who came out yesterday morning to our Run for Fun for Brandon event at Sugarhouse Park. We were all overwhelmed at the massive outcry of love and support for Brandon, Katie, and their families. It was a real fun event.... We had a lot of bikers, joggers, walkers, and runners. We had great weather, friendly faces, and tons of fun!

Congrats to our top 3 5K race winners who each received complimentary massages to Knead a Massage! They ran the 3.1 miles in under 20 minutes!! This event was so extremely successful! With all the race registrations, t-shirts sold, and other donations made day-of, we all helped to raise $22,962.07 for Brandon & Katie!!! It feels so good to have made such a big impact on Katie and Brandon's lives. So thank you everyone for participating, being so kind and generous with your donations, and for running for fun for Brandon!!

A HUGE thank you to our event sponsors:

for donating ALL our marketing materials (fliers, outside banners, etc).

for donating 3 full massages used as our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners

For a donation gift used to buy a lot of materials used for the race

For donating food, water, Creamies®, etc.

and Sugarhouse Park for helping to host the event!

Also a big thanks goes to all the many family, friends, and neighbors that lent a helping hand to make this event a BIG SUCCESS!!! We love you Brandon.....

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Hello everyone and thank you so much for all of your support at the fun run on Saturday! It was such a fun event and truly inspiring for Katie and I to see. I can't even begin to express the gratitude I feel for all the love, friendship, and dedication to help from every single person who participated in one way or another. We were totally shocked by the number of people who turned up to run, walk, and just be there to show how much they cared. Many people came up to me after the run and said how they were thinking if Brandon can do this, I can do this race. My response to that is how I keep thinking, if there are this many people out there praying and thinking of Katie and me then I can definitely get through one more round of chemo, no matter how bad it is. Just to give you the update on our next chemo schedule: I go in for tests on August 17 to do a bone marrow biopsy, PET scan (that gives us an idea how much cancer is left), and some blood work in preparation for chemo. Then after the test results come back I go in to see my oncologist, Dr. Tricot on Thursday and begin chemo on Friday, August 21. I am not sure just yet whether it will be an inpatient or outpatient procedure this time around but we are hoping for outpatient, but that is up to the Dr. at this point. The chemo will last for four days and I will have my transplant on August 25. In the following two or three weeks I will have my immune system go to zero until I am "neutropenic", and then slowly build itself back up again. During this period I will be very susceptible to disease just like before and won't be able to see any visitors. It is very nice knowing what to expect, having been through it now once before, and also knowing how many people out there are thinking of and praying for us. It really does make a difference, and we are so very grateful for everything that everyone has done for us. It makes those few weeks of discomfort and sickness seem more bearable, and much less daunting. After that, depending on how I respond to the treatment we may have one more round of a lighter chemo referred to as "depace" but other than that I should be primarily on chemo pills for the rest of the ordeal if everything goes as planned.
As many of you I am sure already realized I am doing much better as far as health and strength go. I have gained about 22 lbs. back of the 45 total that I have lost throughout my hospital stay, and my back although still sore is much stronger and not nearly as painful. Unfortunately I will never regain the 5 inches of height I lost when my spine collapsed, but I figure as long as I am still taller than Katie (which isn't too hard considering she is 5'2'') I am happy just being able to walk again. The path to walking has been a long and slow one, but it has taught me great patience. First, was the challenge of sitting up in bed, then standing up next to the bed. Next came the walker, the crutches, and now the cane! Hopefully soon I will be walking on my own.
I am constantly in awe from all of the overwhelming support we have continued to see over and over again throughout this struggle. We especially want to thank Jessica and Randy for all the work they put into planning the fun run. There were also many others who donated their time and their talents to help everything come together. It was such a wonderful day and reflection of how great everyone has been from the beginning. With the end in sight it is so comforting to remember all the strong arms willing to catch us if we ever stumble or fall, ready to help us get back up and keep fighting. We will never forget this special day, in this unique time in our lives to help us get through whatever lies ahead.

Monday, July 27, 2009

No News = Good News

So, these days, no news is good news! Brandon continues to be doing well. He has successfully put on 20 lbs. and is still packing down the calories each day with ease. He has been getting out of the house to go swimming, and going up and down stairs is becoming less and less of a challenge. Doan has moved on from the walker and is just using the crutches to walk. Hopefully, he'll be able to do some walking on his own in the next couple weeks. Rumor has it that he and Katie have even been able to get out and go on a few dates, just the two of them! YEAH!

The FUN RUN is coming up this weekend!! Come one, come all to Sugarhouse Park on Saturday at 10:00am! Check out the registration page and enjoy a fun day at the park in support of both Brandon and Katie and their courageous fight against multiple myeloma.

All things considered, Brandon is doing really well, but he still has a ways to go. He will be having another heavy round of chemo as well as another bone marrow transplant at the end of August. So, we appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Hello everyone.  It has been a little while since there was an update on Brandon's progress and I realized that is because our sister in-law, Laurel, has been out of town, so I guess it's up to me.

Brandon is doing so well.  We have had so much fun over the past couple of weeks because he is now strong enough and well enough to go out and do stuff.  Over 4th of July we spent the weekend up in Park City with my family.  It was so nice to get out of the house and have a change in scenery.  We went to baseball games, restaurants and to the pool.  Brandon did everything we did and we really didn't have to hold back on any of the activities we wanted to do.   

Brandon goes to the pool almost everyday with his mom to do some exercises.  He walks around the shallow end and even swims a little in the deep end.  I feel like this has really strengthened his back muscles and has made walking much easier.  He only walks with crutches now and is so close to being able to walk on his own with no assistance.

Brandon and I have been able to go on drives, get treats, go out with friends and go to church!  It has been so nice to feel like life is becoming a little more normal.  Of course we still have to be careful about who Brandon is around.  If a restaurant is busy we just don't go and it is imperative that he is not around sick people.  His immune system is still very weak.  

The next step in Brandon's treatment is the next round of chemo in mid August and then shortly after his second transplant.  He did very well after his last transplant so we are hoping the same goes for the second one.

Again, thank you all for your amazing support.  It is an amazing feeling to have everyone rally around us to get us through this.  We love you all.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Run for Fun for Brandon -- Sat, Aug. 1st ($25)

Run for Fun for Brandon!
10:00 am @ Sugarhouse Park


.... Registration preferred; Visit website below to register ....

We can’t go through chemo for him and we definitely can’t take care of him as well as Katie does - so lets run for fun for Brandon! As his friends, family, and loved ones we are holding a fun run event in our neighbor Brandons Plewe’s honor. We are asking for a $25 donation to register and we are also selling t-shirts for $12 each, with all proceeds going to the newly created not-for-profit incorporation benefiting Katie and Brandon to help them fight this cancer, BP's Multiple Myeloma Fund. Make sure to check out the fun run website for more details!!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back on Top!

So, after a week or so in the hospital, the doctors figured out the right medication to get the pneumonia under control. Brandon's infamous fever has stayed away for a couple days now, so...BRANDON IS GOING HOME!!! What a great Father's Day present!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Spoke too Soon!

Well everyone, unfortunately, over the weekend Brandon was re-admitted to the hospital. His fever continues to come and go, and the Dr.'s want to be able to keep a closer eye on things. A few days ago, they found some fluid in his lungs indicating the beginnings of pneumonia, so they had him taking antibiotics for it. His fever went down a bit, but when they took him off the meds, his fever came right back. So, they're trying to figure out how to get rid of this pesky fever once and for all.

There are 2 good things to look at though. One, Brandon has an excellent team of Dr.'s who are problem solving and working with him to get him feeling better as soon as possible. Two, after his kyphoplasty surgery last week, his back feels more stable.

Now that it has been a couple months since Brandon's diagnosis, it is really easy to lapse into thoughts that this is so terrible and to be angry and sad and upset that all of this is happening. All very valid emotions of course. I'm sure many of us feel like with all of our fasting and praying that Brandon should be cured by now! However, it is important for us all to remember to be positive and optimistic. The Lord is in control and has been very mindful of Doan's situation from the beginning. We need to rely on our Savior to give us strength, compassion, patience, and whatever else we may stand in need of. The reality is, cancer does not have a quick fix button (as much as we wish it did). So, we need to be patient, focus on and be grateful for the many blessings we have received so far since his diagnosis...

- Being able to be at Huntsman where Brandon is getting the best possible care
- Successful kyphoplasty surgeries that have strengthened his back and decreased his pain
- 2 successful chemotherapy treatments that have effectively killed off many, if not all, of the cancer cells
- A successful bone marrow transplant where the cells have continued to engraft and essentially begun to re-program Brandon's body
- Having such an amazing support system
- Having access to the Priesthood for blessings

Those are just a few of the many, many blessings we have to be grateful for. Please continue to sign up to fast, and of course, keep both Brandon, Katie, and their families in your prayers. We all need to continue to demonstrate our faith and trust that the Lord will make this all for our good. We appreciate you all so very much.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Finally Feeling Better

So, to be honest, the past few weeks have been particularly challenging. Even after Brandon came home from the hospital, he continued to fight a fever and just didn't feel good. It has been really hard for him to keep food down, and consequently has had very little energy. of Sunday, his appetite has been getting better and today, I'm proud to report that Doan said he is feeling really good! He had another kyphoplasty (the back cement procedure) today, and it was successful in that more of his back pain has been alleviated.

Please keep the fasting and praying going folks! For the most part, Brandon's treatment has gone very smoothly, but it isn't over yet. While it has been, and continues to be, quite a journey, we have all felt strengthened and uplifted because of the Lord's care which is a result of everyone's efforts to show their faith through action. Thank you so much. You will never really know the difference your thoughts, prayers, fasting, emails, phone calls, texts, and every other act of service and kindness has made. We truly feel so blessed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

He's Home!

We are so, so, so excited that Brandon gets to go home to the Crockett's today! His fever has been down for the past few days, and he is ready for some R & R in a home environment rather than in the hospital. The doctors are happy with the way things are going thus far. They might do another kyphoplasty (the back cement procedure) in another month or so, but we won't know for sure for a few weeks. That's about it. We're so grateful that he gets some home time to gain strength and weight before the next round of treatment. Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy Birthday!



Thank you for setting such an amazing example of love and faith. You have been and continue to be so strong. We are all learning from you and are here to support both you and Brandon through this difficult time. You're truly a remarkable person, and we all feel so blessed to have you in our lives. Your birth is a great reason to celebrate and we're so glad you're you!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Update

Considering that at the start of the week Brandon was neutropenic, meaning his cell counts were next to nothing, he has come a long way! Rick's analogy is that these past couple of weeks have been like climbing out of the Grand Canyon. Good news is, the stem cells have engrafted and his counts have gone from 100 to 1300 in the past couple of days. That means that the transplant was successful so far and his body is responding positively to the healthy cells. As you can imagine, he has been very tired as his body has been fighting and working so hard to kill the bad cells replenish the good ones. Unfortunately, Doan developed a fever this week and also some sort of rash. The fever is a pretty common side effect of the chemo treatment and luckily the rash wasn't too itchy. As of today though, they have both started to go down. Hopefully that continues to be the case.

The specific thing we're praying for this week is that Brandon will be able to get out of the hospital and go back to the Crockett's as soon as possible. Preferably in the next few days! In order for that to happen though, he has to be fever free for 4 days and his counts have to remain above 500.

So that's the latest. Tomorrow is Katie's birthday, so give her a call, send her a text, or an email to let her know that you're thinking of her! We'll keep the updates coming...please keep the prayers and fasting coming as well! Thanks for your love and support.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Round 2 Chemo Complete!

The past week has been very eventful for Doan. Where to begin....

Last Friday, the 15th, Brandon returned to the Huntsman Cancer Center to have his second round of chemo. This round of chemo was really different from the last dose. Rather than 4 days of 24 hour chemo, he had a 20 minute drip on Friday and then again on Monday. That was it! During the drip, we packed his mouth with ice because the chemo he was receiving can cause mouth sores. By keeping your mouth as cold as possible, you can prevent the sores. Bobbi was in charge of giving him the ice, and he lovingly referred to her as the "Ice Nazi."

On Tuesday, he had his 1st bone marrow transplant. It took about an hour and a half and went well. It was interesting in that Doan had a nice, aroma of creamed corn all around him for a couple days! Apparently the preservative they use for the stem cells has a strong odor. We were grateful it was creamed corn though because the nurses said that with some people it smells like tomato soup or garlic! Katie deserves a gold medal for continuing to spend the night in the hospital room despite the smell. That's true love!

Since the transplant Brandon has been feeling okay. He takes anti-nausea medication to help with his stomach cramping and nausea which are both common side-effects of chemo. As of yesterday (Saturday) he reached a neutropenic state which essentially means he doesn't have an immune system which has made him pale and pretty weak. Neutrophil is a type of white blood cell that makes up 50-70% of circulating white blood cells and serves as the primary defense against infection and disease. So, the chemo has wiped those cells out. In a healthy person, this would be bad, but in Brandon, this is a good sign because it shows that the chemo is successfully killing the rapidly dividing cells in his body which is what the cancer cells are as well.

Over the next week or two, we expect Brandon to start feeling better as the stem cells he was given in the transplant engraft and start rebuilding his system. He says his spirits are still high, and he can't wait to get out of the hospital again. We're praying that he will be able to keep food down so that he can get those calories to start gaining back some weight and strength. Doan is definitely a fighter though and gets up each day to do his walking exercises and the other things his physical therapist recommended. We continue to admire his grit and determination as well as his perpetual optimism.

We continue to be so grateful and impressed with the love and support from everyone. With the help of the Lord and all of you we're getting through this, one day at a time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Donations have been rolling in

Thank you all so much for the great outpouring of love and support of Brandon and Katie through this very trying time. Over the last month after setting up an online donation system to partner with the Zions Bank "Brandon Plewe Donation Fund," we have received over $2,600 in online donations from many people. Your loving dollars go 100% to Brandon and Katie in this great cause to help him. THANK YOU so much for all your love, support, and prayers. Please sign up to fast on the right of this page to help Brandon through his second set of Chemo. If you haven't had a chance to donate, please click below:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some Fresh Air

I think this picture sums up the current state of affairs perfectly! It's an uphill climb, but Katie is literally right behind Brandon, pushing him up, along with many others, all along the way. Brandon couldn't ask for a better nurse to be by his side through this whole thing! What a great example of love these two are to all of us who have the privilege of knowing them.

It has been such a great blessing to have Brandon home! Over the past week and a half, since Doan has been out of the hospital, we have all been encouraged by his positive outlook and willingness to stick to Dr.'s orders. (and Katie's orders too for that matter!) Doan was able to go on walks, get some fresh air, and see some beautiful springtime flowers. A nice change of scenery from the hospital room for sure!

He met with both a physical therapist this week and has exercises to help strengthen his muscles. In addition to keeping his legs active, they are specifically targeting his ab muscles to help support his spine. Brandon was encouraged to use his crutches as much as possible, rather than the walker, so long as his pain level doesn't increase by too much. With his crutches, he was able to go up some stairs, turn around and go back down them. Additionally, he's doing consistent breathing exercises to help keep his lungs strong and healthy.

Friday morning, he'll be admitted back into the hospital for a week or two to start Chemo Round #2. He'll have some pretty intense treatments on Friday, rest Saturday and Sunday, and then another intense set on Monday. The plan is for Brandon to have his first bone marrow transplant Monday afternoon. We anticipate a pretty tough next week or two, so of course, prayers and fasting are appreciated as usual. The good thins is that after this set of treatments and the transplant, we'll be that much closer to getting rid of the cancer and giving Brandon's body the cells it needs to start rebuilding. Our spirits are up and Doan's main Dr. was very pleased with the progress he made while being home. He even gained 6 pounds!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well, this past Tuesday was a happy, happy day as Brandon was allowed to check OUT of the hospital and go home to the Crockett's! (However, please call before visiting rather than just "stopping by!") He is doing well and is allowed to eat anything he wants, so we're just trying to fatten him up and build his strength as much as possible before his next round of chemo.

This past week, he had another bone marrow biopsy, and the technician said that it went really well and got a good sample. (ouch!) He also had an EKG, a PET scan, a pulmonary lung test, and of course blood and urine tests. We don't know the results of all of these yet, but we do know that Brandon's pain level is manageable, he is looking healthier, and is just really enjoying being in a home environment. Doan and Katie are pro's at putting on his brace and getting him up and out of his chair. He does various exercises 3x a day that work out his leg muscles and hip flexers, and he is now able to switch between the walker and crutches. Tomorrow, he'll be meeting with an occupational therapist in addition to the physical therapist to work on situational movements (getting in/out of the car, shower, bed, going up/down stairs, etc) and to strengthen his upper body.

We thank you once again for all of your love and support. The number of people and the frequency of the fasting has been incredible. Next week, Brandon will be returning to the hospital for his second round of chemo, so it would be great to fill up the calendar and have daily fasting again!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thanks to all, from Brandon

I figured it was about time that I posted something to this wonderful cause which has been the source of so much comfort and joy for me over the past month. As I look over, or have read to me, the names and comments of all those fasting, I can't help but feel your love and support each and every passing day. I can hardly believe a whole month has passed since I was first diagnosed and all the whirlwind of events that have transpired since this diagnosis which has changed my life forever. I have come to appreciate many of life's simple pleasures, and really think about the things that matter to me as I am sure many of you have as well. I can hardly begin to put into words the gratitude I feel for all of the wonderful people I have had to help shape me into the person I have become, and I am grateful in a way for this experience and the opportunity it has created to push all these people right to the foreground of my life. I never imagined how deep and wide my support system really is, but there is no doubt in my mind the endless support and the seemingly bottomless encouragement and love I have come to know in the past month. The foundation of this support has come from my incredible family and of course the love and comfort I feel from my Heavenly Father, but I know I would be absolutely out of line if I did not mention my sweetheart and all that she has done for me. I could not do this without my wonderful wife, who is such a pillar of strength for me at all times. Katie has been supporting me as I have been deteriorating since the beginning of January as we were struggling to figure out what was wrong, and she has done it with such quiet dignity I don't think anyone really understands how strong she has really had to be. While I had to shoulder the pain, she was the one literally there holding me up in the shower, or dressing me before work in the morning long before she even needed to get up for work. She is my true hero, and the most amazing person I have ever met. I couldn't begin to express my gratitude without first mentioning her.
In addition to my wonderful wife I wanted to thank my family and friends for the visits, cards, texts, emails, memories, and overall love which have been constantly buoying me up through this whole ordeal.
The latest news I have to report is all good news. I have been up and about today on crutches wandering the hospital halls with physical therapy (going a little further everyday). I have been gaining a little weight back, which is always good news (I still have a long ways to go, I think I have lost about 40 lbs. overall!), and they have me off the IV pole for the day because I am drinking plenty of fluids lately. I know the prayers and fasting is paying off and I could never begin to thank any of you enough for all you have done. Thank you, thank you, and thank you. I am so grateful to have been blessed with such wonderful friends and family and know that we are going to come out on top with this.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Surgery Success!

A little bit of background on the surgery....the goals of the kyphoplasty surgery are to stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture, to stabilize the bone, and to restore some of the lost vertebral body height due to the compression fracture.

Here's how they do it:
1. During kyphoplasty surgery, a small incision is made in the back through which the doctor places a narrow tube. Using fluoroscopy to guide it to the correct position, the tube creates a path through the back into the fractured area through the pedicle of the involved vertebrae.

2. Using X-ray images, the doctor inserts a special balloon through the tube and into the vertebrae, then gently and carefully inflates it. As the balloon inflates, it elevates the fracture, returning the pieces to a more normal position. It also compacts the soft inner bone to create a cavity inside the vertebrae.

3. The balloon is removed and the doctor uses specially designed instruments under low pressure to fill the cavity with a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). After being injected, the pasty material hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.

So, they did one procedure last week that didn't seem to do much, and a second one was on Tuesday. The second placement of bone cement in Brandon's back seems to have gone well in that he was able to get up and walk the same day and has noticed a decrease in his pain. That is great news. Thanks for all the additional prayers said on and before Tuesday regarding his surgery. Down the road, they are hoping to be able to do 2 more vertebrae.

Another great piece of news is that the doctors have said that Doan's genetic make-up is such that he should be able to respond really well to the chemo therapy he has yet to undergo. Brandon's particular type of treatment plan is the result of a lot of modern research in cancer drugs, and his team of doctors are on the cutting edge with developing it. We're so blessed that we have such a wonderful facility with world class doctors on the case right here in Salt Lake City.

We are positive that all of the prayers from everyone have helped Brandon's and Katie's resolve to endure and press forward. We continue to be optimistic and appreciative of all the love and support we are receiving.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Upcoming Surgery

Hey everyone! Progress continues to be made each day. We continue to feel very blessed and supported. It has been an emotional week with highs and lows as the reality of this situation continues to sink in. This week we really knew the chemo was working when Doan decided it was time to start sporting the shaved head look. His doctors were able to harvest more than enough stem cells for his transplant which will be in the weeks to come, and Brandon continues to work with the physical therapists to get up out of bed each day and walk around. He has been able to explore other areas of the hospital outside of his room and hallway, so that's nice that he can get a slight change of scenery every once in a while.

It is yet to be determined how successful his surgery from last week went. (The one with the bone cement to hopefully alleviate some of the pain from the compression fractures.) However, he is going to have another one on Tuesday for another disc in his back, so we would appreciate an extra special prayer or two between now and then, and especially on Tuesday, that all will go well and that Brandon's pain will continue going down. They have taken him off of his IV pain medications and have gotten it under control using pills, so that's a big step in the right direction. Additionally, the doctors have opened up his diet so that he can eat a greater variety of foods from outside the hospital, and his appetite is getting stronger.

We continue to appreciate all of your support and love knowing that there are so many people who care. We'd like to keep the calendar going with people fasting each day, so if you're able, please continue to sign up! It is a comfort and a strength to see your names and read your comments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Harvesting Begins

Brandon has had a very productive day today. He started his stem cell harvesting ahead of schedule! His counts have risen and they were ready to start early this morning. The tech predicted that he would only collect 2 million out of the 20 million stem cells they need today, but instead, he ended up collecting 7.25 million! That blew everyone out of the water, but then again Doan always does! They are thinking that because his counts are continuing to rise they will finish collecting tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow afternoon, after the collecting is done, Brandon is going to have a small cyphoplasty surgery. This is were they will make two small incisions in his back and insert bone cement into 2 of the most compressed vertebrae. They are hoping this will relieve his pain. However, as we have been well informed, it is not always a cure all. So, we would really appreciate some extra prayers that the doctors will be able to position the cement in the best places possible to alleviate as much pain as possible. With all of your hope and faith, not to mention Brandon's, we know that he will exceed the doctor's expectations!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Great News!!!

Birthday wishes come true! Brandon's blood work came back tonight and...the chemo is working!!! Doan's nurse said that the blood work they looked at today showed that the chemo worked really well and is successfully killing the cancer cells. The best part is that this was considered a "light" round of chemo in comparison to what's coming up, so hopefully that will knock out everything!

Brandon is getting up out of bed a lot easier as the days go on and is walking more and more. (With the walker of course, but still.) His appetite continues to get better each day, and he has more interest in eating a greater variety of foods.

We are all very encouraged by this news and recognize that Doan's progress is a direct result of all of your prayers and fasting. Please keep it up! We realize it is just as important now as it was before to call on the Lord and express our gratitude as well as ask for continued blessings to be with Brandon as he moves forward with his treatment plan. We can't thank you enough for all you have done and will be eternally grateful.

Friday, April 17, 2009


There is a birthday on the horizon...Doan turns 27 on Sunday! While he would love to see you all on his birthday, visitors are not allowed at this time due to the stage of his treatment and the volatility of his immune system. However, if you would like to send your birthday wishes, feel free to call, text, or drop a card or whatever else at the Plewe home, the Crockett home, or the information desk at the hospital. Thanks for all your love and support!

Thank You

Hello all.  I have kept putting off posting anything on this website because every time I go to do it I can't put into words the gratitude I feel for all of you.  Words just don't express it.  It has been so amazing to be put into a situation where we can witness, first hand, the power of people coming together to help and show their love.  It has given me a new understanding of what people and their charitable hearts are really capable of.  Thank you everyone.  Thank you for your prayers, fasting, phone calls, texts, visits, food, running errands, notes, etc.  I have heard from people I haven't seen or talked to in years who are lending their helping hand. There are so many people I've never even met who are leaving messages on Facebook or on this website of their support and encouragement.  We could NOT be doing this without all of you.  

The fast list is incredible.  Throughout the days whenever we hear good news about the treatment I thank Heavenly Father for the people who fasted for that day because I know we received that blessing because of their fast.  I was just talking to Brandon tonight and he said Heavenly Father has no choice but to "open the windows of Heaven with his blessings," because of so many people who are praying and fasting for us.  

Brandon is doing really well.  His first round of Chemo ended this last Monday and so far so good.  He hasn't experienced any major side effects, just a little nausea here and there, but nothing that can't be fixed with a little Zofran.  He has an incredible attitude.  The first thing he said to me after we found out this was cancer was, "I know that we are going to be okay.  I know without a doubt in my heart that we will make it through this."  Ever since then whenever we hear about the road ahead or if he has to have a painful procedure he says, "Okay, I'll do what I need to do."  I could not be doing as well as I am if it weren't for Brandon and his amazing attitude.  Who would have thought it would be the patient who was helping the caregiver get through it?  But, I know for all of you who know Brandon, that is exactly the person he is.  He has a quiet strength that everyone trusts.  

 I was talking to a family member yesterday about a quote she heard from a general authority that said in the pre-existence we chose our own trials that we would face here on Earth.  Well, trust Brandon to choose one this big!  He's always loved a challenge and has always exceeded any expectation.  I have no doubt he will do the same with this.

I know everyone is curious about what and when things are happening for treatment.  As of now, we are waiting for Brandon's counts to drop and then rise so we can harvest his stem cells and then soon after that get a bone marrow transplant with his own bone marrow.  After he's had his stem cells harvested and ready for transplant he will go through another, more intense, round of chemo and immediately after have his transplant.  If all goes well a few months down the road he will have another round of chemo and a second transplant.  When this is happening is all relative.  We just have to wait and see how well he responds to this chemo and when the doctors think it best to proceed.  

We couldn't feel more blessed to live right here in Utah where the Huntsman Cancer Institute is just a half mile down from our house.  Our doctors and nurses are all amazing, the best in the world.  

Thank you again for all your love and support.  Please keep us in your prayers.  We love you all.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

First Round of Chemo

Well, Brandon is done with his first round of chemo. Three cheers for Doan...hip hip hooray! hip hip hooray! hip hip hooray! So far so good. Brandon has been really tired, but overall is handling the chemotherapy well. We're not exactly sure when we'll be able to know how well the treatment is working in terms of killing off the cancer cells, but the doctors are optimistic. Yesterday, Brandon felt well enough to check his email and got a haircut as well. He is looking dapper as ever and continues to put his best foot forward. We are so grateful for the capabilities of modern medicine and for all of you who are helping us through this. We will beat this one day at a time!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brandon Plewe Donation Fund

There have been many people who have expressed an interest in helping to provide monetary donations to help Brandon & Katie Plewe. Any form of monetary donation can be made by visiting any Beehive Credit Union branch location (Account Number 513344) and donating to the "BP's Multiple Myeloma Fund" or via a PayPal donation by clicking below on the donate button (or on the permanent donate button link on the right side of your screen). Thank you so much everyone for all your prayers, thoughts, and donations. Every little bit of help is appreciated and is helping Brandon on his road to recovery.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone! We certainly have a lot to be grateful for including the knowledge of a loving, living Savior whose infinite atonement teaches us so much about love and sacrifice. We so appreciate all of you who are displaying your love and willingness to sacrifice through your fasting, prayers, and comments. Every day, someone reads to Brandon the names of people who are fasting as well as any comments that have been posted. It truly gives him, and the rest of us, a boost to know that so many people are in his cheering section.

Today is Day 3 of his chemo treatment. So far so good. He seems to be moving a little bit easier. With his back brace and a walker, he walked out into the hospital hallway and back today. (A little bit further than before!) The main effects of the chemo won't really be manifest for a few more days, but everyone is in good spirits and hopeful that the cancer cells are being killed off. He didn't need any additional oxygen today, so that means his lungs are nice and healthy. His body seems to be functioning more normally now than when he was admitted to the hospital just over a week ago. His coloring is looking good, and he continues to have a determination and drive to beat this.

Once again, we cannot thank you enough for all the support we are receving at this time. We know that your petitions to the Lord are being heard as we recognize small miracles each day. Please continue to check in and sign up to fast and pray. We feel your strength and know that we are not alone in this journey.

Since a little bit of laughter is good for all of us,
we thought everyone would appreciate this little comic on Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hospital Visits

Brandon has begun his chemo therapy and is handling it rather well thus far! We love visitors, however, because his immune system will be so compromised, we need to be extra vigilant when it comes to his hospital visits. Please call either Katie or Bobbi to set up a time that would be good for Brandon, and we ask that it be no later than 9:00 p.m. While we all love children, so do please leave them at home. It is imperative that you are COMPLETELY healthy as well!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chemo Begins!

Today, Brandon started his chemotherapy! Although it may be difficult, we're all happy that it is underway. The doctors say that once the chemo starts killing off the cancer cells, he should notice a decrease in the amount of back pain he is experiencing. Doan will be undergoing 24 hours of treatment for 4 days, and then the doctors will closely monitor his progress and how his body responds before the next phase of treatment begins. Additionally, once the cancer cells start being killed off, the fractures in his spine should be able to start healing. The physical therapist team will continue to work with Doan over the next several days to get him out of bed for a few minutes each day to keep his muscles working and to help improve his overall strength.

We are also happy to report that his appetite continues to get better. Keep in mind, this is all relative considering a few days ago all he could handle was liquids and apple sauce! But, progress is progress.

It seems that each new day brings new tests to run, medicines to try, and we learn new information. However, we feel confident that as we all continue to stay hopeful and pray to our Heavenly Father, we'll continue to see progress, especially now that his chemo treatment has begun. While your fasting and prayers are definitely still needed, they are certainly making a difference each and every day that goes by. We feel so blessed to have so much love and support from so many.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Positive Thinking

"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results."

We continue to be touched and uplifted by the outpouring of love and support from so many people. Brandon's appetite is starting to come back! He was able to eat a hamburger tonight...whoo-hoo! The physical therapists continue to work with him to build up his strength, and he is scheduled to start chemotherapy either tomorrow or Friday. We know that as we all continue to combine our faith through fasting and prayer, we'll continue to see progress and eventually beat this!

Progress Continues

Well, today was another big day for Doan...
- He was able to get out of bed again, and walked (with help) around the room.
- He was fitted into a back brace that helped support his vertebrae
- When going to get more X-rays in another part of the hospital, he was able to go in a wheelchair rather than in his bed
- His sternum wasn't quite as painful as it has been in the past
- They took more bone marrow for further testing, and he was a trooper! They expect to start chemo by the end of this week.
- Elder Clayton, a general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, visited the hospital this evening and gave both Brandon and Katie blessings of strength and comfort. We all continue to feel the hand of the Lord in this difficult time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Massive Amounts of Love & Support

With only a few days in operation, has brought about a massive outcry of love and support for Brandon, Katie, and their families during this time of need. More than 100 people have already signed up to fast and pray and there have been over 1,700 site visits since Saturday when the website was created. THANK YOU so much to everyone for all the love and support. It is so amazing how the Lord has blessed our generation with these great tools of technology to help "circle the wagons," combine our faith, and communicate our love and prayers with one another.

Please continue to share this website with others and encourage them to sign up for a time to fast and pray. Every thought & prayer helps to pull strength down from the heavens!

Baby Steps

Monday was a good day for Doan! He was able to sit up in bed, and with the help of a walker and the physical therapists, he walked from one side of the room to the other! His kidneys continue to improve and his skin is looking great as well. All of your prayers are being heard and appreciated! Keep it up!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Please CLICK HERE to sign up for a day to fast. THANK YOU!

What can you do?

We are setting up a calendar for people to fast for Brandon during the next month or so. It would be greatly appreciated if you would look at our calendar on this website and select a day to fast and pray. We know that as we all combine our faith and join in fasting and prayer for the Lord’s blessings, Brandon will be able to beat this cancer. “And as it is written-Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.” D&C 29: 6

He loves to see friends and family, so you are welcome to come for a short visit to say hello. However, due to increased risk of infection because of his compromised immune system, please do not bring children and make sure you are in good health as well! Additionally, Brandon is unable to eat food from outside of the hospital, and his room cannot have flowers or balloons. The love and support that has been poured out on Brandon, Katie, and their families is much appreciated. We appreciate your continued prayers as we tackle this disease!

There will be a donation account set up at Zions Bank to help with the costs of Brandon’s treatment. Your donations are greatly appreciated!

We all have felt the hand of the Lord throughout this whole process and have a lot to be grateful for. An optimistic attitude goes a long way, and both Brandon and Katie continue to exemplify attitudes of love, hope, and courage. If anyone can get through this, it’s our Doan! He has strength and grit beyond what any of us even realized before. As President Thomas S. Monson said “The future is as bright as your faith."

--The Plewe Family

The Background

Since the beginning of January, Brandon was having back pain and went to several doctors to get treatment. Back problems are common in Brandon’s family, so everyone treated it accordingly without questioning other causes. Initially, they thought it was Faset Joint Disease, so he was treated with cortisone shots. When that wasn’t working, another doctor diagnosed him with Degenerative Disc Disease and gave him epidural shots. After several weeks, the epidural shots weren’t having much of an affect either, so they were then referred to an internist. A couple days later, Brandon went to see the internal medicine doctor and was immediately encouraged to go to the emergency room where they could admit him to the hospital. So, they did just that.

--The Plewe Family

The Diagnosis

After several tests, scans, and a bone marrow biopsy, Brandon was properly diagnosed on Friday night. With the knowledge of his diagnosis, it was determined that the Huntsman Cancer Center would be the best place for him to receive treatment. Saturday morning, Brandon was transferred to the University of Utah Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Unit which is an extension of the Huntsman Cancer Center since their new BMT unit is not yet ready for in-patient treatment.

--The Plewe Family

The Doctors

The team of doctors that is working with Brandon and his family are absolutely wonderful. At the Huntsman Cancer Center, there is a team of doctors that specialize in Brandon’s specific type of cancer. People come from all over the world to get treatment from Dr. Tricot, so we all feel very fortunate and blessed to have this facility and these individuals right here in Salt Lake.

--The Plewe Family

The Disease: Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma is a form of cancer that is usually seen in African American males age 60 and over. Obviously, Brandon is an extremely atypical case! The essential features of this disease are: its appearance in the marrow as malignant plasma cells; its involvement in multiple sites in marrow; its destruction of bone; and its association with abnormal proteins in the urine and in the blood.

Basically, plasma cells are present in abnormally large number in patients with myeloma. The cells accumulate in an uncontrolled manner and form tumors in the marrow. In consequence, the abnormal plasma cells also create large amounts of a single type of protein (monoclonal immunoglobulin or M Protein) which is then secreted into the blood. Normally, plasma cells create several types of proteins which are antibodies that protect the body. By contrast, the production of M protein does not protect the body against infection while at the same time, those healthy proteins aren’t being produced.

Another special feature of myeloma cells is that they secrete chemicals that stimulate other cells that dissolve bone. Although bone is constantly being broken down and remodeled, the chemicals that are secreted cause the breakdown to happen faster than the remodeling. Thus, the bone is thinned and can be weakened enough to break with normal stresses such as walking or lifting. Slightly increased stresses of coughing and minor falls or injuries can also break the bones when they are thinned by the effects of myeloma.

Bone pain is the most common early symptom of myeloma. Most patients feel pain in their back or ribs, but it can occur in any bone. The pain is usually made worse by movement, so we can only imagine the pain Brandon has endured as he has been working and going to school full-time throughout the past few months.

--The Plewe Family

The Treatment

When Brandon was transferred to the Huntsman Cancer Center, the main goal was to get his pain under control, to get his kidneys properly functioning (they were clogged from excess calcium in the blood from the breakdown of the bones), and get his CBC (complete blood count) more normal. Everything is looking really positive so far.

Brandon has already started taking various steroids to slow down the production of the malignant cells, and as of now, chemo therapy will begin as soon as Monday or Tuesday of this week. Brandon will be going through various rounds of chemo therapy after which he will have a bone marrow transplant. Initially, they will try to use his own bone marrow for the transplant in hopes that his body will take over with healthy cell production and go into complete remission!

--The Plewe Family