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.