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.