Thursday, May 25, 2006

Darrell went for his weekly blood test today and the results were great! All the blood indicators related to the chemo, including his white blood cell count, were back in the normal range! Praise the Lord!
He has been feeling somewhat better for the past two days- but the previous part of this week was very hard on him. Please continue to pray for a lowered blood sugar count. Even though Darrell is taking Insulin and has doubled the dosage of Glipizide, his oral medication, he still has not had a day (or hardly a daily result) within the normal limits. Of course, overall the count is much lower now that he is taking the Insulin. However, his eyes are still blurry from the extremely high counts he had previously. Once the sugar count lowers and stays within the normal range, we're sure his blurriness will clear up.
Additionally, Darrell is still having much stomach pain. However, the good news is that during the last two days he has been able to reduce the number of pain pills he is taking.
We're expecting a good week with lots of improvement and strengthening!
Thursday, June 1st is the next day of chemo. We'll keep you posted!

Here's a few fun pictures from this week:

Baby Lydia was dedicated this past Sunday at Faith Family Church in Acworth. This is Les' childhood church and where his dad is the pastor.
Here is Amanda, Les and baby Lydia after the dedication.

Nora gives her cousin Lydia a Dedication Day outift with Zoe on the front. Uncle Jason is holding Lydia and Pa-pa is pulling on Nora's skirt!

Here is Nora inspecting her cousin Lydia:

What does her face feel like? She doesn't have any teeth!!

Pa-pa and Grandmama with their two babies.

Pa-pa and Lydia are having a serious conversation.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Well...this has been a harder week. The chemo side effects are in full swing, it seems.

The main difficulty was caused by Prednisone, one of the drugs used in the chemo combination. It can elevate sugar levels in the blood. Since Darrell is a diabetic, the Prednisone did just that; raised his blood sugar levels dramatically. When we finally suspected what was going on, Darrell's blood sugar had already reached 333. The normal range is 90-120. Over the next two days, he averaged in the 300s and even went over 400. High blood sugar levels cause Darrell to be very weak as well as effect his vision by causing great blurriness. On Monday morning, we began calling our doctors. His primary doctor said this was a complex situation between the chemo and the diabetes, so he referred Darrell to an endocrinologist. We were finally able to get in to see this new specialist on Tuesday afternoon. Darrell was just miserable by that time. You know, usually when a patient knows they have to get a shot, they don't really look forward to it. But when Darrell saw the doctor bring in an injection of insulin, he was sooo glad! Anyway, Darrell has now begun giving himself insulin injections up to four times daily. It has begun to lower his blood sugar, not rapidly, but a little each day. Today, (Friday), his average is around 200 and we're looking and praying for around 150 tomorrow. If his sugar count is below 150, he can rely just on his oral diabetes medication and suspend the shots.

Also, it seems that the nasuea from the chemo is trying to creep up on him. The last couple of days have really given him trouble with stomach cramps, constipation and headaches. Also a fever between 99 and 100 every night. Yikes!

We also went back to the oncologist on Thursday to check on his blood levels. The main indicator they are concerned with is the white blood cell count. The normal range is 4.5-10.5. Darrell's white blood cell count is .9. So, they gave him a strong bacterial (not viral) antibiotic to counteract anything he might pick up during this time.

Today was also the final follow-up with the surgeon. He gave Darrell a clean bill of health as far as the surgery goes.

Well, the good news is the worst of the side effects is supposed to be between 7-10 days after the chemo. Today is Day 8, so hopefully Darrell's body will begin to start some recovery in the next couple of days.

Thank you for praying and standing with us in this fight. Thank goodness we are on the winning side because of the victory of our Healer and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Darrrell underwent chemo for the first time this week. It was not difficult, just long and a little disconcerting. We were there over 8 hours; but thankfully, they have recliners! Darrell listened to his I-Pod, read and slept some. I (Cindy) stayed with him to see what this was all about and make sure he was getting good care.

The disconcerting part was all the medication and chemicals they pumped into him. For those of you are interested in these kinds of details, here is what one round of Darrell's chemotherapy drugs include:

By mouth- Prednisone (steroid) & Emend (powerful anti-nauseau medication)

Pre-medication IV to help ward off some of the possible side effects include intravenous Bendaryl, Tylenol and one other medication I can't remember to work against any flu-like symptoms his body may try to produce. In addition, they gave him a regular IV bag of fluids.
When that was all in his body, they began the IV chemo drugs which include Rituximab, Vincristine, Adriamycin and Cytoxan.
That all sounds pretty serious, doesn't it?! Thankfully, the medical staff knows what they are doing!
Darrell's main symptoms after the treatment were headache and weakness.
On the day after the chemo, we had to return to the doctor for Darrell to get a shot of Neulastin to counteract the potential drop of his white blood cell count. The side effects of Neulastin are also flu like symptons and bone pain. Oh my goodness- the cure is almost worst than the disease!!
Today is the second day after the chemotherapy. The anti-nausea medication must be doing its work, because so far so good on that front. The overriding feeling Darrell is having is of weakness, lack of endurance and generally feeling a little "under the weather." We, however, are encouraged by God's Word and reminded of His promises for Darrell's healing:
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Genesis 18:14

Here's pictures of the JOY of our lives! Our grandbabies!

Nora is 2 years old and loves to hang out with her Pa-pa.
She belongs to our son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Brandy Hunnicutt.
Thankfully, they all live nearby.
This is our baby girl, Lydia, who is 4 months old now. She was 3 months old in this picture.
Her parents are our daughter and son-in-law, Amanda and Les White.
They live in Birmingham, AL.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Unbelievable, but true!
Darrell cut his hair! In anticipation of the most notable chemotherapy side effect, Darrell decided that "short to bald" would be less dramatic than "long to bald!"

The bone marrow biopsy was probably a little bit harder than we anticipated. But at least it's done. Test results will be available in approximately 3 weeks.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Today we finally went to the oncologist for Darrell's first appointment. The doctor said based on the pathology report and the PET Scans, he finds NO CANCER in Darrell's body! Isn't God faithful? Basically, the surgeon "got it all" and nothing has spread to other lymph areas. God had previously showed us in our hearts that he was changing this situation from the first reports- and here is the proof!

Anyway, the doctor still said Darrell needs to undergo chemotherapy to eradicate any microscopic lymphoma cells. We feel like this is an important step to complete his entire healing process. So, this week, we ask you to join us in prayer regarding two more "big" doctor's visits:
Wednesday: bone marrow biopsy (to rule out lymphoma spread to bone marrow)
Thursday: first chemotherapy treatment
The chemo is a five hour treatment. Of course there are all sorts of possible side effects while the chemo is being given and more seriously, 10 days - two weeks after administering it.
Darrell will receive 4 cycles of chemotherapy, each three weeks apart. Would you continue to stand with us in binding the enemy from this situation? Just because there are possible serious side effects from the chemo doesn't mean Darrell has to experience them!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

These are just 3 of many Scriptures with which God has strengthened us. We'll add more in the upcoming days.

Romans 4:17-20
That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, "I have made you the father of many nations." This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what didn't exist before. When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him. God had also said, "Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars," even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

Isaiah 58: 7-9 ... share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Psalm 41:1-3 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
We've been home for the hospital for a full week. Darrell is recovering from the surgery. He's doing well, although quite weak and doesn't have too much endurance. But that's to be expected when recovering from major surgery! The big part of the recovery, however, is that we've been doing remodeling and work on the hour house for the past 2 months or so...and our house was torn up when Darrell got sick. So, it's been quite a week as several people helped us get our house in a little bit better order. When it's all done, our house will be very nice. Right this minute though, it's a little crazy- but with some improvement everyday. Here's Jason "mudding" the walls from which Darrell recently tore off the wallpaper.
The fun part of the first couple of days home was our kids, their spouses and children were with us, assisting us at every turn. Amanda and Les who live in Birmingham stayed with us. Jason and Brandy who live near us in Marietta were also here most of the first few days. We spent time working on the house, playing with grandbabies, encouraging ourselves in God's Word and praying together. See the Scripture section of this Blog to see what God has shown us to speak over Darrell's body.
We went to the surgeon this past Friday and he took Darrell's staples out of his abdomen- 16 of them! He also showed us where the tumor was. It was located directly under the "v" that the ribs make in the upper abdomen. It was behind and between the colon and adjacent intestines and had actually broken into the colon. It sounded like kind of a complicated surgical procedure. However, the doctor reiterated, and the pathology report stated, that he had "gotten it all."
Darrell will be taking a couple of tests before chemotherapy starts.
Wednesday, May 3: MUGA Scan at Northside Hospital, Alpharetta
If you're interested in reading details about what a MUGA Scan is and what it does, click on the link below:
Thursday, May 4: PET CT Scan at the main Northside Hospital, Atlanta
Here's a link with an explanation of what a PET CT scan is:
The big day this week, however is our little grandbaby, Nora's birthday is on Friday, May 5th! It's hard for us to believe our little "Noreo" is 2.