05 June 2017

12th Infusion Complete!

Just a quick update here: The 12th infusion had a long delay at the start because of Aliza's port acting up. However, once she was in her seat and the IV connected, the infusion went smoothly - much better than last time and an answer to prayer!

We're now back home and Aliza is fighting nausea and the general symptoms she usually has immediately following chemo.

 As Aliza regains her strength, she'll be getting back to updating her blog (sparkmanescapades.blogspot.com).

Just a reminder, July 3rd is the PET scan - we'll be sure to share the results.

01 June 2017

Final Infusion! And follow on details

Hi Everyone,

Aliza is doing well this week following from her 11th chemo infusion on May 22nd. The four days immediately following that infusion were really difficult for her emotionally / mentally and I am anticipating a similar reaction for her last infusion. The nurses also had to fight her port with difficulty getting blood return (essentially, they apply negative pressure to the line and expect to see blood coming out of her port - its a verification that things are working correctly). This made for a longer than expected visit and also was very tiring for Aliza. So, for her final infusion, please be keeping these two items in your thoughts and prayers for her.

On July 3rd, Aliza will go back to Simon CC for another PET scan and a consultation with the doctor - hopefully with details regarding the scan. This will confirm whether or not the last 6 months of chemo infusions have done their job. In the mean time, Aliza will be recovering and regaining strength.

As always, thanks for all of your support! It's hard to believe that it has already been 6 months... We couldn't have managed this without you all.


08 May 2017

Off to Infusion 10

Aliza has one month of treatments left! Three more infusions, including today's, and God willing, she will not have to think about chemotherapy for a long time.

Infusion 9 gave us a chance to talk to Dr Azar and get some information regarding the CT Scan and Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) and the results were very encouraging... and for Aliza, a degree of disappointment. Firstly: the lymphnodes show a significant reduction in size. This means the chemotherapies are doing their job exactly as hoped. These remaining 2 cycles (starting two weeks ago) are intended to keep the pressure on any remnant cancerous cells because if even one single cell survives, then the cancer will return and further chemo treatments are not an option - Aliza would have to go to stem cell / bone marrow replacement treatments. So, the disappointment for Aliza came in the form that although the chemo is working, she has to continue to receive the infusions which results in some complicated mental battles. She's holding on and we'll carry on.

Next: her breathing test (PFT) had good results. Aliza is not experiencing excessive damage to her lungs caused by the bleomycin as was the concern. It has some interesting side effects during the actual infusion (think elephant sitting on your chest and the nurses wanting to run an EKG), so she always has to ignore that one.

So, Aliza is off to another treatment, number 10, and is eagerly anticipating receiving her final infusion on June 5th.

The past two weeks have actually been "good". Her recovery following the infusion was pretty smooth and not nearly as up and down as at the beginning stages (a further indication that she is beating the cancer), she was able to go out to dinner the Friday following the infusion, and she attended the women's conference at our church this past weekend (the timing of which really couldn't have been better, so we are thankful for that).

Thanks again for everyone's support. You all have made this journey much easier than first feared and I can't imagine the struggles people have who don't have a group of friends and family surrounding them. We certainly count ourselves as blessed.

22 April 2017

Infusion 8 Update

It's been pretty busy around here; just that time of year.

Quick summary: We're on track. Next infusion is Monday and we'll get a formal update from the Doctor about how the CT scan looks and a more detailed answer regarding the PFT.

Aliza's biggest struggle this past week... and probably for the duration of the chemo treatments... is chemo brain. It's hard to describe and I have erased several descriptions that just don't seem quite right. Suffice it to say, Aliza has a significant build up of medicine in her body of varying potency all churning throughout her brain's chemistry, draping a veil around her reality. If you've experienced waking up from being in surgery, that might offer a hint. Right now, on top of the direct impact the meds have on Aliza, there is also a lot of emotional strain ranging from feelings of incompetence to loneliness to wanting to be alone to guilt at not being able to be a better mom.

There's more on the blog, and one post that goes through a daily update. http://sparkmanescapades.blogspot.com/

06 April 2017

Another Infusion Complete; CT Scan and Testing

Aliza's recovery following her 7th infusion has been remarkably easier than other ones before. The day to day ups and downs were not nearly as severe. We're very thankful that the past week has been pretty good.

The biggest news is that tomorrow (today?), Aliza is going in for a breathing test (8:30 AM) and a CT scan (10AM). Following on from the previous Dr. visit, some of her fatigue has been caused by a shortness of breath and difficulty with physical exertion. For instance, climbing a flight of stairs requires a stop or two on the way up. One of the chemotherapy drugs she receives can cause lung damage, so she will start the day with a pulmonary function test.

Immediately after that is finished, she will hike (hopefully wheel!) across the hospital for a CT scan. This is an important check up to see how the lymph nodes are responding to the chemo treatment. Essentially, the doctor is looking to see whether the nodes have shrunk. The big fear is that they haven't, and worse, the disease has spread. This does happen about 5% of the time, so it isn't beyond the realm of reason. There are signs that the treatment is going to plan as her chronic cough seems to have ended and the other major lymph nodes (neck, arm pit) are still normal (to an external examination).

Please keep Aliza in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow as she will definitely be fighting some anxiety. I'll send out another update once the results are in!

19 March 2017

Halfway Done!

Wow, it is great to think that from here on out, each visit to the hospital will mean that Aliza has completed more infusions than she has remaining.

All is going, more or less, to plan. The Chemo continues to take its toll on Aliza physically, but the halfway milestone is an encouragement. In another month, she will have a CT scan which will hopefully have some good news. And, God willing, in three month's time, a PET scan will reveal that the cancer is in remission.

Until then: 1 day at a time; 1 week at a time; 1 infusion at a time.

Aliza has posted an update or two on her blog, she might have some scheduled to automatically post in the next few days too...


We've expanded out the meal sign ups through the end of April. Please use the MyCancerCenter calendar to sign up as it can be very hard to juggle who is doing what without it. We intentionally space things out for every-other-day because we often have enough in a single meal for left overs.

Also, if you'd like to schedule something that doesn't exist on the calendar, please send me an email or text and I will be happy to add it. Between the kid's schedule, Aliza's doctor appointments and medicine schedule and refills, the demands of work, we REALLY have to be organized or else this whole journey becomes even more difficult.

Thanks for all your help and support.

08 March 2017

The New Normal

It's really annoying to have to say that my wife's bi-weekly chemo infusions has become "normal". But... well, it has. The shock that comes with a sudden change in the flow of life has worn off. The typical fears, concerns, difficulties are just a fact of life now. This isn't to say all is well, but a routine has developed which makes things easier.

Through it all, and this is a way I have always viewed life, in planning for the worst and hoping for the best, we've seen some personal growth that is - dare I say - worth the trial. The small things are more significant now. Our kids are taking on new responsibilities. My relationship with my wife is better (she finally likes me! I jest, dearest ;), I know you still just put up with me!). This is an opportunity where we can clearly identify true things of value to our children... and ourselves too... such as spending time with one another, helping those in need, and living a life of gratefulness & thankfulness. When you wake up and take a deep breath and you have a moment free of pain... do you recognize what sort of gift that is?

My last post mentioned the difficult days. This one is to say that there are good days too. And during the bad days, there are good moments. And when everything seems horrible, there is always something to be thankful for.

We're thankful for friends and family who pray for and look after us.
We're grateful to have support from work.
We're relieved that our kids are really great.
We're refreshed when worshiping at church.
We're comforted by our God who is faithful.