Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Update

Hello All!

I know what you've read here has seemed kind of confusing at times. They're starting radiation. No, they're waiting to do radiation in Lubbock. They're doing MRIs. No, they're not doing them.

Imagine how we feel!

Mother's stay in Houston has been one contradiction after another. A doctor would tell us one thing, and in five minutes there was a different report. When we first got there, they said Abbie & Kait couldn't visit her in her room, but by last night they could -- so we went!

Mom had more energy than I'd seen her with, and she said her vision was better. That was a good thing because the girls about loved her to death! Lots of hugs and kissies -- way better than any prescription the doctor could order!

They are headed home sometime today -- hopefully. Mom has to learn to give herself an insulin shot, and they've got to stock up on prescriptions before they can leave. She'll do radiation five days a week in Lubbock and will come back here in two weeks. At that point, she'll see her breast cancer doctor again, and possibly have the pancreas biopsied.

None of this protocol is really a solid "answer." They're all flying on blind faith, so to speak -- since they can't really do the tests they need to do at this point.

Please continue to pray for both Mom & Milton. For safety as they make this trip home. For wisdom and discernment as they manage her medical needs once they get there. Milton is her "rock" and does such an awesome job of handling all this -- please pray for continued health and a renewed energy for him. This trip hasn't been easy on either of them.

Thanks for all your prayers!
- d.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Special Message for West Texas Friends & Family

Hello all of you from Fluvanna, Snyder, Post, Dermott, Gail, Lubbock, Hermleigh, etc.:

I'd better not hear of ONE, SINGLE Chocolate Chip Cookie, Brownie, Batch of Carol Lewis' Chocolate Ice Cream, June Holcomb's Pound Cake (yes, June, I read the email), Nelva's Cinnamon Rolls, Carla's Vinegar Cobbler, Donelle's Red Velvet Cake, Jane's Pies, Lou's Chocolate Pie, etc....

... crossing the threshold at Mom's house. Her glucose is still spiking because of the steroids, and they're having to send her home tomorrow with insulin and all that goes with it. You know Mom and how she'll have "just a bite," then "just another bite," etc. If you haven't seen the Extend-a-Fork that she whips out at family gatherings, you've missed it. But trust me... she doesn't have any more willpower than I do!

So please, just until we get the glucose thing leveled out.... then ya'll can pour it on.

Of course, if you've absolutely, positively got to bake, you can send it my way!

Love ya'll!
- d.

Here are the girls at the pool this morning.
They had a blast!

Headed Home...

The latest...

M&M are headed back to West Texas today if everything falls into place. So... Let's stop the email campaign for now -- Or, you can just send them to stephens4718@sbcglobal.net. If you know Mom, you know the chances of her reading them are not too high. Their mailing address is: Sue & Milton Stephens, 8718 CR 2136, Snyder 79549.

She'll be doing radiation on an out-patient basis in Lubbock.

To our family and friends up there: Ya'll take care of her, please. But remember I'm sending you an exhausted Mama -- please don't wear her out with all your lovin' on her.
- d.

Treatment Plan

Okay.... here's the scoop. All biopsies are "off" for now, as are any MRIs and other tests. The doctors are fairly certain this is not breast cancer that they're dealing with and are going to proceed with that idea. M&M are waiting on a doctor to come by to explain the radiation process and sometime today they will begin using radiation on the skull tumor at least once a day. We don't know how long that will last. They will only deal with the kidney / pancreas tumors after they are done dealing with this one.

Life "goes on" in the Biggs house for now. The girls and I are headed up to the pool to swim. This neighborhood has six pools and a splash park -- we've got our work cut out for us to try them all!

I'll be at the hospital sometime this evening and will give ya'll another report when I can.
- d.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More...

Okay. Here's the latest. Milton and A'Lise stormed the nurse's station a minute ago, and demanded a patient advocate. Everything came to a head this morning when the nephrology dept. said they wouldn't do a biopsy until the brain people did one. I'm not sure if we're in the middle of a power struggle, or if it's a situation where no one really wants to take responsibility.

Yesterday the neurosugeon said he was amazed that that tumor wasn't really affecting Mom. But today, it's affecting her swallowing and vision. Please keep praying.

Hanging in there....

Hi All,
We didn't have the best night last night. Mom isn't in any pain or anything. She's just so incredibly tired. And if it wasn't the nurses coming in and turning on the lights, it was her monitors going off.

Please continue to pray specific prayers for her spirits, for the complications she's dealing with to be resolved, and for her rest. Please also pray for good, clear communication between the doctors who are overseeing her case. Right now she's under the care of her breast cancer oncologist, her nephrologist (kidneys), neurologist and endocrinologist. They are constantly contradicting each other which has caused a great deal of confusion and uncertainty.

Right now, as things stand, if they're going to do another MRI it won't be until Thursday. They are going to biopsy the kidney tomorrow. If it's breast cancer related, they'll treat it. If not, they'll just do radiation on the skull tumor. The endocrinologists won't let them anywhere near the pancreas for a biopsy. And the neurosurgeon doesn't want to do a biopsy on the skull tumor. On that one, there is a 20% chance that a biopsy could leave her an invalid or worse.

Dr. Green, the breast cancer oncologist that's been Mom's doctor for three years, has told her that if this is breast cancer related it can't be cured -- but it can be treated. The good thing about how they managed her care before is that they haven't ever used chemo on her. So they have a whole host of chemo drugs they could use without worrying about resistance.

We're still treading water.

I really am worried about her spirits. Every day seems to bring more bad news, and it's piling up on her. She's starting to ask whether Abbie & Kait would remember her if she doesn't make it out of the hospital. That kind of thing. I've tried pointing out specific things that I remember from when I was little, although I'm not sure those memories go back as far as four or five -- but I think some of them do. Things like "Rooster" the chicken that Grandma and Grandad had, Brownie the horse at Nelva's that I was sure was mine. When I was the same exact age Abbie is now, Brian Clark (our next door neighbor) and I were using Black Cat firecrackers to blow up apples in his backyard. Mom said, "I don't remember that one." I said, "You think I would have told you?"

That's the news for today. Please pray for all of us as we make our way through this maze of uncertainty.

Biggs Hugs,
d.

p.s. Mom is getting the emails you're sending and loving them! Please don't stop sending them!!! Jokes are welcome, too! Send Emails to MD Anderson: https://www2.mdanderson.org/sapp/contact/message.cfm
First Name: Billie Sue
Last Name: Stephens
Birthdate: 3/2/46

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday Update

Howdy from Houston!

Just an update to let ya'll know where things stand right now. I apologize for not filling you in for a couple of days!

Let's see.... I've been bragging about mom and her "good attitude" all along, but unfortunately that came to a screeching halt Saturday night. The steroids they're giving her to control swelling around the tumor are working -- her balance and swallowing are much better. But unfortunately they have driven her glucose levels out the roof. Saturday night they got as high as 494, and it was amazing what it did to her personality. Wow. But luckily by Sunday evening it was all under control and my sweet Mama was back.

She really has tried to keep a positive attitude, but there are times when it's just too much for her.

The highlight of the weekend was a Sunday morning call from our cousin Gary in Iraq. He was calling on a satellite phone, and wanted to check on Mom. That was HUGE for her -- and it meant so much. It was so good for us to hear his voice and hear that he's okay. We're all so proud of him and so thankful for what he's doing over there!

Back to mom.... They ran a ton of tests yesterday and are going to run more today at some point. As of right now, they have identified the tumor on her skull, as well as two spots on her pancreas and one on a kidney.

I'm sorry I don't really have more to tell you, but we really are treading water around here. I can tell you that some of the complications from her kidneys are causing her a lot of discomfort. Would you please pray specifically for that to be resolved?

She is receiving your emails and loves getting them.
The site is set up at:
https://www2.mdanderson.org/sapp/contact/message.cfm

It's (First name) Billie Sue (Last Name) Stephens, Birthdate March 2, 1946 (I think the rest of the info isn't necessarily required for her.)

I think A'Lise is going back to Dallas on Wednesday, and M'Lys may be coming down this weekend. It's kind of a juggling act around here, but we're managing.

Thanks for all the prayers!

Love ya'll,
d.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What a Blur....

Dearest Friends and Family,
This last week seems like such a blur. Last Friday at midnight Biggs and I were checking out this new house in Houston, trying to get a grasp on everything we needed to do. (And I was so peeved at the fact that the former homeowners had taken every roll of toilet paper with them!) Exactly one week later, I found myself in a waiting room at MD Anderson. Everyone keeps saying it's a "God Thing" that we're down here -- and I have to agree. All along I've felt like God wasn't just opening the door and showing us a road to Houston. It was more like he opened the door and booted us through it.

When we first got the contract on this new house, Biggs kept asking if I was sure I wanted to go ahead and move. But I felt this urgency to be here -- by June 15. I thought it was just to make sure the girls had time to make friends before school starts. Little did I know cancer was once again invading my Mom's body -- and that I'd need to be in Houston to be on the "front lines" with her. Wow. It seems like God had this part all figured out. Here, we have flexibility we never would have had in McKinney. I can spend my days with the girls and head up to the hospital in the evenings.

You know, I've asked Chris about this before. Why is it that we always say, "It's a God thing," when things are going really well. But no one says that when life is in the pits? Even in this situation when things are so incredibly scary we can definitely see God's hand in it. Orchestrating things. It's a "God thing."

So.... Mom and Milton got to the hospital about 10:00 last night. I was waiting for them, but immediately got slammed by the "only one visitor in ER" rule. So I spent the next couple of hours on a vinyl couch. The great part about MD Anderson? There are books and magazines EVERYWHERE. Well, actually that's the second best part. The best part is that they have "Sonic" ice in the waiting rooms.

About 1:30 we sent Milton over to the hotel, and I raided the 24-hour Starbucks cafeteria for a bit of sustenance. (Mom hadn't eaten since lunch.) We finally landed in a room a little after 2:00 and got to sleep about 3:00.

They won't be doing any tests until Monday morning, which is great. Mom & Milton were so exhausted from the stay in Lubbock, the flight down, the ER visit, etc. The rest they're going to get in the next couple of days is going to be so good for them. It's kind of a good thing they don't know many people down here -- they can really REST.

Mom's spirits are still good. The doctor last night told them this is probably not the breast cancer - revisited. That he's never seen breast cancer go to the pancreas and skull. Where it started is kind of like the chicken and the egg. They'll work next week to figure that part out. Everything that's going on with her is kind of like the domino effect. They had to give her steroids to keep the swelling down, especially on the flight. That led to even higher sugar levels, which brought about a dose of insulin this morning. That was a mental hurdle that was difficult for her to get over. Then there's the issue of her kidneys. It's all a mess.

A'Lise came in early this afternoon, so that's good. She and I will swap places tonight and I'll take up my spot in the vinyl chair / bed, so Milton can head over to the hotel. I've printed out all your emails so I can give them to Mom tonight. I can tell you, just knowing you're praying for her is huge for her. And for all the people that sent flowers to Lubbock -- I know you'll understand that it'll be a while before she gets thank you notes out. But in the meantime, please know she has gone on and on about the beautiful tulips and other bright flowers. She's loved it that the nurses called her room the "flower shop" and would take a deep breath every time they walked in her room. She feels very loved, and that is so much of what she needs right now. So thank you!!!

If you'd like to email Mom directly, MD Anderson has a site set up at:
https://www2.mdanderson.org/sapp/contact/message.cfm

It's (First name) Billie Sue (Last Name) Stephens, Birthdate March 2, 1946 (I think the rest of the info isn't necessarily required for her.) If I can get her patient # I'll get it out to you as well, though. After 3 years in their system, she rattles it off like nobody's business.

Thanks again for all your love and prayers! Please keep them coming!
- d.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Update

Man!!!
The power of prayer and our Almighty God is Awesome! No, my mom hasn't been miraculously healed, but her attitude is great and she's feeling the strength of all that prayer. And she's looking at all the options she has right now. So she's coming to Houston -- we aren't sure when. But she'll be on a plane down here the minute she has an appt. with the skull tumor department. It could be today or as late as Monday or Tuesday. Please pray the appt. is immediate.

This is a really good thing. While the first couple of days she was in the hospital in Lubbock were a blur of tests, yesterday wasn't. They did look at her pancreas because they may have spotted something there, but that was it. The results of that and the other tests still aren't in.

From our previous experience at MD Anderson, things will be a lot different once we get her down here.

We've always joked about the mother-daughter matching clothes thing. Yesterday I ordered us matching t-shirts that say, "CANCER SUCKS." If you know my mom, you know it'll be quite a stretch getting her to wear that. But it'll make her smile. (And, no, there weren't any with white eyelet on them!) http://www.pinkribbonshop.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=690

So thank you for your prayers -- they're working! Please keep them coming! Thank you for the emails -- I'm printing them out and will hand them over the minute I see her. Thank you for the offers of help! If I knew how to tell you to help, I would.... But we're just in a holding pattern right now.

Finally, I know many of you have been looking for contact info. Here's what I've got....We appreciate your encouragement!

Sue & Milton Stephens
Currently at University Medical Center in Lubbock
Home Address: 8718 CR 2136, Snyder, TX 79549
Phone: 325-573-4420
Email: http://us.f563.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=stephens4718@sbcglobal.net

A Quick Commercial Break: If you want to make a donation to the Breast Cancer 3-Day in support of my mom, you can access our team's website at www.the3day.org/dallas07/teamtiara. Mom loves it that we're doing the 3-Day and would probably be right there with us walking the 60 miles if she could. Anything to beat cancer! You can click on any team member's name to donate -- please try to choose a team member other than myself. Some of our team members are a long way from raising the required $2200. Thanks!!!

Keep the prayers coming, please -- particularly that she will be able to get in at MD Anderson ASAP!!!!

Many Blessings,
d.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Update

Hello All,
If you receive this more than once, I apologize. I’ve got a couple of different email lists and had planned to merge them sometime this summer when I got a free minute – so much for that idea. I also apologize if this email comes to you in some funky format. I’m having issues with Outlook and need to get Biggs to take a look at it.

But I firmly believe in the “shotgun” approach to prayer – I’ve seen prayers answered in my own life and the lives of others – and I believe the more people that pray, the better. So getting this email out is more important than getting the format fixed – right??
The news we’ve received so far has not been good. The tumor is larger than they first thought – rather than 2 cm, it’s more like 2 cm x 7 cm. At this point, they’re fairly certain it’s malignant, and they’re doing a biopsy later this week to determine whether it’s “new” cancer or if it’s metastasized from her breast cancer. CANCER SUCKS. They did a bone scan earlier today, but the results aren’t back yet. At this point, it’s inoperable because it’s right at the base of the skull where everything kind of comes together and then goes back out into the rest of her body. There is some discussion about being able to shrink it then operate, but no one knows much of anything on that front as of yet. So we’re kind of treading water.

The girls and I are probably going to go out on Monday, prepared to stay awhile. Mom wanted us to wait to come out when she could enjoy spending time with the girls – and since they aren’t going to be able to operate on this, we’ll wait.

I really want to thank all of you for your emails, thoughts, prayers, e-hugs, etc. I’ll try to get around to responding individually soon, but I just couldn’t seem to get it together today. So I tackled the kitchen and made significant progress on that front. I think I only have about six boxes left in there.

I don’t even know what to ask you to pray for – just keep praying, please. Just knowing she has a whole prayer warrior team out there has helped Mom. Her attitude is really good at this point, considering what she’s up against.

Love ya’ll,
d.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scary News

Hello Friends,
Our family is in need of your prayers right now. Today they found a mass at the base of my mom’s skull – about 2 cm. in size. She’ll be having tests run all this week, and they really don’t know where things are going to go from here.

Sitting here in a house still full of boxes and not having any idea where to find much of anything, I’m feeling very overwhelmed right now. I’m going to wait until tomorrow to decide whether or not to head up there with the girls. I want to go if they’re going to operate, but if they aren’t, I may wait till she gets home. I’ll try to keep ya’ll informed.

But in the meantime, please keep my mom in your prayers. Her name is Sue. And for those of you who don’t know her whole history, she’s a 3-year Breast Cancer Survivor, but is also dealing with kidney failure. Her road has been a long one.

Thanks for your prayers!

Biggs Hugs,
D’Lyn

Monday, June 18, 2007

Background....

Hello Friends....

I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while, but just never seemed to get it started.... It kind of seems like everyone has one going these days. However, now that I'm finally jumping on the bandwagon, this trend will probably fall by the wayside. Look at what happened when I finally got a pair of parachute pants!

With all that's going on with our family, and the enormity of trying to keep everyone informed, I've decided that it's high time I became a blogger. I really have no idea what I'm doing -- hang on! I'm going to try to back-date the first few entries, and just insert the emails I've sent out the last couple of weeks. We'll see how that goes!