Oct 29, 2017 Latest post:
May 14, 2018
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. I have posted a copy of the first journal entry here as I missed seeing this section. Thank you again for all of the love and frienship. It's hard to even know where to start and still so surreal that we are having to put this in writing as it makes it official. I hope that this will help keep everyone informed on Mom's progress and we hope to make it easier for everyone to get the same updates at once and for no one to be left out as that has certainly not been intentional thus far. It's been overwhelming and amazing to see all of the support and love coming Mom's way. In May Mom had a colonoscopy in Billings during which a polyp was removed that contained a malignant tumor. The oncology doctor determined that an additional surgery was necessary to remove the surrounding tissues from the area where the polyp was removed. This surgery was on June 22 and when the results from that procedure came back we all thanked God as it was determined that the cancer had not spread beyond the colon membranes and that no further treatment was needed except for three month followups...hallelujah and giant whoo hooos!!!! Fast forward to September 20th which came upon us way to fast this summer :( Mom's three month followup meant another trip down to Billings. I (Tracie) decided that this was a good reason for a road trip as fortunately I live in Helena which is only a 3.5 hr. trip on a good day :) Thanks to the graciousness of Patty States and Albert Bummer, we all had a place to land, complete with great meals and as always a few rounds of pinochle...I think it remains to be determined if the men or women are the champs of that yet!!! The first followup was with Mom's surgeon Dr. Hatch who took a look at the surgery site and and was very pleased with how everything was looking and she said we will see you next time in January. The second followup was with Mom's oncologist Dr. Lucas. She was also very pleased with Dr. Hatch's news and said that she will follow Dr. Hatch's lead and will see Mom again in six months unless something else came up. So back to the farm they went :) Well, unfortunately, that something else came up. The blood work from the followup visit showed Mom's tumor markers were higher than normal. Just to be sure they did the blood test again in Plentywood which revealed the same levels. At this point Dr. Lucas ordered a CT body scan which Mom was able to have done in Plentywood. This test was on Friday Sept. 29th which of course meant waiting a few days for results. The following week the results showed a mass on Mom's liver and a small spot on her lungs. That same week Mom and Gordie traveled back down to Billings where they did a biopsy on Mom's liver Oct. 6th. Thank goodness, the weather has been cooperative and other than high winds making travel fun, they were back home again that weekend. An appointment with Dr. Lucas was scheduled for Oct. 16th for the results of the biopsy. The long gap was due to Dr. Lucas being on vacation and although it was hard to wait that long, Mom felt it was best to wait to talk with her Dr. and to be able to have her available for any questions that may not have been able to be answered by a nurse. We were happy to have Mom and Gordie take the "long way" and come to Helena the weekend before the trip to Billings and we celebrated their Anniversary weekend and enjoyed feeling carefree for a while. Monday the 16th is a day we won't forget as the results of the biopsy showed the cancer had metastasized into her liver. The doctors and all of us were needless to say, in shock. Because the colon is so close to blood flow in two areas, the cancer can spread by just one cell that gets into the blood stream. We may never know the "why", but at this point all that can be done is to deal with the the facts. An appointment was scheduled for the following Thursday to insert a chemo port and I was fortunate to be able to come back down to Billings and be there for that procedure as the first treatment was scheduled to be on Monday the 23rd. Mom's treatment plan was to have 4 rounds of chemo with a treatment occurring every two weeks beginning with the first one with in Billings. Mom did really well with her first treatment and with the pump that remained connected until Wednesday at noon. Once this was removed they were able to head back home. I need to switch modes a bit and give some of the good news too :) Mom and Gordie were fortunate to learn of a wonderful benefactor in Billings who has a home for patients from out of town who need a place to stay during treatments and that it was available. It is a wonderful two bedroom house that is close to the hospital and that will be their "home away from home" for as long as they need it; all free of charge to them! What a blessing and we can't begin to thank this wonderful woman and her family enough. Not to take away from the "spoiling" that we receive at Pat and Albert's house, but the location and privacy for Mom and Gordie is a godsend. I also can't begin to say enough about the level of care from all of the nurses, doctors and staff at St.Vincent's and at the Frontier Cancer Center that have come into Mom's life so far. The compassion and kindness have been so humbling and so very much appreciated. Mom's cardiologist in Billings has also been one of her biggest cheerleaders and gives Mom a good laugh whenever they talk :) Last Thursday morning Mom was having a normal morning, she had eaten breakfast and was visiting with my brother Ron before his trip to Kalispell. She was feeling so very blessed as she really was not feeling too many adverse side effects from the chemo on Monday. As some of you may already know, she suffered a fall after her shower later that morning during which she suffered a burn on her lower back side from a small space heater that was in the bathroom. It is not known why she lost consciousness and why she fell or how she did not feel the pain of the heat immediately. Gordie was thankfully in the house and heard Mom call when she came to and a fast trip was made to the Plentywood hospital. They quickly assessed her injury and determined that she needed to be sent to Billings and a medical air flight was called in. My brother JJ had met Mom and Gordie at the hospital and he flew with Mom to Billings as Gordie went back to the farm to furiously pack and make the trek back to Billings. I arrived at the ER in Billings that evening and JJ and I were with Mom until Gordie arrived about the same time as she was admitted to a room. At this point Mom was on pain medication and other than being tired, was thankfully relatively comfortable and stable. The doctors in Billings were immediately in contact with the doctors in Salt Lake City for her burn and at that point we were all just in a wait and see mode. The following day it was determined by the Salt Lake team that Mom's injury was severe enough that she should be in Salt Lake and that she would be flown to the University of Utah the next morning. We were blessed in that Gordie was able to fly with Mom and she was taken great care of by Jeremy and Stephanie from the St. V's flight team who stayed with Mom until she was settled in her new room here in Salt Lake. So, now what do we do??? Mom is scheduled for surgery Monday afternoon where her burn will be de-brided. I obviously am not a medical expert so I will just say right now that I welcome any terminology corrections...Patty or Connie...hahaha :) It is not known yet whether they will also do a skin graft to the burn during tomorrow's surgery or if that will be done later; they will know more once they determine the extent of the injury. The third-degree burn is approximately the size of a hand and the perimeter area has second-degree burns. Again, Mom has been resting comfortably and has shown amazing strength even through the dressing changes. The staff is so very gentle and are taking very good care of Mom. This hospital is overwhelmingly huge but the care is still very personal and compassionate. I will be here possibly for another couple of days and of course, Gordie will be here until Mom is released, so when we know more after Mom's surgery tomorrow, I will post a new update. I know I probably got a bit long winded today but I hope I have given enough that you feel like there is an understanding of what Mom has faced up until now. There wasn't a lot of sharing on her diagnosis at first as she has always felt normal and with the good results that were given in June, we just figured it was all behind her and we were counting our blessings as so many folks don't always receive such great news. As for now, the chemo is delayed until she gets on track with healing from this injury and her body can withstand further treatment. We can't thank everyone enough for all of the support, the prayers and well wishes. We know it's hard to feel like you can't help enough, but believe me, the support is working!!