Nov 22, 2017 Latest post:
May 13, 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. Thank you for visiting.
If we start at the beginning, we will have to go back over two years ago. After noticing some swelling in the lymph nodes along his neck, Jer went it to have it checked out. The doctors had bad news. Leukemia. The official diagnosis was Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia, otherwise known as CLL. That was the bad news. The good news was that it is a cancer that many people have lived with for years and with a good quality of life. No other symptoms were occurring so he was placed on the "wait and watch" list. Boy did we feel lucky that day and for the next few months.
During the next six months, Jer worked and functioned as he always had, while my mom monitored his health. We were able to forget about the Leukemia at times and carry on as normal. At one of his routine 3 month check ups they noticed the Leukemia had progressed and spread to other lymph nodes in his body. Now it was time for treatment, in the form of Chemotherapy. We were pretty devastated. Reality was sinking in again and this time it felt scary. We had no idea what to expect for his treatment and how he would handle it. Those of you who know my dad know that he is really strong but this was unknown territory for us.
Chemo went much better than expected. Jer went in and slept through most of day 1, went home with mom, had a beer, laid low, and returned to sleep through most of day 2. Honestly, from the outside, he looked great. He wasn't sickly skinny, pale, and... HE DIDN'T LOSE HIS HAIR! As you know, Jer has had long hair forever and he just wouldn't look the same without his braid in the back. He never lost it though. After six rounds of chemo, he was done. His CLL had abated enough to be on the "wait and watch" list again. Everyone was pleased with how well he was doing and we were told he could live like this for a long time. Back to work for both he and my mom and life returned to normal once again. But, then again, it didn't. We all had the fear in the back of our heads that at any time, the cancer could grow again. He wasn't in remission, he would always have the cancer. It was only a matter of time before it needed treatment again. Even the toughest person on the outside was going to struggle with the mental part of this wait game. My amazing mom was there for every single appointment, to listen to his fears, and to keep all of the family in the loop. It has not been an easy road for her, that is for sure.
Six months later, it was time for chemo again. Jer had been suffering with horrible headaches and was having a hard time hearing so he went in only to find that he had a blood clot in his brain. Those words were terrifying to hear. The goal was now to shrink down the clot and also to work on the Leukemia again, in hopes to relieve some pressure in his head. He was hospitalized while the doctors decided to treat him with a different form of chemo, one that would hopefully keep the cancer at bay for longer this time. Once home, he was taking an oral dose each day and this one definitely wasn't as easy as the first one. He was also giving himself injections in the stomach, of a blood thinner. I saw the bruises myself from those pokes and it was not pretty. He never complained though. My dad has always had a way of protecting others from any pain he is feeling.
After a few months of Chemo again, the doctors came to the conclusion that he would be on Chemo for the rest of his life. That is NOT how Jer wanted to live out this journey. It was time to talk more seriously about a bone marrow transplant. It had been mentioned in the past but was pushed off for when chemo didn't work anymore. A stem cell transplant was the ONLY thing that could actually cure his Leukemia and give him a chance to live a normal life again. No more waiting, feeling sick on and off, etc. But it would be risky and we would have to find a donor who was a perfect match for him, which could take a long time.
It was never a question for Jer, if he wanted the transplant. He wanted it and he wanted it NOW. No more trial and error, no more waiting around. The first people to be tested as a match for his bone marrow transplant were his three sisters. It was such a happy surprise that his youngest sister, Connie, was a perfect match. Yippeeeeeee! And she was ready to take on whatever that meant for her. I can speak for the entire family when we say how grateful we are for her willingness to go through this journey with her big bro. It will be a long road of flying out to Seattle, countless tests, meetings, and hours of just waiting until the timing is right. She has loved ones back home in MN that she will leave behind during the holidays. I'd like to send a humongous thank you to her hubby, children, and grandchildren, for sharing her with us for a while! She is saving my dad's life and we will be forever grateful.
And now the real journey begins. Mom, Jer, Connie, and my grandpa are all out in Seattle. They are staying in a hotel and going to the hospital most days to take care of necessary business. As soon as the team of doctors feel that both Jerry and Connie's bodies are ready for the transplant, it is GO TIME. I will do my best to post updates here on this site, to keep you all in the loop. For those who have asked how to help our family, here are a few ways: - Post your own comments here on this site. Mom has access and can show my dad at anytime. - Send cards to the family at: Town Place Suites by Marriott, Att. Deb and Jerry Dockendorf, 300 SW 19th Street, Renton, WA 98057 - Continue sending prayers for everyone involved in the journey. We appreciate this more than anything else!
Connie is planning on being out there for at least a month and my parents for at least six months. My mom has family and friends out there, thank goodness, but they would love to hear from everyone else here and there.