Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

I know it says, "David Bridge: Author" on the home page, but for now I'll be doing the authoring. I will see if I can get David to add a message now and then.

In case you didn't get Thursday's email, our life of adventure has taken a sudden and difficult turn. Here's the preliminary background info, which was originally part of an email sent to the prayer chain at church:

Some of you may have heard that David is in the hospital. Scary as the threat of blood clot(s) that sent us to the ER Wednesday evening, the actual news was even worse. Yes, there are multiple clots in his lungs and in his lower legs, but during the CT scan, other even more serious problems were noted. His pancreas is enlarged, and is possibly the origin of a metastatic cancer, multiple lesions were noted in his liver and various other places--we're not completely clear about everything yet. Anyway, not good.

The clots are being managed, and a needle biopsy of one or more of the lesions in his liver was done midday Thursday. Latest word is that the cells do appear to be cancer cells, as expected, but the origin of the cancer and the stage are yet to be determined. We expect to hear on Monday. Crazy as it sounds, we're hoping for colon cancer, since that's the most manageable of the three probable diagnoses. Or if not that, then the "better" version of pancreatic cancer. We'll let you know.

David was almost allowed to go home this afternoon, but he had some pain near the biopsy site after his first hallway stroll, and it was decided to keep him in the hospital for another night, just to be sure all is well, and the transition from the IV blood thinner to the injections has been managed. Since they are 12-hour intervals, it has actually worked to our advantage to delay until 6:30 in the evening. The original 2 p.m. / 2 a.m. schedule was not terribly appealing. Anytime you can avoid having to set an alarm to wake up and inflict and/or experience pain, that's a bonus. We're appreciating bonuses wherever we can find them at the moment. 

Another bonus is that the doctors, nurses, and support staff have all been wonderful. David, most of the time, has been able to be his usual joking self, and we already feel we have friends here at the hospital. We are certainly aware that this will be a whole new journey and we are just getting started. Your continued prayer and messages of hope will be very much appreciated.

Specifically, please pray for the doctors’ skillful diagnosis and attention to detail, wisdom for all of us to know the best next steps, healing for David, of course, and peace and comfort for all of us, including our daughters, Courtney, Brittany, and Chelsea. 

Thank you for your overwhelming love and support. We've had so many warm and encouraging emails and texts, we can't begin to answer them individually. We are trying to stay in the present moment, and not waste a lot of energy fearing the future, but we are still not quite up for phone calls or visits. Thank you for your continued understanding. -- With love and gratitude, David and Sunny


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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Neither of us has ever been a big fan of Monday mornings, and this one promises to be more stressful than any other we've ever experienced. We have an appointment at the Cancer Center with the oncologist at 7 a.m. and expect to hear a more clear diagnosis. Your thoughts and prayers, as ever, will be deeply appreciated.  

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

I know many of you are wondering about the results, but we needed a few hours to absorb this blow. I so wish I did not have to write this news, but here it is. David has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, called adenocarcinoma, unfortunately the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Short of a miracle it is not curable. Average lifespan with chemo--which David will start next week--is 11 months, which means of course 50% of people do not make it to 11 months, but 50% make it longer, so 11 months is the number to beat. The doctor did say that he has seen miracles, so please don't stop praying for a miracle! Meanwhile, we are going to savor every moment we have together to the very best of our ability. 
David said to me after reading my Movable Assets blog from yesterday, which included some comments about God and faith, that he wanted to be sure he could communicate one thing very clearly: His faith has never been about what he hopes to get from God or what he feels God owes him. For David, it's always been more about gratitude for what he has already received from God: his joyful life, our marriage, our girls, our very large group of dear family and friends, not to mention our wonderful adventures and opportunities. It has all been and continues to be so much more than he could even have imagined back when he was a rather lost 19.  
I know many of you have expressed a desire to come pray with us, which we so appreciate. It seems best, in an effort to conserve David's energy, to plan a time at church in the next week or so, where we can all gather together. Until then thanks so very much for continuing to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. 

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Somehow we've made it through this past week: lots of tears and clinging to each other, but surprisingly, even a few laughs. Our daughters are here. Chelsea arrived Tuesday, Courtney on Thursday. Brittany, who lives in Denver, has been doing airport duty, and they will all stay through Monday afternoon. At the moment, Chelsea is planning to stay a few days beyond that to see us through the beginning of chemo. Clayton Jenkins, a professional photographer and friend from church, was able to fit us in Thursday for a few family photos while we're all together (and David still has all has fabulous hair). I know we will treasure these photos in years to come. 

David and I are learning our way around the beautiful new Cancer Center (only ten minutes from our house), and everyone there has been wonderful. Wednesday we met with the surgeon who will install the port. Thursday we had chemo education with a nurse practitioner. Loved her. As well as very clearly giving us a great deal of detailed information about managing potential side effects of chemo, she also encouraged us to get out and live, go out to dinner or whatever, not just sit in our house, so that's a worthy goal. David has not been up for much this week, but we're managing his discomfort better in the past few days. That should help.  

At the Cancer Center, we were given so many handouts in various folders, and the names of so many people who all told us to call if we need anything, my head was spinning until I realized it's the same phone number on everyone's card. You call and explain the problem or ask the question and you are directed to the proper resource. I can do that.

This weekend, we're just enjoying being together and doing normal Bridge family things like trying to create the best Pina Colada recipe, while also making sure to give the girls one-on-one time with their dad. Then Tuesday morning VERY early (5:30 a.m.), we will get David checked in to the surgery center at PVH to have his port put in. Wednesday morning, all morning, he'll have the first round of chemo at the Cancer Center.

If you're praying, please pray for the time with our girls to be rich and meaningful, for surgery and the first chemo infusion to go smoothly, for the chemo drugs to get busy and to work well, for the side effects to be minimal, for David to have energy and minimal discomfort.  

And if you're wanting to pray, but never really have before, here's an idea. Lexi shared with me a version of a Celtic Caim, or circling prayer. Here's an example:

Encircle us Lord.
Keep love within and hatred out.
Keep joy within and fear out.
Keep peace within and worry out.
Keep light within and darkness out.
May you stand in the circle with us today and always. 

Adapt as you see fit. I really don't know how we'd get through this without the comfort we feel in the arms of God. That and your many messages of love and support are sustaining us more than you know. Thank you! 

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

After initially being given what seemed to be very good news about our health insurance, the picture has been filled out somewhat in recent days. We've just discovered that all but one of the MANY drugs for David's chemo and side effect management are classed as "non-formulary" which means they are not covered unless the doctor files an appeal to claim medical necessity and the insurance company agrees to cover them. Chemo is scheduled to start Wednesday, and I have no idea--not even a ballpark hint--what kind of bill we'd be racking up if we have to pay for these out of pocket. Nor do I know how long the appeals process would take. As you can imagine, I'm stressing out a bit. Please pray for a quick, favorable resolution to these appeals!

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Woohoo! Just got word that all the meds, including both chemo and side effect mitigation meds, have been approved by the insurance company and also that there's a team at the cancer center keeping an eye on all the insurance paperwork and approvals. I have been assured they will let me know if there's ever anything that is threatening to be out of pocket (beyond our annual individual maximum, something of which we were already well aware and prepared to pay).

David had his outpatient surgery this morning to install the chemo port. He came through that just fine, although it was a bit nerve wracking for me, since he has never before to my knowledge gone under general anesthesia. But now we're home and he's doing fine. Doesn't even need more than the regular pain meds he takes for the discomfort the cancer causes. 

Chemo starts tomorrow. Please pray for minimal side effects and effective treatment of the cancer. And by all means feel free to continue to pray for a miraculous healing!

Thank you to all who were at church on Sunday for your tender attention to our daughters. It was of course a very emotional time for them, but they felt very loved and supported by you, our church family. David was not up for it, so of course I stayed home with him. It warmed our hearts to hear of your care for them. 

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

We had to be at the Cancer Center at 7:40 this morning (Wednesday) for the preliminary labs, then upstairs to the infusion room for the chemo. Didn't get out of there until 3:00, so it was a long day. David was fine and relaxed through most of it, but one of the drugs hit him pretty hard for a few minutes. Fortunately, we had been warned that might happen and to call for the nurse right away. She was able to pause that drug and to give him something that calmed everything down. Then she restarted the chemo drip, but at a slower rate, which seemed to help. The final step was to attach the pump, which will continue to administer one of the chemo drugs into his port over the next 48 hours.
We'll go back on Friday for some more fluids, the final drug of the series, and to have the pump removed. This whole process will repeat, with whatever variations the oncologist deems necessary, every other week.
Tonight we're home and David is resting, but not terribly comfortably. I've just given him something we're told should help him sleep tonight, so that should improve. We're both grateful that I can be on med duty, documenting times and dosage, as well as giving him the twice daily injections of blood thinner. It fits with my passion for detail and gives me something of real benefit to do. Holding his hand and rubbing his back, while also appreciated, only go so far. The powerlessness in a situation like this is one of the hardest things.
Thanks for continuing to pray for David especially, of course, but also for all of us. The emotional waves are wildly unpredictable and sometimes knock us all flat for a bit. And as always, thanks so very much for your kind comments, emails, messages. David is stunned and touched by all the love pouring his way. 

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

We've heard Day 5 can be the worst for side effects, but David's doing pretty well. Since the side effects of chemo can hit harder with each subsequent round, it's great that this first one is not too bad. He still sleeps a lot, even during the day, but we will meet with a physical therapist and a dietitian tomorrow (Monday), and hope to get some good information on ways to mitigate the fatigue. No hair loss yet, but as that has been predicted and his hair was REALLY long, he opted for a short cut on Friday. I've posted a couple of photos on the gallery page. 
We continue to try to focus on all we can be grateful for in our life together. One thing that has been coming to mind lately is that we've managed to fit a lot into our 38 years together. Maybe it was due to a lack of patience, but we didn't waste a lot of time. We met, were engaged six weeks later, and married just under six months after we met. Our three girls were born within our first ten years together, so we did all the young family things while we were still young ourselves. Consequently, we've had years since our daughters have been off on their own, allowing us to have our many adventures. It helps to remember that we never postponed chasing our dreams. We (David, mostly) made them happen to the best of our ability all along the way.
And we are of course very grateful for you. We have been touched, overwhelmed even, at all the love pouring our way. Thanks for your continued prayer. I would ask specifically for David to have more energy, so he could spend a bit less time in bed or on the couch. Also that he would avoid infection, since his resistance is at it's lowest during this part of the chemo cycle. Thanks again!

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

In case you don't read my posts on MovableAssets (um . . . why not? 😉), I wanted to be sure you had the link for the slideshow that was shown at the Celebration of Life for David. Plus, we added the goofy videos of David, which we showed along with the slideshow at the reception at our house. It's a YouTube video now, thanks to Matt Anderson, worship pastor at our church: Thanks, again, Matt!

Be sure to keep watching at the end of the slideshow. There will be twenty seconds of the last photo (black and white). Then the videos will start right after that. You'll have to read the latest MoveableAssets post for more explanation of the videos. Some people read both these posts and those, so I don't want to repeat myself here.

A big warm thank you to everyone who has sent cards, emails, messages, blog comments, and especially many, many thanks to all who were able to come to the Celebration of Life, whether or not you were able to join us at the reception. I couldn't believe how many traveled from so far. I and the rest of the family felt so loved and supported. We were touched by your presence, your memories of David, even the blue you wore at my request in honor of David and his fabulous, cheerful blue shirts. It was an evening I will never forget. Bless you!


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DAVID’s Story

Site created on August 26, 2016

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. In short: After some weeks / months of low energy, increasing shortness of breath, and lingering discomfort, a blood test revealed an imminent risk of blood clot which sent us immediately to the ER.  While there, a CT scan revealed multiple clots in his lungs, an enlarged pancreas and multiple lesions in his liver and possibly other places as well. This has now been confirmed to be stage 4 pancreatic cancer, specifically adenocarcinoma. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.