DAVID | Journal | CaringBridge

Journal

Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Wow. You dear ones came out in droves to volunteer for the sharps disposal. Between texts, emails and comments here on Caring Bridge, I think I had eight or ten offers. Bonnie Bailey picked them up a little while ago. She had time today to get them, was headed to the dump anyway, and has had to deal with getting rid of syringes for her grandson in the past, so knows exactly where to go. Thanks, Bonnie!

And thank you to everyone else who offered--or would have if they lived closer. You are ALL appreciated so much!
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

We got home from our east coast trip late last night and headed back to the Cancer Center this morning. Hard to really wrap my head around it, but my favorite tough guy has now endured 18 rounds of chemo -- ten rounds of FOLFIRINOX and eight of FOLFOX. He's not feeling fabulous, partly due to the pleural effusion that continues to be a problem. Another thoracentesis is scheduled for early Thursday morning. Draining the fluid always helps both with his breathing and his discomfort. Of course, the chemo itself is no picnic.

On the plus side, his lab numbers were mostly improved today: good liver numbers and his platelet count was better than it has been in a while. I was hoping for an improvement in his CA19-9 number, but it continues to climb a bit: 1440 today, compared to 1140 two weeks ago. It's not a huge jump, and it's still better than before we left for France (2040 on 4/14), but oh, how we loved the 472 on 6/05. 

The chemo-induced neuropathy is still mild, but David is beginning to notice that his sense of grip is not quite right and he occasionally drops small things. If this gets worse, the Oxaliplatin will have to be discontinued at least temporarily, and another chemo, likely Gemzar., will be substituted.

We were so glad to be able to celebrate our niece's wedding with all the extended family and to spend a bit more than a week at the lake with many of them. David, of course, did not have his old energy and then suffered back spasms at random moments for a few days until ice and a muscle relaxant tamed them. We all, including David, get a bit discouraged sometimes. I know . . . one day at a time. 

When work is busy, which thankfully it is, and David is dealing with fatigue and discomfort, which unfortunately he is, I can get a bit overwhelmed when ANYTHING else comes up. Like the fraud attempt on our bank account which necessitated closing one account and opening another the day before we flew to Boston, plus all the additional tasks that demanded. NOT feeling friendly or forgiving toward criminals at the moment!

So here I am asking for help for something I know I should be able to do myself, but is apparently just one too many tasks for me: If anyone happens to be going to the dump on one of the days sharps are accepted, we have three full containers that need to go. I can't even find the hours right now and searching for them is about to put me over the edge, so if you would be so kind as to Google it yourself, I would be VERY grateful. I can't believe how hard it is to ask this favor. I keep wanting to erase this request, but everyone keeps telling me I can't do this alone, and it's becoming increasingly clear that I can't. So I guess I'll grit my teeth, swallow my delusions of superpowers, and click submit!

If you're praying, please continue to pray for peace, comfort, strength, and of course healing. What a day that will be when this wretched disease is finally tamed. We so appreciate all in the medical field who labor to that end and of course our great God who heals, sometimes here in this life, sometimes in the next, but always completely.
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

We reminded the doctors about our upcoming trip to the east coast and they agreed with us that it would be a good idea to get another chest x-ray to check on the pleural effusion (fluid around lung). The x-ray yesterday afternoon revealed that there was plenty of fluid that should be drained, so that happened this morning. The procedure is called thoracentesis, for those of you joining me in all this vocabulary augmentation. The doctor was able to remove 1050 cc's of fluid, so it was clearly NOT something that could wait until we got back. Last time the doctor only got 600 cc's, so today's doctor wants us to be sure to tell his associate that he's obviously better at it. At least we have a few laughs in the midst of all this! 

The return to chemo has hit David pretty hard this week, but we're hoping with each day and now with the fluid removed, he'll begin to feel better. He still has stitches in his back from the melanoma excision (stitches come out Monday), and now another small, but uncomfortable, incision for the thoracentesis, plus general chemo fatigue. This cancer thing is not for wimps. 

Some good news about our granddaughter Bailey: the MRI was also normal--WOOHOO for no brain tumor--but unfortunately the follow-up appointment was postponed (for weeks, grrrrr, due to the doctor's car trouble or something), so we still have no real answers. Courtney says a number of other tests will need to be done for various other possibilities, so please continue to keep Bailey in your thoughts and prayers.

As always, thank you, thank you, for how you support us in this. You are appreciated so very much!
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Today, unexpectedly, David had another round of FOLFOX, which is the chemo he has been getting since the elimination of the Irinitecan. (With the Irinitecan it's called FOLFIRINOX.) It was super spur of the moment, but Dr. McFarland told us this morning that David is not currently eligible for the clinical trial since his cancer has shown some signs of gaining ground, even though it is most likely due to having only one round of chemo within the past 13 weeks. That's a long time to let pancreatic cancer do whatever it wants to do. His CA19-9 number was up to 1040 today, not unexpected with so much time off, but still WAY better than his numbers last fall. If I understand things correctly, David's numbers have to show that the chemo is still beating back the cancer for him to be eligible for the trial. Another round or two may do that.

David and I were NOT loving the limbo, so are glad to get this round in and, in order to be able to fly to Boston for a wedding, one more on Sunday, the 30th, at the hospital -- Um, Happy Birthday, David!?! David will be 65 years old that day and DEFINITELY celebrating surviving 11 months (the original grim survival estimate) and still going strong, relatively speaking. 

David seems to be drawn to holidays and celebrations for his hospital stays and uncomfortable medical procedures: the day after Christmas, 3 days in hospital; Valentine's Day, one week in hospital, with a colonoscopy actually ON Valentine's Day; Father's Day, 3 days in the hospital; and now 65th birthday, chemo (which beats a hospital stay, so be praying it's JUST chemo!). 

The fluid around David's left lung (pleural effusion) is recollecting, but so far not enough to drain again. Hoping that doesn't become necessary before or during our time on the east coast.

Best news: The margins around the melanoma were clear, so no further treatment for melanoma is needed, although, trust me, I'm watching ALL other moles VERY carefully! Dr. McFarland doesn't know if the melanoma will disqualify David for the clinical trial, so will check on that. For now, we're celebrating the clear margins.

The only news we have about our granddaughter, is that the EEG was normal. Hope to know more about the MRI on Wednesday.

Thank you, as always, for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers! 


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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

I wanted to give an update, such as I'm able at the moment. We don't actually know that much more yet. We met with Dr. Messersmith yesterday about the clinical trial and decided to apply to be admitted to that. It seems promising, since it is for a drug that has been successful with BRCA-mutated ovarian cancers, so may help with BRCA-mutated pancreatic cancers, such as David has. We haven't yet heard whether David will be accepted. 

Even if accepted, David may have another round or two of his previous chemo regimen before starting with the trial. I actually love this idea, since the chemo has been working and the trial is a 3 to 2 double-blind placebo trial with no crossover. This means that David has only a 60% chance of getting the actual meds being tested. The other 40% get a placebo. The "no-crossover" part means if he happens to get the placebo they don't ever switch him over to the real medication. On the plus side, they do monitor all participants very carefully, so if his cancer progresses, he stops the trial right away and goes back to chemo or whatever seems best at that point.

In additional cancer fun for David, a couple of weeks ago he had several moles on his back biopsied. One of them tested positive for melanoma, another heightened risk of the BRCA2 mutation. So yesterday he had a roughly 4" by 1.5" chunk taken out of the middle of his back and stitched up so it looks like a zipper up the middle of his back. Ouch. Of course he said nothing until it was all done, but lying on his stomach for the procedure was excruciating with his continuing left side pain (better once he could sit up, but still always, night and day, a nagging, irritating pain), and today the incision is pretty uncomfortable as well. Fortunately, I think I've convinced him to quit trying to be a hero, and just take whatever pain meds are necessary. Pain from the incision should decrease within a few days, and we're hoping his side pain will diminish with whatever treatment he has next.

If you're praying: 
  • Remember that tomorrow, our granddaughter Bailey has her MRI and EEG to try to figure out what is causing her symptoms. We would ask that Bailey's results reveal nothing serious or malignant. I don't know enough to ask more than that. 
  • We would ask that the tissue the doctor removed from David yesterday would show clear margins, so he would need no further treatment for the melanoma. 
  • And certainly we ask that the best next steps for David's treatment of the pancreatic cancer be clear, so we make the right choices, and of course, that the treatment be beneficial to him. 
We are nearly at eleven months from discovery, and the doctors didn't really expect him to last more than 9 to 11 months, so we are very, VERY grateful for how well he continues to do. We are very aware that every day is a gift.
As are you, dear ones, who continue so faithfully with us on our way. Thank you!
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

By the way, David was able to walk the entire Purple Stride 5K on Sunday the 25th, at a pretty good clip, too. I had to stop once to stretch, and David waited with me. Pretty soon we noticed the ENTIRE TEAM had stopped, not wanting to get too far from David. What a great group of people. Many thanks to them and also to those who could not make it, but donated so generously. Our team fundraising goal was $2020, but we ended up raising $3550. Again our sincere gratitude! (It is still possible to donate on our team page if you want to, but thought you had missed your opportunity: http://support.pancan.org/site/TR/PurpleStride/PurpleStride?team_id=6300&pg=team&fr_id=1107)

If you're reading this through the church prayer chain email, be sure to go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/davidbridge to see the photos!

  • Most of Team Pop Rocks -- David got to wear the white Survivor hat
    Most of Team Pop Rocks -- David got to wear the white Survivor ...
  • David walked the entire 5K just a few days after getting out of the hospital!
    David walked the entire 5K just a few days after getting out of ...
  • Chelsea and Brian celebrating post-Stride
    Chelsea and Brian celebrating post-Stride
  • Brittany making the rounds at brunch post-Stride
    Brittany making the rounds at brunch post-Stride
  • Courtney waging hope!
    Courtney waging hope!
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

It's been a tough week or so, to be honest. On Monday, our 10-year-old granddaughter Bailey saw the neurologist and will have an EEG and an MRI on the 12th of July, with results on the 19th, so that's hanging out there. 

The other situation on our minds is that David's treatment is at a crossroads. We were kind of freaking out after hearing from Dr. McFarland on Monday evening. He recommended stopping chemo and trying to get into a clinical trial in Denver, which, as David put it, felt a little as if he had said, "Hey, I'm stopping the car. Why don't you go ahead and get out." But we were able to get a face-to-face appointment with his assistant this morning and we understand much better. And Dr. McFarland will continue to be David's primary oncologist.

The plan is to stop chemo for now, since malignant cell clusters were found in the fluid the pulmonologist removed from around David's left lung. This could mean that the chemo is losing its effectiveness, which often happens around round 14 or 15. Dr. McFarland believes, and Tricia agrees, that David may benefit more from attacking the cancer by way of something to do with the BRCA2 gene. To do a clinical trial, there has to be a "washout" period of usually four to six weeks to get the chemo out of David's system. It seems best to take advantage of the washout period he has already logged by missing chemo on June 19th when he was in the hospital, rather than trying another round that may not be effective and having the washout clock have to start over. 

All in all, Tricia was optimistic that David has very good opportunities to keep beating back this cancer, and for the moment this clinical trial tops that list. We'll have an appointment on the 10th in Aurora (east side of Denver, for those not from around here) with Dr. Messersmith, who comes very highly recommended. Please pray that David be admitted into this clinical trial if that is the best option for him at this time.

Finally, I'm sad to have to report that David's cousin Pete died Tuesday morning. The same age as David, Pete had been battling cancer (liver, I think) for years longer than doctors expected him to keep fighting and winning battles. Pete and his wife Tammy have been such an inspiration to us on this hard road. When you are kindly remembering us, please also keep Tammy and all Pete's loved ones in your thoughts and prayers, along with Bailey and Bailey's mom, Courtney.

We appreciate you, dear ones!
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Thank you so much for continuing to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Tuesday evening, although still alone and concerned about David, I felt the all-encompassing peace of God such as I have not felt in a long time.

David was able to come home from the hospital Wednesday evening and is doing much better, although tired and needing to be reminded to breathe deeply to keep his oxygen level above 90%. We bought a pulse oximeter so we can keep track of it. We don't know yet why the fluid was collecting or whether it will continue to do so. 

It will probably be Monday before we know next steps for chemo or clinical trial or whatever. 

David is still hoping to walk at least a bit of the PurpleStride walk in Denver on Sunday morning. We've got a great team, but there's still time to join us if you'd like, and Brittany even ordered a few extra T-shirts, although wearing them is not actually mandatory. Here's the link: http://support.pancan.org/site/TR/PurpleStride/PurpleStride?team_id=6300&pg=team&fr_id=1107  
We're currently at 88% of our fundraising goal, only $230 short, so thank you so much to everyone who has donated. 

Before I close this update, I'm afraid we have another need that would benefit from your prayers. On the plus side, our daughter Courtney tested negative for the BRCA2 gene mutation, so thank God for that, of course. But on the scary side, Courtney says some concerning symptoms have been noted in Bailey, our 10-year-old granddaughter, and she will need to be evaluated by a neurologist. Since words and phrases like "worst case scenario" and "growth of some kind" have been used, Courtney is having a hard time not freaking out. Prayer for Bailey, especially, and certainly also Courtney would be very much appreciated. 

We know there are so many with nearly unbearable burdens right now. Thank you for including us on your list of those you come alongside. 
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Thanks so much for the many thoughtful comments, emails and texts. They encourage us more than you know.

David had about 600 cc's of fluid (that's about 20 fluid ounces) removed from around (not "in" -- I was misinformed) his left lung, and he already feels much better. He can breathe more freely and is hoping his discomfort on that side will be noticeably reduced. We will know more about why the fluid is collecting rather than being reabsorbed by the lungs after various lab tests are done. 

No worries about the blood thinner, I'm told. It will resume tomorrow morning on schedule, and there's enough in his system to get him through this day.

One of his antibiotics has been changed, to see if that was the cause of the rash, but no one seems terribly alarmed. 

All in all, a reasonably positive afternoon. We are grateful for all mercies, big or small!
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Journal entry by SUNNY BRIDGE

Well, David is very unlikely to go home today. He still has a bit of a fever sometimes, although not at the moment. He just had a shower and although it made him short of breath, he does feel a bit better after that. 

A new concern is that he now has a weird rash, so may be allergic to one of the antibiotics (or who knows what), so that needs to be watched. The plan today is to stick a needle in his left side to try to extract some of the fluid in his left lung. That means no blood thinner until after that is done, to avoid a bleeding issue, then he probably has to be checked for a while until they get the blood levels back where they need to be to avoid blood clots. He's not feeling exactly terrible, but certainly not great. 

I'm so grateful to be able to be here with him most of every day, although going home to an empty house can be pretty emotional. I'm trying not to be Weepy Wife around David, but it's not easy sometimes. It's a constant discipline to try to rein in the fear, since that does none of us any good. I appreciate very much all the encouragement you are sending our way!

Thanks for continuing to keep us in your thoughts and prayers! 
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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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DAVID’s Story
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.

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