Late February of 2012 Mark was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma Cancer. This is written for our family and friends who have so caringly expressed a desire to know of the current situation. We so appreciate the love and support that has been shown to us and we lovingly empathize with and pray for many of you that have had or are currently going through trials of your own. In love, hope and faith, Mark and Ane

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gratitude and Love this Christmas Eve - by Ane

It is Christmas Eve.  This morning our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for the miracles we have been recipients of this year. After the last visit to the oncologist we realize more than ever the miracle it is that Mark is with us this Christmas.  We feel humbled to be remembered by so many in prayers and positive thoughts sent our way.  It is hard to find words to express the gratitude we feel to all of you who have so lovingly put your arms around us during this journey.  Last night we watched "It's a Wonderful Life".  In the beginning many are praying for George Bailey, and all those prayers to heaven caused Clarence to be sent to help him.  We thought of all the prayers that have been offered for us, and have no doubt that your faith and prayers have been the reason Mark is here.

Likewise we feel such gratitude for our oncologist and for modern research that brought about the medicine that has been so effective in the not only causing Mark's tumors to shrink, but to actually disappear.  We are thankful for all those who have given us alternative methods for healing.  We have incorporated many of those into our diet and lifestyle and we believe it has helped.  It's all of those things that have been instrumental, but more than anything else it we believe it is your faith and prayers.

Our daughter, Rachel is getting married in less than a week - the 29th of December.  How well I remember the day I pleaded with Father in Heaven to allow Mark to be at her wedding, healthy and vibrant, and it is here.  What a blessing!

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we express gratitude to Him for the miracle of Mark's healing, and for the gift of love that He has given us all.

May your Christmas be filled with His love and may that love continue throughout the coming year.

Merry Christmas!!!

With love, hope and gratitude,
Ane & Mark

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beating the Odds - by Ane

Yesterday we had our monthly visit with our oncologist.  How fortunate we are to have found Dr. Urba – he really is amazing! Our first visit was on the 2nd of March. It was a tough time for us, but also for him because he understood all too well what we were facing.  While he was hopeful that the treatments would work, he also knew that if Mark didn’t respond he would probably be gone in about 3 months.  The lime size tumor in his heart was the most concerning.  While he stretched the truth telling us that Mark had 6 months to a year if the medicines did not work, he always said that Mark could be the one that totally beat the cancer.  Why couldn’t he be the one to hit the home run?  His optimism gave us hope!

Since our last visit Dr. Urba met with some of the best melanoma doctors in the country –from MD Anderson in Houston, the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, and the Huntsman Cancer Center in SLC.  They talked about the drug Zelboraf that Mark is on, and how their patients have responded.  Only one to three patients in each area have had tumors disappear.  Usually the tumors shrink, but don’t actually go away.  Of those whose tumors were totally gone, we wondered how severe their cases were.  Dr. Urba had not heard of anyone who had so many tumors in such critical organs.  So…Mark is the poster child for this drug!  Of course, we know that it’s much more than the drug at work here.  How grateful we are for the faith and prayers that have been offered in his behalf!!! 
Because Zelboraf is so new the doctors can’t tell us what the future will bring.  They are all in agreement that the body always finds a way around this drug and the tumors will return either in the same place or other locations.  Because Mark is doing so well and the side effects are manageable we have decided to stay on the drug for now.  There will be other options in the future such as:
  •  Staying on the drug until tumors reappear or the side effects become too severe, and then going to the next treatment, Interluken 2, which has a 5% chance of actual healing, not just a stall. Side effects are debilitating. 
  • Go off the Zelboraf for a time and then reintroduce it hoping that this will keep the body from figuring out a way around it.  Will it work as well the second time?  No one knows. 

  • Go off the Zelboraf while the tumors are gone and try Yervoy.  Will it work as well if there are no tumors there to fight?  No one knows. 
  • Alternate using Zelboraf and Yervoy or Interluken 2.  Using two together is too toxic for the body.
There may be other options, as well.  Dr. Urba will consult with these same doctors to see what they recommend.  He will then lay all the options before us and we will have to make a decision.

On December 29th our only daughter and youngest child is getting married.  Mark will be there in  good health to share this time with our daughter, and to have that father/daughter dance that she has always dreamed of. 
So many tremendous blessings have come our way and our hearts overflow with gratitude and love.  There is no doubt that Mark’s current health is a miracle, and how very thankful we are.  Each day we have together is a blessing.  Certainly, we are mindful of those who are going through tough times and we will continue to keep you in our prayers.  Life is full of challenges, but we testify that peace can come through our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We are HAPPY!!!  Mark continues to do amazingly well.  One week ago he met with Dr. Zemsky, the cardiologist who performed the catheter ablation.  Mark heart continues to beat in steady rhythm, and he no longer needs the blood thinner or the diuretic.  The only medicine he takes now is Zelboraf – the cancer drug.  The negative side effects have tapered off.  His hair is growing back although it is now really curly. (No worries with even combing it!) He has some joint pain especially in his left hand, but he can live with that.  We almost feel like life is back to normal.  He has energy and stamina and a spring in his step.  Often we are reminded of what could have been, and we know that miracles have blessed our lives.  How grateful we are!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I feel great - by Mark

I went for a three and a half mile hike around our neighborhood this week.  What a wonderful experience.  I walked up and down hills and didn’t even slowdown.  I actually jogged part of the way.  It is great to have a normal heart back again!!

Thanks again for your faith and prayers and good thoughts, what a difference it has made:-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My heart is in the right pace - by Mark

The procedure went great!  I was out for several hours while they stuck probes down my throat and then up through a vein in my lower abdomen.  The team found the hot spot in my right atrium and zapped it.  Last night, after the procedure, for the first time in four and a half months my heart rate was normal at about 60 BPM instead of the 90 to 100 or even 145 that it had been.  So as of today I am off of the two heart meds and on to another one for 6 weeks (Warfarin).  Modern medicine is great; all the way into four places in the heart with a little incision in the abdomen.  We went home late last night. How wonderful to sleep in my own bed after that kind of operation.

We have been blessed and are so grateful.  Thanks again for your care and support.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Heart Procedure is Tomorrow! - by Ane

Both the oncologist and the electrophysiologist have given approval to proceed with the Catheter Ablation.  It took a week to get approvals and we were anxious to schedule it, but we were told that the only person who could schedule this procedure was out of the office until next Monday.  Yesterday we got a call from the oncologist office telling us that Dr. Urba wanted to see Mark soon after the procedure was done.  Mark told them that it may be awhile because we haven’t been able to schedule it.  That must have set things in motion because we got a call this morning that there was an opening tomorrow! We took it!!
We will check in at 10:00 am.  There will be a pre-procedure to be sure there are no blood clots in the heart.  If that goes well, the main procedure will begin immediately.  Estimated time for both is about five hours, and then recovery for several hours.  It is possible that we will be home tomorrow night, but he may need to stay the night for observation. 
How grateful we are that this has worked out.  We are hopeful that Mark will soon have increased strength and stamina. With his heart working properly he will be able to discontinue the heart medications.  YEA! 

Thanks again for the tremendous support you have given to us!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Tumors are gone! - by Mark

The cancer tumors cannot be found!  Both the PET scan and MRI which combined cover the whole body, were clean.  This is great news! Your faith, prayers and good thoughts have paid off.  Thank you so much!!

The oncologist says we can move forward with the heart procedure.  He still reminds us the cancer drug (Zelboraf) is just a stall but our situation is amazingly wonderful so far.  According to their website disappearing tumors have only happened to 2% of Zelboraf users.  We feel blessed to be in the minority:-)

Thanks so much for your love, support, faith and prayers.
Mark and Ane

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Healing a Broken Heart - by Ane

Today Mark had an appointment with Dr. Zemsky, an electro physiologist, who specializes in electrical heart function.  After reviewing all of Mark’s past ECG’s he told us that Mark has been in A-Flutter, not A-Fib.  The medications have slowed the rate down, and although it’s not completely regular, it is different from A-Fib. 

The good news is that there is a procedure that can potentially cure the problem.  Catheter Ablation has a success rate of better than 90% and is a low-risk procedure.  If it works no further heart medications will be required.  YEA! A blood thinner may be required for about a month afterwards.  For that reason our oncologist has requested that Mark have more tests done before we proceed. He doesn't want any bleeding tumors - neither do we!  Next Tuesday, September 4th, Mark will have a PET scan and a brain MRI so we’ll know what is happening with the other tumors that were previously detected.  If all looks good the oncologist will give the okay to move forward with the procedure.  This is very hopeful news! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our Request - by Ane

It has been almost two weeks since our visit to Dr. Urba, the oncologist.  He told us that he would call our cardiologist and let him know that he felt good about moving forward with shocking the heart since there was no evidence of a tumor there.  He did so, and we called the cardiologist’s office to see how soon we could get in to see him.  The earliest appointment available was August 30th which was still three weeks out.  This past Friday Mark & I were feeling an urgent need to get in sooner, but didn’t know what we could do.  A few hours later, Mark got a call from the office telling us that Dr. Schroeder had taken a new assignment and couldn’t meet with us on the 30th.  There were no other appointments with any cardiologists until October or November!  That was NOT good news.  Then the receptionists said that there was an older doctor who had some time available that very afternoon in the Gresham office.  Mark told them we would come!  At 3:15 we were talking to this doctor – yes older, but nice guy.  He had looked at all the reports and he saw no reason not to move forward.  He said that even though Mark has been in A-Fib for several months that his heart did not seem to be enlarged and there were no visible signs of any clots in his heart.  He did say that the longer the heart has been in A-Fib the more difficult it is for it to go back to regular rhythm so the sooner, the better.  With his approval we were able to make an appointment with an electro-physiologist who would review the case, and he would be the one to do the actual procedure.  We have an appointment on August 29th at 8:45 a.m.  If all goes well with that appointment it should be less than a week before the procedure is done.  So…with all that said…our request to you is that you pray with us that Mark will be able to have the procedure done and that it will work – that his heart will return to its normal rhythm and that in time he will be able to discontinue the heart medicines. 

We felt that our prayers were answered in being able to see a cardiologist this past Friday and get the ball rolling for this procedure to be done.  There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that your prayers have been a tremendous blessing in our lives.  We are also mindful that some of you are enduring trials of your own – some public and some private.  It is sometimes those private ones that are the hardest because you don’t have the support of others.  Our hearts go out to you and you will be remembered in our prayers. We pray for all of you that have prayed for us. 

With deepest gratitude, 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Where did it go? We can't find it!! - by Mark

Our Oncologist confirmed what we thought we saw on the Echocardiogram last Thursday.  The large tumor in the heart is gone!  They can’t see it.  Which means likely every other tumor is gone as well!!  Now he did warn us that echocardiograms are not perfect at seeing things but it can’t be much because it all looked clean to all of us and it was real easy to see before.  The doctor also reminded us that this drug is just a stall and that the cancer will figure out a way around it.  But, this is the best he has ever seen.  He said you are now in the single digits of likely responses to this medication.  He will be showing pictures of my heart before and after at one of his global medical meetings, he was way excited, as were we.

He also reduced the dosage of the Zelboraff 25% to see if he can reduce some of the side effects, which should not hurt the success at all.

Now we are on to schedule an appointment with our cardiologist to see if we can shock the heart back into regular rhythm, as there now is nothing in the heart to break loose and clog the lungs.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers and love.  I believe it has made all the difference.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Challenges, but Life is Good - by Mark

More hair loss and skin cancer removals, limited energy but lots of gratitude as we pass the four-month mark since diagnosis.  We have had some wonderful times with our children (a Caribbean cruise), a fun 4th of July, and yesterday Ane and I celebrated 34 years together.  Life is good and we are happy!!!
The monthly checkup on July 2nd with Dr. Urba, our Oncologist, was educational but not as encouraging.  His patient that has been on Zelboraf, the medication we are on, for 16 months has just relapsed with lots of cancer of a more aggressive type.  We mentioned that we thought he said there was a potential cure of about 2-3 %.  He looked puzzled and indicated that this drug was just a stall, not a cure.  He also was concerned that if the cancer comes back more aggressively there may not be enough time to do the next treatments, Interleukin II and Yervoy.  He also discussed the clinical trials that were in process with the combined Interleukin II and radiation and said they were not going as well as the pre-trials had indicated.  Additionally, we asked about the new drug that just came out last month and he indicated that it was not a cure either and did not have as good of a response as the Zelboraf, so he wouldn’t recommend it.  All in all, the doctor was upbeat, but clearly not expecting a cure just a bit more time.  That was not as encouraging as the last visit. 
My heart has been in A-Fib or A-Flutter for over 2 months now.  The medications have slowed the pace and helped it be a bit more regular, but have also caused unpleasant side effects and can cause other long-term issues. Dr. Urba would like to shock the heart back into regular rhythm, but that can’t be done unless the tumor is gone.  Next month’s visit will follow another echocardiogram so we can see what has happened inside my heart. 
Good news – I’ve lost the weight that I’ve wanted to lose for a long time!  We’re still following a mostly plant based diet, juicing, and doing whatever we can to be healthy.
We are still hopeful and are pursuing a path of: prepare for the worse and plan and pray for a cure.  We are so grateful for the many prayers and good thoughts that have been offered by you and others.  We believe it has and will make the difference.


Friday, June 8, 2012

“Slow down you move too fast…” - by Mark

That is what we want my heart to do at least.  So far so good.  We have gone from 140+ beats per minute (BPM) down to about 100 BPM and now in the last few days about 80 BPM.  That is almost normal for me.  It is still irregular but at least slower.  The prayers and meds are working. 

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers.  It is making an amazing difference.  The tumors are shrinking away.  Our oncologist mentioned this last time that 2-3% of Zelboraf patients are actually cured with the medication; previously he had only told us it was a stall drug but with such good results we are all hoping for a cure.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Still A-Flutter - by Ane

We met with the cardiologist today. Mark had another ECG which showed that he is still in A-Flutter which means that the rhythm is steady, but still fast at about 100 beats per minute.  That's slower than it was, so the medicine is helping. (Mark's normal resting rate is around 60.) Dr. Schroeder said that normally when the heart stays this long in A-Flutter the course of action would be to shock the heart back to normal function.  Because of the tumor in his heart that can't be done.  Mark can't take blood thinners which are required for that action, and it's also likely that the heart would revert back to A-Flutter as long as the tumor is there.  Dr. Urba,  the oncologist, also wants to wait until the tumors are gone before we consider that option.  The cardiologist prescribed a larger dose of Metoprolol to slow the heart rate.  The dosage of Amiodarone stayed the same. (That may be what is causing food not to taste good as one of the side effects is bitter taste in the mouth.)

Other than getting tired, Mark is feeling quite well.  As long as he gets his daily nap and doesn't do anything to increase the heart rate, he is good to go!  We asked about exercise and the doctor said that yoga would be good - we'll see if I can get him to do yoga with me! :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Great News!!! by Mark

We made it home!  We had a great trip and made it home with none of the issues of the trip out.  All went quite well for a 20-hour flight.  Some wonderful friends traded out our middle seats for bulkhead seats and we were both able to sleep.

Today we had another chest x-ray and then met with our Oncologist.  The report from the x-ray stated:

"Comparison is made to chest radiographs and CT scan of 2/17/2012.

Findings- The lungs are symmetrically expanded. Since the previous studies, there has been definite improvement in the appearance of the chest.  The nodular masses in the right and left lobes have almost completely resolved… The cardiac size and vascular markings are normal…”

1.      Since the 17th Feb 2012, the large lobulated masses in the lungs have nearly resolved…”

Fasting, faith, love, prayers, Zelboraff and nutrition have amazing power.  We are extremely grateful for all of your good thoughts, faith, love and prayers.  It is not over but going hugely in the right direction.  We are almost giddy with gratitude.  Thanks so much for your part and Father’s too.  We will meet with the Oncologist again in a month.

We are still in A-fib but the heart rate is under 100 BPM, so manageable.  Meeting with cardiologist on June 1st.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ready to come home! -by Ane

Tomorrow is our last day in Israel.  We will attend church at the BYU Jerusalem Center (Sabbath is Saturday here), go to the Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Garden Tomb, and Orson Hyde garden.  It will be a full day, but awesome!  Then we will board our bus around 6 pm for the airport in Tel Aviv.  Our flight leaves at 12:40 a.m. We arrive at PDX Sunday at 12:15 p.m. (Of course, there is a 10 hour time difference.) Due to the challenges of the trip out, we both feel a bit anxious about how things will go on our return.  We’d like to ask for extra prayers so Mark will have a good trip back.

Monday, Mark has an x-ray at 10:30 am, and an appointment with Dr. Urba 11:30 am.  We’ll find out how well the Zelboraf is continuing to work.  He is feeling very well, other than tiring easily.  His heart is always in A-Fib now - irregular heart beat, but slower that it was before - around 85 beats per minute.

Although we've had a marvelous time here and have learned so much, we are ready to come home!  

Standing on the patio at the BYU Jerusalem Center overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our Time in Israel - by Ane

From the Sea of Galilee, to Petra in Jordan, and now to Jerusalem, we have seen some amazing things.  Our schedule is packed so it's hard to find time to share anything.  We've taken lots of pictures and that is truly the best way to describe what we've seen, but that will have to wait.

As for Mark, he is doing quite well.  His sunburned lips, face, and hands have almost healed and we are much more vigilant about keeping him totally out of the sun (as you can see). He tires easily so he has opted out of some of the excursions.  The pain in his chest is almost gone so the meds are working. 

We're having a marvelous time and are learning lots!
Thanks for your care and concern!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Worst day yet - to much better! - by Mark

Last night I was too exhausted to even consider writing.  It was the worst day yet.  I was exhausted, even though I did hardly any sight-seeing, and I felt nauseated all day long.  The breakfast of oatmeal and orange slices made me sick to my stomach, and I couldn’t eat any lunch at all.  I took a small bite of pita bread and it came right back up.  I tried to take my pills in the morning and just after putting several in my month they came propelling out with help all the way from my stomach.  I had a similar problem the night before so that limited my pill intake which resulted in a poor night’s sleep because of the pain.  I got a blessing from Dr. Farley and Brother Garland mid-day which indicated that we were in the land of miracles and they were possible, but that I should also seek medical attention. 

When we got back to the Kibbutz we called the hospital to see if they had a cardiologist to help us.  They said that we would have to come into emergency and they would decide what to do with us.  That didn’t seem like a good idea.  We wondered if I would need to have the sack around my heart drained so I could get back to normal.  If something didn’t change, the trip seemed pretty useless. I greatly feared getting back on the plane to go home feeling as ill as I then felt.

Well… Dr. Farley came over to our room and we discussed the symptoms and the pill arsenal that both he and we had, which was rather extensive.  We also had some that our cardiologist had recommended.  Here they are over the counter medications so we didn’t need a prescription.  He indicated we had to get rid of the nausea first as that was preventing all other medications from working – since I couldn’t get them down.  Second we needed to get the inflammation down, particularly in the stomach and maybe liver. His hypothesis was that the Ibuprofen was irritating my stomach more that it was helping. So he set up a pill priorty which I started that night.

The next morning I awoke feeling better than I had in several days!  I was able to eat and go on our daily excursions.  My heart rate is still fast and often irregular, but it seems to be getting better – at least slower.  Oh, how wonderful it is to feel good again!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Flight to Tel Aviv - by Ane

We made it to Israel!  Not without challenges, but also with blessings!!  Mark’s chest pain has continued to increase so sleep has been difficult for the past few nights.  By the time we got on the plane he felt sick due to lack of sleep as well as pain and fatigue.  He is still in A-Fib with heart rate around 140 so that makes him tired.

When we got to PDX we realized that we had left my carry-on bag.  Since we were there by 4 am with a 6 am departure Jon was able to drive home, get the bag and bring it back to us by 5:15.  The good news is that since we had a wheelchair for Mark we were able to go right through security, and that was a real blessing as the line was very long!  When we got to the gate it was time for pre-boarding so we got right on.   The flight to SLC was miserable for him since he was so tired and couldn’t sleep.  As we were boarding the plane in SLC for JFK, Dave & Ann hurried up and told us that their seats had been upgraded to 1st class and that we were to take those seats.  That was so kind of them.  The seats were much more comfortable, but he still wasn’t able to sleep.

At each step of the way I asked Delta agents if there was any way we could get him into First Class for the 10 hour flight to Tel Aviv, but was told that our group ticket was not upgradable. The only chance we had was to talk to the agent at the gate at JFK .  I went early to do so.  I also talked to the purser who would be on the plane.  He was very kind, but couldn’t made changes.  The agent told us that there were no seats available in First Class.  With all the talk of Mark’s heart problem the agent was concerned that Mark should not get on the plane at all!  Oh no, my efforts seemed to be back firing!  He said we needed a note from our doctor for us to board.  Fortunately, Dr. Farley came to the rescue and gave permission.  Our seats were in Economy Comfort so there was plenty of leg room.  After dinner was served Mark tried to get comfortable so he could sleep, but just couldn’t.  He was feeling sick again.  The purser came by to check on him and asked me how Mark was feeling.  I told him that he was not doing well.  The purser left and returned soon and told us that there was one seat available in First Class that Mark could have.   These First Class seats totally recline, so Mark was able to sleep!  YEA!!  That made a world of difference.  How thankful we were for that tender mercy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Flutter? - by Ane

Last night we got home from Maui.  It is so good to be home.  Oregon is beautiful with all the trees budding and flowers popping!  We LOVE it here!!

Before retiring Mark went into A-Fib again and it continued through the night.  By morning the heart beat was regular but fast.  We called Provident Medical and found a cardiologist who had time available today to see us.  After an ECG (same as EKG we learned – EKG is German – why didn’t I ever realize that electro-cardiogram would have initials ECG not EKG?!), reading existing reports, and hearing Mark’s current symptoms he knew the problem.  Mark has Pericarditis – and inflammation of the sac-like covering around the heart.  He also is in A-Flutter (fast regular heart beat) instead of A-Fib (irregular heart beat that can be slow or fast). The A-Flutter is likely caused by the Pericarditis which is caused by the tumor.  Actually, the doctor doesn’t think it is from the tumor in the heart, but a small tumor (which we didn’t know about) that is on the outside of the heart.  Our doctor in Maui thought the tumor protruded through the muscle of the heart extending to the other side, but Dr. Schroeder said that is not the case.   It is the Pericarditis that is causing the pain in his chest.  It is acute when he is lying down, lying on his left side or when he takes a deep breath.  Pericarditis can lead to Pericardial effusion – fluid around the heart.  That is what we need to be aware of now.  If enough fluid develops it can be removed using a needle to drain it.  At this point Mark doesn’t seem to have Pericardial effusion.  Dr. Schroeder gave Mark a prescription of Amiodarone to control the A-Flutter or A-Fibrillation. Ibuprofen or Motrin can be used to help alleviate the pain from the Pericarditis.  
Mark also went to his dermatologist today to have some of his skin growths removed that are a side effect of the Zelboraf.  He’s growing a garden of them!  Another side effect has become obvious now – hair loss!  Yes, his hair is noticeably thinner.  He finds it in his comb and on his pillow.  That made him a bit sad.  Well, I assured him that he is adorable with or without hair! :)

We are scheduled to fly out early Friday morning for a 16-day trip to Israel that has been planned for some time (long before we knew about the cancer).  Both our oncologist and the cardiologist tell us that we can go.  So…I guess we will.  Dr. Schroeder assured us that there are excellent medical facilities there.  Oh, I hope we don’t have to find out!  

FYI, we are going to Israel with a tour group that was organized by our family doctor.  So…we have our doctor with us which is very comforting. (We certainly hope we don’t spoil the trip for him!) Prayers that we will be able to go and enjoy this trip to Israel would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you so very much!!  Also, please forgive us if we have not responded to messages or e-mails. We really do appreciate the support!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Celebration Event in Maui - by Ane

On Wednesday we were able to welcome the rest of our guests as they arrived at the Sheraton Maui. There are over 300 here with Precoa.

Thursday evening was the big celebration dinner and event where many are recognized and honored for their accomplishments.  Much time and energy goes into this presentation so Thursday was a very busy day for all those who were involved.  Mark spent most of the day working with the others in preparation.  He and Bret had several parts in the program and then Mark would be giving the closing inspiration message (which he knew would involve his current health situation.)

Around 4:00 pm he came to the room to get ready.  As he was leaving to go back down he told me that his chest was really hurting.  He has had chest pain for awhile now, but usually when he takes a deep breath or when he is in process of lying down – not all the time.  This was very concerning. We contemplated going to the hospital, but neither of us felt like we should leave.  We wondered if it was partly due to stress.  The concern I had previously felt melted away.

The award presentation was awesome!  Many people were recognized and there were fun games between awards to liven up the evening. Before the top sales awards were given, there was a surprise presentation for Bret & Mark.  A video had been put together with comments from different employees about their view of and feeling about each one.  It was amazing and brought tears to our eyes.  After the top sales awards were presented Bret said a few words and turned the time over to Mark.  He talked about gratitude, kindness, and becoming who we want to become. Because some knew and some didn’t know about his cancer, he felt that he needed to let them all know what was happening.  He summarized the events of the past couple of months.  Many had no idea and lots of tears were shed.  At the end he had a standing ovation and Bret asked if everyone would pray for his recovery.  It was a very sweet moment.  Afterwards so many shared their love and support as well as stories of their own challenges and miracles that some have been recipients of.  It was an incredible evening.  Mark was able to carry on with no problems.

When he got in bed he wasn’t able to find a position that didn’t hurt so he took some Ibuprofen to help him get to sleep.  The next morning he felt much better and has continued to feel well. Today he has had time to relax and just enjoy being here!  With so many praying for him something good has to come of it.  How we appreciate the love and support we have felt from so many!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To the Hospital in Maui - by Ane

We are thoroughly enjoying our stay in Maui, although it has not been without some challenges – even in regards to Mark’s health.

Monday, the 23rd, a few more of our Precoa guests arrived and we tried to be there when they got to the hotel. There were some challenges with getting the right rooms to the right people which resulted in a rather stressful day for Mark.  After we went to bed he got up several times, and couldn’t seem to settle down.  He then asked me if I would listen to his heart.  When I put my ear to his chest I heard the strangest heartbeat I had ever heard – very irregular and fast.  I knew this was not good and that we would need to go to the hospital.  We called Michael and asked him to come up.  He was with Tyler and Bret so they all came, listened to his heart, gave him a blessing, and then found the closest hospital.  It was decided the Michael would drive us.  The Maui Memorial Medical Center was about 45 minutes away in Wailuku.  When we arrived around 11:30 p.m. we were taken directly into a room to check his heart and then into an emergency room.  IV’s were hooked up and he was given medicine to slow down the heart rate and hopefully to get it back to regular rhythm.  We, of course, had to explain about the shrinking tumor in his heart.  That was quite fascinating to the nurses and doctor.  Mark has a rather unusual tumor! :)

Next, it was just a waiting game.  Michael returned to the Sheraton Maui. The medicines weren’t helping so finally around 5:30 a.m. we were admitted to the hospital and taken to a regular room where we both could get some much needed sleep.   Nurses started coming in around 6:30 a.m. and continued to come in every 15 minutes, so sleep was difficult.  I simply don’t know how anyone could get well in a hospital – you certainly can’t get any rest there!  Later Mark called Dr. Urba and he thought the A-Fib was probably caused by the tumor in the muscle wall of the heart, and not a side effect of the drug. 

Around noon Mark had another echo cardiogram which showed about the same thing as before – the tumor now about the size of a large olive and growing into the heart muscle.  A doctor came in later and explained that the tumor could certainly cause the A-Fib and he would give medicine to hopefully regulate his heart.  Mark could not get blood thinners, though, which are usually given to keep strokes from happening, because they could cause his tumor to bleed which would be worse.  While A-Fib is not fun, it can be managed.

Around 2:00 p.m. his heart rate returned to normal speed and regularity!  YEA!!   By 5:00 p.m. we were finally able to check out of the hospital and return to our resort after stopping at a pharmacy to get the meds as well as a blood pressure and heart monitor.  More fun supplies! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feelings of Love - by Ane

I’ve been feeling rather anxious with preparing for these two trips and taking care of Mark.   This morning we got up late since we didn’t go to bed until 1:30 am.  It’s almost time to leave the house, but I wanted some scripture time so I prayed and felt that I should turn to Malachi.  The first verse I read was, “I have loved you, saith the Lord…” and then  “…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” 

I feel that we are so loved by the Lord and by so many wonderful family members and friends.  I also feel that we have already had the windows of heaven opened to us and have received so many blessings.  From this morning, though, I feel that He wants us to know that He loves us and has additional blessings to shower us with – perhaps there is more healing than we had anticipated.  I know He can heal Mark and with so many prayers in his behalf, it is already happening with the tumors shrinking.  Perhaps they will not grow back, at least for a very long time.  We are going to do all in our power to keep from feeding them by eating healthy and taking supplements that may help.  I know that prayer and fasting works – it is very real!  He has extended his merciful arm towards us.  How grateful I am! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Healing is Possible - by Mark

Today in West Linn Ward's Sacrament meeting we sang hymn #85 “How Firm a Foundation”, one of Ane and my favorites.  It definitely helped me through the Prequest days and alleviated my fears.  The third verse is our favorite (see words below); Ane and I were exchanging tearful looks at each other during this verse.  What struck me the most were the words “He will cause thee to stand”.  This felt like it applied to me at this time.  The implication being that I would live.  

This is critical for up until this time I have not felt like Father has given me an assurance of things hoped for or an evidence of things not seen, Heb 11:1.  So it was hard to pray in faith, as I did not know that it was His will.  I now feel as though it is His will that I live.  I can pray and act in faith.  Previously I prayed to petition the Lord and ask with always the clause, if it be Thy will.  Now I feel as though it is His will that I live.  For how long I don’t know, but it feels like this cancer will not be the cause of an early death.  

I also feel as though this happened for some very good reasons and that I need to retire anyway and great relationships have been rekindled and reinforced.  Not to mention a very real experience with the fragileness of life as well as another test of our faith.  As always Father knows best!

3rd Verse of "How Firm a Foundation"

"Fear not, I am will thee; oh, be not dismayed,  
I am thy God and will still give thee aid. 
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shrinking Tumors!!! - by Mark

About a week ago I started having some minor chest pains. A couple of nights ago they became very painful when I went to lie down at night.  They would go away in few minutes but very sharp pain at first. I had been e-mailing my Oncologist and when the pains got more sever he wanted me to come in.  I went in yesterday we talked in detail and he checked me out.  He thought it might be an inflammation of the lining of my heart, could be caused by the tumors, not too sure so he wanted another EKG and Echocardiogram (ultrasound on the heart). Results where no noticeable issues with the heart other than the tumor has shrunk to 35% of its original size with three weeks of Zelboraf, a very healthy diet and lots of fasting, prayers and good thoughts by lots of wonderful people we love and care about.  What a happy day!!!  We only had a 50% chance of being able to use this drug and a 48% to 60% chance it would work and it is working beautifully.  It still could stop working at anytime so we are not done, but going the right direction for sure.  Some minor side effects, like bumps growing all over but we had them tested and they are benign.  The only other is a few aches and pains that come and go.  We are very excited with the progress!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Cough is Gone! - by Ane

We’ve actually felt so much peace recently.  Mark started the Zelboraf one week ago yesterday and so far has only had minor side effects.  The main thing that seems to be a problem for him is his skin sensitivity.   He has had redness and rash on his face and scalp.  It is likely that some skin cancers will grow and he will have to have them removed on a regular basis.  One of the main side effects that many have to deal with is joint pain and so far he has not had any.  Neither has he had any nausea which is common.

Yesterday morning he asked me if I noticed anything missing.  I didn’t and he said that he had hardly coughed at all, and mornings are usually the worst.  All day yesterday and today his cough has been much milder.  We are hoping that it means some of the tumors in his lungs have shrunk some – at least enough to calm the cough. It seems that he may actually be feeling better.    

I’ve also been feeding him more which may be helping his energy level.  We just don’t feel like we can do the full Gerson diet right now, although we will continue eating mainly vegetables and fruits.  We will add whole grains, legumes, and some dairy.  He doesn’t ever eat sugar which is good.  We also continue to juice several times a day – fresh OJ for breakfast, 3 carrot/apples juices and 1 green juice a day.  We hope that this will give him lots of nutrients to help his body be more healthy and strong.

This morning I was thinking about the extension I had prayed for.  There was a sweet feeling that we may be able to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary which would be a year from this July.  That would be awesome!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Announcement Read in Church - by Mark

This was prepared and sent out by President Scott Stevenson, our Stake President to each of the wards in our stake, seven congregations of about 500 people.  I am his 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency in the Lake Oswego Stake.  What a wonderful man he is and could hardly wait to get this out to call down the powers of Heaven in our behalf.  He waited until we could tell Rachel in person and then sent it out that next week.  Previous to this he personally called each of the 12 high councilors and asked if they would join in a fast and prayer in our behalf and if they would keep it confidential until we could tell Rachel.  What a wonderful, caring and faithful man. 


Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As we gather together today in a spirit of fasting, we are grateful for the blessings of our Father in Heaven and the strength that comes when we unite our prayers in behalf of those who face challenges in their lives. 
We wanted you to be aware that President Hornibrook has recently been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer which has spread to several parts of his body.  He will begin an extended treatment process in the next few days.  We ask that you add the welfare of this good man and his family to the many righteous desires for which we petition our Father in Heaven.
God bless you, Brothers and Sisters, as we seek to strengthen and comfort one another.  What a blessing it is to be part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

R. Scott Stevenson