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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Glob in the Heart - by Mark

Yesterday was a bit more exciting that we had planned.  At about 2:50 PM I got a call from Dr. Smith's office indicating that the radiologist that was reviewing the PET scan found a lime sized glob in the right ventricle of my heart.  They consulted with a cardiologist and determined that I should get to an ER right away and they would prefer I get to Provident Portland as that is where all the images are that they might need.  I asked if I could drive myself and they suggested I have someone else drive.   I called Ane and she started to get ready. Tyler was in my office and suggested he take me and Mom meet us there.  On the way out Michael asked where we were going; we told him so he joined us.  When we arrived there were about 50 people in the waiting room, but when we explained why we were there they got us into a room within 3 minutes.  First I got to put on the hospital mini-skirt with the airy backside; then the nurses immediately checked all three vitals at once while sticking on the hair pulling echo-cardiogram patches and hooking up the wires.  They did their test, took blood, and set up an IV all within about 10 minutes.  Everything seemed normal so they said they would check with the doctor that had us come in, and get back with us.  We sat and visited for the next two and a half hours before they would let us go, checking in every 30 minutes or so.  We had fun working out details of my funeral, as only funeral planners could :) and discussing other fun things.  Finally we were told that we should call tomorrow to get an MRI of my heart as an outpatient, and we could go home.  

Just as we were about to leave, the ER Doctor said something that indicated that she had the PET scan report.  We told her that we had not heard the results so she went and got it so that she would be accurate.  She read in a very matter of fact manner from the report that it appeared to be metastatic cancer. There were multiple nodules in each lung, one in the liver, one in the heart (which she had never heard of so she looked on the internet to be sure and found that it does happen but is rare), one in the muscle tissue beside the spinal column in my back, one in my hip and one in the muscle tissue of each thigh.  So with that bright news she left.  I am sure we all looked rather stunned, but we were free to go.   Tyler pointed out that my feet were good and I mentioned my head was clear too.  It is just the middle part that is not so good.   When they put the nuclear stuff in your veins it is in a sucrose transporter.  The sucrose goes straight to the cancer so when the PET scan is done the cancer parts light up the screen nicely.  So I was thinking my PET scan must have looked like Van Gogh's painting, Starry Night! :)

I will get an Echo cardiogram tomorrow morning at 10 am.   We have our first recommended Oncologist visit at 4:20 PM tomorrow and squeezed in a second opinion doctor that is highly recommend from a different source at 9:00 AM tomorrow.  Tonight we are filling out paperwork for our appointments tomorrow, writing up questions and looking at statistics of cure methodologies.

Generally our spirits are good.  We are working at it, trying to do what we think and feel is best.  We have told several of our family and friends and all are loving and supportive.  There are many praying and sending very loving and positive thoughts our way.  We are still trying to keep it quiet because Rachel does not know.  We have considered how we might tell her and at this point would like to keep our current plans for Ane to go down in two weeks and bring her back.  In the next day or so we should know more of the prognosis.

Each of us has moments of tears and heart ache.  We love each other so much and don't like the thought of being apart at all.  Thoughts of not being able to be a Dad and Grandpa for the next 30 years are tender.  I was walking into a Whole Foods store this afternoon and saw some tulips for sale and thought of Ane and couldn't help but cry.  Who will bring her flowers?  I love her dearly.  But, most of the time we are positive and working to do all we can to be here as long as we can.  Fortunately we understand what is on the other side of the veil and it is wonderful.  We would just rather go later and closer together.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

King Hezekiah - by Ane

This morning Mark wanted to read the account of King Hezekiah and the Assyrian army in 2 Kings 19.  He is studying faith and how to tap into that power.  I went to chapter 19 and this line in verse 6 stood out to me: “Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard…”  Today we will be hearing the results of the needle biopsy.  We are more concerned about the results of the PET scan which was done yesterday as it could show more areas that the cancer could have spread to.

After reading chapter 19 I noticed chapter 20 and read the first 11 verses.  Hezekiah was sick unto death.  Isaiah told him to get his house in order because he was going to die.  Hezekiah prayed to the Lord saying, “I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.  And Hezekiah wept sore.”  Before Isaiah left the court the Lord told him to return to Hezekiah and tell him, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee…thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.  And I will add unto thy days fifteen years:” Isaiah told him to take a lump of figs and they laid in on the boil, and Hezekiah recovered.

We would take 15 more years!  We will do whatever the Lord asks us to do.  I know Mark has walked in truth with a desire for a perfect heart and done much good in the sight of the Lord.  I pray that he will be healed.  I am going to ask for at least an extension!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feelings of Peace - by Ane

During my scripture study last Saturday I read  about faith to be healed.  I prayed and asked Father for just one scripture that He could help me, and this is what I read:
 “And inasmuch as they are faithful unto me, it shall be made known unto them what they shall do;”
That was just what I needed to hear and has continued to be a comfort to me.  There are different options of how to treat the cancer, as well as what to do about Rachel – how and when to tell her and if I should still go to Ecuador, etc. etc.  This scripture assured me that we will know what we need to do when the time is right. 
This morning as I was praying I had the impression that Father had something to tell me and this is what I turned to:
 “And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you. Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.  I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”
 “…Peace be with you; my blessing continue with you. For even yet the kingdom is yours, and shall be forever, if you fall not from your steadfastness, Even so. Amen.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Liver Biopsy - by Mark

The biopsy went well, uneventful.  We saw the x-ray of my liver and asked about the size of the "dot". The Doctor said it looked to be about the size of a lime – 2"- 2.5" long and about the same shape.   It was dark and a bit rough instead of the smooth tissue of the liver. Four needle-like samples were taken through the same hole in the abdomen wall.  The results of the biopsy should be ready by Tuesday mid-day and the PET scan should be ready by mid-day Wednesday. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Liver, too? - by Ane

The biopsy is going to be tomorrow morning.  Mark went in Tuesday to get blood drawn and was told that they would be doing an ultrasound to be sure they got the needle in the right place in the liver.  LIVER?  We thought it was the lungs.  “Oh,” she said, “well, there is a spot in the liver, too.”  Uggg.  We won’t get results until toward the end of next week.  Mark talked to his doctor again to get his take on what he really thinks this is and he had to admit that he was about 90% sure that it is metastatic melanoma.  Mark asked him to set up an appointment with the oncologist and the PET scan before we know for sure. We can always cancel the appointment, but want to get going on this as soon as possible.  We totally believe in miracles, yet want to aggressively do all we can as quickly as we can.  I’ve purchased healing foods and will start a regiment to possible slow the growth of the tumors, and we’re investigating alternative cures, as well.  The only problem with that is that everyone has a different miraculous cure so it’s hard to determine which direction to go.  I’m going to focus on foods and have a book called The Gerson Therapy that I will look at.  I will call a woman today who lives close by that has used this therapy and she is cancer free.  With all the miraculous cures cited, I’ve yet to find a success story posted of anyone with this type of cancer.  Chemotherapy is NOT effective on metastatic melanoma and we’re relieved as we don’t want to go that route, anyway.  Last night Mark was reading some information online and discovered what I had already found (and not told him) – that if metastatic melanoma is found on two organ sites survival rate is usually less than 6 months.  He had been thinking less than 5 years.  That was a blow for him.  We’re actually doing quite well as we are just dealing with what needs to be done.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trusting the Lord - by Mark

We have told our children that are here, but have not told Rachel, as she is in Ecuador.  We need to know more.  We have felt peaceful but tender.  I have no fear of death, although the process doesn't sound all that great.  It actually would be very interesting and exciting at the right time, but I would greatly miss my dearest Ane, my family, and friends.  Therefore, we will plead with the Lord for:  1) no issues and on we go with life, 2) a cure or miracle – we will gladly take either one, 3) an extension for whatever we can get.  Most important is that we totally trust the Lord and we will accept whatever he has for us.  We know that if we are doing His will He will not take us before our time.  So we are comforted.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

So what is it, really? - by Mark

This morning we talked to our doctor candidly to understand what he was saying.  He emphasized that he was not told that they were large dots or masses, but he did indicate that it is most likely cancer that has originated somewhere else.  With my history, melanoma would be the best guess.  So this is different from what we were thinking.  He reemphasized that we should wait until we have the biopsy before getting too concerned but, he was 90%+ sure it was Metastatic Melanoma.  Both Ane and I were sneaking peaks at the internet and it was not looking good.  It makes one think differently.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dots in the Lungs - by Mark

For a little over 2 months from late October to early January this year, I have had an ongoing cold.  The resultant cough just wouldn’t go away so I went to the Doctor just to be sure I was OK.   He thought it was just residual from the cold, but gave me a prescription for a chest x-ray. Due to a busy schedule I didn’t go in right away. 

I went in today to get the x-ray.  Ane & I then went out to dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  As we were finishing our meal my phone rang.  It was a doctor at the clinic who told us that three dots were found in my lungs on the chest x-ray.  To better understand what was going on he wanted me to get a CT scan as soon as possible, like tonight or this weekend. Since it was already 4:30 PM on Friday evening, we hurried over to the same image lab to see if they could get it done before closing at 5:00 pm.   As we were working it out with the receptionist we over heard her conversation on the phone with the doctor in the back. She mumbled under her breath, that I had a history of melanoma twice and that there were three masses in my lungs.  I guess that is what the doctor meant by dots!  I got the scan. About an hour later my personal doctor called. He suggested that I have a needle biopsy early next week.  He will set up the biopsy for Tuesday or Wednesday next week since I will be out of town on Monday.  At this point we don't know much, other than there are three dots. The doctor mentioned that it might be nothing and therefore of little concern or worst case it might be cancer. He mentioned metastasized and I am not sure in what context or what he meant. At this point they can't tell until they do the biopsy.