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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012

We Told Rachel - by Ane

It has been wonderful to see and be with Rachel. At the airport I went out first to see her and warmly welcome each other and I told her that someone was bringing my other bag. So when Mark walked up she was totally shocked and excited!

She had the afternoon off so we were alone in the house. After she got a chance to tell us all about the place, we decided it was time. We just told her that we had some sad news - dad has cancer. Of course she was heartbroken and cried, but after talking for an hour or so she talked about how being here has taught her so much about how all things are in the Lord's hands and it will be okay.

This morning we got up early and went with her to her favorite orphanage - with the handicapped children. We are so proud off her!!! She gets right in there feeding & playing with the kids. This has been a life changing experience for her. Mark was quite tired so we took a taxi back to the house. She is off this afternoon so we'll see the town.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

BRAF mutation - by Ane

Mark & I are in the air heading to LAX on to Miami and arriving in Quito, Ecuador around 11:00 pm this evening.  Tomorrow we will fly from Quito to Cuenca where we will meet Rachel.  

The past week I’ve also thought about the scriptures of Hezekiah being given an extra 15 years.  I decided that I needed to ask for an extension of time for Mark.  I feel that there are some events and experiences that he needs to be a part of.  Rachel’s wedding is one (and there are no current plans!).  I also want us to have some delightful family vacations, as well as the opportunity to go on this trip to Israel. Last week I prayed diligently for an extension.  We went to the temple on Saturday. Throughout my time there I prayed for my desire and felt by the time we left that it would be granted.  

On Sunday, the 11th, Eric & Tyler joined Mark as he gave me a blessing. One of the most exciting things to me was that I was told that Mark’s time would be extended!  That was a confirmation of what I had felt earlier.  I have been hanging onto the hope that he would have the BRAF mutation that would allow him to take Zelboraf which has been quite effective in shrinking tumors.

Before we left for the airport yesterday Dr. Urba called with the exciting news that Mark does indeed have the BRAF mutation!!! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Brain & Heart MRI - by Mark

Last night we did the MRI.  For someone that is somewhat claustrophobic I would not recommend it.  Nevertheless, with the aid of some Vicodin and a bit of self-talk and prayer I made it through.  Most of the time it was quite comfortable with closed eyes and peaceful thoughts. About three quarters of the way through the heart scan which took about an hour and a half my arms were hurting.  I had put them over my head thinking it might help with the claustrophobia but they were not used to that position and were starting to hurt which lead to claustrophobic thoughts because I could not move them to stop the hurt. I was trapped. I mentioned it to the tech but he was of the mode to just keep going and encourage me more.  Just at that time they were putting in the contrast through the intravenous connection and it seemed to them to not be working right so they pulled me out, checked the IV and all was fine. Yeah! I got to put my aching arms down and felt much much better!  Another tender mercy of the Lord!  They were moving fast through the last part but I was very peaceful and comfortable with my arms by my side even though I was tightly squished in the tube with the top of the tube only a few inches from my eyes.  How thankful I am to Father for the help and peace!!

Today my Doctor called with news that the tumor in the heart was not blocking the flow of blood but was slightly effecting one of the valves so that there was a bit of backwash but not too much.

My brain is cancer free!!  Yahoo. Maybe ‘cause there is not much up there to grow in:-))

It still feels surreal.  Like we are in someone else’s life or somewhere else and we should wake up sometime soon.  This is not what I have been thinking of or wanting for my life.  I know Father knows best and I love him and trust him.

 Waiting for the MRI - cute outfit, huh?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Be not afraid" - by Ane

This past Tuesday or Wednesday I asked for a scripture for the day and just opened my Old Testament to 2 Kings 19:6 which is the verse I had highlighted the day we heard about the tumor in the heart. “Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard,” Again it was comforting to feel that while this is certainly a challenge we don’t need to fear.  I know it’s all in the Lord’s hands and I trust Him.  This week we have both felt so much peace.  We continue to follow the Gerson Diet as much as possible.

Right now we’re just waiting for test results before we can make any decisions regarding therapies to use.  I do think his brain will be clear.  I’ve certainly been praying for that.  I wanted another scripture to give me comfort today and I turned to this, “…for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Diagnosis and Prognosis - by Ane and Mark

Below is what Mark wrote about our day yesterday and what we learned from the oncologists.  Today we will go to the temple and consider all our options including the Gerson Therapy and other natural therapies along with the ones below. 

As for Rachel we have decided that both Mark & I will fly to Ecuador on March 15 so that he is there when we tell her.  At that point we can tell others and not be so concerned about anything getting back to her. 

Yesterday was another interesting day.  We met with two Oncologists, both leaders in this area, and had an Echo cardiogram. 

From the doctors we learned:
1 I have stage 4b Metastatic Melanoma with innumerable nodules in both lungs, one on the liver, one in the heart, one in the lower abdomen, one in the muscle tissue of the back, thighs and hip.  None are seen in the brain but they want to do an MRI of the brain to be sure there are not small ones that don’t show well on the PET scan.  They also want an MRI on the heart.
Prognosis - MD Anderson Prognosis
Our Portland Oncologists, Dr. Smith and the one we went with Dr. Walter Urba prognosis:
2.      A few years ago our appointment would have been brief, "get your affairs in order, sorry."  Now, you should still get your affairs in order but there are options and hope.
3.     Given my current state of health, which is pretty good, if we did nothing we are probably looking at 6 months to a year.  The average with this condition is 6 months.
4.     The latest option, only two years on the market is a drug called Zelboraf.  It only works on melanoma with the BRAF mutation. So the first step is to send my biopsy tissue sample to a special lab that will determine if I have that mutation.  About 50% of melanoma has this mutation.  If so we will start with this drug, which is just a pill with relatively minor side effects and in most cases shrinks the tumors and extends life by 4-7 months.  Then the cancer figures out a way around the drug and starts growing again.
5.     The next step, or the first one if we don’t have BRAF mutation, is Proleukin or Interleukin-2.  It is an immune system accelerator.  The process is one week in the hospital that is kinda pukey, then the first week out kinda weak and then a week OK then back in for a second pukey week, out a month and back for a third week.  They have a clinical trial going on right now that first radiates one of the tumors before using the Proleukin, which is supposed to dramatically increase the results.  Currently 10% shrink tumors for awhile and 1 in 17 have no disease for 3 months to 10+ years.  With the radiation first pre-trials showed 70% response instead of 10% and they don’t know about cure rates.  With the trial, if you don’t get in the part of the trial where you get the radiation first you can get it before another treatment later.  You can’t get the radiation first unless you are part of the trial, or at least insurance won’t cover it.  This one has the potential of a home run cure on 1 in 17.
6.     The next step is Yervoy a new drug that stops the natural breaks in the immune system so that it can fight the cancer with no limits.  Tests have shown 15% have tumor shrinkage and a 5% cure rate.  Several potential side effects and overall extending life from 6 months to 10 months.
7.     We asked about the t-cell therapy that Jorge’s friend used and found successful.  Dr. Urba told us that if we are interested he would call Dr. Rosenburg in Bethesda, MD who developed it and uses it the most.  Dr. Smith was concerned about this treatment because it takes time to grow the good cells and there is a risk they won’t grow and in the mean time you are just waiting.  It is also very invasive as chemo is used.  For some this has been very successful. 

I also had an Echo cardiogram, Ultra Sound of the heart, and saw the inside of my heart beating just fine.  The tumor in the right ventricle, which leads to the lungs, was growing there with four flat fingers hanging down flopping in the breeze, or blood as the case may be, but didn’t look to be in the way at this point.  There is some concern about the “fingers” breaking loose and floating to the lungs.  Oncologists think that is unlikely.

So, in summary there is a lot going on in this field which certainly gives hope.  Cure is an option but rare (5%-10%).  Extensions of time seem likely, but are more in the month’s category than years.  While we were racing to the ER on Tuesday because they were concerned about the “glob” in my heart Ane was thinking “at least months! not today.”  It all seems to be a matter of perspective.  We very much like the idea of many years but we will prepare for less.