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

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!!!