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, 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!