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.