Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New Year VP's

OK...OK VP's...I know it's been over a month since I last updated the blog and many of you have called to get on my case to do a better job at keeping everyone posted on our favorite patient. The good news is that she is doing well and is continuing to heal. We certainly thank the Lord for that and for all the positive energy that we can feel you sending our way. We have been held captive by the holidays, our visiting families, cookie making, movies that just HAD to be watched, football that just had to be cheered, dogs that needed to go to the vet and walked, friends that needed holiday cheers...well you get the idea. But we're back and I promise regular updates on the blog. PROMISE!!!

So the most important piece of information is that Brenda continues to keep her fabulous positive attitude as we look at beginning the next round of chemo that will start this coming Tuesday at 10:30 am. Of course there have been a ton of doctor appointments and phone calls to attend to to get us to this place, but we have just about everything lined up. Through the Virginia Piper Cancer Center in Scottsdale, we have a great oncologist that has many patients whose primary care has happened at MD Anderson. He's right in sync with Dr. Hong's order for the new chemo regime and he has a 16 chair chemo department at his office. Like I said, we are all set to begin that this coming Tuesday. They are using 3 different chemo drugs that have been around a long time and are well tolerated...not without the nasty side effects, but the folks back at MD Anderson said that Brenda should be able to tolerate this better than the first chemo drugs she had. I've got my fingers crossed and the prayers heading skyward. We'd love if you'd help us do the same. For those of you that like the details, the drugs are:

Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
Vincristine (Oncovin)
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

I'll certainly keep you posted on how it goes. She'll only have to go through 6 infusions and instead of 8 to 9 hours for the infusions, the treatment will only take about 2 1/2 hours and only on 1 day every 21 days...not 3 days every 21 we'll be home...that is HUGE!!!

She's had blood tests, a heart echo exam, another PET/CT scan, a "SmartPort" installed in her upper chest for easier chemo access, and this week she'll have another hearing test because she has
fluid in her
Eustachian Tube due to the radiation scar tissue. They are monitoring that and might put a tube in her ear to drain the fluid. We have found a good ENT so that's reassuring. Bren is still dealing with nasal drainage, and the doc is monitoring that, and gave her a new wash to keep the bacteria down so she doesn't get an infection...we certainly can't afford that now. We're back in the "SUPER CAREFUL" mode.

Christmas at home with family, friends, and of course...the dogs... was truly wonderful...busy... but wonderful. My Mom came over on Christmas Day and we opened some gifts and celebrated with a Taylor - Van Amburg California tradition of eating a meal of Dungeness crab for dinner. YUMMMY! Mom was a real trooper. She had never had crab before and she rolled up her sleeves, dug right in, and ate the whole thing. We were so proud of her.

My sister Barb, brother-in-law Tim, and niece Kelly came in the day after Christmas from cold, snowy Detroit. Toni came over for our evening dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, homemade biscuits (my grandmothers recipe), Toni's favorite jello with cream cheese cubes, and green beans. It was so very good. Of course there were more goodies to open and my niece made Brenda a fabulous blanket. She even snatched a ladies ball of yard from her cart at the store when the lady refused to let Kelly have it because that was the last ball of the color Kelly needed to finish the blanket. She grabbed it when the lady wasn't looking, and hurried and paid for it before the lady even noticed. We were so proud of her!! Ha! It was such a great story and made the blanket even more precious.

Brenda's sister Rhonda, her niece, Amy and nephew, Cody, with his new wife, Heather arrived from Boise, Idaho on January 1st for the big Boise State vs Texas Christian football game at the Fiesta Bowl. It was fabulous seeing them and Brenda got such a boost of energy having them around. They had a great time talking, laughing, shopping, cooking, telling stories, and just being in each others company. It was wonderful seeing her spirits so high. Plus Boise State won the game!!! Yea! That's the second time they have won a spot in the Fiesta Bowl and WON THE GAME!!!

I almost forgot to mention that Michele also arranged in early December to have a layover here in Phoenix on her way back from a west coast business trip. We sure love it when she does that. We got to meet her really nice nephew, Matt. and we all had a wonderful dinner at the famous Cowboy Ciaos in Scottsdale and then the next day we all pigged out at the Sugar Bowl...a true downtown Scottsdale landmark...they have great ice cream stuff. It's Michele's favorite when she makes it to Phoenix. It was great meeting her nephew. Michele also introduced us to a new computer game called "Bejeweled 2." Can you say addictive???

We had an emergency with our older Dobie, Abbie when we learned that her heart condition was getting worse. We put a Holter monitor on her regularly and the number of bad beats had gotten very bad, very quickly. That was the same day that we learned that Brenda had to have more chemo so we were both totally deflated, depressed, and worried. I got Abbie in to the heart specialist and we put her on a new heart med. Later last month I re-Holtered her and the bad beats had diminished significantly. I'm so glad we caught this. Dobies have this problem with their hearts that folks are trying to breed out of them. It's a condition where the dog can have a series of these irregular beats and then just drop over dead. She's a great girl and we'd really love her in our lives for years to come.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be home with family, our dogs, and friends. We've charted Brenda's chemo treatments and her last session will be April 27th. Collectively let's think of something we can all do to celebrate the end of, hopefully, this FINAL round of treatment. It will be over a year of treatment Brenda has had to ensure to treat this dreaded cancer. I think we all should collectively do something to signal the closure of this part of the journey. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

We've missed reading your comments so I'll keep up my end of the blog if you'll keep up yours...DEAL?

Here's wishing you all the very best that 2010 can offer.

Dee, Brenda, Abbie and Tanner


  1. I love it that your niece stole the yarn from the mean lady at the store. What a great story. You both have been in my prayers constantly since you began this ordeal almost a year ago. There are times I wake up in the middle of the night and think of you two and say a prayer. There are a lot of folks who have been with you through this and will continue to support you for as long as it takes to get well. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be there after your first round of this next phase and plan to come back and celebrate when it's all done. How about if we all meet at Cowboy Ciao's to celebrate. Cal and I can wear our stripper outfits like we did on Dee's 60th, and maybe Marshall Vic can teach you how to spit.


  2. A big Yea for the blog being back! It's so good to hear and see what's been happening with you. Looks like you had a very, very busy Holiday. Everyone looks good, I especially like Brenda's 'leg up' sleeping style...a perfect place for Abbie to snuggle in.

    Hopefully this next string of Chemo is just the part where we 'close the deal' for perfect Wellness for our Brenda. Know that we're still out here, thinking of you both and rooting for a smooth recovery. Out of sight is definitely not out of mind.

    Sending you loving wishes for a very healthy, happy and peaceful 2010!

    Lots of hugs and kisses,

  3. Glad to get the update! You have both been our thoughts and will continue to be as Brenda moves through this next round of CHEMO. By the way, I hear we amy need to plan Brenda's 50th birthday in Australia for 2011? We are on for that - shhhhh - it's our secret!

    Much love to you both!


  4. Good to hear all of the news & thanks for the prompting e-mail - I still check the blog but only every few days lately since it has been sooo long! I have been psychically prompting you... HA...

    Hey Bejeweled 2 is one of my favorite for decompressing when I am bored or pissed!

    I say we need a good party end of April somewhere really nice... hmm

    Lots of Love & Blessings as always

    PS we are going to Ixtapa the end of Jan with Olivia... wish you could come!

  5. Lovely photos.
    Dori do not be fooled - the dogs simply let Brenda sleep there. That house is truly run by the dogs.
    Marshal Vic - Cowboy Ciao's it is. I will even wear a flannel shirt and cowboy hat for the event. Okay maybe not the shirt, but surely the hat. You are spot on when you point out that start to finish - we are there for our gals Dee and Brenda. Amazing to think that a happenstance meeting in Eleuthera would lead us to such a level of friendship. I have such a heart warming smile every time I think of the moment we all met. Makes me moist ;)
    Brenda - go for the extra point and knock out this round of chemo. Perhaps your hair will grow back less 'kinky'. Maybe it will grow back as a blonde :) Oh la la
    Above it all - you will get through this phase and we will be there for you. Australia here we come. Think of Kim and Wendy's cheer - Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy Oy. Add to that - Brenda is cancer free Joy, joy, joy. Do it kiddo - the world is waiting. Clearly I am not the only one that can hear Sydney calling - Brenda, Brenda, Brenda. Thank goodness it is whispering or Jill's secret would be revealed.
    Not to be too competitive - but I am on level 155 of bejeweled. This is sick.
    Love you both

  6. Brenda...You look fantastic! Your jet black hair is adorable and your smile represents the glow of knowing that you are heading for home plate! Dee...thanks for the update! As always, your positive spin on the details makes us smile to know that such love exists in this world. The photos are fabulous!
    Bonnie and Jackie

  7. Oh Jill you made my day. I am using that trip to motivate me to get better so that I can be with my friends and village to thank everyone for helping me to heal. This has been such a long road for me and being cancer free is just a start for my new health. I have to maintain my cancer free status. I also have some physical therapy and lymphadema treatments to help me get back to what my new normal will be. Olivia members helped save my life and I will never forget it!