Thursday, December 25, 2008

Our Grandson Born on Christmas Eve

Last Christmas Eve was a great deal different than this Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve 2007 my husband had just been released from the hospital after going through the first round of chemo. This Christmas Eve God gave us a wonderful gift....our second grandson, Luke. He is so handsome. Isn't it just like God to make everything better? "For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods," Psalms 135:5.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What a Difference One Year Makes

Last December we were just learning that Charlie had lymphoma. Fears and uncertainties invaded our hearts at a time when we should have been anticipating Christmas. Most of you that are reading this know that after 6 rounds of chemo and then a stem cell transplant Charlie is in remission and doing quite well. This December he is working 50 hours/week. We are enjoying the Christmas season. Our second grandchild will be born around Christmas day or soon after. Will cancer again invade our home? Only God knows. We are trying very hard to enjoy today. Isn't that all anyone really has? God has been so good to us and we want everyone to know. About two days ago, while reading my Bible in the book of Mark, a certain verse stood out to me. Mark 5:19 says, "Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." Jesus had just healed a man that was demon possessed. Of course, that wasn't my husband's case, but the same God that did miracles with this demon possessed man can also heal my husband in 2008. The reason I write this post---The Lord hath done great things and has had compassion on the Gieseler family.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cancer- A Detour in Life

A few days ago we received a newsletter from the The Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Included in the newsletter was a story about a 16 year lymphoma survivor. This man says that he looks at his cancer journey as a detour in life. I needed to read this because sometimes I can worry about my husband's future or more accurately, my future without my wonderful husband. God used this man's story to remind me that HE (God) is in control and HE (God) knows what HE is doing. God is good ALL the time.

"O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave; thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit," Psalm 30: 2-3.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Uses People for Encouragement

PHOTO ON LEFT: Charlie, 4 months post-transplant, is growing hair again.

Throughout our journey of mantle cell lymphoma the Lord has been with us. When the diagnosis was still new to us many times the Lord would send someone to us to encourage us. Of course we still have encouragement from many, but we are now wishing to be an encouragement to others that are going through a rough time especially with medical challenges.

Last December, while waiting in a check-out line in Wal-Mart with my daughter, I invited a man to our church's Christmas concert. I told him that my husband was facing a battle with lymphoma and a stem cell transplant and that he would probably be singing in the choir for the last time for quite awhile. To my surprise he told me that he beat lymphoma and was doing fine. After briefly chatting in the check-out line, I headed for my car. As I approached my car, I heard the same man calling me. Apparently, he wanted to encourage me even more. He wanted to know my husband's age. It just so happened that he was my husband's age, worked in the same industry as my husband at one time, and also lived in the same area in Louisiana as we did when he was doing this work.

Sleet and snow continued to fall as we chatted in the Wal-Mart parking lot, but that didn't hinder me for I wanted to know what this man had to say to me for encouragement. I learned that this gentleman was once a member of our church and had loved attending our church. He had only left to attend his fiance's church, but admitted that he had since broke up with her and had not attended church recently. Of course, I encouraged him to visit our church again. He thanked me and realized that God had allowed our paths to cross. Likewise, thanking him for his encouragement, we departed. I now had great confidence that my husband too would survive lymphoma.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Able to Travel Again

Charlie has been back at work now for about 1 1/2 months. When you consider what he has been through, it really is quite amazing. The fears that I had about the outcome of the stem cell transplant did not come about. Praise God!!

My husband's job requires traveling to other states occasionally. In the fall of 2007 I was able to spend a few weeks with him in South Carolina. I never dreamed that we would be able to do this again once the diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma was made in December 2007. Well, God had a wonderful surprise for me. Last week we were able to travel to Iowa together for 5 days. Never does a day go by that I don't thank the Lord for Charlie's recovery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When I Say That I Am A Christian....

by Maya Angelou

When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not shouting 'I'm clean livin''
I'm whispering 'I was lost, Now I'm found and forgiven.'

When I say... 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say.. 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible but, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain..
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Back to Work

When I said caregiving is over in the last post I never dreamed that my husband would be back to work so soon. I thought that I would have him a bit longer at home. I am thrilled that he is able to go back to work even if it is part-time, yet I will miss having him around the house.

So many are amazed on how well Charlie is doing. Today I read a story in the Bible that reminds me of what we recently experienced. The story of Peter being miraculously released from prison is found in Acts 12. The Bible reads, "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." One group of Christians were praying at Mary's house (John Mark's mother) when Peter knocked at the gate. A young lady named Rhoda heard the voice of Peter and was so excited that she didn't even open the gate, but ran in to tell those praying that Peter was at the gate. Those praying then said unto her "Thou art mad, But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel." The Christians gathered to pray for Peter really did not believe that Peter would be released or so it seems. One of Charlie's good friends last night told us that Charlie's condition seemed so bad that he wasn't quite sure that he would make it. Of course this friend was praying for him, but he knows that it is not always God's will to heal us at least on this earth. I too am guilty of not being so sure that God would see Charlie through the stem cell transplant. Of course, I was praying fervantly, but when Charlie's stem cells were taking so long to engraft, I started preparing myself for the worse.

On Thursday we got the news that Charlie's white blood counts and neutrophils are totally normal. The other counts are not totally normal but are coming up. We also got news that it is safe for him to go back to work on light duty. I haven't seen Charlie so happy in months.

For now everything is starting to seem "normal" again. We are attending church again, Charlie is singing in the choir again, etc. We know that things could change in the future, but we KNOW that the Lord will see us through no matter what comes our way. God has supplied our every need and some of our wants also. He has shown us so many things. We have a greater assurance now that it is God and God alone that supplies our needs. I lean on my husband for security, and that is good, but I have learned that when my husband is weak Jesus is there for my security. Jesus supplied my peace and security when I needed it most. I KNOW that when I need it again HE will be there.

If any of you would like to see how well Charlie is doing, you can see and hear him any Sunday at 10:45 a.m. or 7 p.m. or on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Charlie sings in our church's choir and if you watch it online you almost for certain will be able to see him on our church's website He sits on the first row on the right.

I want to say thanks to all of you that have prayed for us, those that wrote notes of encouragement, and to those that just read the updates. We are so grateful to all of you. Please continue to pray for Charlie because he will always have a chance of problems reoccuring.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Caregiving Is Over For Now

On July 3, 2008 my husband entered Northwestern Memorial Hospital to begin a stem cell transplant. After receiving chemo for six days his own cancer-free stem cells were transfused into his blood stream. God directed the stem cells back to the bone marrow where they began to make new cells. This process usually takes 7-21 days. My husband's stem cells took 30 days. We had some anxious moments, days, and weeks as we anticipated the daily blood count reports. My husband had no immune system for almost the entire 30 days. He overcame what the doctors called pneumonia. We give God the glory for this. This could have been fatal, but it quickly disappeared. My husband was able to walk just about all of the 37 days he was hospitalized. It really was quite amazing. God is quite AMAZING.

Forty-eight days have passed since the stem cells have been transfused into my husband. His blood counts are much better now, but not normal yet. He is down to doctor check-ups every 2 weeks now and blood draws only once a week. As far as being his caregiver, well that is over for now and I hope it will not be necessary ever again. Of course, it is a joy to care for my best friend, but it is much better to live a life that is somewhat "normal".

In future posts I plan to share with you the peace that God gave me in the midst of the storm. I never want to forget how God carried our family through this storm of life. Comforting others in such storms will be my goal from now on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cancer Victim Treated with Daughter's Cells

Before my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma, I really had no idea how much medical research was being done. I am so thankful that medical experts do such research. The following article is very interesting. It offers hope to the hopeless.

Cancer Victim Treated with Daughter's Cells in World First

A British cancer victim has been given a transplant of cells from her
daughter in a potentially life-saving world first that could revolutionise
the treatment of advanced cancer.

Fashion designer Joanne Scott, 53, was given just eight months to live after
repeated attempts at chemotherapy had failed to control her leukaemia and a
bone marrow match could not be found.

Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London took cells from her daughter
Tara, 21, manipulated them in a laboratory and injected them into Ms Scott.
The natural killer cells were given a 'key' so they could lock onto any
remaining cancer cells and kill them off.

Just seven days later the natural killer cells have survived and multiplied
meaning she is in remission and the cells should now stop the cancer

She is the first person in the world to have the treatment and doctors
believe the same technique could work on other cancers that have spread
around the body.

Doctors are extremely excited at the breakthrough and will now treat another
14 patients with leukaemia and colleagues in America are hoping to use the
same technique on breast and ovarian cancers.

It could become a cheap, off the shelf treatment, for patients whose primary
tumour has been removed with surgery, but the cancer has spread to other
parts of the body.

Ms Scott, from north London, was first diagnosed with acute myeloid
leukaemia three years ago, on the same day her clothing line was first
launched in TopShop.

She had four courses of chemotherapy but relapsed after each one and a
transplant of her own cells also failed to stop the cancer.

When she relapsed for the third time and a bone marrow donor match could not
be found, there was nothing else doctors could do for her.

The team at the Royal Free suggested the clinical trial using a technique
devised by Dr Mark Lowdell, Honorary Consultant Immunologist, using the
body's own immune cells to fight the disease.

Ms Scott said: "When I relapsed again for the third time in three years I
thought that was it. I sorted everything out and talked to Tara. I didn't
get angry about it, I thought I've had a good life.

"But then my doctor suggested this trial and I jumped at it. I am quite a
pioneering spirit. Tara was excited by it too as she has always wanted to do
something to help me.

"I felt that I have given her life and now she is giving me life."

Tara spent three hours hooked up to a machine taking her blood and the cells
were then manipulated in the laboratory.

Natural killer cells circulate in the blood seeking out infections and
killing them. In order to kill cancer cells they must have two keys, in a
similar way as a nuclear bomb must be activated with two keys turned by
separate people.

But most natural killer cells only have one key so the team manipulated them
in the lab in order to give them the second key.

Two days after taking the cells from Tara, 57million of them were injected
into her mother and a week later Ms Scott now has 137million of the cells.

Tara, 21, who is studying anthropology at Goldsmith's, University of London,
said before the cells were taken she 'lived like a monk' trying to make sure
she was as healthy as possible.

"I felt if I ate one wrong thing or had one glass of wine that would affect
my cells and then it would be fault if something went wrong," she said.

"Before I felt like it was the last chance saloon but when I could help I
felt like I was part of mum's battle."

Ms Scott said: "I really feel that I can think about the future again
whereas I was saying maybe I shouldn't organise that as I might die next
week. I feel a lot more confident and more hopeful now."

She is in complete remission but if this does mot last and she may need a
repeated infusion of the cells at a later date.

Dr Lowdell said: "A lot of people see immunotherapy as a one off cure but I
think we have to think about it as a relatively inexpensive treatment. We
can give them repeat infusions until the patient is cured. It has a
potentially very great role."


Monday, July 28, 2008

My First Caregivers

About forty-nine years ago I was in need of a caregiver. I was privileged to have been given two wonderful caregivers. Without them I couldn't have lived. Every bit of nourishment I received was dependent on them. My every need was met by them. These two caregivers were Momma and Daddy.

As I grew I could do lots of things all by myself, but I still needed Momma and Daddy. Daddy went to work almost daily to earn wages that supplied my needs as well as some of my wants. My Momma would prepare meals that kept me nourished. For these and so much more I will always be grateful.

My parents are still very much alive and doing well. For this too am I thankful. Although, I have not always been what I should have been as a daughter, they have always loved me. I love them and will always be thankful to them for being what I needed. Forever I will strive to honor them. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee," Exodus 20:12.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008



You've Got a Friend In Jesus!
GOD LOVES YOU! He wants you to know how to spend eternity with Him in Heaven after you die.

Do you know if you died today if you would be in Heaven tomorrow? You can! To go to Heaven, you must be SAVED. That means you have been born again, or born spiritually. Let's see if you qualify to be saved.

First, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God?

Secondly, do you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins?

Thirdly, do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days after He died?

If you answered "Yes" to all three questions, you are qualified to be saved, according to the Bible.

The Bible teaches that you and I are sinners by birth. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

The Bible further teaches that there is a penalty for being a sinner - namely, death in Hell. Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I don't like that, but that's why I'm telling you how to be saved. I don't want anyone to go to Hell, and you don't have to go to Hell.

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid your penalty of Hell for you. Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Because we are sinners by birth, we have no perfect sacrifice to make for our sin. Even our best efforts are stained by sin, so that no matter how good we try to live or how hard we try to make up for our sins, we fall short of what a holy God requires. But, Jesus Christ is perfect, and His death on the cross was a perfect sacrifice for all of our sin, and God will allow Jesus' sacrifice to pay for all our sin.

The Bible teaches that we must receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour by faith. John 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Romans 10:13, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Much like a bride and groom receive each other when they exchange vows, you and I must receive Jesus Christ, trusting Him to forgive us of our sins and trusting Him alone to take our souls to Heaven when we die.

Salvation is not found in a church or a good deed or in baptism or any religious act. Salvation is found in a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ.

Would you like your sins forgiven? Would you like to know you would go to Heaven when you die? Would you like to be SAVED? Let me help you receive Jesus Christ right now.

"Dear God, I admit I am guilty of being a sinner in Your sight. I am sorry for my sins. I believe Jesus Christ is Your perfect Son and that He died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to be saved. I want my sins forgiven, and right now, I receive Jesus Christ and trust Him to save me. I believe You love me, and I ask You to forgive me of my sins and to take my soul to Heaven when I die. I trust You, and I thank You for saving me. Amen."

Congratulations! And thank you for allowing me to share this good news with you!
Pastor Jack Schaap

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some Storms You Cannot Flee From

Hurricanes, the largest of all storms, are familar to this South Louisiana native. Vivid are the memories of many hurricanes, at least the running from them. For the first ten years of my life I lived in the Mississippi delta town of Buras, Louisiana. Buras is located on the pennisula of Louisiana near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Here the land mass is approximately one mile in width, the Mississippi River on the eastern side and the eroding marshland on the west.

In 1969, God allowed Hurricane Camile to destroy most of our little town. My childhood home was found about one mile from it's foundation in a canal. Life as I thought it would always be was now much different. My parents decided to rebuild in another town about fifty miles upriver from Buras.

Not every hurricane season was as eventful as the 1969 season. Some years we didn't have to pack up and flee from hurricanes at all. Some years we fled from hurricanes that veered away from us or from those that were not as severe as we thought they would be. When hurricanes were approaching we had ample time to evacuate. It was never fun leaving our home not knowing whether it would be there when we returned, but at least we knew that our lives and those that we loved would be safe from the destruction of the storm.

In South Louisiana tornadoes are not as common or powerful as in the Midwest where we live now, but a tornado did hit our home one February night in 1985. This tornado picked up our home and then dropped it as my husband and I hovered over our two young children. I had never experienced such fear as I did that night. My husband and I prayed like we had never prayed before making life changing decisions in split seconds. God spared our young family from injury. HE was beginning to teach me to trust Him even in the storm.

We were able to flee from hurricanes but not from the tornado in 1985. Likewise, we cannot flee from mantle cell lymphoma that suddenly stormed into our lives in December 2007. Nahum 1:3 reads, "...the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm". The winds began to blow and the seas became rough when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat. Jesus was calmly sleeping in the hinder part of the boat while the disciples "feared exceedingly". The disciples woke Jesus up and said unto him "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Jesus then got up and "rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still." The wind suddenly ceased and there was a "great calm". Jesus then asked the disciples, "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" The disciples must not have really comprehended who Jesus really was. So often, I believe that we are no different than the disciples.

Shortly after my husband was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma our pastor talked to him from the pulpit as the congregation of First Baptist Church listened. Our pastor and friend told my husband that mantle cell lymphoma in his body was not a surprise to God. God knows the purpose behind it. I can't say that we have not been fearful at times. This is one problem that we cannot fix. This is one storm that we cannot flee from. Running to the ONE that can fix the problem and can calm the storm is our only hope. Psalms 107:28-30, "Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven." Our desired haven is peace in our heart that no matter what happens it will be alright because Jesus is with us.

Many songs and hymns have been a comfort to me in recent days. One such song is "Peace in the Midst of the Storm" by Stephen R. Adams (copyright 1978). Here are the words to this song:

When the world that I've been living in collapses at my feet
When my life is shattered and torn
Though I'm windswept and battered, I can cling to His cross
And find peace in the midst of the storm

There is peace in the midst of my storm-tossed life
Oh, there's an anchor, there's a rock to cast my faith upon.
Jesus rides in my vessel, so I'll fear no alarm
He gives me peace in the midst of my storm.

When in twenty-four hours, years of living are brought to moments
And when life's final picture is taking form
In the dark room of my suffering there's a light comes shining through
He gives me peace in the midst of my storm

For there is wonderful peace in the midst of my storm-tossed life
Oh, there's an anchor, there's a rock to cast my faith upon
Jesus rides in my vessel, so I'll fear no alarm
He gives me peace in the midst, perfect peace in the midst
Peace in the midst of my storm, peace in the midst of the storm

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Ant and the Contact

A true story by Josh and Karen Zarandona.

Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was very scared, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took hold of the rope, and started up the face of that rock.

Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda's eye and knocked out her contact lens.

Well, here she is, on a rock ledge, with hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of feet above her. Of course, she looked and looked and looked, hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn't there.

Here she was, far from home, her sight now blurry. She w as desperate and began to get upset, so she prayed to the Lord to help her to find it.

When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found. She sat down, despondent, with the rest of the party, waiting for the rest of them to make it up the face of the cliff.

She looked out across range after range of mountains, thinking of that verse that says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me."

Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. At the bottom there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"

Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the cli mber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across the face of the rock, carrying it on it's back.

Brenda told me that her father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a picture of an ant lugging that contact lens with the words, "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it for You."

I think it would probably do some of us good to occasionally say, "God, I don't know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will."

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Yes, I do love GOD. He is my source of existence and my Savior. He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him...I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Can A Good Immune System Prevent or Cure Cancer?

The following article is a very good article. From what I understand, everyone has cancer cells in their body from time to time. Something has to happen to make the cancer cells start to collect in an area and start to grow. Could it be a weakened immune system? I believe that it is. So many things can weaken our immune system. Would you believe that even too much coffee could do it? There has been research that says that it does.

So what can we do if we already have cancer? I say that we need to learn what we can do to improve our immune system and apply all that we can. About fifteen years ago a good friend was diagnosed with a fast growing T-cell lymphoma. He had a tumor on his spleen the size of a football. A doctor wanted to remove it, but he refused to let him. After 10 months of chemo that brought him close to death his lymphoma went into remission. From what I remember he and his wife started eating healthier and used healthy green drinks. The cancer was gone and never has returned in fifteen years.

Oh, how I pray that my husband's cancer stays in remission!!! Please pray with me.

Spontaneous Regression of Advanced Cancer in Mice
Scientists at Wake Forest University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, led by the Pathology Department's Zheng Cui and Mark Willingham, have bred a colony of mice that successfully fight off cancer.

The team has been studying how they do this, and they have successfully transferred immunity from the resistant mice into non-resistant mice.

Subsequent research suggests that this innate ability exists in the human immune system as well, although its effectiveness varies from person to person and from one time of year to another. Additional studies are being conducted to determine whether this immunity can be transferred from one patient to another.

Overview of the CR/SR Mouse Study
Occasional, though rare, cases of spontaneous regression in human cancers have been seen and documented in the past, but no satisfactory explanations for this phenomenon have ever been put forward.

While conducting a series of experiments with mouse sarcoma 180 (S180) cells, which form highly aggressive cancers in all normal mice, Dr. Cui and his colleagues happened upon a single mouse that surprised them with its ability to resist several forms of cancer, despite repeated injections of the sarcoma cells.

Breeding the mouse produced offspring that also exhibited cancer resistance, suggesting a likely genetic link.

The cancer-fighting trait appeared to decline as the mice aged; six-week-old mice appeared to resist the cancer completely when injected with S180 cells, while the older mice were more likely to first develop cancer and only thereafter experience spontaneous regression. Further experiments showed that in these cases it was a massive infiltration of white blood cells that destroyed cancer cells in these mice without damaging normal, healthy cells. [Click here to view video clips of the cellular activity associated with spontaneous regression.]

Based on these results, Drs. Cui and Willingham and their colleagues suggest that a previously unknown immune response may be responsible for spontaneous regression.

More recent studies, described in the May 8, 2006, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, demonstrated the ability to cure cancer in normal mice by transferring purified immune cells from the cancer-resistant mice. These newer studies show that specific types of innate immune cells, such as macrophages, can migrate to the site of cancer in a normal mice and selectively kill all of the cancer cells without harming normal cells. Such studies suggest that this type of mechanism might one day be able to help design a new strategy for cancer therapy

Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Featured Stories

Promising News from ASCO

From targeted therapies to tailored medicine, the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting featured the latest in potentially lifesaving blood cancer therapies.

The Chicago conference drew thousands of the world's top oncologists and researchers, and they weren't disappointed. The science of cancer is evolving quickly - with LLS-funded researchers in the lead, said Barton Kamen, M.D., Ph.D., LLS chief medical officer.

"The scientists are giving us tsunamis of data," Dr. Kamen said. "Our job now is to find and interpret the most useful information. Clearly the thrust of the ASCO presentations was how we can best tailor therapies to the individual patient."

Meeting highlights included:


A Phase I clinical trial of the drug ABT-263, which accelerates cell death, was particularly promising among patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma. Researchers included Owen O'Connor, M.D., Ph.D., of Columbia University, and John Leonard, M.D., of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, both recipients of LLS funding.
In clinical trials, the drug dasatinib (Sprycel®) was shown to produce complete cytogenetic remissions in 53 percent of patients with chronic phase chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and 46 percent in lymphoid blast phase.
New strategies to destroy the stem cells that cause CML and other leukemias.

Positive reports on a class of drugs that target a molecule called mTOR, which seems to be involved in many cancers, including blood cancers. One of these drugs, temsirolimus, appears effective against mantle cell lymphoma and other forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
LLS-funded John Timmerman, M.D., of UCLA School of Medicine, John Byrd, M.D., of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and John Pagel, M.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, led a trial that evaluated a new lymphoma treatment that combined Rituxan® with an IL-21 molecule that activates immune cells, enhancing Rituxan's anti-lymphoma activity. Side effects were few and a third of the patients showed signs of improvement.

A study showed that a drug cocktail of lenalidomide (Revlimid®) and low-dose dexamethasone was superior in increasing overall survival than lenalidomide and high (standard) dose dexamethasone. Using less dexamethasone also cuts down on side effects.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Best Friend

At the urging of a special lady, I am writing about my best friend today. My best friend's name is Charlie, my awesome husband. Josephine, the special lady that I mentioned, said "I love you" for the last time on this earth to her best friend on Mother's Day. A 21 yr. old man, drunk and filled with drugs, killed my friend's best friend, lover, and husband by hitting his truck head on in Louisiana. You may read their story on her blog (link can be reached from here by clicking on her blog listed under Josephine Lirette).

Girls of the 60's and 70's were encouraged by society to have a career. As far back as I can remember, I always dreamed of finding "Mr. Right", being a homemaker, and living happily ever after. A career outside of home just has never been too appealing to me. I did attend college for about 2 1/2 years before I met the man that I know God had planned for me to marry, but I never pursued a career outside of our home. Charlie's desire was also for me to be a stay-at-home wife/mom. It has worked out wonderfully for us for almost 29 years. Although I know that I have failed at times, I have strived to be the best wife/mom. I have great joy in knowing that I make our house a home for Charlie and our children.

From the beginning of our lives together we have put Jesus in the center. Through every trial of life, although tough at times, Jesus has seen us through. With every trial, we have grown spiritually and in love with each other even more. Many times a day we express our love to each other. Our children have no doubt that Mom and Dad love each other. Growing up, they would often laugh and say that we were too "mushy". Being too "mushy" is what gave them security.

When I think of all that my husband has done for me and our five children, my heart and mind is overwhelmed with gratitude. For almost twenty-nine years Charlie has labored physically to supply our needs. How could I not love such a man? The very reason that he now has lymphoma may be because he was willing to risk his health in dangerous jobs.

I have been very blessed to have a husband that is grateful for me as well. Perhaps that is the reason that we are very happily married. Both of us strive very much to please the other. Both of us are very thankful for one another. I believe that the secret of success in life (and marriage)is self-unawareness.
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it," Matthew 16:24, 25. For many years now I have loved Charlie with all my heart and in return I have an awesome man that loves me with all of his heart. What a deal!

Lymphoma is not pleasant at all. What will our future be like? We don't know the answer, but we DO know the one that DOES know. We just pray for the Lord to give us the grace to endure it. Meanwhile, we are enjoying the time that we do have together. In a certain way, we have been given a gift from God. Even though we never really took each other for granted, we REALLY don't now. Also, we are able to spend much time together now. Previous to lymphoma we were sometimes both too busy to appreciate each other fully.

To all of you that have prayed for our family, I say "Thanks". To all of you that take your loved ones for granted, please decide not to before it is too late. I know that my friend, Josephine, is very pleased that she didn't take her husband for granted. Remember to say "I love you" to those that you do love because they really need to hear it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Thank God for our Soldiers

One beautiful night recently I commented to my husband about how peaceful our neighborhood is. The most noise we ever hear is a train that passes about 100 yards from our home a few times per day. Then I thought about how our American soldiers do not have the peace and quiet that we have. I thought of how fearful they must be when they try to get some sleep. My husband reminded me that the reason that we have peace is because of the men and women that are fighting for us in foreign lands. My husband's sister's son, Felix is one of those brave men that has freely risked his life for us. Thank God he is now on American soil. Included in this post is a photo of Felix and his mom (my sister-in-law) Karen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Special Garden

I want to share with you a special blessing that I posted on my husband's carepage on April 24, 2008. Below you will find some of the post from that day. I finally have photos of some of the flowers in the garden spoken of in the story. Spring came late here in Northwest Indiana this year, but finally there is color on our landscapes.

April 24, 2008
Please bear with me, I must tell you a story leading up to a big blessing today......About 2 years ago I dug up a garden bed around 2 existing fruit trees. My plans were to fill the large bed (seen from our glass doors in our dining room) with beautiful shrubs, herbs, and flowers. Little by little I have been adding plants, etc to it, but it was still almost empty. On Monday, while I was waiting for Charlie's CT scan to be over, I noticed a beautiful picture hanging in the hospital waiting room. This picture had a garden shaped almost like mine filled with beautiful flowers. Several times I looked at that picture and thought, "Now that's what I want my garden bed to look like, but I suppose that it's on hold for now." I thought that it would be so wonderful for Charlie to see that type of bed from the glass door of our home while he is confined to our home for weeks and probably months. Sometimes I ask the Lord if HE could please give me certain things if he willed it and sometimes I just don't ask. This time I only thought about how wonderful it would be to have a beautiful garden. Today I got a call from a young mother in our church. She and her family recently moved into a home filled with beautiful flowers and shrubs. The only problem with this for her is that she is highly allergic to the bees that the flowers draw. She was wanting to know if I would want to have the flowers. It took a few minutes to register in my brain what God was doing, but when it did register I was so excited. God was giving me the desire of my heart and I didn't even ask him. We went to her home where we dug up a truckload of flowers and shrubs. After, she even came to our home with her girls and helped me get them into the ground before the rain. Later her husband joined us and we had supper together. Aren't friends wonderful?

God cares about the necessities of life and even just our desires. HE is more real in our lives than ever before. My desire is for HIM to be real in your life too. Every year at this time we plant flowers and start an organic vegetable garden. This year my husband can't help me with the yard work so God sends me help. Just maybe another reason for the delay in the transplant is so that we can get our gardens started.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Friend Loveth at all Times

Tonight I was thinking about how important friends and family are. Without them I think that our life right now would be lonely and scary. I am convinced that all the people God allows to come in our lives are for a purpose. Sometimes we learn from them and then grow. Sometimes they learn from us.

Sometimes the people we love do not love us back. Then there are times suddenly when we find dear people loving us when we didn't even make an effort to be their friend. This has to be the best of all people, the ones that show themselves friendly. Friends like this are very much a part of our lives especially right now. Maybe this is the way the Lord blesses us because we attempted to love those that will never love us.

About 29 years ago I decided to love my soon-to-be mother-in-law and father-in-law. They soon became my friends. Together we laughed and cried. Together we shared memories of days gone by and dreams of tomorrow. Without them, my husband would not be the wonderful man that he is today. Now Dad is gone, but Mom is still very much in our lives. We both love Charlie with all our hearts and so much want God to heal him totally. It is such a blessing to talk to her and share my deepest concerns and yes worries about our future. How good God is to give me such a friend!

The photo on the top of this post is Mom & Dad in the 1980's.

"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity," Proverbs 17:17

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding," Proverbs 3:5

In the beginning of my husband's cancer journey we were advised to live one day at a time. We were wanting all the treatment to be over, the cancer to be gone, and Charlie back to work in a few weeks or months time. Soon we learned this would not be the case at all. The Lord had a different plan for our lives.

At this time, Charlie was supposed to be done with the stem cell transplant and home recovering. Well, the transplant has been cancelled twice now because of a lung infection that the doctors are almost certain is pneumonia. To say the least, we are disappointed. The first time that the transplant was cancelled it was okay; afterall, Charlie could attend our daughters' graduations. How surprized we were to find out that a new area of infection has developed in the same lung. We know God knows why he is allowing this to happen and we may soon know why. For now we just have to trust him with all our hearts.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A young mother of 2 and friend recently spent most of the day with me transplanting flowers and shrubs from her garden to mine. Her baby and 3 year old daughter also visited with us on this day. The following day my friend told me a precious story that I would like to share with you. Maybe it will make you chuckle like it did me. My friend told me that she emphasizes to her 3 year old that if she doesn't take care of her teeth by brushing them very good that her teeth will fall out. After visiting with my bald head husband, little Audrey told her mom "Mr. Charlie must not have taken care of his hair because his hair fell out." This may not be funny to you, but it sure was to me. Laughing amidst the uncertainties of cancer is therapy to me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

God's Timing is Perfect

At this time my husband is stable and needing me only minimally. His blood counts are still low so he has to protect himself from the "germy" stuff like taking out the garbage and cutting the grass. Because of low blood counts and lung congestion (possible infection) my husband's stem cell transplant has been postponed to after May 21, 2008. So in about 2 weeks he will enter the hospital for 3-5 weeks.

When a loved one is in the hospital it is not easy. We have two teen girls still living at home, so the first thing that we have to do is have someone care for them. My husband's hospital stay will be 50 miles from home so I will not be home too often. There are so many things that I have to do to prepare for this long hospital stay. We are blessed to have a son and daughter-in-law that will care for our girls so that all I have to do is be by my husband's side. Wonderful friends will be taking care of our dogs, fish, and cockatiel. Don't be afraid to ask for help. So many of our friends and family have helped us.

One of the most important chores that I have to complete before my husband goes in the hospital is spring cleaning. With each passing year it becomes more difficult for me. A few years ago our young children in our home once slowed me down; afterall, it was more important to care for their needs than to have a spotlessly clean home. Now my excuse is a body that aches, etc. So, gone are the days when I can get all the cleaning done in a day or two.

If I think about all that I still have to do before the hospital stay and all that may happen to my husband, it gets a bit overwhelming. That's when I go to God and ask him to give me peace. The Lord has helped me by postponing the stem cell transplant. About 2 weeks ago I was in severe pain from pinched nerves in my neck. The luggage was not even being packed, much less the house being cleaned. When the doctor postponed the transplant it didn't take me too long to be relieved. In addition to this, both of our daughters have graduations that my husband would have missed if he was in the hospital.

The longer I live, the more I trust that God's timing is perfect. When I put my trust in HIM and his timing I fret a lot less.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lymphoma Treatments

One of the most important characteristics of being a caregiver is being optimistic. I must admit it is not always easy. Finding encouraging articles such as the one below gives me and my husband much hope. We also believe every word of the Bible and cling to its promises especially in a time like this. The Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones," Proverbs 17:22. The Lord tells me through His Word that if I am happy it will make me better. He also tells me that a broken spirit can kill me. My husband, whose lymphoma is now in remission, often tells me that he guards his spirit. Perhaps this is what will keep the lymphoma in remission.

New Lymphoma Therapies Targets Diverse And Difficult Cancer
ScienceDaily (Apr. 28, 2008) - The fifth leading cause of cancer in
the United States, lymphoma is made up of more than 40 rare and
highly diverse diseases that target the body's lymphatic system.
Lymphomas include both one of the fastest growing cancers --
Burkitt's lymphoma, which can double in size in as little as a day --
and one of the slowest, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

While all lymphoma types can be cured or managed as a chronic
disease, its complexity and variation do not allow for a one-size-
fits-all treatment approach. Instead, it necessitates highly
specialized and individualized approaches.

With a dozen new therapies in development -- one of the largest
portfolios of lymphoma drugs under development anywhere -- the
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of NewYork-Presbyteria n
Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center is meeting this
challenge with highly effective new treatments for the disease,
giving hope to the more than one million lymphoma patients worldwide.

In 2006, NewYork-Presbyteria n/Columbia recruited Dr. Owen A.
O'Connor, one of the world's top lymphoma researchers, to lead its
Lymphoid Development and Malignancy Program, and direct more than 25
full-time scientists and physician scientists.

"By increasing the number and quality of treatment options for
lymphoma patients, we are improving their chances for survival. This
is especially critical for patients who haven't responded to standard
therapies," says Dr. O'Connor, who is also chief of the Lymphoma
Service at NewYork-Presbyteria n/Columbia and associate professor of
medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

One of the most promising new therapies developed at NewYork-
Presbyterian/ Columbia is PDX (pralatrexate) for T-cell lymphoma --
among the most fatal forms of the disease. The drug is uniquely
designed to camouflage itself as a folic acid, which allows it to be
absorbed by the tumor, where it attacks the cancer. The therapy has
been shown effective in 54 percent of patients who did not respond to
other treatments. The drug is now being evaluated around the world,
and if its activity is confirmed, it may get regulatory approval some
time next year.

"Our hope is that the national multi-center clinical trial that is
currently underway to evaluate this drug will result in an improved
treatment option for patients," says Dr. O'Connor, who has played a
leading role in developing the drug.

Researchers are also exploring novel lymphoma treatments that are not
chemotherapies. These include drugs targeting Bcl-6, a gene cloned by
Dr. Riccardo Dalla-Favera in 1993, and an enzyme known as histone
deacetylase. Work by Dr. Dalla-Favera has shown that drugs affecting
these two targets will markedly synergize with conventional
chemotherapy, and may lower the amount of chemotherapy necessary to
achieve remission.

"We are very excited about the promise of these new therapies. Our
lymphoma program includes some of the nation's brightest scientists
working together to translate laboratory discoveries into improved
treatment options for patients," says Dr. Dalla-Favera, who is
director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-
Presbyterian/ Columbia, director of the Institute of Cancer Genetics
at Columbia University Medical Center and Uris Professor of Pathology
and Genetics & Development at Columbia University College of
Physicians and Surgeons.

Investigators at NewYork-Presbyteria n/Columbia also collaborate with
colleagues at NewYork-Presbyteria n Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical
Center, including Dr. John Leonard.


Friday, April 25, 2008

The Lord Will Strengthen Thee


Watching my husband go through cancer and the treatments is the most difficult thing that I have ever experienced in my life. I want to make all things better, but it is impossible. Only God can accomplish that.

Day after day I look for encouragement that comes from friends and family. My friends and family do so much to make life easier for us at such a time as this. I know that God has them in our lives for this very purpose.

Day after day I yearn for my God to give me the assurance that my husband will be totally healed. He speaks to me through HIS Word (the Bible). Today the Lord encouraged me with the Bible verses written on the top of this article. My husband's blood counts at this time are very low (requiring blood transfusions), but the Lord "will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing" and "thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness." The best part of these verses is "The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive." The Lord is in control of life and death and could choose to take my husband home to Heaven tonight. But for now HE encourages me by telling me through his Word that HE will keep him alive (at least for now) and he will comfort my husband by making his bed. Everything is okay for today. I must live one day at a time and not fear what tomorrow may bring.

Monday, April 21, 2008

God Will Be With You

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee," Isaiah 43:2

All the responsibilities of a caregiver can be exhausting so I hear. At this time, I don't feel exhausted; however, I have had times of fever, aches, and pain, wondering if I would be well enough to care for my husband. Those fevers, aches, and pains did pass. Praise God!!

If you have read my first post, you would know that a stem cell transplant and months of recovery are in our near future. It's like a tornado is heading straight for us and we can do nothing to stop it. But we can pray that the damage is minimal.

A Christian "shalt not be burned" when he/she walks through the fire. The Lord says "I will be with thee" when we walk through the waters and that "they shalt not overflow thee". What a promise! Why should I worry or fret?

Cancer or any other illness is not a good thing, but it does offer the caregiver and/or patient positive aspects:

1. A closer relationship with God
2. More trust in God
3. A chance for others to see our faith in action
4. A faith purified by testing

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Possible Cure for Mantle Cell Lymphoma

The following article is encouraging to me because my husband has mantle cell lymphoma. According to my husband's oncologist, the doctor (Dr. Christian Geisler) referred to in this article pronounces his name like we do ours. Interesting!!

Intensive Regimen May be Curative in Mantle Cell Lymphoma
Zosia Chustecka
Information from Industry

Find out how inhibiting multiple signaling pathways may result in a dual-action antiproliferative and antiangiogenic effect. Learn more

December 19, 2007 (Atlanta) — Results obtained with an intensive immunotherapy regimen in mantle-cell lymphoma are so good that they suggest that a cure is in sight, said Christian Geisler, MD, PhD, from Rigshospitalet, in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was presenting the results of a 160-patient phase 2 study from the Nordic Lymphoma Group here at the American Society of Hematology 49th Annual Meeting and Exposition.
However, 1 member of the audience took exception to the use of the word "cure," and an expert in mantle-cell lymphoma told Medscape Oncology that the results are interesting but it is still too early to draw conclusions.
Dr. Geisler explained that mantle-cell lymphoma is a rare subtype of lymph cancer, representing about 10% of all lymphoma, and has one of the worst prognoses, with half of patients dying within 3 to 4 years of the diagnosis, even after treatment with anthracyclines. "Until now, it has been considered incurable," he added.
In an attempt to improve outcomes, the Nordic group devised an intensive treatment regimen. Patients first underwent 6 cycles of intensive induction immunochemotherapy with a combination of high-dose cytarabine (ara-C), the anti-B-cell antibody rituximab, and dose-intensified CHOP chemotherapy, known as "maxi-CHOP," which comprised cyclophosphamide 1200 mg/m2, doxorubicin 75 mg/m2, and vincristine 2 mg on day 1, followed by prednisone 100 mg on days 1 to 5. After this, patients went on to receive high-dose chemotherapy with stem-cell support.
"We achieved results that were quite surprising to all of us," Dr. Geisler commented at a press briefing. "The long-term disease-free survival was 63%, and after 3 years we saw a plateau in the survival curve, indicating for the first time that this disease may be cured." Investigation with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed that the "majority of patients after transplant do not house any tumor cells," he added. Toxicity is "quite mild," he commented. There were 6 treatment-related deaths (3.8%), which compares with what is seen with chemotherapy and stem-cell support.
On an intention-to-treat basis, the 5-year event-free survival was 63%, the overall survival was 74%, and the 144 responders (91%) who completed treatment had a 72% 5-year response duration, with a plateau emerging in all 3 curves at these levels, Dr. Geisler told the meeting. "Compared with historic controls, we can now say that a cure is in sight," he said.
Asked to comment on the findings, Owen O'Connor, MD PhD, from Columbia University, in New York, said that it is still too early to draw conclusions. "For us to be fully convinced, we need to see more mature data," he commented in an interview. Dr. Owen also noted that not all patients in the trial went on to receive a stem-cell transplant, only those who responded to the initial intensive regimen did, so there was some attrition. Although the response rate was 96%, the rate of complete remission was only 55%, which is "a little weird for me," he said.
The prognosis for mantle-cell lymphoma has improved in recent years, Dr. Owen explained, and the survival of 3 to 4 years that is still cited in the literature is based on studies carried out during the early 1990s. "We are now managing it better," he said. The use of ritiximab (launched in 1998) and a move toward carrying out stem-cell transplantation at first remission rather than at relapse plus, even more recently, the use of bortezomib, has led to improved outcomes. "There is a sense that the median survival is now closer to 5 years and may be even better," he said in an interview. There are several groups showing good data, and 1 group, headed by Julie Vose, MD, from Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha, has shown no relapses after 7 years.
The data from this Nordic study are "interesting," Dr. Owen concluded. In particular, the researchers' use of high-dose ara-C is "interesting and innovative," and if these results continue to stand, then maybe this is a treatment that should be explored further in mantle-cell lymphoma, he said.
The study was supported by the Danish Cancer Society and the Nordic Cancer Union. Dr. Geisler reports receiving research funding from Roche and Bayer Schering Pharma; honoraria from Bayer-Schering Pharma; and consultancy for Bayer Schering, Fresenius, and Genmab.
American Society of Hematology (ASH) 49th Annual Meeting and Exposition: Abstract LB1. Presented December 11, 2007.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is Caregiving Putting Too Much Stress on You?

How can I tell if caregiving is putting too much stress on me?
If you have any of the following symptoms, caregiving may be putting too much strain on you:
1. Sleeping problems — sleeping too much or too little
2. Change in eating habits — resulting in weight gain or loss
3. Feeling tired or without energy most of the time
4. Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy such as going out with friends, walking, or
5. Easily irritated, angered, or saddened
6. Frequent headaches, stomach aches, or other physical problems

What can I do to prevent or relieve stress?
Take care of yourself. In the process, you'll become a better caregiver. Take the following steps to make YOUR health a priority:
1. Find out about community caregiving resources.
2. Ask for and accept help.
3. Stay in touch with friends and family. Social activities can help you feel connected and
may reduce stress.
4. Find time for exercise most days of the week.
5. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine.
6. Look to faith-based groups for support and help.
7. Join a support group for caregivers in your situation (like caring for a person with dementia)Many support groups can be found in the community or on the Internet.
8. See your doctor for a checkup. Talk to her about symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
9. Try to get enough sleep and rest.
10. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat.
11. Ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin.
12. Take one day at a time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Non-Hodgken Patients Living Longer: Study

March 11, 2008 (Reuters Health) -
Last Updated: 2008-03-10 16:19:59 -0400 (Reuters Health)
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Improved treatments for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma helped patients live longer in the United States, researchers said on Monday.
In particular, the targeted drug Rituxan, in combination with chemotherapy, has helped younger patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which occurs in roughly 20 of 100,000 people, they found.
Two-thirds of patients diagnosed between 2002 and 2004 will survive at least five years, compared to half of patients diagnosed between 1990 and 1992, according to the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Ten-year survival rates were projected to rise to 56 percent in patients diagnosed from 2002 to 2004, up from 39 percent in 1990-1992, the researchers found.
"Improvements were most pronounced in patients younger than 45 years, but improvements were seen in all age groups," wrote Dr. Dianne Pulte and colleagues at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, who analyzed data on nearly 86,000 patients from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The disease attacks the lymph nodes, spleen and other organs responsible for the body's immune system.
A key weapon against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the antibody therapy rituximab, sold by Genentech Inc. under the brand name Rituxan and by Roche AG in Europe as MabThera, which interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Rituxan was approved in 1997 and was the first cancer drug to use antibodies to specifically target tumors.
"Treatment with antibody therapy and chemotherapy has extended life expectancy in many cases, but whether and how often this extension represents a true cure is still unknown," Pulte wrote.
Some cancer treatments can slow the progression of the disease but do not end up helping patients live any longer. Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stem Cell Transplant Caregivers

The time is fast approaching for my husband's stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant is a major life-changing process. The closer we get the more the medical team tells us about this process. So many things could go wrong. We are trying to dwell on the fact that this process could bring an extended remission or even a cure to the mantle cell lymphoma. Doctors in Europe are starting to call the stem cell transplant a cure for this disease.

My husband has not required extensive care from me as of today, but I hear and have read that this will change. "In reality, caring for someone having a BMT (Bone marrow /stem cell transplant) is a unique commitment requiring extraordinary physical and emotional effort. The primary medical focus, of course, is directly on the patient, the hope for a positive treatment outcome. However, like the patient, the challenge of a BMT for the caregiver becomes life changing as well. "--Myra Jacobs & Mary Horowitz, MD.

For almost 29 years now I have loved and yes even liked my husband. He is my best friend. God has given us a wonderful marriage. Without this love and dedication I have for him, I don't think that I would be able to endure what is about to invade our lives. My responsibility will not be a casual one, but one that is a serious and ongoing promise. Soon I will become coach, nurse, nutritionist, aid, driver, administrative assistant, advocate, and more. My duties will go on for weeks, months, or a year. No matter how long or how challenging it is clearly worth the effort for a man that has loved me and that I love with all my heart.

"O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me, " Daniel 10:19.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Spirit and Bravery of Cancer Patients

People say, oh I could never do that! But when you meet cancer patients you understand the bravery and spirit those people show each and every day. The struggles motivate and inspire you to test the limits of your endurance and to cross that finish line. You'll be surprised by what you can do.--John Kellonyi (8-time marathoner and leading fundraiser with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training)

Monday, April 7, 2008

An Encouraging Story from an Encouraging Man

God has allowed me to correspond online with Daryl Sprague. Mr. Sprague has authored a book that I think would be helpful to you or a loved one going through a serious illness. He has had the same type of stem cell transplant that my husband is about to have. You may purchase his book or ebook online at:

Product description
Once Was Not Enough-A Story of Hope in the Heartland by Daryl Sprague
"Do you find yourself questioning something that happened in your life? In Once Was Not Enough, author Daryl Sprague tells how he coped with life after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This heart wrenching story of hope, for a cancer survivor who endured multiple recurrences of cancer, tells how Daryl dealt with his feelings of desperation. Daryl said, “Each recurrence brought with it unique lessons that helped me understand why Once Was Not Enough.” This page turner tells about Daryl’s hope, and how his faith in God actually got him through the hard times of chemotherapy, and hearing the dreaded news about recurrence. Even a person that doesn’t believe in God will find this story very encouraging. Being a long-term cancer survivor has given this author a definite perspective on the important things in his life."
324 pages - $22.99 (paperback)

This item usually ships within 5 to 7 days.
This book is also available for purchase as an eBook download.
Welcome to the world of eBooks where instead of receiving a physical paper book in the mail, you would be given access to the eBook file for this complete book. Within minutes you can be reading this book on your computer, PDA, cellphone or a stand-alone eBook reader (such as the Sony Reader)—at a reduced cost! Click the "Order Online" button below to purchase this eBook download today!
$13.99 (digital download)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Giving Thanks

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” I Thess. 5:18. The Bible tells us to give thanks “in every thing”. Yes, even in mantle cell lymphoma am I to give thanks. God has a purpose in this situation that seems hopeless. Yes, even in your situation whatever it may be God wants you to give thanks.
While in the valleys of our lives we can truly get to know Jesus more. Sometimes in our so-called “normal” lives we are blinded to what really is important. When stricken with a serious illness it really doesn’t matter whether you have the latest fashions. Remodeling your home isn’t so important either. All that matters is that you or your loved one is healed.
Illness causes us to muse more than when our life was “normal”; hence, causing us to see so many others that have a far more critical situation than we have. We conclude that we don’t really have it so bad after all. That is one reason to give thanks.
Another reason to give thanks is that we live in America. Although we don’t have a perfect healthcare system, we have a great one. Some countries don’t even have sanitary hospitals or clinics much less the modern diagnostic equipment that we have. For the most part, we have health care professionals that genuinely care for the well-being of their patients.
Going through serious illness also gives us a chance to reflect on our lives and make any changes that we need to better serve our Lord. “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God,” Zechariah 13:9. When silver or gold is heated up it becomes more pure or precious. When God allows the “fire” to refine his people they become more precious. Of course, becoming more precious or pure is for the purpose of being used more of God.
So we can thank God that HE will use us more for HIS glory. My husband and I’s desire is that people see Jesus in us while we are going through the valley of mantle cell lymphoma and when we are on the mountaintop once again. We shall come forth as gold if we allow God to use us.
Focusing on the greatness of God causes me to thank HIM for everything. There are so many other reasons to give thanks and I may be writing about some others in the future, but for now I just want to say “Thank God for mantle cell lymphoma”.

Becoming a caregiver

In December 2007 Charlie, my husband, was diagnosed with stage IV mantle cell lymphoma. The only clue that anything was wrong with him was painless lumps in his arms, neck, near an ear, and armpits. Prior to being diagnosed two different doctors told Charlie that the lumps were just fatty masses. The lumps near his ear caused his jaw to dislocate. He was diagnosed with TMJ at that point. Finally, in early December a different doctor ordered a CT scan that showed extensive probable lymphoma. The next business day he saw an oncologist that just upon examining him knew that he had lymphoma. Further diagnostic tests including a bone marrow biopsy affirmed the diagnosis of mantle cell lymphoma.
On December 17, 2007 Charlie began chemo treatments. Each treatment requires days in the hospital with about a two week break between. Mantle cell lymphoma is a very aggressive, stubborn lymphoma that requires aggressive, strong chemo treatments followed by a stem cell transplant after 6-8 chemo treatments.
On March 24, 2008 Charlie had his own stem cells harvested and frozen for later en-grafting. The stem cell transplant should occur in April. At this time he will be given very strong chemo that will wipe out his bone marrow. Charlie’s immune system will be very low at this point. This is when he especially needs prayer. The hospital stay should be from 3-5 weeks long if there are no complications.
Stem cell harvesting was not at all what we expected. After reading all the literature, we got the idea that it might cause a bit of flu-like symptoms. The growth factor injections caused Charlie’s white blood count to go as high as 87.8 which was considered critical. Previous to giving himself these injections he took steroids which caused a water weight gain of about 10 pounds. The growth factor injections added another 10 pounds of water weight. This made Charlie miserable.
Another side effect was an irregular heartbeat with discomfort in the chest. A troponin blood-test was abnormal and so was an EKG. A day or so after the growth factor injections were stopped the EKG was normal and so was Charlie’s heartbeats. His oncologist believes that all of this was caused because of the growth factor injections, but the cardiologist at the hospital wants to give him an ECHO test to be certain that there is no heart disease.
Charlie’s oncologist wanted to harvest about 5 million stem cells, but settled for 2.5 million after just 2 days of harvesting. Charlie produced about 1.56 million on the first day of harvesting and only about 1 million on the second day. The oncologist said that due to the intensive chemo that he has received, he would not have been able to produce many stem cells on the third day. She says that 2.5 million stem cells will be more than enough for en-grafting.
Harvesting took two days. On the third day the catheter was taken out and blood tests were taken to make sure that blood counts were safe. The blood counts were okay with the exception of the platelet count being low and the white blood count being high. The oncologist also wanted to make sure that another EKG was normal before he was allowed to go home.
Two days later, Charlie’s platelet count was only 47, only a bit higher than two days ago. His oncologist wants the count to be to at least 100 before she begins his 6th round of chemo. We expect the platelet count to be up to 100 by early week which means that the final chemo treatment before the stem cell transplant will be this coming week.
So far, Charlie has not experienced any long term pain or tiredness from the chemo treatments. But the stem cell harvesting really surprised us with extreme tiredness and weakness. This was the most challenging step of the journey for both Charlie and I.