Sunday, February 28, 2010

Update on Jim - 2/28/10

This wasn't one of Jim's better weekends. Things didn't start out real good Friday afternoon. I was noticing as the afternoon progressed that Jim wasn't looking so well. He had taken some tylenol after lunch because he felt a headache coming on and his stomach started feeling a bit funny as the afternoon progressed. Jim is not a complainer and he would have most likely just suffered it out. But a little after 4:00 I suggested that he do what he needed to and that we should leave early so he could get home and lay down. He actually agreed quite quickly which caught me by surprise. We got out of there shortly thereafter and we went home and he went straight to the couch. He laid there all evening, no TV, just dozing on and off. We had had plans to go to dinner and a movie with his brother Steve and wife Vicki, but we had to bow out. Around 9 we headed to bed and he slept all night. On Saturday and again today (Sunday) he has had been on the edge of a headache, not ever getting too bad. He has been taking Motrin for it with some relief. We went about normal activities the rest of the weekend although I'd say Jim's appetite hasn't been 100%. I know the headache plays some role in that but part of it is because food hasn't been tasting right. Jim says many things just taste "blah". Hard to get excited about eating when it doesn't taste good!

We are very aware that the side effects have been very minimal up to this point, which we are very greatful for. Please continue your prayers in this regard. Thanks so much!

Next chemo: March 15th

Freezefest 2010 - My first race of the season!

On Saturday, February 27th, I ran my first race of the season. It was a 5K (3.1 miles) at Squaw Creek Park. The race was on the paved roads and they were all cleared of snow so it was a totally dry run. The temperature was a different issue. The temp was around 27 degrees and then there was the wind chill on top of that. The race didn't start till 11:00 which was a good thing. There were 307 runners so I was not the only person out there freezing my butt off! There was even people in shorts! Not me! I had three layers on my core. When I was running into the wind I had my hood up and was zipped up to my chin. When the wind was to my back, the sun would warm me to the point that I would unzip my jackets, take my hood down and take my gloves off.

Rachelle asked me if I had anything left to give after it was over. Interesting question. Yes, I could have run longer. I had decided to hold steady and keep a constant pace throughout - although I did "push it" during the last stretch of the race. My finish time was 33:30. I checked the final results on the CVRA web site last night and found out I was 6th in my age group (women 50-54). There was 11 of us total. The women who placed 1st thru 3rd all ran in 24 to 26 minutes! WOW! That is really fast (from my perspective). I'd like to think that there will be a day in my future that I might run a 5K in 25 minutes. I think I'll consider that a long-term goal!

I know most of the people reading my blog right now are doing so to keep up with Jim's health status. But in case you decided to read this particular post I'm going to recap on how I came to the point that I'm running races.

Our daughter Rachelle has been competing in triathlons for several years now. I've watched her grow and progress in her athletic ability and have been truly inspired. In 2009, Rachelle and I had conversations about my starting to run. For my birthday in May she said she wanted to give me what I needed to get started. First on the agenda was a good pair of running shoes. We went to Running Wild and I was fitted into a pair of great shoes. Next was some running clothes and we went out to Dick's Sporting Goods and got some things that were practical and looked great. The next step was up to me. Rachelle found a running program called "Couch Potato to 5K". This is a 9 week program. I jumped right in and got started. This program starts things very slow and builds you up week after week. If you are interested in more details you can see my post on July 5th.

I ran three races last year - the Fifth Season 5K Race (7/4), the Indian Summer Distance Classic - 4 mile (9/26) and the Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer - 5K (10/11). This year I have set a new goal for myself. I have registered to do a quarter marathon in Madison WI on Memorial Day weekend. Rachelle has given me a training schedule and I'm following it quite closely. I run three times a week - Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. On Monday, Wednesday & Friday I cross train. I've been doing various programs, Turbo Jam, Denise Austin, yoga, and medicine ball. I'm switching around all the time and trying to keep things interesting. So I'm sure you are wondering when I do all this...right? Well, it is very early in the morning. I get up 4:45 or 5:00 each day and train for 20-30 minutes depending on the day. The morning is the only time that I can control. When you work till 6 p.m. or later each evening like we do, it doesn't leave much time to do much of anything after you get home and eat.

So how do I stay motivated to get up and exercise each day? First, of all I don't call it exercising. I'm in training. It makes a difference for my head. There is something about knowing that I have a race coming up. By registering for races and having goals set up to accomplish, I am thereby motivated to stay on the training schedule. I'm excited. When I think back to my first race on July 4, 2009 - when I had to walk a couple times because I couldn't run the whole thing...and more walking...mission accomplished! The fun has just begun!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update on Jim & my dad - 2/23/10

Thank you, thank you, thank you, all you prayer warriors! Your prayers have surely been heard because things went remarkably well for Jim yesterday!

First let me tell you about Jim's appointment with the doctor. After his lab work he was escorted back to the examining room. Dr. Nabi told Jim his scans from last Wednesday looked very good. She said he is an A plus patient! Then we got the news that she wanted to add another chemo chemical to his treatment plan...and this one is administered by injection into the spinal canal. She explained to us that the brain and spinal column are very protected with very thick membranes. The chemicals that he has been receiving thus far have minimal affect on them. The new chemical would specifically target the brain and spinal column to protect them and kill any cancer cells that might be growing. She compared it to spraying dandelion seeds with weed killer, killing them before they start to grow. Dr. Nabi wants Jim to have 4 treatments. So after he received his IV chemo yesterday he was then taken to a special room for the chemo infusion (into the spinal fluid). Each of the remaining two chemo treatments will be followed by the same thing. And then after all the chemo treatments are done, he'll still have one more infusion that he'll have to go in for.

Jim was a real trooper. Because he didn't know what it was going to be like he was a little nervous about it. Dr. Nabi said it would be no worse then the bone marrow biopsy that she had done previously. And after it was over Jim agreed that it was indeed comparable. It was not an easy process as it took three attempts to find the right spot to put the needle in. She was looking for a space in between two of the vertebrae to slip the needle in. It was finally successful when they had Jim curl up tightly in the fetal position. She used lydocaine to deaden the insertion area so there really wasn't alot of pain. At least now, Jim knows what to expect with the other infusions.

It is funny how you think you know what to expect and then something else gets thrown into the mix. We both remembered that there was a possibility of another chemo treatment but we both thought it was only "possible" after the main ones were over with. We were both surprised with the prospect of them being simultaneous. But Jim is determined to do everything and anything he can to kill this cancer. He does not want to have any repeats later on. So whatever Dr. Nabi recommends he will willingly do.

So how is Jim feeling today? Great! He has a little tenderness at the point on his spine where the infusion was done, but other then that he is great. He got a good night's sleep last night. He commented that this was his best "day after chemo" that he has had thus far. Who could ask for more? Thank you so much for surrounding him in prayer!

As for my dad, he was discharged from the hospital last night They got his heart back in rhythm using meds on Sunday morning. Since he has his port in place, he will be going to the hospital on a daily basis to receive the antibiotics by IV. This will go on for a couple weeks. They really want to get the infection in his leg under control. He too slept well last night and was feeling alot better today. He will continue to need your prayers for quite awhile to come!

Thanks for all your prayers. Please don't stop as they are still very much needed!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Update on Jim and my Dad - 2/21/10

Tomorrow is Jim's #4 chemo plus we get the results of the PET scan from last week. We are optimistic that the chemo will go well and that the results of the scan will be good. I'll post results NLT Tuesday.

Wanted to share...we got together with our camping friends last night and had a delightful time eating and visiting. We joined our camping club a couple years ago - the Rolling Rovers - with the intent of discovering new places to camp. Mission accomplished on that regard. But what we didn't expect was that we would make many new friends. Our camping friends really touched our hearts with their outpouring of concern for Jim. We can't wait for this summer to be able to spend more time with them!

My dad went back into the hospital on Friday. The infectious bursitis that he had problems with a month or so ago in his leg must not have been all gone, because it had come back. The knee was turning red and very painful. They wanted to put him the hospital and give him antibiotics via IV. They put in a port this time right off the bat which is very good because his arms are still a mess from all the IV's that he during his last stay. He had another transfusion today because something in his bloodwork wasn't right. They also determined that his heart was in A-Fib (?) and when the heart doctor came in this afternoon he started a new med to that his supposed to get his heart back in the proper rhythmn. He was told originally that he would be going home Monday but it doesn't look that will be the case. Please pray for his improvement so he can get home.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread

Get the cup of coffee ready, the bread is ready to eat!

I'm constantly looking for healthier versions of my favorite things to eat. I have been making banana bread for years using my grandmothers recipe. But when I found this recipe which swaps honey for sugar and whole wheat flour for white...PLUS it tastes great....I knew I had found a winner. I have now made this recipe more times then I can count. If I have bananas browning on my counter (which is a regular occurrence) there is banana bread in the offing.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread (from

1/3 cup canola oil
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup hot water
½ cup chopped nuts

In a large bowl, beat oil and honey together. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then add to batter. Blend in chopped nuts. Spread batter into a greased 9X5 loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack for ½ hour before slicing.

FYI - I frequently put in more then "1 cup" of mashed bananas. More is better...right???

Mix the honey and oil together.

The bananas are mashed before mixing into batter.

Pour the batter into a 9X5 pan.

The bread should be nicely browned and firm to the touch.

I love bananas and this has become my "go to" recipe when I have browned bananas on my counter. If you love banana bread and are willing to try a "healthier" version I think this will fill the bill! Try'll like it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update on Jim - 2/18/10

Jim had his PET scan yesterday and it went well. He knew what to expect this time so that makes it easier. The technician let Jim look at his scan on the computer afterwards. The tech asked him where the tumor was and Jim told him his left hip pelvic area. The tech pointed to it on the screen and said it doesn't look there is anything there anymore. The tech emphasized that the actual reading would be done by a radiologist and that he wasn't making any interpretation - just stating what he saw. This confirms what we suspected (and hoped) - because Jim's pain is now totally gone, the tumor must be gone. He'll see Dr. Nabi on Monday before Chemo #4 and will get the official report.

Jim is still feeling tired, but that is to be expected. It is not enough to keep him from doing anything. He is working each day, but tired in the evening. Last night after eating supper he laid down on the couch and watched the Olympics. Not something he would do normally but not unexpected due to the chemo. Please keep praying that the side effects continue to be minimal. He is so blessed to have so many people praying for him. When we pray each evening I ask God to look into the hearts of everyone that is praying for Jim and to help you with whatever is heavy on your heart. We all have something we need His help with......

Regarding my Dad - he is getting stronger each day. There are no immediate plans to do anything other then rehab. He had his first rehab at the hospital yesterday and another is scheduled for next week. I'm not sure what all that entails but I'm sure that they want him to continue to build his strength. He has lots of doctor appointments each week. When Jim & I visited him last Sunday evening I was impressed with how good he looked. He too is being lifted up in prayer by many people...and it shows!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Update on Jim - 2/11/10

Since it has been a few days, thought I'd give you a quick update on Jim. He is feeling really good in regards to his hip/leg pain. He now says is is free of pain in that area! How miraculous is that? He is trying to do more stretches and exercises to start rebuilding the strength/muscle he lost over the last 9 months. That is the good news. The bad news (which isn't really bad, it is just the reality of his situation) is that he is starting to feel tired. He is feeling a little more draggy (is that a word?) every day. Nothing drastic at point. Please continue to pray for the effects to be minimal! We appreciate it so much!

Upcoming appointments:
2/17/10 - PET Scan
2/22/10 - Chemo # 4

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Update on Jim - 2/7/10

I'm glad to report that Jim is continuing to do well. It was a good weekend. He actually took Tito out for a short walk yesterday. Tito is our 7 year old teacup chihuahua. He is Jim's shadow and little buddy. Tito didn't get many walks last summer because of Jim's hip/leg pain. And as a result Tito has put on a little weight. When I say little, it really is little. This little guy should weigh in around 6 pounds, but is pushing 7 pounds. We've cut back on his food, but he really needs more exercise. So we are looking forward to lots of walks this summer since Jim is going to feel so much better.

We call Tito - "burrito boy" since he became a little chubby!

Jim is sleeping pretty well, eating well, feeling well. What a blessing that is! Thanks for your continued is making all the difference!

And the winner is....Fruit Filled Oatmeal Bars

Do you like raisins? I don't, but hubby Jim does...alot! Since I've never hesitated to bake or cook things that I don't like, I made it my mission yesterday to see if I could find a raisin bar that Jim would really like. I found two very different recipes. One is cake like and the other is fruit filled. I made both, plated them and asked him to make his choice. The fruit filled won although Jim said he liked both of them just fine. I'll share the recipes for both in case you want to make your own comparison!

The Fruit Filled Oatmeal Bar is on the left and the Old Fashioned Raisin Bar is on the right.

I told Jim to raise up the plate of the winner! Fruit Filled Oatmeal Bar it is!

Fruit-Filled Oatmeal Bar (from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook – Pink Edition)

Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
Oven: 350 deg
Makes: 25 bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter
1 21-oz can pie filling or 1 ½ cups fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X9X2-inch or 11X7X1 ½-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Measure ½ cup of the crumb mixture; set aside.

Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of prepared baking pan. If using pie filling, coarsely snip or chop any large pieces of fruit. Spread desired filling over the crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Raisin-Filled Oatmeal Bars: Prepare as above, except substitute raisin filling for canned pie filling. To prepare raisin filing, in a medium saucepan combine ¾ cup water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add 1 ¼ cups raisins. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Nutrition Info: Per bar fruit or raisin variations: 113 cal, 4 g total fat (2 g sat fat), 10 mg chol., 47 mg sodium, 18 g carbs., 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.

I have a feeling that the Fruit-Filled Oatmeal Bars will become a regular in our house! The recipe itself was very easy and I could easily open some canned pie filling and make something that Jim and I will both eat!

Old Fashioned Raisin Bar (from Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa cookbook)

1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup water
1 stick margarine

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.

1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup chopped nuts

Combine above and add raisin mixture to it. Mix altogether and spread in a 9X13 pan. Bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes. When cook, you can dust with powdered sugar or frost with cream frosting.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Update on Jim - 2/5/10

This is a bit odd...but there isn't much to report on Jim. Which is a very good thing when you consider that he is smack dab in the middle of his chemo treatments! Jim commented yesterday that he feels pretty much pain free now. Only occasionally do you catch a slight limp in his walk, but that may be because he is tired and still trying to rebuild those leg muscles that were pampered for so long. What an absolute miracle! We thank God that so many people have lifted Jim up in prayer! Please don't stop now since we still have a ways to go! But be assured your prayers are being answered!

My dad got home Sunday night as you know. The next two days he spent almost entirely in bed, sleeping. He was just soooo tired! We visited with him Wednesday night and his spirits are good. He saw the doctor yesterday afternoon and got the word as far as his blood platelets. They are now in the normal range. Which is good, but they still aren't doing the job they are supposed to. Why? Because Dad's kidneys are not functioning correctly. They are at 25-30% of normal function. He is in Stage IV renal failure. He has three doctors conversing about what to do next, but it appears that nothing will happen for several weeks. They want him to rest and build his strength. So we wait...and we continue to pray....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Update on Jim - 2/2/10 (& my dad)

Yesterday Jim had chemo #3 and it went very well. He actually felt and looked great after it was all over. The chemo nurses remarked how very well he is doing, not run down which is pretty normal at this point. ( is all the prayers...) Jim is at work this morning and feeling good, although he admits to feeling a little tired. We are waiting for a phone call from the oncology office with date and time of the PET scan. It will be a few days before chemo #4, so that the doctor will have to time to get the results before the appointment (2/22/10). Because of the dramatic decrease in Jim's hip pain we are looking for it to show a shrinking tumor!

Don't stop praying for Jim as he is now heading into the period of time in which he is most likely to experience the side effects of the chemo. Fatigue is the most common complaint. And as his immune system continues to be broke down he will be more and more susceptible to illness.

Regarding my dad - he was discharged from the hospital on Sunday evening. We now understand that bypass surgery is not completely ruled out but it is definitely not going to be in the near future. They need his blood to clot where it needs to clot and be thin where it needs to be thin. Finding this perfect balance is the trick. He is taking a ton of meds and is VERY tired. He spent most of the day in bed yesterday and was still there at 9 this morning when I last checked. His blood sugar and blood pressure have both been in normal ranges which is a good thing. Please continue to pray for his recovery.

Thanks to all of you who are praying. Jim feels it. My dad feels it. It is such a blessing!