Why the Redwood Forest slideshow?

Judy had always loved trees, and in 2008 we spent some time among the California Redwoods. Some of the ingredients in Judy's chemo cocktail were derived from trees (not Redwoods but Yews). We always knew that Judy loved the trees, and the trees got their chance to repay her affection.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fantastic Pre-Thanksgiving News!

It is hard to describe our elation when Dr. Phillips' office called this morning with the results of the latest CA-125 blood test for cancer markers. This test was conducted yesterday, right before Judy underwent her second (of eight scheduled rounds of) chemo treatment.

Judy's CA-125 yesterday was 97, down a full 216 points from pre-chemo #1 CA-125 of 313 just three weeks ago. You may remember that her pre-surgery CA-125 was somewhere around 1,275 or so.

So, wow, that's just the best news ever! No, it doesn't mean that Judy is healed, but it shows that the medication is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, maybe even better than could have been expected. We haven't had a chance to talk to Dr. P. about whether such a drop is "normal" or "extreme," but whatever it is, it is positive and we are totally stoked!

Judy made it OK through yesterday's treatment. She said it was a little rougher than the first time, but we expected that from what we had heard about the increasing difficulty of the treatments. She also received a white-cell booster shot, and that will probably kick in tomorrow or Friday in the form of bone aches that can be so severe that Judy was told not to overreact if she thinks she's having a heart-attack--it is just her sternum and other bones in the chest area reacting to the shot. Well, by golly, and I would have probably thought it was a damn turkey leg that she had swallowed whole and that got stuck.

Anyhow, from both of us HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We will travel on Thursday to the Marble Falls area in central Texas for a reunion with Judy's family, if things don't suddenly turn bad for Judy this afternoon or tonight. It will be Judy's first road trip since surgery, and she is excited to leave town.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Celebrating Emily's 18th Birthday

Last week, Emily celebrated her 18th birthday, and yesterday we threw a surprise party for her here at the house. We had invited a few close friends, and all of us had a great time. Judy had decorated the house with balloons and ribbons, and of course she had found a birthday tiara for Em. On the menu were hamburgers, hot dogs, and cup cakes, and lots of good fixins'. The adults had margaritas and beer, but Emily didn't want to be that adult.

Judy had a ball preparing everything, and with a grand total of 11 guests (four of them under the age of 10) and a fairly simple menu she didn't work herself into the ground.

Our little party was a nice way to end the week. Judy worked 6 hours every day, and everything worked out quite well. She continues her daily antibiotics treatment, which is a little bit of an inconvenience, but otherwise much of our life has normalized even more. Her appetite has returned to much more normal levels, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, her hair has decided that it wants to start falling out, so these photos may be the last for a while showing her with her hair intact.

On Tuesday Judy will receive her second chemo treatment. We're hoping that she will stomach it as well as the first round, and our plan is to join her family in the Marble Falls area in central Texas for Thanksgiving, if at all possible. We'll make that call Wednesday or even as late as Thursday morning.

Here are a few more pics from last night's celebration.


Wes, Susan, and Emily

Emily helping cook the burgers

Yummy fare

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Something shameless ...

... but nevertheless beneficial:

As you know, Judy works for MHMR, which is publicly funded. Make a long story short, there's a lot of money on the line to fund some client programs that are really dear to Judy. A local bank has started some Internet contest in which people can vote for their favorite community program. If you go to

https://www.citybankonline.com/community-rewards/vote.html (just scroll down and find Lubbock Regional MHMR)

and vote for Lubbock Regional MHMR, you can help Judy's agency to expand some of the programs already in place. As I said, this is shameless, but it was important enough for Judy to admonish me several times to vote (which you can do more than once until mid-December), so here you go.

From this post you can tell that Judy is getting more and more back to her own self: worrying about others. The reality of it all is that things are not that simple. It seems that the chemo is starting to affect her hair. Unfortunately, we can't just all vote that it won't fall out.

More in a day or two.


Monday, November 17, 2008

We keep making progress

Even though I don't have a good photo to accompany this quick blog entry I wanted to let y'all know that things continue to improve. Judy had an uneventful first part-time week back at work, and today she is going to bump up the hours worked from four to six a day. We'll see how that will work. She really been good about not overdoing things, both at work and at home.

Yesterday Judy helped out at a small mountain bike race in Lubbock, where she helped with the scoring. When I talked to her on the phone (yes, you guessed right, I'm once again gone--this time in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center) she told me that she had fun seeing several of our regular racers from the Amarillo area. Later in the day she went for another bike ride, just like last week, even bumping up the mileage a little. When I talked to her she was pleasantly tired.

The second round of chemo is scheduled for Tuesday of next week, two days before Thanksgiving. This will give us an idea of what to expect in the next few rounds: Will things remain similar, or will each round become markedly tougher? We will not decide about how we will spend Thanksgiving until after the chemo.

That's it for this short update. I will have a last breakfast in the OTC's cafeteria before heading to the airport.


Here's a quick edit in the form of the addition of two pics while sitting in the CO Springs airport, waiting for my flight home.

View of Pike's Peak from the OTC early in the morning.

Walking across the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to work!

Judy's biggest problem during her first day back at work was the fact that her pants wanted to fall off! After a few weeks in sweat pants with a soft elastic around the waist she had to dress up a little more, and after losing almost 15 pounds, none of her pants fit too well, and a belt is out of the question.

Otherwise, her four hours at work were a success. Doc Phillips has cleared her to work this week on a 4-hour-a-day schedule, starting today (Tuesday) and continuing through Friday. Next week, if things are OK, she'll bump this up to about six hours, and during the Thanksgiving week full-time work may be possible. But on that Tuesday she'll have her second round of chemo, so we'll see what will pan out. Let's not get too excited here.

Two days ago, on Sunday, Judy got the itch to see whether she could ride her bike. She used the mountain bike and, well, rode a bit. I've been sworn to secrecy to not reveal any more. She said she had a big grin on her face the entire time. Emily was with her, and our almost-18-year-old "step-daughter" could only proclaim that "Judy is back!"

The accompanying pic shows Judy with the fruits of her knitting labors: A little jester hat for Judy's cousin's daughter Olivia, who happens to be a Crested Butte (CO) baby. Fits the image of the mountain hippies, doesn't it?

For right now things are looking amazingly smooth and good, and we're hoping that this path will continue. We'll keep you posted.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Not all Thursdays are horrible

Here's a quick update, written on Friday evening while I am in Clearwater (FL) to officiate the half-Ironman World Championships:

Yesterday afternoon Judy received the results of her blood test from Tuesday, at the onset of chemo therapy. At the time of her original diagnosis, Judy's CA-125 value was soaring at about 1,270 points—"normal" is in the 0 to 30 range. Obviously, the radical surgery had a very big effect in bringing down her level to a much less-intimidating 313 on Tuesday. Talk about excitement!

Now we will have to see how the chemo will affect her CA-125. Will it go down? If so, by how much and how quickly? Will we reach the best of all—ZERO—by the time her last chemo cycle on March 31 has taken its effect? Or will we be faced with less encouraging news? Will there be times of no improvement, or worse yet, deterioration? I am scared to think of the latter possibilities. We both want to see improvement to continue. We want the bastard dead.

When I talked to Judy on the phone tonight she was still not feeling any really bad effects from her first chemo treatment on Tuesday. She felt, once again, a bit queasy today, and she continues to be fatigued, but overall she is doing so much better than what we anticipated.

I will be back in town on Sunday afternoon, so if you get a chance to give her a call while she is on her own, please do so. The number is still 792-8573.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The first chemo treatment is behind us ...

... and the crazy thing is that Judy is feeling better than she has in weeks! Here is her own account of it:

The first day of chemo was nothing that I expected. I was a bit anxious and Liz Davidson took me. There were two other women in the room. One has been doing this for several weeks and the other just started with the very same treatment as me. Her cancer was contained, her surgery was less involved and she will have fewer treatments.

The treatment started with some steroids and anti-nausea medication and I felt that I had at least two cocktails. Then I got both chemo drugs; first the Taxotere and then the Carboplatin. This process only took 4 and 1/2 hours. My sister-in-law Candice had tag-teamed Liz about 9:30 a.m. and we left around 1:30 p.m. I felt great. We went on some errands and I had a lot of energy. Finally we were going home and I asked if we could stop at Chick-Fil-A. I was HUNGRY! I got a kid's meal and took it home. I actually enjoyed the nuggets and ate all the fries while rubbing all the catsup up. It tasted so good. I never felt full. Candice just stared in disbelief.

This treatment is supposed to hit me in 72 hours with "flu-like symptoms"—we will see. I will take my nausea medicine and steroids starting tomorrow. So far so good.

Thanks as always for your support.