Wednesday, February 28, 2007

28 Feb 2007

Hello to All;

Lights, camera, action......well not exactly, what I mean to say is the doctors came in with the mini-cam "Pill" for me to swallow. If you recall this "Pill" is designed to take pictures of my digestive system (focused specifically on my small intestine). I am told it will take approx. 40,000 pictures, which will be available for review as early as Thursday afternoon. The "Pill" is yellow gold in color and is about the size of a mini tootsie roll.

As far as the past few days, they have been a real roller coaster. On Monday they did the biopsy of my liver (actually sliced off three samples of tissue). I went into this procedure with a great deal of apprehension. What a relief once it was completed and you know, it wasn't all that painful. As I had said, the big risk was me bleeding, due to low platelets. Well, after 24 hours of continuous transfusions of platelets along with an IV drug that helps your body retain platelets, my platelet count rose as high as 84,000....WOW! That was a big relief to me and the doctors performing this step.

Today, my platelets are now down to 34,000 and continuing to spiral. Not getting into to much detail, I am still plagued with diarrhea and turmoil in my abdominal region. I thought I was going to get to go home on Thursday, but the doctors don't believe that will happen. I still have more out-put than in-take, even with the IV's. Soon I hope.

I have received several phone calls and some cards (sent to my home address) and e-mails, wishing me well and full of encouragement. You will never know how much your words of hope mean to me. In addition, some people from my church have really taken the upper hand and invited the kids to dinner / play / even spending the night. This also has been a great help - as I worry about my children a great deal, and they really have enjoyed their time with others.

Still waiting on word / analysis from the liver biopsy. I will keep you posted. I am encouraged daily by the fact that all of this is for the glory of GOD. Daily I read the bible and pray for this illness to be removed, however I also pray that God's will be done. I am reminded that he will not burden me with more than I can bear and that he will never abandon me.

Please continue to:

Pray for my family that through all of this they remain strong and focused on the Lord our savior.
Pray for those in similar circumstances that don't have the strong support network of family - church - friends and even Gene's work (Kerry & Guards).
Pray for the Doctors and Nurses tending to my care that they will come to know the goodness and grace of God.
Praise for the fact that I am still here able to write to all of you, I know a few with the same illness that are not.
Pray that I get to go home soon, I miss the daily interaction with my children.
Love in Christ

Sunday, February 25, 2007

25 Feb 2007

A Chilly hello to all;

From what I can see out of my hospital window there is a great deal of snow on the ground and there is very limited visibility with high winds (I can see flags in the distance - that is how I know if it is windy).

I am tired, discouraged and somewhat scared, but I will keep this short.

Please pray for me between now and Monday evening. Right now they are preparing me for tomorrows events. Currently I have no less than four lines of fluids running into my body; platelets (which mine were back down to 3,000 this morning), pain / nausea medication, some other medicine to help fight the Graft Vs Host and some other chemical that is supposed to help my body retain platelets.

If all goes well, in the morning they will begin by piercing my neck and jugular vein and sliping in a device that can travel down and take a right into my liver and slice off a piece for a biopsy. The risk, they now say, is that patients can really bleed from this.

In addition, I hear that they are considering having me swollow this mincam (aslippinge size of a large pill?? - never saw one) so they can have it take close up shots of my entire digestive system. I will let you know when or if that happens.

Please pray that the procedure on Monday goes well and provides them with a true insight as to help me and that I don't end up bleeding to much. They are trying to increase my platelets by running several bags consecutively over a period starting at 4 PM Sunday and ending 8 AM Monday in time for the little bit of fun mentioned above.

I don't have any idea when they will let me go home yet and to be honest, I feel as bad now as I did a week ago when I first came in.

Yes, I still have stomach pain and diarrhea (going on 12 days now). Praise for the fact that I saw my children on Friday - first time since Monday.

Thank you very much for your prayers - cards - visits and phone calls.

Love in Christ


Friday, February 23, 2007

23 Feb 2007

Hello to All,

The last time I sent out an update was Monday and I was just going into the hospital for a few tests. Wow, what a roller coaster ride since then.

Tuesday noon was the last time I had anything to eat until Thursday evening, boy was I hungry. They did this in order to prep me for the Upper & Lower GI (Gastrointestinal or Endoscopy / Colonoscopy) that they were going to do on Wednesday 7 AM. In addition - through late Wednesday afternoon they gave me:
Two units of whole blood
4 units of platelets (one was a double)
6 units of potassium
1 gallon of lemonade flavored clean you out juice
plus numerous liters of fluid so I didn't become dehydrated
Late Wednesday, 5 PM, they completed the Upper & Lower GI - Gene has souvenir color photos. After the procedure the Gastrointestinal Doctor talked to us about what he saw - very preliminary of course. While in side, he took several biopsy / tissue samples - no word back on these yet. To date no one has come back to us with anything conclusive. However, due to some of the findings that the GI Doctor thought he saw, I got to have a CAT scan of my liver and Kidneys on Thursday evening - they prep you by, not letting you eat and shooting this dye into your veins. Praise God, those test results are back and they found nothing - trust me this is good news.
It is now Friday afternoon, I still have diarrhea (going on 10 days now) with no idea when I get to go home (my biggest longing after being fully healed). To be honest, I don't really feel good enough to be at home right now. They are trying to arrange one more test, they tell me it is painless, I will wait and see. They want to pierce the side of my neck and enter my juggler vein with this tube like knife device. From there they will cruse down the inside of my body, take a right at my liver and then snip off a tissue sample / biopsy. I can hardly wait. Unfortunately, they don't think that they can get this scheduled until Monday. Did I mention that until I know for certain, they don't want me to eat anything right now.
Right now, I feel as bad as I did on Monday. Good news, the kids came an visited me in the hospital. I miss them Soooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!! It was really good to see, touch and hug them.
To be honest, I am getting more and more discouraged, somewhat scared (when will this end and how) and very very tired.
Please pray for the following:
Praise to / for all of you Church families, friends , Gene's work pals both Kerry and Army National Guard, who have stood or kneeled by my side for the past 17 months of this journey, stepping up to fill any need I may have and beyond.
Praise for my children who have continued to love me, help me and still have as normal of childhood as possible.
Praise for the medical staff who haven't given up on me yet - I have seen it happen to others.
Praise for the experience. I wouldn't wish it on anyone else, but it has really challenged / strengthened my Christian values.
Pray that what ever happens that first and foremost - To God be the Glory.
Pray to God that I would be healed now with / without the Doctors intervention.
Pray for Gene and the Kids - that they will continue to be strong - make progress in school and work and stay positive for both themselves and me.
Pray for me that I will not become weak, mentally and lose hope.
God Bless and Love in Christ


Monday, February 19, 2007

19 Feb 2007

To All,

Just a quick update to let you all know what is going on. As most of you are aware, the past weeks have really been event free. Twice a week Gene has been taking me to UW Madison clinic for Platelet transfusions with the occasional Whole Blood transfusion thrown in the mix.

I had asked you all to pray that my cell counts would start to increase and stabilize and this past week God has answered your prayers.

My platelet's are stabilizing in the double digits, for the most part between 10 - 13 thousand, still a long way from normal 160,000 - 370,000, but a major improvement for me!!!

I am down to only needing Red blood about every four weeks!!!

My white blood cells are in the 40,000 range where normal runs from as low as 38,000 to as high as 105,000. This is great.

Now comes the really tough part and I need your prayers for this one. Here goes, this past week I have been suffering from extreme abdominal pain (mostly my stomach), starting about Tuesday evening. I have experienced both vomiting and diarrhea, on Thursday the doctor was considering putting me in the hospital (she did give 2 1/2 liters of fluid), I said not to worry I will be better by Monday.

It has now been six days with the aforementioned symptoms and I am weak, my body is sore and dehydrated. My wonderful doctor has put me back in the hospital until I get stabilized and/or they figure out the cause. On Thursday they took enough various samples to confirm it was not viral. They believe it is the Graft Versus Host (GVH) disease that they had been hoping to see more of. They need to do an endoscopy and an colonoscopy to confirm. Once confirmed they will start me on some more medicine to clear it up.

One small problem, they can't perform the above procedures, so they say, until my platelets get up to at least 50 (or 50,000 - we just abbreviate). My platelets haven't been that high in over a year.

Please pray for guidance for the doctors.
Please pray that something will work out for them to perform their tests.
Pray that this hospital stay is SHORT!!!! I just want to be home.
Pray that Gene and the kids get along as Gene travels between home and the hospital.
My room phone number is (608) ###-#### and here room number is B6/###. We will update you as we know more.
God Bless and thank you for your much needed prayers.
Cheryl Cummins

Friday, February 9, 2007

9 Feb 2007

Hello everyone,
It is a bit like Ground Hog's Day the movie here. Each day seems the same at clinic, get more platelets.
We returned from Minneapolis Wed. THe Dr. there confirms what our Dr. here says. There is some cell growth, it is just slow, he said I am the tortoise and the hare was killed by the previous treatments I received. He said he wished he would have given me more of Sandy's cells but since he didn't it isn't worth it now to have the platelet level drop to 0 for at least 21 days, I am willing to wait. We go back up there in three months.
Meanwhile the Dr here said if something significant doesn't happen with the cells in 30 days she wants to pursue other options, like having another DLI in Minneapolis. We are praying there will be significant cell growth in the next month. Only God knows when or if that is going to happen. WE are so thankful to have a bone marrow biopsy clear of leukemia.
Hurray the sun is shinning! It makes you feel warmer. I am content to stay inside. It is just tooo cold here for me. It was actually 1* this morning. Well, that is the story as I know it.
* Pray that the cells start producing
* Pray for endurance, we are growing weary
* Pray when the cells produce there will be no leukemia
*Pray for Emily and Michael, they have been through so much!
* Pray for strength for Gene
Thanks for Praying,

Friday, February 2, 2007

2 Feb 2007

Greetings and Salutations ( I just watched Charlotte's Web)

I had a bone marrow biopsy Monday in Madison. It was supposed to be done in Minneapolis, my experiences there with the biopsy have not been good, so my Doctor called to see if she could do it and send the results. I don't even have a bruise! She is amazing.

We got some of the results yesterday form the biopsy. My white blood cells are just starting to produce, there are some baby red cells that are trying to grow, very few platelets. Good news! My body has started producing, just a slow process. The best part is there are no leukemia cells present.

The DNA results aren't in yet. The goal is that I will have 100% of my sister's DNA, YIKES! where did I go? Just kidding she had been such a support for us during all of this.

I am still tired. I have the energy of a wet noodle. The Doctor said that is to be expected given the way my blood is producing. In the marrow there are places that are blank, they are supposed to be packed with blood cells and fat. Mine have patches like that, but I am confident that will change and I will be energized soon.

My brother is running a triathlon to raise money for the lymphoma, leukemia society, He has never done anything like this before-maybe he is a little loopy? anyway, if any of you are interested in watching his progress or donating to the cause let me know I can send you the e-mail about it. If you want to check out his web sight you can copy the address below and paste it into your browser "Address" line and hit enter.

We will be going back to Minneapolis. We leave Mon. stop in Madison for platelets then on to MN. Our appointment is Tues. We will return Wed.

Please continue to pray:
*Pray for safe travel as we go to MN and as we go to Madison twice a week.
*Pray that my blood cells continue to produce
*Pray for endurance. This has gone on a long time , we are all growing weary
*Pray for Michael and Emily
*Pray for Gene as he juggles work, the guards and me-I'm a little heavy to juggle

Thanks for Praying
Love in Christ