Dad’s cancer surgery

A writer I am not -but I thought I’d write out a brief synopsis for those of you who are interested.

This cancer/tumor was a serendipitous find – his doc was looking for something else when he found it. It is not only extremely rare – and of the 3 kinds of these rare tumors, the rarest of the 3. It is also extremely invasive and aggressive as we discovered today. We were expecting a quarter sized tumor on his thymus gland, near his heart. What was found was a salad plate sized tumor that encompassed his aorta, lungs, and a good portion of the thoracic cavity. What was expected to be a 2-3 hour surgery turned into a 6 hour procedure. The situation became so grave that the surgeon came to us for permission to continue. Had he stopped and left some of the tumor attached to the aorta, it would have been like leaving a very bad seed planted. This cancer is likely to return anyway, but leaving part of it would have given it a much stronger foothold. In the process of the surgery, they had to tie off a blood vessel to dad’s arm. This will leave him with permanent swelling and discomfort – but at least it’s his left arm! The surgeon also told us that they had two ’emotional moments’ where blood vessels that were tied off erupted. Twice, Dad came close to bleeding out -but God intervened and allowed the doctors to control it. As of now, 11:30 pm, 10+ hours after this surgery began, Dad is in recovery. He is still intubated – but periodically fighting it a bit. I am hoping that when I return in the morning (I have Cocoa -care duties tonight!), that they will have removed those tubes and he will be breathing on his own. The doctor also told us today that many surgeons would have opened Dad up and declared it unresectable (unable to be removed by surgery). Fortunately, we had an aggressive surgeon who decided it was worth the risk and the trouble.

Thank you to all of you, all over the country, who have called, texted, emailed and commented and most of all prayed. While we had some very scary moments, and the tears were frequently welling over, we were always confident of God’s Sovereignty.

While things are looking as good as can be right now, this isn’t over. Not only is there a very long recovery process ahead, there is also the very likely possibility that this cancer will return and with a vengance. Continue to pray, not only for Dad and his physical recovery, but for mom as well, as she is his primary caregiver – even in the hospital. The advanced Parkinson’s, the Deep Brain Stimulators, the stage 3 kidney failure and the REM sleep disorder, combined with today’s surgery make his care a daunting task.

UPDATE: Tubes were removed around 2:30 this morning. He is still very groggy. His first question was to ask how Cocoa was – and then whether they got the whole tumor.

UPDATE 29th 4:48: Dad spend about 4 hours in a chair today. The chest tubes drain so much better that way. He is struggling to do breathing exercises – it is a multi-task process that for a PD patient is difficult, even with full lung capacity!

UPDATE: While Dad continues to heal surgically, his PD symptoms remain very bad. These symptoms and behaviors are indicative of end stage Parkinson’s. On Wednesday ( I think) Dad had a large amount of one of his PD meds. He seemed almost normal (for him) that afternoon for a few hours. He was speaking much clearer. He also asked to eat and fed himself. However, he also started hallucinating. While the hallucinations are not good – the near normal behaviors seem to indicate that there is hope that the current severity of the PD will ease. Unfortunately, the last few days he’s also been extremely combative- not at all himself. Mom did sleep 2.5 hours at one point last night and then another 2. Considerating that she has gotten MAYBE 9 hours total for the week up to then – 4.5 hours is WONDERFUL!

UPDATE: 6th (end of day 10) Dad is still confused and combative at times. He did seem to have a few more moments of lucidity though. They’ve tried to limit his pain meds to just Ty lenol. Neuro came in today – PTL!! She said that what he is going through is fairly normal for patient with PD who has had such a traumatic surgery . We found out that it normally hits several days after surgery – which is what confused me. He is being moved to ICU though- There are a limited amount of bed in DVCU and a bed was needed for an emergency heart surgery. The unit fought for 4 hours to keep him there though. The staff on the CVCU has been absolutely fabulous. As of the last text msg, Dad is still waiting for that transfer upstairs. 

UPDATE: Since my last update things have gone from bad to worse. 7 hours after dad was transferred out of CVCU, he stopped breathing.( I will not get into the many negative issues we have dealt with since moving to ICU.) At that time he was intubated (put on a ventilator) and sedated and is still in that state today -6 -almost 7 days later. Just when we were thinking that he was resting and healing, his blood pressure tanked. We were sure that it was time to let him go. He did not want any heroic measures and had already been resuscitated to a certain degree. His surgeon was paged when we changed the advance directive, and persuaded us that giving him some blood could be all that was needed to help him turn the corner. He was given 4 units of blood and some medication, and within 12 hours his vitals were looking much better. Since then, they have been slowing lowering the sedation meds as well as lessening the work that the vent does. At one point, yesterday and also today, they had him breathing on his own with some assistance from the vent. He seemed more alert at times today. His very much loved puppy, Cocoa has been to see him 3 times now. The nurses all feel that he is very much aware of her being there. Last night we purchased an Ipod shuffle so that he can listen to hymns and such. He seems to like that as well. I am still struggling with the up and down of it all. Mom has been getting a little more sleep as sedated as he’s been – but has not gotten good sleep, since she only has an upright chair to sleep in.

UPDATE: Sunday, June 14 I need to add here that while my head knows that God is in control, I am still amazed when He works things to our benefit. The day that dad’s BP tanked, God arranged for the right people to be at the hospital at the right time to help us make the right decision at that moment. We were surrounded by people with a Godly perspective who had medical knowledge- people who had ‘been there’ with a husband and brother, and one with a son- people who have wisdom and perspicacity and all who were not afraid to speak up, ask questions and give us their opinion. God has even provided us with some nurses who were believers! 

I should add here that dad is off the sedation meds, and is somewhat alert. He is breathing on his own with the assistance of the ventilator. Still watching and waiting.

UPDATE: Some day soon I’ll come back and fill in the holes between Sunday the 14th and Saturday the 20th…… but for now, to complete this story;
Daddy went home to be with his Savior on the 20th – one day shy of his 64th birthday. While we weep for ourselves, we know that Dad now has a new and whole body.

May 29, 2009 at 1:30 am 1 comment


I made up a new word today!  RSSed!  What do you think?  I was commenting on an organizing blog and I told the blogger that I had already RSSed her.  Well, how else would you have said it?

I love words that mean what they say!  OK- I’ll admit it, I just like new words. And I’ve fallen down on the job of educating you on Wordy Wednesday.  I am going to add that as a task on my ical!  Wordy Wednesday coming  up on the 24th – just you wait and see!  Any suggestions?

September 18, 2008 at 10:23 am 1 comment

Absentee blogger bemoans the end of summer

A dear friend brought to my attention yesterday that many of us with Facebook accounts are neglecting our blogs. I’m sorry if you’ve been disappointed in my blog. You could do what the others have done and GET A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT!!!!!

On a more serious note….. Where did the summer go? It really is true that the older you get the faster time seems to go. When I was a kid, summer seemed eternal. Now it’s a mere blink of the eye. Many of our friend’s kids have started back to school already. Our IC friends start next Monday. We ‘officially’ start the day after Labor Day. That means that on Tuesday, the 2nd, we will get up at the proper time, go out for breakfast (shhh, that’s a surprise), do some (minimal) school supply shopping, rearrange our desks, look at our new curriculum, and experiment with the schedule. Wednesday we start in earnest!

Meanwhile, today is my last summer day of teaching private lessons.  (And no more intro classes either!) From tomorrow until school starts, I am officially on vacation! Of course, during that time, I’ll be doing some lesson planning, preparing for the new classes that I’ll be teaching at the studio, doing some shoe shopping (sheer drudgery- not a joy – come with me once and you’ll see why), scheduling a doctor’s appointment, closing the camper ( that we never camped in this summer) and all those other “end of summer” things.

Here are two of my favorite pictures from this summer!  These were taken at Lake Priceless – the Sturgill’s lake house.  We all had a blast – the kids (and Jim ) in the water and playing games – me, taking pictures and visiting! I’ll be posting the rest of this album at facebook!  There’s some more incentive for you to join!  See you there!

August 18, 2008 at 9:40 am 5 comments

Sing it!

This YouTube video features one of my keyboard students. Praise the Lord that God is using Michael at such an early age!

May 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm 1 comment

Mother’s Day

I often share Mother’s Day with my son.  He was born two weeks early on Mother’s Day in 2000.  Talk about a Mother’s Day gift!!!!!

We spent the day after church with my mom.  She fixed us lunch – I know that seems wrong – but Dad’s PD makes it hard to go out to eat – even to our house.

Mom and Dad got James a 6 foot canvas teepee that sets up like an umbrella.  James and Sarah are going to have a blast with it in the backyard this summer!  I think all the pictures are on Mom’s camera. I will post them when I get them.

May 12, 2008 at 10:42 am 1 comment

Thomas the tank engine

I’m sitting here at the computer ( I WAS checking facebook), and I hear my son upstairs playing with his trains. Now, for a moment, let’s forget the fact that he is supposed to be cleaning up for Community Group tonight. We’ll (I’ll) deal with that in a minute.

James is in a “Thomas” phase. He’s been watching his many DVD’s while he plays with his very elaborate track that he and Sarah put together. For about the last year, he hasn’t been playing with his trains much at all- and I was kind of sad. I even put away the big pieces and all but a small bit of track. But he’s baaaaaack! Right now he is singing the Thomas song while he plays. When he was little he’d sort of sing it – you know, the same phrase over and over again. Now, when he sings it, it is with all the right words (the wrong ones were cute though), the correct melody, AND all the little instrumental bits in between.

Just thought I’d let you know! (All 3 of you who haven’t deserted me while I’ve been playing on  Facebook)

May 4, 2008 at 9:33 pm 5 comments


This from a blogger named Suzanne (, “I heard this quote from a guy named Stephen Davey. It made me chuckle, so I’ll share it with you. “You can’t teach American history and expound the virtues of our heritage, and at the same time teach evolution. Because you can’t have the same kid quoting ‘we have been endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights,’ and at the same time, ‘we evolved from animals.’ Some 5th grader is going to catch on and say, ‘Hey wait a second, which is it?’” ”

April 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

Dream #3 and #4

Dream #3 was so scary and violent that I don’t want to write about it. When I woke up, I had to make myself ‘finish’ the story so that it turned out ok. If I had gone back to sleep without finishing it with a ‘good’ ending, I’m afraid it would have only gotten worse. Funny thing is that I didn’t wake up panicky like I did with dream #2, just disturbed.

Dream #4 had Sarah climbing the big tree in the front yard. She climbed so high that she could not get back down. I called the fire department and told them to bring a ladder truck or a cherry picker. Yes, the dream was that vivid that I recall what I said on the phone. Neighbors (that I didn’t recognize) came and tried to throw a rope around her. I’m not sure what that was supposed to accomplish, but that’s what they were doing. I woke up before they got her out of the tree – so I guess she’s still up there!

Fortunately, this is the end of the weird dreams that I remember from last week! PHEW!

They’re coming to take me away, ha-haa!!  They’re coming to take me away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa, To the funny farm – Where life if beautiful all the time and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they’re coming to take me away, ha-haa!  (Dr. Demento)


April 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm 2 comments

Blessed memories

A friend wrote on facebook about hearing and seeing her dad polishing his church shoes last Sunday morning.  For her, that sight and sound brought back wonderful memories of her childhood and her Godly family.

My Sunday ‘lump in my throat’ memory was of my dad wearing his wedding ring.  As a tool and die maker for Ford, he couldn’t wear his ring during the week.  But every Sunday morning, it went onto his finger.  I am so blessed that God chose the most wonderful parents in the world for me.

April 1, 2008 at 11:30 am 1 comment

Dream #2

In this dream, I only remember a small part. I walked through a doorway that had a sign above it that looked like the ‘Welcome to Lincoln Park’ sign at Southfield and Dix. However, instead of welcome, it read, “Lincoln Park is a city, Finally!” Where did THAT come from?????????

So, I walked through the door way into a wood paneled and carpeted hallway. As I walked the ceiling became lower, and I eventually had to crawl. I turned right at a ‘T” thinking that it looked bigger. It wasn’t though, and I started panicking. I reached a spot where I could turn around to go back to the bigger hallway. When I turned though, the hall that I came from was just as small.

I woke up fighting with the covers and in a absolute panic.

Don’t put me in a looney bin!

March 31, 2008 at 10:30 am 3 comments

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