Monday, December 15, 2008

More Tests

Last Friday Andrea's neurology doctor at MDA printed out some MRIs for us to see how the this "chemo effect" is changing and evolving. He said it may take 18 months for it to diffuse. He also stressed again the importance of nutrition - we are what we eat! Right now the main issues they are trying to help her with are daily fatigue, headaches and shooting pains.

As we pray for each of you in your daily lives, Andrea is encouraged so much from your prayers.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Getting worse before getting better

Even though the numbness in the arm subsided a bit, Andrea is experiencing the stinging/prickly feeling in her cheeks and a stiff neck. The preliminary report on the MRI tonight was okay.
The brain doctor suggested foods to help re-build the nerve damage from the chemo. The headaches come and go often. Since she no longer takes steriods, the fatigue forces her to take naps. She is so good at doing everything in her power to get better.
As usual, we ask for your prayers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Doing Good

This week Andrea's main doctor was pleased that her left arm is less numb than before. He said sometimes with neuro chemo, it goes away completely and other times it does not. Her blood tests showed improvement except with her kidneys. She really needs prayers for her kidneys. They are working about 30-40% capacity. They start dialysis when patients are at about 10% capacity. Andrea is still drinking loads of water a day, and her diet was almost exactly what the kidney doctor wanted her to be eating; however, he said all of us could probably benefit if we cut down on salt intake.
Andrea sees the brain and spine doctor on Monday, but we do not anticipate any more input, so have a Happy Thanksgiving.
We all are so blessed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Keep on keeping on

Sorry I haven't posted lately but we were waiting for test results.
Andrea's kidney levels came down close to normal so they gave her a half dose of contrast on the MRI this time. It still shows a high intensity in the medulla of the brain which they continue to attribute to chemo. They are still concerned that it may be an infection or otherwise. So they ordered a spinal tap without chemo and it came back clear, just as it has before. Plans are to continue monitoring. Her left arm has become less numb and she can write again.
Andrea had her flu shot, but she still caught some bug that made her throat feel like golf balls had lodged during Tuesday night. She got a prescription to deal with that, so hopefully she'll be okay tomorrow.
Thanks for the emails, calls and asking about Andrea. You all are a wonderful support group praying for her, and we thank you for that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Bigger Hiccup

With the higher kidney levels, Andrea started feeling more fatigued and nauseous last week; however, her greatest concern was when her left arm went numb. MDA ran an MRI of the brain and a spinal tap with no chemo on Monday. The good news from the spinal tap is that there are no cancer cells, but the MRI showed a new high intensity spot in the medulla of the brain. Basically, the neurologist said Andrea has had too much aggressive chemo which is causing the spot in the brain, numbness in her arm, throwing her kidneys off balance, and giving her massive headaches . We are meeting with a renal nutritionist tomorrow to help her plan a diet to combat all these issues. I think it is safe to say "No More Chemo"!
Let's just say with Andrea being left handed, she can recover from this quickly.
You know what's next.....pray, pray, pray. : )

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One More Diversion

Andrea cannot have the spinal tap this month because her kidney function numbers are not in the normal range and her blood pressure has been a bit high. She feels good, but it is one of those silent obstacles that can be picked up from drawing the blood and monitoring the blood pressure. Her main doctor is setting up an appointment with a kidney specialist so he may have added suggestions other than taking her off as many drugs as they can.
We really appreciate your prayers.

Friday, September 19, 2008

3 More To Go

Today the spinal tap with chemo went well so far. Andrea is sleeping through the medication this afternoon. We just pray for no headaches or back pain when she awakes. The advanced practioner nurse was talking to us before the procedure and was surprised/happy when Andrea told him that after today, there are only 3 more scheduled spinal taps. We are all looking to the end of spinal taps and a great new year of 2009 with no more chemo. Her hair has grown back to a "boy cut" length, which I think is cute even though I know she prefers longer hair!
Thanks for checking this site and for your prayers.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Continued progress

Andrea went to her main doctor Thursday with the jab to the arm vein for all the blood tests. Some nurses are just better at jabbing than others. Her "numbers" are looking good now, but she does need to keep more hydrated. She has become conscientious about how many plastic bottles of water she was using and we have been trying out a variety of reuseable plastic bottles while using the filtered water from home. While in hospital beds along with recuperating and watching HGTV does have an affect on your views of a 'green earth'! An outing to a Home and Garden Show in Katy with Carter Oosterhouse, host of 'Red, Hot and Green" was fun this weekend. Reuse and recycle was the theme.
Andrea is feeling better and we appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

4 More To Go

The spinal tap/chemo went well on Friday. Andrea has only 4 more of those, once a month through December. She has swollen ankles and appears to be retaining water, so we saw the main doctor Monday and he agreed with the pain management doctor to drop a medicine to see if that is the reason. Otherwise, she is feeling okay now, thank goodness!
The brain MRI was good, spinal tap fluid clear and bone marrow is 100% donor cells. We appreciate everyone's encouragement. It has been such a long process, and we are beginning to look forward to fall and cooler weather since we've been having a good dose of rain.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Friday is the Day

Andrea goes in for blood tests on Thursday, and if everything checks out good as it did Monday, then she gets the methotrexate chemotherapy in the spinal tap on Friday morning. Like I said before, she just wants to get on with the prescribed treatment and be done with it because she is feeling better. She does feel tired and fatigued, but that can be attributed to the chemo effects that last quite a while after it is given. Her MRI of the the brain this week looks very good, so they are confident the headaches were from low red blood cells. Thanks for your prayers, God listens!

Monday, August 11, 2008

More Rescheduling

The doctors are trying to get together again to reschedule more chemo since Andrea's white blood cells returned to normal, and even though the red blood cells and platelets are low, they are not so low that it would inhibit her from having the spinal tap. They also think the headaches could be from low red blood cells but have ordered an MRI to make sure they are on track. Please continue to pray that Andrea gets a boost in her red blood cells. We think of each of you wherever you are and pray for your families, t0o.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I didn't think we'd be disappointed to NOT have chemo, but Andrea is at the point she would like for everything to go as scheduled so it will be fininshed. Today she could not get the scheduled spinal tap with chemo because her red blood count was too low. Most probable causes for this are the chemotherapies of the past, so we go in Monday to see what the blood counts are. We ate liver at Luby's at lunch to see if the iron in that boosts her system, and more yummy proteins this weekend are in we'll see what comes of it. Otherwise, she is feeling okay, so we'll be praying for a boost in her white and red blood cells.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Gaining Strength

Andrea is feeling better and gaining momentum.
However, today was a bit exhausting just in the waiting game to have blood taken, get a bone marrow aspiration, and see the doctor. Total time for all of those takes about 30 minutes, but we were at the hospital today for 6 1/2 hours, all without Andrea eating during that time because she has the bone marrow aspiration with sedation. We were glad to get home!
On Friday, she gets the once a month spinal tap with chemotherapy. So far, those have been going well and we pray for the same. Thank you for your continued prayers. God listens!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Continuing Improvement

Today is J. and Andrea's first wedding anniversary and we are so happy for them that they are celebrating it with a positive health outlook. The doctor dropped more medication, so Andrea is taking about 11 pills a day now. She has her major burst of energy in the morning and usually has a list of things to be done, then rests some in the afternoon. Andrea has even driven her car some on streets near her home, which shows boldness for any driver! Thank you for your ever-continuing thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Getting Better

Andea is off the immunosuppresant drugs and her platelets have returned to normal. What a relief! Her kidney creatinine level function is still little high, so the main doctor is not going to give her the Vidaza shots now. So, Friday they removed the Central Venous Catheter line that was just below her clavicle. With that line out, it is just so much easier to take a shower. She still needs to drink at least 3 liters of fluid a day, and is taking about 14 pills a day. With all that said, Andrea is 'on the mends' and feeling better. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Seeing past the discomfort

Tomorrow, Friday, is the day for the once a month methotrexate chemotherapy spinal tap. We somewhat have that routine down now and can anticipate what will happen and how careful Andrea needs to be the next few days.
Monday the plans are for her to take the Vidaza shots once a day for 5 days. She's been drinking as much water as she can so her creatinine levels are good in order to take those shots, so we'll see what the blood tests reveal tomorrow. As with most of us, a good motto may be: "work in progress".

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Trade Offs

It has been a relief not to report to MDA everyday to receive meds and fluids. However, that means that Andrea has to drink at least 3 liters of water/fluid a day. Anyone who has actually measured that out knows it is one of the greatest weight loss or weight control measures of all time. It is difficult to be hungry enough to eat at meal time, and she needs to gain weight. Plus she is still taking about 20 pills a day. She has a good outlook on what she needs to do each day and is trying to eat healthy meals.
Even though Andrea does not have to go to theATC, she is still at MDA often to test her blood levels, have the Vidaza shots 5 consecutive days each month, and the spinal tap chemotherapy once a month. The spinal tap chemotherapy should be finished by the end of the year. The MRI of the brain came back normal again, so the spinal tap chemotherapy is a reassurance of no relapse.
She was happy this week when they said she could eat salad again. Great gains and great hope. Thank you for your prayers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

100 Days

As 100 days from the stem cell transplant approaches on Wednesday, June 25, Andrea continues to feel better. They have her reporting to M.D. Anderson once or twice a week instead of every day to check her blood levels and take care of any other health concerns that arise. Also this marks the time that they reduce the immunosuppressant drugs so she can start building up her own immunity system. We're hoping the amount of pills taken a day drops from the 20's down to the teens. She is still receiving medicine through the central venous catheter. It is a long process that takes time and lots of patience.
Thank you for your continued prayers as we realize this is a long time to keep praying!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wouldn't you know

Wouldn't you know as soon as I said that Andrea had not needed blood or platelets, she needed a red blood infusion on Friday. I noticed that the red blood cells she received stayed good until July 10, so they do not expire as quickly as platelets do. Anyway, if anyone wants to give blood or platelets, just tell MDA you are giving on behalf of Andrea Martin. She is feeling better and is working hard recoup.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


We have so much to be grateful for and your continued prayers and support are part of the top of the list. If anyone in Houston wants to give blood or platelets on Andrea's behalf, M.D. Anderson is ready to accept them at 1515 Holcombe, 2nd Floor, near Elevator A. All you need to do is call 713-792-4531 to make an appointment and they will tell you what medicines you can and cannot be on to give blood. It struck a heart string to know Pi Phi sisters (who may not even know Andrea) are interested and praying.
Praise God that Andrea didn't need any this week because she sustained the minimum that she needs. If Andrea does not use any blood donated in her behalf, just know that the blood you donate is going to our fellow Ambulatory Treatment Center friends or to the surgeries that they perform daily to battle these awful cancers.
Andrea is feeling better even though her energy level is low. Her stamina will grow with God's help, your prayers, time, good food and the TLC she has been getting.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Small Gains

Even though Andrea's blood count numbers are low, she gained a few points from the 30's last week to 41 platelets today. We are encouraged that she made her own platelets. The spinal tap went okay last Friday and did not cause extreme pain like it has before. This week she takes the Vidaza shot every day Monday through Friday and is taking infusions of extra daily fluids to be able to take the drug.
Please pray that this new treatment will work in her favor.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Although the platelets are not normal, they have held steady for a week and a half, and Andrea has not required an infusion. This is good news but low platelets causes extreme fatigue. Andrea is not in pain, but has a very low energy level. She is just so grateful not to be hurting that she does not complain, but she wants to do so much more.....You know her....... Please pray for her to make her own platelets!
Also she has to have the chemo spinal tap on Friday, so special prayers would be appreciated for healing and no pain then, too.

Friday, May 30, 2008


After a long frustrating day last Friday of receiving meds and platelets, Saturday was the turning point when Andrea did not have pain. She didn't have it all this week either, so when the tests came back with no detection of the viruses yesterday, Andrea was doubly relieved. Her platelets continued to drop this week but at a much slower pace. She does not have to have the continuous hydration 24/7 and is free from the pump and bag of saline. What a relief! So now, with God's help, onward with healing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Better than Last Week

Andrea is feeling better now than she did last week. She received platelets on Friday and they seem to have "stuck with her" through the weekend. She will be having tests this week to determine if the viruses are still lurking and how much additional medicine will be necessary. Without the additional meds, she takes between 25-30 pills a day. So, prayers for her platelets and strength are so much appreciated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bacteria Down, 2 Viuruses to Go

MDA protocol keeps plugging on, as Andrea strives to feel better. After 2 "all clear" test reports, we can safely say the bacteria is gone.
Tomorrow and Friday are her regular days for treatment of the 2 viruses that are so pesky and take all day and then some at MDA hospital Ambulatory Treatent Center. Pain management has helped with the side effects of the viruses somewhat. However, side effects of this helpful medicine include dizziness and loss of concentration, which Andrea makes into a joke at times that us both laugh at what could be a crying situation.
Your prayers help the best, so please keep them coming!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Baby steps

Andrea had to receive blood and platelet infusions today since both were very low. Her kidney function level was slightly high, so they would not give her the once a week treatment for the virus. She will receive fluids and meds at home this weekend and they will try to see if her levels improve enough by Monday to get the virus medicine.
On a more positive note, the new medicine from pain management has helped enough that she is not in constant pain. There continues to be a dull pain, but she can sleep for a couple of hours at a time without interuption....which is at least an improvemtent.
Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pain Management

Andrea went to the MDA Pain Management Doctor today to see if he had anymore suggestions to ease the pain she is faced with. He actually had a different medication to try and had some moral support since his wife is undergoing treatment for cancer at this time, too. It is a really tough road to go down right now, but I truly believe Andrea can turn that corner to feel better soon.
Your prayers and support are so much appreciated.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ups and Downs

One day "this" is feeling better, but then "that" is not, then the next day "that" is feeling better but "the other thing" is not. So, "there" is the life of healing day by day, baby step by baby half step. This transplant is especially hard on Andrea, and I am amazed how she is braving through it. The advanced practitioner nurse and her doctor are keeping close tabs on her daily progress as she goes to MDA each day, but that does not ease the pain she goes through. She had to have platelets on Friday and blood infusions on Saturday at MDA.
Just please keep praying because God listens to us and we believe His miracles prevail.
We had a nice Mother's Day at our house and are blessed by our children.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Powerful prayer request

With the immune suppresant drugs Andrea is taking for the stem cell transplant to take place, she is fighting 2 viruses and a bacteria that are trying to take over her system. We need powerful prayers as she goes into MDA tomorrow for new drugs and the will to fight these adversaries. She wants so badly to feel good again; and with God's will, her tenacity and your prayers, we know it will happen. Thank you for your powerful prayers.
Matt. 7:7-8 Ask, seek, knock. For everyone who who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

This past week has been very difficult for Andrea. The virus continues to cause discomfort and for her to loose sleep. The doctors have a plan to help her get rid of this but it is causing pain in her kidneys. Please pray for this to clear up. She also received a spinal tap with chemo this past Friday. She's really been going through a lot and is exhausted.
In addition to all this, Andrea is in a new clinical study in which she will receive the new Vidaza shots Monday through Friday.
We appreciate all your prayers.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The good news and the bad news

I really hestitate to post good news because of so many other things going on. But.....
There really is good news, like Andrea making her own plateltets now, (and thank you to all those who contributed, because of privacy laws we do not know exactly whose platelets she got, but she got a real boost from some of you who I KNOW were in there on particular days....). Andrea is above 100 platelets and has been making her own for the last couple of days now, which Great News. (140 platelets is normal, so she still has a few more to go on her own.)
Her bone marrow biopsy also came back very encouraging with all donor cells in 40 percent of bone marrow. (Yeah!)
But, she is having difficulty in some other areas she did not have during the last transplant process. Some irritations and viruses are popping up that are causing havoc, so she continues to really need prayers for comfort and healing. The itchiness, burning or sleeplessness is awful. Any and all of these are "normal" for stem cell transplant patients, but that does not really help when there is no real relief other than "time".
We do thank you for each and every prayer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hey, how about that?

I just mention the possibility of Andrea getting to take home her backpack of fluids, everyone keeps praying for her, and it happens! Andrea had been going through a routine of receiving platelets and gradually losing them by "15" each day until she hit bottom and needed them again. Well, Friday for the first time since her transplant, Andrea gained "3" instead of losing "15". So, that meant that she did go home and J. became the one in charge of hooking up bags of fluid and medicine with a battery powered pump over the weekend so Andrea could stay at home instead of reporting to MDA.
She is slowly regaining strength each day and we appreciate you thinking of her.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Month Down

Today is April 17, and Andrea received the stem cell transplant on St, Patrick's Day, March 17. One month down, and she feels awful in many ways but the doctor and nurses say that she is doing Good. But, then they want to know how, when and where the yuckiness is and how bad, so they can determine how they can help. This is the ritual for the next two and a half months which make up the 100 days release time out of the hospital, which was April 1. No fooling. Last time I counted, Andrea was taking 24 pills a day, which did not account for the IV fluids she is hooked up to. They are talking about sending Andrea home Friday with a backpack of fluids with a pump to sustain her so she will not have to tumble out of bed Saturday morning to come to the hospital. We'll see....
So, please keep praying, as we do believe in the power of God over all.
We send love to all who keep reading this blog and keeping positive thoughts coming our way.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rough Week

We haven't posted any progress because it really has been much of the same pains and all the strength Andrea can pull together to get up each morning and go to MDA for the whole day receiving the meds and fluids she needs.
But, Sunday night she had a major rash outbreak from her ankles to the back of her ears. Her main Stem Cell Transplant doctor made a special visit during his regular clinic lunch hour to the special MDA unit Andrea goes to each day to verify that he thinks it is the "graft versus host" syndrome that transplant patients need in order for the transplant to work. It causes extreme itching which they can try to control with medication. They also took a biopsy of her skin which will help confirm it is "graft versus host". We are just hoping that this, too, will pass with the best results possible and total healing.
We continue to keep Andrea updated on your prayers and comments. They are such a comfort.

Monday, April 07, 2008

+21 days

On this 21st day from the stem cell transplant, Andrea is experiencing bone pain (maybe from stem cell grafting) that was bad enough for her doctor to prescribe 2 more medicines. On the last transplant, she was still in the hospital with a pain pump and nurses and doctors around the clock. This time, she is working it through with us and about 5-8 hours at the hospital each day getting fluids and platelets while a nurse monitors the blood draw numbers and calls the doctor when medicine needs to be prescribed. It has been a week since we saw a doctor and tomorrow we finally get to actually see him again. She is still in a lot of discomfort tonight. We pray for better days ahead!

Friday, April 04, 2008


Thank you all for your encouragement. Andrea's stomach, head and bones are still very sensitive and anything (or who knows medicine, the rest of the chemo in her body, or grafting cells) can set off a an adverse reaction. She has averaged platelets every other day in the Ambulatory Treatment Center 10th floor outpatient unit. It really is like a full time job going to it all day to receive fluids and meds, then returning home at night. She even has to go over the weekend. BUT at least Andrea gets to sleep in their own bed at night and that alone is worth A LOT.
It is great you keep praying for her strength each day. She feels it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No April Fools!

No April Fools joke: Andrea is at home tonight, getting to sleep in her and J's own bed! The new doctor "on rounds" saw Andrea when she was out this morning doing her exercise walking and was impressed by her spunk even before he got to her room to do her assessment. He looked at her blood draw numbers, nurses' reports and by what she was telling him that she felt better today than yesterday, he let her go home.
Now, she has 100 days of returning to MDA each day for fluids, meds and assessment to really get well again..... but at least she can go home each night to sleep peacefully.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and an extra thank you for those who gave platelets because Andrea is still receiving those platelets and will be assessed each day to see if she needs more. You ALL are terrific!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Different Doctor

There was a shift change in doctors today and the new doctor wanted Andrea to go to the discharge class on Tuesday, see if she could tolerate all the medicine in pill form, and see if her headaches ease up. So, it looks like the earliest Andrea can bust out of here is by Wednesday.
Please keep praying for her stomach and lack of headaches to cooperate!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Great Gain

Just overnight Andrea's white blood cell count jumped from .7 to 2.5. Wow! Thank you so much for our plea for platelets. As you can see, Andrea responded well to them, and she is still receiving them. The doctor said if she continues on this path, she may get to go home on Tuesday. This is a week and a half earlier than we anticipated. It is such good news for her.
BUT, she still needs your continued prayers for her stomach, though. The chemotherapy really tore it up and she has a constant stomach ache, pain, cramps or all of them together. It poses a real dilemma as they are trying to switch all meds to pill form and many of you know how certain pills affect your stomach. We are confident that time and prayer will get Andrea through this.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Doctor's Report

Well, the Doctor says Andrea is doing well at this point of the transplant. Her white blood cells came up to .7 (and the normal is 4.0), which is GOOD since she has been as low as 0 for several days.
Your prayers are working, but she anxious for some days now to get this all behind her. It helped to have girlfriends to show up for her birthday in the hospital (I know to have a confined birthday), but to have one at all is a blessing!!!!
Thank you all for your prayers and most especially to all of those who have given your platelets or blood to help Andrea combat this disease.
The Lord does listen to our prayers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

There's Sunshine Behind the Clouds

Even though Andrea is experiencing all the aches, pains and fever that is expected with treatment, the doctor said she is doing well for all that is anticipated. She had no fever this morning and her white cell count Finally came up from zero to .2, so hopefully she can start momentum towards the healthy direction again. We know she can do it, with God's miracles and your prayers.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Got Platelets!

Andrea got the platelets that she needed late this afternoon. Thank you so much for those of you who are taking time out of your busy schedules and work to come by MDA to donate blood and platelets. I know it is an extra challenge with the construction down here in the medical center, but it is truly appreciated. Andrea is in the "rough" part of the treatment, but she is a real trooper and is hanging in there.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MDA needs platelets and blood

Andrea needs platelets and did not receive them today because MDA has had so many surgeries. If anyone could donate blood or platelets they need to call:
713-792-4531 to make sure they can take their blood when they are ready to give.
Then they can go to MDA, 1515 Holcombe, enter at MD Anderson Blvd, park in garage 10, garage crosswalk to MDA hospital is on level 3, ride escalator or elevator down to 2nd floor MDA which is near Elevator A. Diagnostic Center is right there. Please be sure to designate blood or platelets given to Andrea Martin.
Thanks so much.

Really Yucky

The white cell counts are still at zero and Andrea needed platelets again today. She had a fever this morning, her stomach is cramping and her bones ache. She is getting medicine for all this but she still feels really yucky. Andrea is relying on God to get her through this and appreciates your prayers so much.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Platelets Again Today

Andrea needed more platelets today since they were below 20. She is also on antibiotics to combat anything since she has no immunity. Today she also started the neupogen shots since her white cell count has been zero for a couple of days. Even though she has stomach pains, she is still eating and getting up out of bed to exercise. She amazes me. With God's miracles and your prayers, she will get through this.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Even Wtih....

Even with nose bleeds and lining of the mouth and throat raw, at 7 a.m. this morning the doctor said Andrea was doing very well at this stage of the transplant. Thank you very much! She received platelets today, which explain why those nose bleeds were occurring.
She will get through this, too, as she did last time - - with God's help and your continued prayers. (I Samuel 17:47 The battle belongs to the Lord.). Andrea is very positive and just counting the days when she will be well enough to go home. We watched funny DVDs last night and said meaningful, heartfelt prayers before sleeping.
Every single one of your prayers are so much appreciated.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ups and Downs

Andrea's condition can change without a moment's notice. At any time we've become used to either fevers, chills, bone aches, shooting pains and/or headaches. The nurses can respond with a set amount of medicine and then when that does not work, they call the doctor. So far she has responded well to their set regime within a couple of hours, then Andrea is back to, "Hey, what do we have on DVD?", or she will climb on her exercise bike for a few minutes. Earlier this week when Andrea was out walking with J, he had to bring her back to her room in a wheelchair because her ankles hurt very badly, so the doctor found an exercise bike to keep her moving. She still goes on walks, but does not feel compelled to try to make it a mile since she knows the bike is in her room.
Compared to the last transplant, Andrea feels better on this "Day 4" than the last one. God is listening to our continued prayers!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rough Night, Better Day

As of the transplant yesterday, Andrea is at zero immunity and the doctors stepped up the anti-rejection medicines. This extra hard on Andrea because it means limiting contact to caregivers and doctors. Thank goodness for the telephone or cards that can be sent to her house because Andrea does need contact with the outside world! We read this blog to her all the time, too, which gives her an extra boost of confidence that "this too will pass quickly". We are so appreciative of the Internet while cooped up in a 10 by 10 room.
The anti-rejection meds last night caused a big headache from about 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., then relief with sleep came.
Thank you all for continued prayers.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Successful Transplant!

Andrea got up this morning, took her 1-mile walk around the 11th floor of MDA and patiently waited for her doctor to come by for his assessment. Then, about 1:30 p.m. she had her stem cell transplant administered. Her dad is with her this afternoon and I called to see if she needed anything else. She said "Just to take a nap", so I took the hint!
Thank you to all for your continued prayers. God listens.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Working Out the Kinks

We've come to find out that nothing ever goes smoothly for Andrea. The clinical study that she is in requires medicine that can cause fever, itching, pains, etc., etc. She experienced all those plus the neurological headaches that Andrea had gotten under control last week before admission. After a very rough night, the nurses called the doctors and they were able to put together a concoction of medicines to counteract the fevers, itching, and headaches by the morning.
Andrea took her hardest dose of chemo today that required her to continuously suck on ice chips in her mouth for an hour and a half - - before, during and after the the chemo. This type of chemo causes mouth sores (called mucocitis), so we're just hoping that freezing her mouth will help head off some of the side affects.
2 Days until Transplant.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day -4 until transplant

Last night they moved Andrea to the stem cell transplant unit. They are helping so many people at MDA that they squeeze in every person that they can, where they can. It is better here on this unit, though, because the nurses are focussed on this particular cancer patient's needs.
In addition to chemo today, Andrea received an additional new drug to help her system prepare for Kristin's stem cells. However, a side effect is itching, so they gave her a big dose of Bendadryl. That, of course, made her sleepy, but Andrea is taking it all in stride and still has a positive attitude. An ugly headache popped up too, but hopefully it won't stay. She will continue the new drug as well as chemo until transplant.
Thank you so much for each of your prayers. They mean so much!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Checked In

Since the last posting Andrea has been very busy going through tests to make sure she is ready for the stem cell transplant.
Everything is okay and MDA checked her in at 9 p.m. last night. However, everybody seemed to be getting admitted last night and she did not get hooked up to the IV cart until 2 a.m. We were very tired!
Today, Wednesday, she received the first dose of Fludarabine chemotherapy.
Countdown - 5 days until transplant.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Chemo Okay, So Far

The "monoclonal antibody chemo" has not produced ill effects so far from yesterday (Yeah!). Andrea showed up to MDA early this morning to have her blood levels checked and saw her doctor. She did not have much of an appetite today, but we ate regular meals and her dad joined us for lunch.
Tomorrow we will check in early to MDA to continue with the spinal tap of methotrexate in her spine to cover anything in the central nervous system. This doctor is the anesthesiologist with the magic touch who can do spinal taps without mind-rocketing headaches, so we aniticipate the same.
We continue to be so grateful for every prayer lifted up for Andrea.
God listens.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Subclavian Catheter is in!

Thank goodness Andrea was one of the first procedures this morning for anethesia because you cannot eat or drink anything before that. The subclavian catheter was successfully implanted and she got to eat afterwards then slept-off the anesthesia most of the day.
We will report again bright and early at 7:30 tomorrow (Wed) to receive her first out patient chemo in the new catheter. It is a new monoclonal anitbody that Andrea did not have during the first stem cell transplant. It is supposed to work with Andrea's immune system to 'target and destroy only cancer cells'. It sounds great until you read some of the side affects, but we will not worry about those now! We'll take it 'day by day' for the next 4 months, with God's help.

Monday, March 03, 2008

If at first you don't succeed.......

Today the catheter insertion that goes into the heart was not going smoothly and was causing too much pain, so the doctor rescheduled it for tomorrow morning so Andrea could be under sedation. MDA may not be perfect, but they will at least stop, reassess and try again.
Wednesday will be the first dose of out patient chemo, and Friday will be the chemo in the spine that continues her treatment for the central nervous system, even though the lesion in the brain is gone. If it sounds like Andrea is getting the one-two boxing punch, well, she is.
So, yes, all friends and family where ever you may be, we ask for prayers of strength and healing. And of course, passing on the prayer chain is always welcome. Faith in our Lord is great.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good News, Bad News, Again!

After the bone marrow biopsy and MRI, the first preliminary report on the bone marrow biopsy was clear of leukemia. Then the MRI report came back that the lesion in the brain was gone. Both great news....but the final report of the bone marrow biopsy showed the actual bone marrow stained slides with time showed cluster groups of cells that indicate leukemia is trying to make a comeback. So, with clearance of insurance, Andrea will be starting her second bone marrow transplant from Kristin's T cells the first week in March. There have been some newly approved FDA drugs in this process since the last transplant. Andrea's doctor is very positive this is her cure and so are we. Still, this is a very difficult process for Andrea to endure of 30 days in the hospital plus 100 days after release from the hospital of tests, fluids and drugs.
Thank you for your prayers in relying on another miracle from God.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Second successful chemo/spinal tap

Thursday morning Andrea had a bone marrow biopsy with sedation, so we cooked at her house Valentine's night to avoid busy restaurants. (How romantic, dinner with the parents!) Anyway....Friday morning the spinal tap with methotrexate chemotherapy went well. No headaches so far, only mild nausea. But that can be usually be handled with more frequent smaller meals. This coming Thursday, Andrea will have another MRI of the brain to see what the lesion is doing. (shrinking, of course, but how much???) Y0ur prayers for a quick recovery is so much appreciated.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chemo This Week

Since the last posting, Andrea has been gaining weight and trying to regain energy. Her morning starts with a headache, which usually goes away with Advil or Excedrin. When the weather cooperates, which it has been lately, she will take Zeus out for his walk around the small park across the street from their house. She has scheduled an appointment with her gym trainer on Wednesday to get an idea on how to regain muscle and not just weight. She also kindly told me she did not want anymore cinnamon buns or kolaches for breakfast! (Oh well, it was fun while it lasted). Thursday she will have a bone marrow biopsy. Then Friday, it is time for the 2nd dose of methotrexate chemotherapy. The Pain Management doctors are adminstering it again but without the blood patch this time. They said blood patches can cause scarring and also increases more risk of bacterial meningitis. So, we'll see if this spinal tap will be tolerable without the blood patch.
Thank you for your contined prayers. Especially on difficult days, there is comfort in knowing that there are prayers for strength and healing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good Spinal Tap News

There are still no signs of leukemia in Andrea's spinal fluid. She is feeling a little better each day but is still having occasional headaches, muscle and joint pain. She is feeling well enough to go out to restaurants again but takes her pillow is sit on! I'm still cooking for her to gain weight and strength.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

So Far, So Good

Many prayers were answered this past week because of minimal headaches, nausea or shooting pains. However, today is the real test of how Andrea will feel without the steroid pills that she has to stop after 6 days of treatment. She's encouraged by good reports of Mona-Vie nutrition drink from her new Aunt Sheila (Betty's sister). Andrea has been battling fatigue which is way past what most of us know as 'dead tired'. Hopefully, the Mona-Vie will help with energy and/or immunity.
We appreciate your prayers so much.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Better Spinal Tap

As far as spinal taps go, this is the best one that Andrea has had to endure. The Pain Management doctors are anethesiologists who are well versed in the spinal column. They were so good, gentle and communicative with Andrea. The chemo methotrexate has not produced the excruiating pain like the Ara-C did.
We do believe that all your prayers were answered on this round of treatment. We appreciate all your efforts.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Better, But Not There Yet

As soon as Andrea feels "better", there is a set back of either a stomach ache or headache. She is up to 112 lbs., which is better than 110!!
Plans are for the spinal tap of methotrexate on Friday. She usually stays flat on her back for 5-7 days after a spinal tap, but Pain Management will be involved in this one and hopefully with a pediatric needle and blood patch, she will experience less pain. Prayers are a real blessing at this point.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Plans

The stem cell doctor said he would be taking over Andrea's treatment totally since she does not have the Ommaya Reservoir in her head anymore. This is good news since we do trust him and his physician's assistant to help and follow up with Andrea like they did before. They will try a new chemo next week in the spinal cord. Spinal taps are horrible, but there will be a different approach this time. Andrea is feeling well enough now to eat, so I will be offering any and all foods she can tolerate to pack on some pounds.
Just please pray that all comes together to obliterate that tiny lesion in her brain!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Grasping for good news

Andrea went to the endocrinologist today and she had gained 1.9 pounds this past week. I was really happy because it was a lot of work for her to eat that much and keep it down. (She lost 25 pounds during the meningitis calamity, so she still needs 23 more pounds.) There are a few people who would like to just hand her a few of their pounds!
The bone density test she took on Monday was much better than the one a year ago. Even though she feels really weak and fragile right now, the gym conditioning and prescribed vitamins/minerals she took this past year has really paid off in her bones.
She is off to another doctor tomorrow, so we'll let you know what he prescribes.
Andrea feels blessed to have so many people still praying for her.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Slightly Better

The headaches and nausea are starting to subside, which is good; but either one pops up unexpectedly at any time. Thursday the doctor took Andrea off of some medicine that is very hard on her and said he would let her recuperate a week before recommending more chemo.
Thank you for your encouraging messages and prayers.