Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cancer Sucks!

We have been slacking on this blog.  Over the next little bit, we will try to update it daily.  I know people would like to know how Mel is doing.  We have to back up a little bit, to get the full story put together.
At the end of March, Mel was having her routine blood draw.  One of her levels for kidney function was a bit high.  They decided to do an ultra-sound on her kidneys, just to be safe.  There was a mass in her right kidney. They thought it would be fluid filled and be some kind of an infection.  However, when they went to biopsy the "fluid", they discovered it was solid. The biopsy revealed that it was leukemia, once again.
Mel was not excited to have more needles and tests.  They did a bone marrow biopsy.  During the procedure, they injected some chemo as well.  Her bone marrow was clear.  However, upon looking under a special microscope, they could see a trace of cancer blasts.  Melanie also had a pet scan.  The things that stood out were: 1) The mass in her kidney. 2) The spot on her lung that she has had for months, which they are saying is a fungal infection. They don't know for absolute sure without a biopsy. 3) Something on the upper side of her back.  They don't know what this is.  Pet scans show everything.  This could be inflammation, soreness, or a mass of some kind.
Our family met with the doctors at LDS hospital on April 5th, to go over the results.  We always knew there was no option for a third transplant.  Given the fact that her leukemia keeps coming back, and in random places, they stated that her cancer is incurable.  Not a fun word to hear.  The doctors wanted Mel to think about how she wanted to spend her remaining time.  They gave her three options.  To do nothing, to do a chemo called Dacogen (it has been proven to give time to some patients), or seek a larger leukemia facility that is running a trial study.  At this moment, she was having no affects from the leukemia. Her kidney was functioning and her levels were all good.  There were no tears at this meeting.  My mom even said how we should all be bawling, but yet there was such a feeling of peace and calm.  Mel added her testimony, once again, about the fact that there is a higher hand in all of this.  We all knew that it was in Heavenly Father's hands. 
Mel was not sure what to do.  She eliminated the trial study pretty quickly.  This would cost a lot of money, and she would be away from Kaden.  She still had not made her final decision (although I know she didn't want more hospital time), when she started experiencing pain and having problems breathing.  This was about a week ago, Friday, April 26th.  Cami called and told me that the night before, Mel was up in the night with pain. This last week, she had her labs done on Thursday.  This time, her levels were shifting.  Her red blood cell counts are going down, and her white count is going up.  Her kidney levels are starting to change as well.  The leukemia is setting in.  They do not do more in depth looks into the blood in Logan.  My mom called the head nurse at LDS in Salt Lake and had them run further testing there.  This testing showed that in Mel's blood, she had 50% cancer blasts.  Three and a half years ago, when she first went to the hospital, she had 75% cancer blasts. 
I feel like I am not putting this in a good order and that I am rambling and forgetting things.  I am just going to go through this last week. 
Wednesday, Mel was able to meet with one of her old bishops, who is a lawyer.  He was kind enough to offer his services.  He sat with her and they put a trust in place.  Mel was able to talk about what her desires were for Kaden as well.  She called me later that day, and we had a nice visit.  I know getting this done was a big relief for her.
Thursday, this was the day she had her labs drawn.  That evening, their current bishop came over.  He gave Mel a blessing and interviewed her for her temple recommend. My parents told me that in the blessing, she was told that she would be around long enough to get her things in order here.  Mel had a hard night that night.  Her pain and labored breathing have been getting a bit worse as each day went on.  My mom was determined to find hospice care.
Friday was Mel's first visit from the hospice nurse.  She brought some needed relief!  Mel was given some better morphine, some oxygen (hers was down to 68), and a wedge to help prop up her bed.  I know my mom felt better, knowing there was help, and also getting some answers of what to expect. 
Saturday, we were able to make it up. Cami and I sat in her room and watched some game shows with her.  Mel was in good spirits. She was pretty tired and would go in and out quite a bit.  She was able to have some fairly good conversations.  However, she said some pretty funny things that we all laughed about.  For instance, I asked her to help me write a bit to put on facebook.  She said she wanted me to make sure I put accurate information.  When I asked her what was accurate, she said, "You can only eat a hot dog, if it is real.  Melanie is on morphine again."  A little later she told me that I should not plant raspberry bushes.  Cami and I told her we needed to start writing some of this down.  Mel had a hard time with nausea today.  She was not able to keep much down.  This was frustrating for her.  It is also hard to puke and cough, when you struggle just to breath.
Sunday, Greg, Charise, and Makayla made it up.  Melanie perked right up, when her sweet Makayla came in her room.  She wanted to sit up and play with her.  She was good for a few minutes, but then she could hardly keep her eyes open.  That was the story for today.  You go in her room to talk with her, she starts to talk, but is asleep with only a few words in.  She would be eating (what little she eats), and fall asleep before she swallows.  It seems so in and out.  One minute I would walk in her room, see her labored breathing, try to have a conversation, and think how she must not have much time.  The next minute she is walking in to sit at the kitchen table.
When the nurse came this evening.  We asked her how much of this is due to the morphine, and how much of it is her own body.  Since she really is not getting morphine that often, the nurse said it is probably a lot her own body starting to shut down.
It is hard to watch your sister die.  It is hard to watch my parents lose their daughter.  I had to come home for a couple of days, and that was hard to do.  Today was fast Sunday.  I fasted that Mel will not have to suffer anymore. In all of this, we hold onto that peaceful calm feeling we felt on April 5th.  We remember Mel's testimony that there is a higher plan. 


Cami said...

Great post Angie! Love you!

Les said...

I can't imagine what you are all going through. We love you guys!

MissMel said...

As I read this, I am stunned at the courage Mel and your family shows through this trial. I also felt the great peace in your words. I'm praying for you and your family. I love you. Melonie

Kimbies said...

Nice post Angie. Thanks for doing that. I will see you on Tuesady. Love you all!

J Payne said...

Thank you for your update. Please give our love to Melanie, Kaden, and your whole family.
Jullie Payne

Susan said...

Angie, you and your family have been in our prayers, and we fasted for you and Melanie yesterday. Hang on to that peace! Love love love you!

Avry said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I can feel your love for your sister thank you for sharing. prayers always.

Emily + Eric said...

Melanie was my daughter's Kindergarten teacher. She has uplifted and inspired so many students and parents over the years, and continues to do so. Lots of prayers and love are being sent your way!

Anonymous said...

I've known Melanie for a long time. We were in the same ward when our boys were young. I was and still amazed at her determination and love for her son.

I am so sorry you and your family are going through this difficult journey. I just lost my father in February to cancer. I spent his last 9 days with him while he was in hospice care. It was an amazing experience. The veil is so thin. The spirit so strong.

Give Melanie my love and I wish her much peace and comfort.

Heather Swenson

Heather said...

Oh I forgot to ask, is there an account set up where we could donate towards expenses and/or Kaden's future schooling etc.?

Thanks - Heather Swenson

Jon Marshall said...

Great Post about Mel. I have been keeping up with progress on Facebook and through friends. I have known Mel my whole life and pretty much all of your family. You guys are in my prayers and thoughts daily. She could not be from a better family.

Sending my love and thoughts to Mel.

Jon Marshall

christa said...

Love you all! Thanks for updating us. Lots of prayers coming your way everyday.

M J said...

I have never met Mel, but have faithfully followed and checked her blog everyday for an update. My dad spent a lot of time on East 8 at LDS Hospital and that is why I feel a kinship with her and your family. He too battled this awful disease. I was so excited to see a new post today, but felt like I had been kicked in the stomach to learn that the leukemia has returned.
I just want to share with you a belief that Heavenly Father's plan is perfect and there must be something that she can help you with from the other side that she is unable to do here. Please know that friends, even strangers, are praying for you and your family.