"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase"

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Surgery: Round 2

Mom is scheduled for additional abdominal surgery March 15th. Her surgeon plans to "clear the margins" and remove the remaining cancer ASAP! They feel very confident this can be accomplished successfully knowing exactly where to go and how much more to remove. After surgery they will rescan and evaluate any need for chemo depending on results.

I just arrived from Phoenix tonight and I'm so happy to be here with her that I can't sleep. Mom looks fantastic and her new non-existent belly button is adorable! I'm so proud of her fight and her spirit. She works so hard at keeping a full time job during all of this and still manages to kick butt at it too!

We are so grateful for all of your love and support because this journey is not easy.

Love & Thanks Always

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kidney Stent

What is a Kidney Stent?

I'm a visual person so I found this illustration to help demonstrate more about a kidney stent.

In patients who have, or might have, an obstruction (blockage) of the kidney, an internal drainage tube called a ‘stent’ is commonly placed in the ureter, between the kidney and the bladder. This is placed there in order to temporarily relieve the obstruction.

How long will the stent stay in the body?

There is no hard and fast rule about this. The stent has to be kept in place as long as necessary, i.e. until the obstruction is relieved. This depends on the cause of obstruction and the nature of its treatment.

In the majority of patients, the stents are required for only a short duration, from a few weeks to a few months. However, a stent in the right position can stay in for up to three months without the need to replace it. When the underlying problem is not a kidney stone, the stent can stay in even longer. There are special stents, which may be left in for a much longer time. Your urologist will tell you how long he expects your stent to remain in place.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hospital visit

Saturday PM: Mom went into ER today for some severe kidney pain. The CT scan shows a blockage and requires she be admitted to the hospital tonight for a procedure in the morning.
This is all I know so far. Will keep you posted as we learn more.

Sunday AM: Surgeon who placed the stent says there is no blockage and the stent looks fine. Said there must be something else going on.

Update: The kidney stent was replaced early this morning. CT scan showed a "hint" of a possible blockage which was not confirmed. Kidney looked abnormal and not improved since having the initial stent placed. Her pain is gone, blood and levels are good. Doctor says the kidney will remain swollen somewhat since the stent is present. If pain comes back Dr. Icaza will be called in to evaluate.

Official report: (via Aunt Margie)
Dr. Severino's resident talked with us. From "hello" you clearly got the feeling he knew your mom's entire case and was up-to-speed! When we back up to the original stent placement, the need for the stent arose from probably a residual event following past surgeries, chemotherapy and/or radiation. Could be scar tissue, a weak spot in the kidney, etc. At any rate, the original stent relieved distension/enlargement of the kidney. Last night's CAT scan showed the kidney appeared better but not perfect. Due to the location of her pain, the stent was the logical place to check. Although the stent appeared clear at the time of its replacement, there could have been a small bit of mucus present at some time during the past day causing the pain and possible blockage. At any rate, a new stent was placed and her pain has resolved. This pain cannot be ruled out as having been bowel pain due to her recent episodes of constipation/diarrhea. It was just logical to check the stent. Something to keep in mind is that the stent is not a natural vessel with flaps, etc., having the capability to more fully control the urine flow in one direction. Therefore, urine can flow both directions in a stent and this is just part of the reality of this. Not a problem so much as just something to be aware of. The best news of all is all bloodwork was good. Potassium level and kidney function was good. A urinalysis will be run now before discharge to ensure no bladder infection. But most of all, if there were a tumor causing indentation of the kidney or blockage of the vessel (stent) it would have shown up on the PET scan and the last 2 CAT scans. That is the best news.


Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness. For I, Jehovah your God, am GRASPING your right hand, the One saying to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I myself will help you.'

-Isaiah 41:10, 13

Forks Over Knives

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.

Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to “battle” these very conditions. Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.

Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?

FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

Dr. Campbell, a nutritional scientist at Cornell University, was concerned in the late 1960′s with producing “high quality” animal protein to bring to the poor and malnourished areas of the third world. While in the Philippines, he made a life-changing discovery: the country’s wealthier children, who were consuming relatively high amounts of animal-based foods, were much more likely to get liver cancer. Dr. Esselstyn, a top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, found that many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed.

These discoveries inspired Campbell and Esselstyn, who didn’t know each other yet, to conduct several groundbreaking studies. One of them took place in China and is still among the most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken. Their research led them to a startling conclusion: degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented – and in many cases reversed – by adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet. Despite the profound implications of their findings, their work has remained relatively unknown to the public.

The filmmakers travel with Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn on their separate but similar paths, from their childhood farms where they both produced “nature’s perfect food,” to China and Cleveland, where they explored ideas that challenged the established thinking and shook their own core beliefs.

The idea of food as medicine is put to the test. Throughout the film, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes. Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments – while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed.

FORKS OVER KNIVES utilizes state of the art 3-D graphics and rare archival footage. The film features leading experts on health, examines the question “why we don’t know,” and tackles the issue of diet and disease in a way that will have people talking for years.

Dirty Electricity

When Thomas Edison began wiring New York City with a direct current electricity distribution system in the 1880s, he gave humankind the magic of electric light, heat, and power; in the process, though, he inadvertently opened a Pandora’s Box of unimaginable illness and death.

Dirty Electricity tells the story of Dr. Samuel Milham, the scientist who first alerted the world about the frightening link between occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic pollution, and human disease. Milham takes readers through his early years and education, following the twisting path that led to his discovery that most of the twentieth century diseases of civilization, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and suicide, are caused by electromagnetic field exposure.

Dr. Milham warns that because of the recent proliferation of radio frequency radiation from cell phones and towers, terrestrial antennas, Wi-Fi and Wi-max systems, broadband internet over power lines, and personal electronic equipment, we may be facing a looming epidemic of morbidity and mortality. In Dirty Electricity, he reveals the steps we must take, personally and as a society, to coexist with this marvelous but dangerous technology.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Unclear Margins

Mom's visit with the oncologist today was a surprise. We were all expecting more chemotherapy.
Instead we received other news. First I do want to let you know that as long as there's something "to do" there's a chance that she can fight this thing. We're taking the positive approach. Are you sitting down? The surgeon and oncologist agree that additional surgery is needed. This will not take place until she's healed from the most recent surgery. The reason has everything to do with the margins not being cleared from the removal of the cancerous nodules. So they feel she will have a better chance of staying ahead of this monster if they "clear" the margins. Mom's surgeon is truly one of the best and did already remove more than he felt was necessary, however it just wasn't enough. It's nearly impossible to tell during the time of surgery even with the pathologist in the room taking and testing frozen sections as the surgeon works. We're estimating 6 more weeks of recovery before additional surgery. After the next surgery they will let her heal, rescan and then evaluate for chemotherapy depending on results of the scans.

So until the next time I shall keep you updated with love and hope always. Stay strong and fight!

Love Jess

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Doctor Appointments

Mom's upcoming doctor appointments

Surgeon, Wednesday, Removed staples
Oncologist, Friday, Consultation on pathology report
Surgeon #2, Tuesday, Follow-up on kidney stent
Surgeon #3, Friday, 6 month follow-up from hysterectomy

Thank you so much again and again for your never ending love and support!
We shall keep you posted! A little nervous about Friday with the Oncologist!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

from Jess

In 3 years I will have lived in Arizona the same amount of time that I lived in Illinois. Time goes by so quickly and especially as I've gotten older. When I moved away Jenelle was only 8 and little Josh was 6. I never planned on living in Arizona as long as I have but after college it quickly became my new home and a very comfortable place to live for many reasons. I have a wonderful husband of 5 years, a great job of 9 years, a house and 2 beagles. I've learned over the past 15 years that you don't have to be a 30 minute drive away from your family to be close. I love my entire family so much and we've always remained very close. In fact sometimes I feel that I've come to appreciate them even more being further away. We don't take each other for granted and we hold the time that we do get to spend together very precious.

When Mom was diagnosed in 2008 I thought that we needed to move closer no matter what the cost but it's not as easy as one could imagine both physically and mentally. Anyone who has moved far away from their family (and survived) knows what I'm talking about. It's been a very difficult 3 years being so far away from Mom during her fight with cancer. We don't know what the future holds and all that we can do is try to make the best decisions and choices as each day brings it's own set of challenges.

Thank you for being a part of this blog and of our lives. I'm so glad that we started this from Day 1 of Mom's fight and I'm happy to help be a part of this fight in my own little ways.

Love Jess

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pathology Results

Pathology results show the nodules removed are cancer. The name for it is a "Sister Mary Joseph nodule." Next step is to meet with the oncologist to determine if additional chemotherapy is needed. Information about SMJ nodule is posted below. We're grateful this was found and removed but too upset to comment further at this time. It's been a long road, we don't know what the future holds but we're ready to fight and continue, together!

What is a Sister Mary Joseph Nodule