UPDATE…December 6, 2016
Well, we got good news and bad news today. P.E.T. Scan showed no lymphoma anywhere. That’s good news! It means that there are no cells large enough to scan. There may still be some individual cells hanging out somewhere, but continued treatments are designed to knock them out too. The bad news is that the scan also showed something in one lung. The doctor thinks it is residual fluid leftover from the pneumonia, but he wants us to see a lung specialist to be positive. He is also very concerned that Linda’s last chemo treatment nearly killed her. So, he wants us to meet with the radiologist and consult about maybe moving on to radiation treatment from here. Another option may be to reduce the dosage of chemo to try to avoid a repeat of last time. Basically, there are several options to consider and some unknowns up ahead. So, he postponed today’s chemo treatment for two weeks to give us a chance to see the other guys. So, if she has chemo in two weeks (12/20) she will most likely be sick through the Christmas holiday. So now our original plan is changing and we’re a lot less sure of where we are headed. However, we are certain that things are going our way and the lymphoma is getting its butt kicked. Hooray!!
Keep on praying – we need every bit we can get. Thanks for your love and support.
————————— Don and Linda Tabberer
UPDATE…December 1, 2016
Well, Linda came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. That’s good news! She has her P.E.T. Scan tomorrow and chemo next Tuesday and on we go on this journey. We are so grateful for all your prayers and support. Well wishes, food, calls, cards – it is overwhelming to know how many people care. Thank you!
We also wanted to share the “add insult to injury” element of our story. Tilly, our 8-year-old puppy/baby, spent the night in the hospital this week as well. She was a sick little girl and we learned that she is diabetic. Big surprise since she is not at all over-weight. Vet says it is probably genetic. She will need twice daily insulin injections for the rest of her life. Ya know – sometimes you just want to look up and say, “Really?!” But, that is OK. She is such a great dog and we would miss her if she wasn’t here, so on we go.
So Linda’s hospital stay involved gallons of IV antibiotics to kill all those pesky germs and bacteria. Apparently, it worked and her blood counts are going up and she seems to be recovering well. We are settling back into our routine at home. I work in my office here much of the week. We figure out the details on visits, meetings, and so forth. Special thanks to the members of our church who are being so understanding through all of this. They are making it possible for me to work and take care of Linda. Bless them!
So, I guess that’s all the news for today. Thanks for listening. One thing we noticed is that a ton of people have visited this story and sent us good thoughts and prayers. One of the really special ones came from our friend in Bethlehem who sent his prayers and good thoughts to us. It is truly special to know that you are being prayed for by Christians in Palestine, who have their own problems to deal with, and they can take time to lift us up as well. God is good!
————————— Don and Linda Tabberer
OK, so we have not spent any time telling this particular story on Facebook or any other social media site. Much of that has to do with priorities and some has to do with reluctance to sound like we’re seeking sympathy. However, with that said, my recent Thanksgiving message on Facebook made me realize that many of our friends are completely unaware of what is going on with Linda. I thought I would try to fill in those folks about our latest Personal Journey.
Linda started having back pain late in 2015. She visited our primary care doctor who referred her to a pain management specialist. Over the next several months they treated her with pain management injections, exercises, physical therapy, etc. For a short time things improved and Linda continued to function well. However, in the Spring of 2016 she started to go backward. We tried chiropractors, accupuncture, physical therapy, injections – everything anyone could think of. Nonetheless, by July 4th Linda was in a wheelchair. By the beginning of August she was unable to go to work and had to retire. She had become almost completely immobile. Finally, on August 25th Linda had an MRI of her spine, thinking we would be getting ready for surgery. The doctor called while we were driving home to ask us to come into his office the following morning. This seemed odd since our appointment to hear the results of the test was two weeks away.
That morning, August 26th, we were told that Linda has a large mass growing around her spine at L-5. This accounted for the worsening pain and immobility. The tumor is pressing on the nerve bundle that goes to her left leg – thus her leg doesn’t respond to instructions; thus she can’t walk. So, on Sunday, August 28th she was admitted to St. John Hospital and on September 1st they did a relatively minor back surgery to install rods that would stabilize her spine during the cancer treatment. The theory is that as the tumor shrinks the spine would become vulnerable unless they give it more support. That surgery went very well. On September 3rd Linda was moved to the Oncology Unit on the 14th floor of St. John. She had her first round of chemo therapy that night. We spent a week there recovering from the surgery and learning lots about cancer. She was scheduled to move to an inpatient rehab facility on September 12th to help with her mobility issues. On September 11th, she was transferring from her bed to a chair and her left leg gave out. During this event she dislocated her right shoulder.
SO…she went through the rpocess of having her shoulder repositioned and immobilized. Then, on September 13th we moved her to Kaiser Rehab at Hillcrest Medical Center. On September 14th, the aide turned away for a moment as Linda was tranferring and she fell again and dislocated the same shoulder again. (OMG!) They reset her shoulder (or so we thought) and we spent the next three weeks in rehab trying to gain mobility and learn to work with only one arm – the non-dominant one! I will not go into the gory saga of what went on those three weeks. Suffice to say that our suggestion to anyone who wants to know is: DO NOT EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GO TO HILLCREST MEDICAL CENTER OR TO KAISER REHAB. ‘Nuff Said! [BTW – The right shoulder is still doslocated. Hillcrest guy didn’t really fix it.]
On Saturday, October 1, I was able to bring Linda home after five weeks away. Our living room is now a hospital room with all the trimmings and Linda requires 24/7 care. She can walk with assistance and is improving everyday. She is undergoing chemo therapy every 21 days at the Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute in Broken Arrow. This is the result of a coop of services between St. John Health Systems and M.D. Anderson in Houston. They are great! Yes, she has lost most of her hair; it will grow back. It “feels” like the treatment is working because she is starting to regain feeling in her left leg. Her particular type of cancer – Large B-cell Lymphoma – is known to respond to treatment with a cure rate near 90% – so, we are going to beat this thing. There is light at the end of the tunnel – it’s just a really long tunnel. Last chemo treatment is set for December 27th. Then there will be a series of six shots directly into her spinal cord to kill anything that might have invaded. Radiation is an unknown at this time. P.E.T. Scan is set for December 2 to show us what progress we’ve made so far in shrinking the tumor. After all this is done and she recovers, there will be a shoulder surgery to repair that mess. (No surgery now because of weakend immune system.) After that recovery, they will start looking again at what’s going on with her back and decide what treatment is needed for that. It’s going to be a long 2017 as well.
The lates episode that came up on FB this wek is just a complication along the way. Usually after cemo Linda has a down time when she runs a fever and feels like crap. Well, she had chemo on November 15th which put her “down time” at November 21st. Well, this time things were different. Her symptoms were more severe and there was some new stuff. All day on the 22nd was difficult. it continued into the night and got worse. So, I called the doctor and they sent us to the E.R. We got there about 1:30AM on November 23rd. When we arrived, Linda’s temp was 102.8, her heart rate was 140 (great for a rabbit!), and her BP was 60/30. They got her in right away and found that she had pneumonia and septic shock. It was not news we wanted to hear. The good news is that the Dr. told us that, if I had waited much longer to bring her in, the outcome would have been very different from what is was. So, needless to say, Linda was admitted to St. John I.C.U. that morning and they started pumping her full of antibiotics and four units of blood. The better news came on Thanksgiving Day when the doctor told us she was out of the woods and would be leaving I.C.U. that day. We moved out at 8PM on Thanksgiving and she is now back on the Oncology Unit at St. John. (Home sweet home) Dr. told her this morning that she would remain there at least through this weekend.
And that is the whole saga in a nutshell. It is now 10:00AM on Friday, November 25, 2016. I cannot get this story more up-to-date than that. Even the nutshell version tends to sound a little overwhelming. It can be. Were it not for our family, our church family, and our friends and prayer warrios – we would not get through this. It is intense and very unexpected. This is not how Linda imagined taking retirement. This is not how we imagined going into our “golden years” together. But, here we are. There is joy in the knowing that God is with us through everything. There is joy in knowing that all of this could have been worse. There is joy in knowing that there is indeed and end somewhere down there at the end of this really ling tunnel. There is joy in being able to share our story with a little but of humor intact. We love each other and we love all of you. Thanks for being with us along this very personal journey.
————————— Don and Linda Tabberer