The purpose of this blog is to keep friends and family updated on Sandy's health situation. We will periodically post updates so you know what is going on. While we know that you will likely have questions that aren't answered on this page, please understand that we have unanswered questions as well. Your concern and support are very much appreciated. We realize it can be difficult to know how best to help, so we will offer some suggestions along the way.


(**UPDATE 10-5-14: Sandy asked that we let you know you are welcome to call her if you want to. At some point we may again request only cards or emails, but for now, chat away!**)


September 2014: At this time, it is difficult for Sandy to receive numerous calls and texts, even those simply letting her know she is prayed for, because they serve as constant reminders of all the unknowns and the things about which she is trying not to worry. For now, it is a better option to "simply" pray (we know that is the BEST thing any of us can do!), and/or send a card or even an email. Please give her grace, as this is unchartered territory, and she doesn't know what would be most helpful!


As you all know, Sandy is a giver. She loves to give of her time, attention, encouragement, and support. It is very hard for her to be on the receiving end, and even harder for her to have to temporarily step out of some of those giving roles. While she has not told me this, I imagine she still wants to be involved in your lives, caring and investing, and she would still like you to interact with her apart from health issues - in other words, just have normal conversations and share life, rather than always bringing up what is happening next with her health.


We look forward to shutting down this blog and celebrating her full recovery very soon!


Link to January 2015 video: https://vimeo.com/115013190


Link to September 2016 video: https://vimeo.com/c3media/review/185699250/24bdbf13d2

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Latest Trip to TX

Sandy returned from TX this week with new results and a new plan. New to us, but not new to God. Cancer markers were significantly higher and new lesions on the liver were present, indicating the chemo has not been effective. Inflammation is suspected to be the reason she has been unable to keep food down for several weeks, which has led to continued weight loss.

Chemo has been discontinued, new prescriptions have been started, and we're awaiting the results of additional tests that will determine her eligibility for clinical trials of an up-and-coming treatment.

This is discouraging news, though we remember that our hope is in God and not in tests. Outcomes are not limited by what doctors, with all of their experience and knowledge, tell us. Sandy is planning to enjoy several days on the lake with a friend for their annual vacation before teaching in July and gearing up for the fall semester. And there are quite a few grandkids looking forward to their sleepovers at Grandma Sandy's and Papa Rod's house. She is going to keep going as long as she can, striving to enjoy each day, as we all ought to do.

Thank you for praying for the end of the semester's workload - she was able to attend classes and final exams, complete grades, and attend graduation. The TX trip went smoothly, and they made good time coming home. She has pretty flowers in all of her flower pots, she found a couple pairs of capris that fit regardless of the ever-changing size of her abdomen, and she has been able to attend church each week.

Please pray for physical comfort, absorption and digestion of food/nutrients, wisdom, peace, and physical strength.

Below is the link to a song that she wanted to share with you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNkDdXhjFy0

Natalie Grant
"More Than Anything" I know if You wanted to You could wave Your hand Spare me this heartache and change Your plan And I know any second You could take my pain away But even if You don't I pray Help me want the Healer more than the healing Help me want the Savior more than the saving Help me want the Giver more than the giving Help me want You Jesus more than anything You know more than anyone that my flesh is weak And You know I'd give anything for a remedy And I'll ask a thousand more times to set me free today Oh but even if You don't I pray Help me want the Healer more than the healing Help me want the Savior more than the saving Help me want the Giver more than the giving Oh Help me want You Jesus more than anything When I'm desperate and my heart's overcome all that I need You've already done When I'm desperate and my heart's overcome all that I need You've already done Oh Jesus Help me want You more than anything Help me want the Healer more than the healing Help me want the Savior more than the saving Help me want the Giver more than the giving Help me want You Jesus more than anything Help me want You Jesus more than anything

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Slow Crawl

Sandy continues to struggle with weakness and fatigue. Thankfully the swelling due to water retention has resolved itself. However, on Saturday, her foot started to hurt so intensely that she could not put any weight on it. She was glad to have a walker and wheelchair in the house to use as she continued to prepare for Easter Sunday with the family.  On Sunday her foot was maybe 50% better; she could walk carefully and slowly. She plans to be at work this week...please pray for stamina, energy, and healing - both of her foot and of her body in general.

We've been through so many ups and downs, especially after each hospital visit. Each time she has been admitted, it has been for cholangitis. A quick online search reveals that cholangitis (infection in bile duct) is a very serious matter, and can have a lengthy recovery process. Sandy has dealt with this type of infection at least ten times. Each time, she has bounced back. This time it is just harder to do that.

Easter was a special time with family, good food, and a 32 degree temperature egg hunt....the kids all enjoyed their visit at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Thanks for your continued support.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pioneer Sandy

Much of the proposed treatment for bile duct cancer is based on the experiences of others who have been diagnosed with the same disease. For the most part, patients follow one of several paths which are fairly well known to doctors. Sandy, however, continues to break the mold. Nobody seems quite sure what to do with her next! While that can be frustrating, it is also a continual reminder of how God has preserved her life. This is a good time to not follow standard procedure!

Sandy will have labs done this week, as she does now every week. One drain had been draining but has now all but stopped, and the other one had been very slowly filling up but now is filling more quickly. She will likely have a scan soon to determine whether those changes are indicative of blockages or of healing. 

Last week she had a procedure to take care of the bile duct that had ruptured. She continues to deal with low energy and less stamina than she prefers, but she is glad to report that she has had several consecutive days without a fever!

She spent some time this weekend preparing Easter baskets and color coded eggs for the great egg hunt of 2018, complete with one empty egg for each grandchild to help them remember that we celebrate Easter because of the empty tomb. Jesus is alive! And He alone is the reason we have any good thing. 

Sandy returns to the classroom on Monday, and she is looking forward to (finally) turning in that big project we asked you to pray about. Who knew that crisp, brightly colored folders and a nifty label maker could make such a big difference? :)

We wish each of you a very Happy Easter, and encourage you to thank God for the gift of Jesus overcoming death, providing a way for us to not only have hope here on this earth but also to have the promise of eternal life - complete with perfect joy, peace, health, and probably copious amounts of Dove chocolate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Freedom!

It has been quite a week. Our "routine" ER visit kept going and going. Let's call it the Energizer Bunny Visit. That makes it sound much more fun.

Sandy's fevers were very uncooperative this week. Despite numerous medications, her temperature kept spiking and pain was fairly constant.

Several tests were administered. A drain, the type she had several months ago, was placed to remove biliary fluid that could not drain through the bile ducts because they were occluded. The next day both stents were removed because they were blocked, and later a second, smaller drain was placed since one of the tests showed a pocket of fluid that needed to be removed.

Based on the cholangiogram, it seems that the drain is servicing both ducts. A repeat cholangiogram will be performed within the next week to make sure the drain is still effective.

Sandy will have follow up appointments with the oncologist, the infections disease doctor, and the interventional radiologist. 

She's been instructed to rest. Rod told the doctors that doesn't happen - when she's released, she returns to work. However, they have convinced her to actually stay home and rest this time. Spring break is next week, which will help with that.

There are many unknowns. Please pray that pain is minimal, drains continue to work, and that doctors agree on a plan going forward.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Same Song, New Verse

Sandy is currently visiting her friends at Wesley, this time from a bed in the CCU. She had both stents replaced during a hospital stay last week, but continued having fevers and pressure, resulting in Thursday's trip to the hospital. Late Thursday night she had a procedure to insert a drain because the stents were not handling the bile fluid appropriately. Right now the drain is connected to an external bag, which ought to be removed once the infection has cleared and things are back to "normal." Since we had such problems with drain exchanges causing infections in the past, we are somewhat concerned, though clearly the stents are resulting in similar problems right now, so it's perhaps just part of the journey. Sandy has had quite a bit of discomfort today, so she has been instructed to rest and stay on top of pain meds. Everyone there knows by now that she's planning a family lunch this weekend and needs to be home...hopefully things will go as she desires. There has been some concern about her blood pressure being on the low side, which is part of why she is in the CCU instead of on a "regular" floor. Please pray for healing, rest, and continued optimism. As many of you know, continually dealing with illness and/or pain can be exhausting, and the mind battle can become intense. Thankfully we serve a God who is bigger than all of that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

This is NOT a choose-your-adventure story....

Ever since returning from Houston in mid-December, Sandy has not been feeling "herself."  She had little appetite, was losing weight, and had little energy or stamina.  Plus, whole-body itching had resumed.  Her January, 2018 hospitalization revealed the necessity of a double stent exchange (she has one stent in each of the two bile ducts).  One stent was infected.

Since being released from the hospital, the itching has continued and even intensified.  Due to out-of-range labs, she was scheduled for a CT January 22.  The imaging revealed two new lesions on her liver.  As one doctor put it, "Your kind of cancer likes to go to sleep for a while and then wake up in new locations."  It appears that's exactly what has happened.  

Sandy was on chemo for 30 months, beginning November 2014.  She then had a 10-month chemo vacation.  Hallelujah!  

But...the vacation is over for now as she resumed chemo Monday, January 29. 

Now hold on.

This isn't what we wanted or would have chosen, given the opportunity. BUT let's just take a stroll down memory lane.

Do you remember when this all began? When the diagnosis came in, then the unsuccessful surgery followed by more "bad" news? Then the prognosis of 6-12 months to live? Do you remember all of the ER visits, sepsis, massive infections, blockages, disappointing test results? 

That was not 6-12 months ago. Several years have gone by. Several grandkids have been born. Trips have been taken, relationships started, enriched, and renewed. Countless people have been touched by her story, encouraged by God's obvious faithfulness through it all. Doctors have been wrong about many things...in a great way. They've also been right about many things, some we've liked and others not so much. 

So here we are in a new chapter. Though it looks much like a previous chapter, we don't know the plot twists that are coming our way. We can choose to despair over what we know and what we fear or we can choose to take those very real feelings to God and ask for His perspective, moment by moment. 

Believe there is good to be found.
Look for the good.
Find the good.
Celebrate the good.
Share the good.

As for Sandy...she is already looking forward to the next chemo vacation. 

Please pray for her stamina and energy, for itching to stop, for all cancer to be eradicated, and for her to continue to take thoughts captive and trust God through it all. Pray for opportunities to share God's love and provision even in hard times. Pray for a smooth spring semester of teaching and advising. And pray that she can continue doing all the things that bring her joy and that give God glory.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I'd like a double, please.

Remember how the last set of stents was supposed to last awhile? Remember how life rarely goes how we think it is "supposed" to go? Yes. That is our story. Actually, it's God's story, so everything has been as it was supposed to be....

Since the last Houston trip, Sandy has experienced off and on pain, pressure, fevers, and overall discomfort. She has played the go/don't go to the ER game several times. Finally, this week Thursday she had a routine appointment at the Cancer Center. However, her temperature was up and continued to climb while she was there, as it has done many afternoons lately. After seeing how she was doing, the doctor arranged for her to go straight over to St. Francis for admittance. The staff at the Cancer Center took great care of her, staying with her and making sure she was warm, helping her get a prescription without getting out in the cold, and keeping her at the Center until her room at the hospital was ready for her.

Friday morning her labwork confirmed that there was a problem with a blocked stent, so around 9:30 she went in for a double stent exchange - double because when one is disturbed, the other one moves as well, requiring both to be exchanged. The procedure went well, and she has been back in "her" room recovering and waiting to be discharged. The latest news is that she can go home Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for your continued prayers. We know many of you are also dealing with difficult situations, and we're praying for you as well, that you will feel God's presence and peace, that you will be filled with joy and see the many blessings that surround us rather than the hard things that seem to scream for attention. Find the blessing, give thanks for the blessing, tell others about the blessing. See you soon!