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:

Link to September 2016 video:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


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 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!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bye Bye Drain

Sandy and Rod returned from Houston tonight. Here's her update:

"Praising God for safe travels to Houston.  MD Anderson labs and scans were all good.  Cancer marker down.  Scan showed no evidence of growth or spread for the third time in a row!   Oncologist said, "I think I am ready to declare that the cancer in the tumor is dead."  She used the word "remission" again!  No treatment warranted.

After viewing the situation with the bile ducts during the procedure, Houston gastroenterologist determined that poly stents would be better for me than metal stents.   He wants me to return in March for yet another stent exchange and a biopsy due to questionable tissue he saw.  

Best part of the procedure is that I no longer have the drain!  That was removed and a poly stent inserted.  YEA!  

A  heart full of gratitude to everyone who prays for me and encourages me in so many ways.  Still trusting God to work all of this out for HIS GLORY!

Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Out with the plastic

Sandy returns to MD Anderson next week to have the plastic stent removed and two metal stents inserted. Please pray for safe travels, an enjoyable trip, and for the procedure(s) to go well.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mixed bag from Houston

Update from Sandy:

"This week's MD Anderson trip resulted in a mixed bag of answers. Some key indicators improved; some were not favorable.  The biggest and best news: Imaging revealed no evidence of cancer growing or spreading! That's super good news! I don't need to start back on chemo...extending the chemo vacation is a giant PLUS! The existing malignant tumor was found to be without avidity. (That's a new word for me - it essentially means that the tumor has no 'energy' or 'enthusiasm.' I applaud unenthusiastic tumors!)

Because of some questionable indicators from yesterday's tests, I am going back to MDACC in December for repeated testing. The next day, a Houston GI will remove the plastic drain and stent and replace them with two metal stents. That procedure will be done at St Luke's Hospital in Houston. The expected outcome of this procedure is to reduce - maybe even eliminate - trips to the ER due to infections. And the metal stents should never need to be exchanged. Won't that be an early Christmas gift!?!

May we approach all we do with AVIDITY for the Lord!

Ephesians 6:7 (NLT) 'Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.'

Thank you for your love, encouragement and prayers."

A friend asked how she can help Sandy during this time. I told her that her prayers are vitally important. When you know someone is praying for you, the enemy can't catch you with the lie that you're alone. Knowing that friends and family are lifting Sandy up is very comforting. Don't ever minimize the role of prayer.

Sandy is very thankful that both of her new grandsons were born prior to her Houston trip. She was able to give each of them a of her favorite jobs as grandma. She's thankful for the mild weather we've been having. And she'd thankful for each of you, and prays for your encouragement, peace, and salvation.

Sandy isn't feeling the greatest. Her drain isn't working properly, so her fever is up again. Please pray this can be resolved without an ER, ICU, or any other set of letters that indicate a hospital stay.