Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Cooking lessons....

Karena went back to the hospice yesterday (28th)...so she did really well to be out for 4 whole days. She really enjoyed being at home for Christmas and is hoping to spend some more time here over the next couple of weeks....in fact we are hoping that the hospice will keep a room reserved for her and that she'll be able to be generally based at home until she's at a stage where she can no longer be cared for here...we will find out whether that will be possible on Thursday. I am picking her up tomorrow (30th) for the day - she's planning on giving me a crash cooking course (am I looking forward to that ??!!) and I will take her back in the evening. We're still hoping for a miraculous healing but at the same time we are also preparing as best-we-can for Karena's welcome into glory. She's a wonderful woman - a magnificent wife and mum....and is peaceful in the midst of all the turmoil and pain. The range of emotions is enormous though (speaking for myself) but in the darkest moments, I do have a sense of being 'carried'. Jesus is close-by, of that I am sure....

Stuff to pray for :-
  • Karena to be able to spend quality time at home with us just being family....and precious memories to be made!
  • Peace in our hearts irrespective of how this all turns out.
  • My cooking !!!!!
If I don't blog again before 2010......a Happy New Year to you from us all !

Ps 139:16 "....All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be....."

Thursday, 24 December 2009

1 more sleep until Christmas....

Well she has made it back for Christmas! Hooray....I brought her home from the hospital this morning accompanied by a wheelchair and more pills than you can shake a stick at ! I have become Doctor Craig for the next couple of days administering the plethora of tablets and patches etc (Karena get's to do her own injections tho - she doesn't seem to want my expertise in that area !).
So with just a couple of hours notice our best friends in the world came over and we had some fun, some food, some silly dancing (Karena didn't do that bit!) and some laughter.
She's really glad to be home but is massively uncomfortable inside her tummy. The hospital are keeping her room for the next few days so that we can pop back whenever we need to. Not sure how many days Karena will be at home - not too many I suspect, but for tonight at least she is asleep in her own bed....She's done too much this afternoon and is totally whooped.
So Christmas day will be here in an hour or so, and we are planning to do presents, turkey and all the rest here at our house along with Karena's parents, her sister and 2 nephews. Should be fun !
Appreciating your ongoing prayers for the babe, and of course......a Very Merry Christmas to you!

Monday, 21 December 2009

A week of change....

John 14: 1-3 (Jesus said) "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house there are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am...."

Karena had her scan on Monday; then for the next few days we discovered the extent of the medical problem - the cancer is back, now in the bowel, and growing rapidly and they cannot operate. Chemo would be permissible if she regained her strength but would be unlikely to have much effect. We are told she may live 3 months, but I will be surprised if that is the case, things seem to be changing very quickly. I have resigned from my job and will look after our children 24/7 for the foreseeable future.

Karena, my wife for 16 years, is on her final journey. Fairly soon she will be with the Lord forever, in his presence where there is no mourning, no crying, no pain....

The day before yesterday we got the christmas tree up and decorations out....without Karena's artistic flair though so it's not quite as good as normal, but the girls did a pretty good job (B+me just bung everything up !). I was glad to get that done to try to make Christmas a special time for the children still, albeit with unwelcome news hanging over our heads.
Karena has been transferred to the Dutchess of Kent House which is a palleative care unit. She has a fabulous room which includes a spare bed for a visitor to sleep in, sofa and comfy chairs, big TV, dvd player etc. We did a family film with chinese takeaway the night before last.
Their goal is to try to make her as comfortable as possible and hopefully for her to be able to come home for Christmas (either Christmas day or even better...Christmas eve) but that is by no means certain.
Yesterday was heart wrenching as we told the children the news....we cried, we hugged, we prayed, we cried some more....then I brought the children home and we did dvd and a pizza, and all went up to bed together. Karena's sister stayed over at DKH with her last night.
Appreciating your prayers :-
  • that Karena will be able to come home for a last family Christmas with us all together
  • for strength of faith and hope for Karena in these final days/weeks
  • for our children to be able to laugh and to be able to cry and to be confident that, in spite of the circumstances, God IS in control.
Thanks for your prayers x

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Family weekend.....

Quick update....Karena is out of hospital...just for the weekend. That's something at least !
CT scan is now postponed until Monday - it's been planned then cancelled about 10 times this week so you're never quite sure whether it's going to happen or not! The bowel surgeon came to see her on Friday afternoon and have a prod around. Still don't really know whether they will operate or not, but she is still very swollen and uncomfortable around her tummy so they need to do something !
As I write she is in the kitchen making Christmas decorations with B+O, with food bubbling away on the cooker....
Today has been a mix of family time, tiredness and some tears too.
We're looking forward to doing "Family X Factor" tonight !...then back into hospital at 7pm tomorrow evening.
Prayer points as previously ......

Thursday, 10 December 2009

One week on...

Karena has been in now for almost a week and in honesty she is not really any better than when she went in last Saturday. Medically things really aren't looking very good. Her bowel continues to be significantly swollen...they have X rayed her twice since last Sat, and are now planning (re-planning!) to give her a CT scan tomorrow (Fri) to see what is going on...their expectation as far as I understand it is that the cancer is now irritating the bowel hence preventing it from normal functioning.
There is a fairly strong possibility (from what we've been told today) that they will want to do a bowel operation. This is not good (if it happens) because she will then need to recover from major surgery before she can get back onto the chemo.
We REALLY need a breakthrough now....the next few days could be fairly definitive.....
Please pray for her...
  • for strength of heart (this is so hard for a great mum who wants to be home with her children preparing for Christmas).
  • for strength in body - she is definitely weaker, very tired and still in pain
  • for strength of faith (for confidence that God is still with her in her tougest hours)
If you are thinking about visiting, please can you contact me first to check....

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Back in !

Karena went back into hospital early on Saturday morning. She was in the same place pain-wise as the previous week and was in a lot of pain in her abdomin, and it was very swollen. Poor girl, this is so tough for her ;-( So Saturday was another tearful day all round.
She had a fantastic African Christian nurse tho who was firey and praying and stirring us both in the midst of the tears and pain. We needed her...a divine appointment I think !!
Anyway, Karena had X rays in her abdomin and chest - which were both clear. She will now have a CT scan tomorrow (Monday) and then they decide what to do (if anything). Went to see her this afternoon and she was still in pain in her back but her stomach swelling had definitely reduced a bit. She's been walking around her hospital room praying like the billio after our African sister stirred her up !! She has now been moved to the cancer ward and another dear gentle Kenyan lady called Esther has been helping her.
I wish she was home tho; it just doesn't feel right without her here.....and my cooking is pretty rubbish !
Appreciating your prayers again for the babe. Her deepest desire right now is that she'd be able to be home for a pain-free family Christmas. Please.....

Monday, 30 November 2009

Monday's update...

She's out !
In some pain still... but glad to be home.....

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sunday's update....

Friday was really unpleasant and another emotional blast.....we went for an emergency doctors appointment in the end, and, as expected, the doctor got Karena admitted to hospital. As well as the severe stomach pain, she also had a temperature which is not good following chemo, so they treated her with strong intravenous antibiotics due to possible neutropenia (do I sound like a doctor or wot ??!) and stronger steroids to calm down internal inflammation....and gave her an abdominal X-ray to see what the stomach pains were being caused by.....
...so now it's Sunday and in the words of one of the magnificent songs I sang this morning...."I'm alive to live for You".....our faith is more alive than ever as you might imagine in the midst of all of this turmoil. We both know that God just needs to say one word and it can all come to an end.....but whether He is going to answer our prayers in the way we want, we really have no idea. He is king tho, ultimately reigns and IS in control irrespective of the outcome. Jesus conquered death after all which is our biggest comfort, our greatest confidence and the strongest hope that we have ;-)
I got a txt from the babe during the sermon this morning ....clearly under normal circumstances I wouldn't read it as I am engrossed by the message ;-)....the preacher was magnificent after all.....but in this instance I blanked out the preacher without hesitation to read from Karena "They found nothing on the X-Ray". So that's really fabarooney news !!!
That said, Karena is still in some pain both in her stomach and in her back and the chronic pain that she's been experiencing is indicative that everything isn't right. Consultant will be around tomorrow (Mon) to say what the next step is. We are hoping that she will be able to come out of hospital tomorrow. The back ache may be a reaction to the new chemo drug which she has had....but increasingly in all of this you realise that you just don't really know for sure from one day to the next exactly what is going on.

So....for the pray-ers amongst you....stuff to pray for :-

  • That the babe does indeed come out tomorrow (Mon)
  • Relief of back ache and stomach pain
  • Normal digestive functioning to return
  • Good health now on the run up to Christmas (we might possibly defer her next chemo until after Christmas)!
  • Miraculous recovery from cancer (please do keep praying this every day!)

PS : For those who have cooked meals for us this week, and for those who are continuing to stand with us in prayer - a GIGANTIC thank-you......your friendship and care is simply outstanding.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Another trip to the hospital...

Chemo seemed to go OK on Monday....as far as you can tell. At least it was a lot quicker than the previous ones.
Unfortunately since then, things have not been so good. For the past 3 days Karena has been increasingly uncomfortable. Putting it mildly, her digestive system seems to be struggling. So she's not been eating much and is in pain and her stomach is very swollen. So much so that as I write (Fri 7am) we are planning on getting the children off to school and then taking her to the hospital to be admitted (probably) so see what they can do for her.
Please please please pray for her.
This is really rubbish ;-(

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Sunflowers ?

So we've had confirmation that the first chemo in the new batch will be next Monday (23rd).....
Karena is in some ongoing pain but in good spirits. As I write she is sitting on the sofa making a quilt - her latest hobby.
She has been making sunflowers for it (all hand-sewn) for some days now for her own grand design....tonight however she has completed the first few and realised that on completion of the delicate sewing activity her "sunflowers" actually look more like octopus hand puppets!!!!.....so the theme for the quilt may change to more of an ocean-type thing !! I think she must have missed her true vocation in life. She is enjoying her new activity though but is clearly not a natural quilter.......!

Chemo on Monday will be a different drug to that used previously...so would really value your prayers that it has a radical impact on the cancer and knocks it for 6 (or more preferably!). Would also like your prayers for ongoing good health for the babe.

Thanking you so much for your continued love, support and prayers.....

PS : Karena says "Please pray for my quilt making ability!"

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The bad news....

...is that Karena has to have more chemos !
We are surprised, shocked, saddened and tearful. ;-(
Consultant is concerned about Karena's stomach/bowel pains; that combined with her blood test result from yesterday revealed that her cancer marker (CA125) has significantly increased - so they are immediately planning to start more chemo's. They were expecting that Karena should be able to have a rest for a few months (as advised by the nurse last week) - and confirmed that the CT scan results are good - ie no significant nodules or growth areas in her abdomin ....but with the blood test indicator and her ongoing stomach pain, they are concerned. So another session of 6 chemo's starting asap; this time they are going to use a different drug which is 'gentler' than the previous one - and see how things go with that.
Told the children......not a good day !
Not sure what more I can say really.....apart from to ask for your ongoing prayers.....we need a breakthrough /miracle really. God is able....and a very present help when in trouble......
Love to you.....

Monday, 9 November 2009

It's been a while....

Long time no blog.....since the last installment, we've had a magnificent half-term holiday in Wales - it was really great to get away for a week of sea, sand, sun (really) & scenary.
We've still not got the official results from the CT scan yet (that's tomorrow), but the preliminary discussions with the onologist specialist nurse sounds positive.
We've been back from holiday for a week now - on the last day of the holiday Karena's stomach started playing up - and it's not been very good since and she has been in some pain with it. She went to the doctor's this morning - and the doc was fabulous - examined her, and prayed with her - which was just what the doctor ordered !!!
So tomorrow we have the appointment with the Consultant to talk through the CT Scan results and also her ongoing stomach problems.
Will definitely appreciate your prayers for that one!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Just another Saturday.....?

Saturday started just like any other - the usual crazy early bike ride extravaganza followed by a 'date' at the swimming pool for a latte and teacake with the babe (whilst No#1 son swam) .....
On Friday Karena went to the dentist as she's had a raging toothache which was getting worse. The chemo affects your teeth too ! Anyway, he said she had an absess needing root canal treatment and gave her some antibiotics, a treatment quote (!), and also an appointment for the actual procedure.
By Saturday morning though the pain had worsened and was also affecting her eye and ear - and with our previous warnings about basic infections being potentially a serious problem due to the chemo, after returning from the pool and dropping No#1 daughter off at stables, I called the hospital, and we had a talk to the person in charge of the cancer ward.
"She needs to come in"......that was about 10:30am. So off we went to the Royal Berks.... After getting her booked in, we were told the wait would be some time - so I wandered into town to buy the groovey trainers that we had previously promised No#1 son!
Tick tock tick tock......at about 4pm after blood tests, intraveinous antibiotics, and consultation after consulation (not to mention a healthy dose of waiting around!), they decided she didn't need to be admitted after all and discharged her with some stronger antibiotics. Hooray ! Relief !

So off we trot into town once again - this time all together - as No.#1 daughter has a textile project requiring dress materials for Tuesday (it's a bit outside my skill set, that one)...

Eventually we make it home....the babe is utterly pooped, so a visit to Domino's pizza and family viewing of the X-Factor finishes Saturday off !
So this week we have to make an emergency appt for the root canal treatment (requiring emergency re-mortgaging of the house to pay for!!), then the CT scan on Thursday as planned.
Appreciating your ongoing prayers....

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A day of rest.....

Sunday has come around again - probably my favourite day of the week.....

Karena is doing really well....almost 2 weeks now since the last chemo and she is feeling pretty good. We went out for a shopping visit to Portsmouth yesterday so her strength must have returned, she even found some Christmas "bits and bobs" (aaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh !!)
And we all made it to church together today to meet with the risen King of Kings which was simply magnificent !

Family chinese meal today where we all cooked different chinese dishes and then had a taste sensation - it was absolutely fantastic. "Mistress Ho Chi Min" (aka "the babe") is very skilled at both cooking and parenting methinks!

CT Scan is on Thurs 22 Oct. Consulant appointment to discuss path ahead is on 10 Nov....nothing else planned between now and then except for a half-term holiday away with friends. Can't wait ;-)

Please pray for :-
  • "Mistriss Ho Chi Min" - for continued strength/resistance to bugs, winter colds etc etc
  • CT scan to be clear when we speak to consultant on 10 Nov

Monday, 28 September 2009

Chemo #9

I have been a little remiss in not updating the blog recently....sorry !
Karena has been generally very well for the last couple of weeks - in fact, chemo #8 seemed to hit her less hard than others. The power of prayer I think (thanks!)

Today, Chemo #9 took place - blood counts and kidney function testing all OK but with many delays she started on the drugs late so got home at about 6pm absolutely pooped. She has been in bed since getting home and is pretty spaced out & quite pale.
Today they told her that this will be her last chemo in the current cycle.....so she will have a CT scan in 4 weeks time and then see the consultant in 6 weeks to discuss what the next steps will be.... that includes the possibility of additional chemo's depending on the results. Our hope & prayer is that the CT scan will indicate that there are no traces of cancer and therefore that the chemo's can come to a complete end.
Please make this your prayer too.....and of course for the babe to recover quickly from this chemo without sickness and without getting any infections etc etc.

Once again appreciating you standing with us and of course for your prayers.....
With love.....C,K,E,B,O x x x x

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Chemo #8 update

So chemo went ahead on Monday as planned....this time she has come off the steroids slightly more slowly than previously....whether that has made a difference or whether it's simply the power of prayer, I don't know (I think the latter ! ;-) )- but this chemo has been much better than last one in terms of side effects. She has been very tired and has spent time pooped on the sofa but really hasn't had the horrid feeling requiring her to be bed ridden for any length of time like #7 - so a great result!!
Her joints are really quite achey (as previously) and she has developed a sore throat over the last couple of days so she's knocking back the paracetamol like smarties but that's relatively ok in comparison to where we could be. Today we have been out for lunch with Karena's mum/dad and her aunt visiting from the USA which was great - so some energy has started to return.

So if you've been praying for us and/or standing with us - please keep it up (& thank you!) - because the prayer and support is making a great difference to us (and the meals are all very yummy!!)
Please pray for the babe to get stronger this week, and for her sore throat to go !

One last thing before signing off......if you have a facebook account, please VOTE for our dear friend Naomi in the Vodafone World of Difference campaign....a school in south Sudan will never be the same again if she makes it out there for a year...please tell your friends too - she's a magnificent lady on a magnificent mission....check it out (and please vote for her!)......http://apps.facebook.com/opinionpolls/index.php?pid=1252668588

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Day #249....

It's now 249 days since this saga began.....and in it so far there has been a mix of emotions.... some sadness, some hope, some tears, some ups, some downs, some energy, some tiredness, some despair, some joy, some expectation.......
but this week's primary emotion has been dread.....dread at the approaching chemo - number #8. 1 more to go after this one. Trouble is that #7 was so hard that the thought of two more is a pretty awful prospect....but needs to be done as we understand it.
So it's the usual plan for tomorrow - blood test at 9am, and assuming all is ok - onto the chemo ward for a 5 hour poison drip-fest. ;-(
Big prayer request this time is that the chemo side effects won't be as bad as last time - which totally wiped Karena out with 3 days in bed (and ongoing tiredness by the truckload)....not to mention the post-op menopausal symptoms which haven't really improved !
I really enjoyed my early morning bike ride yesterday tho, and we had a whole hour at legoland in the afternoon which was just spectacular!

So, all is ready for the off tomorrow - meals are already organised (by others) for the week, and the sunflowers are sitting in a vase on the fireplace ready to work their cheering magic .....

Thanks for praying (we're so grateful to you!).......there IS a God in heaven who reigns.
Hope your week goes well. ;-)

Friday, 21 August 2009

Chemo #7 update....

Chemo went ahead on Monday which was good; her blood counts were ok (better than last time) and they will now keep her at the 90% dose for the remainder of her chemo's. The doctor told her that she has been doing really well which was good to hear.
Rather than going cold turkey on the steroids as she did last time, this time she is coming off more slowly so had her last one yesterday.
Yesterday she was feeling really grotty and was in bed for a lot of the day....thankfully a friend turned up unexpectedly with a cooked meal late afternoon so we didn't starve - as Karena was in no shape for cooking (and I am not naturally gifted in that department!!)
Today she is a bit worse and phoned me at work to come home - so is in bed once again feeling horrible, but thankfully isn't feeling sick. Not good....she seems to have been worse this time than she's been before - whether it's the cumulative effect of the chemo or what I don't know. The chemo is so tough on her body ;-(
I'm glad that it's Friday and hoping that she'll be on the up-slope tomorrow. Another friend has arranged the "Royal Suite" hospitality box for our whole family (including 3 course meal, leather seats etc!) at the Reading footy match - so Karena needs to be ok for that - it will be absolutely fab just so long as she is well enough to get there !

Stuff I'm grateful for today:
  • My wife!
  • The chemo has been so successful (albeit with frustrating side-effects)
  • Work who are very understanding of me leaving at a moment's notice (considering I'm a contractor!)
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Karena to be on the up-slope tomorrow
  • Energy to return
  • For her to be well enough to go to the footy !

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Holiday's are over.....Chemo #7 approaches....

Had a fab week away in sunny Wales -I think we had the best of the weather so far this summer ! We managed to climb a hill (although they called it a mountain on the literature but as it was only about 480m above sea level I think a mountain is a bit of a stretch!!), we also went fishing in a resevoir (Karena caught nothing - apparrently the fish didn't like her headgear!.... actually none of us caught anything!), we went on a steam train, went out to dinner and for lots of coffees and cakes, hired a canal barge (we had to fight for who was driving!) and did lots of normal holiday relaxing-type things....we stayed in a converted Granary and could hear absolutely nothing except sheep and cows (and a strange painful noise from the local cockerel which sounded like he was being strangled at about 5am each morning!).....and of course the children arguing from time to time.....so it was pretty fabulous all round really!

We came back yesterday (Sat) knowing that chemo's are scheduled to start again tomorrow....which slightly takes the edge off the fun time we've had...(Karena says that the mountain of washing is also a bit of a downer !)

For the last 3 days of hols, Karena also gave herself injections as she did last time to hopefully boost her blood count so that she will be ok for the chemo tomorrow....we will see. This time I will be taking her into hospital myself as her sister is off on her own holiday.

So, stuff we're grateful for :
  • Fun time on holiday; quality time together as a family
  • Feeling refreshed !
  • The sun is still shining!
Stuff to pray for :
  • Blood counts to be ok and chemo to go ahead tomorrow (17th)
  • No sickness
  • Ability to manage the children this week post-chemo (I am back at work)

Thanks so much......next holiday scheduled for October !

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Babe update....

So Karena's chemo went ahead last Monday (27th)....her blood count was still quite low but it was a bit better than the previous week thanks to the injections, and just good enough for her to have treatment, so they gave her a 90% dose.
Since Monday she has had the usual post-chemo gross mouth taste, and been quite energyless overall - although she does have bouts of activity - she has been able to take the children swimming and do some other normal things too. On Thursday she felt terrible and spent most of the afternoon in bed, and on Friday evening/Saturday was feeling nauseous & shakey....and was eventually sick on Saturday evening ;-(
Thankfully friends have looked after our children in the daytime in the week and we've been brought meals each evening too which is a massive help ;-)
Emotionally she is strong but inevitably gets a bit fed up with feeling yuk....today she is still feeling somewhat dicky but I think is on the mend slowly - today, we went out for lunch at the Toby carvery with her mum and dad which was just fab !
The other thing she was told on Monday is that they DO plan to do another 3 chemo's assuming her body will cope with the onslaught - which is both good and bad I think !

Anyway, stuff we're grateful for :-
  • Chemo went ahead as planned
  • Toby carvery (eat as much as you like) !
  • Holiday coming - a whole week away !
Stuff to pray for
  • Sickness feelings/shakiness to go
  • Strength to return in time for holiday !
  • Ability to endure the next 3 chemo's !
Thanks for standing with us.....

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

....and so to Plan C

Chemo didn't go ahead on Monday....Karena's blood results were actually worse than the previous Friday so they reckon that the chemo has affected her bone marrow and hence her blood recovery isn't happening.....so she now has some injections to have for the rest of the week which should help improve things. They are self-administered (I did offer but she didn't seem too keen !!!). By the time this is all over, she should be a qualified nurse herself! So back for chemo next Monday 27th is now the plan.

Stuff we're grateful for :-

  • Children have broken up from school
  • We've booked up for a week away (which we really want Karena to be well for!)
  • God's continued goodness towards us.
  • Throughout the whole course of this treatment Karena hasn't picked up any infections, illnesses etc

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Here we go again.....

It's time for another update (sorry Roy !).....time has whizzed past since the last update and we're now reddying ourselves for Chemo session #6. We went in last Friday but as it wasn't quite 3 weeks since the previous chemo, her blood counts weren't quite up to it as I had somewhat suspected....so it's back tomorrow for another try. Hopefully all will be well for tomorrow....so the babe will be in again with her sister at 9:00am for blood test and assuming all is ok then will go up onto the ward for drugs drugs drugs.....
This could be the last one but we still don't actually know for sure whether they are planning for another 3 chemo's or not.....when we went in on Friday the plan was to see the consultant main-man type chappie to discuss ongoing treatment and the last scan results - but he was basically only in hospital for an hour or so and was not planning to see us as he was supposed to be on holiday.....some great lack of communication somewhere !! So he will make a decision we are told after he comes back as to whether Karena still needs another 3 sessions or not.
The babe is really tired bless her - not sure why apart from just trying to do too much probably and perhaps the cumulative nature of the treatment....aside from this though she is ok and in good heart.

Not much more to report...would very much appreciate your prayers for tomorrow (20th) that her blood counts would be ok, that the chemo would go ahead without problem, and for general strength and resistance to infection (incl. H1N1 et al !)....
Will try to remember to update in a few days time (remind me Roy !)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Chemo round #5 update....

Karena's chemo last Friday was delayed...as her blood count was low, then they retested and she saw the consultant and waited around a lot - and by the time they figured out that she would be OK to have the chemo, it was too late to start - so Monday it had to be!
So armed with magazines, cappucinno's and DVD's, Karena went in for round #5 on Monday morning. All went well but chemo days are always rollercoaster rides emotionally.
3 days on and she is doing really well, has come off the steroids early and hasn't really felt sick. Tonight we even made it out for a family meal for my birthday......all good !
In 3 weeks time we will have an appointment with the consultant to decide whether she has just 1 more chemo or another 4. In the meantime the menopause is still causing a lot of sleeplessness and unwanted heat !!

Stuff we're grateful for.....
  • 3 vibrant, noisy, giggling children playing the "Hello Harry, I'm Harry, Meet Harry" game in Pizza Hut !
  • Our God who never leaves us nor forsakes us even when it's tough-going
  • Support from family and friends
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Continued good recovery from this chemo
  • Good blood count for next chemo (sheduled for 17 July)
  • Just 1 more chemo !

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Seconds away, round #5

So chemo's on tomorrow - Karena has lost all her hair again over this last week, but other than that she is fighting fit, feeling really well (apart from the night time hot flushes that is!!). But we have the fan out of the attic so that's good (apart from feeling like you're in a wind tunnel as you drift off into sleep!).
I read this morning from Psalm 62 which says :-
"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken".

Karena read today from Psalm 71 which says :-
"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up. You will increase my honour and comfort me once again".....

So, tomorrow is another day...Jesus is alive and we're ready to rock....bring it on.....

Thursday, 18 June 2009

CT scan results

Results from the CT scan are not quite what we wanted/hoped/expected....what we wanted was for them to tell us that there are no traces of cancer...what the scan report actually says is :-
  • Only small areas of nodularity within omentum noted
  • No free fluid (a good thing)
  • Further response to chemotherapy

Nurse was very up-beat but I guess we wanted to feel like everything is sorted and that the operation had definitely got it all out....not sure we can be quite that confident....so the journey goes on....still no decision yet on whether they will do another 2 chemo's or another 5.

Karena seems generally very strong and significantly recovered from her last chemo. She still gets very tired at the end off the day but is taking the dog for a walk every day which is a good thing (for the dog too !) In many ways life seems very normal. Karena's hair (which has grown quite a lot) will start to drop out again in the next few days.

Stuff I'm grateful for :-

  • Karena's strength and recovery from chemo #4 has been good (tks for praying for that!)
  • My children's primary school teachers who are simply outstanding
  • Windsor triathlon completed in record time last weekend (even though I was unplaced for going through a red light without stopping-doh !)

Stuff to pray for :-

  • Continued strength leading up to next chemo (planned for 26th June)
  • An enjoyable week for the babe before the onslaught starts again...we have a family outing at the weekend...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Chemo #4

Chemo went ahead as planned last Friday...all went well...a bit of a long day but ok. She has been relatively well over the weekend but it's been quite tough for her to be feeling poorly and weakened again (along with the menopause kicking in) - she'd forgotten how rubbish chemo makes you feel. She's had quite a bit of stomach pain too. Karena, being Karena, managed to mess up how many pills to take and so was taking less of the steroids than she was supposed to for the first couple of days....anyway, today she finishes them which potentially means feeling sicky tomorrow...we will see. This Friday 12th she will have a CT Scan to see how things are now looking inside.
Stuff we're thankful for :-
  • Once again...for good friends and family who support us in so many ways
  • Watching Ben's team become County netball champions today !
  • We now have a teenager !
Stuff to pray for :-
  • CT scan this Friday to find no trace of cancer
  • Continued good health,& recovery from this chemo
  • Only 2 more chemo's rather than another 5.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Another week...

Another couple of weeks have passed....lots more normal stuff has gone on which is good.
Kidney function test last week was uneventful - no results received and no news is good news I think. Saw the oncologist today which was pretty much a waste of time - a new chap who didn't know an awful lot about what treatment Karena had had...the only new thing we found out today was that Karena's blood 'marker' is now 13. Originally back in January it was 2000+. Normal women (who don't have cancer) are in the range 0-30....no idea what it all really means medically but it's a good sign !
The next phase of the plan is still no more firm really - Karena will have between 3 and 6 more chemo's...starting this Friday 5th.
And she was just getting more energy back - over the last week her energy levels have significantly improved which has been great because it's been half term so she's had a good time with the children.
We're so pleased with how everything has gone so far - we just want it to keep getting better....
but it's a tough thing for Karena to go back to the chemo's as she's had almost a 3 month break from them now (and her hair has even grown back quite a bit !)...but we're hoping that it's the pathway to full recovery...

Stuff we're grateful for
Strength returning & good recovery from the operation
A fun half term

Stuff to pray for :-
Chemo this Friday - nothing to prevent it from going ahead, treatment to go well, no sickness, quick recovery etc

Love to you...and thanks for walking along this long long pathway with us in prayer and friendship....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Babe update.....

Haven't written much for the last couple of weeks....but no news is good news! Karena continues to make progress - slowly but surely - it's now 3 weeks since her operation. She's still getting some pain from her wound, but aside from trying some hoovering the other day (why would she do that?), she's generally being quite sensible and resting up (at least some of the time) !
She had her check up at the hospital this afternoon - and they are very pleased with her progress.
Plans for the next phase of her treatment are :

  • kidney function test next week,
  • see oncologist on 1st June
  • 1st post-op chemo on 5th June
  • another CT scan (which may be either before or after next chemo).

Things Karena says she's grateful for :-

  • "The breath in my body"
  • "Hope"
  • "Great doctors and fantastic nursing staff"

The road is a long one...still 3-6 chemo's left to go through. Appreciating your prayers once again for the next phase.....

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

She's home !

I picked Karena up from the hospital yesterday afternoon.
I have the rest of the week off work so am playing nurse (badly probably!!)

This afternoon, we managed to venture out to the garden centre for a cappucinno....and Karena managed a sausage sandwich at the same time...a big improvement apparently on the "disgusting disgusting" quiche she was forced to eat on her last day in the hospital ! We talked, enjoyed the sunshine - and cried just a little bit......

Then we came home and she sat in the sun lounger in the garden in the sunshine and listened to the birds who were apparrently singing to her !?.....whilst I went out for a run (did a 10k PB-hoorah !)

She's still really sore, felt quite dizzy at certain points in the day, and is still very swollen...but she's soooooo glad to be out of hospital !! Tomorrow is 1 week since the op. What a week it has been ! She's in good heart & is walking very slowly.... but this afternoon she was talking about getting a running training-plan together for when she's through all this. (Terri, you got a mention as the potential author of such a plan !) ;-)

As for me - I'm glad to have a few days off work and am privileged to be looking after the biggest hero I know. Haha !

Stuff to pray for :-
  • Rapid healing and recovery post-op (her chemo's restart in ~4-6 weeks time)

Friday, 24 April 2009


So we met the surgeon this morning at 8am; having completed the operation she said that Karena's response to the chemotherapy was "amazing" (do doctors say that kind of thing?). Her ovarian lump was actually about 5cm (past tense - it's now gone !); the omental lump was "very small" (past tense also - it's now gone too). There was another small nodule in her pelvis (yes, you guessed it.....it's now gone too!). So they completed the full hysterectomy (which they were not sure would be possible depending on the condition of the cancer). One of the things they prepared us for pre-op was that there could be further spreading like "sprinkled rice" - they found no further evidence visible to the naked eye.
The surgeon said that before the operation she expected Karena was going to be her most difficult case of the day but in reality she was actually one of the easiest ! She also said that she was "really delighted" with how well the operation went.

Time for some more tears after that lot !

The plan is to still complete the 6 sessions of chemo post-op as a 'mop-up' for any microscopic cancer cells still remaining.....so the path ahead is still a long one and frought with many challenges - but as I see it currently, where we are at today is just about as good-a-place as we could have possibly imagined...hey....celebrate with us !

"Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God"

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Just another day.....

What a day...!

It started with dropping Karena off at the hospital at 7.30am....after some comings and goings, she eventually went down to theatre at 11:30am....and returned to the ward at 4:30pm.

Went to see her this evening and overall she seems really well (hooray) ;-) She even asked for a cappuccino which is a sure sign that she's on the mend (they wouldn't let her have one tho !)

We have to meet the surgeon tomorrow morning at 8am ish to find out exactly when they did (or didn't) do - but the nurse told us that they did complete the hysterectomy and as I understand it they removed the omental lump too (nurse didn't know more and Karena was asleep at the time !).....anyway, we will find out the details tomorrow.

Karena has lots of tubes coming out and going in at the moment but that should change in the next couple of days. She's still very strong in heart and the scripture which she memorised before going into theatre was Isaiah 41:13 "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you".

She says that she feels better than she thought she would, and she was really sleepy when I left.

For the many who have prayed for us in these tough times, we are so grateful to you.

The road is still a long one....but I'm really glad the day is over at last......

Saturday, 18 April 2009

An unplanned visit to the hospital.....

So I did the Marie Curie Swimathon this afternoon (http://www.swimathon.org/) - 5km in the local pool - 200 lengths in convoy with Sean 'Fishboy' Green with the Red hat, Richard 'Speedo' Walker in the Black hat, and me in the Green hat (why Fishboy wasn't in the Green hat I'm not quite sure)....anyway, it was good to do but the swimming was basically pretty dull - we finished in 1hr 41mins to absolutely no rapturous applause whatsoever (understandably) ! If you sponsored either me, Fishboy or Speedo, thanks so much - some people that you will never know and never meet will benefit from your cash !

Unfortunately the pre-event prep wasn't great.....an hour or two before starting I was at the hospital with Karena - she was feeling really rough, has a bad sore throat, is shivvery, has ear ache and is blocked up.....and because the chemo is an immuno-suppressant, we were told that in the event of illness to get to a doctor - as 'normal' things like colds can become quite serious quite quickly. Anyway, long story short.....we saw the doctor and Karena has some antibiotics and was OK to come home - and this evening is feeling a little better....thankfully.

She had her pre-op checks yesterday (blood tests, heart checks, signing the forms etc). The doctors (both yesterday and today) seem happy that the operation can still go ahead this Thursday even if she has a cold. I think that's a good thing.....

Stuff I'm grateful for today :-
  • Competant Doctors
  • the NHS
  • People who are standing with us in love, in faith, in hope, in prayer
Stuff to pray for :-

  • Karena to be well for Thurs - shivvery cold to go, sore throat to heal etc
  • Operation to go ahead as planned on Thurs - full hysterectomy + omental lump and any other traces of cancer to be removed
  • Strength in heart and mind as Thurs approaches

Thursday, 9 April 2009

D Day approaches

So the operation date has now been confirmed for 23rd April.
I wonder what the troops must have felt like before D Day? I wonder if it was anything like this...?

We're grateful for knowing the date at last.

Have a great Easter - Jesus was crucified for us and wonderfully rose from death - the greatest event in history....which gives us all hope in the midsth of the challenges we face !

Have a great Easter. With love.....C+K x

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Consultant appointment update

Consultant appointment at the hospital this afternoon - operation will take place in late April - probably either 23rd or 30th. Karena will be in hospital for ~5 days, then can't do a lot for a month (no lifting etc) and recovery is 6-12 weeks. She will have a hysterectomy providing the cancer hasn't stuck the uterus to anything else (otherwise they will just remove the ovaries and omentum). There's also a possibility that there could be some bowel removed if there is any cancer there (but nothing showed up on the scan on the bowel). Following recovery from the op, they are now saying that they would plan to do another 6 bouts of chemo - this was quite hard for Karena to hear as she thought she was half way through the chemo's - now they are planning to do more which could take us the best part of the year to get through. The good news in that is that they want to do more because she has responded so well to the chemo so far. On examination, the consultant couldn't find the lump in her abdomen with her hands (this is so far away from where we were just a couple of months ago). In herself Karena is really well, she has energy and is still pain-free. She is really looking forward to being able to spend some time with the children over the Easter holidays.

Stuff we're thankful for :
  • The good news that we've had so far - an early op, pain-free, improvements in health and energy
  • A great lady consultant we saw today who will do the op
  • Our children who continue to take everything in their stride despite some challenges
Stuff to pray for :
  • Operation to go well - full hysterectomy to be possible, both lumps to be removed, no other traces of cancer elsewhere
  • Karena to recover quickly post-op
  • An enjoyable few weeks before the next phase of the battle
Thanks so much. Love to you......x

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

No news is good news....

I haven't written anything for a week.....mostly I guess that's because it's been a 'normal' week.... remember, normal is good, normal is desired, normal is the plan....
We went for a wonderful impromptu family break at the weekend down to the coast (Charmouth) for some fossil hunting and of course to listen to the sound of the waves lapping the seashore....and to talk to the cows that we shared space with (we stayed on a farm !)....we did lots of 'normal' things including skimming stones into the sea, playing catch on the beach, lying down in the sunshine, had cooked breakfast, a fab meal out, played skittles, pool, darts....ahhhh, normality and fun family times.... don't we just love it ?!
Karena has had some ongoing off-and-on tummy pains for the last week but they seem to have gone as of today...very mysterious, and of course there's still a long way to go....the next milestone is the appointment with the consultant on 1st April when I think they will finalise the operation date....in the meantime, we're happy to stick with a normal life.
Stuff we're grateful for today :-
  • Normal (almost) strength has returned - but she's not jumping through hoops just yet !
  • Normal daily routine (walking to school, walking dog, cooking etc)
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Consultant appointment on 1st April - no surprises, only good news, date for operation etc
  • Blood counts to recover quickly (they will be the limiting factor for the op as I understand it)
  • Ongoing good health
Cheers !

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Half-time results are in....

CT scan results from today..... :-
  • the 2 tumours show a "marked reduction in volume"
  • the maximum diameter of the 2 tumours is now 6cm (was 15cm when this all began).
  • the ovary-uterus is now much more defined (previously it was all splurged together by the ovarian tumour).
  • there has been a "fairly good response to treatment" (fairly good???- they're joking, right ?!?)
  • there is no evidence of cancer in the other organs etc
So the consultants discussed the next stage of the plan for Karena this morning and they want to operate as soon as feasible (when her blood count recovers from last weeks chemo) - most probably mid April. We have an appointment on 1st April to discuss with the consultant, and they will still complete the other half of the chemo (3 sessions) post-op.

So as far as I can tell, it's all good news today ;-)

Stuff we're grateful for :-
  • All the above !
  • Karena is definitely now on the up-slope after last weeks chemo
As for stuff to pray for - well, let's just thank God for answered prayers to date,eh ?!

Monday, 16 March 2009

And so another week begins....

So the babe of the moment had her scan on Saturday....apart from being treated somewhat like a pin-cushion when they injected her with the dye they use, it all went went well. So glad that last week is over - after chemo, it seems to totally wipe out the entire week.....Karena was soooooooo tired all week, no energy, some niggling stomach pain, but still strong in heart. Yesterday seeemed to be the start of the recovery as she had some energy at last. We enjoyed the sunshine and a magnnificent sunday roast and seeing Karena's parents.
Today she has ongoing pains in her stomach but of course we don't really know whether that's normal or otherwise....
So I phoned for the CT scan result today - they don't like to give out results over the phone in case it's bad news, and they aren't with you to help you hear it ! Anyway, the results weren't back today and so I need to phone back tomorrow to find out the result of Saturday's scan. My biggest fear is that (whilst the main tumour has clearly reduced in size), the cancer could have spread to another site which would not be good. There seem to be no guarantees medically on how the cancer will behave....
Anyway, my hope is that it's just significantly reduced, and that we are ok to go for an early operation.

So stuff we're grateful for today :
  • The sunshine
  • The garden - Karena's managed some gardening today
  • Friends, family, friends, family.....
Stuff to pray for :-
  • CTscan results to be significant reduction in cancer size and no spread !
  • Stomach pains to go
  • Strength to return

Monday, 9 March 2009

Quick update

So the chemo went ahead today.....after an early start...and lots of delays awaiting blood test results, to see consultant etc !

Karena got home around 5:30pm, totally pooped & looking pale .......but glad to be home !
Family dinner arrived at the door just a few minutes later (how good is that ?!)

This Saturday (14th) Karena will now have a CT scan to assess more precisely the size of things...and the doc's will decide on 24th March whether to go ahead with the operation early or to go for another chemo - this will depend on the CT scan results but also on her blood count-white blood cells and platelets.

Stuff we're grateful for :-

  • Cancer has shrunk
  • Half-way through chemo
  • Prawn sandwiches (!)
Stuff to pray for :-

  • Further shrinking of the tumours
  • No spread of the cancer
  • Continued strength & recovery
  • Lack of sickness
  • Blood count to be ok for next chemo

Friday, 6 March 2009

Just another day......

Today has been another roller coaster !

The down side is that when Karena saw the consultant this morning they said that her blood test results were too low (white blood cell count I think)...so they repeated the test hoping they'd come up overnight but alas they had not....so today's planned chemo #3 is now delayed until Monday. Most frustrating when you psyche yourself up for it....BUT.....

The GOOD NEWS is that the consultant examined her and reckons that the main ovarian tumour has reduced by about two thirds (yes you heard it right!.....so he reckons that it is now about one third of it's original size !!) The other good news is based on her blood test results - that the cancer marker that they measure (which was over 6900 when she started (very high))...is now just 120. Medically I have little idea what the numbers really mean but apparently the cancer secretes something into the blood which is what they measure, so the higher the number, the greater the cancer cells) - anyway, the doctors are very pleased about her progress (not as much as us though !!)....So much so, that they have now said that the tumour is now operable and they may elect to operate after she recovers from chemo #3 (maybe a month from now ?), and then finish off the chemo sessions after the operation.

So the day started with a frustrating blow but then a massive high with the good news. What a girl I am married to !

So the pink boxing gloves come off until Monday - and hopefully she will be OK for chemo #3 then ....bring it on !

Stuff we're grateful for today :
  • The wonderful results we've received
  • Friends who are always amazing us with their kindness, generosity and faithfulness in prayer
  • Our Lord who 'never leaves us nor forsakes us.'
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Blood count to increase so chemo can happen on Monday
  • Continued strength & good health
  • Scan (after chemo #3) to confirm doc's assessment and operation to be brought forward

Have a great weekend !

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Seconds away, Round #3....

Has another week gone by already ??.....I have been somewhat remiss in my blog updates - sorry...please bear with me...

In general terms, Karena is doing really well.
The first week after her treatment in session #2 was a bit of a washout, but the last 2 weeks have been fantastic - significantly improved in terms of more energy, no pain, good sleeping, doing stuff with the children, laughing, cooking and even a bit of cleaning :-)
Life feels really good right now in comparison to where we were just a month or so ago.....BUT.....we are nowhere near out-of-the-woods yet and the road is a long one...... Chemo #3 is tomorrow so the boxing gloves (girlie pink this time!) are out again.

Karena is out tonight with some friends which is a great way for her to spend her pre-chemo evening ! As for me, I'm OK, and really glad to be doing life with the babe with all of it's highs and lows...taking just one day at a time. She's so fab and my best friend in the whole world !

Things I'm grateful for today :-
  • The new higher energy Karena !
  • Medicine - the chemo really is having a positive effect !
  • Springtime - when life seems to start afresh in so many ways.
Things to pray for, for tomorrow's chemo :-

  • Blood test results to be OK so she can actually have her chemo
  • That the nurse can get a 'line' in for the drip (it's been a problem and sore the last 2 times)
  • Good health for the next week as she recovers (no sickness, no joint pain, no fever etc)
Thanks so much for standing with us....

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Just walking the dog....

Today Karena walked the dog (Sam)...that may not sound particularly interesting or remarkable...but for her it was the first time since before Christmas that she has been able to do so....she saw a friend at the park and burst into tears - because it was just such a 'normal' thing to be doing.
She DEFINITELY has more energy, she managed a trip into town yesterday for a couple of hours, and has been doing stuff around the house and with the children....oh normality, how we love it ! She isn't on full form, but there are big improvements in energy levels and general well-being and she is sleeping well. All good stuff.
So I think we can confidently say that Karena has improved. It's 11 days since chemo #2 so her blood count will be about as low as it's gonna get right now and she should be on the up-slope until chemo #3 a week on Friday (6th March)

Stuff we're grateful for today :-
  • E N E R G Y
  • The dog (never thought I'd say that !)
  • Normality in all it's forms !
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Resistance to infection, cold, flues etc
  • Increased strength leading up to chemo #3
  • Cancer to continue to shrink

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Quick update...

Karena has done very well since Friday's chemo....and best of all she hasn't been sick at all....last time after coming off the steroids (on the Tuesday), she was really sick on the Wednesday - so today arrived with some trepidation - but thankfully, after some early anti-sickness pills, she has been just fine.
Children have been looked after by grandparents and by friends for the last 3 days. Tomorrow Karena will have them home alone which she is looking forward to.
Overall she is doing really well - her wrists, ankles, knees and elbows all ache (apparrently this is normal with the chemo) and she has some tummy twinges but nothing like as bad as they were....and she is very tired....but as of this evening, is starting to feel a bit better, like she's turned the corner on chemo #2.
Tonight's mindless therapy consists of watching our secret service MI6 chappies in Spooks series 4...whilst eating chocolate covered raisins....we're loving it !

Stuff we're grateful for today :-
  • Baby Rachel who we've not seen yet, but who is nonetheless vey special !
  • Our parents
  • Chocolate covered raisins
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Continued strength and good health
  • Karena to NOT pick up our daughter's cold
  • Karena to enjoy the rest of half-term at home with the nippers.

Friday, 13 February 2009

A ray of sunshine....

Chemo round #2 is over....the day is drawing to a close.....so an update on the babe......she got to the hospital with her sister and there were a few mix ups with appointment times etc but eventually got to see the consutant. He was 'surprised' and 'amazed' at how much of an improvement there had been in terms of reduced swelling, pain, and lack of sickness. Karena was chuffed (hooray !)....we were told previously that she probably wouldn't see any noticeable improvement until after at least 2 or 3 sessions of chemo. So the consultant chap was pleasantly encouraging - it feels like the first medical ray of sunshine we've had since the whole saga began. Karena phoned me around 11am to tell me the good news....I cried (just for a change!) At lunchtime I walked around the building in the sunshine and cried some more, and thanked God for answers to prayer, and that he hasn't in any way left us, even tho it's still really hard. I know it's still early days, we're not out of the woods, and there's a long road ahead - but just knowing that the chemo is having a positive effect is wonderful. We got home around 5pm to a house that had been cleaned top-to-bottom by friends who insist on treating us like a King and Queen. We do not deserve such treatment and are quite overwhelmed.
This week, in truth, I've found it difficult to pray and feel 'carried' by God, and by the prayers of so many good friends who continue to lift our family to the throne of grace.

Stuff I'm grateful for today :-
  • Session #2 is over and Karena is much improved
  • Sunshine
  • A clean house
Stuff to pray for :-
  • Tumour to shrink, shrink, shrink
  • Strength, strength, and more strength
  • Karena's mum and dad who carry the emotional burden more than any other
  • Karena says "Pray I don't go off coffee!"

Have a great weekend....we plan to !

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Seconds away, Round #2....

There's not been too much to report over the last week - Karena has been really well (compared to how she was just a month ago) - no painkillers, some energy and sleeping well. It's been a wonderful taste of normality.....

Friday she is back at the Royal Berks for Chemo session #2....this time she knows what to expect so is taking the DVD's with her!! She has an appointment with the consultant early and assuming blood count is back up and no other problems then she should be back on the chemo ward for another 5 hour intravenous drug session. Once again her sister will stay with her and be a great companion for the day.....I will be texting like a mad thing all day to keep up with all that's going on....

The big change in the babe as of today is the look -her hair was falling out like nobody's business for the last 3 days so rather than let if go all patchy, she's had it all shaved off ....but she's still a babe ! For the very first time in our married life I now have more hair than my wife ! I have also seen for the very first time the 3 inch scar she got from her horseriding accident back in 1992 - it was always below the hairline before !

3 things I am grateful for today :-
  • My children who continue to run through the whole saga with confidence
  • Doctors who know what they're doing
  • The understanding of my work colleagues and boss
Stuff to pray for :
  • Quick recovery from chemo #2
  • Tumour shrinks further (Karena reckons it's definitely done down, but no idea how much)
  • No sickness (this happened on the Wednesday last time around)
Now for a glass of wine before bedtime......x

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow !!

News from the hospital - confirmed test results from CT scan last week - is that the main tumour has grown from 10cm x 8.5cm before Christmas to 15cm x 9cm (less than they thought last week) - so not good that it's grown, but good that it's not as big as they thought!!
....the great news though is the change in Karena.....Saturday was really rubbish (ground down by pain and frustrated with non-activity)...but Sunday was considerably better, and then yesterday and today have been a transformation - the first days since before Christmas that she hasn't had codeine as a painkiller throughout the day (just paracetamol now!) - and she slept well last night without anything extra... In herself Karena is amazingly bright and feeling generally well - she's even cooked dinner tonight (a big hooray for that !!) so not confined to the sofa or bed where she's spent so much time recently....the gynae cancer nurse I spoke to today was really impressed with her progress....... and the children had a fantastic day in the snow as their schools were all shut !

Things I'm grateful for today :
  • A fresh taste of 'normal' family life
  • Internet shopping
  • Snow
Things to pray for :
  • Continued strength for Karena (blood count needs to go up so she can have her next chemo on 13th Feb)
  • Tumour shrinks
  • Continued pain 'free' like the last 2 days
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow !

Friday, 30 January 2009

Date night !!

Just to prove that there is still some normality in Famille Mackay.....tonight we have "date night" - we've been doing it regularly now for sometime after going on the Marriage Course a couple of years ago. It's magnificent - once a week an evening focussing on each other...a time to talk, eat a nice meal together by candlelight and just spend some precious time together chatting about anything (except hospitals, treatment etc etc are definitely off the list)

So, the babe of the moment is resting, and the fillet steak (yes, you heard it right) is just been popped into the oven....garlic mushrooms are sizzling in the pan as I write....and a glass of red wine (all medicinal you understand!) is about to be poured.....the children are all out at friends......bliss !
3 things I'm grateful for today :-
  • date night
  • date night
  • date night

Cheers - and have a lovely weekend !!
With love to you
Craig & Karena

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Bad news/Good news....

And so the bad news first....CT Scan results are not final but confirm what the consultant suspected - that the cancer has grown - main ovarian growth is now ~15cm long (was 10cm a month ago), and probably 19cm wide (to be confirmed)....either way it's definitely bigger ;-(

The other piece of bad news was Karena was sick yesterday - we were told that when you come off the steroids (4 days after chemo) that you can come down with a 'bit of a bump' - now we know what they mean - so yesterday was a bit of a write-off !!!....

but onto the good news......today she is feeling significantly better.... and more importantly the CT scan shows no evidence of cancer anywhere else (this really is good news)....specifically lungs, kidney, spleen etc etc (and they have a brand new machine in the Royal Berks which is apparrently only 1 of 8 in the country) - has better scanning functionality and sensitivity etc

We clearly still need a breakthrough though!

Psalm 24 :"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it..."

Things Karena says she's grateful for today :-

  • "Having to only drink water for the scan rather than a pint of barium glupe"
  • "Flowers sent by lovely friends which make me smile everyday"
  • "Feeling so much better and much more alive today!"

Stuff to pray for :

  • Shrinking cancer/chemo starts destroying the cancer cells
  • Karena gains strength/energy
  • Good health (7-10 days after the chemo your immune system is lowest)

She's such a babe.....

Monday, 26 January 2009

Good news/bad news....

The good news is that Karena hasn't been sick after Friday's chemo.....hooray ;-) So if you were praying that one - thanks !
On Saturday, pumped up with steroids and tablets following Friday's chemo, Karena had more energy than Paula Radcliffe - she insisted at 8am on going "into town for a coffee" and some shopping - she really had more energy than she's had for weeks which was surprising but fantastic (until lunchtime when she was pooped again !)
So....with the children away with our very dear friends for the weekend, we had some quiet hours alone and just enjoyed being together (and the coffee !)

Tomorrow (Tuesday 27th) is the next visit to the hospital....Karena goes in for another CT scan (which takes X-ray photos in 3-D through the body)....the last CT scan she had was over a month ago which doc believes could now be out of date as he thinks the cancer has grown....so the plan is to get a baseline level now on the cancer so they can see how effective the chemotherapy is; they will then rescan her after 3 sessions and presumably tweek the treatment as they think necessary.
The bad news is that Karena is definitely in increasing pain (they said this could happen once the chemo started tho)

Things I'm grateful for today
  • Time we spent alone at the weekend - just being together felt really precious
  • Our friends who continue to surprise us with their generosity, practical help, prayer and love
  • Dinner brought around to our door tonight !
Prayer points :-
  • CT scan results to be positive - that the cancer hasn't grown or spread.
  • Continued strength for Karena
  • Chemo to now kick-in and start killing off the cancer cells

Thanks so much for reading, for loving and for praying.....

Friday, 23 January 2009

Quick update....

Karena had her first chemo session today...her sister Amanda stayed with her all day. I spent my day getting updates by text, reviewing equipment calculations and crying all to different degrees....
Karena is now home, very tired, woozy but glad to be out of the hospital. She described the chemo unit as hot and peaceful !!
Buzzing in my mind today was the scripture "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be..." (Ps 139:16).....
Buzzing in Karena's mind was the scripture "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge" (Ps 18:2).....

Things Karena says she's glad for today :-
  • Staff at the unit were outstanding and provided great care and compassion
  • The DVD player they got to watch whilst the drip fed the goodies into her arm
  • "My sister" (no I didn't get a mention on the top 3 !!)
Things we'd love you to pray for :
  • No sickness (pleeeeeaaaaaaaaaassssssssseeeeeee)
  • Cancer responding quickly to the treatment and quickly shrinking
  • Strength as she feels really tired and weak.
Thanks for all the texts, prayers, and support, and amazing flowers! Your care overwhelms us.
Love to you.....x

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Out of control....out of control....

I was always a fan of the daleks when I was younger.... it was when one of them got zapped by some futuristic weapon and spinning around would cry in a strange electronic voice "out of control".....
this is how life feels right now. Monday's visit to the oncologist only made matters more concerning....having discussed Karena's treatment he said that her cancer was "rapidly growing"....this is not the type of language you want to hear....and the fact that the cancer is in more than one place (2 that we know of) certainly isn't a positive thing. I am realising, slowly but surely, that this is all totally out of my control....and so the tears fall once again as I comtemplate the future....but no matter how much I panic (I've done a fair amount of this), cry (I've done loads of this!) or feel sorry for my wife or for myself , there's only one place where either of us really find any peace......Psalm 46:10 says "be still and know that I am God"....Father, this feels like chaos to me, I'm so glad that you're in control !
Chemo Session #1 is this Friday 23rd.
Tuesday 27th Karena has another CT scan to see what's going on inside.
Things I'm grateful for today:
  • My wife's sense of humour ;-)
  • My wife's stylish new haircut which we will enjoy for about 2 weeks (similar to photo 8 on her blog)
  • Our magnificent GP : Dr Sharp
Stuff to pray for :
  • Chemo Session#1 - that it happens without problems, without sickness, but a significant reduction in the size of the baddies inside (if it can grow quickly, surely it can shrink quickly ?!)
  • Karena's overall health - strength and continued bravery (she is truly amazing !)
  • CT scan - ie. that the doctor's concern of the rapid growth is proved wrong.

Monday, 19 January 2009

A bad hair day ?

See www.karenamackay.blogspot.com for the lady of the moment.....

She takes my breath away !

And so to the starting blocks....

It's Monday - not my favourite day under normal circumstances, but today is different, it feels to me like we've at last arrived.... In 20 minutes we leave for the hospital to talk to the oncologist and for Karena to have her 4 hour blood test to check kidney function in preparation for Friday's chemo.
It will be good to get this underway as Karena is loosing energy by the day and in increasing pain/discomfort as the days go on too. She is in good heart, and, as ever, God is with us as we head off.
Things I'm thankful for today :
  • God never leaves nor forsakes us
  • Friends who take our children to school
  • Doctors and the NHS
Things to pray for :
  • Karena kidney function to be normal and OK for us to start chemo on Friday
  • Wisdom for doctors as they finalise the details for the chemo
  • Continued strength in heart and mind
Thanks for being our friends and for caring ! Have a great day too ! Must dash, we have an appointment to get to......

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The facts as we know 'em......

Summary of visit to hospital today for biopsy results and appointment at clinic :-
  • Karena definitely has a stage 3 cancer diagnosis - apparrently described in latin as a "Serous Adenocarcinoma" (there you go !)
  • Primary site is the ovary (they took the biopsy from the other lump in the 'omentum' but it points to the ovary as the primary site)...I think this is good news.
  • Seeing oncologist next Monday 19th Jan + kidney function test over 4 hours
  • Start chemotherapy on Friday 23rd Jan (at last, a date to start !) ;-)
  • Plan is for 6 sessions of chemo every 3 weeks on a Friday as an outpatient (sit in a chair all day with a drip in your arm, then go home with some steroids feeling a bit woozy)...then operation another 4-6 weeks after last session (ie June-ish)....but it may all change yet (watch this space!)
  • Karena will be receiving 'Carboplatin' & 'Taxol'; the latter makes the hair fall out ;-(
  • The hospital do a great line in wigs and turbans and hats ;-) Personally my vote is for a pink rinse wig ! Karena's vote is for a funky bandana.....I think she get's the casting vote !

Karena is good in heart, strong in faith and looking forward to trying out new hair styles and funky hats....it's gonna cost a fortune but I can't think of anything I'd rather spend our money on !....oh, and she's also a babe !

Monday, 12 January 2009

A lifetime companion

As I looked out of the window into our garden yesterday I noticed the "companion seat" which sits in the corner. It was given to us.....very quaint (!?)...we have sat in it together on a few occasions (but not that often at the same time to be honest!)...last summer I recall Karena sitting in it in the sunshine eating a sandwich and reading a book.....she is my lifetime companion....of that I am very grateful & long may it continue! It also reminded me that our confidence in the midst of the heartache is that God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.... God's spirit is described as one who "draws alongside" us (aka our companion).... Karena needs that right now, so do I, so do the children....

Things I'm thankful for today :
  • Karena had a better night's sleep last night than she's had for the last month (the wonder of the right painkillers!)
  • Friends who laugh with us and cry with us
  • 'Normal' life moments in the midst of the abnormal ones.

Things to pray for....

  • Peace in the midst of suffering
  • Strength & relief for Karena (pain, continued good sleeping)
  • Test results to be back on Tues (13th), a good prognosis and a concrete treatment plan in place on Weds (14th).
  • Speedy start to chemotherapy.
  • No further spreading of the cancer.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Here goes........

Well here we are....never done this whole blogging lark before but times change....I'm an engineer so it's likely to be factual rather than too touchy feely....so here goes.....
An update on Karena for you....current plan is as follows :-
See consultant Weds 14th Jan - biopsy test results should be complete and back by then hopefully.
See oncologist Mon 19th Jan to finalise treatment plan, more blood tests etc
Start chemotherapy approx 2-3 weeks time (ASAP !).
Things I'm so thankful for today :

  • My wife and children
  • Outstanding friends & family
  • People who pray
Things to pray for :

  • Strength & relief for Karena (she's in a lot of pain, can't get comfortable & can't sleep well)
  • Test results to be back so we can get a concrete treatment plan in place next Weds.
  • No further spreading of the cancer.