Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I got numbers back on my latest blood work today, and the results are good. The M-spike has been hovering at a consistent but unmoving low level like a catfish on a river bottom (see blog entry for 11/17), but this month it moved down again, dropping from 0.6 to 0.4. Total proteins also made a nice drop, and most parameters of the general blood chemistry are showing some slight improvements as well.
I keep on the current medication program, and go back to see the cancer doc again in two months.
I want to thank each of you for your faithful and persistent prayers for me over the past 2+ years. As I told my Sunday School class recently, you don't learn the meaning of perseverance (in prayer) from a dictionary. So often, when we pray for someone and there is no apparent answer, we are inclined to give up on our prayers and say, "God's will be done." But perseverance means praying just as fervently and ardently two years or more later as you did when you first heard the news and brought your petition before God, and I know that such prayers are many of you.
Thanks for love, prayers, support and concern.
In His Mighty Care, Daryl
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
In addition to being better at fighting the cancer, the Revlimid is much less destructive to me than the other chemo therapies have been. Over the past few weeks, I have repeatedly been reminded of how much better condition I am now than I was months or even a year to a year and a half ago. I thank God for that, and thank you for your interest, concern and prayers on my behalf. This isn't over yet, but it is all good.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Doing this certification requires frequent visits during liner construction, the full-time presence during construction of one my my materials testing technicians, direction, and lots of tests of the liner in the field, and on samples brought back to our laboratory.
Here is a picture of a liner built out of 3 feet of compacted clay that we are currently certifying on a landfill a little ways southwest of Fort Worth. This site fascinates me because of its purple clay. It also has a strata of green soil, the likes of which I have only seen once before in my life.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Last week, the cancer doc sampled my bone marrow and I got results back a few days ago. The bone marrow is where the cancer resides with myeloma. The cancer is done to 12% (12% of the plasma cells in my bone marrow are cancerous). Last year at this time, the cancer was 19%, and it was 65% when I was diagnosed 2 years ago. Here is a picture of the bone marrow sample after it was extracted. For a quick update on the overall condition, see 2 blogs down, Oct. 2, 2009.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Daniel and Whitney are running in the Chicago Marathon (yes, Marathon) today.
Andrew is sick with the flu. He was too tough of a guy to get his flu shot, but we did have a real nice time chatting on the phone about Tennessee's tromp over Georgia in the football game this weekend, and other things. Fortunately, Julia and Alyssa seem to be okay.
Matthew started a job this week working as a computer consultant on a contract basis with Alamo Consultants in Plano, Texas.
Emily has moved out of the house and into her own apartment in Arlington with her good friend, Jessica. We all pitched in and helped her to move Friday afternoon and yesterday. Nice place and nice situation for her.
I got a bone marrow sample this week and Carol has had to put up with me and put in a lot of hours at her job, including inspecting food booths at some big shindigs in Burleson on Saturday. Fortunately, she gets to go to a big conference for Environmental Health professionals in Austin for several days this week.
Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!
Friday, October 2, 2009
So for now the plan is to continue the current oral medication, steadily keep chipping away at the cancer, and maybe get a break from the chemotherapy in 6 months to a year. The doctor is very pleased that I am staying active (working and swimming), that I am watching my weight, and that I am not losing muscle mass, and he is very pleased with my overall progress.
While I was there, he also took a bone marrow sample, and I have been "out" all afternoon and early evening. It is the first bone marrow biopsy for me in a year. I should get the results back on that next week.
Thanks for the prayers and concern. In the next day or two, I will try to post a couple of graphs that really tell the tale pretty well on the cancer, and will also share the bone marrow biopsy results when I get them. I will also try to get some cute pics up of grandkids or kids.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Yesterday, I received results back on blood samples taken last week. My current status is that I am "stable." The cancer level hasn't increased or decreased over the past two months, but is at the lowest level since diagnosis. I am still undergoing chemotherapy, and there is currently no plan to change medication anytime soon. Thanks to all for caring and praying. This is still a long, long way from being over.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
On Friday night and into Saturday morning, Carol had to do a health inspection on a Wal-Mart in her territory, so it could reopen after a fire contained to one part of the store. I went with her since it was late at night and far from home. It was very impressive to see how well-organized the Wal-Mart team was, and how well Carol went about her work. See her blog for more details.
Also, on Friday, I had my 57th birthday, and all of our local kids and their persons of interest came over to help us eat grilled burgers and celebrate. Thanks to all who sent their wishes. Never in my life have I received so many wishes for a Happy Birthday. Thanks, thanks, thanks.
Yesteryday I swam a mile, for the first time in I don't know how long. It felt really good to do it again. It took me an hour, but we'll see if we can whittle some time off that again.
I've had two weeks of feeling pretty good. I will go back to the doctor on Wednesday of this week for another infusion, and let them sample some blood. Maybe by Monday of next week, I'll have some results to know how I'm doing. Thanks for your prayers and concern.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The possums got away, but the armadillo was detained for questioning before being released. Thanks for the help, friends!
Friday, August 7, 2009
She was a good mother. As painful as it was to let her go, it was far more painful to watch her remain in the state she was in for the last years of her life. She is better now than she has ever been in her life.
Friday, July 31, 2009
This picture is from Sunday afternoon. Vanita spent an incredible amount of time caring for Mom in the final days. This picture shows Vanita feeding her and my grandson holding her hand.
My Mom was a believer in Christ, and is now in a far better place than she has ever been in her life. She had just turned 90 10 days before she died. Scroll down to "older posts" to see her early celebration we had just 3 weeks ago.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Some of the nicest news, however, is the fact that quite a few of the things they measure moved into the "normal range" for those parameters this month for the first time. Praise God for that.
PS - Don't stop praying or start celebrating just yet. I'm still a ways from being out of the woods.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. PS. 90:12
The doctor stonewalls at making a prediction for how long I will survive. Likewise, I dodge at giving an answer to friends and family, in large part because I don't know. Then there are so many variables. I would hate to tell someone that I was going to live for five more years and then still be going strong at seven, and them think I had lied to them, or for some, broken a promise. Likewise if I told them 20 years, and then died from the cancer after three.
From the outset, we have declared our lives are fully in the hands of an omnipotent and loving Heavenly Father, who could heal me of the cancer by whatever means He chooses, could prolong my life for however many years He chooses, or could take me home next week with a bad case of the sniffles. It is all in His hands.
From a human perspective, however, attached is one helpful piece of information that Carol and I obtained from the myeloma conference that we attended two weekends ago. It is a chart that tracks overall survival of myeloma patients by decade, from the time of their diagnosis. Here are some facts or conclusions that can be drawn from the chart:
- There has always been a small percentage of myeloma patients, about 10%, who have made it past 10 years beyond diagnosis, and seem to go on indefinitely with this as a chronic condition. These are the outlier data points, but there seem to be quite a few of them. At the conference, one of our speakers was a seemingly healthy man who had been in treatment for 19 years, and a report was given of a person who had been a patient for 31 years. Geraldine Ferraro has been a myeloma patient since 1998, 11 years.
- The average survival period for a myeloma patient over the past decade, however, is only about 4.5 years after diagnosis. Again from the human perspective, it reasonable to assume that I would do better than average because that number obviously includes all myeloma patients - those diagnosed in late stages of the disease, those who are elderly, those who die from other causes / complications, etc. I was diagnosed very early in the disease before it had attacked my skeletal frame or any organs of my body, at a relatively young age, and in otherwise excellent health.
- That average 4.5 year survival period over the past decade is a vast improvement over the 2.5 years after diagnosis for the preceding decade. This means, among other things, that the treatments are getting better. The longer a patient can survive, the greater his chances of overall survival due to new drugs and therapies being developed.
Conclusion: We don't know. Review the chart and make your own conclusions if you like. I was diagnosed in September 2007, almost two years ago. My plan is to substantially beat the average and hopefully become an outlier data point, but leave it all in God's hands and not waste a single day in the meantime.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
A few weeks ago, I wrote about George, the friendly squirrel who lives in my back yard. I spoke of how George kept me close company while I was potting some summer plants, and how particularly pleased I was with three new pecan trees I had found sprouted in some of the flower pots. I spoke of recognizing George’s likely involvement in the process, and of thinking him, and rewarding him with peanuts.
Ten days ago, I walked into the back yard and saw George with the most guilty look I have ever seen on a squirrel’s face. He took one look at me, turned and bolted, and hid himself from my presence just as surely as Adam did hide himself from the Lord in the Garden. “George, where art thou?” I called, but I received no answer in return.
I looked around the back yard to see what could be wrong, and saw an old dead branch, about 6 or 8 feet long and as big around as my forearm, laying on the ground. It had not been there 2 hours earlier when I mowed the grass. I could imagine George and some of his adolescent squirrel pals jumping up and down on the branch, laughing and having a big time until it broke and they all came crashing down to the ground. “Oh, well,” I thought, “squirrels will be squirrels. No harm done.” Besides, that dead branch had been outside my upstairs office window, and I was glad to see it down without my having to climb and cut.
Then I saw the REAL CRIME. George had uprooted the new little pecan trees to get to the pecan nuts still a part of the root. He knew it was wrong and that is why he looked so guilty. Truly, all creation has fallen and gone corrupt.
George, if you read my blog, please know that I still love you and I forgive you. If you will plant me some more pecans next winter, I will try to grown them again next spring, but I will put them in a squirrel proof cage for their first year to help you resist temptation.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This weekend, Carol and I attended a conference sponsored by the International Myeloma Foundation here in Dallas. It was very informative as we learned about current treatment methodologies and upcoming drugs, ways of handling side effects of the chemotherapy, and other good stuff.
Leading doctors in this disease nationwide were there, and it was good to listen to them, and chat with them between sessions, as well. Some of these men have been cancer doctors longer than I have been an engineer (that’s a long time), and their names are on testing procedures for evaluation of this disease. There also were very helpful sessions by a cancer nurse, and a myeloma patient.
The top question on every patient’s mind is what are current survival predictions for patients in their situation. One patient there had been in treatment for 19 years, and there was a report of another patient who has been in treatment for 31 years. These are the outlier data points, but praise God for outlier data points. Then I met a man who looks healthier than me, and has been in treatment for only 3 years, but his cancer is not responding to the drugs, and the prognosis is not good. It is all over the field.
All in all, it was a good conference, and I am glad we went.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Today is Father’s Day, and I would like to pay tribute to my father, James Vernon Bennett, Jr., now deceased. It’s been a little over two years since Dad died in April 2007. The morning after we buried him, I went out to the woods behind their house to spend some time alone. I found an acceptable stump and sat down. It was cold spring morning in Arkansas, and I shifted my body so that my back caught the fullest effect of the sunlight to keep me warm, and remembered it was something my Dad had taught me to do as we worked outside in the cold together.
A father teaches his son many things. Among the things my Dad taught me by example more than words was the value of hard work and honesty in business dealings, and the importance of a man taking his family to church on a weekly basis.
I took this picture of Dad about a year or two before he died. It was autumn, and I had taken him for a ride in his truck, and we walked out to an overlook over the Little Red River just outside Heber Springs. It is my favorite picture of Dad.
Here’s to you, Dad. I hope all readers have had as wonderful a Father’s Day as I did.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
And here is a really good version of "Night Train", though the version I heard and started this quest was a Bluegrass/Blues version with harmonica, fiddle, bass guitar and drums, and was incorrectly labeled on the CD as "Night Train to Memphis," rather than the boogie woogie version here.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Results on the blood sample taken June 12 indicate that the decreases to the cancer have leveled out and actually increased just slightly over the blood sample taken last month. This month's M-spike is 1.3, still one of my lowest, but a little higher than last month's 1.1. The factors that would indicate a slight increase in the M-spike (and thus, the cancer), like total protiens and globulin (the type of protien where the M-spike is) all showed the same slight increase. This month's total protiens, like last's, remain in the normal range, meaning that if I were checked for a routine physical at this level I wouldn't be sent on for further testing to see if I have cancer.
I am hoping that the slight increase is due to the colds I fought and antibiotics I was on the past month. While I have no scientific basis for this hope, I also have no scientific basis against it.
In other aspects, my blood is looking much healthier. My red blood count is up almost to normal range, as are the HGB and HCT, which reflect the blood's ability to carry oxygen and iron.
Thanks for caring and praying.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
This year I have three new pecan trees and one rescued azalea bush. The pecans trees are thanks to the friendly squirrels (cute rats with bushy tails)inhabiting our back yard. Over the winter, they buried some pecans found elsewhere in the neighborhood into flower pots in my back yard. The pecans sprouted into trees after I planted flowers this spring, and I transplanted them, tree, root, original pecan and all into some new flower pots consecrated solely for that purpose. As would only be appropriate, Squirrel George the x kept me close company during the process, and I rewarded him with peanuts for his trouble in planting the pecans.
The azalea bush was originally a $13 bargain I bought in Arlington last year. It got trampled when we replaced our fence a couple of months ago, and then replaced with an azalea given by friends as a Christmas gift, but not delivered until spring. Anyway, much to the not-too-concealed amusement of close family members, I dug up the root, planted it in a pot and set it in a place where it would receive just the right amount of sunlight, from an azalea’s point of view on sunlight, and let the Creator’s ordained processes of nature take work. This weekend, about two months later, the root sprouted vegetation. As an amateur gardener, I never cease to be amazed at the way life persists when given opportunity to do so.
Here is the photographic proof of the pecan trees and azalea bush. The final picture is one Carol took of the way I arranged flora vegetation, et al, just off our back patio this afternoon. The figurine in the background is not St. Francis. That would not do for a Protestant Evangelical elder. It is St. Augustine, considered to be okay for those with leanings toward Calvinistic/Reformed viewpoints. I put it there hoping he would bless the grass (just kidding!).
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thanks for your prayers, caring, and expressions of concern!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
We are also holding right now so far as medical information on me is concerned. This past Thursday evening I had MRI's done on my neck and shoulder to determine the cause of some serious pain I have been having in the neck, back and right arm for the past 2 months. I'll see my orthopedic surgeon on Monday afternoon to see what he can see. On Friday morning, I had a blood sample taken regarding the cancer, and will see my oncologist on Tuesday morning to learn the results of the new chemotherapy drug I've been taking. We'll keep you posted on what we find out.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
This weekend our next door neighbor expanded the flower bed spanning our two yards. Friday night, they were planting flowers in the new bed, so we went to Lowe’s to get a new garden rake and some more plants, and the four of us had a nice evening planting plants in the new bed. The new bed has begonias, impatiens, sweet potato vines, Mexican heather, geraniums, red hot salvias, some ferns, and more. Here are some pics.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Here are some pictures from Saturday’s great Texas pony ride.
This guy looks like Stinky Pete..
Austin, Texas -
Ride ‘em, Austin
and Ellie. Although she did solo, Ellie preferred to ride with an older sibling.
Stinky Pete liked the miniature horse, Cherokee.
“Does this horse use a 3-compartment sink?”
Emily Rides Again!
The spectating crowd -
Ya’ll come back now, ya heyah?