Sunday, June 28, 2015

"How is Brett?!"

The question we get the most.  So here is what the days were like after his first Chemo last Wednesday!

Wednesday night & Thursday:  The first thing we noticed is that he had NO MORE FEVERS!  The chemo nurse had suggested that could happen because of the corticosteroid he received prior to the chemo drugs.  Well - we don't know what it was, but we are really happy.

If he gets a fever now (over 100.4º), he needs to go immediately to the ER - and typically will be admitted for a 3-day stay to determine the source of the fever and run tests.

Brett felt pretty normal, and was able to tolerate food okay as well.  Thursday evening he even went out with friends (he made sure they were all healthy).  

Friday:  A little more fatigued.  Water started to taste strange, but he kept hydrated and still was able to eat.  He noticed he would get a little queezy if his stomach was empty.  Eating/drinking something helped and he was really tired.  He slept most of the day, but still went out to eat with Eric.

Saturday/Sunday:  Fatigue really hit hard.  He didn't care if he got up to eat or drink.  He didn't want to take the energy to shower.  He would walk out to the living room and lay on the floor.  It was hard to see him so out of it.  We got him to eat our Sunday dinner with us - and he started to feel better.  

Monday/Tuesday:  Much better.  Still sleeping a LOT, but much better.  We started to feed him some (more) high-calorie foods to maintain his weight. 

MORE DISEASE SYMPTOMS DISAPPEAR!  The tumors have already gone down some and the drenching sweats seem to have disappeared!  Huzzah!

Wednesday-Saturday (today):  More energy!  He and I actually went to Walmart to pick up a few things.  It really wiped him out.  He sat in the car while I loaded the groceries.  I carried most everything upstairs (and the rest by Scott and Eric).  

This Friday: We went out to dinner - we went to a non-busy place for fish fry (Pegasus by State Fair Park for the locals - it was surprisingly good!) and we went before it got busy (about 3:30pm).  Doing everything at non-peak hours is really the way our life is for now.

Our little freezer right now is all frozen treats!
Today he's doing REALLY well.  We are keeping him rested - and eating!  He's been craving ice cream and frozen snacks.  Our freezer is packed with Drumsticks, Fudgcicles, Italian Ice pops, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Popsicles (Bomb Pops), Ice Cream and more!  

He weighed himself and he's down to 145 (he was up to 152 - but I don't think he was eating enough when he was out of it for those couple of days).  He now has Half-and-Half on his cereal!

ANOTHER SYMPTOM ALMOST GONE:  Coughing!  Brett's coughing had been getting pretty bad because lymph tumors were pressing on his bronchial tubes (he has tumors all throughout his lungs and around his heart).  So that means those tumors have shrunk enough to give his lungs a reprieve!  (It was one reason Texas was doing testing for Tuberculosis.)

THIS IS NOT BRETT!  But it is very similar to the CT scan we saw of Brett's lungs.
It looked just like this!  The small white spots are normal.
The large white spots are tumors and interfere with breathing.
I'll have to get our DVD back of Brett's tests to share with you all!

Scott is handling things really, really well.  He doesn't like seeing Brett like this because he can't wrestle with him and it's tough to see your big brother almost the same weight as you!  Scott is handling increased chores and doesn't mind anything EXCEPT giving up "his" room to share again.  He thought the next 2 years would give him his own room!  

Scott is busy with football weight training, plus he went to EFY (Especially For Youth - a church youth retreat) for a week in Mankato, Minnesota at a college there.  He got to stay in the dorms and they had SO much fun!  And then in July he gets to go to Scout Camp for the week - so he's keeping busy.  More football practice and such when he gets home - plus church Youth Conference weekend, and a week or so up north at Grandma Debbie's and fishing with his cousins!

Dad is great as usual!  He really is the source of patience and strength in our home.  Even in the quiet moments - he worries about Brett and all that is happening, but he knows we're in good hands (spiritually and physically).  He doesn't like looking at things on the Internet because this is "our" cancer and "our" Brett.

Mom is concerned, happy, upset, sad, feeling blessed, resentful... but my overwhelming feeling is peace and comfort.  Every day I'm grateful Brett's cancer is treatable - and curable.  I'm grateful he's home and in good spirits. 

So many people are with us on this journey and we have been sustained by prayers.  I'm in awe of the physical body and medicine.  But the well-wishes and spontaneous notes and cards, hugs and even treats and a meal (thank you, Paula!) have been beyond what I could even imagined.  Last Sunday at church we spoke with friends who have (unfortunately) had children with cancer.  It's not a club we wanted to belong to - but their experiences have allowed them to share with us... and the talks and advice have been really great.  One mom said, "I didn't think you could feel prayers."  Until you've been through this - you realize you really can.  The moments when I am the most worried, or not sleeping again, a peace comes over me and I realize we aren't alone in this fight.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

And so the fight begins....

Finally - the day we have dreaded - yet looked forward to - was here!

It actually started Tuesday, June 16th when we had an appointment with Dr. Fenske to sign the protocol and go over treatment and answer questions.

The visit with Dr. Fenske included some measurements of his biggest tumors - you can visibly see them!

Mind you, Brett is super thin right now - so all the lumps you see are tumors (except for his Adam's Apple.. haha).  More lump pictures later:

 Then Brett had to go down to get labs done -- checking his numbers to make sure all was a "go" for the next morning.  My sister and I decided to take a selfie while we were waiting - and look who photo-bombed us! :)  I love this picture.  (My sister doesn't have a black eye - it's just the shadow from the window. haha)

While we were waiting... we see a lady pushing a harp... and she had a dog on a harness!  Right there at the lab elevator?!  If someone had told us... "Sit here - soon you will see a woman with a dog and a harp" - we would have thought they were mental!  I guess anything goes in the Cancer Center!  I take this as a good sign. haha

Wednesday - CHEMO DAY!
Brett was randomized (picked) for the standard care (normal regimen) in the study - which made me think... why did we wait? We could have started 2 weeks ago?!  I'm not sure, but I do know we prayed and knew it was the right thing.  On the other hand - it may be that the other part of the study isn't the best - so I have to believe we have the best option. Brett said, "It's the right thing."  so who can argue?!
We had to be at the Cancer Center by 7am.  We were on time (miracle)!  It was Brett, Aunt Carrie (my sister) and I.  We were led back to the room (which is like a room with 3 walls - and the outside wall open where a curtain can be drawn).  Brett got the comfy chair, of course.  Our main nurse was Mary, but there were usually 2-3 nurses attending to Brett at different times.  They explained what they would be doing (generally) and also what would happen throughout the process.  

Step 1:  Look at Brett's veins to decide which arm/vein to use. They inserted the catheter and had to be very very careful - it has to be absolutely in the vein.  These drugs cannot perforate through the vein or it causes some serious complications.  Inserted by one nurse - and double-checked by the other nurse.  Good to go!
Step 2: Administer the anti-nausea medicine.  This bag of medicine had 3 different medicines - including Dexamethasone and Ondansetron and one other, I can't remember (more minor drug).  The Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that is a super-anti-inflammatory.  The Ondansetron is a anti-nausea.  All goes well!

Brett's chemo is referred to as ABVD - which stands for the 4 chemo drugs that are administered.  Chemo attacks fast-growing cells - such as the lining of the mouth, tastebuds, hair follicles (causing hair loss), toenails/fingernails, etc.

Step 3: A!  Adriamycin (or also called Doxorubicin).  It's a syringe that has RED in it.  It is a antitumor antibiotic and actually comes from a species of soil fungus!  Crazy,  However, it is VERY toxic.  If it comes into contact with the skin, or outside of the vein - it can cause severe tissue damage and blistering.  So they administer it very carefully - and check the vein throughout the process.  About halfway through - they had to switch to Brett's other arm.  

Popsicle!  So it was believed that eating ice chips (or a popsicle) will slow down the circulation in the mouth lining and lessen the damage of the chemo drug as it enters the system.  Some studies have suggested this isn't the case.  But why not give patients popsicles just in case!?  So Brett gets to enjoy a popsicle during chemo every time.  Not a bad thing.

Chemo Selfie!
Step 4: B! Bleomycin.  Another anti-tumor antibiotic -- again made from a soil fungus! This is administered by a bag/drip.  They start with a tiny bag to test for reactions first.  Then once that went well, they administer the rest of it,

Step 5: V! Vinblastine.  Made from the periwinkle plant - or a vinca plant alkaloid.  Wow!  Again given by a drip.  Each drug is double checked with his name and birthdate and by a 2nd nurse verifying everything.  They verify dosage, etc.  Veins are checked and checked again.  A test-dose is given before the regular dose.  All is going well.
The nurse brings Brett a turkey sandwich, soda, chips, etc.  He was so sweet and didn't want to bother her after she asked him.  She looked at him like he was crazy... and said, "No no.. let us do this for you! It's a long day and you need to eat!"  We brought snacks - but the sandwich looked way better than anything we had.

Step 6: D! Dacarbazine.  Given again by a syringe into the catheter.  This drug is an alkylating agent and adds alkyl (?) to the DNA of the cancer cells.  Medicine is amazing stuff.  

Step 7: Chemotherapy Education.  This is where they go through an entire booklet explaining each drug - all the side effects and when to call the doctor.  For each drug we get a list of possible side effects (normal) and those that are rare, as well as early side effects and late side effects, as well as how to take care of things that could happen.  A lot to learn!

All set!  We are good to go.  And now we watch and wait to see what happens....
Still keeping his humor... posing with one of the booklets!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Q & A about Lymphoma and Brett!

People have been asking a lot of questions - and of course those are the people that see us in person!  So we thought we'd answer questions here*:

Q. What are lymph nodes?  How many are there? How many do you have?

When we heard that they took out one of Brett's lymph nodes, the first response of Eric and I was: Doesn't he need that?!!!

A.  From WebMD:

Lymph nodes are part of the lymph system, which carries lymph fluid, nutrients, and waste material between the body tissues and the bloodstream. The three most common sites of swollen lymph nodes are the neck, armpit, and groin. The lymph system is an important part of the immune system.
We have between 501 and 700 lymph nodes.  The amount varies from individual to individual.

Q. What is lymphoma? or Hodgkin's Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system and originates from white blood cells called lymphocytes. The cancer is "contained" in the lymph nodes or lymph system.  (It's in the leukemia, or blood diseases, family.)  Not too long ago, it was referred to as Hodgkin's Disease, but more recently was corrected to be called Hodgkin's Lymphoma, although you'll hear them used interchangeably.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma means that under a microscope - particular cells were present, called Reed–Sternberg cells. Read here for more info.

This video is an awesome description of this disease!

Q. Who was this Hodgkin guy anyway?
A. Diseases are usually either named for the first "victim" or for the person that discovered it.  Hodgkin's Disease was named after Thomas Hodgkin (1798 – 1866) who was a predominate London pathologist. Pathology (medical study of tissue to determine diseases and origins) was was new and Hodgkin was consider a pioneer of modern medicine.  Some cool articles are on the internet about this guy!  And Wow!  What a cool beard!

Q. How advanced is Brett's lymphoma?
A.  Brett has Stage IIIB.  Stage III (3) means there are diseased nodes below his diaphragm, as well as above.  Brett's malignant nodes are very prominent in his neck, chest (nodes in and around lungs, around heart), armpits (his fingers go numb), and in and around his spleen.  It doesn't appear that the spleen has been directly affected.  His bone marrow biopsy was clean so he isn't Stage IV.  The "B" signifies he has the symptoms of fevers, drenching sweats and weight loss.

Q. How did Brett get diagnosed? What were some signs?
A. Brett has had some sort of cold/respiratory things going on really since Christmas.  At Christmas we noticed he was having some drenching night sweats.  This continued in January, but it had gotten better.  I thought it was just the fact he was growing and maybe changes in hormones, etc. as he gets older.  He had gone through some pretty extensive physicals where there were enlarged lymph nodes (not crazy big like now) and the doctor said that they were inflammed because of his cold.  So Brett goes on his mission and was always fatigued but they had a pretty rigorous schedule. He continued with a cough he couldn't get rid of.

After Brett was in Dallas, he got another really bad cold.  He never could quite get healthy.  This cold and cough hung on... so his companion said they should see the nurse.  The nurse didn't like how his lymph nodes felt - they were quite large at this point - so she told him to go to the urgent care clinic.  The clinic then said he needs to be seen at the hospital and he was admitted (all this happened in one day).  They had ruled out mono and other bacterial diseases - and decided they needed to to a surgical biopsy (where they take an entire node - not a need aspiration) and the rest is history, as they say!

The non-ending "cold" symptoms were from the effects of the cancer itself, the actual colds were from a weakened immune system, and the coughing is from the enlarged/cancerous lymph nodes pressing on his bronchial tubes in his lungs.

Q.  How is Brett feeling?  What's he doing?

A.  He generally feels like he has a bad respiratory flu.  Fevers are "normal" and usually about 100-101º.. and he gets shivers and then drenching sweats.  Tylenol or Ibuprofen will break the fever - but then he dreads having the sweats.  He's also lost about 25 pounds in the last couple of months - and can't seem to gain weight despite eating eating normally (and we've been adding extra calories).

He coughs... a lot.  And there isn't much he can do for it until those lymph nodes have shrunk.  

Brett is in great spirits (you can tell from the pictures) and really doing well!  He's eating well but very fatigued.  He'll go to one hour of church - but then will take a 3-hour nap.  He sleeps a lot - and has very little energy to do much right now.

Q. Can Brett go out? Shake hands? Hug?

A.  Brett can go out - but has to be really cautious.  Because the lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system - and because his chemo is frequent - his immune system doesn't get time to recover.  Chemo for most cancers is a once-a-month regimen.  Brett's chemo is every 2 weeks, so his immune system (or blood counts... sometimes you'll hear us say "his numbers are good/bad") doesn't have time to recover fully.  

For that reason he has to try not to catch a cold, flu, etc... because it quickly becomes more serious for him.  If Brett gets a fever of over 100.4º during the chemo process, he will be admitted to the hospital for 3 days (or longer).  

You may see Brett wear a mask, or if you have the coughs, sneezes, etc. - then you will be asked to put on a mask when you visit us (we have 'em).

Brett might wave this off because he's so nice... so we have to be vigilant for him... haha.

Q. Will Brett lose his hair? When? And then when does it grow back?
A. More than likely, yes.  And they say it typically happens between 2-4 weeks after treatment (or, more drastically after the 2nd chemo treatment which is July 1st).  It can come out gradually, or drastically. And yes, from head to toe, but oddly enough the chemo nurse said a lot of times, patients keep their eyebrows. (?)  It starts to grow back after chemo will end (which looks like November)!  He might have hair by Christmas!

Q.  What color is his ribbon?  (Yup - I've been asked.)
A.  The Hodgkin Lymphoma Ribbon is violet!  (If you see lime green, then that is for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma). 

*All medical descriptions are just my interpretation.  By no means, should anyone take my word on these things - but I tried to put things in ways that I heard/understood them.  :)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

First Week Home...

FIRST of all... thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  So many people called, emailed, offered help, offered bone marrow testing, prayers (in word and literally), tears, and Diet Coke for mom :)... Our hearts are full!!  We are blessed with so much love!!!  We are just a little family in an apartment in Greenfield, Wisconsin... and it's bursting at the seems with gratitude!!  

Here is this week's update.  Some of this was covered in my last post - but figured it was easy to do a week at a time... 

MONDAY:  Brett arrived home safe (I posted the pics the next day I believe). We really just enjoyed time together... and later he was released as a full-time missionary.  It was bitter-sweet.  He's super-positive and in great spirits.

TUESDAY:  The PET scan, which included a 2-hour wait.  For those fortunate enough not to know - they do an IV of some sort of reactive stuff that will react to muscle movements - so he has to lay still in a room for an hour before the scan.  Do you know - that sweetie had the nurse come and get me so he could tell me that I could go get lunch - I didn't have to wait there for him.  Honestly - he's the best patient in the world. My friend Lisa L was with me... we just played on our phones and talked.  PET scans are scary things... it's a special all-body scan to see where all of the cancer is located.  He did well... and then he was super hungry afterwards - because he couldn't eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the test.  So we went to Red Robin afterwards to fatten this kid up. He's lost 20-25 pounds since we saw him in March.  He weighs about 150 pounds now (and he's over 6-feet tall).  I posted this pic in the last post - but thought I'd put it here also. :)

WEDNESDAY: Froedtert Cancer Center

Labs and our first visit with Dr. Tim Fenske.  After Brett got done with whatever blood they needed, the lymphoma coordinator, Valerie, met with us in the lab area.  She was the one I talked to and got everything arranged for us - she is terrific! She gave us all hugs and told us if we needed anything - to let her know.)  Then up to the clinic... Here is Brett posing in the waiting room.  He was excited they had hot chocolate!!  He's a character:
Then we went to the clinic and met with our nurse who spent a long time with us going over some information - and how to get a hold of people as we go through the process... etc. Gave Brett a binder with loads of information.  Then we met Dr. Fenske.  He looked over all of the images with us and told us everything.  We were disheartened to realize that he still hadn't received the final reports and biopsy slides from Texas - but he went over everything else he saw.  It was actually a relief to see the PET scan reveal nothing new.  He said the cancerous lymph nodes are very heavy throughout his neck, chest and some below the diaphragm.  He seems to be "Classic" Hodgkins Lymphoma - Stage III, but we would find out after the final reports from Texas. Here are some common questions and info.  I may - or may not- have gotten all the particulars right - but this is what we think we know so far... 
TREATMENT:  Treatment will consist of a 4-drug cocktail called ABVD.  It's infused every 2 weeks for 12 times (and consequently is 6 "rounds" of chemo).  24 Weeks.  Radiation isn't ideal since the disease is pretty widespread - but they will check the PET scan done halfway through his chemo and if there are more resistant tumors, then radiation may be needed.
CLINICAL TRIAL:  There is a clinical trial that substitutes the "B" drug in the ABVD cocktail with an "R" drug.  The R drug is usually used after ABVD is completed and not successful.  So the idea is that patients with Stage III or IV might benefit from introducing the R drug with initial treatment.  Brett is an ideal candidate for that.  BUT because it's under board review to expand the number of patients - it won't be open until June 15th.  So Brett can't start treatment until June 16th.   
Brett is doing well.. his blood counts are great, he's otherwise "healthy" and right now his body isn't under much stress.  They will do more tests next Thursday to find out if that is still the case.  If it's not - or if we see any changes - they will not do the clinical trial and start him on the ABVD chemo immediately.
PROGNOSIS:  The prognosis with Brett's health and state is 70% cure (CURE!) with initial treatment.  It's aggressive treatment - but well-matched with the disease.  Of those that aren't successful, then they have further chemo (aggressive) and stem-cell transplantation.  Of those patients, there is 50% cure/success of putting the disease in remission.  And then after that, Dr. Fenske said there is still further treatments that can be done. 
Brett posing with his binder.  haha!
It was a 3-hour appointment!!
MISSION:  We asked specifically if returning to his mission is possible.  He said if all goes as he suspects - then YES!  Likely 6 to 8 months, we'll know for sure.  NOW... if at that time, Brett can't, or feels that something has changed, and doesn't go back out - there is no dishonor.  He is - at this point - considered a "returned missionary" with honorable service.  However, he really wants to go back to serve the people of Texas.  Our focus - of course - is getting Brett healthy, so his future is free for him.
CHURCH/GERMS/PUBLIC:  Brett can go places.  But no shaking hands or hugs.  His immune system is compromised - so we have to keep him away from coughs, sneezes and other people's hands.  Here at home - we are all on multivitamins - and we are also going to avoid a lot of contact so WE can stay healthy also.  Those that are not feeling 100% can't visit. :(
There was a LOT of information covered.  Dr Fenske acted as if we were the only patient in the world.  He was fantastic and answered a LOT of questions that we had.  Brett also had to go to Cardio to get a baseline EKG done.   

FRIDAY:  Brett is fatigued... sleeping a lot.  I think it's normal?  I called the nurse to #1 - see if they heard from Texas and if the final lymph node and bone marrow biopsies are as we thought; and #2 - to see if Brett's fatigue is "normal."   The nurse called back... then Dr. Fenske called me this evening and talked to me for awhile!
I'm sure I'll frequent a LOT of these!!

  • Texas' finalized results are in and have been analyzed by Froedtert (standard procedure)!  Brett, indeed, has classic Hodgkins.  The bone marrow came out okay - so he is NOT Stage IV. So that's great news!  
  • Fatigue is normal.  Brett's anemia was analyzed and found to be disease-related.  This is also good news!  It means he doesn't have something else going on (that we know of).
  • It looks like insurance will cover the clinical trial (well - the chemo drugs are free, I think - so that's a good thing!).
  • Dr. Fenske tried to get the review board of the study to open it earlier - but it was a no go.  Brett is still scheduled for 6/16 as a target start date. 
  • Visit to doc and labs on 6/11 to check to make sure Brett's holding up okay, or chemo will begin right away and the clinical trial will be abandoned (for him).
THAT'S IT for this week!  Oh... and Friday we had our red truck towed to the shop. And then my black van got a flat tire!  We pumped it up and prayed to Costco and got 2 new tires.  We also got some other bad news on Thursday night - but it's unrelated to Brett.  We'll know more about that in the days to come.  My goodness!  Too much!

For those keeping track... here is the 2-Week Test Count:  PET scan, CT scan torso, CT scan neck, Chest x-ray, Echocardiogram, EKG, Bone marrow biopsy, lymph surgical biopsy (entire node), blood tests, blood tests, blood tests... and did we mention they took some blood tests?

Look for Brett's post coming up this weekend!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Dallas - Coming Home

Here's what's happening this week!  

Brett was released from Univ. Texas - Southwestern Hospital on Friday after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  He also received a bone marrow biopsy to find out the involvement of the disease.

On Saturday and Sunday, he was able to go see people - visit his ward (congregation) at the Pioneer Ward (spanish ward in Grand Prairie) and say goodbye to members and missionaries. 


On Sunday evening he received a special blessing from President Taylor (Brett's Mission President) and it was (from what I hear) powerful!

On Monday morning - he said final goodbyes and flew home to Wisconsin.  We hugged and laughed and even joked about cancer.  We ate at (irony coming).... Texas Roadhouse.  We had serious discussions - but we know we are optimistic and we also are well-aware we have a rough few months ahead!!  

 Later that evening, Brett met with the priesthood official here (we call them Stake President) and was officially released as a full-time missionary - but with the provision he can go back when, and if, he can.

I am sooooo overwhelmed (in a good way) of the messages, prayers, tears, and well-wishes... such genuine love and compassion.  Such beautiful friends near and far - and people I've never met, I feel love pouring in.  I've been sharing everything with Brett and he's catching up with everything!  

Tuesday, Brett had his first PET scan while Aunt Lisa and I waited in the waiting room.  We should find out the results later today and find out the stage of the disease.  We know it's serious.

Brett has lost a lot of weight, weighing only 149 at about 6'2"... We figure he's lost about 20 pounds in the last 2 months?  (Although I'm a little jealous of that part.. haha).

After the PET scan - we decided to fatten him up:

We're in great spirits, actually.  We have heard from people that know how serious it is (his physicians in Texas) that they still expect a full recovery.

This blog will continue to chronicle this journey.  So many people love Brett and want to keep up on his progress.  We're hoping to post at least weekly!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Update & Diagnosis

With such mixed emotions, tomorrow we will welcome my missionary, Elder Brett Hogg, back home. He lands at 2:30 pm our time. Brett was diagnosed on Thursday with Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is basically cancer of the lymph nodes. It's a very treatable, and curable disease! We have heard the words "full recovery" in several contexts. But we won't lie... we'll tell you we've felt every emotional under the sun. It's all a bit unreal - and yet too real - at the same time.
Miracles are happening for my son and the love being poured upon him and our family brings me to my knees in complete gratitude and humility! The Texas people are beyond amazing - let me tell you!! The physicians, the missionaries, the members ... oh my goodness... the people there are the most gracious, wonderful, people I've ever "met"!!! Texts, emails, pictures, facebook messages - are just phenomenal. For the "long story" keep reading. .

Originally, it was being determined if Brett would stay in Texas to receive his first round of chemo only because the risk of transferring to another health facility might delay treatment. However, since he had to undergo a 3 day waiting period for the PET scan (a special CT scan to determine the involved cells and organs), it was determined between the Salt Lake and Dallas doctors, to come home so he can travel while his blood counts are up and he is otherwise fairly healthy. He was discharged from the hospital on Friday.
So we put the wheels into motion here in Wisconsin. .. calling insurance and determining where he can be seen etc. It was a HUGE blessing that he could be seen at a top medical facility here where I used to work. I used to be a financial/grant administrator for the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry and I worked directly with the chief of hematology/oncology (Mary Horowitz). So, after 20 years (I had Brett when I worked for her). I decided to give her a call ... it actually was just hoping she could get a message to her to find out which doc to see. She put me right through to her (she was at her desk! Wow! She's a busy woman... running the Registry - and is the Chief of the Hem/Onc division at Froedtert) and she said, "Sue! I'm so so sorry. Tell me what you know. ." And I told get about the biopsy and preliminary tests and she asked which type of lymphoma. When I told her Hodgkins, she said, "Oh Good!!... Sue.'s completely treatable and curable. You need to see Dr. Tim Fenske. If you can't get in, let me know. He's an excellent lymphoma doctor. And if there is anything you need, call me."
I called the main appointment number and they put me right through to the "Lymphoma Coordinator"... wow. .who knew there was even one of those? I told her that Mary (my old boss) said Dr. Fenske was the guy. .she said he's here, let me talk to him and I'll call you back. She called me back and said Brett had an appointment on Wed morning and likely could get infused (chemo) by the end of the week.
Wow! Doctors at their desks on Friday afternoon. ..appointments and insurance cleared the way at this end, phone calls answered and calls being immediately returned. .. just phenomenal.
We spoke to President Taylor and he fully expects Elder Hogg to return to the mission. I told him we were so impressed with the elders that have stayed with Brett through the tests, the long days and nights, and buoying up his faith... I truly can't say enough. Missionaries don't know what's ahead for them when they arrive in the field. ..and their service to my son during this time has been such a comfort and blessing.

The members who have visited a boy they never met before - or those that have prayed for him/us and thought to put him/us on the prayer rolls... the words of comfort and tears that have been shed on our behalf had made us strong and faithful as we enter the next phase of Brett's mission.
Though he will be released tomorrow night, we expect it to be temporary. Brett was released from the hospital on Friday. SLC arranged his flight for Monday so he could say goodbye to his missionary friends, and attend his ward today to say goodbye on Sunday. I'm sure Monday morning will be sad as he says goodbye to Dallas, but I'm confident that life-long friendships have been made, and the hunger to return to his mission will sustain him through the weeks and months ahead (it's not going to be an easy summer!)...
I'll tell ya... (or y'all) that seeing Christlike love and compassion is real... I've seen it right here around us - and from 1,000 miles away and it's beautiful. 

BLOG NOTE:  Keep checking back!  We will be posting updates periodically here to let everyone kneow what is going on and how treatments are going!