Wednesday, December 16, 2015


No Evidence of Disease!  "NED" is our new best friend - as our former bishop, Corey Grip, said!

PET and CT scans were Monday and Brett did well.  He had a slight reaction (despite the steroids and Benedryl!) but was okay to go home.

That night we made homemade pizza and watched Christmas specials that we had recorded on the DVR.  Anxious for the next morning!  Unfortunately - Eric had to go to Nebraska for work, but he is full of Faith and said.. "It's all going to be okay, I'm not worried."

Brett was up the whole night (his sleep schedule is way off - and he's still "flipped") so I'm sure that didn't help!

Carrie (my sister - and Brett's aunt), Jenni (my sister's youngest), Brett and I headed to the doctor!

First stop - labs.  We went in for Brett to get his blood drawn.  It was a LONG wait that day.  Unfortunately, the lab was busy.  When I say unfortunately - I mean that we don't like to see the Cancer Center busy!

Then up to the Grace Clinic for our appointment.  Again - BUSY!  And while we were waiting there was a Code 4 in the clinic.  There is a slim window between the waiting area and the clinic - and there were a couple folks running around and eventually a gurney went in.  Apparently the patient was fine - but being admitted to the hospital.  I'm not sure what Code "4" is at Froedtert - but I'm sure it's serious.

We finally get into an exam room.  While we were waiting, we decided we should snap pictures (of course).
Jenni & Aunt Carrie came down to hear the news!

"Brett.. pose as if you got bad news..."

"Brett - pose as if you got great news!"
Well - enough goofing around, because Dr. Fenske came in (we didn't even get the nurse first!!!!!) and as he opened the door and was walking in he said:
"Well your PET scan was negative.  No evidence of disease."
Then he went onto the computer to show us the results.
This is a clean scan!!!  I guess the heart is either bright or not - that's just a strange nature of the heart in a PET scan.  Dr. Fenske joked.. maybe he wasn't feeling very loving on Monday.  hahaha

The comparisons.  
L to R:
December 14th (CLEAN!)
August 7th (After 4 treatments of chemotherapy)
June 2nd (before any treatment)

also known as Dr. Tim Fenske
Brett called Dad immediately after we left (we had already texted him the scan picture and let him know right from the exam room).  We had to make a few other calls before putting it on Facebook, but we wanted to shout from the rooftops!!

Now what?
Apparently - there is about a 10% chance that there will be a recurrence of this disease.  The chemotherapy (while aggressive) is pretty complete and if the disease responded to it and there is a clean scan, then there isn't a great need for future scans.  Should he get a recurrence (heaven-forbid!) then he will have symptoms.  He should do self-checks in his neck and arms for tumors - just like any of us should be doing.  But overall - he is considered in remission!  He goes back in 3 months for labs and another doctor visit.  

Brett will be going in on December 30th for surgery to remove his port!

Returning to his Mission?
Brett talked to Dr. Fenske about returning to missionary service - and we had the letter from Salt Lake with us outlining some of the basics about returning.  We highlighted what the doctor would be interested in:  Letter from oncologist, healthy immune system, able to work 12-15 hour days and walk up to 5 miles (or ride bike).  He seemed to think that was no problem as soon as Brett was up to it.

No Rush...
For now... we let Brett recuperate and get his energy back.. and grow hair and eyebrows again! ☺ He's excited about "normal" life... being able to go to a restaurant (or even a buffet!)... the movies during a normal time (and not bringing a container of Clorox wipes)... or being able to go swimming or to the gym... or even eating lettuce or fresh fruit/strawberries (a taboo).

Again - I am reminded we are very lucky.... the amount of support and prayers has been overwhelming.  We had decided to make this journey public because it was "all hands on deck" - and it was a gamble.  We are actually pretty private people - but this journey would have been unimaginable alone.  To hear the encouraging words, to hear others struggles and challenges with cancer, to feel the prayers and requests on our behalf and to receive cards and packages with sweet and thoughtful sentiments and useful items (!) has been nothing short of absolutely amazing.

As for this family - we are offering prayers and thanksgiving and looking forward to a very Merry Christmas!  

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to everyone!  
More to come as we go through this journey!

Monday, December 7, 2015


We have been in a great state of bliss... but there is an undercurrent of "what if?"...

What if... there is a stubborn tumor?
What if... there are new tumors?
What if... there is no cancer?
What if... We have to go to more chemo?
What if... He needs a stem-cell transplant?
What if... He needs radiation?

And then we answer those questions...

.... We'll take care of it.  Whatever comes our way - we'll handle it, I'm sure!  But we can't wait to KNOW what we are dealing with!

Brett is able to start shaking hands and giving hugs.  But we're cautiously optimistic... we don't want to get too used to being "normal" if there is more to come.  Some have said it's sort of a PTSD (post-traumatic stress).  

He's doing great.  Brett has been the easiest patient in the world.  So easy-going and full of faith.  I don't think he has any worries, really.  Or just handles them better than about anyone I know!  

He's s eating and tasting everything again.  I made spaghetti and he said, "What did you do differently?  Because this is AMAZING!"  (It was my same spaghetti...)  He's not 100%, but he's getting the lining of his mouth - and tastebuds - back!   He still has a lot of fatigue - and gets wiped out pretty easily, but he's recovering really well and more active every day!  

PET and CT scans are Monday, December 14th.  He has to take 3 doses of Prednisone (steroid) and perscription Benedryl prior to the tests because he breaks out in hives from the contrast (this is a new thing - he hasn't in the past, but did the last time.)

Tuesday, December 15th he goes for labs to check on his blood counts and then we meet with Dr. Fenske (oncologist) to find out all the results!