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Sunday, April 22, 2012


As many of you might already know, Adam received the OFFICIAL 'Cancer Free' diagnosis!

Adam had his surgery about two weeks ago, and we were going a bit crazy because they told us we would have the pathology results within 3-5 days and that never happened. Instead, around day 4, we started hounding them. Finally on Thursday, a nurse called Adam back and let him know that his biopsy had been free of the cancer, but that was all she would tell us and we were to come in on Monday for a follow-up. Just the way it was said, we were kind of dreading it in a 'what now!?' kind of way. On Saturday morning while I was getting ready for the day, Adam came in and let me know that he had a voicemail randomly come through from Friday and it was the Neurosurgeon. He let Adam know that he had been out of town at a conference and had just wanted to let Adam know that he was officially CANCER FREE and we would be seeing them in three months for a follow-up scan and blood work.

YAY!! It is really hard to describe the flood of feelings that comes from that one voicemail. We still have a little way to go to pull ourselves back together after this five-month endeavor but we are really, really looking forward to being able to breathe a little easier these days!

Thank you everyone, again, for all of your support, encouragement, and love for us. We truly, truly appreciate it and could not have done it without any of you!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

{Adam's Surgery}

Just a quick update!!

Adam had his double biopsy today. Everything went great, the surgery itself lasted about two hours. They were able to get good samples to ensure they had a sample to work with. They weren't too sure what it was they were seeing and the pathology will take approximately 3-5 days so we are hoping to have answers by the end of this week!! The Dr. sounded very optimistic because he felt the tissue samples that he looked at didn't look too abnormal, so we are keeping fingers crossed!

Adam was able to go home about an hour after surgery. He is relatively pain free but he was sent home with a prescription just in case! He is sore and his back is pretty stiff but he is doing pretty good! He was able to get over to my parents tonight and have dinner with my aunts who are in town!! We will see how good he is feeling in the morning, though!

Thank you everyone for the well wishes of support!! A lot is riding on this week so we continue to try to keep a positive attitude! We will keep you posted...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

{A Request}

I was asked last week to set up an account to receive donations for on-going support, such as medical bills, treatment costs, family expenses.  I'm still in the process of trying to find out what has to be done for an account at the bank level that does not require me to hire a lawyer to process the request through a separate trustee. For the meantime, I have set up a 'donate' account through PAYPAL where receipts can be printed off for tax purposes. The 'donate' button will be on this blog in the margins and you just have to click on the button to get started. I will continue to work on this request and let you know if and when this changes. Thank you for the suggestion as I never thought of this before, but I hope those who requested find this helpful.

Thank you again for your support for our family, it has been truly, truly appreciated!!

{Calm Before The Storm}

Well I should start by apologizing that it has been a MONTH since my last post. I greatly apologize!! To say that this experience has been difficult would be a major understatement. This has been an incredibly stressful, trying time for our family! We thank everyone who has reached out to help our family in any way, especially financially. It is very humbling to be in a position of needing to ask for help because Adam hasn't received a paycheck since January. I have been truly humbled by the generosity of those surrounding us!

This past month has been a crazy one. So much has happened, and I will do my best to cover everything so that you can catch up. Adam finished up his last round of chemotherapy about three weeks ago. Shortly after, he was scheduled for CAT scans and blood work. His blood work showed that the AFP marker in his blood that started at over 56,000 was now down to 5 (normal ranges!!) and his CAT scan showed that all the tumors in his lungs, liver and abdominal cavity have all disappeared. His lymph nodes in the abdominal cavity also reduced in size. He had a follow-up MRI on his spine where they viewed from the base of his skull down to his hips to ensure they covered everything. The tumor that was once compromising the nerves at the base of his spine is now completely gone as well. The density changes we saw in his spine at the beginning of all this has also mostly cleared up.

What we did find on the MRI, though, is a spot on his spine. Nobody really knows what it is. Just that a vertabrae (I believe L4) showed up bright white in contrast with the other vertabrae. They don't know if this is a tumor that grew into the bone, scar tissue from the cancer, or something new. We just don't know. So we find ourselves in a tough place. The doctors at OHSU took Adam's case to two separate tumor boards to discuss among the top specialists what the proper next step would be. Both boards came to the same conclusion on their own that a biopsy needs to be done. So we have a biopsy scheduled on Saturday, April 7th. Based on the results from this biopsy, we will find ourselves in one of three situations: if it's nothing - we will go back for follow up CAT scans and MRI's every three months to monitor for any changes along with blood labs, if it's bad he will either have to have radiation which will take 1-2 weeks or, worst-case scenario, a very invasive surgery that will replace several vertabrae with what the doctor's referred to as 'the steel cage'. So, obviously, we are hoping for the best. Between the both of us, we are really hoping for this to be over. Adam has been very happy to be back at work, even though it has only been three days. It has made a difference already in his recovery. We are just hoping that he will get to stay and that we will no longer have to worry about additional treatment.

I promise to keep everyone posted (I will be better, promise!) about what we find out. Thank you again for your support, we truly appreciate everyone!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

{Is The Fight Over?}

In a sense, yes. Adam completed his final round of chemo yesterday and as far as we know, we are on to greener pastures. What started as a kick to the groin last August, we have been through one surgery, one hospital stay, four chemo rounds and no more hair. His very first dr's appointment was  November 7th, 2011 and look at us now. Crazy, huh?! I can't say that it has been an enjoyable ride, but it has definitely taught us a lot about what our strengths and weaknesses are. Our family and friends have been AMAZING. Simply put - we couldn't be any more blessed than we are with the tremendous amount of support that we have received during this time.

As far as the nitty gritty...here is what we know. On December 15th, Adam was admitted to OHSU for an emergency round of in-patient chemotherapy. On this day, his AFP test came back just over 56,000. (This is the protein marker for the cancer -- a normal person has between 0-4 in their blood). We were advised that in order for us to deem this a success, they (the dr's) would want to see the AFP number drop each time by a factor of 10. After the first round, it dropped to 6400. So close, not quite there...therefore it left me a little nervous. Then the next one came back at 233...HUGE! Way better than a factor of 10 and we were quite relieved to see this number. As of this last week, it was at 15. If it drops by a factor of 10, he will be back within normal range. He has a dr's appointment and CT scheduled in two weeks to determine if there are any remaining tumors as well as to get a better look at his spinal tumor that damaged the nerves in that area. I don't know what will happen if there are remaining tumors - if it will mean surgery, another round of chemo, or a 'wait and see' approach. There is a possibility this could come back because it had spread through his blood. According to statistics, most reaccuring testicular cancers happen within the first two years. I can only assume we will be aggressively monitoring this to make sure it doesn't get away from us. We will keep you posted on what happens with that Dr's appointment!

As far as Adam, he is doing good. He hasn't regained nerve sensation back yet, so he still has his catheter. But they are talking about testing it as we go through this next couple of weeks and that is encouraging. He had his best chemo week yet -- more energy and an appetite. But suddenly this weekend it is really hitting him. Everything tastes bad and he has NO energy. Poor guy, he is frustrated but I keep reminding him that this is the end of one phase and we have to be positive about that at least! Plus...there are no expectations. He has every right to feel crummy after all his body has been put through. He's allowed a bad day :) Hopefully as more time passes, he will get feeling better and stronger. He would like to return to work as soon as the doctor's clear him, so that is something that he has set his sights on. He hasn't lost a ton of weight which is really good. Right now he and Sophia are 'camping' in the living room and watching movies tonight. We make it work with what we have, right?!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

{Catching Up}

I guess I should begin this post by apologizing for their being such a lapse in posts. I am truly sorry for I know you all depend on these updates to see how Adam is doing and he isn't in the position of doing it himself.

Without revealing too much, there is a lot that cancer brings with it that you just cannot prepare for until you are faced with it. It can be overwhelming, angering, terrifying and absolutely heartbreaking. But you deal with it in any way you can and hope that your children aren't going to need therapy to deal with all that is going on. It is even more difficult when you begin this process with a plan and instead realize there is just no planning with these things. It doesn't help that there isn't a support system at the hospital for the family of cancer patients (or better said - a wife who has a young child that can't be left with a babysitter for day-long periods) and it is hard attending Adams appointments when I am not a part of the process or conversations. But I am trying to do my best!

With that being said, Adam is doing great with his therapy. He originally started with the protein marker being well over 50,000 and as of January 9th, his numbers were just above 6,000. Our goal was to be between 600-700 after this last round and we found out that it is just over 200!! So the chemo is doing it's job and we are hoping after his last round in two weeks, we will move on to the next phase. He has had a much harder time with side effects after these last couple of rounds. The nausea, loss of appetite, overall tiredness and lack of energy have been much more pronounced and lasting much longer. We are just trying to maintain at this point because avoiding is somewhat impossible. We have met with a nutritionist who helped to better explain what he should and should not be eating and how to measure these amounts to make sure he is not exceeding anything on a daily basis.

We do not know what is going to happen after this last round besides the follow up CT scans and MRI. He is doing physical therapy for his left leg because of the swelling. They believe this is because the lymph nodes on that side are swollen due to treatment and need stimulation to keep the circulation going. The nerve medication has been increased to help him stay comfortable. We are hoping this means the nerve is repairing itself but we won't know for sure until we have those follow up scans. He is now completely, shiny bald but some little whiskers pop up every now and then. The catheter remains as the nerve / muscle functions have not yet returned but this will be looked into further after the treatments and when we know what is going on with the location of the tumor in his spine. Otherwise he is doing well and we are very appreciative of the kind words and support from you all. Thank you!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

{Thank You}

I wanted to post a very special 'Thank You' to the HHH Foundation and to Hugh's family and friends who made a point to come and reach out to me and Adam while we were at the fundraiser today!! It was a very succesful fundraiser with an amazing turnout for a very worth cause. I only hope that I am able to help donate my time and efforts in the future for such a wonderful foundation! Jack and Melinda ~ it was a great, great time and we truly appreciate all of your support for our family! Hugh was so very blessed to have you as friends and we will most certainly pay your kindness forward when given the opportunity. Thank you to everyone who was able to come out today, we feel very blessed and appreciate your help in supporting Hugh's legacy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

{It's A Numbers Game}

Yesterday we had a doctor's appointment where we received some very encouraging news!! First...let me give you some background...

When Adam was initially going to the doctor to determine what was causing the swelling in his right testicle, the Urologist requested several blood tests to check for markers that would indicate cancer. This test is called an AFP or Alpha Fetoprotein test. This test is the reason things changed gear so quickly and had Adam's surgery moved up. When this test shows positive, it means there is an active cancer cell in the system. The numbers increasing means the cancer is growing or spreading, decreasing means it is going away. When Adam was admitted to OHSU for his hospitalization and emergency chemotherapy, his AFP test came back at just over 55,000. (A normal, healthy result would be less than 4).

We were discouraged after Adam's first round because we found out that they would not be conducting the CT's or MRI's as we were initially told, so we were kind of in the dark as to how effective the chemotherapy was going to be unless other tests were run. The AFP test was completed again on January 9th, the first day of Adam's second round of cancer. This time, his numbers were just over 6,000!!! Effective?? YES! But don't go throwing parties just yet...

After speaking with the Social Worker and Dr, we understand that the chemotherapy is doing what it is supposed to be doing. It is killing the cancer cells faster than they can multiply and they consider it a success when the AFP numbers decrease by a factor of 10. Adam's numbers were right in line for what they were looking for, so this is really, really good news! We still have a long road though and we understand that. Adam begins his next round of chemotherapy on Monday and then again the week of February 20th. After that, we will have additional blood tests and  a CT and MRI to conclude whether or not there remains any tumors. We don't know what it will mean if they do find something - if it will require surgery or additional treatment. We don't know if there are tumors that remain dormant or how that works. So only time will tell but this was a very, very positive note to our week! This is encouraging because it makes us feel like life returning to "normal" could happen sooner rather rather than later. It also reassures us in that this treatment has been worth the difficulties we have been facing because it seems to be working! We are remaining optimistic despite knowing that there could always be relapses or as the saying goes - for every two steps forward there is one step back - we know that and so we are trying not to get too excited because we do not want to become too discouraged if there is another stumbling block!! Thank you everyone for your continued support and prayers for our family - we feel truly blessed to have such a great support system!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

{A Heartfelt Thanks}

Over the past couple of days, we have been blessed by the generosity of friends and Adam's co-workers and I just had to make sure to say a very big, appreciative 'Thank You' for everything!! This experience could be so much more difficult than it has been and we truly appreciate everyone's love, friendship and support!! Your compassion and generosity is just amazing!! We thank you for it all -- the dinners, the cards, everything...you are all so wonderful!

My friend Katie works for Nike and had the opportunity to run a marathon this past week with Lance Armstrong!! She sent a care package to us this week that included a shirt for Adam, a sweet note and some bracelets for the family. We are so grateful for these gifts as they will surely help us continue to remember the positive in all of this...there is a light at the end of the tunnel so long as we stay focused and remember that we are surviving this!!

We also had the opportunity to get a visit in today with some of Adam's co-workers and they were so very generous! They had held a bake sale at work for our family, it was very special to say the least!! A co-worker had also purchased a pair of specialty sunglasses that are made by Oakley and sport the black and yellow for the Livestrong Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from each pair sold goes towards the foundation. This pair of sunglasses was put up for auction to benefit our family, and the winning bidder gifted them to Adam as well!! To some, sunglasses might seem a different kind of gift but this is definitely a special gift for us. For one, the meaning behind it is extra special. The purpose for them (Livestrong foundation) has great personal meaning and when Adam is stuck in a super-lit room with dry eyes and only wanting to sleep while doing his chemo -- these will come in super handy!!

So thank you to everyone! To everyone who has reached out to us, to everyone who has stopped by, to everyone who has brought us meals, to everyone who has helped us in any and every way possible..thank you! We are just barely into this journey but we feel safe and protected from the bumps along the way because of the incredible support of those around us. Thank you for thinking of our family and for your love and generosity! We love you all very much!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

{HHH Foundation & Fundraiser}

I was recently asked to write a little more about the HHH Foundation who is holding their annual silent auction and fundraiser on the 29th of this month, and giving 25% of the proceeds of this fundraiser towards Adam's medical bills! First, these are the links to both their Facebook page and their website, which I encourage everyone to take a look at!



"The Hugh Howard Housen Memorial Foundation is a not for profit corporation that was founded in the memory of Hugh in 2005. Family and friends created the foundation with the mission to create awareness and provide support for young adults with cancer. All of our effort goes towards fundraising to support this mission. Our activities include, but are not limited to, annual cancer awareness events, backpacks for cancer patients and donations to OHSU Adolescent and Young Adult Program in Portland, OR. Our organization is currently made up of our board and a long list of volunteers made up of Hugh’s family and friends. Thank you for your support." (http://hhhfoundation.org).

The work that they so selflessly do is amazing! Their 6th Annual Fundraiser is being held on Sunday, January 29th. I encourage anyone interested to contact me for the specifics. Hugh's friends and family are so wonderful and everything they do goes to serve those young adults who are fighting cancer right now. We feel blessed that Adam's friends are apart of such a great organization and have reached out to our family!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

{Days Four & Five}

(I apologize for not posting great this week....woke up with a sinus infection on Thursday along with Olivia so it has been a bad week for us!)

Adam completed his second round of chemo this week {APPLAUSE} and we are quite releaved. Though I do have to admit to myself, it had a much greater impact on him this time around than it did the first time and that I wasn't prepared for. Adam has gone from having his lush locks of dark brown curls to almost as smooth as a baby's bum hairdo in a mere month since his initial hospitalization. He looks unwell - when you consider the constant metallic taste in his mouth, the feeling of being cold because he lost his insulation, the dizzyness / nausea from the chemo and then the chemo itself, he has a lot working against him! But he is doing good and the Doctors and Social Worker are really working with us to stay ahead of symptoms rather than finding ourselves having to treat active symptoms. He amped up his nausea meds this week and he will go in for his neulasta (sp?) shot tomorrow to help boost his white blood count.

This round was definitely a bit tougher, as it brought along with it a change in Adam's pain tolerance. From the week prior, he started getting more and more breakthrough pain. Because he is on the long-acting Oxycontin, he has built up a tolerance and even the supplemental Oxycodone isn't helping as much as it used to. They checked him this past week to rule out any clots in his calf because his left ankle was starting to swell a little bit and the pain had come back more swiftly. Luckily we don't have to worry about clots, so we will be monitoring it and if the pain persists despite the nerve pain medication they started him on - we may end up doing a scan to get a better look at it. It is possible the tumor that was compressing those nerves initially has shifted and is now compressing it in another spot. It could also be those nerves healing from the initial tumor, so really we don't know exactly why the pain has gotten worse - only that is has and we are trying to stay on top of it.

This was an especially hard week for us, so I wanted to make sure and say a big 'thank you' to everyone who pitched in and helped us out this week!! The girls were well taken care of and Adam made it to all appointments despite my being sick with a sick baby!! So thank you everyone...I even have a clean house so I really can't complain! Thank you again, I know I haven't said it enough but your help and offers have not go unnoticed and they are warmly appreciated!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

{Day Three}

Well day three is down, and Adam is still handling things fairly well! He has definitely become more and more tired as the days wear on. He is also getting chilled throughout the day so he is staying bundled up and I have the heat set to 70 degrees for him!! His hiccups came back today so he has needed to really eat slow, and this is causing him to lose his appetite a little. I bought him some Ensure to help him stay healthy despite these changes. His nausea didn't really come back today, so that has been a blessing! I will be meeting with the social worker and the nursing staff on Friday to set up the schedule for his next around, and to make sure we get that shot this weekend to help him boost his white blood cells. We will be on pretty much the same schedule as we have been this past few weeks where we will have at least two appointments each week and focus on keeping him away from anyone who is sick!!

Besides that, we have really just been focusing on making sure he is getting enough sleep and taking it easy. We learned today that Adam's close friends with the HHH foundation are having their annual fundraiser on the 29th and with their proceeds they build backpacks with all sorts of goodies for cancer patients at OHSU. It was announced in their invitation that they will be helping with Adam's medical bills with 25% of these proceeds! If anyone is interested in coming, please let me know and I can get you the information. This entire experience has tremendously impacted us and we are so very grateful for all of the help, support, and generosity of those around us. I don't know how we would be getting through this without you all! Thank you for everything, we are so very grateful!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

{Round 2}

Adam started round two of his chemotherapy this week and so far is doing good. He has been really tired and run down since yesterday and has been sleeping much of this evening. He has had some nausea so he has been on top of his nausea meds to prevent getting sick! I have included a picture of him from this morning!

It looks pretty drastic, especially for those that haven't seen him in awhile. His hair really started to fall out about a week and a half ago, so my dad helped us really buzz it so that it wasn't falling out all the time. Luckily, he got several hats last month to keep him from getting too chilled and he hasn't complained yet. He is getting a little more pale, but that has a lot to do with the anemia which is typical. We are making sure he eats and drinks well when at home and he should be taking a vitamin every day to help prevent it from getting worse. He starts that this week! We are doing our best to keep him comfortable so that he can sleep and well fed so that he doesn't get sick!

I will continue to post this week so that you all can follow his therapy! Thank you everyone for your help and support!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

{Gains & Losses}

I must ask you to forgive me for not being so great on the posts here...please feel free to nag me at any point you want an update!! :)

This week has definitely been one of gains and losses for us! Between Adam getting more and more energy as the week wore on, and the progress that my Mom has made while in the hospital - I consider it a big win! But, Adam has started getting more tired these past two days and yesterday we noticed his beard is starting to fall out considerably...so it has been a week of losses, as well! But overall, it has been a good week. Adam went to his appointments for PICC line care to make sure we are keeping that area clean and safe from exposure, and had his Bleomycin on Friday along with some fluids to flush his system. At this appointment, we learned that I will not be allowed to go back with Adam while he is getting his chemo treatments at OHSU. They have a rule that no one under the age of 15 can go with him, and I learned unfortunately a couple of weeks ago that they do not even want Olivia on the floor because her noises cause the cancer patients unwanted stress. Unfortunately for me, because I am nursing and Olivia refuses to take a bottle nor allow anyone to watch her - I will not be able to accompany him! My dad is going to help us load up the iPad with movies to keep him entertained - but if anyone would want to come and sit with him during his next round (Jan 9th - 13th), please let me know and I would be happy to make it happen. I feel bad that he will be alone, I really wish there was a way around it. His appts that week start between 8am - 8:30am and will last a minimum three hours. These will be at the OHSU waterfront building. I will be driving him in / home, if I stay I just have to stay downstairs in the lobby because of Olivia.

Besides these turn of events, we are doing OK. As I mentioned before, Adam had a build in his energy so we have taken advantage of that and have been doing things as a family. We were able to go with his friend Greg to lunch with our crazy girls and it was really good to see Adam getting out again! We know we have to take advantage because as the chemo builds up in his system, he will start to feel the effects of each treatment a little more. I will honestly admit that I'm a bit wary coming into this next round because it will be up to me to make sure he stays on top of his meds / fluids in order to help minimize the side effects. We were spoiled at the hospital because he was receiving constant fluids through the IV and I think that helped to flush it out before it could really settle in and affect him in adverse ways. So this week I will be learning everything about his meds, getting them as organized as possible so that as we enter the following week - we will be able to really hit this headstrong rather than be blindsided by being unprepared!! At least, I'm hoping that will work for me :)

So that's it for now...we continue to appreciate all of the wonderful show of support from our friends and family!! I apologize if it has been frustrating as far as us not asking for much in the way of help, this really is a process, and we are still trying to understand where it is we are struggling so that we know what to ask for help on!! In talking with a good friend of mine this past week, she decided to put together a dinner schedule for the weeks that Adam is going to be in chemo for the months of January and February. This will help us because he will be in the hospital for several hours that day, and then it will be up to me to make sure he is taken care of, along with the three girls, each night as we get home and settled in. Having one less thing to worry about is greatly appreciated!! With that schedule, I will create a "meal train" with the help of our friend Greg, so that if there is ever a need on our part - you can see what it is by simply clicking through this site!! I just feel bad when people offer to help because we can certainly use it...but then the mixture of lack of sleep, screaming baby, sugar-crazed 2yr old and just overwhelming feelings from the past two months events...I just don't know what to ask for all the time!! :) Thank you for bearing with me, I truly appreciate it!! We appreciate all of you and send best wishes for a very blessed New Year to you and your families!!