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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!!