Friday, February 27, 2009

Bubble Boy

Well we are into what Gary's calls our Bubble Boy phase. His blood tests yesterday showed an ANC (Absolute Neutr0phil Count) of .1. Neutrophils are the things that help you to fight infections- ANC less than 2.0 you need to be careful so at .1 well its Bubble Boy Time. The kids go through a complete sterilization process when they get in the house :)
He is still pretty tired and achy, we are hoping to see improvement in the next few days. He finally slept last night with the help of some pain killers and Ambien. He is hesitant to take them but I encourage him to do what it takes to get through these rough days. He is not going to become addicted to them in just a few days. He has lost 13 pounds and finds it difficult to eat with mouth sores. I tried to get him outside yesterday for a short walk in our balmy 40 degree weather and he said "I am exhaused just sitting here" and took a hot bath instead. One day at a day at a time

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back Home!

Hello Everyone,

We made it back to Novi! It took a bit longer than expected but we still arrived on Tuesday night back at the old homestead!

I was delayed because my pesky Platelets and Hemoglobin decided to drop on my last night, so I had to get a bag of platelets and 2 units of blood before leaving OSU! Good News is that I have begun to go longer periods of time without needing supporting blood products which means my body is beginning to support itself again. The doctors believe in a few weeks my blood numbers should bounce back.

As you might have guessed based on the posting time of this note I am not sleeping as soundly as I would like but hopefully that will improve.

Thanks again for keeping me in your prayers!

and thanks for checking in,


Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 5 at OSU - Almost Done!

Hello Everyone,

I am sitting here working on my computer and have less than a day left in the hospital. I am very glad to be getting out of here tomorrow.

Health News

I spoke to the doctors this morning and they are all encouraged with the response to the medicine so far! I still have a ways to go but it initially appears that the treatment is performing as expected.

Another nice piece of news!

I will be able to receive treatments at UofM in the coming weeks, which will make it a lot easier on my family and I. My doctors here at OSU will be working with UofM and coordinating my care.

It is really amazing how well the doctors work together!

I still feel pretty good and have been able to workout on the stationary bike.

Keep up the prayers because I really feel that God is listening!

Thanks for checking in,


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day 4 at OSU ... Trying to Keep Busy!

Hello Everyone,

Well, since I have let everyone know that I am bored I have had a few suggestions as to what I should do with my time! Let me share a few ideas friends have had for me...
  • Buff up on OSU sports trivia
  • Learn how to scrap book
  • Get back to work and finish a few projects

I think I will skip the first two and just get back to work and finish a few projects.

Today we started to visibly see some improvement in my lymph nodes which is very encouraging. My doctors say that the treatment I am on works over time but is durable which is what we are looking for.

I still have a few more days here but am on track to go home Tuesday!

The biggest challenge for me is not seeing my kids and Tammy, it is very difficult to not be able to see the ones you love. I know I should not complain since people who are in the military are away much longer than I am. I truly feel for the sacrifice they make for us.

Well, I am going to get back to work! So, thanks for checking in...


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 3 at OSU... I'm Bored!

Hello Everyone,

I am really bored! I have been here since Wednesday and I am just a little bit bored!

So, let me tell you about my room! I actually have a nice private room on the 10th floor with about 14 x 20 sq ft so it is very big. It has a window that over looks downtown Columbus. I have a small 10" TV with a DVD player. There is a small refrigerator to hold drinks, etc. The bathroom is nice size with a bathtub/shower.

The people here are very nice and have been giving me wonderful care!

So, what kinda of Chemo are they giving me? I am getting a wonderful cocktail called R-Epoch which is a combination of six (6) drugs. It is infused in me over 96 hours which is why I have to stay in the hospital while I receive the chemo. The doctors believe the chemo should work well with my cancer and get me into a remission. The question is how many cycles will it take? I hope not many ... because it is very boring sitting in a hospital room.

So, not much to report other than I am feeling good, staying mentally strong, loving life, and missing my family!

Keep me in your prayers and thanks for checking in,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Here I am at OSU ... Getting Chemo!

Hello Everyone,

So, you might have heard my Leukemia is misbehaving and has decided to turn into a lymphoma, Large Cell also known as Richters Transformation. Typically, you don't want this to occur because the Large Cell is much more aggressive than plain old CLL which is what I started with.

So, what to do? Ok if you have lemons you make lemonade if you have oranges you make orange juice and if you have both you get the best of both worlds. I have both lemons and oranges meaning CLL and Large Cell Lymphoma.

So, we are attacking the Large Cell Lymphoma and the CLL at the same time with an intense chemo treatment called R-Epoch.

R-Epoch introduces a few new drugs I have not had and runs for about 5 days straight. Literally, I am on a constant stream of medicine 24 hours a day. I should be going home on Tuesday next week. The nurses tell me the treatment is well tolerated but of course the first day I threw up. So, much for well tolerated.

My doctor expects that I will complete at least two cycles of R-Epoch with a 21 to 28 day cycle time. If she thinks I can get additional benefit by doing more that 2 cycles we will make that decision after cycle 2.

Finally, the same goal is to get me into transplant "Cure" which is still a big reality and very foreseeable.

Bottom Line
We had a setup back with the large cell. But, I am not whining, it can always get worse and by the grace of God I feel relatively well. I am actually feeling up to riding the stationary bike today. Yesterday, I had a heart stress test and did great, no heart problems!

I am working on my computer and bothering my work colleges who all tell me not to worry and just get better. Funny thing is I like working and feel I am out of the loop when I don't work. I feel work is therapeutic for me. I just wish I could do more. I really appreciate my collegues at work who have all stepped up while I deal with this cancer.

I will overcome this cancer and by this time next year will be celebrating life with all you!

Please, keep me in your prayers because God is the greatest healer and only through him will I truly be cured and saved.

Thanks for checking in,


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


We received the news today that the CLL has made a Ritchers transformation to Large Cell Lymphoma. In the cancer world, transformation is not a good thing but the drugs are available to get this under control and proceed to stem cell transplant. This transformation occurs only in about 3% of CLL patients.
Gary went to OSU this afternoon to be admitted into the hospital. The chemo treatment requires a 6 day inpatient stay. We don't know many more details. We are pretty sure that treatment will be more intense and longer than we had planned for straight CLL.
I am in sunny Florida with the kids for the week. Garys parents are in from Colorado doing the caregiver role while I am gone.
More news soon!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No News!

Hello Everyone,

We did not receive any information back from the biopsy.  My doctor thought the report would be here by today but is still pending.  We hope to hear the results on Wednesday and then to receive instructions from my doctor.

The last two days I have been in some pain and have been recovering from the surgery.  I hope to start working on Wednesday from home.

We will keep everyone posted as we hear more from the doctors.

A quick note: Tammy's uncle Darrell called today and told me about a prayer meeting they held for me on Monday night and wouldn't you know it the pain I had had all during Monday left me Monday night.  The power of prayer is alive and well!  I thank God everyday for his many blessings and especially his latest blessing of relieving my pain.

Thanks for checking in,


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back in Novi!

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for all of your prayers over the past few days I sure did need them. We got back to Novi tonight around 6:00 pm. I am very weak and not very comfortable but hope with time to feel better.

It appears that I am in store for a wild ride during the next few months while we take control of the Leukemia. Right Now the Leukemia is in control of me!

I am not giving in to it and will fight it with all my heart! So, keep praying and I will keep fighting!

Thanks for checking in,


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day after Surgery

Gary had a pretty good night. He had several blood transfusions to boost his hemoglobin levels. He just took a shower and smells better. He is alittle weak but doesn't need pain meds. Hoping to be discharged today but waiting for few more dr visits.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Surgery Over

The surgery is complete. The suspicious lymph node was removed. It was pretty large total mass about the size of tennis ball- lymph node a golf ball. How would you like that under your arm?
He is feeling better tonight- back pain seems much better. Still alittle drugged. He is getting more blood tonight. As long as all goes well we will go home tomorrow. Test results hopefully Monday.

Friday the 13th

Gary was admitted at 9pm on Thursday night. We found a trick to get admitted quickly show up right at closing time and you get taken care of right away. We quickly found out the getting admitted is only the first step. The plan was to give him transfusions in order to boost his platelet and hemoglobin levels. He did not receive the first transfusion until 11:30am Friday. His hemogloblin continued to drop which seems to be the cause of bone pain (mostly lower back), shortness of breath...
Surgery is "scheduled" for 3:30pm. That lymph node needs to be removed! Results should be available Monday or Tuesday. Treatment will follow quickly.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We didn't expect this!

Hello Everyone,

We got BAD news today, my tests from last Monday have shown that the Leukemia might have transformed into a more aggressive form.

So, around 2:45 pm today we were told to come down to OSU for surgery scheduled for earlier Friday morning. It appears that the transformed Leukemia has congregated in my right armpit lymph node. On Friday they are going to remove it.

Also, since the Leukemia appears to have transformed I will begin a very aggressive chemo next week.

We are upset but still have tremendous faith in GOD and I am confident that we will take control of the cancer and begin the Stem cell transplant.

We will keep you posted. We just ask that you continue to pray and ask for God to help my family deal with all this.

Thanks for checking in,


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I am driving my wife CRAZY !!!!!

Hello Everyone,

Yes, I am one Royal Pain in the ___ and Tammy has to put up with me every step of the way.

I get cranky, loud, mad, angry, rude, mean and just plain not nice to the one person I LOVE THE MOST IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

So, yes I am one Royal Pain in the ___.

Tammy is an Angel, she puts up with it 99% of time and on the occasion that I cross the line which lately is more frequently she reminds me that I am misbehaving in an ever so gentle way.

You know the people in life who we love make us better and Tammy has made me be the best I can be. She is truly an amazing woman.

OK, I think you all realize I love my wife! :)

On Monday we went to Ohio State University Medical Center for testing, I received the following tests:

- Blood Tests (14 tubes)
- Physical Exam
- PET Scan (They put radioactive material in you that the cancer sucks up and then they scan you.)
- CT Scan (X-RAY of whole body, drank 2 bottles of barium then too much time passed made me drink a 3rd bottle, yuck)
- Bone Marrow Biopsy (They had to go in 3 times. Ouch!)

Of course on the way home all the stuff they put in me wanted to come out! We ended up stopping about every 40 miles!

I am now at UofM Hospital getting platelets but my hemoglobin was high enough that I do not need whole blood.

I start my next treatment next Monday and my mother is flying in from Denver to be with me during the first two weeks. I am looking forward to seeing her.

Well, that is it for now. Tammy is strong and hanging in there and she and I appreciate all of you who have been helping us so much lately.

Thanks for checking in,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feeling Better!

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday, I was not feeling good. It turns out my Hemoglobin was the lowest it has ever been. I received 1 unit of blood last night and another this morning and a third bag of platelets.

Here is what happened to me when my body was low on oxygen:
- Severe leg pain (Sciatic Nerve)
- Joint Pain (Knees, Hands)
- Stiff Jaw
- Chest Pains
- Shortness of breath (just with walking)
- High Blood Pressure
- Moderate Head Ache
- Overall Weak and Tired

It turns out that I was at the Hospital until past 9:00 pm, so, our neighbor and friend Dan Welch came and picked me up from U of M, so Tammy could be with the kids. We did not expect any of this to occur yesterday.

I am feeling a lot better and very Thankful to Dan for helping us out.

Late Breaking News: I start my next clinical study Feb. 23, 2009 at Ohio State University Medical Center. It runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday for 4 weeks. It will be a scheduling nightmare but I got to do it. We will tell you more as we find out.

Thanks for checking in,


Monday, February 2, 2009

I am beginning to get worn down!

Hello Everyone,

Lately, I have been experiencing more problems and it is beginning to wear away at me. I know that most of my symptoms will go away with time and treatments but today I am tired of it all.

Yes, sometimes it just gets to be too much!

I don't want to bore everyone with what I am going through but rather ask you to ask God to give me his strength.

That is what I truly need.

Thanks for checking in,