"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh and anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." Ether 12:4

Monday, February 23, 2009

Start of the new week

Hello everyone! We hope things are going well for all of you.

Dad is feeling okay most of the time. His kidney pain went away almost as unexpectedly as it came, and by the time he had his renal scan on last Tuesday, it was nearly gone. The results showed that there was some fluid around his kidney but that it was less than what we found from the PET scan the few days before. Overall, that means we are blessed because dad doesn't have to have the external drain, and he's not in intense pain, either. The blood transfusion went well, and he seems to be feeling slightly better as a result.

Otherwise, things are going well at the Loser home. Concerning the trip, mom and dad have decided to go to Hawaii! They've been talking about it for years, and there's no time like the present, right? They think they'll leave sometime around the end of March, and we're hoping dad will feel good enough to go. He can't swim in the ocean with his PICC line, so either they'll have to lounge in the (barely) surf, or he may decide to have it removed before they go. Who wants to go to Hawaii and stay out of the water?

Thank you for your prayers, love, and support. We still feel them, and we are grateful to be upheld by so many of our loved ones. May your week be filled with small moments of joy!
The Losers

Friday, February 20, 2009

And They Lived Happily Forever After . . .

30 years ago, Dad and his college roommates organized an unprecedented date for several very lucky women. Among other things the "10 dwarfs" made the "Fair Maidens of the Land of Ricks" wear flippers and hula hoops while singing in the library, toilet paper a car and then get arrested, decorate a cake, bowl, canoe in a swimming pool, and dress up as storybook characters (Mom was Rapunzel as pictured below).
For Valentine's Day this year, we wanted to try to recreate some of this date for Mom, Dad, and their good Rick's College Friends. The evening activities included a cake contest, the matches & bottle game, hula hooping with flippers, yoga ball bowling, guess "Who's Love Song", dinner, and a whole lot of reminiscing and laughs. Everyone seemed to have a great time. We are so thankful for the love and friendship this group has offered us through the years. We love you all!

Bryce & Patti, Steve & Jan, John & Patti, Blair & Leslie, Rick & Michelle (We missed ElRay & Roberta!)
And they continue to live happily forever after . . .

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th (dum dum dum)

Hello! and Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday I took dad to his doctors appointment, and a four hour day turned into a 9 hour day. Lovely, right? First thing in the morning, dad had a PET scan that wasn't nearly as bad as he remembers. He had to drink four cups of dye and lay on the table for 25 minutes while they took pictures, and overall, it was pretty easy and relaxing. After the scan, we ran to the cafeteria for some food, then came back for dad's appointment with the palliative care (pain management) person, Dr. Macpherson. She's very nice and we appreciate that she takes the time to listen to everything we have to say. In any case, we met with her and described where dad's at; she had two primary concerns:

1) dad has had some bleeding after his violent throwing up episodes. She said that's not natural, so she ran some blood tests and it turns out that dad is even more anemic than he was before his last blood transfusion, and his platelets were also down (accounting for the extra bleeding). As a reminder, his blood levels are down because of the chemo - it's one of the side effects. Therefore, after our appointment we went to the AF hospital so dad could get typed and matched for a blood transfusion on Monday. Another five hour hospital day. Yippee. At least the transfusion should help dad feel better, though.

2) The second concern was that dad has right kidney pain. Earlier in the week, dad had some cultures done to see if he had a kidney infection, so we called and got those results (which were negative - no infection). Dr. Macpherson rushed the PET scan results from that morning, and determined that there are fluids around dad's kidney that means either a) his ureters are too blocked to drain the kidney, so he'll have to have a permanent external drain in his lower back, or b) his ureter is draining poorly, so we'll let it struggle and just treat dad's kidney pain. We're not sure how the kidney is doing, so dad has a renal scan scheduled for Tuesday. Once we see what it looks like, we'll know better exactly what our options are.

Dad's first PET scan back in November served as a marker to see where the tumors were and how big they were. The PET scan yesterday helped us compare the tumors to where they were back in November. The results showed that in some places, the tumors had shrunken or disappeared, but that there was new tumor development along his midline chest. Dr. Whisenant was pleased with the results, referring to them as "half good, half bad." There was some new growth, but it wasn't an extremely aggressive spreading. Again, that says very little about time lines, but it helps us know that the chemo is doing some good stuff (and therefore worth the trade off).

That's about all our exciting news this week, other than the fact that it's VALENTINE'S DAY!
We hope you all hug and smooch your loved ones today! We're glad for these cheesy but sweet reminders of how we are blessed to have loved ones far and near.
We love you all!
The Losers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who's the Most Spoiled...

Hello all! Time for our biweekly check in. These last few days, dad has been feeling pretty sick still from his Chemo last week. He's been tired and has had more nausea than ever before (but at least it's not completely stopping him from eating). He has continued to love his visitors, so much in fact that he likes to pack in as many people as he can!

This week on Friday, dad has a PET scan before his doctors appointment. For those who don't know, a PET scan helps the doctors see how big the tumors in his abdomen are. We are expecting them to be the same size or even shrunken (is that a word?) a little, since the blood work indicates that his tumor markers are going down. I guess we'll see, and let you know next week when we get the results! Dad isn't really looking forward to the scan, though - something about standing up with your arms and one leg in the air for 200 minutes and drinking seventeen gallons of red dye or something like that - I don't know, you'll have to ask him :)

Otherwise, things are continuing to be okay at the Loser home. We received a great email from Cam this week, and here's another little excerpt:
"We are a very very blessed family. I have a father that I love dearly and I know that he loves me. A lot of people don't have that and their relationships are worse or they don't have one at all. I believe ... I have a father ready to meet our Father in Heaven and Christ. Dad, don't get me wrong, you have gotten mad when we didn't do our jobs you asked us to do. When you were always working on a new project and we would sneak off to hang out with friends or to get out of doing the work you would get frustrated. But you were always trying to help us learn how to work, and I realize now that you always always always wanted the best for us... I hope I can raise my kids like you have and be a dad like you have been to me. I am so very grateful that our Father in Heaven chose me to come to this family."

Again, we want to thank all of dad's visitors who come to cheer him up! It's fun to see dad off to breakfast with his buds, the amazing Tweedledee and Tweedledum (who's who?). It's also fun to see how Isaac (the most beloved and spoiled person who's ever been in our house) interacts with dad's visitors. This last week our good friend Siope visited and brought his daughter, Ileana (sorry if I spelled it wrong!) who tried to play with Isaac. When all he wanted to do was line up grandma's ceramics on the window sill, she participated by narrating what she declared was his "garage sale." Kids are so fun!

We love you all! Give your loved ones a squeeze for us,
The Losers

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grandpa & Isaac

Isaac loves spending time with Grandpa! Today they had fun pulling their tractors around the house. Isaac followed Grandpa like a little duckling. Judging from the smile on Grandpa's face, I'm pretty sure he loves spending time with Isaac too. What do you think?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

End of the Month Round-Up

Hello all! Are you ready for a long post? I know, we haven't posted in a while. This one comes to you courtesy of Nichole.
It's been interesting, because dad "celebrated" the benchmark of 3 months past diagnosis. It's kind of a midway mark, given the statistics of the disease, and there are a lot of dynamics at work. We still have many unanswered questions, such as "How long will dad continue to feel okay? At what point will he go 'downhill'? What does 'downhill' mean or look like?" We don't have the answers - in fact, no one does, so we're playing it by ear. With that being said, we've had a fantastic Loser Family counsel and re-grouped. It was a good event, and we've reset (and re-acknowledged) some priorities and planned some more great family activities. We hope to post on the blog twice a week from now on. Dad also still loves all his visitors - please call to schedule a visit if you'd like!

As far as medical updates go, dad's cancer doctor (Dr. Whisenant) is great and very sensitive to his needs. Dad is still getting Chemo every Thursday, but his blood count levels were down again, so this last week he got a small shot of this really expensive medicine to help - like the nurse didn't want to waste any, because a drop cost hundreds of dollars. Amazing, isn't it? Do you think they'd let me pay rent in "medicine drop?" In any case, dad still has the nausea and fatigue from the Chemo, too. He is taking steroids right now, which have made his face fill out. To those of us who know, he's actually pretty puffy, but a lot of people think he looks "really good." Dad is wishing he felt even a little bit as good as he looks. A bright spot: Dad gained 7 pounds in two weeks! Hooray for eating!

We also wanted to mention that Cameron (Elder Loser) is doing very well in Mexico. Here is a snippet from his last email:

"Dad, I still can't put into words how I feel about you and how amazing you really are to me and to everyone who knows you. Your faith and strength are immeasurable. I love you dad. Mom, you also are an amazing, amazing example of a true eternal companion. I hope to marry someone who has the qualities and patience and love and support that you have and give to dad and us as your kids and to everyone else around you. I love you all so so so much. Isaac better remember who Uncle Cameron is when I get back, and maybe even another nephew. That goes for both marriages in the family. I love you guys, and thanks for everything - you all help me out so much."

We love our missionary!

Some events from the past few weeks:
* Dad attended some family weddings, including Sheri Scoresby from the Ricks family and Ryan Dickison from Mom's side. He loved them!
* The Loser family got a wonderful weekend visit from one of dad's childhood friends - she flew
all the way from California to see him! What a lucky dog. Thank you, Peggy, for your visit and the wonderfully cheerful spirit you brought to our home!
* The Loser family also got a visit from Jane Stoddard. We know her family from our time living in Grace, Idaho many years ago - we were good friends, and we've stayed in contact all these years. Thank you, Jane, for making the trek down to Utah to visit, and for your wonderful homegrown potatoes!
* Dad's niece, Jessica Wood (Catherine's daughter) was baptized! Hooray and congratulations for Jessica! She invited dad to speak on the Holy Ghost, and his talk was wonderful and inspiring for all.
* We were able to have the Jeff Dickison family over for Sunday dinner, and it was amazing! We all fit around the table and laughed and talked, then we played games - we love playing games with you guys! Thanks to Chari, Jeff, Jordan, Sarah, Chelsea, and Charlotte. And thanks to Sarah for letting Isaac run the fire truck up and down your face. That means he likes you!
* Mom and Dad were able to have a couples night with Jan and Steve Story - they ate delicious food and played a board game - yes folks, dad actually played a board game. It's like pulling teeth to get him to do it at home. Anyway, they loved it.
* Mom and Dad were also able to go out to dinner with the Reddings, and they love how good they feel around you. Thank you for being so uplifting!
* The Loser family got a special visit from the Elders, who were apparently too lazy to put on real clothes. Just kidding - it was a pajama visit! Thank you guys for coming over and oozing comfort. As always, we love to hear stories of the Elder family adventures.
* The Loser family were the recipients of a special musical concert put on at our home by Michelle Sundwall and April Moriarty. Sister Sundwall's singing lifted us to the heavens, and Sister Moriarty's violin playing made the angels jealous. Thank you for sharing a portion of your testimonies and bringing the spirit into our home.

In closing, as you can tell, we are still so very blessed. We have friends and family who are willing to put up with us, and we are served by all of you every day. Your prayers are known, and the hand of our loving Heavenly Father is evident in our lives.
We thank you for your patience and your love.
We love you all,
The Losers