pegkerr: (Glory and Trumpets)
Rob has achieved COMPLETE REMISSION!

And I have been offered a JOB! I will be working for the Minneapolis ELCA Synod (the local governing body of the Lutheran Church). I will be, among other things, assisting with the administration of the process to call new pastors to Lutheran Church.

Details at CaringBridge here.

This has been the best week, like, ever.
pegkerr: (Default)
Rob's PET scan yesterday was good enough to allow him to continue with his clinical trial. See the details at his CaringBridge.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
If you've forgotten your CaringBridge password and so you're not reading these posts, hey, you can get CaringBridge to send you a new one.

Rob's cancer has progressed further and is now is found in the ulcers in his stomach. Since it has been proven by biopsy that he has "progressed," he's being taken off the study he's been on for the past 14 weeks and will be placed on a different one. It means we'll be spending much more time in Rochester, which, no offense, is a very nice city. But...we'll be spending a lot more time in Rochester. Thank you, Kyle and Mary, for putting us up.

CaringBridge post.
pegkerr: (Default)
We finally caught up with Rob's oncologist who interpreted the PET scan from two weeks ago for us. Rob has put on a waiting list for a new clinical study. He may get called to go in for tests sometime in the next 2-8 weeks. He would be a good candidate, but he may be ineligible because of his participation in an earlier study. Read more at our CaringBridge post.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
It's all summed up in the first line of the report: "Mixed changes with however worsening of lymphoma."

Read the rest at the CaringBridge post here.
pegkerr: (Default)
PET scan: liver glow GONE. Spleen glow GONE. Central glow deep in the abdomen (this is the one that really worried the doctor last time) GONE. Neck glow GONE. Slight glimmer on back of head remains, but no bigger than last time. New slight glimmer at tip of stomach: may be simply inflammation. Blood work looks perfect.

Our doctor said, "This is an enormous response. Marked improvement. Everyone's happy. Take the weekend to celebrate."

So...yeah. Thanks to Mayo! Thanks to our doctor. Rob's not ENTIRELY in remission, but he's pretty damn close. Which is absolutely amazing!

(I sent the girls Snapchats all day about "Our Day at Mayo" and took screen shots of most of them).

Our Day at Mayo )
pegkerr: (I told no lies and of the truth all I co)
The flu put me badly behind, but I'm not quite so far behind now.

Week 31: Minicon
We're there every year!

Week 31 Minicon.jpg

The challenge that [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha K. gave me was that the Minicon card had to be made entirely with materials found at Minicon. The image in the lower left was cannibalized from the business card of the Artist Guest of Honor. I used bookmarks left on the freebie table, promotional postcards, bits from the Bozo Bus Tribune, etc. I like this card.

Week 32: EverTwixt
EverTwixt awaits you if you dare.

Week 32 EverTwixt.jpg

As part of my attempt to switch career fields, I started a marketing internship with an old friend, a writer I met at Clarion almost thirty years ago, Kelly McClymer, who is attempting to start a new website, EverTwixt.com.

Week 33: PhotoShop
It's great fun, but an amazing time-sink.

Week 33 PhotoShop.jpg

Also as part of my training, I've started learning PhotoShop. This was an attempt to make a graphic that could be used as part of the EverTwixt site: one of the stories available for download, "Maiden Ash" is a variant of Cinderella, and this image is suggestive of the moment when the stepmother scatters ivory beads and jewels in the straw and tells the heroine to pick them all out into separate piles if she wants to go to the ball. Of course, in PhotoShop, I was doing the exact opposite: painstakingly assembling the layers: straw, then jewels and beads. When I made the card, I cheated and embellished the beads with some glimmering paint [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha K.had hanging around.

Week 34: Shadow
"There are three shadows on the liver in your CAT scan, and two on the spleen."

Week 34 Shadow.jpg

This is what the doctor said when he came in to our meeting that week. (For details, you can see our CaringBridge). This is not an actual diagnostic image taken of Rob, but a graphic I found online, highlighting the liver. I added the shadows on it with PhotoShop.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
Rob and I just came back from Rochester. We have a mixed report. New spots on his liver and spleen. Are they tumors or inflammation? We don't know. The one deep in his body is probably a tumor, as it's right at the site of the tumor that started it all, which had apparently been eliminated by radiation in early 2015. One glowy bit from the last PET scan is gone. The doctor has decided the best thing is just to stay the course for now.

Read the rest on our CaringBridge post here.

I am so goddamned tired of all the uncertainty.
pegkerr: (Default)
Week 24: Hamilton
I have been listening to it NON-STOP!

Week 24 Hamilton

I bought the entire soundtrack for $2.00 (LEGALLY) when it was on sale for that price on Google Music. The show has its hooks in me (as it does in so many other people I know). Fiona's a fan, too, and we love to exchange tidbits of knowledge we've gained about the show, the production, the actors. She is going to GO SEE IT in June and I am so very jealous.

Week 25: Hope
I'm seeing a glimmer of light on my journey.

Week 25 Hope

This image depicts a woman on a journey (remember Week 3, Embark, the last card on this post?) who sees a lighthouse shining from shore and starts to feel a little bit of hope. This was the week I learned I had been given a grant by the Dislocated Workers Program from the State of Minnesota. I am going to be receiving training in a lot of the concepts and programs I need to have to change careers from legal administrative assistant to marketing.


Week 26: Dance
This was the week of Excellent Cancer News.

Week 26 Dance

I picked this picture from The Tutu Project, one of the amazing photographs taken by Bob Carey in support of his wife Linda Carey, who has been battling breast cancer. Yeah, okay, we're not battling breast cancer here, but it's about the spouse of someone with cancer. It's trying to bring humor and happiness to something that's often very grim. It just seemed to fit this time.

Week 27: Training
I begin to learn new things.

Week 27 Training

Hubspot Academy Inbound Marketing. Landing pages. Adobe InDesign. A/B testing. Etc. Let's hope it will result in a new career direction.

Week 28: Caucus
I took Fiona, and we both did our civic duty.

Week 28 Caucus

Fiona and I were both agonizing as we walked through the door until I hit upon a simple solution: "I'll vote for Hillary. You vote for Bernie. We'd be happy to vote for either one in the general election." And that's what we did.

Week 29: Flu
Everthing is a painful, feverish blur.

Week 29 Flu

The flu hit both Rob and me HARD. Think gray mindlessness, with fever and aches lurking below.  I started on Wednesday of that week. After a week and a half, I ended up at the hospital, getting intravenous fluids. The flu shot didn't do a damn thing for me.

Week 30:  
Not today
Nothing will get accomplished today.

Week 30 Not Today

Yes, this is still a one word title. Well, a word combined with a graphic.

This card was created because I became impatient after four days of the flu. Surely I should be getting better by now? I kept fretfully listing off things to Rob that I should be doing. He lay in bed beside me, sick as I was, and replied "Not today." And when I tried to stagger out of bed and take three steps, I would fall back into bed and repeat after him, "Not today." The whole week was like that.
pegkerr: (Default)
We are back from a two day stay at Mayo. The latest PET scan and biopsy gave us good news, and we've learned some more about how truly fortunate Rob has been. You may read more at the CaringBridge link here.
pegkerr: (Both the sweet and the bitter)
Rob had another PET scan yesterday. The results were ... inconclusive. Difficult to interpret. His immunatherapy clinical trial continues. Read more at our CaringBridge account here.
pegkerr: (Default)
Week 17: Biopsy
After the second of two biopsies, Rob hovers at the brink of awakening.

Week 17 Biopsy

I took a picture of Rob right right before he awoke from the anesthesia, after a double bone marrow biopsy. Something about his posture, the angle of his face, the lighting (and the suffering of which he never complains)...something made me think of religious iconography. (Which would certainly bemuse Rob, as he is an agnostic.) A saint in a religious trance or something. Religious ecstacy.

That impression and that word, 'ecstacy' triggered a memory of an image I'd had stashed in my soulcollaging cache of images, "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa," a central sculptural group in white marble set in an elevated aedicule in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome (google it to see). I flipped that image and scaled Rob's down to fit in with it. Note the angel holds an arrow, indicative of the sharp point just used to do the biopsy. It pleases me that the arrow is pointed at the site of the cancer.

Week 18: Yule
Light a candle, sing a song.

Week 18 Yule

There is a Peter Mayer song about the winter solstice called "The Longest Night." Here are the lyrics )

I've always loved that song, especially given that I'm vulnerable to Seasonal Affective Disorder. This card is trying to juxtapose the thoughts of this song with Christmas (the wreath) and Solstice (the diamond candle), which fell during the same week. "Yule" is a concept that would encompass both of them.

Although I like the concept, the card just didn't turn out to have as much impact as I'd hoped. Just not vivid enough or something.

Week 19: Hogmanay
The year comes to an end.

Week 19 Hogmanay

THIS card, on the other hand, turned out SPLENDIDLY. I had a great deal of difficulty, however, managing a decent scan of the card, because it is difficult for scans to capture the way it glitters. It's much more scintillatingly impressive when you hold it in your hand than I can convey here. "Hogmanay" is an old Scottish word referring to New Year's Eve (and I resorted to it because I'm limiting the titles of these cards to one word, and "Newyear' just didn't look right to me). The monks are a reference to the poem I wrote and posted earlier about our trip to Mayo Clinic the day before New Year's Eve, and the silver light and the glittering spindrift was made from nail polish. The very same nail polish, as a matter of fact, that I used in my New Year's Eve manicure. I think they captured the sense of the 'icy spindrift' (and the cones of silver light) extremely well!

And the Chinese fortune was from the fortune cookie I opened on New Year's Eve. My family has been gathering together and eating Chinese every single New Year's Eve for years. Perhaps this fortune was a wry commentary on the job hunting process.
pegkerr: (candle)
At 5:00 a.m.
the old Buick growls to life
surly at being roused from winter hibernation
for a predawn appointment ninety miles away.
We drive through the silent streets
past the light rail station
past the Falls
over the Mendota Bridge
past the highway fork where the oil refinery
flings its lurid glow against the sky.
The curved streetlights hunch
broodingly over the road
meditative as monks at Lauds.
Swirling fog and icy spindrift shines against the darkness
in the cones of light falling away from their burning eyes.
He sleeps beside me as I drive
the once crisp line of his goatee blurred
by the grizzled whiskers
growing out over the biopsy scar.
And the light sweeps over him
again and again
mile after mile
a benediction and a blessing.
All shall be well
All shall be well
And all manner of things shall be well
.

>>>

We drove to Mayo for a surgical procedure today, to have a port put in for Rob so he doesn't have to keep getting IVs in his elbows for the infusions (the veins in his arms are very bad).

I write very little poetry, and I don't follow formal forms, and since I'm so ignorant, I don't consider myself to be any kind of judge of what's good and what's bad.

But

I kinda like this.

I blame the fact that I had to get up at 4:00 in the morning.
pegkerr: (Haven't you been listening to all that I)
I fell asleep in the chair in the room where Rob was getting his infusion. Woke up hard after an hour with a series of cross and sleepy kitten noises, and Siri, on my iPod Touch, responded by telling me, "I'm sorry. I don't know what you're telling me."
pegkerr: (Default)
I have been waiting to post these until we told the girls the latest medical results.

Week 15: Pain
Everything hurts.

Week 15 Pain

Since Rob's heart was damaged by chemo, I have been doing all the shoveling. At the first snowfall, doing the job, I hurt my back. Badly. Ice and painkillers and pillows and baths and ow and tears. It really, really hurt. At the same time, I have been fighting off depression (in the Victorian language of flowers, marigolds are associated by some with grief or despair). It has been very difficult to deal with physical pain, combined with the anxiety of job hunting, combined with the bad cancer news. This card is tied, symbolically, with the marigolds, to a card in my Soulcollage deck, The Woman Who Listens to Ravens.

Week 16: PET
Rob undergoes testing at Mayo Clinic.

Week 16 PET

I cut the words and the picture of a patient undergoing a PET scan from the various educational brochures we've received from Mayo (really, they will give you a brochure about anything under the sun). The blobby shapes draped over the words are photographs of some glassblown art hanging from the ceiling in the large atrium at Mayo Clinic (printed out on tracing paper, which is the first time I've used that technique). Here is a picture of the installation, in situ. Very pretty, if you look at it one way.

But every time I look at those shapes, I think they look like cellular structures. Even like tumors.

I suspect that impression is intentional.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
Rob's last PET scan was suspicious, and the most recent one, taken this month, was worse. Our doctors did a biopsy, and we received the results today. Rob's cancer has indeed come out of remission, although at least it hasn't reached his bones yet. He is starting an immunatherapy trial at Mayo Clinic next week. Read the details here at our CaringBridge site.

We had waited until tonight to share the news with the girls that the last PET scan was bad because we wanted them to get through their finals first. Finals are over, however, and they have both been told.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
We've had two trips to Mayo in the past two weeks and have received both good news and inconclusive news. Good news: surgical site (Athena's old quarters) is healing, and PET scans show old cancer sites are dark. Inconclusive news: there are some new glowing areas on the PET scan in his neck area...but we aren't sure whether it's cancer or not. Read further on our CaringBridge report (see link).

Read the post at our CaringBridge here.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
I made this card last week, but I've not posted it until now as we wanted to talk with the girls to let them know that Rob had come out of remission before writing the CaringBridge post and informing DW, LJ, Facebook, etc.

This is what it felt like.

Week 5: Anvil
It just feels like getting clobbered out of the clear blue sky.

Week 5 Anvil

By the way, we've had the results of the biopsy tests back. The lump was cancerous (to NOBODY'S surprise). The oncologist, however, is content to wait until Rob has his next follow up in November--although we should call to get in right away if we see anything else suspicious, of course.

I suppose they don't want to give the poor guy a PET scan too often if they can help it.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
I've posted a link to CaringBridge, ominously titled, "Really, it's not been a great month (or) Dagnabbit, Athena."

Rob's head tumor seems to have made a reappearance. We went to Mayo where it was surgically removed today. Click here to read further at Rob's CaringBridge journal.
pegkerr: (Glory and Trumpets)
Had a follow up visit at Mayo today. Today's PET scan was perfectly clean, and the surgical wound is so well healed that we don't need to dress it or cover it any more. The total remission continues to hold strong. Yay! Only disappointment is that the genetic report on the tumor still isn't ready (way overdue). Next follow up is in November.

Read the rest at our CaringBridge here.

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