Sunday, May 24, 2009

The cancer has metasticised to my brain

Over the past week Nate has had headaches during sleeping hours that would subside soon after waking up. On Friday his headache worsened as the day progressed so we paged our oncologist who recommended an immediate MRI (brain scan), which required us to go to the Karmanos ER. We arrived at the ER around 2:30pm and Nate was treated with a steroid to reduce the swelling in the brain. Fortunately his headache subsided about one half hour after getting the steroid drug (Decadron) and he finally was taken for the MRI at 10pm. The scan showed a large tumor (4x4x5cm)behind his right eye near the back of his skull, sitting on top of the right hemisphere of his brain. He was admitted to Karmanos and was taken up to a room at 2am.

On Saturday we met with a team of neurosurgeons who showed us the scans and gave us information on various options to treat the brain tumor.

1) I can have the tumor surgically removed which will required a sizable hole drilled through my skull. This method will enable the neurosurgeons to remove approximately 90% of my brain tumor b/c the last 10% would potentially damage healthy brain mass and critical blood vessels for proper blood flow to my brain. Unfortunately leaving this amount of cancer will likely result in the tumor continuing to grow. Unfortunately tumor growth in the brain tends to be fairly rapid for Melanoma cancer. The recovery time for this surgery would be 2-3 days in the hospital.
2) Following surgery I would have the option of high dose targeted radiation (gamma knife) to kill off remaining cancerous material. More frequent subsequent MRI scans would determine if additional radiation is necessary. The tumor size must be small for the gamma knife technology. None of my other tumors are eligible for surgery or radiation treatments for various reasons. The risk of high dose radiation is that healthy cells in my brain utilized for motor function and healthy blood flow could also be damaged which could cause numerous health issues
3) My final option would be to use medication like steroids and pain killers to manage the headaches and brain swelling, but this would not reduce the size or slow the growth of the brain tumor. The neurosurgeon's best guess would be 1 to 3 months before I would drop into a coma from the pressure on my brain stem if I went this route.

The latest CT scans (neck to abdomen) from 2 weeks ago showed that the mets in my liver and lungs are still growing, so I am no longer taking the phase 1 clinical drug. At this point there really aren't many systemic (i.e. root cause) options for the treatment of my cancer. I have tried multiple conventional and alternative therapies each of which offered approximately a 10% chance of effectiveness.

We obviously have a difficult choice to make regarding how to treat this new tumor in my brain, since we most likely won't be treating my cancer systemically it is likely that the tumors in my liver, lungs, and brain will continue to grow. Please pray for us to have wisdom in our decision and that which ever route we choose that the best possible treatment will be delivered by the medical team. We will likely make our decision in the next few days, once things settle after the holiday weekend.

Thanks to all who continue to let us know how loved and cared for we are. I wish I had the energy to answer all of your thoughtful messages individually, but please know that each and every one of your notes and responses to my blog lift our spirits and touch our hearts.

God bless,
Nate and Deb


Anonymous said...

Dear Nate and Deb,
We are so very sorry to hear the latest prognosis with your brain cancer. You are continuously in our prayers and those in our parish church. We know you will have to have great courage in the next few days making very serious decisions with regard to your next move in your treatment. Please know that we here in Maine are thinking and praying for you all the way.
With Love to you both and the children.
Sylvia and Bill Carter

Anonymous said...

Dear Nate and Deb,
While you don't know us personally we certainly know you and have gone through this illness with you by keeping you in our daily prayers. Our hearts are saddened to learn of your new struggles with this illness. Our prayer is that God grant you wisdom and strength in this difficult decision. Please know that there are many of us who care for you and are grateful that you allow us to walk along side with you during your illness.
Larry and Arlene Burke

Tracy said...

Dear Nate & Deb - I am praying for you - that decisions are clear and that you continue to have His peace in you. - Tracy

Anonymous said...

Dear Nate, Deb, Morgan and Landon,
We are so sorry to hear the lateset update. We pray that you will have peace with the decisions that have to be made, knowing that none of the options are easy. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. I have so much admiration for your courage, strength, and faith throughout all that has happened. I pray the doctors will have the wisdom to treat you effectively to be able to manage any pain. We may never understand why God allows this to happen, but have faith in His goodness.
With Love,
Marcel, and Shelly Noordermeer
and family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nate, Deb and all of your wonderful family, we here in SC are so sorry about the way your life seems to be going. Prayers are constantly being made for you that God will be merciful and lead you in the decisions that He thinks are best.

Prayers are also being made by a church in Virginia and by many family members.

God be with you all in the hours and days ahead. Love from Carol and family.

Kari said...

Dear Nate & family....My Mom is a deacon at the church your Dad pastors, and so I frequently get updates on how you are. I have followed your blog since your diagnosis, and have been praying for y'all since. I know that the Lord is in control, and it is my prayer that you will hear His words during this most difficult time...take your strength and peace from Him! There are many prayers being said on your behalf, here in Minnesota.

God Bless you,

Kari Fuhrman

Anonymous said...

We're very sorry to hear this latest update and know you are facing some difficult decisions in the next few days. You both are in our thoughts and prayers, especially this weekend. (We remember how great it was to see you last Memorial Day in MI). Thank you for your posts so we can stay informed and know how to pray for you. We love you!
Rebecca & Gustavo

angela said...

Dear Nate and family,
I am so greatly saddened to hear your news. I have been following your blog and wishing nothing but a miracle for you and your family. You have fought such a brave battle and I am grateful that you shared your story. It makes us all celebrate life a little bit more, appreciate our health, those around us and our place in this world. My heart aches for you as I know you have to make some difficult decisions. I know that whatever path you choose, your faith will be with you. You have touched so many with your story, your courage, your strength. Everyone is still praying and hoping for peace for you.

I hesitated writing this because I feel that my words can never accurate express how your story has affected me, nor can my words convey how much I wish you never had to deal with cancer. It makes me angry that our bodies can so completely fail us. You have shown, however, the great strength that can come from such a trial.

I hope you and your family love one another and that you can find some peace. I am praying for you.

angela wacker

Anonymous said...

Hi Nate and Deb,

Know that we are praying for you in Indy. I pray that God gives you a peace that passes understanding during this difficult time. I was encouraged by watching your "interview" video. Thanks for sharing!

with love,
stephanie eriksen

Joe Diliberto said...

Nate and family,
My name is Joe. Your sister used to be my physical therapist and I have been blessed enough to have her continue on as my friend. Part of this blessing manifested itself as her telling me of your family and your story. Please understand that you all are in, and have been, in my prayers daily. I wish you all the power, clarity, and light that will be needed in the decisions you continue to make and the battle you are so bravely fighting here. To say that you are an inspiration would be such an understatement my friend! The human spirit is an amazing thing and you are LIVING proof of that notion. Please continue to think positively and not give up Nate and know that your effort and energy is not in vain. You are a perfect example of the physical embodiment of the Lord Jesus Christ here on Earth...never failing, never waning, and constant in faith and belief. You have made a huge difference in this world in the way you have positively impacted the lives of your loved ones around you...I have heard SO many great things about you! Pulling for you in Chicago...Joey D!

Anonymous said...








Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart to read this post and think of your family suffering. Please know that you remain in our prayers daily. We will all face times that are difficult and scary. But to face it with your grace, peace, courage and wisdom is beyond the realms of this world and only something God can truly offer. We pray for you all as you make your decisions in treatment. May God bless you Nate and your beautiful family as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nate and Deb,
I wish I had a magic wand or profound and wise words. I have been following the blog since you began posting about all the ups and downs along the way.

I have smiled at the good moments you have shared and have cried at the sad moments. I want to thank you for sharing, by doing so, so many people have been able to love you from afar and hope that each day would bring the miracle that you deserve.

I wish you peace for today and for all the tomorrows in the future.
~deanna ballheim

Anonymous said...

Hi, Nate and Deb,

Thanks for your updates. Your ability to face the facts as the doctors give them, to relate them to us, and to let us know how/what to pray for are so helpful...your courage and faith during this time are evidence of God at work in our world today, even though the answers to prayer for complete healing have not yet been as we all so much desire in our humanness.

We just want to say again how much we love you, how much we do pray for you, how sorry we are that you are having to go through this, but also how much you both inspire us to look beyond the details of each day to greater realities of the story each of us lives under God's watchful care...May God give you His Great wisdom as you face these next tough, Dave and Ruth VR

Anonymous said...

Hi Nate and Deb, so sorry to hear the latest news. Our McCook NE prayers are with you. Take care of each other and stay strong. John and Nancy Gumb

Anonymous said...

We pray that you feel peace in the decisions you will be making in the coming days. It was so great to see the kids this weekend!
We love you!
Ben and Nancy

Anonymous said...

I pray for you each day, for peace and pain relief but mostly a miracle. There are so many things this side of heaven that we will never understand and this is one of them for me. I do know that you are one of those people who whenever I think of, I smile. I thank God for you and your example of unwaivering faith. I hope that whatever you and Deb decide to do that you are at peace with it. We will continue to stand in the gap and hold you up in prayer. Kelsie Cappel Sather and family.

Kim M said...

Hi, I am a new prayer warrior joining your team. Please know I am praying for your healing and your decisions you have to make.

Anonymous said...

I send you my love and God's love. You are special people. I and my friends at Dayspring will continue to hold you in the Light and pray for guidance in every decision. Blessings on you.

dclundblad said...

Dear Nate and Deb,

Be assured that our Compass Men's prayer group is praying for you in Port Huron as you make these difficult decisions in coming days. Like others have already said, your story has made me appreciate life so much more! Your video blog was such an amazing testimony of God's presence in your life. Thank you for the courage it took to record your story. May Jesus peace be your friend and companion each and every day.

Your Dad's friend in Port Huron,
Dan Lundblad

Robin said...

Your entire family will be in my prayers... Praying for renewed strength, peace, comfort and healing.

Love & prayers,

Robin M.
COLE Prayer Team

Anonymous said...

Deb and Nate-
I just want you to know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers daily. I wish there was something I could do to help you in your battle...if you need ANYTHING, please let me know!
Love, Kerri Hendricks

Judy said...

Nate and Deb,

You are in my prayers as you make
these difficult decisions. I pray for
guidance, strength and comfort.
God bless you and your family.

C.O.L.E. Prayer Team
Brian's mom forever 11.13.1985~01.10.1990

Heather V. said...

Wanted to stop by and send my thoughts and prayers your way. May you find the peace and strength you need to get through this. God bless.

Julie said...

I am so sorry to hear the latest prognosis with your cancer. Such devastating news to hear I am sure. Please know I am surroundong Nate and your entire family with lots of love and so many prayers. I will be sure to storm havens gates with prayers for Nate. May God bless all of you and hold all of you in the palm of his hand.

With Love and Hugs, Julie Price
C.O.L.E Prayer Team

Mark and Jeanette Bommarito said...

Dear Nate and Deb,
We are very sorry to hear of the latest news.We are praying for you and your family. You are such an inspiration to us.God'd peace and blessings on you. We will be praying and fasting for you during your surgery day.

Mark and Jeanette Bommarito

Anonymous said...

Dear Nate and Deb,
We have been in touch with Marge and will be praying for you to have success with the surgery. We pray that you have speedy recovery from it and that the doctors will be able to remove more than they thought. Our hearts ache for all that you are going through. Your spirit is an inspiration for us all.
Casey and Joy Stengel

Andrea Cook said...

I'm so sorry for your news. We are sending prayers.

COLE Prayer Team -

Hugs of love, Andrea

Anonymous said...

Dearest Deb & Nate,
I'm sorry for the grim prognosis. I am praying for you to make the right decision for you and your family. May God give you the wisdom to choose correctly and whatever that decision is, know that you have alot of people out there praying for you and your family. God Bless You and Your Family. I am lifting you up in prayers. Lord, take care of Nate by taking his pain away. I ask that you cleanse his body and remove all the cancer and make his body healthy again. I ask you to please offer Nate and his family strength and comfort during their difficult time and very important decisions. I ask this in Your Name, Jesus Christ. Amen

F.R.O.G. (Forever Rely On God)

Kim Ponce
C.O.L.E. Prayer Team

Anonymous said...

Nate, Deb, and kids,
You have been, and continue to be, in my prayers. Just know that God is in the miracle business, and He is hearing from many of his children on your behalf. You all are truly loved.
Cheri Nicholas

Anonymous said...

Nate, Deb, Morgan and Landon,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you many moments of each day. Some of my school colleagues are praying, and one even knew of you through a friend in Michigan. God's family sure reaches far and wide!
If the morrow brings surgery, may your surgeon have success and the pain subside. We pray for strength and courage in the days ahead.
Ps. 102
Hugs and kisses to you all,

Anonymous said...

You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
Franklin and Marsha

crane-linda said...

We all send our prayers, love and support tonight as you face surgery tomorrow. May God hold you and your family in the palm of His hand.
Linda & EM's from Grace.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nate & Deb,

I am so sorry to hear your news. I don't know you but came across your post on c.o.l.e's page. My husband was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. His is close to the same size as yours but in the center of his brain. We got the diagnosis in October and are still trying to fight it. We did do 7 weeks of radiation and so far the side effects have been limited. I feel very lucky as he is an engineer and loves his job. Praying for you and your family.If you haven't had a chance to look yet try looking up the National Brain Tumor society. They have lots of helpful information. Take care.
Craig & Charlotte DeRouen

Suzi Straffon said...

My best to you and your beautiful family as you continue your journey. You are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Nate, I have read all of your posts, and I must say, you have gone thru a lot, but faith always makes it a lot easier to bear. I don't remember if you remember me or not, but your dad married Carl and I when you were in McCook at St. Albans. You sure have grown up and up since then. You have a beautiful family and all are socourageous. I think Deb is wonderful and also not to shabby in the looks department, You are a beautiful family. I am so clad that you are doing so good. God is so good and also great. Sherrel L. Adams

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