Sunday, November 8, 2009

Redefining Normal

We had Sandy's memorial service yesterday and it was perfect! I was so happy with every aspect of the service. Pastor McDonald did such a wonderful job of portraying Sandy's life and the music and slide show were so moving. Thank you to everyone that attended. Thank you to the great people of Calvary Assembly of God for providing the family with so much wonderful food, both before and after the service.

Nothing is ever going to be the same without Sandy here. I already miss her so much! Somehow I managed to get through the viewing on Friday night and the memorial service yesterday without her being there to do all of the talking. But I do believe that she was right there with me, giving me the words to say. I have hugged more people in the past two days than I think I had hugged in my entire life prior to that! Sandy was always a hugger, and I know that she would have been hugging everyone in sight too!

I am now beginning to think about what normal is going to be from this point forward in my life. I know that I will return to the old routine of going to work, coming home, doing yard work and housework...but it just won't ever be the same without Sandy. She and I worked in the same building - just down the hall from each other - for the past couple of years. I could just walk down the hall to her office, or she might just pop in the door of my office throughout the day. Now the building just seems emptier, lonelier, and sadder than it ever has. I remember times that I would hear her talking and laughing from her office and I'd just smile. I won't hear that anymore. Of course, it goes without saying that our home will never be the same. There will forever be an emptiness there that cannot be filled. Have I mentioned how much I miss her?

But I know that Sandy would not want anyone that she cared about to hurt, so I will press on. I will keep her memory alive for as long as I possibly can and I will love her for the rest of my life.

I owe so many Thank You's to so many people for so much benevolence! I don't even know where to begin. You all know what you have done...please accept my undying gratitude for all of it. I have said repeatedly that I can't tell you how much it means to me, and that is the truth. I am in awe of the goodness of people! From the very bottom of my heart, Thank You!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sandy's Tribute

I would love for everyone to visit the tribute to Sandy by clicking on the "Sandy's Tribute" link above, (the title to this post). This will take you to the page that Ellis Funeral Home set up for Sandy. On the right-hand side of the page there is a "Movie" link. Click on that to watch a slide show of pictures of Sandy through the years. (Depending on your connection to the Internet it can take quite awhile to load. I have a broadband connection and it still took a few minutes to load. So please be patient.)

I am sorry that I have not faithfully been posting to the blog the past couple of days. I hope that everyone will understand that I am trying to cope with the loss of Sandy and I just haven't been in the mood to talk or type about it too much. I am so thankful for having family with me...we have been coping and healing together. As always, I appreciate so much all of the love that so many have shown by bringing so much food, drinks, and supplies to the house to take that burden off of us while we grieve. I can never find the words to adequately express how much it means to all of us. So please accept my heartfelt "Thank You!!" as a feeble substitute.

As a reminder, the family will be at Ellis Funeral Home from 6:00 - 8:00 P.M. Friday evening for the viewing of Sandy's body. The memorial service and celebration of Sandy's life will be at 1:00 P.M. Saturday at Calvary Assembly of God, located at Florida Avenue and Johnston Street.
We went yesterday and made the final arrangements for Sandy. You can view her at Ellis Funeral Home on Andrews Hwy anytime between now and Saturday night when they close. Gina did Sandy's hair and makeup yesterday and she looks so beautiful! Thank you, did a great job! The family will be at the funeral home on Friday, November 6th, from 6:00 - 8:00 P.M.

The memorial service for Sandy will be held at 1:00 P.M. on Saturday, November 7th, at Calvary Assembly of God, located at 908 S. Johnston. That is on the corner of W. Florida Ave. and Johnston St. in Midland.

Please forgive my brevity this morning, but the words fail me. I will write again a little later to thank all of those who have done so much!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Feeling Empty

"All the pictures that hung in my memory before I knew you have faded and given place to our radiant moments together. Now I cannot live apart from you...your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me."
~Sarah Bernhardt

I woke up very early this morning to the realization that this will be the first full day without the joy and comfort that was my loving wife Sandy. She completed me in so many ways. All of those qualities that I lack she possessed in abundance. I relied so heavily on her, especially at times like these that we are about to go through in the next several days. I don't know how I will make it through them without her by my side.

I love you, Sandy, and I miss you so much already. My world will forever be incomplete without you. I am comforted that you are no longer in pain. My solace comes from the smile that I know has returned to your face.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Victory is Won

It is with a broken heart that I write tonight and tell you that Sandy passed away today at about 1:00 PM. She was at peace and surrounded by her family. She did not achieve the victory that we had held out for and that she fought so hard for, but she is victorious nonetheless. She is completely out of pain now and can be happy once again. We must all take solace in that.

We haven't finalized any of the arrangements yet, but right now we are planning on having the funeral on Saturday, November 7th at Calvary Assembly of God. It is located at 908 S. Johnston, which is at the corner of Florida St. and Johnston. I will post the details after we have met with the funeral home tomorrow morning.

Today is a blur. There was so much happening and so many people coming to show their support and bring food and drinks. Thanks to Margie for bringing lots and lots of food! Thanks to Molly for bringing supplies to help get us through the next several days. Thanks to Debbie for bringing drinks. Thanks to Sam and Rebecca for bringing food and supplies. Thanks to Roy and Debbie for bringing food. I hope that I haven't missed anyone...please forgive me if I have.

Please pray for safe travel for all of the family and friends as they come in for the funeral. Please pray for all of Sandy's family as we try to process and cope with this painful loss of our wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, aunt and friend.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Constant Vigil

I am sitting here at Sandy's bedside watching her rest more comfortably than she has for the past couple of days. But even at that it's still not the peace that I wish for her at this point. The on-call Hospice nurse came about 15 minutes ago and gave her a shot of Thorazine and Gina gave her more OxyFast and Xanax. Even with all of that she still moans and groans and talks periodically.

Sandy's Hospice nurse came by earlier today to check on her. She said that she doesn't expect Sandy to make it to the end of the week. While that is devastating enough news in its own right, the remainder of the day has been every bit as painful. Sandy has been under heavy medication throughout the day but has not been able to stay comfortable or to rest for more than 15 to 30 minutes at a time. She wakes up with an urgency that she needs to get up and go somewhere or do something. We try to convince her that she just needs to lay back down and rest. But she gets combative and she begs and pleads and cries and fights to get out of bed. I know that whatever is going through her mind during these times is very real to her and needs to be tended to immediately. This makes it that much harder for those of us trying to keep her in bed. It has been an almost constant battle and has brought all of us to tears on more than one occasion today. We finally had to stop visitors from going back to see her because it has been so hard to get her to rest.

Please pray that she can have that peace that she deserves. No one should have the torment that she has experienced today!

Thanks to Terri for bringing us lasagna, garlic bread and salad for supper and cookies for dessert tonight. It was delicious and enjoyed by all. Thanks to Jack and Pam for bringing a basket full of goodies and a plate of brownies. I did sample the brownies, Jack, and you did good! I apologize that I wasn't able to visit while you were here, but that was during one of those times we were trying to get Sandy settled down and back in bed.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Set Your Clocks Back

Today is the day we set our clocks back and get our hour back that we gave up earlier this year. How I wish we could set our clocks back a couple of years. I'd love to have all of that time back with Sandy. Maybe we could do something different that wouldn't bring us to where we are today.

My heart is really broken today for Sandy. She is at such an awful place with this disease. Her pain is increasing and we're having to give her more medication to control it. The cough is as relentless as it has ever been, so she's getting increased breathing treatments and cough medicine. And now she is going through some sort of mental torment that is just tearing out my heart. Even with the increased meds she doesn't sleep as much as she used to. She is awake more, but more disconnected from reality. She is seeing people and having conversations with people that aren't there. She is looking for things that she thinks she dropped but she never had in her hands. She says she wants to go home when she's already at home. She tries to get up to do things that she obviously doesn't need to do. It is so sad to see her in this state of mind. I just want her to be able to rest peacefully.

Thanks to Sharon who brought us some delicious soup and hot cornbread for supper tonight and some chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Thank you to everyone who has sent their support and love and prayers via cards, emails, letters and phone. I know there are so many supporting and praying for Sandy every single day.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Post

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Gina said that Sandy had a really bad night last night, waking up about every hour. But she made up for it today by sleeping almost all day long. She had no episodes with coughing until this evening. She's in the bedroom taking a breathing treatment right now. Gina called Hospice this morning and asked them to deliver a hospital bed. They brought that and set it up this afternoon. So Sandy now has a bed that we can adjust to make her more comfortable. Hopefully that will help her to sleep better.

Sandy hasn't had anything solid to eat in several days. Her liquid intake has really dropped off too. She's mainly only drinking anything when she's taking her medications. She looks so drawn and guant now. She has gotten so weak and so frail. I feel so bad for her. Please pray for her and her comfort and peace.

Thanks to Mary and Clint for bringing brownies this afternoon. Cakes and cookies are definitely my weakness! Thanks to Molly and Tommy for bringing pizza for supper tonight. I want to send a very special "Thank You!!" to Billie. She sent me a message today and said that she is going to go to Georgia to be with Jessica when hers and Angel's baby Claire is born and she's going to spend a week with them when they get out of the hospital. That is such a blessing! I know that nothing will ever take the place of her mom being there with her, but it will be so much less painful having her aunt there to help out. Thank you, Billie! I could not have asked for anything more.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Late Night Ramblings

It's late...for me. I've already been to bed and asleep for awhile tonight, but I'm up again. My sleep has been sporadic at best for the past week and a half. I sleep a little, dream vividly, and get up throughout the night. So I guess I'll take advantage of this time to ramble...

Sandy had a fair day today. We have been able to keep the pain at a minimum but the cough is still persistent. She is very confused and has trouble finishing a comprehensible sentence. She'll pick up on a word or two from a conversation or from TV and start to say something, but before she can get through with it she loses her train of thought and strays off on a tangent. It's so sad to witness. My heart just breaks for her.

Thank you to Brian, Tonya, Collin and Trystin for bringing supper over for us tonight. It was so good and the fresh pumpkin bread was a tasty dessert to top it off.

Friday Morning Update

Sandy's day yesterday was mostly uneventful. She had her usual coughing spells, but no significant problem with the pain getting out of hand. She's becoming more disoriented and confused with the increased medication to control her cough and pain. Molly came over last night to see her and Sandy slept through most of her visit. As is typical for Sandy, she apologized a dozen times for falling asleep! Of course Molly assured her that it was no problem and that she was glad Sandy was able to get some peaceful rest.

Thanks to Adrian for bringing our supper last night. We all ate very well and still have plenty left over! Thanks to Chris for going out bowling with Ryan last night. He had a great time.

I have had a number of people asking me how I am doing and I appreciate the concern. My standard answer is, "I'm maintaining." For me it's still a rollercoaster...I have moments when I'm okay and moments when I'm anything but okay.

Please pray for Sandy's comfort and peace of mind. Thank you!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Words...

I sat down at the computer last night to write an update and the words just failed me. But I know that there are so many people that are following Sandy's journey and I don't want to leave anyone in the dark. Sandy had a good day yesterday. She did have a few coughing spells, but we are giving her meds as she requires them and keeping her as comfortable as possible. If I had to sum it up in a word, I'd say that she is peaceful. That reassures me that she's at peace with her decision and ready for whatever may come, and that comforts me too. As much as I love her and need her, her happiness is paramount.

Thank you again and again to Ryan who is ever by his mom's side making sure her needs and wants are met. Thanks to Cheryl and Paris for coming over yesterday afternoon and giving Ryan a little "alone time" to get away. Thank you to Steve, Monica, Stephen and Teagan for bringing supper last night. It was wonderful and will be providing us some lunches for a few days to come! Thanks to Randall and Rene McDonald from Calvary Assembly of God for coming over and talking and praying with us last night. That meant so much to Sandy. Thanks to Phyliss and Clifford for coming by to visit with Sandy too. And, as always, thank you to Gina for spending the night with Sandy and taking care of her through the night. She truly is a saint!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

At the Crossroads

Sandy had such a tough night last night, followed by a worse day today. She has coughed and gasped and hurt so much since 3:00 this morning. She called me at work today crying and told me that she couldn't do it anymore. I talked with Ryan and he said she wasn't able to drink any of her juices or take any of her meds or supplements. So I came home and spent a couple of hours with her talking and consoling and encouraging and crying.

She has fought such a courageous battle and she has tried so hard to beat this...but she is spent. She told me that she is ready for whatever happens and that she doesn't want to continue with the juices and supplements. She just wants to be out of pain...she wants to let nature run its course. She is at peace with her decision. As hard as that is for me to face, it is not my decision to make or to judge. I can only do everything within my power to respect it. I love her so much and I can't bear to see her hurt anymore. I told her how proud I am of her and that she should never feel as though she has failed. She is my hero!!

I have called all of the kids and told them about her decision. Like me, they love her far too much to see her suffer and they all understand and respect her decision.

I don't know what the coming days hold for Sandy, but we're going to do all that we can to keep her pain-free and comfortable. I have asked over and over for everyone's prayers and I appreciate everyone who has been praying. But I must ask once more that you will pray for Sandy's comfort and her peace of mind.

Thank you!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Quick Post

I'm just going to type a quick update tonight...I'm getting started a little late. I've spent the evening sitting with Sandy, rubbing her back and legs and holding her hand. I feel so bad for her and wish that there were anything that I could do to make her feel better. She's had a pretty rough day, mostly with her cough and shortness of breath. I think what hurts me the most is that she just looks so exhausted. This past week she has been trying so hard and is not seeing any significant improvement. It has to be so discouraging for her.

Her pH this morning was hard to distinguish between 5.5 and 5.8. I guess I'll compromise and call it 5.65. Whatever it is it's not what I was hoping for this morning. She managed to get and keep all of her juices down. She got all of her meds down and almost all of her supplements. We had to stop on some of her evening supplements because she started coughing so badly.

Thank you to Betsy and her husband for bringing us a delicious and filling supper this evening. Everyone enjoyed it immensely.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sunday News

Today was a fairly good day for Sandy. I didn't get to check her pH this morning. By the time I got up to do it Gina had already started her on a breathing treatment. She did have several protracted coughing spells, but she didn't have any nausea and no appreciable pain. She got all of her juices, meds, and supplements down and kept them down and she drank a lot of water. She went through a couple of emotional valleys, but for the most part had a positive attitude.

She did get out in the back yard to sit in the sun for a little while. She said that it felt good to feel the sunshine on her face. Her and Gina sat and watched several of those TLC house-renovating shows and medical shows and what-not. Then Molly came over this evening and visited with her for awhile. That always brightens her day! Thanks, Molly...and thanks again for the supper. Ryan wanted me to let you and Tommy know that he thought it was great too!

Well, it's back to work tomorrow and leaving Ryan to take care of his mom. He has been doing such a great job, but I know that it is emotionally draining when you love your patient so much. I'm really glad that he was able to get away from the house for some time on Saturday and again today, and to get a couple of good night's rest.

Please keep praying for Sandy, as well as her caregivers, doctors, and nurses. Thanks again to everyone who is supporting Sandy in her battle. There are no words that adequately express how much it means to her and all of those who love her!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Nice Day with Sandy

I had a good day here at home with Sandy today. It was nice to be with her and take care of her. I wanted to be able to give Ryan a little bit of a rest too. He went out to spend part of the day with his uncle Brian. They're probably watching UT play Missouri right about now, and from the last score that I saw they're probably enjoying it immensely!

Sandy had a pretty good day. Her pH this morning was 6.0...that's up from yesterday and always gives me hope that tomorrow it will be up even more. She took her Methadone three times today and it did seem to improve her cough. She didn't have as much problem with severe coughing spells or pain today. The only negative was that she was a little more groggy and sleepy with the increased meds. But still not nearly as out-of-it as she was a couple of weeks ago. She watched some TV and talked with Gina, Ryan and me some of the time too. Maybe we've reached a happy medium where she can be comfortable but not unconcious. She had most of her juices today and all of her meds...and she kept all of them down! She drank a lot of water too. So all things considered, it was a good day! We're trusting for more good days to follow!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Two Weeks and Counting

Today marks fourteen days since Sandy started her all-natural diet and supplements to raise her pH. If you've been following along with the blog you are well aware of the ups and downs we've experienced. We've had some really exciting, uplifting moments and about an equal number of heartbreaking setbacks. Sandy has gone from her "drug-induced coma" to being alert and happy and positive and now back to somewhere in between. The past few days I have seen more resignation than resolve in her attitude. Don't misunderstand, she wants this treatment to work...she wants it more than anything! Her only other options are a lifetime of chemo or surrender to the cancer.

Today her pH was back up to 6.0. She had a few coughing spells, one of which caused her to throw up and all of which caused her pain. The Methadone seems to be helping, but doesn't last for more than a few hours after she takes it. Hospice increased the dosage from twice a day to three times a day. That's about all that is new right wasn't much different than the past few days.

I have been receiving a lot of emails recently of people who are following the posts each day and supporting and praying for Sandy. I got a message from Sandy's cousin Dwayne who lives in North Carolina. He wanted me to let Sandy know that all of her family in the Virginia/NC area are "supporting her from afar." Thanks, Dwayne! Sandy was so happy when I told her this morning. She told me to let you know how much she appreciates it and that she loves you all. Thanks to Bruce and Dwendy for the beautiful flowers that they sent to Sandy yesterday. She loves them! Thanks to Gina for cooking supper for Ryan and I and staying with Sandy tonight. Everyone rests a little easier when you're here. Thanks to Ryan for being here at Mom's beck and call all week long and taking such great care of her. You've done a great job! I'll try to give you a little bit of a break over the weekend so you can get some rest.

Thanks for all of the prayers. We received some relief on the financial front today that will make things a little easier. As always...Please keep praying!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Modest Improvement...But It Is Improvement

Sandy's day started out much better today...primarily because she had a really good night's sleep last night. When I checked her pH this morning I asked her how her night was. "Awesome," she said, and I think I even detected a little hint of a smile. OK, so it isn't much, but I was just glad that she got some rest. The remainder of the day was pretty much status quo...some ups, some downs, some tears, some laughs. She drank most of her juices and ate some more of Gina's vegetable soup and kept it all down. Her outlook today was much better than yesterday's. Taken by itself, today probably doesn't seem all that great, but relative to yesterday it was great!!

I ran across an article on the Internet earlier that pointed out something that, frankly I feel kind of silly I hadn't thought of myself. It was an article discussing the acidic vs. alkaline body, and it said to make sure to check the pH of your drinking water. So I did and I found out that the Ozarka "Natural Spring Water" we've been using has a pH of 5.8. It's not going to do much good for Sandy to drink 6 bottles of water each day that have a pH lower than we are trying to achieve. So we're switching to Evamor "Alkaline Artesian Water Beverage" which has a pH of 6.8. By the way, "Artesian Water Beverage" apparently justifies charging more than any bottle of water should ever cost! But I will save my disgust at the whole health food/organic industry's price gouging for a later blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Thought of Alexander...

Today reminded me of the children's book that Jessica told me about years ago...Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It just seemed like nothing went well for Sandy.

Her day started out at about 5:45 this morning when she asked me to check her pH, so she could take a breathing treatment. Only a few minutes into her day and she was already having a terrible time breathing. After the breathing treatment she asked to start taking her meds and supplements so she could "get it out of the way." Within about 30 minutes all of it came back up. We finally got her comfortable and managed to get a Phenergan down her to quell the nausea. By this time I had to leave for work, so I left her in Ryan's very capable hands for the morning. (Her pH this morning was 6.0, by the way.)

When I came home for lunch I found Sandy crying and at an all-time emotional low. She told me that she felt like "this is the end." She was so short of breath that she was panting through her sentences, even though Ryan had given her a breathing treatment less than an hour earlier. She was in pain, even after having pain meds earlier. She had only had one of her juices for the morning because she was so nauseated. She said that she'd just like to check into the hospital and let them "pump me full of medicine" so she won't feel anything. I know I've said it before, but I cannot imagine what she must be feeling. I told her not to give up, because no one was giving up on her. We talked and I rubbed her back, which always helps the pain, and by the time I had to go back to work she was in a little better spirits.

I called Gina and explained Sandy's state of mind and she called Hospice to have the nurse come over to see what more they might be able to do. Gina drove from her job in Odessa to meet the nurse here at the house. They decided to put Sandy on Methadone, which hopefully will help on two fronts: the cough and the pain. I just know if she could get the cough under control it would definitely lift her spirits. She just took her first Methadone, so hopefully we'll see some improvement soon.

Sandy loves this quote by Lance Armstrong: "If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell." Please, please pray for emotional strength for Sandy...whether it's some small improvement that will buoy her spirits or just the determination to never give in.

I believe there are better days yet to come!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Headed in the Right Direction

Tonight I was sitting here in the living room trying to decide what to write, and I thought, "Hey, why not ask Sandy?" So I asked her how she would decribe her day today. She said, "I would describe it as...I'm headed in the right direction." She says that she is feeling better, that her cough is more manageable, and that she didn't have any nausea today. Now that's what I like to hear!

She had a good night's rest last night and slept until about noon today, other than waking up for her juices, supplements, and breathing treatments. But sleep is good. Her body needs that rest to battle the cancer. Gina made her a giant pot of soup last night and she has eaten two bowls of it today. I'm really glad to see her eating better.

Her pH was still down this morning, between 5.5 and 5.8. I'm trying not to focus too heavily on that one factor of pH because I can see she is feeling so much better. We must be doing something Sandy said, she's "headed in the right direction."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quick Email Update

I'm updating from my phone tonight because I've been in bed sick all day. I have a head and chest cold with a painful cough and severe sinus headache. I've been trying to avoid any contact with Sandy or anything that she might injest so she doesn't get this on top of everything else her immune system is fighting.

She didn't have a very good day either. She said ealier that she thought she was going to suffocate this morning...she just couldn't get enough oxygen. Her cough is really bad today and she's had a lot of nausea. Her pH was only 5.5 this morning. I don't understand why it fluctuates so much from day to day. She drank all of her juices today, but we skipped her evening supplements because she was too nauseated to take them. She told me that she still feels certain that this treatment is the right thing to do, but she's just having a bad day.

I would like to ask everyone to please continue to pray for Sandy's miracle, her emotional strength and also for the finances. With Sandy out of work for the past several weeks she is now only making half of her previous salary. We are about to have to reorder her supplements and that is going to really put a major strain on the budget! Thank you!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Rest of Sunday

Well Sandy's afternoon and evening wasn't all that great. She was pretty good physically, but she was really down emotionally. She has her times when she gets down, and I certainly can't deny her that. I can't even imagine what it must be like to face death and not know for sure that what you're doing, or that there's anything you can do that will postpone it. She feels very confident that this new regimen is the right thing to do, but without the scans to substantiate it I'm sure it's a scary venture.

Sandy's closest friend Molly Cooley, who is also a cancer survivor, came by this evening to visit with Sandy, and that always lifts her spirits so much. Sandy was so much happier while visiting with Molly. Thanks for coming over, Molly. You're a saint! And thanks for the wonderful casserole!! It was a big hit.

Please continue to pray for Sandy's miracle, but also for emotional strength to help her continue with confidence. Thanks to everyone for all of the love, support, and prayers!

Thank you, Margaret and Ryan for being here and helping me so much this weekend...and in the days to come. I can't tell you what it means to me!

Easy Like Sunday Morning?

By 8:06 AM this beautiful Sunday morning Sandy had already had her pH checked, gone through a 10-minute coughing spell, taken about 25 meds and supplements, drank her water with baking soda, had a breathing treatment, and drank her 4 oz. aparagus juice! Who said Sunday mornings are easy?

Her pH this morning was 6.2 and her cough was not quite as bad. Very encouraging developments, indeed! She is now trying to recover a little of the sleep that I deprived her of earlier.

I will post more later about the remainder of her day, but I wanted to share the good news of this morning with everyone. Have a great day!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 8

Day 8 of Sandy's all-natural regimen comes on Saturday, which means I'm at home and able to help out a little. It sure gives you a whole new perspective of what is required to take care of someone on this strict of a diet when you spend the day actually doing it. If you're not making a fresh juice drink you're cleaning the juicer or doling out meds or giving a breathing treatment or cooking a meal or updating "the book" or...wondering what you've forgotten to do! We've been very fortunate to have at least a couple of caretakers helping out at all times, so that nobody has to do it all by themself. I just can't imagine trying to do all of this alone.

Sean made it back home to Goldsboro, NC and Jessica made it home to Ludowici, GA this afternoon. That's a worry off of my mind. Thanks again to them for all of their help while they were here. Ryan and Margaret were "on staff" today to help me out. They filled right in and did an excellent job as well.

Sandy's day today was pretty typical of what's been going on for the past few days: coughing and nausea in the morning and then a strong finish by mid-afternoon and into the evening. We went out for the afternoon walk and Sandy made it as far as she did yesterday on her own. The walks are good for her emotionally too. It's always good to feel the sunshine on your face. After her walk she choked down another of my attempts at cooking. She said it was "delicious"! Isn't she sweet? Ryan went out to Hastings today and picked up a book that Sandy has been wanting. It's called "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life" by Lance Armstrong. She started reading it this evening. I think that it will be an inspiration for her.

First thing every morning, before she's had anything to eat or drink, Sandy's pH has to be checked. It started out at 5.5 or less, (the test strips start at 5.5, so you can't tell if it's lower than that). A pH of 5.5 is very acidic and we're trying to get it up above 7.0 so that her body is more alkaline...tumors die in an alkaline body. That's the purpose of the juices and the restrictive diet. It has been slightly higher the past couple of days. Yesterday it was 6.2 and today it was 5.8, so we're moving toward our goal!! I'll keep you posted on the pH readings each day as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

One Week In

Sandy is on Day 7 of the new regimen and as far as I can tell she is responding well to it. She is having sporadic nausea, but Dr. Bernardo said she could expect that. That should gradually subside. She's still having moderate pain that she has to take Oxycodone or Ibruprofen for. Today she had a rough morning with nausea and emotions, but her afternoon was much better and she went out for her afternoon walk. She didn't walk quite as far today as yesterday, but only by about 50 feet or so. Then she graciously ate the meal that I attempted to cook for supper.

Sean and Jessica left early this morning, headed back to their respective homes and families. Sean passed up the opportunity to fly back home in a day so that he could drive for 21 hours with his sister! Isn't that sweet? Jessica insisted that she could make the trip by herself, but everyone, (especially her daddy), felt much better having someone with her. I'm so glad that they were able to stay for a couple of weeks. They were so much help and it was so nice getting to spend time with them.

Speaking of thanks...I'd like to thank some more of the wonderful people that have been so supportive the past few weeks. The following is a list of everyone that has brought food to the house to help feed us...

Misty Yates, Peggy Thompson, Debbie Riley and Billie Elliott, Debbie and Don Riley, Brian and Tonya Marlowe, Molly Cooley, Don and Debbie Curry, Phyllis Hudson, Zane Gonzales, Sabrina Valarde, Erra Bachmann, Pilar Natividad, Chris and Charlie Jones, and Sandy's uncle Jack Williams who brought food on at least seven occassions!! All of the food was great and greatly appreciated! It sure makes these stressful times easier when you don't have to try to figure out what you're going to feed everyone. (If I missed anyone who brought food, please forgive me!!)

In closing I would like to offer a word of caution to all the readers...If you are going to make a baked potato in the microwave, always wet the paper towel before wrapping it around the potato and starting the microwave. Otherwise you will have a fire in your microwave after about four minutes!! I'm just saying...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So Many to Thank!

Sandy had another pretty good day today. She started out, as she does each morning, with a 15-minute coughing fit that drove her to the verge of throwing up. That always dampens her spirits for the first few hours of the day.

But so far she's always rebounded and made a good day of it. By the end of the day she was out walking to the park again. This time she walked about half again farther than she did yesterday. She's getting a little stronger every day!!

Sandy had an interesting experience today...when she got of the shower today she put on her glasses that she just got earlier this year. She noticed that she wasn't able to see very well with them. So she asked Jessica to get her previous pair of glasses and she could see a little better with them, but still not very clearly. So Jessica found a pair of Sandy's glasses from about 10 years ago and Sandy was able to see perfectly out of them!! I'll tell you what, when y'all pray for a miracle you don't mess around!!

Speaking of prayers...I especially want to thank everyone for all of the support and all of the prayers on Sandy's behalf. There are so many people who not only tell me that they are praying for her, but that they have also put her on prayer lists at Sunday school and church. So there's no telling how many hundreds of people are praying for her every day. These are the prayers that have sustained her through these tough times and given her the strength to go on. We can't begin to thank everyone enough!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The New Daily Regimen

So, what does Sandy have to look forward to now that she's on an all natural diet and supplements? According to her...not much! LOL She's not too crazy about it, but she's been a real trooper.

Each day Sandy has to drink the following:

6 - .5 liter bottles of spring water with 20 drops of freshly-squeezed lemon juice;
2 - 4 0z glasses of wheatgrass juice;
2 - 4 oz glasses of asparagus juice;
1 - 8 oz glass of carrot juice with 1/2 avocado; and,
3-4 - 4 oz glasses of spring water with 1 tsp baking soda.

Also, Sandy has to take the following supplements every day:

2 - 2 times per day - Modified Citrus Pectin;
2 - 2 times per day - Transfer Factor Multi-Immune;
2 - 2 times per day - Boswellia Extract;
2 - 4 times per day - Clodromax;
1 - 3 times per day - Wobenzym N;
1 - 2 times per day - Vitamin D3;
2 - 2 times per day - SeleNext;
3 - 3 times per day - Coral Calcium Ultra ;
2 - 2 times per day - IP-6;
4 - 2 times per day - Vitamin A (10,000 IU); and,
1 - 2 times per day - Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC).


On top of all of that she is taking Albuterol breathing treatments 4 times a day to try to control her cough.

It's definitely a full day trying to fit all of these drinks, juices and supplements into her waking hours. Luckily I've had a lot of help with Sean, Ryan and Jessica here this week. They have all pitched in and done more than their share to make sure Sandy has everything she needs.

Sean bought us a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer so we can have fresh carrot/avocado juice and asparagus juice. The wheatgrass is a bit more problematic. Take my word for it...even though Jack Lalanne says you can juice wheatgrass in his juicer, you can't!! And wheatgrass juice is something you do not want to buy at the health food store. It costs about $16 for one day's worth of juice! Wow, again!!

Sandy has been responding very well to this new regimen. She still has some pain and is dealing with this relentless cough, but the miracle is unfolding day by day. Today the kids took her down to the park that is a couple blocks from the house. Sandy walked all the way down there on her own and then rode back in the wheelchair. That is so amazing after seeing her lying in the bed in her "drug-induced coma" only a week earlier!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Renewed Hope

On September 30th, Sandy had such extreme back pain that she simply couldn't take it anymore. Sandy's sister, who is an LVN, contacted Sandy's nurse at M.D. Anderson to see what they wanted us to do. They asked us to take her to the emergency room at Midland Memorial to have them run a CT scan. Because of all of the confusion that Sandy was going through they were also concerned that the cancer may have spread to her brain. After much frustration and aggravation at the ER we were finally able to convince the doctor to do the scan and we were able to take Sandy back home.

When we got back home, Gina suggested that we contact Hospice of Midland and ask them to come in. I know that most people, including me, think of "end of life" treatment when they think of hospice. But Gina wanted to use them to help keep Sandy more comfortable and to have someone locally that we could contact when Sandy needed something. What an amazing organization...within 45 minutes of calling Hospice there were two nurses at our house getting Sandy admitted and explaining everything to us. They were there only about 30 to 45 minutes before they had Sandy hooked up to oxygen to aid in her breathing. They did an assessment of Sandy's condition and got the meds delivered that she needed to help with her pain and her cough. This took a huge weight off of my mind knowing that we had compassionate, capable people to take care of Sandy's needs!

As hopeful as we were for the miracle that so many were praying for, we could clearly see that Sandy's condition was deteriorating and she was requiring more and more pain and cough meds. She was spending almost all of her time in bed and heavily medicated. This was her condition on Saturday, October 3rd, when Gina took me outside away from the family and tearfully told me that we needed to have a family meeting to discuss Sandy's condition.

We called all of the siblings and the kids that had made it home together that afternoon and listened as Gina told us that she didn't believe that Sandy would be alive in another month! Gina has had about ten years of experience working for hospice and seen more than her share of terminal cancer patients. While we were still hoping for that miracle, we knew that realistically we had to make the necessary arrangements and plans. This was truly the darkest hour!

Then, on Sunday October 4th, Gina received what I believe to be the miracle for which so many have asked and trusted and waited. She talked with her sister-in-law Sherri about a little girl from Midland named Josie Nunez who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in September, 2008. Josie was flown to Cook Children's Cancer Center in Fort Worth where she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment. However, in the middle of all of this treatment she developed another brain tumor! Discouraged and fearful, her parents decided to take her off of the chemo and radiation and seek an alternate cure. Long story short...on February 3, 2009, Josie's parents received the results of her latest signs of any tumors!! The cancer was gone!! (We had the pleasure to meet Josie and her family last week when they came to our house to share her wonderful story with us!!)

Anyway...Gina continued telling me what Sherri had told her about Josie's cure. This is when I first learned about Dr. Bernardo Majalca. Dr. Bernardo is a naturopathic doctor and contends, "You are not dying of cancer. You are dying of acidosis." A body that is too acidic allows cancer cells to grow and flourish. By getting the body more alkaline the cancer not only stops growing, but it dies.

Gina called Dr. Bernardo and told him about Sandy's condition and the prognosis she was given at M.D. Anderson. His response was very matter-of-fact and nonchalant..."Oh yeah, we can take care of that." And he proceeded to tell Gina what we needed to do to get Sandy well again. His slogan is "Cancer is not a death sentence. It is a major inconvenience." This was the breaking of the dawn after our darkest hour!

Now I know there are people out there who feel as though they would never take the advice of a naturopathic doctor over that of a medical doctor from M.D. Anderson. I suspect that if I were reading this story about someone else instead of living it with my wife, I would be one of those people. However, in this particular instance Sandy had the M.D. telling her that her condition was "very serious" and that the chemo treatment she was receiving may not be able to help her, while she had the N.D. stating very confidently that he knew what to do to kill her cancer. When you're staring into the abyss you tend to listen with a different sense of respect and priority to the people who can give you hope.

My posts have almost got us caught up to date...Sandy started on Dr. Bernardo's diet and supplements on Saturday, October 10th. We're only four days into this so far. We've seen some great progress and some minor setbacks so far...but we have seen progress! And that is what we have been hoping for!!

I would encourage everyone to take a little time and visit the Nunez family's website about Josie's victory over cancer. It is at
If you will click on the "Movies" tab at the top of the page you can watch an 8-minute video by Dr. Bernardo Majalca and see what motivates him to help people. It's quite moving!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sandy's Journey So Far - An Introduction

I'm John Gilson and I want to tell the story of my wife Sandy. It's a story that started about 20 months ago and continues to this day...

It's best that I begin at the beginning for any of those who don't know Sandy's background with cancer. For brevity's sake, I will give the "10,000-foot view" and skip over all of the complications and extended hospital stays resulting from surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, and medications.

All of this started in February 2008 when Sandy was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast and told that the tumor was embedded in her pectoral muscle. She had a radical mastectomy of her right breast shortly after that. The surgeon said that he got clear margins on the pectoral muscle and also took twelve lymph nodes...all of which were clear of cancer. After recovering from surgery she underwent four treatments of IV chemotherapy. She was supposed to have six weeks of radiation therapy as well, but after the chemotherapy was completed she was declared cancer-free and told that she would not need to do the radiation treatment. That was in July 2008.

Fast-forward to July 2009...I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a month earlier and had opted for a radical prostatectomy as my treatment option. While I was in the hospital recovering from my surgery, Sandy happened to run into the doctor who had performed her mastectomy and was talking to him about some severe pain she had been experiencing in her right chest and shoulder, (the site of her original tumor and her mastectomy), as well as a persistent cough and shortness of breath. He told her to make an appointment with his office so he could look into it more closely. When she went in for her appointment he revealed to her that he felt a lump and said he wanted to do a biopsy on it as well as an MRI. When the results were all in she was told that the cancer had metastasized and there were tumors on seven of her vertebrae, on her lung pleura, and in her pectoral muscle...nine tumors in all. She was devastated. It was her worst fear.

Sandy decided to go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for her treatment this time. After more tests and scans there she was told that her condition was "serious" and that her cancer was treatable, but incurable. She could expect to be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life. She was accepted into a clinical trial for a pill form of chemotherapy that was already being used to treat leukemia but had been found to be effective for breast cancer as well. On September 23rd, 2009, - after a week and a half at M.D. Anderson - she began the chemo pills and returned home.

Before going to Houston, Sandy had been working at her job all day and was able to get around on her own, drive, clean house, go to the store, etc. By the time she got home she was physically exhausted and unable to return to work or do much of anything without assistance. Her transformation over the past couple of weeks was so disheartening. I couldn't believe the change!

After about a week of being home and Sandy's condition still deteriorating I started calling the kids to come home. I told them that I didn't know if this would be the last time that they would be able to see their mom alive, but I also didn't know how much longer she would be able to carry on a conversation with them. They all responded and were home by that weekend...from as close as Waco, TX and Lawton, OK to as far away as Olympia, WA, Goldsboro, NC and Ludowici, GA! Sandy's condition by the time they got home were best described by Sean as a "drug-induced coma". While it definitely lifted her spirits to see them, it still wasn't enough to overcome the cancer and the medications.

I'm going to leave off this first post at this point. It will serve as the introduction for the next...and more exciting chapters of this journey.