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Quick Update

Our visit to Dr. Finger was very encouraging.  He was pleased with the results of the laser procedure. Most of the leakage is gone and there is no more bleeding.  God certainly heard our prayers!  We are most thankful for all of our family and friends who have and are continuing to support Shelly through all of this.   Our next visit isn’t until February, when the doctor will want to take a full set of new photographs.  Which, by the way, is the coolest thing ever.  All in all he was encouraged, but he said it is not completely healed yet.  That could take another couple of weeks.

We were able to squeeze in a little bit of fun on the trip.  Our friend Silvio Lee, who lives here, was able to spend some time with us.  He was our tour guide.  He is also a graduate of Syracuse University.  Syracuse happened to be playing at Madison Square Garden for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.  Yes, I bought some tickets to the first game and we were treated to a 22 point win for the Orange.  This may be hard to believe, but I have never been to a Syracuse game away from the dome.  It was a real treat.

Emily flew in from Tampa to spend this weekend with us too. It has been 3 months since we dropped her off at the University of Tampa.  It has been fun just hanging out with her. Her joy is so contagious.  She is doing well and is looking forward to the end of her semester when she will be home for a month.  Nikki stayed behind for work reasons. She now has a couple of jobs and is very busy.  She is hoping that Marquis will be  able to get some leave time for christmas.  Our children are incredible blessings to us.  I’m sure that dealing with the stress of their mom being sick is tough for them.  Please pray for them as well.

Until next time…
-John

Progress Update

Well, here we are 17 months out from Shelly’s radiation treatment.  We have been through many ups and downs in that time.  But the bottom line is that there is no cancer and all of her scans have been clear.  We are very thankful for this.  Her vision however, has been reduced and there are signs that a cataract is forming.  One other thing is that the tumor, although significantly reduced in size, is beginning to leak lipids.  Too much leakage could result in furthur loss of vision.

On Oct 2nd, Shelly went to New York for a checkup.  I was unable to go.  This is when the doctor told her that she needed to have a laser surgery to control the leakage.  He also told her she had to have it immediately.  This really caught us off-guard.  Shelly had a difficult time dealing with this news. The doctor was a bit rude, probably caused by the fact that he had a cold, and it was the end of a friday.  The decision at that time was to come home and get a second opinion.  The doctor was quite upset at that point and told her,  “…if you are going to refuse treatment, then you she don’t need to come back anymore!”  The following couple of weeks, it was decided that the laser procedure could be done by our opthamologist here in Syracuse.  Well….when we got there he told Shelly that he wasn’t confident enough to do the surgery and asked her to go back to NYC.  Dr. Finger is really the expert to do this surgery.  Disappointed, we went home and began making our plans for yet another trip to the city.

Not really wanting to go, we were back in Dr. Fingers office in mid-October.  He performed the procedure and said see you in a month! The visit was kind of surreal, in that, it was like Dr. Finger was a “new-man.”  He was funny and polite and….human.  You see up to this point we approached him like we were in the presence of greatness.  “All hail the specialist!”  Now that we saw him at a low point, it was different.  We had a wonderful conversation. He examined her eye and then asked Shelly if she wanted the surgery!  Wow, we were stunned.  Well needless to say, the answer was yes and it was done in less than 15 minutes.

Fast forward to today November 19th.  We are in the Bronx, NY. Preparing to go once more to Dr. Finger for a checkup.  Our prayer is that we see significant positive results and that we don’t have to come back here for awhile.

I’ll be trying to make a better effort to keep this blog more up to date….stay tuned…

Great News!!!

Well, here we are, four months have passed since Shelly’s surgery.  A summer of traveling back and forth to NYC.  The news to this point was discouraging.  Dr. Finger told told us she has 50% chance of the retina reattaching.  There are experimental treatments, but they would not really increase the chances of a reattachment.  Basically, we are happy the cancer is gone, but we are still believing for a COMPLETE healing.

When we left Syracuse last Thursday, we weren’t expecting much of a change.  That’s usually when God shows up changes things.  The tumor has shrunk 40% already!!! It was originally a 10.2 mm tumor, it is now down to 6.6mm.  The retina detachment has decreased as well.  We were very excited and happy to hear this news.  Thank you all for your continued support and prayers.

What happens now you ask???  Well, we will see the Dr. Rutledge-Ophthalmologist in Syracuse in 6 weeks.  This will be the first time we have seen him since he discovered the tumor.  He will evaluate the retina detachment.  Hopefully, Shell won’t have to sleep in the recliner after the update with Dr. Rutledge.  Dr. Finger says that sleeping in the recliner helps with the retina reattachment.  She hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in a while.  A post op PET/CT scan in December is also scheduled.  One last thing.  Dr. Finger said that if the tumor shrinks a little more, he will want to do a laser surgery in the area of the tumor leakage.  This will assist reattachment of the retina.

We had the opportunity to see our nieces Casey and Erin in their preview of Billy Elliot The Musical on Broadway last night!  It’s an amazing show. Grandma your baby girls are wonderful.  We don’t want to spoil it for anyone in the family who plans on attending but you will be shocked and surprised to say the least.  Bravo Casey and Erin you SHINE!  Chris and Melissa it was great to see you too. You both should be very proud!!!

Shelly has been back to work since September 2nd.  The first 2 weeks she worked half days.  She is happy to be back even though she gets tired easy.  Thank you goes out to her FM family your help through this transitional time.

We have been busy with getting Nikki set up in Rochester at RIT.  Classes are going well.  She will start a new job in Rochester on Monday actually.  She is going to work for King David’s restaurant there.  She’s excited about the new experience.

Emily has started her senior year in high school.  She’s doing well and now she has her driver’s license!!  Yes she’s driving on her own.  My goodness where has the time gone.  Unbelievable!

We were able to get together with Shelly’s aunts and cousins a couple of Fridays ago for pizza and fun.  It was a great time and I can’t wait to get together will you all again very soon.

We will talk with you all very soon….

A Good Report

First of all, let me say it has been nice not worrying about traveling to NY for a while. Having said that, I am writing to you from the Bronx. You know the saying, “It’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” That is exactly how we feel now! One day here is exhausting. We took the train from the ‘Cuse, 5-1/2 hours later and we are in a cab stuck in traffic because there is a parade going up 6th Ave for the MLB All-Star Game. Normally, baseball stuff would excite me. Not yesterday. After that the doctor and then a hour on a bus to the Bronx. How do people do it? There is probably another blog somewhere that discusses that. I just want you all to be part of, the………”experience.”

Well, onto why we are all here. We saw Dr. Finger yesterday and he was happy with Shelly’s progress. He sonogrammed the eye and said “hmm, interesting.” Only a couple of weeks ago he wasn’t happy with the retina detachment and her chances of it reattaching. Now he said that because of the experimental procedure of freezing the dead tumor, the circulation in the tumor is significantly decreased!!! That’s a good thing. He said that if things keep going this way, there is hope for a SUCCESSFUL reattachment!!! Shelly was also able to READ the first three lines on the eye chart, another improvement. Lastly, during the sonogram, the tumor is visible. Now I have seen all the pictures and tests since this all started and to my untrained eye; the tumor looked smaller to me. Dr. Finger didn’t measure it but I believe it is smaller. We will continue to stand believing for a complete total healing for Shelly. We ask for you to continue praying as well.

We try to maximize our time when we are here, by visiting with friends and now we have family here!!! Some of you know but some do not. My brother Chris’ two daughters are living & working in NYC. Casey 11 and Erin 9, I think… They are rehearsing for a Broadway show they will be in later this year. We are going to meet with them today and take them to dinner. Shelly’s brother Mike is also in NY. His company is building the massive stage for the Billy Joel concerts in Shea Stadium in Queens. So we will try to see him too. We will take the train home Friday and start packing for vacation!!!

Bye for now……

We visited the doctor on Friday and the news is mixed.  The good news is the tumor is dead and no cancer is anywhere else.  The not so good news is that Shelly’s vision in the right eye is poor. The prognosis for it to return to something useful is also poor.  The eye is still pretty swollen and all she can see right now are shadows.  Dr. Finger is telling us that when the tumor “leaked,” it cause a severe detachment of the retina.  He is not hopeful for a successful reattachment right now.  Apparently the area where he would need to reattach the retina is deteriorated.  The options right now aren’t good, but we will continue to pray and are hopeful that the eye will continue to heal enough for her to regain some vision. 

One other thing, the doctor advised her that she should be sleeping upright.  Apparently that will help with a possible reattachment.  Sooo, we purchased a new recliner for her to sleep in.  She doesn’t like sleeping upright too much but is willing to try if it will help.  The OBVIOUS benefit of a new relcliner is that I will be able to watch all my football games this fall in comfort and style!!!

We will return to NYC on July 15th for a 3 week checkup.  The Baseball All~Star Game is at Yankee Stadium the same day.  As much as I would like to see that game I just want to get in and get out of there as quickly as possible.  We are tired of the Big Apple.  After that we will start packing to go on Vacation!!!  Before all of this happened, we booked our first ever family cruise.  We are very much looking forward to spending that time together.

I will continue posting here on a fairly regular schedule, so keep checking for updates.

 

NYC Trip #3

Hello everyone…

It has been nice being home for a few days. Shelly has been spending her time resting and receiving visitors and many well wishes in the form of cards and phone calls. You are all extremely generous & caring people. We are proud to know you.

Shelly’s recovery is going well. The eye is still a bit swollen but she seems to be getting better each day. I was looking back on this blog and I see I forgot to tell you how the procedure went. Dr. Finger confirmed that the tumor is dead!!! And NO cancer was found anywhere else. Now it will be a matter of time for the tumor to shrink. Once it is out of the way, they’ll decide on what to do about her detached retina. It will have to be another surgery down the road.

We are heading back to New York(…again) Thursday for a visit to the doctor on Friday. Hopefully he will be able to give us a better idea of how she is progressing. I’m starting to know the streets of the city and am finding it easier to get around. That’s scary. We found a good place to eat if you are looking for a $15 cheeseburger!!! Ellen’s Stardust Diner 51st & Broadway. The wait staff sings show tunes while they serve your meal. It was worth the pricey food.

As for me, I returned to work this past Monday. It was good to be back in the saddle. I am left speechless by the support of my co-workers. I hope I can repay you all someday.

Thank you to all of our family and friends for your prayers and support.

We love you.

Homeward Bound!!!

This will be short, we are on our way home!!!

We should arrive later tonight. Please pray for safe travel. Our friend Silvio will be driving us home.

Shelly has been having some sinus headache problems due to, of all things, not being able to blow her nose. They prescribed antibiotic and sinus meds so hopefully that will make her more comfortable.

We will talk to all from our home in the ‘CUSE!!! We can’t wait.

Relieved!!!

Well, the week of treatment is OVER!!! The radiation plaque has been removed and Shelly is like a new person. She is all lit up and seems to be back to her cheerful self. It was difficult to see her down.

It was a long day at the hospital but that seems par for the course down here. Surgery was scheduled for 2:30pm and she got into the OR at 4:10pm. We left the hospital around 8:00pm and are now back at the apartment(9pm). She still has a covering on her eye and will have to continue putting drops in for quite a while. We will be going to the doctors office tomorrow morning for a post-op checkup and instructions. After that we make preparations to come home!!!

Thank you for all the cards and letters, they have been very encouraging. JDW!!! the last card you sent was hilarious!!!! We laughed for a good long while….

God Bless you all.

This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be GLAD in it!

We are in day 6 of 7. The last full day of treatment. I AM GLAD!!! All I want is this plaque out of my eye and to go home. It’s that simple. The past few days have been the hardest for me. I miss Nikki and Emily something crazy! I miss my home, my family and my friends. Thank you to Scott and Sherri and Sherri’s prayer over me last night. I was really struggling all day yesterday and Sherri your prayer helped remind me that there is a reason for all of this that is happening. I don’t know why but that’s okay because God is in control and He knows.

My husband John has been amazing. I can’t imagine being him through all of this. He’s used to being able to fix it and move on. I know him and I know that he’d rather it be him going through this than me. John, “I couldn’t do this without you.” I can’t wait for the hug I’m going to get when this plaque is gone tomorrow!

Allys and Alex WOW I can’t say enough thank you’s to them. I don’t mean any disrespect to them when I say all I want to do is go home. This has become my home away from home. Their love and compassion has truly been beyond a blessing. Without them this would have been so much harder. I know in God that they will reap all that they have sown in me and my family.

I want to say thank you for all the beautiful cards you have sent they are so inspiring and help me get through the day. I am typing this blog with my face almost on the screen because I can’t see hehe! Thank you for all the comments you’ve been leaving they too help me to get through each day.

To my FM family thank you so much for the food and everything you’ve been doing for me and my family since this diagnosis was made. You have made this easier to bear because you are feeding and taking care of my kids. You have all been such a blessing in my life since I’ve been at FM. I miss you all so much and I can’t wait to get back to work so I can hug each and everyone of you!!!!

To my Family I love and miss you all so much. Thank you for all your love and support you have helped mold me into the Shelly that I am today. What an incredible blessing you have all been through this bump in the road in my life. My family includes blood relatives and God relatives. We all have God relatives you know who they are the people that God has put in your life to help you through your life. I am humbled and blessed by the overwhelming outpouring of love that has been coming my way from all of my family including all the people that John works with you are all a blessing to me and my family.

Tomorrow is the surgery to remove the plaque. Surgery time is scheduled for 2:30 so that means we have no idea when it’s actually going to take place. Then back to the dr. on Thursday then hopefully be able to come home on Friday or Saturday.

Once again I love and miss you all and can’t wait to see you and get tons of HUGS!!!!

Hello everyone.

There is an old Tom Petty song that says, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”. That’s where we are at. It is three days into the treatment and there have been no side effects!!! Only 4 days to go. Keep praying… Our days are spent in the apartment while Allys and Alex wait on us. I try to help but they don’t let me. Don’t tell them but I do the dishes when they aren’t here. It’s hard to let people take care of you when we are so used to taking care of others. It’s certainly a lesson in humility.

I thought I would show you a picture of where we are:

View from our apartment

It sure doesn’t feel like NYC!!!

Shelly is doing well!!! Before the surgery, our daughter Emily was kidding with her mom. She said when Shelly has the radiation in her eye, we should call her “Gamma Girl”!!! She could be the next super-hero. Well, during her Chemistry class she saw the symbol for gamma. Emily created a logo and everything.

Introducing GAMMA GIRL-

We are so grateful for the meals to our girls while we are away and the cards and well wishes from everyone. God Bless you all.

Please keep praying for a successful treatmentand a speedy recovery…