Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Hairloss Begins

On Thursday Meredith's hair started falling out. She has an appointment to get it cut short on Monday. We knew this would be coming, but it has been hard. Once again I find myself unable to help, only able to comfort. My mom is planning a hat and scarf party, but she and Meredith's mom hopped right in and got her started. Here is a new cute one that I love on her.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow. What can we say. We have amazing friends. While in the hospital the nurse brought us a gift with a large "Day 1" written on it. It was an awesome teapot and set of teas. She told Nick that there were another 11 presents to gather from behind the nurse's station. An anonymous group of our friends had left 12 wonderful gifts with the nurses to have us open 1 day at a time. Since we don't know who you are:


The gifts were a great surprise to look forward to every day. Each day had a theme and were filled to the brim with great goodies. Thank you all for your generosity and continued support.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Curteman Cooper Christmas

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Family Christmas Fun!

I have lived in the Willamette Valley my whole life. We used to have a "White Christmas possibility" when I was younger and the weather patterns were different. It was also back in the day when we'd get buckets of snow, several snow days and we'd be on snow routes for weeks in the winter. Ah, those were the days. My family would go just up the road from our home and ice skate on the frozen pond, Snow men and snow forts were a constant sight in the neighborhood, and we would sled to our heart's content. The nights of the really great sledding days, Dad would park the car at the top of the hill and shine the headlights down our run- or at least the top of it, while we all waited our turn on the good sleds. The Radio Flyer steel-runged sleds that really sent us flying down the icy roads.

Well, my friends, it seems today is a "White Christmas Miracle." I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself. Nick and I are at his parents' house in Beavercreek and later we'll be headed deeper into Beavercreek and Highland to my parents' house to spend some more time with them.

Last night my family, except for Matt, Leigh, and Ali (they stayed in North Carolina this year, since they have the new baby), got together at Nathan and Beth's place for Christmas Eve. We had SO MUCH FUN. It only would've been better if Matt and Leigh and Ali were there to enjoy it with us. When Matt came to visit and help me out after my first little surgery, he got a card for Nathan and Beth that sang the "Dancing Hamster Song." He, Nate, went wild with it driving us all insane by the end of a family dinner night. Well, I happened to see a hamster figure that played the same tune and danced quite cutely. I had to get it for Nate. Last night through some confusion, it seems that Matt and I were on the same track because we BOTH got the same singing, dancing hamster for Nathan. What a riot! Nate ran around the house in his Santa Boots (He's 31, by the way), playing with both hamsters and the singing card. Sorry Beth! But how funny, too!

Later, Nick and I came out to his parents' house and spent the night after exchanging some gifts. Now we're enjoying the snowfall and hanging out. Ah... take the time to hang out and RELAX today. But in the midst of it all, don't forget the Reason that we are celebrating this holiday. It's not for the gift exchange, not for the food, not for a day off of work. It's the celebration of the birth of Our LORD, Jesus Christ, who was sent, a perfect sacrifice to die for our sins, that we may live with God in Heaven eternally.

The snow has left a nice white blanket on everything already and continues to come down. Yeah! Enjoy. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and many Blessings in the coming year.

Love and Hugs, Nick and Meredith

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas To All!

Yesterday was the first day since I arrived home from the hospital in which I did not vomit. Hallelujah! It was something for the calendar. I'd been "doing that" between 2 and 6 times per day since, and Friday was one of the most. So, Nick called my on-call Dr who thought I should not be having such a problem and he prescribed me some steroids. Another first for me. Yesterday I felt like I could take on the world. Just ask Pastor Scott. He could tell I was feeling much better. Now, I feel like Christmas is going to be that much better. You know, not having to worry about doing "that" while hanging out with family and opening gifts.

The plan for now is for me to return to the hospital January 3 for my next round of chemo. I'm unclear as to when I'm getting an ultrasound, but it will either be Jan 2 or 7, to see how the chemotherapy is shrinking up my pelvic tumors. Please be praying that they are shrinking quickly and without any other complications. Thank-you, Prayer Army!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rusty is Home!

My mom dropped Rusty off last night from staying at their house. He was pretty tired from playing with Alex's dog Brody.
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Back Home Again

It's so nice to be home. Until now, I feel like I've been a zombie, nauseated and weak and unable to take care of myself. The one nice thing about needing someone to care for me, is that I've been able to spend more time with Nick and my mom. Nausea has not been my friend, and has been a constant struggle. I'd like to say that it's behind me and I can have a couple of weeks of normal life before I return for more chemo. I do feel almost back to normal today, and am up and around the house more so than I have been since I came back home.

Rusty came home from Nick's parents' house last night. I really missed him and it was obvious he missed us too. He just jumped up on the bed-on his sheet- and napped with me for a while. Then he was ready to play with his toys. He's been so gentle and sweet.

I had my post-surgery appt yesterday with Dr Handy for my chest surgery, and he was amazed at how well I was healing. Again, he attributed my speedy recovery to my youth. I also spoke with Dr Bernstein, who is going to give me stronger anti-nausea meds this next round of chemo and was very appologetic that the cheom hit me so hard and strong. He did tell me, however, that he hit me with the strongest stuff they had, so no wonder it hit me so hard.

Let me just say now, that so many people have been incredibly thoughtful and generous, in addition to prayers, and have blessed me with gifts. I am trying to get thank-yous out to everyone, but it may not happen. It doesn't mean that I'm not thankful and grateful for what you've given me, it simply means that I cannot keep up with your generosity. For that, I THANK YOU ALL!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

She's Home!

It is so nice to be back home. Meredith is still very nauseas, but I picked up a slew of medications to help combat that. We will see just how effective they are. Dr. Bernstein met with Meredith before her discharge last night. We will do our next set of scans after our 2nd round of chemo to see how much they have shrunk. Hopefully soon I will post a photo guest book of everyone who came to visit us in the hospital, but for now here are a few random pictures from our time at Portland Providence Hospital.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One More Treatment (This cycle)

Tomorrow we get to go home after one more set of chemotherapy. Yeah! Meredith has been pretty nauseous off and on today. The doctor told us that 5 years ago the chemo she is taking would have annihilated her appetite completely. Thanks to a slew of new meds she has been able to eat some. Tomorrow's post should include some pictures, as we have been snapping away here in Oncology 5k. But now it's late and I am shutting this awesome loaner laptop down and going to sleep. Meredith is already most of the way there.

Oh, I almost forgot. We got the results of the base-line scans they did on Wed. Nothing remarkable to report (other than the obvious). At the rate that this has been growing and spreading we were a little anxious to get our results. Praise God it hasn't spread anywhere else.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!

Tonight my family skipped the traditional surf and turf dinner and visited us for my dad's birthday. I am proud to say that I was the first one to wish him a happy birthday when I called this morning at 5:30am. Happy Birthday Dad!

Day 4

I got to see my parents today. After spending a week with their new granddaughter they came straight from the airport to see us. Nick and I can't wait to go see our new niece Alison in North Carolina.

It continues to be a small world as we were payed a visit by the interim chaplain for our floor. It turns out that Brad graduated from Western Seminary in August, which means we have quite a few common friends. He stopped by to encourage us about my cancer (which he did), but most of the time we spent telling fun stories about our mutual friends.

Today brought even more new adventures in the way of treatment. I got a blood transfusion this morning, as my red blood cell count was down. The nurse assured me that this is very common and that they do this kind of thing every day. I have been told that I am going to get one more before the day is out. Tonight I am struggling with some nausea. It came on fast and although the drugs they give are great and long lasting, they are not fast acting.

Grandma and Grandpa Curteman sent us a very encouraging bible passage tonight through Nick's parents.

Isiah 41:10
So do not fear for I am with you;
do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Tonight my 5th grade teacher and his wife visited and encouraged us. Of the 200 medically documented cases of Pulmonary Blastoma she was number 75. After going through chemo 25 years ago you could never tell that she suffered as I do now. Talking with someone who beat this and is doing so well was very warming to our hearts.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Can Feel the Love

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the LORD. 
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."  
-Romans 12:9-13 (ESV)

I can't thank you all enough for showing me and Nick such love! I really didn't want to leave home to come back to the hospital and leave my Christmas decorations, my flowers from my last hospital stay, and my puppy, Rusty. Rusty is at Nick's parents' house having a wonderful time with Brody (their dog). As far as the Christmas decorations go, Elaine brought me an artificial, miniature tree and some lights to spruce up my room. I suddenly have a bit of an angel collection in the works (I can never have too many guardian angels) and have had quite a few guests. Thank-you Pastor Nathan, Sara and Pastor Scott for coming all the way here to pray with me today. Starting chemo was a little scary and I appreciate the extra support. Aaron and Amanda came twice throughout the day and have been at my beck and call. They picked up a new bible for me and I love it. Thank-you both for showing me such love. My mother-in-law, whom I call Millie (just a fun name), stayed with me for several hours until chemo finally started just to make sure all went well. She even read while I took a nap. It was so nice. I received an anonymous gift today, 1 of 12, for the 12 days of Christmas. Whomever it was from, I love the teapot and tea. Thank-you very much! I can't wait to see what else is to come. I hope you let me know who you are so I can thank you for your generosity. If not, THANK YOU! 
My parents are in North Carolina visiting their first grandbaby, Alison, and having a wonderful time with my brother and sister-in-law. I know it's really hard for them to not be here with me through this, but we made the decision to start chemo after they left for their trip. I know it makes them feel a lot better to know you are all here if I need anything. I've been talking to them several times per day and can't wait to see them on Saturday.

Matt and Alicia visited this evening and Matt told me that his mom put me on her prayer chain and is passing my information on to her friends. Sandy, thank-you. I really appreciate you and all of the others who have passed my info on (like Patricia) and are praying for us. You have all blessed us so much already. We have a huge Prayer Army. I'm confident that God WILL heal me! Please keep it up! We've enjoyed the flood of cards that are still flowing in, full of inspiration and encouragement. We send our love back to you all. May the LORD bless you as you have blessed us!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Laughing Yoga

My friend emailed me this video a little over a year ago. Interesting, creepy and hilarious with a flair for the melodramatic. A little (or a creepy amount) of laughter was definitely on the menu today. After a full day of tests yesterday Meredith will be starting her chemo treatment early this morning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Flowers, Flowers Everywhere...except here

Meredith and I loved all of the flowers she received while we were in respiratory care post-surgery (like the one pictured above). We are now, however, in a room in the oncology wing and they do not allow fresh flowers. We thought you should know so nothing gets returned. Thanks for everything. Your constant prayers, blog comments, calls and emails are a constant encouragement.

Page Me

This is the 3rd surgery pager I've had in a month for Meredith. They are putting her under as I type this to place a port in her chest for the duration of chemo. I know that this is a fairly routine surgery, but everytime they cut or poke her it makes me hurt.

Providencial Hospitality

Meredith and I are back in the hospital (Portland Providence Hospital) this morning to start chemotherapy. We are so happy that we were able to get a private room so I can stay with her overnight. Yeah! We will be here for the next 5 days, and will try to keep you all up to date.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Shelving Time

Our awesome friends Tyler (of Tyler and Sheree) and Josh (of Josh, Elaine and Iris) helped us out this weekend by building shelves in our garage. This allows us to organize and protect all of Meredith's school supplies until she gets another classroom. Thanks guys! check out the rest of the mayhem click here

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Latest in the Battle

Nick and I went to see Dr Bernstein today to discuss results from an MRI I had done on my pelvis last Thursday. Due to a small blip on my PET Scan back in October, Dr B thought I should have an MRI to make sure I didn't have any tumors in that area. Apparently, germ cell tumors found in the ovary/ pelvic region sometimes accompany Pulmonary Blastoma. His hunch was a blessing for me, because it turns out that I have two, yes 2, large tumors in the center of my pelvis. Nick and I saw the image and it was crazy HUGE. One Tumor is 6.8cm and the other 10. My PET Scan was a month and a half ago and at that time, only a tiny spot lit up, but common ovarian cysts look the same. I'm lucky he thought to check me out before we started radiation on Wed, because we would have been concentrating on the wrong area.
Here's the new plan of attack. I check into the hospital on Wed. for IV chemotherapy and I will be there for five days. I will come home for three weeks and go back for five days and so on. I don't know how long this will last. The doctors believe the chemo will shrink the tumors so they can be more easily removed in surgery. Then we'll probably go back to the original plan of chemo and radiation treatment simultaneously. Meanwhile, I still have five tattoos for radiation and am not ready to begin it yet. These tumors are obviously rapidly growing. Dr B says that rapid growth tumors tend to respond to chemo and radiation better than slow growers. So, hopefully, that will be the case and the chemo will shrink them up.
For those of you who know about the sores on my tongue, they are getting better with time and more medication. Dr B says they are simply stress ulcers and will go away when I de-stress. Sure, no problem. I'll get right on that. In the meantime, please pray that I get some sleep, as I am going on three weeks of very little sleep. Also, pray for guidance for the doctors. And of course, please keep Nick and me in your prayers. Our spirits are up and our attitudes are positive, but please pray that they remain that way.

Interesting note:Nick and I stopped and got Chinese food on the way home and our fortune cookies had the same fortune. "A minor disappointment isn't the end of the world."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Wise Words

A couple from church sent us the perfect card. It simply says:

"Life...comes with one simple guarantee- God loves you.
Perfectly. Unendingly. And there's no better reason to hope than that."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Rusty Loves the Tree

He keeps pushing his bed over to the tree so he can sleep. He was almost completely under it when I took this picture. (Also, more blessings added ...much more to come)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Encouragement in Tough Times

Yesterday I had my post-surgery appointment and I am healing very well- and quickly. Most people who have this surgery are 30+ years older than me, so I have my youth to help me recover more quickly than the average patient.

I have to admit that my cancer diagnosis doesn't make me feel the greatest. It's not something that I asked for. I am trying to maintain a positive attitude, however, the fact that this is rare and has no set treatment scares me. I cannot imagine going through this without faith in God. He gives me HOPE every day. And, He encourages me when I need it. For example, my disease is very rare...only 200 documented cases. My friend, Patricia, printed out my blog yesterday so my former co-workers at Colton Elem. could read it. A couple of the ladies recognized the disease and remembered that my former teacher's wife had the same thing. He called me last night and confirmed it. She had it 25 years ago and after chemo, she's been great. At the time, there were 60 documented cases. I know a survivor personally! Talk about encouragement. Thank you LORD!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You are a Blessing

Yesterday while in the Radiation Oncology office, I was filling out new patient paperwork. One question asked me to fill in my support system. Lucky me, the line didn't give me enough space to write you all down. I squeezed in: husband, family, friends, church, former co-workers, etc. The two CT techs and the nurse all told me individually how lucky I am to have such a great support group. Most patients are not so fortunate. THANK YOU!

New Blessings Section

As you can see we have added a blessings section to our blog. Before we forget all of the little things that have warmed our hearts we hope to write them down here. Feel free to be encouraged.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tattoos in the Hospital

Nick and I had our first appointment with my Oncologist today. We had both of our moms go with us for support and to ask any questions they had about this cancer. We met Dr. Bernstein in the hospital last week, but he had much more information about my tumor and a plan for treatment this time. It turns out that after many tests on the tumor, the experts decided I do not have small cell lung cancer. Instead, I have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Blastoma, which is still a very rare lung cancer. There are only 200 documented cases of this disease. That's right... only 200. EVER. That means that there are no experts on Pulmonary Blastoma, there is no set treatment, and very little clinical information on it. We have no idea when, where, or how I got it. Dr. B seems quite positive and is encouraging about treatment and about curing me. He is treating my condition like he would treat lung cancer. With chemo and radiation.

While we were there, Dr B got us in to see the radiation oncologist. He discussed with us the radiation process, possible side effects, and told us I need a CT Scan to get started. The CT folks happened to have time right then to scan me and make a map of my chest to see where they'd be administering the radiation. They gave me five tattoos- 3 down my chest and 1 on each of my sides to line me up exactly for treatment. I've been scarred for life- literally. I begin my radiation next Wed. and will go in each day (M-F) for 5 to 6 weeks. Chemo will begin about the same time, but the length is uncertain. Dr. B is deciding which chemo will work best for me. And yes, he said I will most likely lose my hair during treatment. So no making fun of my hair loss.

A Little Background

It's been a really long couple of months for me and Nick. For those of you who know the story, feel free to skip this section. I began coughing in Fortaleza, Brazil in July, while on a short-term missions trip, and it continued until my surgery on 11-23-07. I tried many allergy medications throughout the summer with no improvement. Nick sent me to a chest x-ray at the end of September. We were surprised to learn that I did not have pneumonia like we had thought. Instead, the imaging showed a large mass in my left lower lung. From there, October was filled with a series of CT Scans, several MRIs, and many days of blood work. I got to experience a Bronchoscopy and I strongly recommend trying one if ever bored on a Thursday night. Just kidding. The Dr puts a camera up your nose, down your throat and into your lung to check things out and to take a sample of foreign material if needed. Blood vessels in my lung had grown around the mass, that was the size of a large orange, and the Dr was afraid to take a sample for fear that I would bleed internally. He took a sample from a smaller mass that was growing in another air tube, but the tests came back inconclusive. We still didn't know what it was.

The rest of October brought more tests, including a PET Scan and an MRI brain scan. At this point our pulmonologist did not know what this mass was, but he knew it needed to come out. He referred us to Dr Handy, who turned out to be one of the best thoracic surgeons in the nation. Nick and I met him on October 30, after what seemed to be a long wait. Due to "lit up" lymph nodes in my PET Scan, he was certain I had cancer (always a possibility, never a probability), but he was careful to not come right out and say it. He did, however, indicate that instead of removing the large, rapidly growing mass in my lung, we needed to get into treatment immediately. He feared that the lung surgery would "put extra miles on me" and may not help my recovery in the long run- if I already had malignant cancer in my body. We scheduled a biopsy, called a mediastinoscopy, for three days later. Dr Handy cut into the base of my neck and using a scope, took tissue samples of my lymph nodes from behind my heart. He reported back to Nick after the hour-long surgery and said, "I really didn't expect to tell you this, but it's not cancer." He very enthusiastically informed me the same in Recovery. This was 11-02-07.

More story after I sleep for a while...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


For those of you who didn't get to see Meredith post Mediastinoscopy (1st surgery) here is a picture of her with some get well soon flowers. (Note the sexy incision on her neck)

Our new blog

Meredith and I were trying to find a way to keep everyone informed as to what is going on with us. Thus was born I/we/someone will do our best to keep this page up to date with blessings, prayer requests, daily thoughts and medical info. In addition our vigorous readers will also have pictures and videos poured upon them from time to time. We have been blessed beyond our comprehension as to the sheer number of people who care about us. Thank you everyone! We truly feel surrounded by your prayers and support.

We have our first oncology appointment tomorrow at the Oregon Clinic with Dr. Bernstein. We met him briefly in the hospital and he seemed very nice. He told us that he wasn't sure that it is small cell lung cancer. He said that it is a cancer, it is in the lung and it has small cells in it, but wasn't sure that it is "small cell lung cancer." He said that he was handed the best biopsy ever(the whole tumor in a jar). Since this cancer is soooo very rare in young non-smokers he said he was sending out samples to a special oncology lab in Arizona for a second opinion. Tomorrow we should find out exactly what this is, so we can know what to do next.

Dr. Handy (our surgeon) and Dr. Bernestein both said the next step would probably be chemo, but we will find out tomorrow.