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August 28, 2005

let us give thanks


Whether you are a creationist or an evolutionist, there is no denying that there is something greater than any of us. The same thing that makes the tiniest ant crawl around going about his business have kept the planets in their eternal orbits for billions of years. To many people including yours truly it is a complexity to struggle with. To others, it is a simple matter; one believes without question. Sandy is among the latter group; I envy her.

If you know Sandy as well as I do, you know how important her hair is to her. When she came down dressed and ready for 8:30 mass this morning , she was wearing a red hat that Breanna had given her. Like a thoughtless brute, I chuckled when I saw her. She cried; I was sorry.

"Why don't you wear the ball cap you been wearing?", I said.
"I want something that looks churchy.", Sand said.

In the end, no one even noticed. We sat in the back row to make sure of it.

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Posted by jhyden at 08:45 AM | Comments (7)

August 22, 2005

train trip

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Last Friday, Sandy got some good news. Her bloodcounts are all in the normal range which means she is tolerating her chemo very well.

On Sunday, we went took a day trip to East Troy to ride on the Electric Train. The train goes to Muckwonago where we enjoyed a piece of pie at the Elegant Farmer. Can you spot Sandy?

Sandy asked that comments be kept private so if you would like to make any, please send them to her email account.

Update: Due to popular demand, Sandy has changed her mind about the comments. She told me to change the site to allow comments.


Posted by jhyden at 08:46 AM | Comments (5)

August 18, 2005

back to school


This is Sandy's favorite time of year. Like she and her colleagues at Tippecanoe Elementary School for the Humanties have done for the past sixteen late summer seasons, Sandy is preparing her classroom to be a cozy place of learning. It's time to put up bullentine boards with cutesy little flower faces, frogs, or maybe even rocket ships. This year the theme is "Learning for the Future". The book shelves need to be stocked with reading books, math manipulatives, and assorted other fun things to motivate her young scholars. She is sharing her third grade classroom this year with another warm and caring teacher, Leah

Before you start to worry though, Sandy will not be in class the first day of school much to her disapointment. She will not return until she has completely recovered from her radiation treatments in October.

I photographed Sandy with some of the other teachers that were around the building yesterday working on their own time like Sandy. Teachers do not officaially start this year until October 30. Oops I mean August 30. Thanks for the comment Lori. From left to right: Denice ,Carrie ,Deb ,Abby, and Heather.

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Posted by jhyden at 06:27 AM

August 13, 2005

chemo visit


Sandy started her chemo last Monday and the medication caused her some nausea so Dr. Treisman, her medical oncologist or chemo doctor, had to prescribe Proclorperazine to be taken as needed in addition to the Zofran.

Yesterday, Sandy had her first visit with Dr. Treisman. She gained four pounds this past week so the ice cream and chocolates are working. She is doing very well but some days she gets a little down because she hates to take pills and she does not like going to the hospital every day. The person in the photo with Sandy is Dr. Tressman's nurse.

Sandy has a week of radiation treatments behind her and it went very smoothly with no complications except for feeling tired and sleepy after each session. She usually takes a nap after each visit.

We have to find a nice home for Melody, our pet cockatiel. Sandy is afraid to be around it because she is worried it might be harboring dangerous germs. She has become a little paranoid and I can understand why. So if anyone has a place or knows someone looking for a nice loving bird, let me or Sandy know.

Click on small photos to enlarge.

Posted by jhyden at 07:11 AM

August 08, 2005

first one down


Now with the first radiation treatment over, Sandy can kick back with a bowl of Edy's Turtle Sundae ice cream. It went well and Sandy did not feel a thing. I think she wants to feel something even if it is pain so she would know the treatments are working.

Erin was there by Sandy's side to wish her mom well then we both had to step outside and go to the waiting room. Breanna is babysitting today but I know she was there in spirit along with all her other family and friends.

Sandy starts her Temodar chemo pills tonight at bedtime.

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Posted by jhyden at 10:53 AM

August 06, 2005

treatment room #1


Yesterday Sandy went to have her mask fitted and xrays taken in the room with the actual radiation machine from which she will receive her treatments. The huge radiation machine you see in the photo above will kill all the cancer cells in her brain. Normal cells will be damaged at the same time but they will have the ability to repair themselves. Cancer cells will not be able. Sandy will receive 157 MUs with a widge of 15 on the left and 99 MUs on the right. MU stands for Monitor Units. Sand will be in the treatment room for 15 minutes but the radiation will last less than a minute.

St. Luke's Radiation Oncology Department is becoming our second home and the staff are our new friends. The two women in the photo are Mary and Penny. They are the radiation therapists who will be administering Sand's treatments. After helping Sand on to the table and in her mask, the therapists will close the eight inch thick door and leave Sand alone with her thoughts. They retreat to the monitoring console outside that is equiped with a video link and intercom so they can view and communicate with Sand. She is in there by herself only a short two or three minutes.

Sally, the nurse, was very helpful and informative. She gave Sand some cream for her to use when she loses her hair and her scalp becomes dry and irritated from the treatments. Sally also told us Sand's official diagnosis. Sandy has an Astrocytoma Grade IV which is also known as a Glioblastoma Multiform or simply called a GBM.

Sally cautioned us not to search for too much information on the web because much of it is old, misleading, or completely wrong. There is one site that has very good information and that is the National Brain Tumor Foundation in Oakland, California. Another one is the National Brain Tumor Association. They have many nice brochures in PDF format that can be downloaded.

You can click on the smaller photos for a larger view.

Posted by jhyden at 07:10 AM

August 03, 2005

tell me what you see


The closer the year gets to fall the more Sandy wants to be prepared to resume her duties at Tippecanoe Elementary School where she has spent the last 16 years of her life teaching. Sandy is assigned to teach third grade this coming year. She has taught first, second and fourth grade but never third grade and she is a little apprehensive. All the students in this year's third grade class Sandy had in her first grade class two years ago so she is already acquainted with them and they with her. That helps a lot. Also, Sandy will be in a SAGE classroom which means she will be with a co-teacher who has experience teaching third grade.

This is a photo taken yesterday during a visit with Susan, a speech therapist at St Luke's, and Rebecca, an intern from Marquette. They are giving Sandy an intial speech and language assessment. There is good news; Sandy did well writing and recalling from memory. She did have a little trouble finding her words, answering abstact questions and two step instructions out of context but that may be due to some of the medication she is taking. Susan will be helping Sandy regain some of the skills she needs to do her job and this should only take a few weeks or so.

Posted by jhyden at 10:34 AM

August 01, 2005

the simulation


Today, Sandy went for a simulation of her radiation treatments. This is done in the imaging room where the CAT Scan machine is located not in the room where the radiation machine is.

First they put her on the table in front of the CAT Scan with a pillow like cushion under her head. This cushion hardened to the shape of the back of her head. This cushion or mold will always be used to help keep Sandy's head from moving for the duration of each treatmen. Additionally, the mold will ensure her head is in the same location in relation to the radiation machine for each treatment.

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Then they placed a plastic mesh over her face with holes for her eyes. She had to sit perfectly still for about 10 minutes while the mesh hardened to the shape of her face. Then the radiation therapist, Donna, took a picture of her brain. This scan will be used along with the MRIs that were taken when she had her tumor removed. Using computers and a team of physicist, Doctor Bastin will plan the exact dose of radiation Sandy will receive. The Doctor will also dertermine where in her brain this dose will be directed. The mask and pillow will be used for every treatment to keep the treatments exactly the same.

In this photo, Sandy and Doctor Bastin are discussing her treatments and what she can expect. A month after the six week treatments are over, another MRI will be taken to serve as a base line. In the future, at regular intervals, Doctor Bastin will be checking each new MRI with the base line MRI to see that her abormal cells have stabilized and no new growth has occurred. I do not know at this time how often Sandy will need to have a new MRI done.

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Sandy is a little bummed out because she found out that her treatments would not start today. Because of all the planning required, her first real radiation treatment will not start until next Monday.

Posted by jhyden at 01:18 PM

croquet anyone?


A good time was had by all at Justin's birthday party held at brother Joe's house. You can click to enlarge the smaller photos.

Posted by jhyden at 06:08 AM