Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day of Transplant

At 9:35pm, April 29th, 2014 Clifton B. Fincher had a stem cell transplant.

We are elated and tired, Praise God!

Will post more specifics tomorrow.  Thank you all for praying for us, to get us to this point.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day -2 And Counting

Clif is hanging in there, enduring and persevering,  yet keeping his eyes looking up!

He has finished the chemo, now let the symptoms begin, or not...........

On Friday, April 25th the final bag of chemo, The Mother Lode, The Big Kahuna was hooked up;

Seriously!!!!  This little bag about 5 inches in length, maybe 4 inches in width dripped for about 25 minutes.  It's suppose to pack a powerful punch, to prove strength really does come in small packages.  

About one hour before the drip began, he started eating ice chips to allow his mouth to get really cold to avoid Mucositis (sores in the mouth).  At onset, they gave Clif Ativan to relax him , we turned on some good music and allowed this highly toxic drug to drip its way into Clif's bloodstream and travel within to do its God willing good work.  He rested quietly through the day.  He did lose his dinner, but in a very gentle and sudden manner.  Nausea is expected.  His sleep that night was restfull.  

The following day, Saturday, he began the day like most others, with a bag of platelets and a bag of blood.  Awakening to nausea but it was quickly knocked down by Kytril, anti-nausea.  A graft vs host regimen of drugs to ready him further for the transplant was introduced.  His appetite today has been stellar, probably got down at least 2000 calories and we walked 8 laps around the floor, that my friends is 1 mile!  Before I left that night, we read a couple of devotionals and Proverbs chapter 26, we prayed and quieted our hearts for another hopeful uneventful night.

Sunday morning, I just spoke with him, he sounds rested and ready for breakfast.  The doctor was just in, asked if there was any pain in the right side (gall bladder) or the left side (left lung), no pain.  He asked how his cough was, his answer was "it has not increased".  Clif's blood counts are back down to the neutropenic levels, where expected.  The doctor will allow us to walk the halls again today assuming he is up to the task.  Typically, when your numbers hit rock bottom, they want you to stay in your room with the door closed, but in Clif's case, because of his long stay, they want him to exercise to build strength.
Many of you have inquired if there is still a need for blood and platelets, simply, yes.  He receives them daily.  Thank you again, it sustains him and keeps him on the playing field.

Please pray for another good day and for the vast array of possible symptoms to be harnessed and held at bay.

“He gives strength to the weary 
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, 
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD 
will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles;”
they will walk and not be faint.
ISAIAH 40 : 29 – 31”

Thursday, April 24, 2014

5 Days Until Stem Cell Transplant!

Since we last posted, eventful things continue to happen.

On Easter Sunday we began receiving a 6 day regimen of chemo to condition Clif's bone marrow and ready him for transplant, he is doing well and has experienced no nausea to date.  On that same day he began experiencing a new pain, since that pain was not subsiding, a CT scan was performed Monday afternoon on his upper right abdominal region.  The results returned with sludge and a gall stone in his Gall Bladder, surely never a dull moment.  We will leave it alone and pray the pain continues to lessen.  Dilauded is a big help!  We will deal with this much later, hopefully.

The lung continues to improve so that does not appear to be an obstacle at this point.

Today, Thursday Clif received his last day of the low dose chemo, tomorrow however will be the Big Load.   This different and heavier chemo called Melphalan is the most common chemotherapy regimen used to kill residual myeloma cells just before stem cell transplantation.  So please be praying this aggressive and stronger drug does only what they intend it to. 

Saturday, Sunday and Monday he will begin drugs to minimize graft vs host symptoms and Tuesday he will be infused with stem cells from our donor.  

Tuesday, April 29th is the Big Day.

Though I walk through the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
Psalm 138:7

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Because We're Happy Happy Happy!

Much good news has transpired this week!

Since the needle biopsy last Wednesday on Clifs lung, doctors introduced  new effective drugs to treat the unwelcome visitor; Aspergillus.  Fortunately, the meds are working great!  A CT scan was performed again yesterday and the findings have shown positive results.

Clif's lung is healing well, so well that we are going to TRANSPLANT as previously scheduled.  This Sunday, April 20th a new chemo treatment will begin.  This time its purpose is to condition his body for the new stem cells that will be placed on or about April 28th.  Please be praying for our donor, (our 28 year old, male, 10+ match, German donor) for his health, his continued willingness, that the stem cells they collect are sufficient and they only need one collection (sometimes they need more if the recipient is a bigger guy, like Clif) and for blessings to be heaped into his life.  His sacrifice is a treasure to us, we hope to meet him someday soon on the other-side of this transplant. By the way, every year City of Hope hosts an annual celebration where donors are introduced to recipients for the first time once the required wait time has matured.  That date this year is May 9th.  I hear it is an amazingly emotional event!

Today, we said goodbye to the 4th floor and the many nurses who have become very dear to our hearts but we now say hello to the 6th floor!   If I remember correctly, they can take up to 35 transplant patients at a time, and they are always at full capacity!  In the waiting areas over the past 75 days, I have met medical travelers seeking treatment from Dubai, Afghanistan, Mexico, Israel, Canada and Egypt.  Serious stuff takes place here and the long time nursing staff are well prepared for the variety of concerns that take place during and after transplant.

Visits to see Clif will virtually come to a stand still once the stem cells are in place after April 28th for a few weeks.  During this time, the orchestration of drugs and remedies really begins.  Daily blood draws reflecting high and low counts and addressing each one independently will start.  The art of careful observation by experienced eyes will occur throughout the initial few weeks.  Fervent prayer for Clifs body to welcome his new German companion are our plea.

Every person responds differently to stem cell transplant, some have little problems while others have great struggles.  We have left this in The Lords capable hands!

Please click on the attached video From; DOREENE FINCHER! Click to View Or copy and paste this URL in your browser: http://www.jibjab.com/view/YEgpq6BGSvONSCN866U7Cg

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Results Are In!

Previously, we shared a growing concern of something unknown making it's home in Clif's left lung.  

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, 15 bags of platelets over a 30 hour period of time were given to Clif.  He met the minimum requirement of 50 platelets to allow for the Needle Biopsy of the left lung.  This was done to allow his blood to coagulate & clot and prevent internal bleeding.  After receiving all those platelets, he got to 53.  The biopsy was performed and the results have returned.

Clif has something called Aspergillus, a fungus growing in the lung which is treatable and new meds are currently being administered.  

Yes, the transplant is delayed again but we are very ok with this, knowing we want his body in tip top condition moving forward to the next step. 

Depending on how quickly Clif's body responds to the treatment, will determine our next move toward stem cell transplant.  We will keep you posted!

No nausea and no fevers for the past few days, Praise God!
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, 
whose confidence is in him.”
JEREMIAH 17 : 7”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just Thrown A Curve Ball

Last night we met with an infectious disease doctor (Dr. Ito) to discuss the results of a CT Scan that was performed on Clif that same day.

The findings were disappointing.  There is a suspicious fungal/mold infection, a dense sort of tissue that is 2-3 inches in size in the left side of the left lung.  Another bronchoscopy, using a thin needle this time, by an Interventional Radiologist, under a CT Scan will be performed today, assuming they get his platelets up to 50 artificially by adding several bags of platelets.

Please be praying that Clifs body reaches the 50 goal marker and that they get a good sample and are able to diagnose quickly and address with the correct antifungal/antibiotic.

When listening to Clifs lungs, he is clear, he has no diagnosed pathogens and their is no fluid.  Everything actually sounds clean.  But unfortunately a picture paints a different story.  For the past 3 weeks, the CT Scans continue to reveal a growing concern of tissue in that left lung and all the antifungal/antiobiotics that we continue to introduce weekly are not defeating the enemy.  We are addressing it quickly.

Clif felt very well all morning and was able to get some work done.  By 2 in the afternoon, the nausea and its companion returned.  Although saddened with the circumstance, we will continue on the battle field, dressed with our armor and prepared for the fight.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope."  Psalm 130:5

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bone Marrow Aspiration number 4 or is that 5?

Just had another bone marrow biopsy, Clif is truly a champion!   Purpose; to check disease status and satisfy the drug trial protocol from the last chemo treatment.  Another 2-3 day wait period and prayerfully good results are in store for us!  We are told the lungs look good, and a reduction in some meds that cause nausea will hopefully bring some further relief from the  horrific nausea that he has had for far too long.

Clif has felt remarkably better today, Friday.  Just finished eating a good lunch and has not napped all day.  Opening his mail, making calls, reading and doing physical therapy.  His 10pm call before lights out, he had a low grade fever, tylenol reduced immediately.  Saturday brought similar encouraging energy and lessened nausea.  But again, as the day came to a close, he was experiencing nausea, fever and had a bit of a growl to his outward behavior.

Clif is not one to shrink back, he has great confidence going through this difficulty.  These continual encouragements and discouragements all at once are challenging in our fight to press on and finish strong.  I value the moments of him feeling well and pray for many more.

Please pray for his continued perseverance.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."  Hebrews 10:23-24

Isn't he handsome!   And yes, I think he makes bald look good.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Update on Clif

On Friday last week, Clif had a "Broncoscopy Lung Lavage",  a procedure in which fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and than collected for examination.  The samples from his lung test have returned and are negative for any specific pathogen.  They are treating him empirically for bacteria and fungus.  A CT scan will be repeated early next week to be sure the pneumonia is clearing.

The nausea is still a big problem.  We will ask the Palliative Care Service to revisit him and see what else they can suggest to manage this symptom.  There are some very expensive anti nausea drugs out there, some that cost thousands of dollars, we are investigating and will hopefully have something else to help him out.   The anti fungal drug he takes for his pneumonia also causes nausea, but we are told he will finish this drug this Friday, hip hip hooray!  His blood counts remain very low, and based on his last bone marrow biopsy, his dr expects the counts will stay low until we transplant the donor's stem cells into him.

With Clif feeling so poorly right now, it is an actual blessing that transplant is delayed.  He would be so miserable in trying to handle the effects of another chemo treatment and the nausea that comes with it right now.  Please be praying for the nausea to subside and the vomiting that comes with it to depart.

So.....we trust in the unseen hand that leads us.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8