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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Our Next Steps and 15 Smarties

I left Seattle emotionally drained and a bit frustrated by the miscommunication between our Boise and Seattle doctors.  But I am glad we now have the right information and can move forward.  

Here is what we learned:  nothing will change from Zach's current course of treatment if his scans look good in early October.  We will only change treatment if necessary.  

There are 2 clinical trials that Seattle offers.  Option #1: a clinical trial is open but only 10% of patients qualify to participate.  Zach must carry a necessary protein.  (We had thought from our Boise team that the necessary testing had been done several weeks ago.  It has not.)  So we wait 2-3 weeks for the test results to return.

If he does not qualify then we wait for option #2--another clinical trail.  It is not open but he is currently on a waiting list and no word on how long he would have to wait.  

Both trials require that Zach receive treatment in Seattle and he travel up 1-3 times a month, depending on the trial requirements.  Not ideal with the little boys and Zach's teaching schedule but we will make it work!  It is definitely better than having to move to a new place for an extended period of time.  

Option #3 is to receive a 3-drug regiment in Boise.  Zach's body has seen variations of 2 of the drugs before.  So they are not completely new drugs to the system (which is unfortunate) but they are somewhat different (which is better than nothing.)

Lots of information and lots of options.  We will have word by October 3 of Zach's latest scans and we can go from there.  

We are very grateful to the Vizzutti's (my extended family) for opening their beautiful home to us.  It was nice to have a "home" away from home.  Zach and I flew home late Wednesday night.  While we were gone Oliver earned 15 smarties for using the potty.  So thankful my mom got the process underway--I admit I have been a lazy potty training mommy.  Diapers are easier in my book!

Earlier this month the Boise Hawks treated us to a memorable evening.  We are so grateful for the wonderful seats and that the players signed baseballs for Oliver and Max.  I am not entirely sure that a baseball game even took place however because Oliver and Max kept me very busy.  But I heard they won in extra innings!

We met my dear friend Quyen and her husband Pat for dinner in Seattle.  They treated us to a fun evening!

 Oliver highly dislikes hats.  Always has.  I had to change his 1st Halloween costume hours before Halloween because he wouldn't wear his hat--which was an integral part of the costume.  BUT he loved wearing his Arizona Wildcats hat (thanks Uncle Ben!) to the Hawks baseball game.  

 All smiles!

 Uncle Nate and Oliver!

 Oliver was invited down to the Hawks dugout where he sat and waited for the players to come out.  

Oliver was terrified of his new friend!

But he warmed up to him enough to take a signed baseball.  

Playing catch--Oliver's got a good arm!

Oliver proudly showing off his signed baseball!

Zach and Oliver!

Family picture on the pitcher's mound before the game.

Max enjoyed watching the game from my arms.  

Stylish Oliver!

Uncle Nate and Max!

Nate got the boys Chive shirts!

Obligatory slide pic!

This picture is priceless!  Max was crying because Oliver was chewing on his hand.  Zach and I were clueless.

A proud Chive fan!

Chick-fil-A hosted a mommy/son date night.  Oliver and I enjoyed a delicious dinner and a limo ride around Kleiner Park after.  We had such a fun night together!

Oliver enjoying his CFA dessert!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Seattle Bound!

During Zach's 15th round of chemo last Friday night he received a call from Seattle.  We have an appointment up there in a couple of weeks to discuss the possibility of Zach receiving treatment through a clinical trial.  The trial I mentioned a few weeks ago in the blog has not yet opened; this is a different one.  We knew this trial was a possibility but one that Zach had to "qualify" for based on certain indicators in his tumor biopsy.  It wasn't really worth mentioning at the time because there was a very slim chance Zach was a candidate.  We are thankful that yet another door has been opened.  But during this journey we've learned that the highs can be very high and the lows devastatingly low.  Therefore we are remaining as emotionally neutral about the situation as we can.

The school year has begun for Zach.  He is managing his pain the best he can but the medication and chemo can have nasty side effects.  I would love prayers for Zach--that his energy be restored and his pain minimal.

 Zach on "daddy duty!"

 Love these brown eyes...

 ...and this smile!

Max loves the bathtub!

Zach and Oliver at the fair.  We went early one morning to look at the animals.  It was so much fun and the boys did so well we stayed for lunch AND returned for another 3 hours of fun after naps.  

Max and mommy!

Zach and Oliver watching a horse event.  

Family picture!

Nathaniel spent the morning with us.  Along with wrangling Oliver he was our entertainment, as usual. 

Oliver loves Pronto Pup (nearly) as much as me.  

 Oliver on his first fair ride!  He LOVED it and drove that boat like a pro.

Grams and Oliver on the kangaroo.

Oliver enjoying another snack.  And Zach waiting for him to share.

 Grams and Max!

Oliver's thinking: bacon.  
Pig's thinking: looks like one bite to me.

 Zach and Oliver.

Rocky Road ice cream is serious business in Oliver's book!

Zach is a good sport about pictures.  I think this was the look, however, that I needed to wrap it up :)

A wonderful day at the fair with our little family.

Stepped out of my comfort zone and did a run...for fun.  What's that you ask?  It means you don't have to train, eat properly the night before, or refuse coffee the morning of.  I should do these "fun" runs more often!

A colorful and happy bunch!  A few of the amazing girls who I am proud to call friends; they are a great source of support for me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Purple Grizzly Once Again

Zach completed round #14 of chemo today.  After next Friday's treatment he will have 1 week off.  So far the side effects are similar to what he faced with the other 2 drugs.  He has been able to manage them pretty well with medication.  

Last year a local family lost their young dad to brain cancer.  They had many wonderful memories in McCall and enjoyed staying at the Shore Lodge.  In support of other young families who are also battling cancer, the family reached out to us earlier this spring through MSTI and gave us a gift card to the Shore Lodge.  I booked the trip months ago for mid-August, not expecting we would have a bump in the road so soon regarding Zach's health.  Last week I wasn't even sure Zach and I would be able to go.  We didn't know how he would react to this new treatment and I was concerned about his level of pain.  Thankfully, Zach was committed to going regardless of how he felt and with the help of loving family who cared for Oliver and Max, we spent 3 wonderful days in McCall.  I didn't plan any activities in advance (shocking for those who know me!!) as we didn't know what Zach would be up for.  We were perfectly content to sit by the lake if we needed.  But Zach did feel good.  We kayaked, picnicked, golfed at Whitetail, watched the PGA (yes, I know I am an extremely understanding wife) and had some great meals.  

But it was a bittersweet trip for several reasons.  It was never far from our minds why we were there in the first place.  It was a wonderful gift that the family gave us but it didn't come without heartache on their part.  It was also a reminder of Zach's diagnosis.  We had the opportunity to talk.  But much went unsaid as it is still too difficult to talk about at this point.  

A history position opened up in July at Rocky Mountain (thus the Grizzly title reference).  Zach applied and got the job.  He left Rocky for Eagle 2 years ago with the hopes of becoming Eagle's varsity basketball coach. When the basketball position opened up this spring, however, it became clear that Zach's health would not allow him to be the kind of coach the kids and the program needed. He would still like to coach at Rocky this year but that will depend on his health.  It is definitely not ideal to coach at one school while teaching at another. Rocky is the best fit for where he is at in life.  And while he is thrilled to be back at Rocky Mountain we will miss Eagle's incredibly supportive teachers, administrators, parents and students. Both schools have been an amazing source of support for the 4 of us and we are forever grateful to both!  

Dinner at Cottonwood Grill with family.  My Aunt Pam, Uncle Marc, cousin Phillip and his wife Sheryl were in town for business and treated us to a fun evening.  

Zach felt surprisingly good after last Friday's first round of the new treatment.  He slept through the infusion and joined us for dinner.  He was his usual jolly self! 

Mitch and Jessica!  So cute.  

My dad and Zach.  

Zach and I kayaked in McCall.  Such a peaceful and beautiful morning!

Floating along, looking for moose.  Sadly, we saw none.  

A picnic on the beach after kayaking.  

Zach golfed at Whitetail.  I caddied.  And drove the cart.  But was nearly fired after I drove it full speed off the sidewalk and crashed onto the road. Why on earth anyone would make the sidewalk and road the same color is beyond me.  Looked like a smooth flat surface to me! :)  

We eventually settled into our rolls: Zach telling me when I could/could not drive on the greens and me suggesting he use his driver for every shot.  

Clearly he needs to work on his short game.  

Lunch at the Shore Lodge before we headed home. 

Ingersoll selfie!

While it we had a fun 3 days in McCall it was wonderful to get home to Oliver and Max.  

Max doing what he does best--smiling!