Thursday, May 21, 2009

Check up in Houston

Courtney and Sue traveled yesterday to Houston for a follow up with the surgeon and to receive final pathology results from all of the biopsies they had taken from his tumor and the surrounding lymph nodes. While the preliminary results showed that the labs would be all clear, they did find some active microscopic cells in the vessels surrounding the liver. This just means that the chemo hasn't killed all of the active cancer cells yet, and Courtney must do more chemo before proceeding on with more surgery.

Courtney will complete three more months of chemo, but not before his body is given time to heal from the surgery. So, in the middle of June, chemo will begin but at a 25% reduction in the dose from before. They don't have the large tumor or bowel tumor to contend with anymore so they feel comfortable reducing the dose. After completion of the chemo regimen, he will take a "rest from chemo" for a few weeks to let his blood counts rise. He can then have surgery to remove the area of the bowel that is scarred from the previous cancer that is now gone. The doctor at MD Anderson suggested that they have the bowel surgery closer to home this time, since the bowel surgery was not as involved and complicated. He previously had seen a colorectal surgeon at Baylor, so they will go back to interview him to see what is recommendations are for surgery.

Courtney got his staples out, and is feeling good after surgery. We continue to be confident in his progress and how amazing he has done. While this is a minor setback, the fact that the large tumors are gone is amazing. It is so promising that the chemo he will be on will most likely be the one that killed all the tumors before.

I will keep you all posted on his progress. Thank you again for all your love and support!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ignoring all odds...

Tyler headed up to Denton today to help mow the yard, but it was just too wet. Courtney continues to improve, just feeling really sore. We continue to be amazed at his progress. I found this quote from Lance Armstrong, and it really hit home...

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell. ~Lance Armstrong

Thank you all again, take care!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update at home

I have received many emails asking how Courtney is doing so I thought it best to update the blog. I spoke to Sue today, Courtney is doing great. He is sore of course, and getting up the stairs is tough. When I talked to her, they were out running a few short errands. Much to Courtney's dismay, Sue mowed the lawn this morning. Those of you who know Courtney, know that he loves to mow, and this was really hard for him to watch her do. No one can ever do it quite like he can, with all the straight lines that have to be mowed. I have often thought that he cared for some major league ball field in his previous life! Tyler is probably going to head up there this weekend to help them around the house some more. 

Courtney heads back to Houston for a check up and staple removal next Wednesday. They will then plan their next course of action...more chemo, surgery? 

I cannot begin to express to all of you how important that your support and prayers have been throughout this entire ordeal. If you had told our family that we would be dealing with this 2 years ago we would have all laughed. How things change so quickly and catch you by surprise. This thing we call cancer can shake your faith, make you question life, and most of all make you angry. You just keep asking, "Why?" What we have learned is that faith knows no boundaries, love knows no limits, and God will always be by your side. We have grown so much as a family, and are stronger because of all of this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and all of our hearts for all your love, prayers, kindness, compassion, and words of encouragement. You all can never imagine the impact that you have all had on us. Thank you!

I will continue to update this blog periodically with Courtney's progress, as the climb is not over. We are looking at more surgery, chemo, and treatments. Thank you all again!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Going home

Just wanted to let you all know that Courtney gets to go home today. He is just waiting for the doctor to come by and dismiss him. He will return next week to Houston for a follow up. Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Walking a lot!

Its 8:30 pm and I just got an update from Sue. Courtney continues to do well, and ventured outside again after we left. Part of his motivation to get up so much has to do with the fact that if he doesn't get out of bed, he gets to wear these uncomfortable inflatable boots to prevent blood clots. If he gets up enough, he doesn't have to wear them. Whatever works, I guess. 

After his big lunch this afternoon, he wasn't feeling much like eating dinner. It's tough when you haven't eaten for days! 

I will update tomorrow as I hear from Sue since Tyler and I are home. Hopefully, they will be headed home tomorrow or the next day!


The first meal

Its 11:30 and Courtney is enjoying his first full meal after surgery. What did he order? Potato soup, a chocolate milkshake, and two scoops of chocolate Blue Bell ice cream with chocolate sauce. He said it was "wonderful!"

Tyler and I are going to head out soon. He is going to come home with me, and we hope that Courtney and Sue follow us tomorrow. His pain is still under very good control. He has walked 3 times today, his minimum is 5.

Diana and Jo, you have Courtney figured out. He is already planning how he can mow the yard when he gets home. We have strongly discouraged it, and Tyler is going to try to get at the yard before his dad does. 

I will talk to Sue later on tonight and I will update the blog again then. 


Man of Steel

Its 9:20 am, and Dr. Smith has been by and made a lot of changes. He has pronounced Courtney as a "Man of Steel" hardly using any pain medication since yesterday. We think it might just be a tinge of "hard headedness." They have advanced his diet so he can eat regular food, and he is currently enjoying some gourmet graham crackers. He just hit up the nurse for some more, wagering the saltines that he had for some more graham crackers. 

They have taken him off the pain button and he is now on oral pain medication. His numbing medication that is at his incision site should run out today. They will then remove those tubes. 
Every day he gets rid of more and more. All he has left are some IV fluids, which he should loose soon. 

We are sitting outside right now. He walked down most of the way, which is pretty far! It's humid today, but the outside air feels so great! 

The great news is, he may be able to go home tomorrow! Yes, back to Denton. They are so amazed at his progress that they are comfortable with him leaving. It's wonderful. They will just take out his staples in Denton. I have threatened that I could do it, but I don't think he could ever forgive me! 

Tyler is trying to decide if he will stay tonight and help Sue get Courtney back to Denton tomorrow. I would go home by myself. We will decide later on today. More updates later.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

A New Room

Its 4:00 and we have had a busy day so far. Courtney got up and took a shower this morning, well sort of a shower. It made him feel so much better. He ate another clear lunch, and is starting to get his appetite back. We went and got a wheelchair and took him to the front of MD Anderson and sat outside. The breeze was so nice, it was surprisingly not humid! He enjoyed getting out of the room, and we contemplated how far we could get so they could watch Formula 1 tomorrow. I told him that I thought they just might miss him. We sat and enjoyed the fresh air for about an hour. As soon as we got back, they announced that they had a new room for us.

He is now on the gastrointestinal floor in P509. Moving to this unit is a sign of his continued improvement. Much less monitoring required. Its a little larger, and a much better view from the window. He is planning on a nap after his busy day. Tyler and I are headed out to have dinner with my brother and his family who live near Houston in Missouri City. 

Courtney is so strong, able to walk pretty far, feeling much better without all his accessories, and using his pain button a lot less. We have enjoyed reading all your comments, he always gets a good laugh out of them. Tyler and I will head back to Dallas tomorrow, we are sad to leave, but confident that he will continue to improve as he has. I will continue to update the blog as I receive word from Sue. 


Busy morning

It's 10:30 and Courtney has already had a busy morning. He has made four laps around the nurses station and down the hall. He said he was trying to show off for the doctors so they would take out some lines and tubes. It must have worked, they agreed to take out two of his IVs and remove some other accessories. I think he about passed out when he realized what a garden hose one of the IVs in his hand was. 

He had breakfast of broth, tea and popsicles. They said he could have coffee, but when he figured out he couldn't have cream, he switched to tea. I do feel sorry for him because we waltz in here every morning with our Starbucks. 

He has discovered the AMC movie channel and is now watching his favorite old movies. The doctors guarantee that we will move to another, possibly larger room today. I think he is tired of staring at the same four walls. As far as Formula 1, they are settling for internet updates on the qualifying today. Tyler is still feverishly searching for a solution.

The palliative care wing is down the hall from us. It really makes you feel lucky to be where you are. Courtney is doing so well, and we are so thankful!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Saying goodnight

It's 8:30 pm and Tyler has gone to take Courtney's phone to him. We left not too long ago to head to the Rotary House to get some rest. He was doing pretty good with his pain medication and just wanted to sleep. However, he wanted his phone. My guess is that he just can't stand to be away and not know what is going on in the office. 

Before we left, we let the night nurse know we were leaving, she said she would keep an eye on him. With his past history of trying to be renegade and go bounding over side rails while doped up on pain medication, she thought it best. 

As far as Formula 1 viewing status goes, we are still working on it. Courtney is trying to devise a plan to sneak out in a wheelchair to somewhere that he can watch it (Gail, you weren't too far off!) We'll see how far he gets.

Moving forward

It's 5:45 and things are moving forward. Courtney has been up and made three laps around the nurses station. He sat up in a chair for about 30 minutes after. His pain is much better, and he is drinking a lot more. He is still enjoying his popsicles, now requesting certain colors. It looks like we may not move from this room today, the hospital is just too full. Courtney  thinks he has lost a few pounds, not eating anything. I went down to the gift shop earlier and grabbed some lollipops, which tasted really good.

Right now his main concern is making sure that he gets to watch the Formula 1 race on Sunday. We had previously hooked up a slingbox to broadcast their home TV over the internet. Unfortunately, the internet is a little slower here than expected, and it's not working as planned. Hopefully,  Tyler can figure out a solution. He has already contemplated stealing one of the network cables from the nurse's computers in the hallway! But, he figured that probably wasn't the smartest idea.

The plan for tomorrow is to remove some of his accessories (lines and tubes) and make him more mobile. He figured out that he has a front pocket in his shirt so now he has a perfect spot for his chapstick. We previously had contemplated taping it to his hand!

Thanks again for all your comments, prayers, and support! 



Its 3:00 and we are waiting to be transferred to another room. The room we are in now is quite small, with only two chairs. They are still waiting for other discharges in the hospital. Dr. Smith, the "green" intern is on his way to check on him. Courtney says "he is so green, I could mow him." He is having some pain and we may need to change up some of his pain medication regimen. He has been joking around with the nurses, we have had some really nice ones. It's hard as a nurse to be on the other side of things. Watching a family member go through something like this is difficult. However, I can only imagine what Sue and Tyler feel. What a blessing to have him doing so well! I honestly think even Dr. Curley and the nurses are surprised at his rapid progress. Thank you again for all your comments, Courtney was laughing reading them earlier. He read through the past blogs and said it was strange to read through what he had gone through yesterday. More later.

The first walk

Its 11:15 and Courtney just walked around the unit for the first time. He did great, and made two victorious laps. He's dressed and feeling much better. Dr. Curley, his surgeon, stopped in for a visit and was very impressed at how he was doing. He was confident that he got all of the tumors in the liver. The biopsies of the lymph nodes around the liver showed no metastasis. Dr. Curley and Courtney sat and joked about cars, or course Courtney would pick the surgeon that loves Formula 1. He's a Ferrari fan, and is going out with his friends this weekend to drive the 599. He said he would bring Courtney a picture.

Getting back to his old self...

Its 9:30 and Courtney is way more awake this morning, getting back to his old self. They took off the bandage over his incision, and it looks great. In Rhonda's words, "very good handywork." He is having some considerable pain in his left shoulder, most likely from laying on the operating table for so long. The plan is to get up in walk today, although before we were even here this morning, the nurse came in and found him standing by the bed, falling asleep. Not quite sure how he managed that, since the bed rails were all still up on the bed and he has lots of lines and tubes. But, you all know Courtney, he will figure out a way to make it work. He is resting now, I will update again once we make the first big walk.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Resting Well

Its 7:00 p.m. and we are leaving for the night. Courtney is so tired and needs his rest. His pain has been pretty well controlled with his "pain button" and his numbing medicine under his skin. He gets a little "loopy" at times, which we wish we had brought a video camera to document. As we were leaving, he mumbles, "hey, get me that thing in a box..." Not sure where that came from, but it has been funny comments like this all day. He falls asleep then wakes up and looks around like he's never seen anything before, our guess is that he will remember nothing. Thank goodness.

I will update again tomorrow morning on his progress. Thank you all for your support and prayers today!

In a room

It's 3:45 and they now have Courtney in a room. He is in a step-down unit of sorts, mainly because they did not have a room on the regular floor. He is doing awesome and is much more awake than we thought he would be. As we walked into the room for the first time he sleepily said, "I don't know why you guys were so apprehensive about this, it's a walk in the park!" We all got a good laugh out of that. It is good to see that he still has his sense of humor about him.

They gave him a Popsicle and you would have thought it was a gourmet meal. He made sure to let the nurse know that she needed to have an adequate supply of those. We have only let him have one so far, but I know as soon as he wakes up next time he will be asking for another. 

This room is not permanent, we will move once another room is available, most likely tomorrow. I will update again as the day goes on. We read all your comments to him and he was amazed. Thank you all.


In recovery

It's 1200 and we just saw Courtney in recovery for the first time. He is doing well, just in a lot of pain. They are trying their best to control it, without making him too sleepy so he forgets to breathe! His blood pressure is stable and he is eating ice chips. The one thing he wanted most was his chapstick, which for those who know him best, is very important!

Right now we are waiting for a room assignment. They are trying to determine if he bears watching in the ICU or on the regular floor. There aren't any beds in the hospital right now anyway, it is super busy. They are waiting on some discharges. 

We went and grabbed something to eat. Tyler and Sue went to the hotel room to take a nap (it is connected to the hospital). I am in the waiting room outside the post-anesthesia unit. Right now he is sleeping. I did tell him that the people at the office were rooting for him, and that Lindsey and Cortney had sent him a message. He got this big grin on his face, I think he would much rather be with you guys than here!

I will post again when I see him, and when he gets a room.


It's done, he did great!

Its 10:00 am, we just got out of conference with Dr. Curley, Courtney's surgeon. In his words, "He did great, he's just not totally with the program yet." (smile). He removed 20% of his liver, one large tumor that was in his left lobe,  a small tumor in his right lobe, and did an ablation (froze) one other small tumor. This one actually looked like it was just scar tissue, but he got rid of it just in case. He took some biopsies from different areas in the gut that were scarred after chemo. They will run tests on these to help determine the next course of treatment, more chemo, more surgery, etc. Preliminary tests on these should be ready in a few days. Dr. Curley said he hardly bled at all, so he didn't even have to put a drain in his belly.

He already has his breathing tube out and we are waiting to see him in recovery. He has a couple of methods for pain control. The first is a PCA, which will deliver pain medication when he hits a button. He also has a pump that is delivering constant numbing medication into his abdomen at the incision site.

Many people have asked how to contact Courtney here and where to send cards. The address here is as follows...

MD Anderson
To: Courtney Hanson (patient)
1515 Holcombe Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77030-4009

They will deliver these to him. As soon as we have a room number I will send it out. They have said he may go to a regular room today since he did so well. We will find out after he is more awake.

Thank you all for your prayers and comments! 


Doctor update

The surgeon Dr. Curley just called. Things are going well, he is doing great. They will call once they have him in recovery. 

Our friends Jeff and Amanda sent their sweet pastor, Rev. Steve Thorney to check on us, who is a chaplain here at MD Anderson. What a comfort to meet him! We have such amazing friends and family, we are so fortunate. Thank you all.

The Surgery is Underway

Its 7:30 am, Courtney is in surgery. They took him back right on time at 7 am. We were all able to be there in the room before he went in. We met the anesthesiologist, she is super nice. She let us know that she would most likely have his breathing tube out before he even comes out of the OR, which was very encouraging. They gave him his Versed (i.e. liquid courage as she called it) before he went back. He was already sleepy and making jokes when they rolled him down the hall. 

We didn't want to eat in front of Courtney so we went downstairs and got us some Starbucks. None of us got much sleep last night, Tyler and I only got 3 hours. Its going to be a long day, but what a relief when he is done! I will update this again as soon as the doctor comes out to update us on his progress in surgery. Any messages you leave, I will deliver to Courtney as soon as he wakes up! 

Checking in

Its 5:30 am. We just arrived to get Courtney checked in for surgery. They have taken him back to get changed and start his IVs. Surgery will begin at 7 am. During surgery they will do a liver resection and remove the tumors in his liver. They will leave the healthy portions of the liver. The liver is so amazing, that most of it can be removed and it can still regenerate itself.  They anticipate the surgery will take about 2 hours. The surgeons have said they will update us about halfway through the surgery. I will send updates as I have them. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Preparing for the journey

Sue and Courtney left this morning to travel to Houston. Max gets to spend some time at doggie daycare (yes, I know what you are thinking, it's just like people daycare...only for dogs). Sue dropped Max off today to be with our dogs Bella and Nixon. They even have webcams so we can check in on them. They all have such a blast and it is so hard to get them all to leave! We don't feel so badsaying goodbye to them since we know they have so much fun.

Tyler and I will leave tomorrow evening after work and travel to Houston. Courtney and Sue will meet with the doctors tomorrow and we will find out what time surgery is at 1:00 tomorrow. We are going to be staying at the Rotary House that is connected to MD Anderson. As soon as I know what room Courtney will be in, I will let you all know. Many people have asked for the address.

I want to thank everyone again for the outpouring of support, love, and prayers. It means so much to all of us. We are so blessed to have such amazing friends and family to lift us up in prayer and thought. While this all will be a difficult journey we know that the road is so much easier with all of you. Thank you again!



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend before surgery

Well, it has been a fun weekend. Tyler and I traveled to Denton with the dogs to spend the weekend with Sue and Courtney. It stormed most of the day, but we did find some time to let Max (Sue and Courtney's Lab) swim in the pool. The guys sat out back and enjoyed some Honduran cigars they had brought back from our recent trip to Honduras. We had an amazing dinner that Tyler cooked, and enjoyed some great wine. It was Courtney's first time to drink wine since December! This morning the guys started their morning off with Sue cooking breakfast, the rain had subsided and of course, car cleaning time! It always amazes Sue and I how much time they can spend cleaning cars. They washed the Porsche, in anticipation of it sitting in the garage for awhile while they were gone. Tyler and Courtney have headed off to Best Buy to find some last minute gadgets for the hospital stay. They have wired up a sling box that will broadcast TV over the internet from their house. They will be able to pick it up at MD Anderson. Courtney didn't want to miss the Formula 1 races while they were there, and MD Anderson doesn't have Speed Channel! Very important.
We are about to have lunch and watch the Mavs game. Its been a nice relaxing weekend, this week will be hectic, getting to Houston, meeting all the surgeons/anesthesiologists, surgery on Thursday, recovery. Thank you all for all your emails, calls, and comments. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have viewed the blog, and are praying for Courtney. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
Sue had a poem on their fridge, that really hit home for all of us...

Cancer is so limited...

It cannot cripple love - It cannot shatter hope-
It cannot corrode faith- It cannot destroy peace-
It cannot kill friendships- It cannot suppress memories-
It cannot silence courage- It cannot invade the soul-
It cannot steal eternal life- It cannot conquer the spirit!