Monday, August 24, 2009


Stop press! Just had word from the Dr that the results from the tests on the bone have come back totally clear!

Another reason to celebrate is that Nicol and Karia are expecting!!! :) Happiness is!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A few pictures

Waiting for his blood to come on Monday. Note his colour in the picture on the left - before receiving the blood... and then here on the right - he is busy receiving his second unit. I watched him transform! He had renewed energy, appetite, and was full of smiles.

Left - just before he was wheeled into theatre. He asked Dr Stevens if he could please go without 'gas' - and also to please take a picture of his rib. He knew that we couldn't bring it home with us... we left the camera in theatre and they snapped a few pictures for us.

We hope to hear Monday or Tuesday, what the results are on the tests they do on the rib. They were unable to take all of it out, as the last little section close to the cartilage was too difficult. Four pieces were sent away.

JohnD is in ICU with Dr de Jager, our particularly special Paediatric Oncologist.

Here he is with his amazing surgeon, Dr Mark Stevens. His office was open to us to use their computers... and his PA - Carin, was such a tremendous support to us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

At home again!

What a long day! They drew blood early this morning to check on JohnD's levels, and his Dr was very happy. With the two units of blood that he received, his full blood count has not looked that good in ages! :) They removed the drain from his wound, as well as the port needle... and we were able to come home!

My Aunt and Uncle (my Dad's brother) had collected my parents from the airport on Wednesday afternoon, and so they brought them to the Zuid Afrikaans Hospital for me... we spent about half an hour getting everything loaded, finalised, and organized - and we were on our way home. It is wonderful to have my parents here - we last saw them in November last year.

JohnD is weary and tender... but he is doing so well. We are very proud of him. I'll try get some of the photos loaded tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 1 ... All looking good

It's now lunch time, Thursday... he is sitting up in his bed - supported on pillows. He still has all the machines hooked up to him, but he has been listening to a CD, and playing his hand held games. He ate quite well this morning, and is looking quite chirpy. He is still on really nice pain "mootie", so he is comfortable. Dr Stevens checked him over this morning and is happy with everything. He indicated that if Dr de Jager gives the go ahead - he may be able to go home tomorrow afternoon. We will see Dr de Jager later this afternoon and hear what he says.
Thank you so much for all of your messages and your prayers.
God is wonderfully faithful! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Operation Successful

How can we thank you for all of your prayers and messages?
He went in strong, smiling, and ready. He asked the Doctors to please not use any happy gas on him (as it makes him naar), and also to please avoid using a cathether if at all possible. He asked them to please keep some of his rib for him, or if that was not possible - to please take a photo of his rib, so that he would have SOMETHING of it. So, I went into theatre with him and was there till he was asleep. We left our camera there. They took five amazing pictures - that I wish I had the ability to put on now (but this is a borrowed computer, and I don't have my card reader with me.)
He was in for an hour and 10 minutes. Dr Stevens was amazing, and despite struggling to remove the end portion of it that is attached to the cartilage - he left the "skin" of the bone - so there is the slight chance that when it is all healed - the bone may even re-grow!!!
The nurses and all of the staff here have been amazing.
He is resting peacefully in the Paed.ICU. He is currently on a morphine pump, and there is a drain on the wound. They did not have to enter the chest at all, so we are grateful that no chest drain is required.
God is good! All our love and thank you one and all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wednesday 7.30am - Op now postponed

JohnD's blood results on Monday, showed his levels were too low to operate that afternoon.
They gave him 1 unit of blood last night, and the necessary neupogen injections to boost his white cell production. He will get another unit of blood this afternoon. They now plan to operate on Wednesday morning at 7.30 am.
When we arrived here at Zuidafrikaans Hospital, Dr Stevens took more x-rays, and even we can see the abnormality on the 10th rib, that is the cause of concern. We are very glad for the decision they have taken. The 10th rib is the only one attached to the cartilage, so it is not going to be a cut all around - only along the rib from the spine, to the side where the rib ends.
From his check in here - I can't believe the difference that the blood has made to his colour and his general well being. He is feeling and looking more like the JohnD we know!
Thanks for all of your messages and prayers. We are so grateful for them all, and we cherish all of you so much. We are all very positive and looking forward to this part of his treatment being behind us!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rib removal...

We head back to Pretoria early tomorrow morning. JohnD will have an appointment with his Dr at Little Company of Mary, where they will put his port needle in and draw the necessary blood. We will then take him to the Zuidafrikaans Hospital (where he had his surgery in March) and they will admit him for surgery around 1pm. They will be removing the #10 rib on the right side with it's surrounding tissue.
We will be away for approximately a week. They do not anticipate needing to enter the chest cavity, so it will hopefully be less painful and less traumatic as last time.
We covert your prayers and messages. We all really believe that this is the right decision.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unanimous Decision

After much consultation with specialists on various levels, they have all decided that the best for JohnD is going to be to remove his #10 rib, with the surrounding tissue.
They have scheduled us for surgery on Monday afternoon the 17th August, at the ZuidAfrikaans Hospital in Pretoria. He will be operated on by the same surgeon (Dr Mark Stevens) who did his original operation in March.
We are very relieved that the decision has been made, and that we know what is ahead. His chemotherapy will continue approximately 13 days post op, and we believe that no radiation will be required.
We have our next hunters arriving in camp on the 17th too, so I have much to arrange as we will be away for approximately a week.
This proceedure will be less invasive as his previous surgery, and Dr Stevens does not anticipate having to enter the chest cavity at all. We trust that this will be the case, and that his recovery will be uncomplicated.
We covet your prayers, and we know that our Heavenly Father is in control. None of this is a surprise to Him. We are very glad that we do not have to face the radiation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Change of plans - update

On Thursday 6th, we saw the Dr in Pietersburg who would do the radiation treatment. It would be about 5 weeks. He is away on leave this week, so we are not going to be starting immediately.

JohnD's Oncologist is in the process of consulting with the necessary specialists to establish if it is possible to remove the piece of the #10 rib affected, or if necessary the entire rib. If possible, they would want to schedule it for next week.

From what we understand, radiation of the ribs will affect the growth of the ribs, as well as some of the lung. Radiation would be done if they are not able to operate, in which case we would begin early next week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Last of the VIDE - YAY

I hope this won't be too long. What a relief to be home again. All of us just breathe a big sigh and we sure are glad the long sessions of VIDE are over. From what I now understand, we will have an initial appointment with a Dr in Pietersburg who will do JohnD's radiation. We are guessing he will need approximately 25 sessions - which will mean about 5 weeks of driving back and forth to Pietersburg... we are hoping to start on the 11th of August.
He will continue to have chemo even during radiation, but the sessions will be much shorter. The initial one will be about 30 hours (VAI x1) and thereafter about 24 hours (VAC x7) in hospital each time. There will be a total of 8 more chemo to go through.
All of his other sessions of VIDE he really did cope very well. This time he really struggled. He couldn't overcome the nausea and vomiting, he developed a temperature, and very bad diarrohea... They landed up keeping him there an extra day to keep him on the drip, and so we only came home yesterday lunch time. Noodles last night was the first time he has eaten since Wednesday morning. :( At least it stayed down. :)
On Tuesday morning, the did a CT scan, and established that surgery is not necessary! PTL!
Friday morning they did the Bone scan, and it came back clear - confirming there is no spread, so we are all very excited about that.
I had a horrible incident with someone smashing a window on the vehicle and grabbing our laptop. I had parked / locked left the vehicle to take all of JohnD's bags up to the ward. 3 minutes later when I went to collect the second load, it was gone, and there was glass everywhere. A bit nerve wracking to think that they got away with it... and must have been watching me. :( As the laptop had been hidden behind the driver seat, underneath the bags, they must have spotted it when I was offloading... as the vehicle had already been there over an hour without any incident.
It's wonderful to be home again. We have a beautiful sunny day. The lodge is full, so I've got lots to catch up with there. Must go for a quick run, while he is in the bath.
Micaela has been absolutely amazing... so wonderfully helpful and we are so proud of her. Got so many compliments from the guests!