Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We need courage...we need it now!

Split Rock Light House. Lake Superior, MN

I am sitting in the Chicago Airport with only about ten minutes to spare so I am going to copy Jud's Caring Bridge site for yesterday so I may get this news to you more quickly.

We would especially appreciate your prayers and good thoughts at this time.

With love,

Dear Ones,

What a difference a year can make!  This time last year I was at Stanford getting radiation therapy for Stage 3 pancreatic cancer that was deemed inoperable.   We were brimming with hope that this might lead to the possibility of surgically removing the tumor.  Two months later in March we got the news that my tumor had spread to the liver.  The focus since then has been trying to find a chemotherapy that would at least slow tumor progression if not halt it.  I am most grateful that during this year I have tolerated chemotherapy reasonably well and generally felt reasonably good with no significant pain.

As you know, I stopped the chemotherapy clinical trial at Mayo 3 weeks ago because I was continuing to have disease progression.  It just wasn’t working.  Today I had my consultation at Johns Hopkins.  At the end of the appointment, it looked like I could be a candidate for a pancreas cancer vaccine.  We were happy to have one more option.  In preparation for starting that in a week or two, they drew some liver function blood tests.

This afternoon, Dr Le called to tell me that my liver function tests were significantly elevated most likely due to growth of the tumor.  The degree of elevation would eliminate me from the vaccine trial.  For that matter, it would preclude any other trials.  The elevation is either due to the total tumor burden (Isn’t that a quaint medical way of talking about the amount of tumor you have?  And, yes, it is definitely a burden!)  or there could be a blockage in the biliary ducts.  We talked to my Park Nicollet oncologist, Dr. Sherman, who recommended getting a CT scan to look for a blockage.   If there is one, it is possible that it could be stented with a metal tube.  That could reverse the liver function test elevations.  It would also make me more comfortable and provide for a little longer survival.   It is somewhat of a long shot but well worth doing.

My body in the past few weeks has been telling me that something has been wrong.  I used to be able to blame chemo for any symptoms I had.  That was nice because I could justify and tolerate the discomfort knowing that it was for the purpose of treating the cancer. Now, off chemo, it is the cancer itself that has caused me to feel ill.  I told Sue that if I didn’t know that I had cancer, I would have been going to my doctor and telling her that something is really wrong with me.  It is not necessarily specific.  I have felt very weary.  I sleep a lot.  Food does not look appealing.  It’s not that I am nauseated though I occasionally am.  I just have no appetite.  I am having intermittent pain under my rib cage when I breathe.  This is probably due to the tumor irritating the capsule of the liver right under the diaphragm.

The day has been a roller coaster with plenty of tears.  Instead of heading to sunny Arizona tomorrow, we will be going back to Minnesota.  We will reschedule time with my family in sunshine and warmth later.

Thanks for the continuing love, support and acts of kindness!




  1. sending lots of thoughts, prayers and hugs your way.

  2. As always, you two are in my prayers. I wish I had known you had a layover in Chicago. I would have come and given you a big hug in person.
    Stay strong.

  3. Prayers keep winging their way to you dear ones ... hard to really put into words what I hold in my heart for you and Jud and Kat!

    warm hugs always and brightest of blessings all ways

  4. Sending prayers and hugs for both of you.

  5. much love and
    prayers for

  6. Suz,

    My heart is breaking. I wish you could feel the big hug that I am am sending through this computer. You and Jud are always in my daily prayers. May God give you strength and hold you both gently.

  7. Oh Suz... I read your updates and always keep both you and Jud in my prayers. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in the chemo treatment center (where I get my iron infusions) and my thoughts and prayers have turned to you both. I wish you could physically feel the hug I wish I could give you right now. We will continue our positive thoughts and fervent prayers for all of you. Love, Heather (and Steve, and Fred!)

  8. oh geez.. suz and Jud.. I will be praying very hard for you both. I was hoping that you would have gotten my comment that I live not to far from where you were in rochester. I had hoped that I could have come and had lunch with you or something. but I guess it was not to be. in any case.. sending you love, hugs and prayers. hoping that the stent will work and the numbers will go down adn that you will be able to try that vaccine.

  9. Prayers, love and hugs from me, too....

  10. Suz and Jud you have my prayers and those of many of my dear friends you have never even heard of. You both have shown undeniable courage through this journey and strength beyond this planet. Heartfelt hugs and more prayers...

  11. It is with a heavy heart I write this, I was praying that the news would be good. Hold on to one another for strength and support. Continued prayers are sent your way.
    Hugs Lynn

  12. Dearest Suz, I have read Jud`s letter, and my heart is heawy for you two,I so hope there is still a way to give more time to Jud,and that he once again can feel a bit better. I pray for that dear, and send warm hugs.

  13. sending much love, courage and many prayers to you Jud and Suz! xo

  14. Dear Suz and Jud,
    I read this letter and my heart goes out to both of you. I am praying for you both and I cannot even imagine what a difficult journey this is for you...and even though I am far away, I can feel the love that you have for each other and for your precious daughter...I am praying for all of you and sending ((((hugs))) and love your way,

  15. Sending you prayers and hugs, you are both in my thoughts Mx

  16. GOD is in control. Be still and know that HE is God. Praying for you Judd and Suz. Big blog hugs for you both.

  17. Sending my prayers and my love.
    Big hugs to you both!

  18. Oh Suz and Jud!

    My heart just aches for what you are going through! But as I read the comments above, I gave thanks, smiles and tears to all those that are praying for you all. I took wish I could reach out and give you BIG Hugs......But know that your are in my thoughts, my heart and prayers!

    Love, Hugs and a "snifly" bus on the Cheek!

  19. Suz and Jud,

    I am touched to know that YOU LIVE SO CLOSE TO ME...I am in North East Minneapolis, and Suz, we had connected a while back. I PRAY THAT EVERY DAY is a light towards the strength and courage that will carry you both into God's perfect will. We all need this strength that you are needing so much of at this moment. Suz, thank you for visiting me and I would love to meet you. AND I BET my husband, Ruben Rivera, was your friend's prof at one time if she took CWC course.

    Please contact me when you are able to meet!! Anita

  20. I know you do. I will pray right now for you to not only have courage, but strength and peace for whatever lies ahead.
    Luv you both....diane xo

  21. Thinking of you and Jud with prayer and every good thought. xoxo, Kris

  22. Sending lots of Love and Prayers to you and Jud!


  23. I am sending prayers for courage, peace, and healing...and good and loving thoughts are coming your way, too. A big XOXO for you both...

  24. I'll be saying prayers for courage and for God's grace. I will lift both of you up in prayer tonight.