Monday, December 13, 2010


We are done with chemo. Its a really weird and good feeling to be able to say that. It's been something that we have been driving towards for the last 4 months. It doesn't quite seem real at this point, that hopefully it will be the last time that we enter that little chemo room. It was a little anti-climatic. The nurse unhooked Drew's port and we said our thanks to the nurse for everything that she had done for us and left. No whistles, no bells but we did give each other a high five as we left the building. :) It felt good to be able to say that its our last one.

His labs this week were the lowest they have been since the beginning. His white count, hemoglobin and platelets were very low which again means he needs to be very careful about infection, bleeding and more fatigue.

At this point we are taking this time to hopefully have Drew gain some weight, and regaining his strength. Drew will be getting another CT scan  and labs on Dec 30 and then meet with the Dr again on Jan 3 and see what the next step will be. We are praying that everything look like it should and we will just get to be on surveillance and get check ups every 3 months. Its a little difficult to wait until January 3 to hear what the next step will be but luckily its a great time to get lost in the Christmas spirit and remembering why we celebrate Christmas. We will have to ask for a little patience for Christmas this year!

I hope everyone has a blessed holiday season and has a wonderful time with family and friends!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Last long day!

We are sitting at Lemmen-Holton cancer cancer for our last long day of chemo! Yay! It is super exciting to think the next two treatments will only be about an hour long and then we will be done! As excited as we are it is a bit difficult to be completely happy since drew has been feeling pretty terrible. Starting last night, drew has been feeling constantly nauseated. We are asking for prayers that this Drew will start feeling better and that the nausea will subside. We are very thankful for nausea medication but it can only stop so much. We are excited for the day that Drew will be able to go back to eating and drinking normally.
Thank you to all those prayer warriors out there!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Last round!

I have to apologize for waiting so long to update! With the holiday weekend and work I have been a bit busy! I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving and great family time!

We have officially started the last round of chemo! We started the last crazy intense on Monday and we are already over half way done! Only 2 more days this week, and then 2 more shorter appointments on the next 2 Mondays! Drew was doing pretty well the first two days this week but today he is starting to feel it more. We got his labs back from Monday and things are looking great! His AFP is down to 13 (from 59) and his bHCG is the same at  <0.1, basically nondetectable! We will finish this round of chemo and then a week or so after the last day we will get another CT scan and tumor markers ( they are working on what day this will be) then we will meet with the oncologist again on Jan 3 to get the results and see what we will do from there. If everything looks good, we will follow up with CT scans and labs every 3 months for a year and then go from there.

A couple special thanks...
My family for coming over and making it look like Christmas in our house!
Everyone who made us a meal!
Nate for snowblowing our driveway today!
Our lovely neighbor who raked our lawn TWICE!
Everyone who has been praying for us!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm supposed to be studying. I have been out of school for 2 years and I forgot how easy it is to get distracted. Never the less, I'm going to allow myself a couple minutes of distraction to update everyone!

It has been a rough week and an even rougher weekend. Then chemo hit Drew pretty hard this round. It hit him sooner in the week and so far has lasted longer. Today (Tuesday) he felt slightly better so we are hoping that he is turning a corner and will start being able to eat normal foods and keep them down. He spends most of his time on the couch napping or watching TV. Even with the medication switch it is still a pretty rotten weekend. It helps knowing that hopefully that we will only have one more crazy rough week. We are looking forward to lives getting back to normal and Drew is looking forward to eating normally again. He is making a list of foods that he is going to devour once his appetite is back... Fricano's, Russ' Taco salad, root beer floats etc.. He has lost 10 pounds from the beginning of this cycle of chemo so he is looking forward to packing those pounds back on! Speaking of good food...

I'm getting very excited for Thanksgiving. For those who know me, they know that Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays. The delicious food, bowling (my entire Hoogland side of the family heads to Zeeland lanes for a game) and family time together. I don't know what our plan is for this year, depending on how Drew is doing but I still look forward to taking a day to slow down and be thankful for everything that God has provided. This year we have LOTS to be thankful for... Amazing family, great friends, to be living in a time where cancer is treatable and curable, an entertaining kitty, jobs, freedom and a God who loves us dearly and has a plan for us. So in case I don't have time to update again before Thanksgiving, I hope everyone has an amazing Turkey day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Round two and great news!

Round two has begun. It started with a appointment with the doctor on Monday morning before the chemo started. He said that everything looks good and we talked with him about 3 or 4 rounds of chemo. He said that we would for sure do the 3 rounds and then do a CT scan and lab draw and see what shows up and go from there. We are really hoping for 3 rounds!. They also drew some lab work on Monday. Every week they draw a CBC (Complete Blood Count) which shows his platelets, hemoglobin, and White blood count, which were all really low last week and have all come back to normal limits this week. They expect this to happen each round- the last week of the cycle all those counts will most likely drop and hopefully come back up before the new cycle starts. At the beginning of each new cycle of chemo they also are going to draw a BCHEM and tumor markers. His BCHEM, which is all electrolytes: potassium, sodium etc, all look really good. On to the tumor markers... (Drum roll please) both labs that they drew went down TREMENDOUSLY! The AFP which was around 600 when he was diagnosed, and then 300 after his surgery is now down to 59.6! His BHCG level was around 9 when he was diagnose, down to 6 after the surgery and is now at <0.1!!! We are super excited about this because hopefully this means that even though the chemo is tough, it is doing its job and killing all those pesky cancer cells!
On to the actual chemo report, Drew has been tolerating the chemo. Again, it makes him very exhausted and nauseated with decreased appetite but we did have his nausea medications changed around for this cycle and seems to be working better than the other medication. We are praying that this weekend will not be as difficult as the previous end of the tough week was for him and with minimal side effects!
Thank you so much for everyone's thoughts and prayers, it is really amazing to feel such love surrounding us.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Medical talk

We have officially started the 3rd week of treatment. It is the last week of the first cycle. We still are not sure if Drew will have 3 or 4 cycles. Today, we headed into the Hem/Onc Center for another short treatment. The nurse drew labs off his port. She notified us the Drew's white count, Hemoglobin and platelets had taken a pretty significant drop. His white count had taken the biggest hit, which means his is highly susceptible to infection.We have to ask that if you are sick or have sick little ones that you keep your distance from Drew as he is unable to fight any kind of infection. The other two labs, the Hemoglobin- dropped as well but not as much as the white count, this could manifest itself with increased fatigue but nothing too significant. The lowered platelets can increase bleeding but they aren't at a crazy low level so we just have to be aware that it is a possibility. That's about it for the medical talk. :)

This weekend was a good one, it started on Friday night going out with family. I went out with my two sisters to CityVu Bistro for dinner and then headed to New Holland to listen to the live band and drinks. Drew headed out with Austin and Brad (brothers in law) for buffalo wild wings for dinner. It was a great time getting out of the house and hanging out with the Family Thanks guys for the girls/guys night out!

Thanks again to everyone for the love and support. We have the best family, friends and co-workers!!
We love you all!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I've been meaning to update sooner than this but I just haven't had the time and work on it so here it is. This week has had a lot of ups and downs. Last week we went to chemotherapy everyday from around 8:30am til anywhere between 1:30-3:30pm. It depended who our nurse was and how fast they felt they could run the fluids and the chemotherapy. On Monday thru thursday we went to the holland office, it was was nice that we are able to have our own room. On Friday theholland office is closed, so we headed out to Grand Rapids. It was a really amazing facility, with really beautiful layout and artwork. When we are there we are in our own little cubicle and are able to talk with people around us.
It was reallly interesting how people with cancer really bond when you in a place like the chemotherapy treatment facility. We had a nice older couple sitting next to us who was just diagnosed. We talked with them a bit and told our "story" and they shared their story. It was really nice.
Through the whole week Drew was really exhausted. Most days Drew would come home and go to the couch and feel pretty crappy. This weekend was by far the worst both with nausea and exhaustion. He has started to feel much better these last couple days, even been able to go into work and hang out on tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully he will continue feeling good and able to get out and keep food down.
Thanks to everyone who has sent cards, messages, gift cards, and brought meals. We are eternally grateful to everyone who has been praying for us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sporting a new Look

Drew is officially sporting a new look. He decided that he wasnt going to wait for his hair to fall out, he was going to take matters into his own hands and cut his hair short now. We decided to go for a "Puck" look.  For those of you who don't watch Glee- here was our inspiration:



Monday, October 18, 2010


Reality set in today when we walked up to Cancer and Hematology Center of West Michigan to get Drew's first dose of chemotherapy. We got to the building around 8:30am and luckily got a private room. Its a first come, first serve basis whether you get a private room or sit in the large "group" therapy room. Since we were going to be there for 8 ,we were really hoping for a private.
We arrived and our nurse for the day came in and took a look at Drew's new snazzy port and took off all the dressings. She was kind enough to put some numbing spray on the skin so it wasn't TOO bad putting the needle in place. She hooked Drew up to some fluid with different electrolytes to help protect his kidneys before she started the actual chemo, that lasted around 3 and a half hours. Then they gave him some medication to prevent nausea and to help relax him through the process. Then came the big guns. He is getting a triple threat of chemo drugs. Each drug took about an hour to infuse. After all that was in, he was disconnected and his port was flushed. He is able to keep the needle in place all week so he wont have to be continually poked and prodded. He's pretty excited about that.
From someone who barely takes a Tylenol, having 9 different fluids/medications in your body at one time is really crazy. He did pretty well through the treatment, he was a little tired from the relaxation medication. Right now he says he still is pretty tired and his stomach is a little "off" but overall doing pretty well.
Thanks again for everyone who is praying for us, we truly felt lifted up today.
Our "fancy" treatment room

Drew attacking cancer with full force!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Port Placement and Indiana

I'm back! Thanks to Lindsey for setting up the meal planner. We are so grateful for everyone who signed up.
This week has been crazy busy for Drew and I. It started with our Dr. appointment with the oncologist. I worked the next three nights and Drew even had the opportunity to go into work for a day. Then Thursday afternoon we headed back to Holland Hospital to have Drew's port placed.

He was in the procedure room for about 45 minutes and then went for a chest x-ray afterwards to make sure the placement was right. Everything went really well, and we were able to leave shortly after he ate something.  He is a little sore in his right chest/shoulder. After we left the hospital, we headed home and I packed up the car and we were on our way to Indianapolis.

We arrived in Indy late around 9:00pm and we were so blessed that my brother in law's parents live close to Indy and let us stay with them for the night. Thank you SO much Iversons!
 We woke up and headed to IU

It was a really beautiful campus and building. We waited for a while to see Dr. Foster. He was really personable and talked with us about what he thought was the best option for Drew. He agrees that chemo is the way to go. He confirmed everything the oncologist in Holland said. 3-4 rounds of chemo then we will have another CT scan  and lab work to see how the tumor in the abdomen responded. If it looks that the chemo did its job and the tumor is gone, that will be the end of it and we will just have check ups to make sure that is isn't going come back. BUT if there is still signs of the tumor, we will have to head back to IU and Dr. Foster will have to perform a surgery to remove the tumor. It was good to be able to talk with someone who has dealt with testicular cancer on a more regular basis and hear is opinions and confidence in the success rate of treatment.

So the plan is to start chemo at 8:45am on Monday for 8 hours each day this week and then two weeks of shorter visit once a week and the cycle will repeat 3-4 times depending on how the doctor feels he is doing.

After the appointment we headed to a little area called Broad Ripple and sat down for a lunch. Afterwards, we headed to a  park on the way home called Holliday Park. We did a little hiking through the woods and took a couple pictures :) 

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for a walk in the woods

There was a large piece of "ruins" in the middle of the park

Random statue in the park

Drew's Statue
My Statue

More of the ruins

To all those who have sent the message, calls, and letters.
To the girls at work who have been so amazing at switching and covering shifts for me!
To all those who are praying for us, we can feel the love.
To all those who have signed up to bring meals.

 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10)
But they that wait upon the Load shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with Wings as Eagles: they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you whereever you go (Joshua 1:9)
Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10)
My soul is weary with sorrow: strengthen me according to your word.(Psalms 119:28)

for minimal side effects from the chemo
for the chemo to do its job and the tumor will shrink completely
for strength and patience
for our family and friends who have been so amazing and supportive

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meal update

I knew someone was smarter than me who could help us out!!! :)

To sign up to bring a meal, please go to http:/ and enter Durham for the last name and "food" for the password. This will show you the schedule and allow you to sign up right there! :)

Thanks again for your willingness to help!

Hijacked and Help!

Hello all!

This is Jay's biggest sis Lindsey here! I've hijacked Jamie and Drews Blog to ask for some help.

The treatment phase of this journey is quickly drawing near and as a family, we really believe that Drews energy is best used in focusing on healing his body and Jamie's energy is best used in nursing Drew back to health. Taking meal planning, cooking and shopping off their plate is just one way we can help them direct their energies where they are most needed! We would love to be able to provide Jay and Drew meals during the time while Drew is undergoing treatment.

As it stands, Chemo will start Monday, with an intense week (5days, 8 hrs a day) and then two lesser intensity weeks. Our goal is to provide 3 meals during the intense week (mon, wed, fri), and two meals in the lesser intensity weeks (tues, thurs).

My goal is to try to get a sign up "thing" right here on the blog, but being I'm not a computer guru, that may take some work (let me know if you can help me here!)...but as for now, if you are interested in helping out, you can contact me by e-mail with "durham meal" in the subject line so i know its not junk :) Also in your e-mail please include a phone number so we can contact you if needs be.

If for some reason the treament plan changes or their needs change, we will contact those who sign up as soon as we know what the updated plan will require. 

Thanks again for all the support you all have been giving Jamie and Drew! We love you all for it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Moving Fast...

We met with the Medical Oncologist today and we are now moving at warp speed. We sat and talked with the physician for a while then we were brought into the "treatment area" where the chemo would be administered. A financial coordinator came and met with us and went over insurance information, then a nurse came in with is and talked with us about They do it over a 3 week cycle. The first week is the toughest week and we will have to be there at 8:00am and stay for 8 hours, Monday thru Friday. The next week it would only be a one hour visit and same with the third week. That whole cycle would be repeated 3-4 times. Drew is having a port placed on Thursday at Holland Hospital, which will make administering the chemo alot easier and safer. We would start the chemo next monday the 18th, all depending on what they say at IU on Friday.
 We are still planning on going down to Indiana University on Thursday night to have their opinion. If they say that Chemo is the best route then we will start immediately. There still is the chance that they might say surgery is the better option to start with then we can still cancel the chemo and move on from there. He would most likely still have to have chemo after the surgery and is why they feel like they can put in the port. 
Im writing this very quickly before I have to go to work, so i apologize if i missed anything or anything is spelled wrong:)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We just heard from the doctors office and we will be meeting with the the local oncologist on Monday the 11th. Then we will head down to Indiana University for an appointment on Friday the 15th. We will hopefully head down Thursday night to make it to our appointment at noon. Hopefully we will learn everything we need to know to make an informed decision about which treatment we want to pursue. Thanks again for all your comments, messages and letters! They are awesome!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The beginning

I never thought that I would be a blogger. I love reading them. I'll admit it that I will spend time wandering around on other peoples blogs but never thought I would start one of my own. Things changed about two weeks ago when our world was turned upside down.

Drew went to his family practice doctor after finding a small bump on his testicle. He then was told to head to Holland Hospital to have an ultrasound done and a referral to a urologist. The next day he headed to see the urologist, who told him that he thought it was most likely cancerous and he should have it removed. They scheduled surgery for the following Monday (Sept 27). We went in early Monday morning for the surgery and everything went really well. He has been sore afterwards, they had to go in through his lower abdomen so it has been really difficult for him to bend over, turn, sneeze or laugh hard.

I think the hardest part of the whole situation is the waiting. It took until Wednesday to find out that it was for sure cancer and that it was a mix of both seminoma and non-seminoma cancer. ( There are two main type of testicular cancer, seminoma and non-seminoma. The seminoma is more of a slow growing cancer and responds better to radiation and the non-seminoma is a more aggressive form of cancer and usually repsonds better to chemo). Drew was scheduled to have a chest, abdomen and pelvis CT scan on friday and we were going to meet with the urologist again on monday about the results of the scan and what the options would be.

Monday finally arrived after a long weekend of waiting and today we talked with the urologist about the scan. We keep calling it "middle of the road" kind of news. Its not the worst you can get but its not the best you could get. The urologist showed us his scans and informed us that the cancer had infact spread into his lymph nodes in his abdomen. He then told us that we had some options. We could meet with a oncologist here in west michigan or we could get another opinion from other urologist in west michigan or we could head to Indiana University who is a leader in testicular cancer treatment. We left with agreeing to meet with the oncoloist here in west michigan and talk about heading to I.U. After we had time to digest the news we both agreed that we are so blessed to have one of the top two hospitals in the US for testicular cancer within a couple hours drive and it would be silly not to head down there to see what they have to say.
The two main treatment options are chemo or have a lymph node dissection and remove the enlarged lymph nodes. Most doctors would say to have the chemo first and hopefully the mass will shrink and there wont be any more issues but if they dont shrink then the surgery is a little more risky since you have had the chemo and more scarring might occur. Then there is some doctors that would say get the surgery first. There in lies the dilemma.

We decided to start this blog because it is a really easy way to update everyone at one time. We will try to update as much as possible with new information as we get it and decide what we are going to do.

Thanks to all our family and friends who have been praying for us, we really appreciate it.
Thanks to everyone who brought food the past week, it has been delicious!
Thanks for the cards and messages. They have been so encouraging!

Prayer request:
... for quick response from the onolcogist and I.U so we can meet and decide a plan of action.
... for anxiety levels to stay down as we sit and wait for information
... full recovery for Drew