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Ver Beek Blog

Our young family battling stage IV breast cancer one day at a time
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Fighting

posted by:
Dustin Ver Beek

(Update from Dusty)

After ten days in the hospital, Lindy returned home late Sunday afternoon.   We were so glad to have her back with us again!

On Monday afternoon, she collapsed while I was walking her to the couch.  I was able to catch her and guide her to the floor.  She was unresponsive and her color was not good, so I called 911.  After a few short minutes paramedic support arrived and off she went back to the hospital. After a bunch of tests, it appeared a heart drug she was on caused a dip in her blood pressure (or at least that’s what they believe).  They let her go home a few hours later.

We’re trying to get her well enough to take chemo tomorrow.  Please pray for her as she’s tired, scared and very discouraged.   Her body has been through so much, it’s hard for her to imagine she can take much more.

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Update

posted by:
Dustin Ver Beek

This is going to be a quick update with a bunch of spelling and grammatical errors.

Last Tuesday I woke up not feeling very well and couldn’t stop burping. It got worse as the day went on. My stomach got bigger and more sore but we went on to U of M anyway for our early morning MRI on Wednesday morning.

Thursday I had my first chemo infusion with my stomach looking 6 months pregnant and constant burping.  Jill went to chemo with me and commented on my distended stomach.  Not only was it huge it hurt!  On Friday, Jill called me from work. I ended up in Holland Hospitals ED Friday morning. I had an EKG, Echo, x-ray, ultrasound, lab work and it was found the fluid around my heart had increased dramatically causing my heart and everything down the line to work overtime.  I went into V tach right there in the ED. Crash cart and everything. I nearly died. It was a big deal.  They got my heart under control took me into surgery and drained 600ml off out of the pericardium.  Spent the night, my pericardium filled with more fluid and a sheath was put in and I was transferred to the Spectrum Heart Center ICU.  I’ve been at Spectrum since last Saturday.

On Tuesday, I had a window (hole) put into the pericardium of my heart so if it fills with more fluid it will drain out on its own.  I now sit with two drains coming out of my chest, a hefty scar and a drip of heparin.

Two things will get me home:

1. The drains have to come out.

2. I have to be switched over to coumadin.

We ask for NO visitors (immediate family only) and lots of prayers. Please contact Dani, our point person with questions.

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MRI and Chemo

posted by:
Lindy

On Tuesday (yesterday), Dusty and I went to U of M for a follow up MRI of my brain.  This is the first MRI since the Stereotactic Radio Surgery I had a couple months ago.  Dr. Heth was happy with the results.  One lesion is no longer visible.  The other lesion is smaller.  This is a very early MRI and the radiation will continue to work.  I’m going back in three months to have another MRI.  Our hope is the smaller lesion will be gone too.  Also, there were no new tumors!  Thank God!

Dr. Heth also put me through what I call Brain Olympics.  I sit on the exam table.  First game is Resist and Pull. I put my elbows out to the side like I’m a clucking chicken.  Resist his pull.  Resist his push.  Next is the Finger Flicker.  I cover one eye and stare at the tip of his nose.  He flickers his fingers into my area of vision and I need to tell him when I can see them.  He does this from all angles.  Then I switch eyes.  Fun.  Third is the Leg Lift and Resist.  I put my legs straight out and lift against his strength and resist against his strength.  Fourth is Finger to Nose.  As fast as I can, I have to touch his finger, then touch my nose.  All the while, he moves his finger around.  Then I switch hands.  Fifth is Blinding.  Stare across the room while he shines a light into my eyes.  The light is so bright it is blinding.

He said I did very good and that I could have a seat on the chair.  I did a triple flip off the exam table, stuck my landing, raised my arms in the air like a professional Olympian and had a seat.  Just kidding of course.

I just got back from my first round of chemo.  Jill went with me and I must say it was a pleasure having it done in Holland.  No heavy traffic.  No one driving 60 mph in the left hand lane.  No rest areas.  Saved a tank of gas.

P.S.  I hide behind humor.

This is me and Jill just before chemo started.

Lindy Ver Beek

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New Update

posted by:
Lindy

The appointment with Dr. Schott on Tuesday went well.  I am going on a chemo cocktail of gemcitabine and carboplatin.  I will get it every other week.  The good news (because there HAS to be something good) is the infusions will be in Holland at Dr. VanderWoude’s office.  I haven’t been there for chemo in almost three years.  I was hoping to have my first infusion sometime this week, but that didn’t happen.  Hopefully my infusion will happen next week.

I’m anxious to start chemo because I have a significant amount of pain in my neck and chest area.  I think once the chemo takes hold and starts to shrink the fluid around my heart and the lymph nodes in my neck and chest, I will find some relief.  The doctor found my heart rate is running higher than normal for me.  Probably because of the fluid and enlarged nodes squeezing around it.

The side effects are the usual suspects.  Hair loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, chest pain, fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, light headedness, fainting, severe itching, numbness or weakness, rash, headaches, diarrhea, constipation, drowsiness, low blood counts making me more susceptible to illness.  Ya know…the same ole, same ole stuff.

On Wednesday we are back at U of M for an early morning MRI.  This is a follow up MRI from the SRS procedure I had in March (remember my haute couture halo?).  In the afternoon we are meeting with Dr. Heth, Neurosurgeon, to go over the results and hope that the radiation obliterated the tumors in my brain.

Please continue to pray for our entire family.  It’s hard to get knocked down time and time again.  The only way I can get back up is knowing that people are praying. Please pray for:

– Spiritual & Physical Strength

– Peace

– Chemo to happen this week

– Good MRI results.  Old tumors gone and no new tumors.

If you would like to help in some way, please contact Dani Keegstra, our designated point person.

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And so it goes…

posted by:
Lindy

On Tuesday, Jill and I had a delightful trip to U of M for a CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. 

Yesterday I emailed Joan, the nurse practitioner, to see if they have the results.  Within one minute of me sending the email she called.  The results aren’t good.  Here is a breakdown of what the CT scan showed:

  • Eight spots on my lungs have grown.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in my mediastinum thought to be cancerous which is why they are growing.
  • Fluid around my heart and concern that cancer cells are in the fluid.
  • Cancer in the bone of my sternum.

There is no question that I will be on chemo.  They have already narrowed it down to which ones would work the best.  We are meeting with them next week to decide what is best.

This is a lot for us to digest.  We are angry.  Scared.  I don’t feel ready for another fight.  I hate chemo.  Cancer sucks.  It SUCKS!

I wish I had something positive to say, but I don’t.  

Thank you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers.

Please give our family space right now.  We just can’t handle much more than this.  If you would like to help in some way, please contact Dani Keegstra, our designated point person.  

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New Friends

posted by:
Lindy

\I’m doing well right now.  I love the warm weather and watching the kids play outside.

On Tuesday Jill and I are going to U of M to have a CT scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvis.  As you may remember, I get a bit of scanxiety and it has settled in.  Please pray for safe travels, a smooth scan, for the tumors in my lungs to be small, and for my kids and husband at home.

My Aunt Kathy teaches 2nd grade at Woodside Elementary.  She has shared with her students that I’m sick.  They have written letters to me and to Brooklyn because she is also in the 2nd grade.  I get two letters each week.  When the mail arrives and I see my aunts handwriting on the envelope, it’s exciting.

These kids are awesome.  Their writing is terrific.  I love their jokes.  I love to hear about school.

Kathy’s Class Ivan

Kathy’s Class Alicia R

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Three Long Years

posted by:
Lindy

It’s been about three years since I found my lump.  In mid April 2009, after being misdiagnosed with Mastitis and being put on three rounds of antibiotics, I was officially diagnosed with cancer on Memorial Day Weekend 2009.

Cancer has stolen from me the last three years.  Moments that can never be replaced.  I hate cancer.

However, I have learned a few things.  How to be more compassionate.  How to truly give.  What it means to surrender.  How it feels to talk to your child about death and dying.  How great our church and community is.  How awesome my husband and kids are.  Every giggle and smile.  When I see them running in the yard chasing a butterfly or bird.  It’s the best.  My parents and how much they do to help.  I am blessed because I am being held in God’s hand and cheered on by so many wonderful and loving people.

As for how I’m feeling, since the SRS surgery I’ve had less headaches and am doing alright.  I go back in May for a CT Scan to check on the cancer in my lungs and I’ll go back in June for an MRI to check on the results of the SRS surgery on the cancer in my brain.

Thank you for your love, prayers, cookies, cards and kindness.

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Hats and Halos

posted by:
Lindy

Look out proper ladies of London with your fabulous, whimsical hats that are precariously perched on your heads which defy gravity and the slightest breeze.

Stand guard you Fashion Houses of Milan.  Tip:  Begin working on your hat collection of 2013.

Look out Lady Gaga.  You have dared to wear the most outrageous hats, but have you ever worn…..

The Stereotactic Radiosurgery Halo?!?!

Lindy Ver Beek in Halo - March 2012 - with Lois VanderZwaag

I bet not.  Notice the steel frame.  This will stand up to the strongest gale force winds.  The silver will match nearly any outfit.  There is also plenty of room for a straw to fit between the hallow and your face.  The designers thought of everything.  I recommend having your make up applied before the halo.

In all seriousness, I’m very thankful yesterday is done.  It was a grueling day both physically and emotionally.  I was happy that Dusty could be there with me during the halo placement process.  Especially his hand – I’m surprised I didn’t break his fingers I was squeezing SO HARD.

My parents also came along and during the six hours of waiting we watched The Help and chit chatted while I was in a light, blissful fog.

The treatment lasted a couple of hours.  They treated two tumors.  Both in the cerebellum – one on the right and one on the left.  The radiation works immediately and continues to work for the next several months.  I will have a follow-up MRI in three months to see the results.

Currently I have pain in the four pin sites where they attached the halo to my skull.  I’m also quite tired.

When it was over, it was time to give back the crown or as they call the halo.  I won’t miss you crown.  I can’t wait to never see you again.  I’d much rather have a precariously perched hat that doesn’t scare small children and could fly away in the slightest breeze.

Our family and my parents cannot thank you enough for the prayers that have been said for us over the last few days and night.  I know yesterday would not have gone as smoothly without them.  So thank you for not forgetting about us and taking time out of your busy day and lives to remember us.

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Go away

posted by:
Lindy

I had my SRS MRI yesterday at U of M, met with Dr. Hesh (the neurosurgeon), and Dr. Hayman (the radiology oncologist). Upon comparing last Saturday’s MRI to the MRI I had in November, Dr. Heth and Hayman both discovered a new second tumor in my left cerebellum.  Go away cancer.

The SRS (Gamma Knife) is scheduled for next week Thursday, March 1.  March 1 also happens to be my mom’s birthday.   Happy Birthday Mom!  🙂

They will treat both tumors and we will pray that it is again successful.  

We’ll be there from morning til night and then I’ll go home. I’ll spare you the details, side effects, and possible risks.

Thank you for thinking, praying and supporting us.

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Pokey

posted by:
Lindy

My cancer has been deemed “pokey”.  That’s a good thing.  While the scans from Saturday show that all the tumors are growing, they are growing slowly or as oncologists call it “slight progression”.  They did not find any new cancer.  Praise God!  What they did find, however, was a slightly enlarged lymph node in my abdominal region, but they’re not concerned about it right now.

Dr. Schott has recommended that I do stereotactic radiosurgery  on my brain.  This is the as Gamma Knife which I did at Mayo in 2010.  She is impressed with how I responded to that surgery and she would like to do it again on the new spot in my brain.

As far as chemo is concerned, she doesn’t see the need to start chemo right now because the spots in my lungs aren’t large enough (thank you pokey cancer).  She would prefer to save the chemo options for when I really need it.  As you may or may not know, the more chemo drugs a person is exposed to, the more immune the cancer cells become to the drugs, thereby becoming less effective.  I hope I’m explaining that right to all you medical people out there.

I’m going back to U of M Monday for a very specific MRI, to meet the neurosurgeon, and to meet the radiation oncologist.

I believe the next step will be the procedure.  Just thinking about the procedure puts a great amount of fear in me.  Call me a wuss, but having screws turned into your skull while awake isn’t fun.  🙁

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