Friday, February 25, 2011


Renee and I hiking near Sedona, AZ, April 2010

Hi all.....quick update...I saw Dr. Kritz and got labs on Wednesday....great news, my neutrophils were 2800, double what they were on Friday the 18th.  My overall white count was 4300, up from 3800, and my lymphocytes were down to 1400 from 2000.  Lots of numbers, but together they represent a milestone, in that the composition of my blood is fully normal - right number and proportion of lymphocytes and neutrophils, plus my red cells, platelets, and hemoglobin are in the acceptable range.  So, I have normal blood for the first time in many years!  It's too soon to tell if I am in remission - the chemo has "hammered" my blood into normality, whereas the definition of remission is that my marrow, post-chemo, produces everything in the right proportions by itself.  Still, a great set of results for 2 cycles of treatment.  Thanks to everyone for your concern and prayers.
"But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint."

Isaiah 40:31

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day

Last Night's Chicken Dinner

Hello everyone and happy President's day - I will be brief today but you are in for a real treat, as the saying goes "we've got the video!".  First on the medical front, my post-treatment labs were excellent - apparently the shot I got on Monday did its work and kept my neutrophils up - they were 1400, only down 100 since treatment started.  Also, my total white count was down to 3800, which is the lowest it has been since I was diagnosed; it peaked at 95,000 on January 10th.  Platelets, hemoglobin, red cells all good.  The balance between my neutrophils and lymphocytes was also excellent, though not quite normal yet.  And, I've got 3 more weeks prior to my next treatement to keep working on this.  Thanks be to God!

As I mentioned in my last post, my sister Laure and her family are visiting on their way down to Orlando - they arrived yesterday afternoon and, of course, we cooked a meal - a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, which I link to here:

Grilled Tuscan Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Rosemary

I spent some time working with the video I took last Saturday (the 12th) with Rachel - I uploaded it to YouTube.  It's about 13 minutes long and after watching it you should be able to make an excellent breakfast burrito:

Hope you enjoy that!  I see my local doc (Dr. Kritz) on Wednesday - will update to all......Dan

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back on my Feet

Rachel made beef stew Friday night with an assist from Dad
Hallo all.....just a quick update today -- my 2nd chemo cycle ended last Friday and I continued to feel OK through the day Saturday, but hit the wall Saturday around the way, Saturday night I made Greek Lasagna, unfortunately I didn't take a picture nor do I have a recipe - I made it up as I went....check it out -

4 components including the noodles - 
  • first - 2 lbs of ground lamb browned with onions and garlic plus lots of black pepper, rosemary and oregano.  
  • Second, a ricotta and feta cheese mix (with an egg mixed in);  
  • third, a tomato sauce that I made by straining 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes and mixing in cooked/chopped spinach and olive tapenade.  
then the usual - cook the noodles and alternate layers in a baking pan - sauce, lamb, cheese, noodles, repeat....this was fabulous......

Back to the chemo, Sunday and Monday were "couch days", where I sleep 9 to10 hours at night and then take another nap or two during the energy....the good news this time is that the intravenous anti-nausea medication they gave me on Thursday seemed to keep that problem away, so it was exhaustion only.  Tuesday was a lot better, Wednesday better yet, and today I worked out, signaling a return to normality.  They also gave me a shot on Monday that is supposed to boost neutrophil production; we will see tomorrow when I get labs what the counts look like.

Last night Renee and I went out for our Valentines dinner and had a wonderful time, except that we got lost in Cary/Morrisville trying to find the restaurant.  When will I learn to take my Garmin even when I think I know where I am going??  For you locals, you simply must try this restaurant if you haven't - Saffron on Davis Drive in Cary (next to the Harris Teeter - easy to find).  Renee's parents gave us a gift certificate to this place for Christmas.....absolutely wonderful authentic Indian food......even if you just get dal and naan bread, it is a fantastic treat......

Saffron Restaurant

Renee is off for the weekend to Asheville to celebrate her sister's birthday, and my sister Laure and her family will be here Sunday/Monday on their way down to Orlando.  So I have to get the house ready for that.  Canes game tomorrow night, yard project out back, office is a shortage of to-dos.  I will post again when I get my counts.  Love to all - 

A few of you have asked for the recipe for the scallops pictured in my last post - I can't find it on the internet any more, so here's a scan:  note - we doubled the recipe, i.e., 2 lbs of scallops etc.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday, February 11

Oh baby!
Pan-seared Scallops served on roasted red pepper coulis with yogurt-cilantro sauce!

Hey everyone, hope you're all enjoying your Saturday and your weather is as nice as ours is getting....we're looking at upper 50's to mid 60's for the next several days.  In my last post I told you that my neutrophils had jumped up from 500 to 1500 in an answer to prayer, allowing me to start my 2nd chemo cycle - that 3 day cycle was completed yesterday and I'm in recovery.  I've felt pretty well so far, doing most things as usual with the exception of eating a little more carefully and suspending my exercise routine for a few days.  The clinic gave me an intravenous anti-nausea medication this time which seems to be helping.  Yesterday was a short session which was highlighted by a visit from my mother in law, Vaun, and a great conversation with a fellow patient, Alan, who was sitting across from me - I wish I had a picture of he and I getting up out of our "chemo chairs" and dragging our IV poles to the middle of the aisle so we could shake hands and make a proper acquaintance.  A Vietnam Vet, Alan is battling lung cancer and winning. 

My daughter Rachel is home for the weekend - she arrived Thursday afternoon and we got busy in the kitchen right away.  The pics above are from Thursday evening - now a family favorite, we got the recipe off of a google search for pan-seared scallops.  Fabulous!

No more "labs" until this coming Friday, so until then we are praying for continued success in battling the evil lymphocytes and preserving the virtuous neutrophils.  This morning Rachel and I recorded our first cooking video, which I hope to edit and post soon.....she behind the camera, me wielding the knife and spatula!  Blessings to all - Dan


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Neutros Philled In!! February 9

With daughter Rachel on the beach, circa 1992
First, I hope everyone got that excellent pun in the title.  Second, I've decided that blog entries are better with pictures.  So, even if I don't have new photographic material, I'll post a favorite pic or two.

Executive summary for today:   excellent day!  though today was scheduled as the start of my 2nd cycle of chemo, none of the medical staff believed that my neutrophil count (specialized white cells that fight infection) would be high enough to begin the 2nd cycle.  My last 3 neutrophil measurements were 400, 400, and 500, each being 7 days apart.  Today was 6 days after the last measurement and, thanks be to God, my count was 1500!!!  Despite being a layperson, I opined to my head nurse that I just felt that once my marrow kicked into gear, it would crank out neutrophils, and either that or divine intervention did the trick.  So instead of waiting a week and checking counts again, I went straight into chemo and 6 hours later, I was on my way home with generous helpings of cancer killers in my bloodstream.  Tomorrow and Friday will be approximately 2 hour treatments each;  I'll probably start to feel green in the gills (sickly) sometime Friday, which should last a few days.  I must admit that I was worried about the neutrophil issue - if they could not tolerate the chemo, an alternate treatment might have to be chosen, and that could cause serious issues.  So I am greatly relieved and full of gratitude.

I want to give a shout-out to my pastor, Dr. Mike Garrett who preached  a typically outstanding sermon on Sunday - the topic was how Christians should handle those times in our lives when we feel hopeless or defeated due to relationship issues, employment or financial issues, medical issues, or just plain depression.  One of the things I think about a lot is how many people go through cancer treatment with an "I will beat this" attitude;  I have a lot of respect and admiration for them, because it's easy to lose hope.  My thought process is a little different - I've been taught, and come to believe, that apart from God's will I can do nothing (John 15:5) - so if I beat this, it will be because He has ordained it - if I don't beat it, again, it is His will, and He has an eternal plan for my future.  Which brings up a question - why pray?  Can we change our futures and outcomes through prayer?  The Bible states emphatically that prayer is effective (James 5:16).  So - I think the old saying "work like it's all up to you and pray like it's all up to God" is good advice.

I also want to recommend 2 Corinthians 4:7 to you -7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. Mike referenced this passage on Sunday - the "jars of clay" is a metaphorical reference to our bodies - and the treasure is identified in the previous verse:  6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  I can relate to my body being a jar of clay on several levels - but, that my 'jar' holds a treasure, the Glory of God displayed in the face of Christ - wow!  It is my daily prayer that Christ would show through my clay jar every day, and that He would be even more glorified as a result of the valley that He is taking me through.  This lifts my spirits and gives me a mission and sense of purpose that is much higher than the well being of my own 'jar of clay'.

I know some of you are just itching to hear Mike speak, so here is your link to Sunday's sermon:

Dr. Mike Garrett, Crossroads Fellowship, Sunday, February 6, 2011

 Thanks for following my journey - your kindness, concern, notes, emails, cards, natural medicines, health supplements, and prayers are exceedingly precious to me and Renee.  For those of you still with me on this long post, here is another picture:

With Renee in New Zealand, January 2003
Renee and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage next month.  Talk about a blessing.  That's another post, coming soon.  Much love - Dan

Friday, February 4, 2011

Update.....Friday, February 4

Hello and good morning everyone.....

It has been nearly two weeks since my post from the Florida Keys. Kenyon and I returned on Monday, January 24th....I left the Keys at 4 am and we pulled into our driveway at 7 pm!! We're both ready to do it again.

The reason for the long gap in posts that is that not a lot has happened, which is a good thing. I think my white cell count at that time was 8300, which was great news....since that result, I've had two more tests, the last one being yesterday. My total white count went from 8300 to 5800 and back to 7300 yesterday. Nothing concerning there....what has happened over these couple of weeks is that we're studying the different types of white cells.....specifically neutrophils. Neutrophils are the most prevalent of the five types of white cells and they are the backbone of our bodies' infection fighting force. The treatment I received knocked my neutrophils down to a 'critical low' level and we've been watching and waiting for them to come back up. These numbers don't mean much but they give you a relative idea.....starting when I left Houston, my neutrophil count was 1100, then 400, 400, and yesterday it was 510. Before they will treat me again, that count needs to be back to 1000 or greater. My next treatment is tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Feb 9, 10, and 11. If the neutrophils are not above 1000, we'll have to delay treatment. So if you prayer warriors want something specific to pray about, it's neutrophils, and lots of 'em! And that the Lord would continue to protect me from infection.

Physically, I still feel great. Everything is 'normal', except for the fact that I am not working. I have developed a routine that keeps me busy but not stressed, which includes monitoring my work email and casual chats with colleagues about work and non-work issues. I am blessed in many ways, but today I want to highlight the company I have worked for over the last 28 years, IBM. I have always been thankful for the work life I have enjoyed, the precious friendships that have developed over the years, and the opportunity IBM has provided me (and my family) to see much of the world. What makes IBM special is that it is a company with a heart. As a leader it has been a privilege to manage in a company that demands and expects integrity and compassion. Now as a person who is fighting a serious illness, I am the beneficiary of that same compassion. Check out this 100 year anniversary video:

IBM 100th Anniversary Video

It might be a little corny but I think it really makes a powerful point. Times have changed a lot but the heart of IBM is still beating.

Renee and I send our best to you and would be happy to pray for you in any trials or challenges you face. We are grateful and blessed by your love and support, and we are constantly aware that there are many millions of people whose struggles are far greater than ours. We count our blessings daily, and we hope you will join us.