Monday, March 21, 2011

Chemo Cycle 3 - in the books!

With Friends Greg Schmieding and Mark Reineman at Cypress Point's famous 16th, Sept. 2010

Hello Friends, I thought a golf picture was appropriate (though this one is slightly dated) because I am in Florida at the moment and plan to play a little bit over the next couple of days.  I drove to Orlando this morning, arriving around 3 pm, in time for an afternoon nap.  This 3rd round of chemo was a lot like the first two, but there is a noticeable 'hangover' that is lingering a bit longer this time.  My low days were Friday and Saturday, which happily coincided with the NCAA basketball rounds 1 and 2, so there were literally 20+ games on over the weekend.  Lots of chemo recovery material.  Well, with all the anxiousness about my neutrophils leading up to the treatment, I got quite a surprise on Wednesday before my 3rd day, when my "neuts" hit 3900 - that was up from 1400 and even higher then they went after my booster shot on Feb 14.  So apparently my marrow kicked it into high gear on Tuesday!  I got another booster shot on Thursday just to be on the safe side.  My lymphocytes were also in good shape (ie, lower). 

Hopefully I will feel well over the next couple of weeks, and I will head to Houston on April 13th for a mid-course assessment of my progress disease.  As you know, a stem cell transplant procedure is being prepared for as a back-up plan, and the testing for my sisters' compatibility is beginning.  I'll keep you posted on that. 

My "big sis" Laure sent me a frozen Giordano's pizza by Fed Ex from Chicago to help me get through this treatment....I am blessed with 2 wonderful sisters!

Renee and I are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary - the date is March 29th.  We are planning a short getaway to Charleston for next week, so we are looking forward to that.  I was listening to some tunes on the way down here and I started thinking what were my "top 5" songs that are "our songs" sappy is that?  Here's what I came up with:  "She" by Elvis Costello, "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison, "You're My Best Friend" by Queen, "Your Own Special Way" by Genesis, and "Until the Night" by Billy Joel.  So there you go.  Go buy them on itunes and have a good cry  :-).  Honorable mention is a song that I doubt any of you have heard of, "Angel Eyes" by the Jeff Healy Band....but I found it on Youtube!

I hope all is well with you, please let us know how you are doing via email or comments.....Thanks as always for your care, support, and prayers.........Love - Dan

Monday, March 14, 2011

Coupla' Rookers Cooking up a Storm on a Gorgeous Spring Afternoon
My sister Jill DiCicco
Greetings everyone, we had a great weekend because my younger sister Jill came down to visit from the Chicago area.  She has 4 boys ranging in age from 11 to 19, and her hubby Mark took over at home and gave Jill a weekend away.  By now you know what we Rooker like to do for fun - Rookers are Cookers!  Friday night we had an Indian feast, with Tandoori Lamb as the main course, with paneer and spinach samosas for an appetizer, a dise dish of naan bread and Dal, and a saturday night, my young apprentice Rachel took over chef duties and we assisted her in making a wonderful beef bourguignon, and Saturday I grilled Red Snapper Chinese we ate well.  Jill is a devoted and very committed follower of Jesus Christ and has been a wonderful support to me in the last year.  We had some great and very encouraging time together.

Jill was fervently praying for me, as were many others, as I went to the clinic this morning to get my counts.  There's a dichotomy to this treatment process, so if I may provide some background....on the one hand, I was told that 70% of patients with my disease characteristics achieve a complete remission (CR) with this FCR treatment.  On the other hand, low neutrophil counts are a side effect that can render the treatment ineffective, (actually excessively toxic to the neutrophils), and it can fail for that reason.  Therefore my low neutrophil counts, while they can be successfully dealt with in many instances, sometimes they cannot be corrected and treatment has to stop (and another one tried).  All that to explain why I get nervous when they are low and treatments have to be delayed.  Reviewing my Bible verses at these times is extremely helpful.  Still, I was anxious this morning.  I got good news at 8:55 am - my "neuts" were up to 1400 - my marrow had recovered and fired up production on its own (the neulasta shot I got on Feb 14 had worn off), this time, just a few days later than it did after the last cycle.  So - I was in treatment by 9 am and day 1 is in the books.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 

There's one other prayer burden that I will mention - it is quite possible that I will at some point require a stem cell, or bone marrow transplant.  If the current treatment is successful, this may not be for several years, but the prayer request is that one of my sisters (both of whom have been featured now on my blog), would be a donor match - a perfect match.  There is a one in 4 chance for each sibling to be a match.  We've talked about statistics, but we believe that God could miraculously "match" one of them even if there are not a match today.  He's done much more miraculous things than that, like create the Universe and raise Jesus from the dead!  The matching process will be starting soon, as a precautionary action.  I will keep you posted on this, but if you would add this to your prayer list I would be very grateful.

I am so blessed by your prayers and encouragement.  Whatever God's plans are for me, I know He hears prayers and answers many of them, and I trust Him completely.  I hope this finds you well.  Love - Dan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9 Update

The Rookers in the Canadian Rockies, July 2010

Hello friends, it has been 10 days since my last post - I've had two blood draws, a week ago and today - what has been happening is that my neutrophils peaked at 2800 (last post), no doubt aided by the shot I received on Feb 14 (Neulasta).  From the 2800 level 2 weeks ago, they dropped to 1400 last week, and 1100 today.  I was supposed to begin chemo cycle 3 today, but Dr. Kritz is recommending that we wait until my neutrophils stabilize or start back up.  In other words, he does not want to start the treatment cycle if my neuts are dropping.  So, I'll be back in the clinic Monday to check them and if they are at 1100 or higher, we'll do the chemo monday, tuesday, and wednesday.  Hopefully nothing to worry about.....but another good example of how the road, our circumstances, twists and turns, and one has to keep their mind focused on those things that do not change - God is in control;  He loves us;  He has a plan;  we know the ending, and it's a glorious one.  I pray for the strength of heart and mind to keep these facts foremost in my mind:

Philippians 4:8:   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

AND - there is always a bright side, and in this case it is that when my sister Jill visits this weekend, I will not be ill from chemo, which is nice.  Jill arrives on Friday from Batavia Ill, and will be here all weekend - so you guessed it - there will be COOKING.  Don't go too far, I should have photos, recipes, and maybe even a new video by early next week!  If you haven't seen my Youtube production, check it out at

I appreciate your prayers for spiritual strength and lots of neutrohils - at least 1200!  Love - Dan