Thursday, June 26, 2008

an unexpected pool guest

While the kids were swimming before dinner, Travis was messing around with the pool and looked in the skimmer. A frantic little water frog was swimming around in there! Travis scooped him out and the frog rested his head on Travis' fingers while he caught his breath. Who knows how long he'd been in there swimming. He was exhausted!! If it weren't for Travis, we would have found a dead frog in the skimmer some time later. (eewww! glad he was alive) There was some discussion about where he came from, where he should go, and it was purposed by Travis to release him at the Riparian Preserve. The kids wanted to keep him, of course, but thought that sounded like a cool alternative. We let him hang out in a water pitcher and rest up while we ate dinner then it was off to the Preserve. It was getting dark and the weather was actually cool enough to enjoy a little nature walk. Then a bunch of geese and ducks started stalking us, thinking we had food. It was funny at first, then got a little scary! Those geese were huge and had no fear of people. They were chasing after us! We finally released froggie (affectionately named by the kids) into a grassy area by the lake. We assured the kids that froggie would be happy and safe there. What a night! 

Surgery Date!

The kids were out swimming this evening and Ryan started showing off and dancing around. I was taking pictures of them jumping into the pool. I'm not sure what made him think of it, but he turned around and "mooned" me! I was laughing so hard but didn't want to encourage it.....too late, right?

Okay, so we got the green light with scheduling at Dr. Spetzler's office for Travis to have his surgery. The date is July 22nd. That's less than 4 weeks away! We don't really know what to expect in the way of his recovery. The doctors told us that he will be in ICU for 3 days following surgery, then another few days in the hospital. If everything goes just right, Travis will be sent home for more recovery at home. So much of the outcome is contingent on how the surgery goes, how Travis responds, etc. We feel confident that he has every reason to do very well and heal quickly. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wedding on the beach

   Jeff, Jim (the groom) and Travis at Newport Beach
                                 Olivia, the flower girl                                                              

Travis, Olivia and I took a quick trip over to California last Saturday and Sunday for our friends, Jim and Tiffany, wedding on the beach. It was a small and simple ceremony with just family and a few friends. They wanted to be married on the beach and Jim's awesome bishop even flew in to officiate the ceremony. We enjoyed dinner at Oysters in Corona Del Mar afterwards. We stayed at a hotel and got up the next morning and surprised Olivia with a day at Disneyland. We had so much fun hanging out with just Olivia. It was such a treat for all of us!

A quick update on Travis.......we are trying to schedule surgery as early as mid-July or August. He is feeling so great! His new way of eating has had an incredible impact on his energy level. He doesn't feel fatigued or sluggish anymore. We splurged on a couple sweets over the weekend, but Travis was satisfied with a couple bites. Even still, he actually felt a little sick by Sunday evening from not eating as good as usual.

My parents dropped by tonight as we were finishing up dinner. As soon as the kids went to bed somehow we started talking about how Travis has been working on getting his pH more alkaline. It's been improving over the past couple of weeks. We have these test strips you can use to find your pH. The most accurate reading is to do it at night with urine. We were all curious what our pH's were so we all went into the master bath to check it out. Ideally, it should be around 7.0. My mom and I were around 6.0, Travis was between 6.5 and 7.0 and my dad won with a pH of over 7.0! Crazy! Travis started at a 5.0 to 5.5 a couple weeks ago. He's done so well. I know that this may sound way out there in left field, but there is definitely something to it. Travis and I know that the body can do amazing things when it's fueled correctly and treated well. Travis has been extremely disciplined about everything. It will help him recover from surgery and hopefully help prevent future illnesses.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dr. Spetzler.....YEAH!!!

Well, we finally met with the neurosurgeon we keep hearing all about today at a surgical consult. Travis and I were completely impressed by him and felt very good about everything he told us. Basically, he does surgery on the brain and specifically the brain stem that most doctors in the world cannot do. He is famous for it. He has the technology and means to operate safely on previously inoperable areas. He does this everyday and often on people who come from all over the world to see him. He is with the Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix. He said we have time to decide when we want to do the surgery, but recommends the sooner the better....within 6 months. Once they do the surgery, they can determine what type of tumor it is and treat it accordingly. Also, they cannot tell us how much of the tumor they can remove until they operate. This is because they need to see how different the tumor looks from the rest of the brain stem. If it is very different tissue then of course they can remove more of it and the opposite is true. If it looks similar to the brain stem then they cannot remove as much. Dr. Spetzler said that the prognosis of a successful and safe surgery is over 90%. 

We feel very good about today and  that our journey has led us to this destination. We feel that this is the answer we have been praying and waiting to receive. We ask that you continue to pray for a successful and happy outcome. We are very excited about this news!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Best and Worst

We are back home hanging out with the kids on a relaxed Saturday. I'm suffering from post-trip blahs. I don't feel like doing anything at all! Travis and I had such a nice time away, even if it was for doctor's appointments.....we'll take what we can get. We are still laughing about the adventures we had in exploring a new city. Here is a list of the best and worst we encountered.

  • While taking a scenic drive through a questionable part of town, I witnessed a man urinating towards the road.......I saw EVERYTHING and am still having nightmares!
  • Downtown traffic
  • Getting stuck at literally every light 
  • None of the roads were straight....they bent, criss-crossed, changed names, ended; it took all three days to even begin to figure it out. No Grid System there.....we love our grid!
  • Road construction (can you tell we had issues with the roads?)
  • Humidity (I'm a full-fledged Arizona-heat kind of girl)
  • "Don't Mess with the Zohan".....please don't see this movie! It's the WORST!
  • D'Amicos Italian Market Cafe (the best healthy pizza we've ever had)
  • Marriott Springhill Inn: a 2 room suite at a great price
  • Sleeping in 2 days in a row
  • All the massive trees hanging over all the felt like a forest in the city
  • Very cool homes tucked into neighborhoods in downtown Houston
  • Getting to be with Travis 24/7 for 3 days.....I loved every minute of it
We had another hilarious episode on our first day. At the hospital they have you pay parking in the lobby. When we got to the exit in the garage, the machine wouldn't accept our paid ticket. Cars were lining up behind us and we couldn't do a thing about it. A guy in a truck behind us told us to pull forward to the barricade arm and he would put his ticket in so we could both get out. We figured it was a good idea so Travis pulled forward. As soon as the arm lifted, Travis peeled out and the truck followed. Travis looked in the rearview mirror just as the arm came down on the guy's truck. Travis said, "Oh crap! The arm just hit the guy's truck!" I cowered down in my seat and yelled, "Go! Go! Go!" For some reason Travis listened to me and drove out of there as fast as our Hyundai would take us. We approached a light and the guy drove up next to us and looked over at us. He was smiling and gave us the thumbs no harm done. Thankfully, he had a good sense of humor  and wasn't too worried about his work truck.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 2 at MD Anderson

We were lucky enough to get a consult with the neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Weinburg here in Houston today. He explained what would be involved in doing a biopsy and all the risks associated with it. He explained that the glioma could be one of a couple types of tumors. One would respond to chemo and the other only to radiation. He speculated that it is most likely the one that would only respond to radiation. A biopsy could help with a definitive diagnosis. Chemo would be preferable to radiation to the brain. We don't want to do radiation if we don't have to. All in all, we defy the odds, don't we? We should play the lottery! We head home tomorrow night so we plan to relax and do a little sight-seeing. Houston is an interesting city with a combination of old and new. We've found some fun shopping areas and restaurants. Some of the neighborhoods in the city are amazing. The homes are unique and eclectic and built with stone and brick and have lush green yards. All the streets are lined with huge trees that hang over the streets. It's really quite beautiful. Our kids are having a blast at our friends and family' homes. Thanks, Camille, April and Jamie!!! What would we do without you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MD Anderson

I am relaxing at the hotel after a very long day! We spent the day in Houston at MD Anderson Hospital. We met with a neuro-oncologist, Dr. Puduballi, to get a third opinion. Travis and I really liked him, he spent a lot of time explaining things to us. Of course, he confirmed that Travis has what is most likely a glioma tumor. He had a surgeon take a took at the MRI and the neurosurgeon felt confident that it could be biopsied. Dr. Puduballi strongly disagreed with doing nothing but observe closely, like the Mayo Clinic. He also said that removing the tumor is not possible. He recommended a biopsy to confirm it's a tumor and follow with radiation treatment. He said that the tumor has been growing very slowly for a long time. Travis' brain has had time to adapt and the fibers and neurons have moved around the tumor. That is why he has very few symptoms despite the fairly large size of the tumor. He said it will continue to slowly grow and cause more symptoms over time. He said that we are not in an urgent situation due to the slow growth. We have time to plan and think about how we want to proceed. Most likely, we will do the recommended treatment. Dr. Puduballi was very open and honest with us. He told us that this is a rare tumor for a 34 year old male to have. Gliomas are typically seen in children and agressive gliomas in the elderly. Unfortunately, since it's rare, there is no standard of care. Each doctor is offering their best opinion. That's why we've had such conflicting opinions. We are hoping to meet with the neurosurgeon here before we come home. Then next week we meet with Dr. Spetzler and see why he thinks he can remove most of the tumor.

It is a little frustrating and difficult to get such differing opinions from such qualified doctors. We realize how much we have to rely on the Lord to guide our decisions and make the best choice for Travis and our family. Travis is wonderful and said that he is not discouraged. He is so strong! I sure do love that man!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alkalizing.......What the heck?

We are off to Houston tomorrow! We meet with doctors tomorrow afternoon.  Thanks to my dear friends and family for helping out with our kids........that is a huge relief for me! Travis is good at getting what he wants (the lawyer in him, I guess) so we were able to move up the surgical consult by 2 weeks. We meet with Dr. Spetzler next Tuesday!!! We are so anxious to quiz him on several questions we have about surgery. We feel that we haven't gotten many answers yet from the doctors. It's understandable without a biopsy, but of course we just want to know everything we can. Travis has been all over the internet on cancer sites and has taken his diet VERY seriously. What we eat has a very powerful affect on our health, for good or bad. He is on a kind of cleanse and eating only alkaline foods for the week. Apparently cancer cells cannot thrive in an alkaline environment.  So what is an alkaline diet? (I'm sure many of you, like me didn't know until now)  Basically, no sweets, sugar, meat, dairy, most fruits. What does that leave, you may ask? Lots and lots of veggies, mostly raw, some seeds, nuts and oil and 5 fruits: lemons, limes, grapefruit, tomatoes, avocado and watermelon (only sparingly).  Only foods that have an alkaline pH. He's been doing great on it for the past few's amazing! He will start eating a few other foods later but very moderately. He even has these pH test strips to test his own pH.  He is still showing to be acidic so it'll be interesting to watch that change. Boy, we are learning all kinds of things we never really thought about before. It's a bit overwhelming! 

Wish us luck in Houston!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Back by Popular Demand

Music by Travis.

I know some of you are checking to see how quickly Andrea finds out and removes it.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Patience is a virtue.....

Travis and Ella hanging out in his new hammock we gave him as an early 
Father's Day gift. 

I guess I'm going to have to get used to waiting. Waiting for news, waiting for appointments, waiting for results.  The neurosurgeon, Dr. Spetzler, is on vacation for 2 weeks and can't see us until June 30th. And we hear that's good. We are just hoping that nothing changes between now and then. Travis did some research and read about different remedies, supplements, etc. He is eating cottage cheese with flaxseed oil 2 times each day. (This is HUGE since he hates cottage cheese.) He also takes CoQ10 and shark cartilage supplements. I've got him drinking anti-oxidant concentrates like acai berry. And the big one..........we have eliminated Diet Coke from our diets......that's been a little rough for me personally. I know it's not good for you, but I sure do enjoy drinking it! I'm preparing foods a little differently, adding more fresh fruits and veggies. I have a cleaning spray for non-organic fruits like strawberries and raspberries to remove pesticides.  It's 1 cup water, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 20 drops grapefruit seed extract.  I just spray it on the fruit and let it sit for 5-10 minutes then rinse well. We are trying to remove as much artificial stuff from our diet as possible. It's definitely worth the effort!

Next week we are off to Houston to visit Anderson M.D. It's a research hospital. They have some of the best neurological doctors and surgeons there. We figured it can't hurt to get more opinions.  Some of you can expect a call from me because I'm going to need to farm out some kids for a couple days! Thanks in advance........everyone is being incredibly helpful and supportive. I still can't believe the out-reach to our little family. We feel the love people!!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

FINALLY........some good news

My cute little twins loving on each other and loving their favorite past time......swimming!
What a roller coaster ride my life is right now.  But I am so happy to report that a ray of light and hope has come about.  The first doctor we met with last Thursday from the Barrows Institute, Dr. Ashby, met with a team of neuro-surgeons and oncologist yesterday. The surgeon that everyone says can do things no other surgeon can do, his name is Dr. Spetzler, reviewed Travis' case and MRI.  He wants to consult with us next week because he thinks he can do surgery and remove most of the tumor. Then it would be treated with radiation and chemotherapy. We are so hopeful and feel like this could be the miracle we have all been praying for. Of course, we are anxious to meet with him and talk with him about the surgery. It probably won't be until next week.  I'll update as soon as there is any news.

Other than that small distraction, it's been summer time in the Williams' home.  All the kids want to do is swim, swim, swim. Ryan is in swim lessons with our great friend, Geri Broadbent. Olivia is taking a diving class. I've set up some summer craft groups with some of the kids' friends and they are excited about that.  Oh, Travis said good-bye to his gas-guzzling, V-8, Ford F1-150 today and hello to a practical and economical Nissan Altima.  I think it was a good trade. He needed some convincing but he's on board.  (those gas prices should be illegal!)  

Today was a good day!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fast Sunday

Today was fast Sunday. Fasting has never been my favorite or a strength so I was anxious about doing it well.....especially with today's purpose in mind.  I knew Church would be difficult but I had no idea what an emotional overload it would end up being. Denny Barney conducted and mentioned our family and the purpose for the ward fast.  Then there were several amazing testimonies borne, mostly by the youth who just returned from a pioneer trek.  At the end, President Barker from the Stake Presidency made some final comments and bore his testimony. He talked about how our family has a hand cart and we are pushing through some big challenges. It was so powerful and overwhelmed the whole congregation.  Then Denny Barney invited the entire ward to come into the Chapel, they closed the overflow area and we all knelt for a ward family prayer.  I've never experienced anything like this before.  Bishop Breinholt gave an amazing prayer and actually pleaded for Travis to be made well, if it be the will of Heavenly Father.  There didn't seem to be a dry eye in the chapel.  The Spirit was incredibly strong.  I could literally feel the love and strength of the members of the ward......all our dear friends. Many people came up to us and gave us hugs and encouraging words afterwards.  
I have been keeping it together quite well this past week and a half, but I couldn't keep myself from weeping most of the time at Church.  I felt so exhausted by the end of the three hours, but enormously comforted and at peace.  I am so thankful for the faith, fasting and prayers of so many.  I love you all!