Monday, August 31, 2009


The last pic (above is a video)...

Here we are this past weekend's Wisconsin Riverfest near Spring Green. Just had to get out and boogie! I feel like the axe of the executioner has been stayed... and we all ought to celebrate life fully each day. Why wait? Life is short and there are blessings all around us... You are reading the words of one happy guy! Did I ever doubt those dark days in January 20 months ago? I was scared... but somehow I knew we would get through this. We don't have a cure, but we sure have a blessing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh, Happy Day!

The long-awaited call came from Dr Longo concerning Sabine's bone marrow biopsy and the test for her light chain disease (a 24-hour urine test). All markers for her cancer.

Bone Marrow Biopsy: Normal Bone Marrow!

Lambda Light Chains: 0.18! (she started out with over 25,000 and the Velcade/Dex chemotherapy brought them down to around 100 before they started climbing again).

Dr Longo's Diagnosis: Multiple Myeloma in Remission!

This, of course, is not the end of the fight. It is round two or three in which Sabine has a definite advantage. She is scheduled this month to raise up her connected veins so that she can develop a fistula for dialysis purposes and then get rid of the tunnel catheter in her neck. This will not only enable her to engage in water sports, but also provide a dialysis connection that is more aseptic. Who knows what the future may bring? There has even been the mention of a kidney transplant if she remains cancer-free for a period of two years.

Plenty still to pray for and we thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts for your love, concern and prayers. You are wonderful friends!

To this we give God glory and raise up the power of love and prayer!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Last week was filled with medical appointments -- one of them VERY important.

On Tuesday, we started out with Sabine having a visit with her primary care physician, Deb Williams, at Group Health Cooperative (GHC). Then we were off to our multiple myeloma support group in the afternoon.

On Wednesday, Sabine had her blood drawn at GHC and began collecting urine for 24 hours which will tell us more about her cancer levels.

The break in the week was taking Sabine's mom and her friend, Pat, to the American Player's Theater to see Noel Coward's "Hay Fever" on Wednesday evening.

The next day, Thursday, was our long-awaited "100 day post-transplant" visit with Dr Longo where Sabine got about seven holes put in her arm before they were able to get an IV in for her bone marrow biopsy. The good news is that -- so far -- Dr Longo seemed encouraged by Sabine's blood work. But, as the say, "the proof of the pudding is in the biopsy" (or something like that). Dr Longo promised to call us on Thursday or Friday giving us the results of how the transplant is dealing with those nasty cancer cells and proteins!

Thursday afternoon was spent at our monthly clinic at the dialysis center in Madison.

On top of this we had daily dialysis that took up a half-day every day of the week except Thursday!

Needless to say, we are hoping and praying for great findings this coming week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Joy and the Sorrow

Reading my blog you might think that this cancer stuff is just a minor inconvenience. Well, we try to live like that. From time to time, someone in our support group will say that if he or she didn't attend the support group they would forget they had cancer.

That may be true and we have often said that if we didn't have to dialyze five times a week we, too, might think that. But then...

On our arrive home on Sunday, I retrieved my emails (a great benefit of Glacier Park is that there are few internet connections and, for the most part, no cell phone service!) and was brought suddenly back into the reality of CANCER!

Just after we left Madison, two members of our support group whom we had grown to know and love died. We felt bad that we missed their funerals and memorial services and could not say goodbye to them. There remains a deep sadness in both of us.

When we joined the multiple myeloma support group 18 months ago we were both in "post-diagnosis distress." Within our group we immediately found two real "fighters" with tremendous energy and enthusiasm for life: Maggie Heyden and Chuck Koval. They became models and mentors for us.

Maggie was a young woman with children still in school and she was determined to beat this cancer. She was both energetic and full of life. As the year went on, Maggie sought medical advice from around the country, and traveled far and wide to find ways to resist the cancer and improve her health. Then her husband was diagnosed with cancer and Maggie's most recent attempt at another stem cell transplant (this time from a donor) failed. Both Sabine and I will miss her and the joy for life she had.

We had known Chuck and his wife, Peg, before we came to the support group. Their son was an outstanding member of the police department; a man I was privileged to hire. Mike still serves as a training officer on the department and I see a lot of his dad in him. Chuck also had a love of life and learning. As a trained scientist, with a Ph.D. in entomology and a U.W. faculty member, Chuck had a deep understanding of his cancer and shared it with each one of us. His questions to those who came to address our group were not only marked by his knowledge of the disease but also by the clear and special role he had as a patient, a consumer of medical care. (Often one of the visiting physicians would inquire as to whether Chuck had an M.D. or a Ph.D!).

Both Maggie and Chuck gave us all hope for the future. They both had valiantly fought and held back their cancer for many years. Their passing was a sad event for all of us who knew them. Though they both now have passed from this life to their Creator, they still give me hope and the realization that life is a special gift -- to be lived everyday and never squandered.

Thanks to both of you, Chuck and Maggie, and may your souls rest in peace now and forever!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We're back in town!

Well, we are just back and I thought I would put something up right away (full story of the adventurous trip to follow!!).


1. Sabine and I dancing at Many Glacier Lodge.

2. Andy Marks and I after our ascent of Swiftcurrent Mountain and fighting 50-60 mph winds! Whew!

3. We caught cut throat trout by the dozens at Avalanche Lake. I thought I was in New Zealand! Thanks to brother in law Ken for introducing me to this great sport!

4. On the westside of Glacier rests this little old mountain town called Polebridge. Good food and drink.

5. At Granite Chalet where unless you make a reservation a year in advance and hike up there and carry your own food and water, you are out of luck! Breathtaking view!

On top of this mountain Sabine celebrated her 100th day after transplant. We packed in a glass of wine and marked the day with a dehydrated "gourmet" meal.

6. Clowing around at one of the many absolutely awe-inspiring waterfalls in the park.

Okay that's it for now. We had some vascular problem with dialysis the last two days and after a short stop at some old friends from my Mpls PD days (Art and Grace Maxwell) we headed back to Wisconsin.

We had a number of med appointments this week -- Sabine's 100 day transplant checkup, some tests to see how the cancer responded to the transplant and meeting with our dialysis support staff. We are fearful that Sabine may need to have another procedure to open up the veins around her catheter (we had some high arterial pressures at the end of our trip).

We hiked just short of 40 miles during our time in Glacier. Sabine was fantastic (of course I know that!).

For more pics see our album on the Picassa Web:

Love to all of you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

We Made It!

There will be no pictures with this post! I am on line in a gas station in East Glacier, MT with dial-up internet service!

Pictures will have to come on our return to civilization. We have been here in the Glacier Park area for three days: hiking, flyfishing, and touring and eating lunch at the old lodges: East Glacier and Essex.

Dialysis has gone well and as long as we can find an electric hook-up, we are in business!

Today we take another hike up into the mountains and then return to Two Medicine Lake via boat. Then we will head further up the mountains to St Mary Lake and the Rising Sun Cabins where we will headquarter for the next four days (that is if our dialysis supplies arrive via truck! If not, we will have to leave and find a city with a dialysis center -- but I have faith!).

At St Mary we will meet with our friends, Andy and Kathy, and we will hike up to East Granite Lodge (I think that's the name) that is only accessible by foot for an overnite. Then back down the mountain the next day. The hike up and down takes a full day on foot!

On our way back home we hope to pass through Red Lodge, MT and visit with Art Maxwell, a cop whom I worked with during the glory days on the Minneapolis PD tactical squad in the early 60's. When Art and his wife, Grace, retired they walked to Red Lodge from Minneapolis and have been in Red Lodge ever since.

Okay, time is running out... Westward and Upward Ho!

Love and blessings to all of you who follow our exploits on this blog!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting Closer

Suddenly, Highway 2 disappeared! We were down to a single lane dirt road for about 20 miles outside of Williston.

As I mentioned, our first night was at Sabine's brother's place near Fargo. Then at the Lewis and Clark (and Sacajewea) State Park near Williston, ND. The next night was spent at a Native Casino Hotel and RV park in Glasgow, MT (Sabine actually won 25 cents and a free drink after playing for over an hour -- Me? Never mind!).

We took an hour-long walk this morning to stretch our legs around Glasgow and then headed west again (and into the wind -- again) toward Havre, MT. I can't wait for my drive back to Wisconsin as I am sure we will then have a tailwind -- 50 mpg? Possible!

We are now settled in for our second day of dialysis at a little shaded RV park 4 miles outside Havre (which also has wireless internet connections for campers -- and, thus, this blog today while we wash Sabine's blood)!

Tomorrow, we will get even closer to Glacier by settling into Cutbank for a couple of days. Fishing? Perhaps.

I am ready for Glacier -- as soon as I read "Night of the Grizzly" I ordered a can of MAGNUM BEAR SPRAY from REI. Will it work? I don't know, but it sure will make me feel better.

Westward Ho the wagon!

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Following Lewis and Clark

We dialyzed early (4 am) Friday morning and hit the road. Our first night was spend with Sabine's brother, Rainer, and his lovely wife, Rannae near Audobon, MN on Little Cormorant Lake. We had dinner with them after logging in 500 miles this day, took a pontoon boat ride at sunset and then hit the sack. We left at 6 a.m. and now have logged another 400+ miles to the Lewis and Clark State Park on the North Dakota and Montana border near Williston. This is a lovely spot on the Missouri River and the weather is perfect! Tomorrow we continue west on US Highway 2 after finding a church for morning worship!

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