Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chemotherapy Plan

Madeleine’s Blog 

May 30, 2012

So do not fear, for I am with you
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you and help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10
We have been waiting to hear the final recommendation from Madeleine's oncologist, and it came today after some final test results came in. The doctors had said to be ready to start chemo at any time, but Madeleine's wish had been to have "at least a week of summer" before having to jump into any chemotherapy. That wish is being granted in that her treatment won't begin until Thursday, June 7th.

The doctors believe that the best treatment for Madeleine will be an aggressive chemotherapy that Kaiser provides down in Riverside, CA. (20 centers in the US offer this type of melanoma treatment, but the Kaiser Riverside center treats the most melanoma patients in the world using this therapy; the center also provides other top melanoma therapies to patients.) In talking with the top melanoma specialist there (Dr. Gailani), he has treated many, many patients with a similar stage of melanoma and believes this treatment would be the best one for Madeleine's situation.

Madeleine (along with her mom and aunt) will go down to Riverside on Wednesday. She'll spend 5-6 days in the hospital receiving the chemotherapy, and then will be home to recover for two weeks. Then back down for another week of treatment, and home for two weeks of recovery. After those weeks, they will reevaluate and make further recommendations based on what they find.
This type of chemotherapy can be very challenging for your body as it uses three different chemo drugs to attack the melanoma, as well as two types of biological therapy drugs to boost your immune system so that it can also go to work fighting the cancer. We would really appreciate your prayers - that the chemo would be effective and that the side effects would be manageable.
Madeleine - enjoying the kids today...and vice versa!
In the meantime, Madeleine wants to enjoy her days of summer. You might think that she would go out and try to do something "splashy" today - but instead, she came and helped out on a field trip with her mom's kindergarten class (see adjacent picture).

In addition to that, Madeleine plans to have fun at her friends' graduation parties this weekend, maybe take in a Giants game, and she is looking forward to teaching swim lessons at La Cantera for the first few days of next week (and after she gets back, if she's up to it).
Assistant coaching last year at La Cantera

She is particularly excited about taking over  coaching the swim team at La Cantera, which is a great opportunity for younger students to get started with competitive swimming (see the adjacent picture from a story that the Press Democrat did last year about the program).
As a family, we want to take a moment and again thank all of you for your encouragement over these past months. Honestly, we couldn't do it without you. And that's just talking about the people we know about! We also know there are people out there praying who have never met us - that is just amazing.

As always, thank you for your concern and your prayers...

Friday, May 25, 2012


Madeleine’s Blog 

May 25, 2012

Tonight was a night to celebrate!!! Madeleine graduated from Montgomery High School and did an awesome job presenting her speech to the crowd. We are so proud of her, and we all enjoyed celebrating with her and her classmates.

Click here to see the video of Madeleine's speech

Here is the text of Madeleine's graduation speech:

Well, we’ve finally made it!

Our four years here at Montgomery High School are finally coming to an end. We have so many great memories, and we also have so much to look forward to!

All of us – in one way or another – have had to face and overcome challenges along the way to making it here tonight. Some of those challenges have been found as we’ve struggled through our homework; or as we’ve faced our opponents while playing on Montgomery’s sports teams; or even as we’ve encountered difficulties in our own personal lives.

As many of you know, I have had to face an unexpected challenge myself this year, having been diagnosed with cancer and then going through surgery, radiation, and now chemotherapy during my senior year. I can tell you - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that I am grateful to be here tonight!

Together, we’re able to look back at some great memories of challenges and victories from these past four years:
  • Of countless Viking basketball games where our team has pulled through at the last minute
  • Of essays and projects that have kept us up past midnight – but finally got done!
  • Of the hours & hours that our Drama and Choir groups have spent in rehearsals – and, of the great performances that came as the result of their efforts!
  • Of our Viking boys’ soccer team that has won two NCS titles!
  • Of our International Baccalaureate, or “I.B.” students, who have put themselves through never-ending extra hours of homework – but have made it to this night!
  • Of the new friendships, the old friendships, and the thousands of memories that have been shared through these past four years.
These years have also taught us so many valuable lessons:
  • We’ve learned that procrastination never really does end up working
  • that Facebook really can make your grades drop!
  • That even though we sometimes don’t seem to be listening (because we’re checking our cellphones!) that we really are hearing from you —our parents, our coaches, and our teachers
  • We’ve also learned that friendships grow and change, and that friends do come and go
  • But above all, that we Vikings really are a family. You guys have taught me what it means to be a family. Through every step of my battle there has been nothing but positive encouragement and support, and I am so grateful for all of you.
The memories that we’ve formed together, and the lessons that we’ve learned, will stay with us through our lifetimes. Those experiences form the foundation for what is to come as we go out from here.

Some of us will go on to college; others will go right into the work force. Some of us will stay right here in Santa Rosa; others will move to different locations or even abroad.

We don’t know fully what the road ahead will bring us. And we won’t really know what we have inside… until we hit challenges or roadblocks in our lives. Then, all the things that have been poured into us - through our families, our teachers, our friends, and our coaches – will finally have an opportunity to be drawn out of us. The things that we’ve learned in these four years are the kinds of lessons that can’t always be seen when looking at a grade-point average, an SAT score, or even a diploma.

Tonight, is the biggest, most-anticipated night of our high school lives.  After tonight, we begin a new chapter – a chapter in which we will face many adventures, and many challenges.

We are the Montgomery High School class of 2012 – and with the help of each other, our families, and with the foundation that has been built here – we will meet those challenges, and we will overcome them.


Graduation pictures: 

Speech - from a different angle

Cousins! Katherine & Madeleine
With David

With friends
Swim coach Mark Stanley
Walking in
After graduation: Deanne, Madeleine, Max, David

Below from the Press Democrat (online photo): 
Madeleine and Austin "captured on the ubiquitous iPhone during the Montgomery High School commencement ceremony held Friday on the school's football field. May 25, 2012" (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Biopsy Results

Madeleine’s Blog 

May 23, 2012
So do not fear, for I am with you
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you and help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10
Today, we have the news that we were hoping not to hear. I think that no one can say it better than Madeleine's own words - words that she put on Facebook shortly after hearing the oncologist's report:
As many of you know, these past five months I have been faced with many obstacles and challenges I have had to overcome. Today the results for my most recent biopsy confirmed melanoma in my liver. Soon I will begin further treatment to try and beat this damn cancer. The cancer is putting up quite a battle, but nothing will stop me from beating it, no matter how much it takes! I have so many people to thank for all the support, prayers, and words of encouragement. Thanks ♥ Madeleine
And so for now, we are in the process of waiting to hear what the next stage of treatment will look like. Madeleine's oncologist is in contact with the melanoma specialist, Dr. Daud from UCSF, as well as another melanoma expert, and they are working on finalizing some treatment options for us.

As we wait for that news, we also don't want to lose sight of some of the good things that have been going on this week. Last night, we were able to watch as Madeleine was presented with the "The Mighty Viking" trophy which was presented to her by her swim coach for the role she played on Montgomery's swim team this year. Before the year even started, Madeleine initiated a meeting with the swim coach to discuss ideas to help the team succeed. She was able to serve as one of the team captains this year, and while chemotherapy affected her ability to participate, her heart really was there for her team.

We are looking ahead to this Friday night, when Madeleine will be graduating from Montgomery High and having an opportunity to speak at graduation. Our focus is there right now - as it should be - and then we will be ready to take on the next phase of this battle.

As always, thank you for your prayers and concern.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scan results

Madeleine’s Blog 

May 16, 2012
So do not fear, for I am with you
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you and help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10
After all the great news of the last post, it is hard to bring some more difficult news to you. But that really is what this blog is all about - to share the good news, as well as the challenges, of this battle and to ask for your support and prayer for Madeleine.
We met this week with the oncologist to hear about the latest PET scan results. The scan appears to show a spot in the liver (the concern is metastasis), but they need to do a biopsy to confirm whether or not it is so. On Friday morning, they have scheduled a CT-guided biopsy of the area in her liver, and then they will let us know the results next week.

We would appreciate your prayers...we, of course, are hoping that the spot will turn out to be something less serious than melanoma. At the same time, we are also preparing for possible difficult news. If it is melanoma, then the oncologist is looking at treatment options, and is already in the process of connecting with UCSF and other experts to determine the best course of treatment.

In the meantime, the activities of Madeleine's senior year continue. She is going to her classes, taking an AP Statistics exam this afternoon, and practicing her speech for graduation - which will be a week from Friday.

Thank you, as always for your concern, and for your prayers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Graduation & other news

Madeleine’s Blog 

May 14, 2012

So do not fear, for I am with you
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you and help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10

This morning, we have two different kinds of "graduation" news to announce. The first is that Madeleine made it through and graduated from her intensive four weeks of daily chemo IV's!

Graduation from Chemo - presented by the nursing staff
She did remarkably well through all of this, putting up with the daily IV starts and all the effects of the medications, while still going to classes and other activities. Today, she finds out how to give herself the same medication at home, but in shot form, three times a week...for eleven months.

The second bit of graduation news is that Madeleine will be graduating from Montgomery High School on May 25th, and she has been chosen to be one of the two student grad speakers at her graduation. She is very excited about this, and it was really an honor to be chosen. (She, and the other students who tried out, prepared and delivered their potential speeches to a committee of faculty and students a few weeks ago - while Madeleine was in the middle of chemo).

In other news, Madeleine went with Montgomery's swim team on Saturday to Ukiah for the North Bay League's end-of-the-year swim meet. Much to her surprise, her coach asked her to swim in a couple of the events (even though she hasn't been able to keep up her training because of her chemo schedule). Madeleine somehow found the strength to do it, and though her times did not break any records, we think her courage did!

Even in the midst of all this good news, we end this (as always) by asking for your prayers. Madeleine had a full-body scan done on Friday, and we are expecting news of the results this week. Thanks everyone.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Week 3 done - a few challenges

Madeleine’s Blog 

May 5, 2012
So do not fear, for I am with you
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you and help you
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10

After last weekend's highpoint of being able to go to two Proms (!), this week has been a little more challenging. Fortunately, Monday was "Senior Cut Day" so Madeleine had the opportunity to stay home from school and catch up on her rest a little bit. :)  Even with the extra rest, though, she has been battling fatigue and nausea this week.

Madeleine and friend, Austin
On Friday, the doctor discovered that she had a pretty severe ear infection, and so part of the treatment was that they had to puncture her eardrum (not fun!) and start her on antibiotics. Needless to say, she is taking it easy this weekend, trying to recover from all of that.

This next week will be the last week of her daily Interferon IV's; then she will shift over to having Interferon shots three times a week. On Friday, she is scheduled to have a PET scan to see how her treatment is going.

We would appreciate your prayers as we head into this coming week - that Madeleine's ear infection would clear up, that the fatigue and nausea would improve, and that the scan results would be good. Thank you to all of you - friends and family - for your prayers and encouragement.