Health update

It’s been a year and 2 days since I’ve updated this blog. Believe it or not, I am still alive and kicking though!  Last weekend, we took the kids to the Outer Banks and had a lot of fun. Kolbrin has 2 teeth now, and is scooting everywhere he wants to go. Kobie is doing good, growing like a weed and I hate it! I wish both of my boys would stay small forever. It is what it is though.

Saturday night I went to bed around 10:45 because I was exhausted. I was woken up around 12:00 with a bunch of strange people in my bedroom, plus my wife, neighbors, and father in-law. Those strange people were EMS workers. I asked what was going on and why they woke me up. Amanda told me I had a seizure and I asked if I was okay. Nobody knew. They loaded me up on a stretcher and took me to Franklin Memorial Hospital, where Dr. Lane ran bloodwork and a CT Scan on my head. Everything came back normal, and he thinks the seizure was caused by scar tissue. It was a very scary night though to say the least! I am now back on Dilantin to control seizures. I have to follow up with Dr. Shertz Friday morning so once I find out anything I’ll post it on here to let y’all know! Thank you everyone for the thoughts and prayers.

1 Year!

Circumstances in life often take us places that we never intended to go.  We visit some places of beauty and others of pain and desolation.  I never imagined that cancer would be a part of my life history–especially not at the age of 23!  Like with any great trial, God uses everything for good if we allow him to heal us.  Every moment is teachable; every ounce of hurt can prune us for future happiness.  Don’t give in to weakness by dwelling on what you see today; look through it, as hard as it is, to the vision just beyond your sight.

One year ago today Josh was diagnosed with cancer.  Neither one of us will forget that day.  One year ago today we thought our lives were coming to a crashing end yet we now see it as just the first of many obstacles we have had to overcome this past year.

Just your average update

I figured I was due for an update! I have been doing a little better. I still stay fatigued all of the time, and the more tired I get, the worse I get. You can tell when I am tired because I am not myself. I was hoping to go back to work today, but things changed over the course of the past 2 weeks. I realized I shouldn’t go back today due to all of my doctor appointments within the next 2 weeks. Also I am still not quite myself, as I sometimes get lost in my own mind. I will eventually get better though. I have cancer, cancer doesn’t have me.

Friday night, Amanda was working. I was very tired so I decided to lay down and take a nap. I woke myself up, seeing things that wasn’t there. It was strange. I was also very nauseous so I called Amanda just to update her. Well, she called Tommy and Tiffany, and Tommy came to the house to check on me. Tommy and Tiff are great friends of ours who have helped us out so much. Tiff is an ER Nurse, and Tommy is the emergency management officer at Carilion Franklin Memorial, as well as a paramedic. Tommy knew that I was off, so he had me page my oncologist. In the meantime, Amanda had paged Dr. Harron. Dr. Harron wanted me to go to the ER at Roanoke Memorial. So Tommy and Jeff (Amandas dad) took me to the ER at Roanoke Memorial. We got there, and since he had connections we got in with no wait. They took me back, and gave me meds to “knock me out”. Well in case you missed previous posts, medication does NOT knock me out. So I just got pain meds for my headache, and went for an MRI. Dr. Harron had already talked to the ER doctor so things were in order. I went for my MRI, and on the way back to the room, Dr. Harron passed me in the hall. He told me the MRI results were negative and everything looked good. He kept me overnight for observation. Everything went fine, and I have not had any more symptoms. He said it could have been a bug or I was just too tired. At any rate, it took a burden off of my shoulders seeing the negative results. I feel so much better.

On Saturday when I got home, Mt. Caramel Baptist Church was at our house, and they had done all sorts of housework that I have not been able to do. They fixed so many things and did so much. I am so thankful to them! Also my best friend from Charlotte Stan came up on Saturday morning and spent the weekend with me. That was fun! We just hung out, ate, and watched basketball all weekend. It was fun.

Other than that I am doing OK and living life one day at a time, to its fullest. In case anyone hasn’t heard in the news today, Lance Armstrong had a wreck in his race and broke his collarbone. That SUCKS because now he’s out of this race. But, he will LIVESTRONG and I know it! Finally, I’ve updated page. The army is forming larger and larger. I have recently have the Livestrong Army in Richmond join up with LSAVA so it’s still growing. Whenever I have another update, I’ll post it. Take care everyone!!


Let’s go Tar Heels!!

Back from the dead, round II !

Hey guys! I just wanted to let everyone know that I am at home now, and am doing well. I get really tired quick and easy but I guess that’s expected and my body is just healing. I wanted to give everyone a perspective on things now, from MY point of view. on January 8th, I remember being at work. I was working on a network map and drawing schematics all day. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically tiny lines running parallel to one another. While I felt fine at work, at the end of the day I kinda started feeling funny and dizzy. I sent Amanda an IM and told her to call Dr. Shertz and let him know what’s up. He was on vacation, so she called Dr. Harron. He didn’t return her call quick so she told me just to go to her work and she’d meet me there. I remember driving most of the way. About half way on the drive home, I don’t remember much. I vaguely remember getting to the ER at Franklin Memorial, and I have NO clue how I got there. The next thing I know, I woke up (it was the next day) and I was strapped to a bed, with tubes down my throat and IVs in my arms and was in ICU. Now keep in mind, I don’t get IVs since I have a port. Amanda had told me that I stopped breathing and LifeGuard 10 had flown me to Roanoke. She told me what happened. I don’t remember much of that day but I remember her telling me what happened. I have NO recollection of the night I had the seizure and was flown. In fact, I don’t remember ANYTHING from my hospital stay. Amanda told me about the people who came to see me. If you came to see me in the hospital, I am sorry but I do not remember it, and I am sure I seemed flakey while you were there. I don’t remember crashing while I was in the hospital either, but Amanda and Tiffany said I lost vision and feeling in my body. I just remember waking up and everyone telling me my second brain surgery was finished. It’s amazing what your body can shut out for you to not remember. That being said, I feel much better.

During my seizure, I dislocated my right shoulder and tore the rotator cuff in it. I go to Roanoke Orthopedic next week to chat with the surgeon there about it. He’s told me that he would have to take my shoulder apart and rebuild it. Let me tell you, I am excited aout that! It hurts really bad at times though, especially of a morning when I wake up.

I did go see Dr. Harron on Wednesday and he took the 38 staples out of my head. That didn’t hurt like I thought it would. After we left there, we went to Dr. Buck to get my head cast fitted for my radiation. They hope to start that next week. They’re not targeting any tumor to kill, but IU wants to do radiation in the tumor bed since it came back so aggressive. I’m all for it.

Friday, I went to see Dr. Shertz. He said right now, we need to focus on radiation so nothing comes back in my noggin. Again I’m in total agreement with that. He also cancelled the head part of my CT scan on Tuesday, since it’s so close to surgery. I do get a full body CT on Tuesday though to see what the rest of my tumors are doing. Hopefully still shrinking. He did do blood work to see where my tumor markers were, and also to get my Dilantin level. If my dilantin level gets low enough, it puts me at a very high risk for more seizures. I am on medicine for that now though. The bad part of it, is that I cannot drive until June. That sucks!

So in a nutshell, all of my doctors appointments this week went good. Next week will be a busy week since I will probably start radiation, on top of everything else I have going on. On a lighter note, for those who DID come see me in the hospital, thank you. For those who called, texted, left comments on here, etc, thank you. It means a lot to me that so many of you care about me. For everyone at my work who made food for Amanda and I, it was GREAT and THANK YOU!! I don’t think I let Amanda get much of it, since I am on steroids and stay hungry. Thank you though, it’s awesome. We will keep you posted with when I start radiation, and what the doctor says next week.

Also on a side note, I’ve updated the “medical team” part of this website. I am also constantly adding stuff, so make sure you check back often as I am trying to build this site up with not only my journey through this cancer battle, but also so others can use it as a resource to help them get through cancer and battle their own journey.

Thanks for reading my long post, and keeping up with me through my blog. You all ROCK! Thanks for all of the prayers and concerns as well. I am going to leave you with an excellent video that Amanda showed me. I really like it. Please watch it because it took me forever to get it to post in the blog. I hope everyone has a good weekened!


Emergency Surgery

I woke up at almost 7 this morning and was getting ready to go relieve our night shift nurse for Josh (Thank you SO much Tiff) and I got a call about 8:15 saying that they were taking Josh down for emergency surgery and that I would probably not be able to see him before surgery.  So my dad rushed me up there.  The doctor decided to do emergency surgery because of the increasing pain in Joshs head, his nausea and vomiting, his paralysis on the left side, and his loss of vision.  His vision had gotten really bad.  The pre-op nurse failed to Dr. Harron before she was done with Josh so I did get to see him and spend a few minutes with him before surgery.  His left side was affected so badly he could not feel me touching him on his left arm, leg, foot, face, neck, or ear.  When I kissed him as they were rolling him down to the or he didn’t even feel it and make the nurse call me back again to kiss him because he didn’t realize I kissed him before.  He couldn’t see me standing beside of him either.  They finally got him down to the OR around 10am and got out around 1:!5.  They think they got his shoulder fixed while in surgery but there are no incisions so I need to talk to Dr. Miller more about that.  The surgery took about the same time as last time but this time they didn’t have to drill his skull again they just had to “pop those rivets out”.  Josh is in really good spirits and is in some pain but the pain is nowhere near as bad as before surgery thank god.  I’d seen about enough suffering as I could handle!  His left side is still not functioning.  At times he can move 1 toe and maybe 2 or 3 fingers.  He can feel if you touch him, he says it feels funny. SO he doesn’t really realize that he is being touched by a person vs the sheets.  The recovery time will be longer and harder than the recovery time for the last brain surgery because of the paralysis he experienced before the surgery this time.  The surgeon said he got all of the tumor and he cleaned the area around it out more thoroughly this time so hopefully it wont grow back.  He had to scrap Joshs skull to remove tumor matter from it.  Part of the tumor was growing into the dura of the brain so he had to remove some of that and he replaced it with dura-bond.  This tumor was the same size if not bigger than the last one.  This tumor was solid whereas the last one was sort of liquidey.

Josh is in the neuro-trauma icu for now and will likely be there for a few days.  Visitors are limited there.  He will likely want to sleep of the time for the next few days so visitors will be limited.  Today has been a crazy day, if you called and I didn’t answer or call back I’m sorry.  Thanks for all the prayers.  I will update again tomorrow.

Lunchtime update

Dr Harron came in this morning and agreed to have Josh moved to 10south, the oncology unit until the surgery.  We requested to see Dr. Fintel today since he was the doctor on the oncology floor.  We have seen him a couple other times since May and we really like him.  Since Dr. Schertz is on vacation I wanted to talk to Fintel.  Since Joshs cause is so unique and complex we wanted to get the opinion of an oncologist.  Dr. Fintel wanted to consult with Dr. Buck that is the radiation oncologist and does the cyberknife radiation.  So as of now, the plan is to consult with Dr. Buck on Monday and get Schertz (who will be back on Monday) to get in touch with IU and see what they think we need to do.  We have several different options right now, radiation; surgery then radiation; surgery and nothing; salvage chemotherapy, a combination of the surgery, radiation, and salvage chemo; maybe even a stem cell transplant.  We are not really sure what option we are going with or what is best or what the probable outcome of this.  This fight is nowhere near ending.  We have had a lot of company today so he is really tired and resting now.  His shoulder is still really hurting and the pain meds are not helping.

Thank you to everyone who has brought us snacks/food to the hospital or called and checked on us and even let me stay with them in Roanoke while Josh was in ICU.

Out of the ICU

Josh got to move out of the ICU today and into the PCU. He is doing well. The doctor is letting him eat and drink again. Tomorrow the doctor has ordered “activities” which I’m sure is walking the halls since he hasn’t been able to get out of bed yet. He is doing really well. He keeps bragging about the pictures, he is really proud of them! Sorry to cut this short but we are both exhausted and I can’t remember what else I wanted to say. I will try to post again tomorrow!

This post was posted on Sunday November 23, 2008 at 6:41PM

Another surgery down

We got to RMH around 6:15 and got checked in. About 6:30 they took Josh back to pre-op and around 7:15 they called me back because he didn’t remember his medical history since May. I’m honestly not sure if he didn’t remember or didn’t care to keep repeating the information over and over again. About 7:30 they took him for the MRI and to place the fiducial markers which are just little foam things that help the surgeon get within millimeters accuracy. He came back to the pre-op room about 45 minutes later with 11 fiducial markers on his head. Surgery was set to begin at 9 but the anesthesiologist and surgeon didn’t come in to talk with us more until about 9:15. The surgeon agreed to take pictures of the tumor for Josh since he couldn’t save it for Josh to see so we showed him how to work the camera. Josh happened to know the nurse in the OR..he went to school with her..she took 21 pictures…so we have pictures of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, the tumor, the “stealth” (the machine that assisted in the surgery), Josh’s skull, and his brain before and after the tumor. They finally took Josh back around 9:30, by then we were both a complete ball of nerves. The surgeon told me on Wednesday that it would take between 2.5-3 hours. Around 12:45 I called the OR to get the status and they said that they were almost done and that the surgeon would call me in a few minutes. I waited and waited and waited. To make matters worse their was someone else with the same last name having surgery so they kept coming out calling family with Robertson and every time I got excited only to find out it was the OTHER Robertson! Finally around 2pm the surgeon called and said that the surgery went well, Josh was awake, talking, and moving all extremities. The surgeon said that he had been out of surgery a while but it took him longer to wake up and they didn’t want to call me before then. He said that the pathology results were already back…it was metastases of testicular cancer, it was the same kind of tumor as the one biopsied in his spleen. Dr. Harron also said that the tumor was flesh like so he wasn’t able to get the best picture but he got one and that’s all that mattered to Josh!

I sat with him until the ICU visiting hours were over tonight. While he is in ICU only immediate family, 1 at a time are allowed back so please no visitors yet. He is feeling well but is in a fair amount of pain. He isn’t really allowed to have any pain medications until he is out of the critical phase which is 24-48 hours after surgery.

I’m going to try to get my first real sleep since I woke up on Wednesday morning. When I get up in the morning I am going to the hospital to sit with Josh as soon as visiting hours start.

This post was posted on Friday November 21, 2008 at 8:14PM

Phew, thank goodness we’re home

We got in yesterday afternoon, we were both exhausted! The flights home were interesting. We had a lot of turbulence from Indianapolis to Charlotte. We both hated it, Josh was scared and had I been sitting closer to the bathroom I would have probably just been in there leaning over the toilet for the rest of the flight. The flight from Charlotte to Roanoke was not near as bad. Josh was fine and I only got a little nauseous. I knew I was going to get sick on the flight, I get car sick so that on top of really being sick I knew it was going to be an interesting flight.

So I promised more about the stem cell rescue. How that works is..Josh would go up there they would take blood out and get the stem cells then they would put the blood back. Once they got all of the stem cells they would give him two rounds of extremely high doses of chemo. He would not be able to leave the hospital until his white blood cell count returned to normal which could take a while. Each round would take between 4-5 weeks. He would get 2 rounds with a week in between. However, during the week in between he would still have to see the doctor everyday so it might not be possible for him to come home during that week. Once the two rounds are completed and his white blood cell count has returned to normal they will transfuse his stem cells back into his body. Because he would get his own cells back, there would be no chance of immune mismatch or graft-versus-host disease. He would have to have this done at Indiana University because there are only a hand full of people in the country that do this. The doctor apologized for us having to come all the way up there for him to tell us just to monitor it but he explained that Josh has a unique, complicated case. The doctor has only seen testicular cancer spread to the spleen a couple of times. So that along with the lung issues Josh has made his case very complicated. I was looking for a more definite answer. I hate not know and waiting. Josh is okay. We both want this to be over but we both have different opinions on what will happen next.

This post was posted on Saturday September 20, 2008 at 11:20AM

We are here

Yesterday started out rough. I woke up sick so my mom called my doctor at home and called me in something that we picked up on the way to the airport. We got to the airport 2 hours early. Thankfully we requested a motorized cart for when we got to Charlotte. Once we got into the airplane we had to wait on the runway for about 30 minutes until we got the clear from Charlotte airport. Once we got to Charlotte we got on the cart and went to the other side of the airport and got there just in time to board the next flight. Had we not had a motorized cart we would have missed the flight in Charlotte due to the wait at Roanoke. Josh was like a kid at christmas on the flight from Charlotte to Indianapolis…we practically had his nose to the window the whole time…even though I had the window seat!

Indianapolis from our plane

After we landed, got the car, and checked in at the hotel we went to the outlets. For once in a long time Josh felt better than I did…he was walked all around the outlets while I was moving the car every time…I said it was so he wouldn’t have to walk but it was really for me since I was not feeling well.

Today we went to the cancer center….which was brand new and extremely nice! Dr Inhorn had an emergency come up and was not there so we met with Dr. Williams and some other doctor….I can’t remember her name. He basically said that he thinks Josh should be monitored monthly with CT’s and blood work to continue checking on the tumors and if they grow we will have to come back up here for a “stem cell rescue“. He thinks either the tumors will shrink more or that they chemo could have turned them from cancerous to noncancerous. If thats the case, in time, they would probably want to do surgery to remove the benign tumors but that would be once he has completely healed from the chemo. I will write more about a stem cell rescue when we get home. Thanks for all the well wishes, prayers, and support.

IU Simon Cancer Center

This post was posted on Thursday September 18, 2008 at 12:49PM