Jim’s Health Updates

Jim’s Update (07-13-21):

On Thursday, July 8, I had my “three months of treatment” cancer checkup. Again, not too much to report at this point. The treatment is working and the side effects of the chemo are bearable. I have three weeks on and a week off each month. The week off is to give room for a little “bounce back” effect, but in reality the effects of the treatment are cumulative, so I don’t bounce very high. I’m trying to  learn the pattern of the cycle so that on my good days, when I have energy, I can make the best use of the time and the day. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t! But the numbers are still going in the right direction. We’re encouraged!

We’re also actively pursuing the possibility of a Stem Cell Transplant at OHSU. We’ve talked and prayed about it as a family and we feel the potential of a year or more of remission sounds really good. Please pray with us as we keep moving forward with this. It would mean a month to six weeks in Portland to harvest the stem cells, to receive the transplant, to be in the hospital for a few weeks as my immune system re-engages and rebuilds itself, then to remain in the Portland area as an outpatient for about another month of several times per week tests and treatments until I’m released back to the care of my local oncologist and can move back home. It sounds daunting!

Jean’s Update (07-13-21):

Jean is doing great! The wheelchair is a thing of the past! She’s getting around well with the walker, doing Physical Therapy a couple of times each week, and walking daily with the boot and walker. It’s still over a month before the boot goes away, but recent X-rays looked good and pain is diminishing as she gets stronger and gets more exercise. Thanks for your prayers!

Jim’s Update (06-14-21):

On Thursday, June 10, I had my “two months of treatment” cancer checkup. Not too much to report at this point, except that the treatment is working and the bad cancer numbers continue to go down. So the prognosis remains encouraging. The current treatment is moving us in the direction we need to go and the side effects are manageable at this point. The best case outcome of continuing the current treatment plan is to achieve a degree of remission of cancer growth for a season and be able to reduce treatment to a maintenance dose of my current Chemo meds.

I’ve had an online consult with an oncologist at OHSU in consideration of a Stem Cell Transplant. The desired outcome of a Stem Cell Transplant would be to achieve a full remission of cancer growth that might last for a year or more before the cancer begins to aggressively multiply again. There are some risks involved as well as a certain amount of unpleasantness with the SCT. I’d need to be in hospital at OHSU for some time and then stay in the Portland area for a few weeks as my immune system rebuilds itself.

It’s a lot to think about and process and we’d appreciate your prayers as we move toward a decision on it.

Jean’s Update (06-14-21):

Jean is making good progress on healing from the leg surgery and the break. She’s beginning to walk carefully (and with very limited weight on the broken leg) with a walker and is scheduled to begin Physical Therapy next week. It’s been six weeks since the fall and that’s really a long time to be couch and chair-bound. But there’s progress and that’s very encouraging! Thanks for your prayers!

05.24.2021 Update on Jim’s Health and Jean’s Surgery

1) On Thursday, May 13, I had my “one-month of treatment” cancer check-up. My oncologist told me that the numbers that should go down are beginning to go down and a couple of the numbers we want to go up are climbing. He said, “What we wanted to happen is happening. This helps us toward a good prognosis!”

2) Jean had a successful surgery to repair her broken leg/ankle on Monday, May 18. She’s recovering well at home with minimal pain so far. She has more mobility than any time in the two weeks since the break occurred. It’s looking good! Our daughter Melissa and her husband Colin have been looking after us. They’ve been coming over to help get Jean out of the house and into the car when we need to go for medical stuff. Our daughter Stephanie is with us this week to help out and give me a break. Son-in-law Philip set up our Alexa so Jean can reach me in any room in the house from her headquarters in the living room. Life is good!

So many of you have written, texted, phoned, and emailed words of hope and encouragement! Many have given financially to help with the unexpected expenses of my illness and Jean’s injury! A Meal Train team from our church has been providing evening meals most days. Please be patient with us if we’re slow to acknowledge and respond. Your responses have been overwhelming in a very good way! We love and appreciate you all very much!

04.16.2021 Initial Report:

Hi friends, We’ve got some news to share with you about my health. I was recently diagnosed with a cancer called Multiple Myeloma. The cancer was fortunately caught by an alert Primary Care doctor through some abnormal readings on a routine blood test.  MM is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. It’s not curable, but is treatable. We’ve chosen a chemotherapy treatment which is proposed to continue for one year. If I respond well to the treatment, remission is possible.

I started treatment April 15, 2021. Treatment is three weeks on and one week off. After only one treatment, side effects are minimal but those who know tell me the effects tend to be cumulative, so I’ll probably be ready for the week off when it gets here! I’m in good health otherwise, so that’s in my favor. My disease is at Stage 2 of 3 Stages. Doctor’s comment: Overall, findings are prognostically favorable.” I love science!

Jean and I are doing well. This caught us by surprise, but after a month and a half of blood tests, MRI scans, and bone marrow biopsies we’ve accepted that we’re moving into a new season of life that simply isn’t going to be like it was before the diagnosis.

We’re having lots of discussions: Jean and I, Jean and I and the kids and grandkids, Jean and I and cancer survivors we know. We’ve learned more about cancer than we ever wanted to know and we’re just getting started!

We would appreciate your prayers for healing and for wisdom and for God’s continued provision as we daily remind ourselves of two of the most important questions: 1) What really matters? 2) How much is enough? And as we also hourly remind ourselves that God has always been faithful and will continue to be faithful through this season.

Thanks for your love, prayers and support.

Love from Jim and Jean Stephens