Martha’s Quilters Fall Festival Booth preview

Sneak preview alert! Martha’s Quilters have been busy again this year sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering and handcrafting one-of-a-kind items for sale! Come by St. Martha’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 8, in the back of the church parking lot. Each year our ladies expand their horizons with unique creations!

We will also have two quilts in the Silent Auction and one quilt in the live auction. Stop by and start your Christmas shopping! Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted!

A cancer journey with immunotherapy – maintenance infusion #6 … turtles … scan results

Infusion drugs!
So the hubster had his CT and MRI scans this week, along with his every other week maintenance infusion. This week was maintenance infusion #6 of the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab. The scans are an added stress and just two more things we gotta do … but only every three months. They give us some great information on how Rick is responding to Nivolumab as we very slowly inch toward the finish line of treatment about 17 months from now.

When we both get to be grumpy bugs about “12-hour Thursdays,” I like to tell Rick his cancer journey reminds me of one of Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare.

“Dear … you are that slow and steady tortoise in a race for your life. And we all know who won in that story, don’t we?”

It was during our meeting with the lovely Simi, Dr. Campbell’s awesome PA, that we got the results of the MRI from the evening before. Rick wouldn’t have his CT scan until later in the day. Simi started with the liver tumor which went from 2.1 cm to 1.8 cm. Nice! Just don’t ask me how big a centimeter is! The tumors in both lungs were already reported to have disappeared in a previous scan, so no news there. The tumor on his chest was reported by the radiologist to have “decreased” but no specific measurement was given. I’ll take that and run with it!

I was hoping there would be some good news on the four cancer affected areas of bone. In all these months nothing much has been said about the bone areas. Simi indicated that in three bone areas the cancer was “killed.” Simi then looked us straight in the eyes, starting with Rick, and then grabbed Rick’s arm. With a smile that touched both her ears, Simi repeated that one important word “killed” again. News like that sinks in slowly … and in waves. Oh, and one other bone area, on the 9th rib, had decreased. I’ll reserve my happy dance for later at the house.

Simi also told us Dr. Campbell shares his patient cases with his fellows.

“He doesn’t use anyone’s name, but when Dr. Campbell is describing a patient, I always know when he is talking about you! Rick … you are becoming a celebrity with the fellows. They all want to meet you,” Simi told us.

Dr. Campbell dropped in grinning a few minutes later. He told us Rick’s dramatic results in this clinical trial has shown the “best results he has ever had in a patient.”

So yesterday … was a very good day.

And after all these months I am still learning. This week I learned that only 3% of cancer patients are participating in clinical trials. We need to do better. I learned that being a celebrity sometimes has nothing to do with receiving an award like an Oscar or an Emmy. Sometimes it is just awesome test results and excited fellows! I learned that someone new tells me every day they are praying for us. It is very humbling. I also learned I get lost every time we have an appointment in the main building at MDA. I also learned the gift shops at MDA sell Chex Mix snacks, Rick’s favorite snack. Oh … and I really like turtles!

St. Martha Quilters create quilt for Fall Festival live auction!

Martha’s Quilters have been busy for months getting ready for this year’s St. Martha Catholic Church Festival & Market which will be held on Saturday, October 8. As always, our booth will have for sale some really unique handcrafted items such as Christmas gifts, lots of fun college items, baby wearables, table runners, adorable doll quilts, beautiful lap-size quilts and lots of items I haven’t even seen yet. Basically, something for everyone! Just be sure and stop by our booth! You won’t be disappointed!

Our prayer quilt ministry group has again made a one-of-a-kind quilt for the live auction. Each of our members participated in making this quilt another masterpiece! Last year our Nativity quilt sold for $2,200.

This year’s quilt is an adaption of a paper-pieced pattern called “First Snow” by Tina Curran. Lynn, one of our lovely and talented Martha’s Quilters, acquired the pattern a couple of years ago and promptly began collecting fabric for the project. A couple of months ago, I remember seeing Lynn hunkered down at her sewing machine with little pieces of colorful Christmas fabric flying all over the place. I thought she was making the whole quilt by herself. It wasn’t long before Judy, who sat next to Lynn most Wednesdays, was making blocks for the project. Lynn even taught Judy to paper-piece. Judy also designed the church block, which is not a part of Tina Curran’s design, but definitely just what our Festival quilt needed! I think Clara made some blocks as well. Several of our talented ladies … Noreen … Clara … and Sally come to mind … machine-quilted the project. I was privileged to sew the binding on … and Marie sewed the binding by hand to the back. Embellishments are next week. This quilt is stunning!

The three-month project took our members hundreds of hours to complete and will be hanging in the narthex at St. Martha’s Catholic Church the weekend before the festival. Feel free to take a peek! Opening bid for this live auction one-of-a-kind Christmas quilt is $500.

A cancer journey – six months of treatment down … 18 more to go!

Infusion time!
It has been years since I sat down and watched an episode of The Simpson’s. Looking back, I can certainly relate to the kids on the show. We have our own Lisa, Bart and Maggie characters in our family. So does anyone remember The Simpson’s “Itchy and Scratchy Show?” They are a mouse and cat cartoon, within the Simpson’s show. The cat and mouse are actually really mean to each other. I recall always letting out a disapproving “yuck” and covering little eyeballs in the room whenever the duo came on the screen.

Well, we have our own “Itchy and Scratchy Show” at the Frantz house. Not to worry … no violence involved. It seems one of Rick’s side effects from the Immunotherapy is lots of itching. Not only that but now he has little red spots popping up. Reminds me of perpetual chicken pox. So if that is all he has to deal with during cancer treatment, we are counting our blessings big-time.

It is why Rick had a dermatology appointment last week at MD Anderson to help with the issue before things get out of hand and the dude is covered in little red spots. They even did a biopsy to make sure it really wasn’t a big deal. Two prescriptions later, one a gigantic vat of itch cream I swear I could dip him in, and we were out of there. It was the shortest day on record at MDA for us.

This week Rick finished up maintenance infusion number five! Dr. Campbell confirmed that with six months of treatment under Rick’s belt, side effects from the immunotherapy would almost certainly be limited to the itching and was actually pretty common. Rick’s immune system is like another cartoon from my own childhood … Mighty Mouse … to the rescue!

When I mentioned to Dr. Campbell, our awesome oncologist, that maybe he could take out that one stitch from the biopsy last week since we were there, he said, “I don’t have a kit.”

“While I don’t have one either,” I said back.

The dermatologist did indicate to me it was really easy. Sure … that is what they all say … was my first thought. Dr. Campbell then drew a large picture of how to take the stitch out. Like the 84 injections after kidney removal surgery, it looks like I’m committed.

The birthday that almost wasn’t was also celebrated this week. I’m still pinching him to make sure he is real. Rick was the birthday boy with cake baked by adorable pregnant daughter, Katie, with lots of help from grandson Jacob. The little guy cracks a mean egg.

No MDA visits for two weeks. On the radar … CT and MRI scans and maintenance infusion #6. We aren’t even close to done yet. Thanks for continuing to keep us in your prayers!