A cancer journey – new scan results!


Last week Rick had his three-month scan extravaganza. It seems like years (it has only been 20 months) since I wheeled a very sick husband through MDA’s automatic doors. It is probably why before backing out of the driveway, I asked Rick if he still remembered his patient number. The seven-digit number is asked multiple times by MDA personnel before testing. Yep, like our social security numbers, these digits are forever embeded in both our brains.

Rick just completed six months of observation without any medication. Previously, he had a couple of different types chemo pills which were a disaster. And before that months of immunotherapy. Testing and results this time around were going to be a very big deal.

So on Friday there was a bone scan, bloodwork (I lovingly call “bloodletting”), CT and a mega-MRI scans. I highly recommend having scans on Friday. Everything went so smoothly, in about 6 a.m. and out by 4 p.m. That was probably the shortest scan day in our history. We were both pinching ourselves. We even had time to catch a quick bite to eat at the Rotary House’s restaurant between the CT and MRI scan.

And today we received Rick’s stunning scan results from our favorite oncologist, Dr. Campbell. All the scans are the same as three months ago … stable. His lipase was even normal. Thank you Jesus and MD Anderson. We talked a lot about the trial he had been on. The reflection was good for our soul. This immunotherapy stuff has only been around seriously since 2012. I think it all started with treating Melonoma patients. Rick started on his Immunotherapy Trial for Clear Cell Kidney Cancer in early 2016. Since then, his trial has expanded from 60 patients to 105. That is because patients were doing so well. Rick’s combination of two drugs have a 58% positive response rate. The one drug has a 42% positive response rate. Dr. Campbell indicated they will have all their slots full on the trial by the end of the year for the 105 patients. These positive results bode well for future Clear Cell Kidney Cancer patients.

Dr. Campbell told us that they are expanding the types of cancers that receive immunotherapy ALL THE TIME. There are also new drugs being developed ALL THE TIME. He also said they have learned that some of the old drugs may not hold cancer at bay forever. Some of the drugs are doing very well. The good news is that patients, like Rick, who respond well to immunotherapy have a great chance that if cancer does return there will be lots more new treatment options to chose from.

We go back for scans in three months. If that visit is stable … four month scans.

Quilter’s Patch – September block finished on time!


September’s Quilter’s Patch block-of-the-month assignment, the Greenhouse Block, was finished in plenty of time before the October block hits my mailbox. Geez … I haven’t been this “caught up” since January! It was the perfect block to work on when horrible Hurricane Harvey decided to pay our Texas Gulf Coast a visit. Plenty of hand applique was involved attaching each clamshell shingle bottom edge to the roof. If you have yet to work on this block, Edyta’s tip to use interfacing as a stabilizer made my life so much easier. I found a lightweight black interfacing which really worked well with the dark fabric used for the shingles.

Looking ahead to the finished quilt top … I’ve decided not to add the borders on my quilt top. I like to hang my quilts and change them out seasonally. The quilt, as featured, will be just too large to hang in my house. I’ll add narrow borders … perhaps piece the watering can … it is adorable … and add it to the back with a butterfly.

Next month … a sunflower block!

Quilter’s Patch – August block was tough!


The Hollyhock Block was the only block assigned for August. Thank you Edyta! It is also oversized at 12-1/2″ by 24-1/2″ length-wise … twice as large in length as the previous blocks for January through July. The tricky part about this block was making the three full circle blooms of the block meet at the seams. In a couple of spots, I was off. I have to admit one of the circles looked more like a blob than a circle. So it came to me in a dream on how to make the blooms appear to meet. After the block was pieced, I zigzagged with a generous zigzag around the block and managed to create the illusion of the seams meeting. At least my blooms don’t look like a monster from a horror movie.

September’s block arrived a few days after Hurricane Harvey departed our area. It is the Greenhouse Block. I’ve read the directions on how to piece the clamshell roof. Geez! If I can make it past September, I will be home free!

Thank you Edyta Sitar, designer of this beautiful quilt for challenging me.

P.S. – excuse the poor quality of some of my photographs. The “darkish” photos are taken with my Stone Age camera. I used hubby’s cell phone camera when I could catch him home. Our cell phones take the best photos. Unfortunately, mine won’t let me email them to myself. I know … it is probably something I am doing … or not doing! This morning I am off to the Genius Bar to see if they can sort it all out.

Quilter’s Patch – July blocks are history!


The two July blocks are history and clearly ate my lunch! First was the Sweet Pea block which contained over 70 pieces for the 12-1/2″ block. The “leaves” were paper pieced and easy peasy. I love the accuracy of paper piecing. The only thing that bothered me about this block is the top blooms do not meet with the stem. I thought it was me but when I checked the photo in the book … yep … those top blooms do not meet either. I thought about taking the top row apart and re-doing it … not gonna happen … at least not now. Maybe before I put all the blocks together.

The second was the Bachelor Button block which contained lots of set-in seams in the blossom part of the block. This was a first for me. Even with great directions, it was not a pleasant experience. I have to say my third blossom looks so much better than the first … so I have that going for me. Also, it was difficult to get the blooms to lie flat. As a result, the blooms want to crinkle. Not sure that is the look the author was going for … but I am. The whole time I was piecing this one block, I kept telling myself … no way I’d do a whole quilt with set-in seams. Not me. The “leaves” on this block were super easy since half square triangle paper was provided to copy from the book. For most of us, piecing triangles are to be avoided at all costs. Thankfully, the triangle paper provided made the work so easy to an accurate little 2-1/4″ block.

Looking ahead to the current month … we have just one block for August. Do I hear an “amen?” It is the Hollyhock block and is the largest so far … 12-1/2″ by 24-1/2″. Pretty pink blooms dominate this block. Looks tedious with lots of curves. Prediction … this one is destined to be finished well in September.

Quilter’s Patch – June blocks are done!


The two June blocks for the Quilter’s Patch Block of the Month quilt … the Coneflower and Moon Flower blocks … were a bit of a challenge.

Now that there are twelve completed blocks in this block-of-the-month quilt, I am noticing my most glaring mishaps were made in these two. I cut the bottom of the flower bloom just a tad too short on the Coneflower block. I hate when that happens. Not a happy camper … but not re-doing this block. I will be considering this block a teachable moment in not being too quick to slice off a bit of fabric. Chances are good this block will be my favorite when the quilt is finished. I really love the color choices.

Then on the Moon Flower, I had to adjust the template on the petals since I was not doing needle-turn applique. The first flower took the longest getting the ending dimensions to cooperate. Didn’t want my petals to overhang past the seam allowance. That would have been tragic. Once the first flower blossom was complete, the other two were a piece of chocolate cake.

Looking ahead to the blocks in July … the Sweet Pea block sure has a bunch of pieces. Then there is the Bachelor Button block. Everyone is complaining about this one. I will have to step up my game as I just received August’s block in the mail.

Quilter’s Patch – May blocks finally finished!


I didn’t mean to get behind on May’s Quilter’s Patch block of the month. I confess to walking by my cutting table re-reading the directions about 10 times and just dreading these two blocks. I did take a break to make a quilt top for a charity event. Finished it about a week ago and it is off to the long-arm lady. Now on to the challenging blocks for May!

I have to say these two blocks were the most difficult for me so far. The Dahlia block has hexagon units … something I have never made before in my life … and hope to never make ever again! Thankfully, the directions were wonderful. I felt the designer, Edyta Sitar, sitting on my shoulder egging me on with words like “you can do this” in her cute little accent. She really knows how to challenge a quilter!

Then there was the Honeysuckle block. Geez! I counted 122 little fabric pieces in the 12-inch block. Triangles are also typically not my thing. These were 60 degree triangles and if you didn’t get them positioned correctly with the straight of grain horizontally in the block you are burnt toast. Bias edges will not lay flat if you get them positioned incorrectly. This block was tedious but it is now history.

Ready to move on! I’ve got some catching up to do with June and July blocks!

A cancer journey – scan results revealed


Time for my monthly update on how Rick is fighting stage IV kidney cancer. For so many months, we both have felt like we’ve been in the middle of a boxing ring fighting the good fight. Like Rocky Balboa, Rick has been right smack in the middle of the prize fight for his life with a huge guy throwing gut punches. I’m the one, between rounds, throwing water on him, squirting water in his mouth, and asking him to spit. I like to think I am way cuter than Burgess Meredith, who played his trainer!

This past Friday, Rick had a variety of scans. It was part of our “every two month” check-the-dude-inside-and-out during his “active surveillance” status. We have come to the point of just watching the remnants of little spots of cancer. This has created anxiety for me. Rick … he has moved on down the road of cancer. I don’t know how he does that.

So I decided we both needed a little break … maybe me more than him … so instead of heading home on Friday, Mimi stayed at the respite house, and Lulu reluctantly was boarded. I booked a room at the Hotel ZaZa down the street from the medical center. First time for us and what a cool place. They have a free shuttle that will drop off and pick up within five miles of the hotel, including the medical center. When I booked the room, I mentioned something about spending the day at MDA for testing and was offered a “medical rate.” It was very generous! Upon check-in, we were also upgraded to a suite. We had a lovely dinner that night and breakfast the next morning in their Monarch Restaurant. I recommend the Blackberry Margarita on the rocks, no salt. This was totally what we needed. One night of relaxation … in a cool atmosphere! I could write a whole post on this place.

Fast forward to yesterday. Rick had his last scan … a brain scan. It was a test they couldn’t do on Friday. Rick continues to wonder why he has to have a brain scan. He will be the first to admit, “there isn’t anything up there,” although I know differently. At lunchtime, we met with Dr. Campbell, Rick’s oncologist, that has been calling the shots since we started early last year.

In a peanut shell, he told us no cancer in the brain. CT and MRI scans show all cancer is stable. Essentially, what spots are left are either dead or the same size. The drugs from the immunotherapy clinical trial Rick was kicked off in January is probably still working and may continue for a very long time. One of the symptoms of the infusion drug continuing to work is itching, from the inside, and that is still happening.

Then Dr. Campbell dropped the big news. We will now be having scans every three MONTHS and seeing him every 3 MONTHS. Although Rick is still considered in treatment, we feel like we won the fifth round of a 10 round championship fight. God is good … all the time!