Sunday, August 30, 2009

1 Year Ago Today!

I've sat here for about 5 minutes now trying to figure out how I want to start this post, so here it goes.

One year ago today, not to the date, but to the day... Alan was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. Many of you have followed us this past year so you are familiar with our story. I guess I just feel the need to recap this weekend a year ago.

Alan was put in the Crossett hospital by Dr. Malloy on Friday, August 29, 2008. He ran many different test on Alan through the weekend trying to figure out why he was so anemic and having other issues. We thought the main problem were stomach ulcers (Alan had 8), but obviously, that was not the problem. I was actually at home getting ready for Alan to get out of the hospital on that Sunday. All he wanted was some potato soup, so I was getting that prepared and then planning on getting him from the hospital. He called me from the hospital and said Dr. Malloy needed to talk to us. Of course I said "Why?" He told me he didn't know (which Alan already knew) but I needed to get up there. We live maybe 4 miles from the hospital. I remember taking my time b/c what could be so important that he needed to talk to both of us....I mean, it's stomach ulcers...right?! A sick feeling went through my body, but I made it up there to find Alan with a blank look and Dr. Malloy sitting there waiting to tell me the worst news of our life...so far. Basically, it went something like this "Alan has a large tumor on his left kidney. This is called Renal Cell Carcinoma or Kidney Cancer." I'm not sure what all else he said, but I remember he drew us a picture and after that the tears were flowing. He told us a little more and then he wanted us to call our parents and have them come to the hospital so he could talk to all of us. He left for a little while to give us some time. I remember laying in the bed with Alan and just crying and holding hands. What else could we do. We were confused, scared and of course still trying to take this news in. I had to pull it together to call my parents and Alan's parents. I didn't want them to get upset on the way to the hospital, but I'm sure they could hear it in my voice. Each grandparent just happen to have one of our kids, so it worked out for them to go to their "second family", the Higginbotham's. They came to the hospital, Dr. Malloy was already there waiting with us and then he told them the news. We were already crying again. **A quick note** We live in a small town anyway... where you know everyone, but Dr. Malloy is like family to us. His daughter Christian is married to Alan's brother Trent, so it was just hard for everyone. We had our moment of sadness/weakness in the hospital and right after Dr. Malloy got through talking to everyone, Bro. Eric and Bro. David walked in to visit with us and they had no idea what news we were just told. God knew we needed them at that moment. These are two wonderful Christian men that are great family friends also. Bro. Eric is our preacher. So, what's next , well, we pack up and head home. Dr. Malloy sets us up with a Urologist in Little Rock and the rest is history....or on my blog..:-).

I remember after we got home some of our friends calling to see if we were home b/c they knew Alan was supposed to get out of the hospital Sunday anyway. They'd say, "I guess you guys are home", and my response in tears, "Yeah, we're home."...in an extremely sad voice. I remember specifically talking to Kami and Paula that night. Those were two extremely hard phone calls. I really didn't even want to tell people because I honestly wasn't even sure what to tell them. I also remember the hurricane hitting a couple of days later and us loosing electricity. Now, that's a real mood killer to be sitting in the dark. I think Carson also got a bad stomach virus about this time too. Not a good week.

Last year this specific weekend was Labor Day Weekend. The whole McCone family was together that Monday. After the news we had just been handed Sunday, we needed family. I know we also did a family picture. I'm sure we all looked sad in our eyes, but we tried to put on a smile. Well, this weekend we all got together again. Christian just got a very nice new camera, so we tried to get some family pictures done. I've posted a few below. So, between the rain and humidity (notice the frizzy hair!!), we got some pretty good shots.

I know this was a long post, but I just want to post this in honor of Alan and everything he has endured this past year. He has been through alot, but he has always kept a smile on his face. I just please ask that you continue to pray for our family and that one day we will be rid of this cancer! Please remember other families in need to prayer.


I love the look on Sydney's face. It was so sweet.


Carson...what can I say. He's all boy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hair Bows!!

Many of you know I make and sell hair bows. I've been doing this for about 5 years now. I've had alot of new orders lately, so I just wanted to share some new bows. Many of these are M2M (made to match) in case you were wondering about the color combos. I've got the Maroon and White to support our local Eagles and other "Spirit" colored bows too....Lions, Razorbacks, etc.
If you are ever interested in my hair bows or would like more information, please email me at:













Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Birthday & Houston Update!!

First, let me start off by saying Happy Birthday to Alan. Saturday was his birthday, but we actually celebrated his birthday Friday night. I never had a chance to do a post about this b/c we were trying to get packed up. I want to say Thank You to everyone that wished Alan a Happy Birthday and also to a wonderful group of our friends that showed up Friday night at our house with a BIG Surprise and a BIG cookie cake for Alan. They came to wish us a safe trip and a prayer before we left. Amber has pictures on her blog from the surprise.


OK, the Houston Update. Where do I start. Monday was pretty much a wait ALL day long event. I think we finally saw Dr. Amato around 3 or after. Can't remember. Anyway, after comparing Alan's new scans from his previous (7/13), nothing had changed. This does not sound like great news, but it was not bad news either. Alan has not been on any chemo in over a month and nothing had spread! We were not able to see any change from the radiation treatment. It might still be a little early to tell....that's what we are praying anyway. After looking at the scans, Dr. Amato started talking to us about what his plan was for Alan's new chemo. He said after looking at his pathology, that it was best to get back on the Sutent and combine it with another chemo pill called Cytoxan. These two chemo's have never been combined, so basically Alan is a Guinea pig and kind of on his own trial. Because Alan is young and for the most part healthy, Dr. Amato wants to see how he reacts to these combined meds. He said if Alan handles it well, then he will start some of his other patients on this combo. Now, both of these drugs are FDA approved, but have just never been tested before together. When Dr. Amato was talking to us about the combo, he used alot of scary words that I'm not even going to talk about, but lets just say we are taking a huge risk. He said we can risk trying this combo, or risk the cancer. Alan started his new cocktail Tuesday (yesterday). We were sitting in the parking lot of Rabideaux's in Iowa, LA and said a prayer. So far he is doing ok. The side effects to the Sutent did not really kick in until about the 3rd or 4th week. Last time he was on the Sutent, he took it for 4 weeks and then off 2. This time it will be a complete 6 week cycle, but the dose is just a little lower. The Cytoxan will be 6 weeks also. We will monitor his blood pressure daily and he will send in his blood work weekly to Dr. Amato. Like I said, there was alot more involved to this appointment, but it's just too much to go in to. I actually brought a voice recorder to this appointment and I'm glad I did. Dr. Amato is also taking Alan off of the steroid, so hopefully he will not look so...hummm....puffy, lol. He has put on a few pounds since being on the steroid, so I'm glad he is getting off of it!

After our appointment Monday, we met some new friends in Houston....Kaylynn and Phil Carpenter. Kaylynn stumbled across my blog searching for Dr. Amato. Her husband has been a patient of Dr. Amato's for the past 5 years...I think I'm right on that. Anyway, we met them for dinner and had a wonderful visit. Hopefully we will be able to meet up with them again. Phil had an appointment with Dr. Amato Tuesday and he showed to be stable. He has a spot on his shoulder and had the same radiation treatment in April that Alan just had. It's nice to have someone to compare notes with.

We will go back to Houston October 5th and see if the new treatment is working. Alan will have scans and everything again.

So, the run down....Alan still has a few larger spots along with some smaller spots in both lungs. He still has the tumors in his vertebrae and spinal canal. Dr. Amato also brought up that same spot I said we were never going to mention again, but he did...that spot close to the renal vein. He said it did change in size a little and he can't help but go back to it each time to check it, so who knows what it is, but he checks it anyway.

We really feel that your prayers are working, so of course we just ask that you continue them. Please say special prayers that Alan's back pain goes away or at least lets up. Alan is on disability right now and it seems he will be for a while. This is hard for him on many levels. He misses his job and he misses his great friends he works with. I know he misses interacting with adult people, besides myself...:-), on a day to day basis. He is keeping busy with the cooking though. haha
We love you all and Thank You!!
God is good...All the time!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1st Grade Here We Come!!

Sydney had her first day of 1st grade Wednesday. Thank goodness it was a great day and actually no tears were even shed. The only time I about lost it was when Sydney told me the night before that she did not need me to walk her in because she is 6 years old and 6 year olds do not need to be walked in. I told her "TOO BAD!!" I did walk her in today just to make sure she knew which hall to turn down and the correct room. She did a great job, so I guess tomorrow I'll let her go in by herself. That's going to be hard for me!! I'm sure she will show everyone her "Twinkle Toes" as she walks in. Her favorite new shoes, LOL!! Sydney's teacher is Mrs. Smith. Sydney really likes her and I'm very excited about Sydney's class. She has alot of friends in there with her.
Sydney and Mason
Sydney and Laney
Carson had to get in the picture too.
Our 6 year old 1st Grader!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Houston, Monday the 24th

As of today, that is the date for Alan's appointment with Dr. Amato. They finally called today!! Alan talked to them and she said they had his pathology done. We don't really know what that means. Does it mean, they have a treatment together, does it mean they can't figure it out...what exactly does that mean!! I guess we will find out Monday. We will start that morning out like most in Houston...blood work early, scans and then wait to see Dr. Amato. I have had a headache all day and my stomach has been in knots. I have seriously felt like I was getting the flu all day and when Alan told me they called...the feelings just got worse. I know my "symptoms" are all stress related, but I'm so ready to get Monday over with. We will also be seeing Dr. Tae either Monday or Tuesday. By that time it will have been one month since Alan's last radiation treatment. This will be when we see the full results from the radiation. Another big moment. I can't believe it's already been a month.

At the moment, Alan's back is still in constant pain. He mentioned the other day that his hip bone was hurting some. Of course we look at each other and can't help but think the worse. If you have seen Alan lately, then you might notice his face looking a little fuller. He has been on a steroid for about a month now, so he looks like he is lifting weights and bulking up, lol....he's not, it's just the steroid. The steroid is to help with the inflammation of the tumors in his back.

Lord, I just pray that you give us the strength to get through these days coming up and I pray that your plan is to heal Alan and ease the pain in his back. I ask these things because we know you are a mighty God, but we also know that you hold our plan and whatever your will is, we will follow the path with our heads up.

Please remember to pray for the ones in need of prayer. I have so many that come to my mind at this very moment.

Love and Prayers!
Melissa

Sunday, August 16, 2009

High Delta Safari Park

Before school starts (Wednesday...ughhh), we wanted to do one more fun day with the kids, so my parents, Alan, I and the kids, loaded up and headed south to Delhi. We started with the High Delta Safari Park. It was pretty neat, but I'm sure to the 2 and 6 year old it was REALLY neat!! These are definitely not animals you see everyday. They have a pretty neat gift shop too. You can ride on the zebra painted wagon, but we chose to "keep it cool" and ride through the park in the Expedition. After about and hour or so at the park we headed to Poverty Point State Park. Sydney swam a little bit at the beach and we had a picnic...it was hot and no wind. We didn't stay long...:-) Then we went to check out the cabins that are literally over the water that you can rent. It was really neat and looks like a fun place to come and stay a few nights...not too far from home. On to the pictures!
I think I remember a sign that said "Do not feed the animals from your hands" hummm!!


This Elk followed us for a while. It was weird watching it run. Just something you don't see everyday. It was pretty funny when we realized that it was running to its "hang out"....see picture below.

I guess this is where the Elk hang out! LOL



Texas Longhorns...we think!




Here are some of the cabins at Poverty Point!

OK, I took a picture of this extremely large house with beautiful grounds. It is located just across from the entrance of Poverty Point...YOU CAN'T MISS IT!! But, apparently anyone that lives in Delhi has never seen this house b/c we asked two people about it and they said "What big white house?" Interesting!! Anyway, if you know who's house this is, then leave a comment! LOL
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We had the pleasure of listening to The Sullivan's give their daughter Hannah's testimony at First Baptist Church this morning! It was a wonderful day and I thank the Lord everyday to have him in my heart!
Love and Prayers!
Melissa

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Boom Boom Pow!

The other night the kids were "picking up" the living room and Sydney had her music playing on her IDog. Alan had downloaded her the Kids Bop version of "Boom Boom Pow", so as they are picking up... Carson is dancing (his favorite thing) and Sydney is practicing her flip. This is what I caught on video. I actually edited this video which I had NO IDEA I could do on my computer but figured it out. There were some parts I didn't want the world to look at, so I was pretty proud of myself! Anyway, this was funny. You know how you think your kids are the funniest of them all, well....
Please excuse my country voice!! LOL I can't stand to hear myself on video!!

(Scroll to the bottom to pause my music player before starting video)

video

We visited the High Delta Safari Park today in Delhi, LA. That was interesting and I have pictures I hope to post soon.

A quick update about Alan, we still have not heard about his new treatment. We were extremely disappointed Friday when we had not heard anything by the end of the week. Let's just say that we have alot of questions and our main one being, "Why is it taking so long!" As soon as we hear something, I will post on my blog. We will just continue to pray and we thank everyone of you from our heart that continues to pray for Alan!

Melissa

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Family Fun!

Here are a few pictures from our little oasis in the woods! We have fought and fought with this pool all summer long. We drained it twice, the pump blew up and they do not have a pump anywhere between here and Houston (we checked), so I finally gave in and ordered one. I just didn't want to pay the shipping, but I had too if we wanted a clean/clear pool. So, finally we are able to enjoy it a little before school starts. These pictures are from last weekend. It's good for Alan to get in the pool to help relieve some of the back pain. Sydney has been wanting to go to the beach all summer long and that was just not going to happen this summer for many reasons. A little while ago I was outside...working on the pool...and Sydney said "we can pretend that we are at the beach and the pool is the ocean and our pee gravel can be the sand." I thought that was sweet that she would settle for our little intex pool as the beach. Then she said "and daddy can bring his 4-wheeler and ride those girls around!" I was like "WHAT!!!" It was funny. Alan got a kick out of that!

Different Note:
Still have not heard from the Dr. office on our next appt. I was praying we would hear something Friday, but nothing. I was disappointed. It's in Gods hands and we know that. Please continue to pray for Alan. His back is hurting him pretty bad these last 4 days. We are concerned, but again, it's in Gods hands.








Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Prayer for an Arkansas Family!

I just ask that you be in prayer for the Fields Family. Their son, Ben T. Fields, went to be with Jesus yesterday. He has been suffering from Menkes Disease since he was born. Apparently this is a disease where your body does not absorb copper. It's so rare that he is the only child that has ever been diagnosed with it in the state or Arkansas. If you would like to read his story, you can link to his caringbridge site through The Sullivan's Blog....Caringbride - Mr. Ben. What a super, strong little boy and family. My heart goes out to them.
Melissa

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Appointment Postponed!

I forgot to update my blog about this, but we are still in Crossett. We found out last Friday that Alan's appt. for the 3rd was canceled. They are still working with his tumor block and getting his new treatment ready, so they told us to hold off until maybe later this week or hopefully early next week. Just waiting to hear from the Dr. office. We are very much ready to get him started on his new meds, but we were also glad to be able to be home a few extra days. It was great to be home this weekend and catch up on some house stuff and be with the kids. Alan is on disability right now, so he is not working and gets to enjoy alot of fun times with the kids. Disability has it's good points and bad points...:-). Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Thank you to our prayer warriors and also a BIG thank you to the ones that have brought us meals. That is such a blessing in sooooo many ways. I hope I can return the favor one day, but hopefully not for the same reason we are dealing with!!
Love and Prayers to you all!!
Melissa