Thank You

I wanted to thank you all for praying for Greg since my last post. Over the last couple of days, his nausea has been a little less and his appetite has been some better. All of his bloodwork has been okay this week. He is still weak and gets fatigued easily, but it does seem a little better. He even went and hit some tennis balls with Jake today! I’m not sure that it was the best thing for him, as it really wore him out, but I know he enjoyed spending the time with Jacob.

Emilie got home from her mission trip this afternoon and she had a wonderful time! We enjoyed seeing all of the pictures that she took of “her kids”. It was definitely a good experience for her and we are so thankful that she had the opportunity to go.

Katie is on her way home from Winshape…should be in about midnight. She loved spending her summer as a camp counselor and already says that she wants to do it again next year! She won’t be home for long, as she will leave around lunch time tomorrow for a retreat for her school. She is going to be a CLM (campus life minister) at her college next year, and this is a time for all of them to get together before school starts back.

Thank you again for praying for us and we ask that you would continue to do so as the Lord brings us to your mind.

Trusting His Plan,
Greg, Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

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Pressing On

Greg continues to struggle with nausea and decreased appetite. Because of this, he continues to lose weight. He had bloodwork done again yesterday, but we haven’t received the results as of yet. We’re hoping that means that all is well.

Despite his feeling bad, he continues to press on as best he can. On Sunday, we went to visit Katie at Winshape Camps. Sunday is her off day…she gets off at 9am and is off until 11pm. We got up and left early, so that we could be there when she got off. We enjoyed seeing where she has spent her summer and we got to meet her current group of campers. The Berry campus is beautiful and we spent some time just driving around looking at everything. Jake has decided that he wants to attend camp there next year, but after looking at the price tag, I told him he better start saving his pennies…Ha! After Katie was finished showing us around, we drove in to town and had lunch at one of her favorite places, Panera. After lunch, we headed back home. I’m such a goof…I forgot to take any pictures at the camp, but I did get a few at Panera!

Enjoying family time, but missing Emilie

Enjoying family time, but missing Emilie

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Greg has gone in to the office both yesterday and today, but he’s pretty wiped out when he gets home. So far, he seems to be tolerating the new oral chemo okay. We think that the effects that he is dealing with now is still from the biochemo. We sure hate this disease and what it is doing to Greg’s body, but we continue to believe that everything that happens to us is for our good and His glory. Some days it’s just harder than others.

Please continue to pray for the following:
1. That our family would handle our present circumstances in a way that pleases the Lord and points others to Him
2. That the nausea that Greg is experiencing would resolve, so that he could eat better and not lose more weight
3. That Greg would continue to tolerate the oral chemo with minimal or no side effects
4. That the Lord would heal Greg’s body of All cancer
5. That we all would keep our focus on Christ, and not give in to anger, bitterness, depression or self-pity
6. That we would have our eyes and hearts open to see the Lords love, faithfulness and provision for us every day

Also, one of my sweet friends posted this on her facebook page. I know that not all of you are on facebook so I thought I would post it here as well. If you are interested and need further information, just let me know.

“For those of you who know Sandra Staley Masters and her husband Greg, you know how hard they have been fighting against cancer. On Sunday, Aug. 4 at 4:00 we are going to circle their house in prayer. If you haven’t read the book “The Circle Maker”, it is awesome about the power of prayer. You can message me for their address or just show up if you already know where they live.”

Thanks for loving us, encouraging us, providing for us and praying for us!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:14

Trusting His Plan,
Greg, Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

Rough Few Days

As I posted earlier, we got home Tuesday evening. The days since then have been pretty rough for Greg. He has felt more nauseous this time, than after his last two cycles. He continues to feel weak and gets fatigued easily. He didn’t sleep well Tuesday or Wednesday night, but slept a bit better Thursday and last night. His appetite has been poor, but seems to be gradually increasing each day. He started taking the new oral chemo on Friday. We are praying that the side effects will be minimal. Despite the way he has been feeling, he has still worked from home every day. We went on Thursday for Greg to have his bloodwork done and received the news yesterday that everything is good. That’s always a relief to hear!

Emilie returned from summer camp yesterday evening and left again this morning to go on a mission trip that is a retreat for families of children with cancer. She is excited about going and loving on some of these kids that are going through such a hard time in their lives. It was good to have her home, even if it was for less than 24 hours!

Jacob has had a fun time with some friends this week….sleepovers, a trip to the zoo and a movie night! He’s still working on finishing up science for this year….only one chapter left!!

Katie is getting ready to start her last week as a camp counselor at Winshape Camps. She has had a great time and it’s been a good experience for her. We are hoping to get up to visit her in the next day or so.

We continue to try to live one day at a time and to keep our focus on the One who Heals. This Psalm was in my scripture reading this morning and I am praying it for Greg and our family. I would love if you would pray it for us as well.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call! ~Psalm 20

Please continue to pray for the following:
1. That our family would handle our current circumstances in a way that pleases the Lord and points others to Him
2. That Greg’s appetite, strength and stamina would increase each day
3. That his nausea and fatigue would decrease each day
4. That the side effects from the new chemo would be minimal
5. That the Lord would completely heal his body of ALL cancer
6. That the Lord would use Emilie to minister to others this next week
7. That Katie would finish her last week of camp strong and healthy as she impacts the girls in her group
8. That we all would keep our focus on Christ, and not give in to anger, bitterness, depression or self-pity
9. That we would have our eyes and hearts open to see the Lords love, faithfulness and provision for us every day

Thank you! We love you guys!!

Trusting His Plan,
Greg, Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

Exciting News In The World Of Melanoma!

Here is an article that I found online about the exciting melanoma research that is happening today!

Rapid Progress In Understanding And Treating Skin Cancer

A decade ago there was little doctors could do to help a patient with advanced-stage melanoma.

Now it seems each week yields important new discoveries about the deadly skin cancer.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and now is by any measure the most exciting time for melanoma research,” said Brian Nickoloff, director of the Nicholas V. Perricone, M.D., Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Sciences at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine.

In the research journal Laboratory Investigation, Nickoloff and colleagues outline recent advances that have put melanoma at the forefront of cancer research, raising hopes that scientists and clinicians may have cornered the deadliest of all skin cancers.

“In the past melanoma outsmarted us, but now we’re starting to outsmart melanoma,” said Nickoloff, who also is director of cutaneous oncology at Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids and a member of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team for melanoma research. “Go back 10 years and you’ll see we had almost nothing to offer patients with advanced disease, but now we’re definitely getting the upper hand on this cancer.”

Melanoma is really a catch-all term for the most virulent types of skin cancer. The disease’s complexity is staggering – melanoma tumors have more mutations per cell than any other type of cancer – but new diagnostic tools such as DNA sequencing are helping scientists sort through troves of data to decode each tumor’s “fingerprint.”

And while the list of known mutations that cause melanoma keeps growing, researchers can target most of them by blocking a handful of the “signaling pathways” that control normal cell function and can cause tumors to form and spread.

Meanwhile, about 100 new drugs with melanoma in their sights are in development, and new combinations of drugs show promise for blocking cancer-causing signaling pathways.

Still, optimism about such progress is tempered by the fact that someone dies from melanoma every hour. Besides being deadly, melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers worldwide. Melanoma also is unusual among cancers in how often it develops in young people; it is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in 25- to 29-year-old women.

Science’s rapid progress in understanding and treating melanoma must be coupled with prevention efforts to educate people about the dangers of sun exposure and artificial tanning, Nickoloff said.

“It’s entirely preventable,” he said. “Nobody should die from advanced-stage melanoma.”

Education was part of the goal of the College of Human Medicine’s Gran Fondo, a June bicycling event in Grand Rapids that in its first year attracted 1,500 cyclists and raised about $100,000 for MSU melanoma research.

Nickoloff said that community support is matched by an increasingly collaborative research atmosphere in Grand Rapids – his co-authors on the new paper included Michigan State medical students and cancer experts from Van Andel and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s – that will keep MSU and its West Michigan partners at the leading edge of melanoma research.

“I wish I were 20 years younger, because we’re going to see more and more long-term remissions,” he said. “We’ll get better every year we’re at this.”

Home Sweet Home!!

We are home! And guess what Greg is doing??? Watching the All Stars game with his boy! See…..God does care about the “little things”!!

We left the hospital about 1pm and were able to make the 3:30 flight! So thankful that we didn’t have to sit around the airport all day. Getting through the airport in Houston and the flight home wore Greg out, but we made it. We even got seats together, which always makes travelling much nicer. Once we arrived in Atlanta, we had a wheelchair waiting for us, which made it MUCH easier for us to get through the airport and out to baggage claim where my Mom, Dad and Jacob were meeting us. We got home and Greg said he thought he might like some soup from Chick-fil-A, so I hopped in the van and went to get him some. He ate half a bowl! That’s really good for him!

We are so glad to be home and are looking forward to sleeping in our own bed tonight! That chair/bed starts getting really old after a week! Thank you all for praying for us today as we made our way back home!

Trusting His Plan,
Greg, Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

Headed Home….We Hope!

If all goes as planned, we will be headed home shortly! It is about 10:30 am here and Greg is currently downstairs for an ophthalmology appointment. They want to make sure his eyes look okay and get a baseline exam before he starts on the oral chemo when we get home. Once he gets back, he will have his PICC line removed, we’ll pick up his chemo from the pharmacy, and hopefully he will be discharged! Then we’ll head to the airport and hope to make a flight soon without having to sit around all day.

He has tolerated this round of chemo well. It’s never fun or easy and always very hard on Greg’s body, but we are so thankful that he didn’t have any unexpected side effects or complications. Once again, we are ready to be home and with our kids. Although, only Jake will be home….Katie is still away working at Winshape Camps and Emilie has gone to church camp!

Once we get home, Greg will be having his blood checked twice a week and taking the oral chemo. We are scheduled to be back here at MDA on August 6.

Please pray for the following:
1. That discharge goes as planned
2. That we make a flight soon after arriving at the airport
3. That Greg tolerates the flight, as well as getting through the airport here and in Atlanta
4. That we can secure a wheelchair at the airport if we need one
5. For safety and health for both Katie and Emilie as they are away from home

Also, please pray for some of our friends that we have met here that are going through the same thing that we are: Lisa and her husband Dennis, who were discharged yesterday. Kylie and her husband Shannon, who were discharged a couple of days ago. And David, and his wife Claudia who still have a few days of treatment left. Also for a family in our homeschool group who is receiving treatment somewhere other than MDA, but are also dealing with melanoma…Bill and his wife, Tracy. I’m telling you, I had no idea how devastating and prevalent this disease is until we started this journey ourselves. It is BAD..but God is on our side and we are MORE than conquerors through Him!

Thanks to all of you for praying us through another round of biochemo! Thanks to all that helped with our kids while we were gone! We are so grateful for your friendship and your prayers! See you all soon!

Trusting His Plan,
Greg, Sandra, Katie, Emilie and Jacob

Getting Close!

We are getting close to completing round 3 of biochemo! As always, it’s not been any fun…but all in all Greg has tolerated it well. As tough as our journey has been, the Lord continues to bless us with His goodness and faithfulness every day. In my last post I mentioned that the cardiologist was considering starting Greg on a heart medication tomorrow. This would be a medication that he would probably have to take for the rest of his life. This decision was being based on the results of an echocardiogram that was done this past Monday. The results showed that the ejection fraction of his heart was below normal. Well, another member of the cardiac team came in yesterday and said that they had gotten the head of the echo department to re-read Greg’s echo. It was determined that although his ejection fraction had gone down some, it was still in the normal range! So…no medication needed! Thank you Lord!

Greg is now finished with his two IV chemo drugs. His last bag of IL-2 should finish tonight around 2am. He still has one more dose of the oral chemo and one more interferon injection that he will get tonight. There is a slim chance that he could be discharged tomorrow, but we are figuring it won’t be until Tuesday.

We finally got a good bit of uninterrupted sleep last night! That in itself, makes Greg feel a bit better (me too!!). Today has been a pretty good day so far. Greg’s appetite is still not great, but he is drinking a little more. Despite him eating very little, he has gained about 23 pounds since we’ve been here! Of course, this is all fluid and he should lose most of it before we go home. The “chemo burn” has been much less for him this cycle and he seems to have stopped losing his hair. Greg has been out once today walking laps around the unit. He is doing a little work on the computer now, and then we’ll probably walk a few more laps. I went outside both yesterday and today for a short while to just read and get some fresh air. It felt good just to get out of the building for a bit.

The kids seem to be doing well while we’ve been gone this week. Katie enjoyed some off time from camp on Friday and Saturday, and some time to get refueled as her last group of campers arrived today. She said that she feels like she’s getting sick again. She just went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago, because the nurses at camp thought she might have strep throat. The strep test was negative and the doctor said that it was just a virus. She was feeling better within a couple of days, but now is starting to feel bad again. Please pray that she feels better quickly.

Emilie has been busy working and visiting with friends and family while we’ve been gone. She also volunteered to make a meal to take to a Mom in our homeschool group that has a newborn and also just recently had some surgery. Emilie planned, shopped for, prepared and delivered the meal all by herself! I just love her compassionate heart! She is also getting ready to leave for church camp tomorrow. It makes me sad to not be there to see her off. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but it just doesn’t seem right to not be there when she leaves.

Jacob has had a fun week hanging out with friends and family. One of his friends had planned a surprise birthday party for Jake this past Tuesday! Jake’s birthday was in May and we had family celebrations, but we had meant to have a party for him and some of his friends. With all that has been going on…it just didn’t happen. So, one of his friends asked his Mom if they could plan a surprise party for Jake….and after seeing the pictures and talking to Jake, I’d say he was definitely surprised! I think they all had a great time!

We are so very thankful for all of the people that the Lord has put in our lives to love on us, support us, and care for us during this time in our lives. It’s a hard road, but I don’t even want to imagine how much harder it would be without all of you! We pray blessings on you as you each have been such a blessing to us! “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

These are our current prayer requests:
1. That our family would handle our current circumstances in a way that pleases the Lord and points others to Him
2. That Greg would continue to tolerate this round of treatment
3. That the drugs that he is taking would be an effective tool that the Lord uses in ridding Greg’s body of ALL cancer
4. That whether we are discharged tomorrow or Tuesday, the flights would work in our favor and that Greg would tolerate the travel
5. That Katie would begin to feel better and be able to enjoy her last two weeks at camp
6. That Emilie would be able to get everything together for camp without us there. That they would have safe travels and that they would see a mighty work of the Lord in the lives of the students throughout the week.
7. I know this one seems a bit insignificant…but Greg would really love to be home and be able to watch the All Stars game with Jake on Tuesday night. God cares about the little things too….right??

The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness You restore him to full health. Psalm 41:3

But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more. Psalm 71:14

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