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Medical Update on PDC Richard Garner

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February 2013 Update
 
Dear Friends and Family,
 
It has been a while since I have sent out an update on Richard (Dick) and many of you have inquired so I will try to give you an account of the last month.
 
Richard completed his radiation on Jan 15. We came home from Houston on Jan 16. Richard had to see a local doctor here in Bossier 3 days a week to have bloodwork and to get his IV infusions for his kidneys. After 2 weeks of this, the doctor here set us up with home health to have a nurse come to our house to do the bloodwork and IVs.
 
We have been back to Houston every 2 wks. for doctors’ apts. and checkups. The doctors are well pleased with the results from the radiation and chemo. The tumors have both shrunk significantly. We go back to Houston March 12-14 for a PET scan and then reviews from the doctors. The PET scan will show how much of the cancer remains. We are hoping and praying that it will all be gone but we will just have to wait and see and proceed from there.
Richard still has his feeding tube and will have it for a while. The tube has caused him a lot of pain with gas, reflux and nausea. They changed his reflux meds when we last went to Houston , and he is doing a lot better with the entire process. He is now able to swallow without too much difficulty and is drinking much more. He is beginning to eat a little (chicken noodle soup, oatmeal, & scrambled eggs), but not nearly enough to get rid of the tube. He is able to drink 2 nutrition drinks a day (about 16 oz of liquid with 700 calories) which is real progress. The doctor says that the more he takes in thru his mouth, the better it will be for his kidneys. So our goal now is to get him to drinking as much as possible so that he will not have to have the IV fluid.
 
The radiation destroyed his salivary glands and damaged his taste buds. The doctors say that his ability to taste will eventually return, and Richard says that he is beginning to taste some things somewhat. He is able to smell so that is good. The doctors tell him that because of all these things that it will take time for him to learn to eat normally and that it will be slow and gradual.
Richard still sleeps a lot and does not have much energy. His hemoglobin count is still too low and causes some of this, but they tell us this will resolve itself with time too. However, I am seeing progress here too. He is beginning to stir around the house more and enjoys going outside when the weather allows. We still have not resumed any kind of normal lifestyle of going places, not even to church. He simply has not had the energy to go plus we have tried to keep him away from people so that he would not catch any kind of bug or flu. He is beginning to get a little restless; he wanted to get out of the house on Friday afternoon so we just drove around in the country. So I am hoping that it will not be long before he feels up to getting out and going some and we will be able to see some of you.
 
Hope that this is not too long with too much info, but many of you have called and asked. We want to thank everyone for keeping us in your prayers and thoughts and hope that you will continue to do so. As one doctor said, we are not out of the woods yet but we are getting there.
 
Love to All
 
Richard and Betty Garner

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Below is an e-mail from Betty Garner updating us on the medical condition of Past Department Commander Richard Garner (Monday, January 7, 2013)

Wanted to let you know that Richard is in the hospital. He came out of the hospital from his 3rd chemo on 12/30/12 and had to go back in on 1/04/13. He got very sick during the night on Thursday, 1/3/13, with nausea. Started vomiting and couldn’t stop. Called doctor at 6 AM on Friday. The doctor told me to take him to hospital immediately, and he would do an emergency admission. We got here at 7 AM and have been here ever since.
 
He is GREATLY IMPROVED now. All the doctors said that the chemo and the radiation had just been too much for him. They gave him nausea meds , fluid, and 2 units of blood. His bloodwork is now almost back to normal. The doctor has reduced the IV fluids today and said that he would keep him here to see what happens without the fluids. We hope that he continues to recover and is able to be released from the hospital, but we are not rushing it.
 
He was able to resume radiation today (his 29th treatment) and has 7 more to go. This was great because the radiation is at a crucial time, because the tumors are very sensitive to the radiation AFTER the chemo, and we DO NOT want any more chemo if possible.
 
Have to say that even with all the problems that the doctors, nurses, etc, have been wonderful—still feel that we made the right decision to come down here for treatment.
 
We pray that Richard will be well enough to undergo the 7 more radiation treatments. We should be finished with the treatments on Jan 16 if there are no more setbacks.
 
Thanks again for all your concern and please just keep praying.
 
Richard & Betty Garner

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Below is an e-mail from Betty Garner updating us on the medical condition of Past Department Commander Richard Garner (Friday, December 7, 2012)

Richard is currently in Methodist Hospital in Houston. He had a feeding tube surgically placed in his stomach yesterday. He lost 10 lbs. in 2 wks. as a result of the first chemo and 13 radiation treatments. Both the radiation & chemo oncologists agreed that the feeding tube would help with his nutrition and thus make him feel better. His salivary glands and sense of taste are gone due to all the treatment so he has very little appetite. Hopefully the tube will help.
 
This is our 3rd day in the hospital. If all goes well with the tube and his bloodwork is okay, they will give him his 2nd chemo treatment today. They are giving him a different chemo (carboplatiiln). The first chemo (cisplatin) was very hard on his kidneys. He had to come in for IV fluids almost daily to flush out the kidneys. They also did a renal ultrasound to check for kidney damage—thankfully it was negative.
 
I have been staying with Dick in the hospital and will continue to do so until I know that everything is going okay with the feeding tube and the chemo. We know that he will be here at least thru Sunday, longer if necessary. We will go home to our apartment/hotel rooms here in Houston.
 
Thanks to everyone for their continued concern, and especially their prayers. Please just keep praying that Dick’s treatments will be as pain free as possible, and that he will ultimately have complete healing and be cancer free.
 
Love you all.
 
Richard & Betty

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