Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Last Post

My first post was titled "where to start" and this is where it ends..... at least for my dad's earthly body.  Over the last year we lost pieces of this wonderful man and now he is made whole again.  Please see the obituary below for the Funeral Service.  Thank you all for your love and support over the last year.


Sunday, June 10, 2012


This is just an addition to the wonderful words that Pam Hansen wrote about 2 weeks ago - She is so correct about none of us knowing what it is like to experience the horrible experience of terminal cancer and all of the treatment that is associated with it.  I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 9 years
ago and I thought that was a difficult experience - but after seeing what Steve and Cindy and the family have been through over the past year, it is like nothing compared to this experience.  I continue to wear the "Superman bracelet and pray for both Steve and Cindy and the family daily.  Just an update - after Monica and Mike left Tucson, Steve had a turn for the worse and Cindy needed help.  Ryan called and asked if she needed help and Cindy said - Yes and he was in Tucson almost immediately.  I know this was a God-send for Cindy.  That young man and his family are truly amazing and I know Steve and Cindy are very proud of what they have done for them.  Just to give you some idea about this family - They have all visited from great distances and at some difficult times, certainly times when most of us would have certainly understood their reasons for delaying a visit - but not this family!   When Ryan needed to leave - David Hansen (Steve's youngest brother) came to stay with Cindy and Steve for about a week.  Both of these young men were like guardian angels sent to serve.  You see, Steve is not able to talk or communicate other that with head signals or hand signals and yet Cindy and the caretakers still know what he is thinking.  I know it is frustrating and I was as well when we were talking about our past experiences and Steve wanted to talk and yet could not.  I know - he knows when we are near and that so many of his friends and family continue to pray for him. Right now, Cindy's good friend from Houston is with her and on Friday - Bill Pappas(Steve's sisters husband) will be here to help.   What I am saying is that this is an amazing family that will step up and help when they are needed.  What I ask is that each and everyone of us continue to pray for Steve, Cindy and family - for healing and for comfort and strength for all who are caregivers. You must know that Cindy is an amazing person who continues the "walk".   For better or for worse.

Monday, May 28, 2012



When you know your days are limited, you embrace each day.  When you wake up in the morning and hear the morning song of birds, you praise God for another beautiful day....I know that is what Steve does.  For each new day is a gift and Steve fully embraces each one.  For all of us, our days are numbered, but death does not seem so pressing for us because no doctor has given us an estimate.  We all should step into the sunshine and feel its warmth upon our face...... that is how we know we are still alive. 

I have felt led to share openly with you Steve's fight against cancer.  I have been led to share for two main reason: 1) in pursuit of prayers for Steve and 2) in pursuit of empathy. 

How can any of us know what it feels like to have terminal cancer if we have never been faced with it.  We can gain empathy through the hardships that others face, and by doing so, we can better learn God's perspective and His will for our lives.  I know that in the last year my eyes have been opened to the fight against cancer in a way that I never wanted my eyes open.  But through the pain, there have been blessings and through Steve's fight, I have learned perseverance. The pain that Steve has gone through and his struggles to overcome this disease have been difficult to watch. Steve's will to live is so strong.  No one should ever have to experience terminal cancer.....it is horrible! While we cannot take the cancer away through our own efforts, through prayer and petition, God can bring Steve peace and comfort and if it is God's will, His power alone can take away the cancer.....each and every evil cell of the disease. 

We left for Tucson on May 5th and arrived to Cindy and Steve's home near Sabino Canyon in the evening of May 7th.  The kids did great on the trip (surprised me), riding in Steve's minivan with Ryan driving most of the 16 hour drive, while Cindy drove in the CRV with Steve and Pima.  I could tell that Steve was very happy to be at home and Cindy was very busy getting the house settled and corresponding with hospice nurses each day to get that relationship under way.  We were able to overlap our trip with Monica so that we could see the McTeague family and meet the newest family member, Calla Lee, born April 16th. We stayed in Tuscon for the rest of the week, and then flew home that Friday (May11th).  Overall, it was a wonderful trip and I am so glad we were able to travel together cross-country style. 

After we left, Monica and her family stayed for another week.  Echo also came in town and just left Tucson today. While Echo was in town, Steve did face a major challenge to breathe and for the past day has been very confused.  We hope that his confusion passes soon and that he is more aware and lucid.
Please continue to pray for Steve and Cindy.  What a difficult battle they are fighting and I know they need our prayers more than ever.  We are so blessed to have such faithful servants and prayer warriors in our lives supporting us through this VERY difficult time.   

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beaten and bruised, but not broken

It's been a rough week having dad back in the hospital (MD Anderson).  Steve is back to using the whiteboard to communicate, he is in a tremendous amount of pain, he has been unable to eat much of anything since April 12, and the current cocktail of medications leaves almost unconscious most of the time.  So let me explain how we got to this point.......

Dad elected to start the new clinical trial at MD Anderson with the understanding the drug could have an adverse effect on vision.  Often chemotherapy can cause mouth and throat sores and for whatever reason this particular chemo hit dad hard with this side-effect.  There are a number of mouth washes that clean and numb the mouth/throat to counteract the "mucusitis".   This helped a little, but not enough.  Last Friday, April 13 was the 6th dose of this chemotherapy and the continued inflammation and ulceration as a result became too much on Sunday.  After several days of being unable to speak and eat plus an unbearable pain resulted in a trip to the ER for immediate help.  I want to also mention that over the span of the 6 weeks of chemo a suspicious spot showed up on dad's chin.  At first it was believed to be some sort of blemish or irritation probably from the various medications and chemo.  After the spot did not improve and continued to grow they performed a biopsy.  Turns out this spot is a new tumor.  The new chin tumor has continued to grow despite the current chemotherapy and this almost caused him to pull out from the trial.  After a repeat of chest CT Scans (around week 3) it turned out that there had been almost no change in the lung tumors during this time.  And in this case, no change is good!  So dad continued with the trial and would get more scans after week 6.  Dad has been on a constant drip of strong pain killers since Monday to gain some control of the pain and allow for some rest and healing.  Today the pain is almost tolerable at steady state, but the severe ulceration in the mouth and throat hasn't allowed him to eat.  The plan at this point is to control the pain, allow for him to heal, regain his strength and then return home.

Through all of this dad has been very strong and in good spirits.  The Hansen grandkids have visited him everyday in the hospital a couple hours at a time.  I know he enjoys this time with them even if he does not open his eyes as he gives the approving "thumbs up" sign and head nod of approval when asked questions.  As always he has had a very friendly staff working with him and dad tends to joke around with them often.

Tomorrow dad will have head/neck/chest CT scans to see the current status of the lung tumors.  Obviously you don't want any progression or growth in the lungs, but at the same time you question whether the level of misery right now is worth the benefit.  For now we wait for the scans to be performed tomorrow and then will consult with the physician team......  please continue to send your prayers and healing thoughts.  It's certainly a tough time for Superman Steve right now.

I would be seriously remiss of me not to mention two blessings during this time!  First, dad has a brand NEW grandchild that was welcomed this week!  My sister Monica (and Mike!) had a beautiful little girl on Monday morning.  The new grandbaby is named Calla Lee McTeague and both mom and baby are at home now and doing very well.  Dad has seen pictures and Skyped with Monica....  Second, Echo (the eldest sister) is traveling to Houston from Michigan as I type this with her two little girls.  This was a previously planned trip and it is great timing as dad certainly can use Echo's presence.

Thank you so much for the prayers all of you so diligently pray and thank you for all the positive energy you send to Steve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March Update

I'm so thankful to provide an update to you all that is full of hope.  I wish I could say the two most recent CT Scans at MD Anderson showed some regression in the lung tumors.  Unfortunately the tumors grew enough to where continuing with this treatment did not make sense and, as I mentioned before, another trial(s) may be the best option.  Although the tumors growing are bad news, the good news is their are other options AND there have been no other signs of metastatic disease in other organs or within the lungs.

Allow me to back up for just a moment....  My last update was January and we are now in March, so there is a lot of ground to cover.  In January Mom (Cindy) started up at SMU again in Dallas.  She has been on a very long journey to finish her Master's in Divinity - a world-wide scholastic journey!  She now travels to Dallas every week on Tuesdays to study at the Perkins School of Theology and returns on Fridays - 9-10 hours of driving per week.  It's not an easy task, but she has love and support from Dad.  I think Dad is happy to be in the role of supporting her after it being the other way around for many months.

I am also happy to report that overall health for Dad has been relatively good this winter.  He goes walking regularly at the bayous and parks.  He does a lot of cooking and barbecuing.  And of course lots of work around the house and playing with the grand kids.  Despite the limiting factors that an aggressive cancer places on your body he manages to stay so darn active!  It really has been fun having mom and dad here for all of our weekend events, Valentine's day, and pretty soon the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

So, back to present time and back to options on future treatments for dad.  After the last scans dad needed to make a decision on how to proceed.  Really the best options were two clinical trials where he could join the next waive of participants.  One trial was in Maryland and the other at MD Anderson.  Ultimately he chose to try the MD Anderson trial, but it was a tough decision especially because of significant risks with the MDA trial.  For instance, the chemo does have a potential side effect of retinal detachment.  In order to get accepted to the trial, dad had to have 4 hours of eye exams and will continue self checking his eyes to ensure he is okay.  Additionally he had more scans and blood work to kick off the trial and he officially started last Friday with his first chemo infusion therapy.

From here on it's weekly blood draws and doctor visits along with the chemo every two weeks.  As I said before I am delivering this update with a lot of hope as we move forward.  We are all grateful for the overall good health and helpful medicine that has allowed us to have a happy winter.  Please continue to pray for good health and strength for Steve.  But most of all (as our friend Hugh would say) keep hope alive with this battle.  Pray for the doctors, the researchers, and all the patients who are battling this disease.  I know we face an uphill battle but I am so filled with hope I can't help but stay positive.  Thank you to everyone for your prayers and positive thoughts.  You play a large role!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy New Year

I wanted to provide an update for everyone on Superman Steve's progress.  Mom and dad returned from their Christmas/New Year's trip to Tucson, AZ last week.  I know they were not all that excited to return to Houston as it means returning to treatment - the constant poking and prodding and all day trips to the hospital.  The sacrifice and hard work put in by Superman Steve has paid off though as his health is as good as anyone could hope for right now.  The latest visits to MD Anderson have all been positive and dad will have repeat CT scans later this month.  We also await to see if dad will be enrolled in a clinical trial to test a new drug.  I will have much more to post on these two upcoming events in the near future!

For now I want to say the Christmas and New Year's break from Houston and Hospitals was a well timed and well deserved hiatus.  We look forward to starting off 2012 on the right path toward healing.......

Thanks again for everyone's warm blessings.  Happy New Year!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

First I want to say the birthday celebration for Dad on November 19th was great - good food and good company.  Both sisters (Echo and Monica) made the trip to celebrate with Monica and her family staying in Houston through Thanksgiving.  This was the first Thanksgiving Pam and I hosted in our house.  With lots of helping hands in the kitchen it turned out perfect.  There is much to be Thankful for.....

As mentioned in the last update, we were to receive news from MD Anderson regarding dad's progress with the clinical trial he is participating in.  After numerous CT scans the physicians concluded that a new therapy would be best for dad.  The scans showed some new (albeit small) tumors in the lungs and 23% growth by the largest tumor in the lungs.  The scans also showed stability and what appears to be an improvement in the throat.  Unfortunately, the new tumors and growth of the largest tumor is something we cannot have and thus the recommendation to stop the trial and try again.  There is another clinical trial beginning late January and the physician team believes this is a good one for dad to join.  In the mean time, there is a PO (by mouth) Chemotherapy drug which has shown to be effective in some cases.  Dad has agreed (and has already started) to try this drug to bridge the gap between the two trials.  This drug is taken twice a day on an empty stomach and is well known among the Anaplastic Thyroid "community".  One of the nice things about not participating in a trial is you are not required to have as many appointments and blood draws.  This allows a little flexibility for dad to do things.....like travel!  At the end of this week both mom and dad will take a much deserved trip to Tucson.  If there is anywhere in the world dad would like to be most, it's probably Arizona!  I know they will have a great time tending to their house, visiting friends and family, and reacquainting themselves with the mountains and cacti (not too much of that here in Pearland, TX).

So what's next?  Dad will have repeat tests and scans after starting this new drug.  If this proves to be an effective treatment (pray, pray, pray!) then continue the course.  If not, we have the other trial to hopefully join.  Unfortunately you are not always guaranteed the trial will be available to you.  The trial could be postponed due to unanticipated side-effects or even stopped by the FDA if they feel warranted.  Even if the trial is open, you have to pass a screening and meet their requirements to participate.  So, there is a lot more to come soon!  Keep up the prayers and support for Superman Steve.  His strength and energy is at a level that is still hard for us to keep up with - an amazing feat if you think about what he has been through the last 182 days..........

We have more Superman Steve bands if anyone needs more.  Thanks!