His Journey with Cancer

Congratulations to this years NHL Alumni Ace Bailey Award for Courage our man Earl!!!!!

Darby and I (along with 26 others) were there to accept the award for him. It was a grand event, but could never compare to the grandness of Heaven.

Aug. 27, 2008

Home at LAST

Hi Everyone,
Hurray...We are HOME!
We arrived home last Wednesday, by Air Ambulance. For those of you who know me, you know I hate flying in small airplanes. The takeoff and flight were okay, but the decent and landing made me so sick and it lasted forever (it seemed) But we landed safely.
I was able to runaway with my quilting sisters for the weekend while Darby and many caring friends watched over Earl. Thanks so much to all of you who helped out and made it possible for me to get a much needed break.
Earl was welcomed home by over 50 friends and family on Wednesday night and it was perfect. He had such a good time and it really made him realize how happy he was to finally be home. Our door is always open, if you want to stop by and say hi, and if you have a few free hours, I could always use a break.
Yesterday was the day we went to see Dr Wong, Earl's oncologist, to get the run down on the next round of chemo. He will have a ct scan tomorrow out in Selkirk and then Dr. Wong will be able to start...hopefully right away. Dr Wong does not seem very optomistic, but I explained to him that we have a strong faith and believe that with all we know and have Earl will beat this cancer. The new chemo is called gemcitabine and is fairly mild, compared to the heavy drugs used initially. There are not too many side effects, but nausea is one of them, and they don't give as much anti nausea medication with this one. He will not loose his hair, which made him happy and he will likely be quite tired. The effectivness of this chemo is not great (20 to 30%), but it is used in cases like Earl's specifically where the cancer has spread to the lungs. After this treatment they will check his lungs again and at that point determine if he can have lung surgery, or try another chemo regime.
Earl's incision is doing very well (in case you don't know, Earl had his left leg and pelvis amputated on June 26). He is getting around very well and starting to try bending down and was even down on the floor playing with Sauer this morning.
Earl is starting to get excited about the Terry Fox Run. Mark September 14 on your calendar and get involved on Earl's team...Earl's family and friends registration #: mb1529 we have sponsor sheets, so give us a call
Please keep in touch.... and if you pray please pray:
  1. that earl would continue to heal and get around well.
  2. that the equipement needed to help Earl around the house, and a wheelchair would arrive ASAP
  3. that Earl's pain would decrease and that the phantom pain would be bearable
  4. that the CT scan tomorrow would be very clear and give and accurate picture of the cancer in the lungs.
  5. that chemo would begin immediately and would be effective
  6. that earl would stay positive and enjoy each day.
Take care

Aug. 19, 2008

First Ever Welcome Home Earl Driveway Party

Hi Everyone....

Yippee we are coming home. We will travel tomorrow
Wednesday) by air ambulance (permimeter airlines.)
I do not know what time we land. Originally I had
hoped to have a welcome home at the airport for Earl,
but now that won't work, so I came up with a better idea.

You are invited to welcome Earl home at:
The First Ever 20 Stonegate Close Driveway Party.
7-9 pm
Tomorrow evening (Wednesday)
Bring your own drinks or snacks and a lawn chair.

You can park at the church if you like and use the back gate.
(if someone who knows where our gate is, could put up a sign
everyone will find their way)
Weather permitting........

We are feeling a little sad as we say goodbye to the many
exceptional staff members in various locations around this
hospital I have brought donuts and goodies to the staff on
various occasions but truth be told there is absolutely no gift
that could acknowledge how very much we appreciate the hard
working, knowledgeable, caring people that make this hospital
stand out in the service they provide. As I wrote in the card
I left on 11 south. We do not choose this journey we are on,
but we can choose how we deal with it on a daily basis.
The positive, supportive and loving staff on 11 south and
throughout the hospital have helped us to deal with each day
and joyfully move on to the next. Thank-you so much to Dr.
Wunder and his team (too many to mention), Dr. Blackstein,
Dr. Beecroft and his team of Paulette, Krystynna, Allison,
the pain teams, the nurses (way to many to mention), the service
attendants:Willie, Joe, Ba Ba, Rose, the recovery room staff
( especially Sergio, Debbie and Lorraine) and the porters that
always have a happy smile on their faces when they see Earl.
I have watched you all and can honestly say, Earl has touched
each and every one of you and he will be forever remembered.

......And the last thank-you is to Jesus, our God, whom both Earl
and I love and give credit to. We have felt his presence and
experienced his Love through each and everyone we have met
throughout this journey.

See you soon, Debbie

Aug. 16, 2008

The Latest

HI Everyone,

Confirmation will come on Monday, but I think the plan is for us to fly home on Wednesday. We will be transfered by ambulance to the plane, fly to Winnipeg and be transfered (I believe) home by ambulance.

I am of mixed emotions and ask that you please keep up the prayers. Leaving here will be difficult and joyful at the same time. They are so amazing here at Mt Sinai Hospital, but yet we know we must get home so that Earl can start his next rounds of chemo. The nodules in his lungs are growing so we must get going on the chemo as quickly as possible. I am already shedding tears, as I say goodbye and thank you to the many many people we have met over the last 8 weeks.

To give you just a glimpse of how wonderful the staff have been to us, I will share a story or two. Earl had to go down to interventional radiology for 2 procedures this week, 1st to try and asperate a possible infection in his groin and the 2nd to remove his IVC filter as there is no longer a risk for blood clots. When we went down the second time Dr. Beecroft met us in the hall, and was happy to see Earl. He told us that he had just called our floor to find out where we were, and that he was just about to go up and get Earl himself. Earl has left his mark throughout the various departments of this hospital. He often has staff stop by for a visit. Words cannot describe how much we appreciate the exemplary care we have received here.

Well I guess that's enough for now....and we look forward to being home again soon.


Aug. 15, 2008

The Countdown is ON!

Hi Everyone,
The Good News: Dr. Wunder has given Earl the go ahead to head home. We are busy trying to make arrangements for air ambulance and for care once we get home. Earl had his IVC filter removed yesterday and the VAC is still on. We are hoping that we can continue the VAC therapy in Winnipeg, so are waiting to hear if homecare can provide that service. We saw the OT today and she has gone over what equipment we will need at home and on Monday will work with Earl to help him get dressed in street clothes again.

The Not so Good News: The latest CT scan shows that the nodules in Earls lungs are progressing and therefore it is important to get back to Winnipeg to start chemo. Earl will start on Gemcitabine as soon as we get home. (dates to be confirmed once we know when we will travel.)

I am hoping Earl can settle in easily once at home. I was really hoping that we could arrange a welcome home for Earl at the airport, but that will not work now that we are arriving by air ambulance. Perhaps we can arrange something at our place the night we arrive. I will keep everyone posted and ask that those who follow the blog update those who don't.

I am hoping to take a much needed break next weekend, so if anyone can volunteer some time to spend with Earl, I would be forever in debt to you. I am hoping to go to a friends cottage Fri to Sunday with my quilting sisters. Darby will be at home, but is busy studying, now that he is in fire college. If someone can visit Earl or take him out a little that would be awesome. My Email is hopkins5@mts.net or you can reply to this blog.

We are so very much looking forward to getting back to our life, friends, family and of course our Church.

Love Debbie and Earl

Aug. 12, 2008

Maybe just Maybe Earl can come HOME!

HI Everyone,

I am back in Toronto and Earl is happy to see me. Darby was here for the weekend and they had a great time hanging out and watching Robot Chicken, which is Earls new favorite obsession. I had a wonderful time back home but it was far to brief.

Dr's on Friday became a bit concerned with Earl's incision and called in the dr's from infectious diseases. They ordered a CT scan yesterday and found a little abscess just under the surface of the skin. He is currently in the procedure room in interventiona radiology with his favorite Paulette and Christina. They are draining the abscess. Earl is out now and we are waiting to go back to the floor.

Dr. Wunder was in yesterday to see Earl and told Earl that he could possibly go home later this week, so cross your fingers and pray pray pray.

Take Care and we hope to see you soon.

Aug. 1, 2008

Earl is Using Crutches

Hi Everyone,

Today is 5 weeks plus 1 day since Earl had his 1st surgery! Earl is feeling stronger everyday and they are starting to decrease his pain medications. He is still on large doses but they are going down and he is not taking breakthrough, except before he gets up to walk (and even then he seldom wants it.) Yesterday was a big day because he walked on crutches for the first time. He was pretty proud of himself and there was lots of encouragement from the staff.

We saw Dr Blackstein yesterday also, and he has confirmed the chemo that he wants Earl to have and the great news is, that Dr Wong can administer it back home. We anxiously await more details and a time to start. What Dr B has told us is that the treatment is 1x week for 90 minutes and lasts up to 6 months. Dr B also said that as far as he was concerned Earl could head back to Winnipeg, but we will have to wait for word from the ortho Dr's. Dr Wunder is away right now, but Earl still has to get stronger and he needs to be able to tolerate being up for a lot more than an hour or so. Keep praying that he works hard and get stronger everyday. They also took out his catheter today, so we are down to being connected to just the VAC.

I am planning on coming home next weekend to attend a wedding and have a bit of a break. Darby will come out and spend the weekend with Earl. I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, going to church, attending the wedding and last but not least seeing my puppy. I miss everyone so much. If people can try and call Earl on Friday and Monday, that would be great as I am leaving Friday morning and not back until Monday night.

When the time comes to come back to Winnipeg, I would like to plan and welcome home for Earl at the airport...I will make sure we arrive after supper, so that more people can be there.

Take care and keep the caremail coming....Earl loves it.

Getting to know Earl

Getting to know Earl
Earl and the Kickers

Earl's Trip To Minnie

Earl's Trip To Minnie

Checking out the New Guys

Checking out the New Guys
Earl and Paul Lapolice

Earl Cook

planning block

Friend Connect