Saturday, May 23, 2009

Moved to CaringBridge

Beckie's blog is now located at CaringBridge. It is still accessible through

Friday, May 15, 2009

Update 3 - The power of prayer

So far, Beckie hasn't had any bad reactions to the radiation treatments (she has had four) other than feeling tired and weak. Since she was tired and weak before she started treatment, I can't tell if there is much of a difference. I can say that she is sleeping better since starting radiation. Before, she was very restless throughout the night, and we often found ourselves talking at all hours. However, since starting radiation, she is sleeping very soundly. I believe that it is a big relief for her to know that she is getting some type of treatment, after going through an entire month without knowing what was wrong or what could be done. She is still struggling with double vision but remains in great spirits and is getting plenty of rest.

The ladies that Beckie works with sent a beautiful flower arrangement with personalized cards from everyone. She really appreciated this very thoughtful gesture. She feels very fortunate to work with such a great group and she remains hopeful that she will be able to return to work. Also, this week we learned that our many friends at Sanctuary Baptist Church are planning to share their wonderful Wednesday night dinners with us while Beckie is going through radiation. We are very grateful for this generous offer from a great bunch of people that are like family to us. Finally, a few families that we know through our kids playing sports together also helped us with meals. In addition to the excellent cooking, we enjoyed the fellowship and encouragement that accompanied the food.

I know that there are countless people, and entire churches, that are praying for Beckie and our family. Believe me when I say that God is honoring these prayers; the healing will happen in His own time and according to His plan. However, the many prayers for peace and strength are definitely affecting our lives in a profound way. In what seems sometimes hopeless, we are finding hope. When I allow my mind to dwell on my darkest fears, I am inexplicably pulled back to a place of overwhelming peace. Although Beckie is faced with a fight that is beyond my comprehension, she remains strong in her belief that God is in control. "You, Lord, give perfect peace even in turmoil to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you." Isaiah 19:22


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update 2 - Treatment begins

Yesterday afternoon Beckie received her first of 30 planned radiation treatments. She claimed to be a little nervous, but I could tell that she was VERY nervous. After the treatment, she was pleasantly surprised at how quick and painless the actual treatment is. She told me they have a screen that shows relaxing images like trees and beaches and that they play music. All she has to do is relax for 15 minutes while the machine does it thing. I had an opportunity to see the radiation machine when I walked her in, and while I was making her next appointments, I watched one of the technicians line everything up on a computer screen. The entire setting was like something you would see on TV or in a movie; a huge room with a huge white machine in the middle of it, people working on computers on the other side of a wall of glass, and long hallways filled with people in lab coats carrying clipboards.

On Monday afternoon we met with a medical oncologist to discuss chemotherapy. We received what I feel to be a bit of encouraging news; this doctor wants to hold off on chemotherapy because he is not convinced that Beckie has a high grade tumor. He explained that because the tumor is located in an area that is unsafe to biopsy nobody knows for sure what type of tumor it is. He said that although the tumor appears to be high grade based on imaging, there is another piece to the puzzle worth considering. This doctor feels that Beckie probably has neurofibromatosis which is a genetic disease that is known to produce tumors in the brain and brain stem. The tumors produced by this disease are usually non-aggressive, and if this is the case then chemotherapy would be unnecessary. He said that we can learn a great deal about the tumor based on how it reacts to radiation treatments, and if it confirms itself as high grade that chemo would be used further down the road. So let's all pray that this is a low grade tumor, which is much more treatable, and takes longer to re-occur once treated.

Beckie is understandably tired, and is expecting to get progressively weaker as she goes through the radiation treatments. In closing, I wanted to say thanks to Ann, who is a good friend of ours living in Indiana, for helping with the blog layout. It looks great. Also, a big thank you to the friends and neighbors that are helping us by preparing meals, taking our kids places, and making themselves available to get Beckie to radiation treatments when I am not able. A Bible verse that speaks to strengthening the members of the body of Christ is Romans 12:5, "so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Update 1 - The path to a diagnosis

It all began somewhat innocently; during the Sutton family spring break trip to the beach, my wife Beckie began experiencing double vision. When it didn't go away after a few days, we decided to seek medical treatment when we returned home. At that time, she was admitted to Gwinnett Medical Center where they performed an MRI and found a leison on her brainstem. The neurosurgeon at Gwinnett felt that the next diagnostic step should be a biopsy. Considering the serious nature of this procedure, we sought a second opinion at Emory University. Our first meeting was with a brain surgeon who strongly recommended against performing a biopsy in the area, he felt we could get a diagnosis through other means, imaging in particular.

Emory has some sophisticated machines, and through the use of them, the doctors were able to determine that Beckie has a high grade brainstem glioma (tumor). They enacted a treatment plan immediately which has Beckie starting radiation therapy next Tuesday (5/12/09), which will last for six weeks. We also have an appointment with a Medical Oncologist the day before to discuss the possibility of running chemotherapy at the same time. We are thankful for their quick diagnosis and aggressive treatment plan.

Beckie and I appreciate all of the prayer and support that we have received from friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and our new Church home (Graystone Church). We know we have a challenging road ahead, and are comforted that we are not facing it alone. In addition to everyone that has touched our lives, we know that we have a Heavenly Father who will be with us every step of the way. Psalm 118:6-7 says "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid... The Lord is with me; He is my helper".

During the past month we have tried to keep everyone updated to the best of our ability. Sometimes the conversations were not easy, particularly for me. However, we recognize that their are many people that care about Beckie, and care about our family, and they deserved to know what was going on. Many people suggested setting up a blog to help keep everyone updated. Now that we have a diagnosis and a treatment plan, the timing seems right to start doing this. My hope is that this blog will provide a running commentary of Beckie's road to recovery, and a little corner of cyberspace for all of us to celebrate one of God's many miracles.