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Dennis Brinkman - Journal

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Posted 2018-07-28T17:34:00Z

July 28th

 It has been sometime since I have updated a post concerning Dennis and his continued journey.   As stated before, he started chemo treatments on April 13th and his last treatment was June 22nd.  He was able to go to Mercy Cancer Center in Mason City for treatments, so that was much easier than driving to Rochester.   Everyone who works in the cancer center was so friendly and kind to us.   In the beginning,  he had a few side effects but nothing serious. In fact, he was able to plant all of his crops this spring between chemo treatments and rain events! Dan Rottinghaus worked the ground for him and he had help from Jay, Barry, Gene and FS guys to make it all happen!  He  was able to complete four  cycles of chemo.  After the last cycle on June 22nd, he became quite dehydrated and lacking in energy and strength.  All of this was caused by the side effects of chemo. On June 29th he was admitted to the hospital in Mason City.  They gave him fluids and antibiotics to increase his counts and build strength. Dennis came home on July 3rd and has been gradually doing better.   The oncology department in Rochester decided to discontinue all of his chemo treatments and do scans every few months.  His  treatments were a preventative in case any cells escaped prior to surgery. Therefore, we are cautiously optimistic that the chemo did its job!!   The next stage of his “adventure” is teeth!   Since they had to remove all of his bottom teeth except one,  they are preparing him for implants. He has had impressions and will sometime in the near future have surgery to put in five studs to support the new teeth.  Unfortunately, he will still be on a soft food diet for 3 to 4 months. It takes that long for the studs to adhere to the bone and become solid enough to support the permanent teeth. We are hoping he can chew at Christmas time!! What a great Christmas present that would be!!  [...]

Posted 2018-04-09T15:26:43Z

April 9th

 Dennis will start chemo on April 13th, which happens to be Friday the 13th!!  Today he is having a port inserted for administering the chemo. On Tuesday and Wednesday he has appointments at Mayo for CT scans.  These are routine scans that he will have every three months.  All chemo treatments will be done in Mason City, which is closer to home. He will be treated as an outpatient, though Rochester told us he would be an inpatient.  The chemo drugs he will receive are very strong and of course there are side effects. His regimen of treatments is in cycles of one day the first week and five days three weeks after initial treatment. We are praying that he can tolerate the drugs. Will just take it one treatment at a time!   Appreciate your continued prayers and support as this journey continues. God bless each of you. [...]

Posted 2018-03-11T19:37:52Z

March 11th

On March 6th we had an appointment in Rochester with the oncology department and a follow-up with one of the surgeons.  They have decided to do chemotherapy. The good news is he can have the treatments in Mason City at the Mercy Cancer Center.  On March 21st we meet with an oncologist in Mason City to determine the schedule.   Dennis’s cancer is called spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma and it is usually found in children or young teenagers.   It is very rare for adults to get this type of soft tissue cancer and therefore, their data for treatment is limited.   However, they have found at Mayo a  pediatric regimen of  chemo treatments benefits  the patient.   He will have an an usual schedule which involves several weeks, but not every day and not every week! When he does have a treatment, he will be an inpatient.  On the 21st, we will find out the start date and proceed from there!    The surgeon said he is progressing well and everything is healing well. That is always good to hear!! Again, we are so appreciative of everything that has been done for us and  all the support and prayers we have received.  Thanks- all of you are the best!!  [...]

Posted 2018-02-19T19:01:55Z

February 19

 Because of impending weather, we have rescheduled Dennis’s  appointment for March 6th.   Glad they are willing to work with us.  Driving on ice is not my forte!!   We made the decision this morning and wished we would have gone to Rochester on Sunday.  Hindsight!!  Hope the weatherman is not tricking us! Dennis continues to improve, but struggles with eating,  even though he is on a soft food diet.  The surgery required them to cut into  nerves connected to the lower lip, therefore creating numbness.   He also has numbness in parts of the chin.   We are hoping feeling returns to these areas, but there is no guarantee. It is like having Novocain at the dentist  and trying to eat or drink afterwards!   Not sure I have mentioned this before, but during the surgery they removed all of his bottom teeth except for one! This adds to the eating dilemma. It will take several months for healing and then a decision will be made on  what type of replacement – implants or dentures. Thanks to everyone for all you have done for us and your continued prayers and concerns. We have been blessed by the support you have shown us in so many ways! Thank you thank you! [...]

Posted 2018-02-07T23:24:07Z

February 7

 Yesterday was an exciting day!    Dennis had several appointments in Rochester and one of them was the swallowing test! This test determines the removal of the feeding tube.   He passed with flying colors and the feeding tube is now history!!  I had taken some small applesauce containers along just in case the tube was removed.  His remark was “ I never knew applesauce could taste so good !”   We, also, met again with the surgeons and they feel he is progressing as expected! The boot will be on his leg for a few more weeks and the trachea tube is healing well. Our next appointment in Rochester is the 20th and we will meet with the oncology department to determine what kind of treatments he will have or if he needs treatments.   Thanks to everyone for your continued prayers and encouraging words!  [...]

Posted 2018-01-28T02:18:38Z

Saturday, January 27

Yesterday was a very special day, as Dennis was released to come home.   It was 45° in Rochester when we left the hospital and our drive home was very pleasant. Dennis came home with a feeding tube and a boot on his left leg. Now it is my job to administer the feeding tube, plus care for the leg.   I know now why nursing was not my professional choice!!   We are in the process of organizing our schedule for the care that needs to be done, plus get some much needed rest.  Today we were way behind schedule and hopefully that will improve in the days ahead.  In my previous posts,  I have neglected to thank Ann and Brent for being with us during surgery and several days following the original surgery.  So blessed to have the love and support of family.   Again, we thank everyone for the prayers and compassion shown to both of us during this “adventure”.   We are on a challenging journey and having support of so many friends and family makes it much easier. [...]

Posted 2018-01-26T03:39:00Z

Thursday, January 25th

Hooray Hooray— this morning the residents removed his trachea tube and a tube in his leg. That made him a very happy man! During the day he has had some discomfort from Wednesday’s surgery involving the removal of two strips of tissue in the bottom of his mouth. The second strip showed clean margins, with no suspicious cells.  Yeah!!  Hoping tonight he can get some much needed rest. Things are definitely looking up!   Thanks for your continued prayers and thoughts.  Our prayers have been answered!!![...]

Posted 2018-01-25T03:34:00Z

Wednesday the 24th

  Today was another surgery day for Dennis.  The pathology report from his original surgery showed one or two microscopic cancer cells that needed to be removed.   At this time, we have not talked to the surgeons or one of the residents for a report on how much tissue they removed. He was in some discomfort after surgery, so they are giving him medication for pain. This medication is also helping him relax and rest more comfortably.  Tomorrow’s goal is to get rid of the trachea tube!!   Hopefully the medical team has the same goal! Your thoughts and prayers are a great comfort to each of us.[...]

Posted 2018-01-23T16:34:23Z

Tuesday morning the 23rd

 Greetings from snowy Rochester! We’ve had a little bit of a setback and will be staying a little longer. In reading the pathology report, they found at least one or two microscopic cells that they want to remove.   They will be doing surgery sometime tomorrow morning to remove the cancerous tissue. This is a much less invasive surgery and also much shorter. The estimated time of surgery is about one hour. The good news is sometime after surgery the  trachea tube will come out and that will make him very very happy. It has bothered him since day one. Our “adventure” here started one week ago and will continue a little longer.   We still feel very blessed to be in such a wonderful facility with the very best medical professionals.  Your continued prayers and support are very  comforting to both of us.[...]

Posted 2018-01-22T02:36:26Z

Sunday update

 Dennis is progressing well  each day. On Saturday he was able to put full weight on his leg using a boot for protection.  He did several walks in the hallway without much discomfort.    Today they removed a tube from his leg and two tubes from his neck.   However, he was very disappointed that they did not take the trachea  tube out.  They will not take it out until a pathology report clears all areas of cancerous tissue.  The trachea is uncomfortable and bothers his sleeping. He has rested each night but still lacks a good nights sleep.  He was very tired this morning.   The staff and doctors at St. Mary’s have been wonderful and he is receiving the best care possible. For that we feel blessed and grateful. Thanks again for your caring thoughts and prayers. [...]