Saturday, March 14, 2009

Video of Forester

Here is a short video I took of Forester this morning enjoying his new DS (thank you Charleston Christian School!). He hasn't wanted to do much of anything so this is a big deal. He still has chipmunk cheeks from the steroid as you can see. He's not complaining too much of any pain and slept well last night. He's on his way to a birthday party!!! Praise God!

(make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and pause the music if you want to hear the audio on the video.) ;-)


video

Friday, March 13, 2009

Save The Drama For Your Mama!

Another crazy day.
Sorry my text alarmed so many of you. When I typed that Forester couldn't walk I was in a hurry, panicked and it actually meant that he was in too much pain for him to walk or for me to carry him. It came on suddenly and I was by myself and scared about what was happening. Pete believes it may have been a psychological response to having to go back to the hospital and was trying to avoid going in. It may have been but it didn't seem like it to me as he started out being very willing to get out of the car. But I'm the mommy and possibly more gullible these days so who knows. The good news is he's on his way home. He was given a bag of fluids and the antibiotic and he took a little stroll in the hallways at the hospital and seemed much better. He said he's hungry and asked for pepperoni pizza for dinner. It's on it's way. We're praying the fever does not return but thankfully we can now treat the fever with Tylenol if it does show back up.
Thanks for all your prayers - you guys rock. I think I need a glass of wine and a bubble bath. :-)

Love to all,
Whitney

More details

Forester is still in the ER, but his blood work came back clear! Praise the Lord! The doctors gave him a dose of antibiotics through his port as a precautionary measure. He will have to return to the hospital for another dose of antibiotics tomorrow. Hopefully, he'll be heading home shortly. Please pray that his back doesn't hurt when they try to get him up. That's when the pain started earlier - when they arrived at the hospital and he tried to stand after sitting in the car. His skin is a little red where they placed the port yesterday, which is normal, and his back hurts at the puncture site. At this point, it seems we still don't know exactly what caused his fever and his intense pain. Please continue to pray for wisdom for the doctors and for healing for Forester. Pray for release from pain and that his fever continues to go down. Whitney said it dropped to 100 degrees without fever reducing medication. By the way, they may not receive the spinal tap results for a few days.

Now, to back up a little...

Forester did really well at home last night. He walked around a good amount, ate well and slept well. He woke up at 5am in a little pain, but it was easily managed. The fever was an unwelcome surprise around 10:30am.

One clarification: The port Forester received will be used to administer his chemotherapy and to make him more comfortable for blood draws. It has nothing to do with his radiation therapy. Please forgive my error.

Thank you all!
April

At the hospital

Forester is resting comfortably at the hospital now. He's had pain medication because apparently it was pain that kept him from walking. In about an hour, they should get blood test results re: a possible infection. Keep this precious boy and the family in your prayers!

April
Paramedics are coming to the parking garage to get him.

KEEP PRAYING!

Text from Whitney at 11:45am:

"Pray for his back. Something bad is happening! He can't walk."

April

Headed to the ER

Forester has a 101 degree fever. Pete & Whitney can't give him anything for it. They have to go the ER, and Forester is crying because - understandably - he doesn't want to go. Please pray for sweet Forester -for peace & comfort for him and for his fever to disappear!

April

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't Stop!

Wow. What a day. But one that we can praise God for! So far, Forester has not complained of any pain since he's been home. Not from the headache, the port site or the lumbar puncture site! Woo-hoo! God is good! He's also working on his second bowl of ....can you guess??? Mac & Cheese! So far no ickiness from the drugs and surgery. Your prayers are working! So...keep it up! We have gotten over another hurdle but the next one looms. Please PLEASE pray for clear results from the spinal tap. NO abnormal cells!! We hope to have the results tomorrow. Of course, that's what the dr. said, so it probably means Monday. But we're praying for tomorrow.

Ok, I want to write more but we Bradburns are so exhausted from the day. Again, thank you so so much for all your prayers and joining with us in this fight. We love you! - Whitney



** Just thought I'd post an adorable picture of our sweet 3 month old, Slade, who has been an angel through all of this!




Praise the Lord!!!

Whitney's caption for this photo: "Home and sleeping. Praise the Lord. Forester has already asked when he can have mexican chips and cheese dip. That's my boy!"

A picture is truly worth a thousand words.
Thanks again for all of your prayers!
April

Headed Home :o)

Forester is unplugged and getting dressed to go home! He's had a popsicle and some oral medications. Please pray for a quiet tummy for him.

Thanks!
April

Better!


Forester is feeling better, and they'll ALL be going home. Hopefully soon. Praise the Lord!

Sleep



Pete has gone home to sleep, while Whitney and Muzzy watch over Forester in recovery. Please pray that they all FEEL the Lord with them. A wonderful friend is caring for Slade at the hospital.

Keep lifting those prayers for our sweet boy!

April

Just received a text from Whit: "They're slowly elevating him. So far, so good."

Headache update

I spoke to Whitney, and she gave me a few more details.

Forester woke up from the anesthesia screaming and kept screaming for about 20 minutes before the morphine started working.

For some reason (I just don't get it), the doctors have said they don't think this is a spinal headache but a headache caused by the anesthesia and the position he was in during surgery. They're planning to send him home sometime this afternoon with hydrocodone for the pain and told Pete & Whitney he may vomit, etc, etc. However, every time they try to sit him up, the pain gets worse. Hello?!?!? Spinal headache?!?!? So - please pray for wisdom and compassion for the doctors and all those involved in Forester's care. As much as we want him home today, we want him cared for properly. Please continue to pray for this headache to disappear! Ugh, poor baby.

Update on the update: Text from Whitney at 1:05pm. "If they can't sit him up without pain by the end of the day, I think they'll have to admit him."

Also, Pete has not slept in over 24 hours. Because of their long day at the hospital yesterday, he stayed up all night trying to catch up on work. Yes, he's still working. Please pray for this strong man of God who is so bravely leading his family through this extremely difficult season of their lives.

Blessings to all of you,
April

Pray away this headache!!!

Just got a text from Whit:

"Forester got a spinal headache from tap. Pete said it's by far the worst thing that's happened yet. He was trying to bang his head against the bed. Accessed port right away for morphine."

Just got another text right before I was about to hit post:

"It's bad. He may be admitted if it doesn't get better."

Please pray away this headache! Pray that it miraculously disappears. Pray that Forester does not have to be admitted. Pray for Pete & Whitney too, as they watch their child in pain. :o(

April

Surgery update

When I spoke to Whitney at about 10:30am, the port portion of the surgery had already been successfully completed, and Forester was about to have the spinal tap. After that, he will have an x-ray to check his lungs. One of the biggest risks of the port placement is a deflated lung. From the surgeon's comments about the surgery, however, we do not expect this to be an issue.

No one slept well last night, so please continue to pray for peace and rest for the entire family and for physical comfort for Forester.

I'll keep you posted.
April

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

United in Prayer! - REMINDER

Please join us in a simultaneous intercessory group prayer for the Bradburn & Brown families tonight at 7pm EST. Pete & Whitney will lay hands on Forester as they pray at 7pm too!

From Jared Lathem, one of Whitney's childhood friends:

I would like to invite everyone to pray tonight at 7pm. Please stop what you are doing at 7pm EST and pray. Invite your friends and their friends. Let's pray this sickness away. Please respond to this post so the Bradburn family can see how many people are praying for them.

Matthew 18: 19-20

19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Thank you!
April

A few more things

When I talked to Whitney this afternoon, she expressed thanks that Forester had a day at the hospital that involved no pain! Amen to that!

Pete, Whitney & Forester arrived at 11:30am for Forester's hearing test. Then, they had the pre-op visit, another visit to the chemotherapy clinic for a height & weight check (Forester has re-gained the 5 pounds he had lost!), a successful meeting with Michelle, their Child Life Specialist, a brief Chick fil A break, and an echocardiogram and one other heart test. All test results were normal. They finally drove home at 4:30pm. They spent a lot of time waiting today, and Forester really wanted to go home, but overall, it was a day without drama and a day without pain. Praise the Lord for that!

They must arrive at the hospital at 7:30am tomorrow for the surgery to place Forester's radiation port at 9:10am. The surgery will take anywhere from 1/2 hour to 1 1/2 hours, and Pete & Whitney won't see Forester for about 3 hours. Thankfully, though, he will go home with them tomorrow. Please pray for a successful surgery, skill for the surgeon's hands, strength for Forester's body, no complications, and peace and comfort for all involved. I'm not sure exactly what time the spinal tap is, but please continue to pray Forester's spinal fluid is clear of all abnormal cells and that he has little (or no!) discomfort from the tap.

On Monday, they will meet with the radiologist at 11am to review the entire radiation plan and all of the possible side effects of radiation therapy. It will be an extremely difficult meeting, as was the meeting with the oncologist, so please begin covering it in prayer. Please pray for protection for their hearts and minds and for wisdom and compassion for the doctor. At 2pm Monday, they have another appointment at the chemotherapy clinic.

Tomorrow, they will reduce Forester's steroid to once per day for three days, and then he will be done. Please pray he does well off the steroid and has no withdrawal symptoms or rebound effects.

Thank you!!!
April

A few things

Please remember to be praying for peace for Forester today, as he has a ton of baseline medical testing. The doctors want to know what's normal for his body, so they will know if & how the chemotherapy and radiation therapy affect him. (Of course, we're praying for no side effects whatsoever!) So far, the doctors know that Forester has perfect hearing.

Forester's surgery is scheduled for 9:10am tomorrow morning and should last 1 1/2 hours. Thankfully, it will not be as long as originally expected.

As I'm sure you can imagine, Pete & Whitney have not slept well for a while now. Please continue to pray for peaceful, deep and restorative sleep for them.

I will pass the updates I receive onto you.
April

United in Prayer!

Please join us in a simultaneous intercessory group prayer for the Bradburn & Brown families tonight at 7pm EST.

From Jared Lathem, one of Whitney's childhood friends:

I would like to invite everyone to pray tonight at 7pm. Please stop what you are doing at 7pm EST and pray. Invite your friends and their friends. Let's pray this sickness away. Please respond to this post so the Bradburn family can see how many people are praying for them.

Matthew 18: 19-20

19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Thank you!
April

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How we might be the hands and feet - REMINDER

Many of you have expressed interest in helping and ministering to the Bradburn family in the coming days and weeks and months. We would so appreciate your help in any of the following areas:


  • Meals. We started meals for them Monday, March 2 and would love for someone to cover every other day (Mon, Wed, Fri, etc) for as long as needed. If you would like to serve the family in this way, please email bradburnfamily@gmail.com with "Meals" in the subject line and include your name, address and phone number. We will then contact you regarding a specific date and drop off details. Please bring all meals in disposable containers, so the family will not be burdened with returning dishes.

  • Encouragement. Encouraging cards for Forester and the rest of the family.

  • Gift cards. Gift cards for local grocery stores (WalMart, Publix, Bi-Lo) to help us keep their pantry and fridge stocked.

  • Gas cards. Gas cards to cover expenses as the family goes back and forth to the hospital for treatments.

  • Cash. Cash to help cover incidentals.

  • Local volunteers. Local volunteers to help with various yet-to-be-determined tasks & errands.

Again, please email bradburnfamily@gmail.com if you would like to help in any of the ways listed above or in any other way, and we will reply as soon as possible. Thank you for the being the hands and feet of Jesus and for ministering to this precious family in such tangible ways!!! It is very much appreciated!!!


April


(By the way, I cannot take credit for any of this. Thank you to 3 beautiful women in Charleston who love Jesus and the Bradburn family in such selfless ways.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Oncologist

Whitney, Pete and Pop met with Forester's oncologist for 3 1/2 hours today. It was a really horrible, difficult meeting because the doctor reviewed every possible side effect of chemotherapy, the statistical survival rate, etc, etc. We will post more details later but just wanted to ask for your prayers for peaceful sleep tonight and for Forester's surgery on Thursday. Apparently, the surgery to implant the radiation port will be 5-6 hours. He also has to have pre-radiation/chemotherapy medical testing and a pre-surgical appointment on Wednesday. It's time for Whitney & Pete to talk to him about the next steps. Please cover all of these things in prayer.

Forester had a great appetite again today, played videos games and even argued with Micah! :o) Also, Whitney got Tamiflu prescriptions for both of the boys as a preventative measure.

Psalm 146: 5-6

5How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;

Blessings,
April

UGH!

Please pray for protection for the entire family from the flu! Micah was exposed to it yesterday, and he has had close contact with Forester and Slade since then.

Thank you!
April

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How it all began... a Whitney post!

What a week it's been. Last Sunday was our first night with Forester home from the hospital. He couldn't keep food down, he was very agitated, he would not talk much and he was crying out off and on. Stressful.

Two Sundays ago, we went to church and then to lunch. At lunch, we talked about Forester's appointment with the pediatrician the next day and how we were pretty sure his occasional severe, yet short-lived, headaches & random dizziness had to be related to blood sugar. He needed a glucose test. We needed to give him snacks throughout the day. Problem solved. That night we watched the Oscars while the kids slept. Just another normal day.

Monday morning I took Forester to his pediatrician and explained what was going on. A finger prick showed normal blood sugar. His doctor wanted a CT scan just to be safe (so we could rule out anything serious), but he believed he was just having childhood headaches. I remember asking him "A CT Scan? Should I freak out now or....?" He said "No, no, no... In the last twelve years, I have ordered so many CT scans, and I have only had one come back showing something. This is just to be safe." I was at peace with that. The CT scan was scheduled for 8:30am on Tuesday morning, and I wasn't nervous about it. I thought of it as a formality before we could move on. Pete had a business trip & had to fly out that morning, so my Dad (Pop) agreed to come with me and Forester to the CT scan in case Forester was scared of the machine. Forester wasn't afraid. He had Pop stay with him while they scanned him, and I waited just outside the door. I was also standing just outside the open door to the "reading room" where Forester's scans were coming up on a computer screen. I could see them...not in detail but I could see them. I heard the tech call the radiologist and tell him the scans were being sent. Then I heard her say, "Do you see that? Yeah. Okay, I'll put the family in a consultation room and tell them you're coming to talk to them." At that moment, my heart started to beat quickly, and I became nervous. Then, I told myself that maybe she meant, "Do you see that? That beautiful perfectly clear scan?" That's all it was, right? Right??? We had to wait about 5 minutes, and then some doctor pulled me and my dad into a room and said "So Forester has been having headaches?" And I said "yes". And he said, "Well, there is a mass....This tumor is why he's been having headaches." Then my whole body went numb. The doctor started talking about MRI's and neurosurgeons and surgery and moving quickly. He said he'd call our pediatrician and be right back and then we would get moving on the MRI. I broke down in my dad's arms. I couldn't believe this was happening. I called Pete and said, "Do not get on the plane! It's a tumor". Then, that doctor came back and told us to go home and our pediatrician would call us. I numbly said "okay," got Forester and headed to the car. At this point, I knew nothing else. I didn't know where the tumor was, how big it was, nothing. I drove home trying not to cry, and Forester kept asking me why I was taking him home instead of to school. I didn't really know. Then I got the call from our pediatricians (who are amazing by the way!) who said, "Whitney, this moment is going to change your life. Forester has to go into the hospital today...like as soon as they have a bed for him. This tumor is in the back of his head, and it's about 3 cm. An MRI needs to be done right away, and then he will be staying in the hospital." I couldn't really grasp it all - I still can't. But that day completely changed our lives. I woke up that morning thinking my son had low blood sugar. I went to bed that night knowing he had a cancerous brain tumor that would be operated on first thing the next morning, that he wouldn't be returning to school this year, that there would be radiation and chemo, and.... Our world turned upside down.

It's been an unbelievable two weeks. Our world has been rocked, but our foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ, has proved to be unshakable. God has been with us and our boy every step of the way and will continue to be. He has mighty plans for Forester. He will use this trial for His glory.

Please pray for us tomorrow as we meet with the oncologist who will give us the details of Forester's treatment. Please pray that they will NOT find any cancerous cells in the spinal fluid when they do the tap on Thursday. And of course, keep praying for our sweet Forester. That he will not be afraid and that he will know that God is with him and holding him every step of the way.

Thank you so much for all that you have done for us. The outpouring is amazing, and we are speechless. Truly. I keep saying it, but saying thank you just isn't enough!!



"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you."

Isaiah 54:10



"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."


Isaiah 43:2-3


Blessings to you all,
Whitney

A Medical Summary About Forester

The "Pop" Report

This is an update from Pop, Forester’s Charleston grandfather (Whitney's Dad). He has been on hand for briefings from doctors and our friends who are medical professionals, and has done considerable research online.


As most of you know, Forester’s tumor was a medulloblastoma, a single tumor attached to the brain stem, beneath the cerebellum. The result of the surgery was a “gross total resection,” which translates to “they got it all.”

The following, as well as other material I will quote, comes from a brochure on medulloblastoma published by the American Brain Tumor Association, the most comprehensive consumer reference I have found.

Removing as much tumor as possible is the most
important step in treating medulloblastoma. The
neurosurgeon has three goals for the surgery: To
relieve cerebrospinal fluid buildup caused by
tumor or swelling; to confirm the diagnosis by
obtaining a tissue sample; and to remove as much
tumor as possible with minimal neurological
damage. Several studies have shown the best
chance for long-term tumor control is when all of
the medulloblastoma visible to the
neurosurgeon’s eye can be removed safely.

We were briefed on a range of side effects which could appear after surgery and caused by the surgery itself, including difficulties with visual and verbal processing. Fortunately, we have seen none of these with Forester. He is still drowsy and fatigued, but that’s normal. He can talk and read and remember and laugh just as he did before.

Medulloblastoma tumors are classified by “M stage,” a medical way of indicating the degree of metastasis (tumor spread) if any.

M0 means no evidence of metastasis has been
found — the tumor appears to be limited to
the area in which it grew.
M1 means there are tumor cells in the spinal
fluid.
M2 means the tumor has spread within the
brain.
M3 means the tumor has spread into the spine.
M4 means tumor spread away from the brain or
spine (for example, in the very rare situation in
which the medulloblastoma spreads to chest or bones)

MRI testing shows no spread of Forester’s tumor into the spine or other parts of the brain (and so not to the chest or bones). Forester had a spinal tap and no abnormal cells were found in the spine. Regardless, his radiation would include the spine as well as the cranium.


Children are considered at “average-risk” of
recurrence if they are diagnosed after age 3; if all,
or nearly all, of the tumor is surgically removed;
and if there is no evidence of metastases or tumor
spread.

All other pediatric medulloblastomas are considered to be at “high-risk” of recurrence. High-risk patients include those under age 3; if more than 1.5 cm (about 1/2 inch) of tumor volume remains following surgery; or if there is
any evidence that the disease has spread.

Forester is obviously considered average risk. The pathology on his tumor shows an “anaplastic” submolecular structure, which is not the least fastest growing nor is it the fastest growing.

This week, we meet with Forester’s oncologist who will brief us on is treatment plan. We do know it will include both radiation and chemotherapy.

Following surgery, medulloblastoma is usually
treated with radiation therapy. It is an important
“next-step” because microscopic tumor cells can
remain in the surrounding brain tissue even after
surgery has successfully removed the entire visible
tumor. Since these remaining cells can lead to
tumor regrowth, the goal of radiation therapy is to
reduce the number of left-over cells.

Chemotherapy is now a standard part of treatment
for children with medulloblastoma. For children with medulloblastoma, chemotherapy is used to reduce the risk of tumor cells spreading through the spinal fluid.

Most children are treated in clinical trials — organized studies that are helping determine which treatments are
most effective. Clinical trials also offer a formal
way to test new therapies against existing
therapies to learn which is better.

In children at average-risk of recurrence, current
studies are exploring the use of chemotherapy as a
way to reduce the total amount of craniospinal
radiation.

How well a patient responds to treatment is
affected by their age at the time of diagnosis (7 is very good); the size and extent of the tumor (average size, limited to the brain stem); the amount of mass that can be removed safely (all); and the M Stage (so far, M0).

With current therapies,70% – 80% of children
with average-risk medulloblastoma can be
expected to be alive and free of disease five years
from diagnosis. Even in those children with high-
risk disease, effective therapy is possible and
results in long-term disease control in as high as
60% – 65% of patients.

Our doctors have told us that the above figures are based on 10- and 15-year studies, and that recent outcomes are even more positive.

Forester’s treatment protocol will probably have months of radiation and chemotherapy, so he has a tough road ahead of him. This is what the brochure said about side effects:

In the short-term, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and hair loss in the path of the radiation beams are the most common acute effects of this treatment. Adults seem to experience these temporary, short-
term effects to a greater degree than children.

Children do run the risk of longer term effects, including learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. However, those under 3 are most at risk and the older the child, the less likely he or she will have long-term effects. Further, the work of radiation therapy is now being accomplished with ever lower levels of radiation.

Forester appears to be one of the fortunate ones who has a strong chance of a long-term cure. He is especially fortunate to have so many friends who care about him and are praying for him.