Friday, December 12, 2014

Y'all....Did that really just happen?! The final report...

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! (insert the dancing lady in the red dress emoji)

I have to be honest. I'm still squealing over here in Mississippi. There was no way to prepare myself for these scan results, and I will NEVER forget Tuesday, December 9 as long as God gives me air to breath!

That morning, the radiologist called us in (Vic's parents were with us) maybe 10 minutes after my scans. The first thing he said was, "Well. I have good news. I don't even know what to say, so I'll just show you," and he pulled up the images for us to see as we sat down in front of his computer. The difference was incredible. I couldn't even see the two smaller spots, and the largest spot looked like a speck on the screen. My inlaws were jumping and celebrating behind us, and I just sat there speechless with my jaw on the floor. The radiologist incredulously demanded to know what medicine they were giving me and said, "Do you even know how lucky you are?" After about 5 minutes of just staring at everyone in the room with my mouth agape, there were fist bumps, high fives and lots of hugging, screaming and fist pumping. Needless to say, we threw a big party that night, and we are still celebrating and thanking God.

We received the actual written report from the doctor the day after, and the results are nothing short of miraculous. I had 3 measurable tumors in my lungs: a 10 mm tumor, a 6.4 mm tumor and a 4.2 mm tumor. After 1 cycle of treatment over 8 weeks, the 10 mm tumor is now 3 mm; the 6.4 mm tumor is GONE; and the 4.2 mm tumor is almost 2 mm now (we initially thought this one was completely gone too).

The fact that, in the words of the radiologist, the tumors appear to be "melting away" is unheard of. A metastatic melanoma diagnosis doesn't give you the "luxury" of hoping for remission. It gives you a death sentence. That sounds awful and harsh, but, barring a miracle, that is reality. So you can imagine our great rejoicing over this VERY promising news!! I am overwhelmed at the goodness of our God.

I leave for treatment this weekend and start cycle 2 on Monday. I have approximately 8 million questions for my oncologist regarding what my scan results mean for me long term. What happens if after another cycle or 2 of treatment my tumors disappear completely? Will I keep taking treatments? Will I be considered in remission? Could these results be durable? As in, forever??

I hope to have an answer to these questions so that I can give a more formal update when I return from Boston next week. Regardless, we are so thrilled and SO THANKFUL for this renewed hope. We are so grateful that Jesus led us to EXACTLY the treatment I needed, and then proceeded to open up a spot for me in a trial that was already full. He has shown us incredible mercy and grace throughout this journey. Let me say it again, as loudly as possible, thank you Lord!

I love you all so much and SO APPRECIATE you walking through this with me. You will never, ever know how grateful I am to you all. One day, when this is all over, we are having a HUGE party. You are all invited. I insist! (Just don't mention it to Vic until alllll the tumors are gone.)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Eph 3:20-21



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Glory to God in the HIGHEST

and on earth, PEACE.

I'm struggling to type as I'm swimming in a pool of tears. Tears of joy, thanksgiving and ECSTASY. The two small spots that were on Meredith's lungs have disappeared, and the large tumor that was previously 10 mm is now 1-2 mm. Meredith's doctors described the results of her scan by saying the cancer had "melted away." Her doctor is amazed, but I think he is in the minority in that respect. For most people, stage 4 melanoma is a certain death sentence. Today, our God has said, "not for Meredith."

I'm so overwhelmed right now and feel the need to just let this sink in as we praise the Lord and celebrate together. I"m certain that Meredith will want to post here later, but I know so many of you were praying and waiting for news so I at least wanted to post here right away.

THANK YOU LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See the comparison below. The original scan is on the right; the tumor is on the upper left corner. The new scan is on the left!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Scan Me Already!!

Ready or not, here we go! And let me say I am READY. Tomorrow is everything that we’ve been working towards. Cycle 1 of treatment is complete and tomorrow’s scans will reveal whether or not my body is responding to treatment. I’m so excited for this important step and hopeful we will receive good news. My sister is planning a celebratory dumping of a Gatorade ice bath over my head in the parking lot of the imaging center after good results. #winning (I told her I’d rather get tickets to the Orange Bowl instead. Dan Mullen are you reading this? I’m available to sit on the bench with the team for moral support, FYI).

But really, I fluctuate from extreme anxiety and excitement over these scans tomorrow. They are scheduled for 9:00 a.m., and we will have results same day. Emily will be posting results here tomorrow! Thank you, thank you THANK YOU for praying for us!!! It gives me great peace and hope knowing so many of you are lifting us up in your prayers. It’s such an important milestone for us, and I just can’t help but believe we will get good news after the miraculous way we were accepted into this trial. I can’t know what the future holds for us, but I am believing this treatment will provide the pathway to my wellness. Whatever the outcome, I am confident that Jesus loves me and He has a plan for my good and His glory.

Huge strides are being made in melanoma research right now, and they feel they are on the precipice of a treatment with a durable cure rate. (This trial I’m enrolled in may even prove to be the answer!) Time will tell. Metastatic melanoma can appear slow growing for a several months, or in some cases even a few years, but eventually “blows up” and spreads rapidly and takes over the entire body. This is why it’s considered a huge victory if treatment is able to halt growth, even if there is no tumor shrinkage. So basically, if tomorrow’s scans show no new tumors and no growth of existing tumors, the treatment will be deemed effective.

If the scans show new growth, they will likely try one more 8 week cycle before I’d have to look for other options. Either way, I’ll start cycle 2 December 15.

So we are done with cycle 1. We have made it through relatively unscathed in terms of side effects, and we are so thankful for that. Besides being extremely fatigued, I’m feeling well. Treatment has not hindered me from any of my day to day activities of being a wife and mom to my two babies, and that is a tremendous blessing!

The most difficult aspect of the journey is not so much the physical, but the mental and emotional struggle. Every day I have to choose. Will I allow my diagnosis to determine my mood? Will I live in fear of dying from cancer or will I chose to trust that my life is in His hands? Will I retreat into my room and throw a pity party or will I get up and find a way to serve my family and friends? Will I let worry paralyze so that I merely go through the motions of my day, or will I choose to be truly present and enjoy my relationships? Will I fret over the bad news or will I choose to be thankful in all things no matter what my circumstances look like?

Most days are good days. Great days, even! But the better news is that even on those really bad days, when I’m so sad or really frustrated and have a bad attitude, Jesus finds a way to let me know He’s still there, and He cares. He has used so many of you to get that message across. Through your notes, words, hugs, meals, fundraisers, prayers, kindness and generosity. All of you have been a very real part of this journey with us – an HUGE part. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for each and every one of you.

Funny story - my wallet was stolen in Boston a few days ago while we were eating dinner after my last treatment. It was a huge hassle – filing police reports, getting through airport securing with absolutely no ID (tons of fun), canceling credit cards. Really?? I'm barely 30 minutes out of my cancer treatment and my wallet gets stolen? So frustrating. (Plus I really did love that wallet!) Anyway, we made it home after barely escaping airport security with my dignity, and waiting in the mail for us were 4 different cards from friends, all with checks.... It more than quadrupled what I lost in my wallet. I was so completely blown away I just had to sit down and cry for a few minutes. God has been SO good and faithful to us. We are at a loss for words at the outpouring of love and support. We have a MILLION things to be thankful for, and losing a silly wallet is not even worth a second thought.

Again, we thank you for taking the time and energy to pray for us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

With so much love,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cycle One Complete!

Meredith has finished Cycle One of treatment! The first four infusions went well, her organ function is still good, and the side effects have been minimal. God is so good! We are now looking to Tuesday, December 9. That is when she will have her next scan to check her prognosis. According to her oncologist, no change is considered positive. If no new tumors have developed, and her existing tumors have not grown, the treatment will be considered a success. Hopefully, we will see tumor shrinkage! Regardless of the scan results, she will continue with Cycle Two later in December.

Please continue to pray with December 9 in mind. We hope to get results same day, but regardless of how long it takes, I will post here as soon as we get news!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Infusion 2...Done and done.

Whew! Today was rough – by far the hardest day yet. I felt well enough on Tuesday, the day after the infusion, but today was just plain hard, emotionally and physically. It was a chore just getting out of the bed, which I did not do much of!

We flew home from Boston yesterday after finishing infusion two. Like round one, this infusion was without complications or reaction. Best of all, only 9 vials of blood in a 24 hour period – last time it was 41. FOURTY. ONE. VIALS. Of my blood. Within 24 hours. I’ve had enough of needles for a few days, ya’ll.

I had a good meeting with my oncologist who said my organ functions look great, and I have two treatments to go before they scan me to monitor my progress. That will be mid-December, so I’m hoping the scans reveal tumor shrinkage or at least no growth.
As much as it is a hassle to fly to Boston and leave the girls every other week, our travel has really been seamless. No delays, no issues, and we love the staff at Mass General. My oncologist has a great sense of humor and loves college football, so we have developed a great rapport. My infusion nurse, Vanessa, is my age and already feels like a friend. The head clinical trial nurse is amazing and so accommodating. They are allowing me to get some pre-blood work done here in Starkville the Saturday’s before infusion which is a great help. I feel such a peace about this treatment, and just the way God worked it out for me to have this spot makes me feel so confident that we are in the right place.

The majority of the time, I feel really well and strong physically and emotionally. I can only attribute that the grace of God and the many prayers you’ve offered on our behalf. Honestly, your kindness and generosity is almost embarrassing it’s so overwhelming. Not a day goes by that we don’t get a check in the mail, a heartfelt card, a phone call with an encouraging word, a meal….it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and we are so humbled.

God is showing us His faithfulness in both the mundane and in the magnificent. I was driving to the grocery store last week, praying as I drove and just had a passing worry about finances. I was also thinking that it was hard to function and feed the family without a kitchen (We are remodeling our kitchen. Because, you know. Not much going on. ;). Anyway, within an hour, someone gave us a card full of cash and someone else called asking to bring us dinner. True story. I never spoke either concern out loud. He just took care of it. He hears and answers our fleeting thoughts. How crazy good is that?!

And He continues to take care of us in big, big ways. I still wake up every morning thankful that we got a spot in this trial. That my brain MRI was clear both times. That my tumor has not grown since early August. There are lots of magnificent, HUGE ways He has and is helping us.

Even today, as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, my dad told me of several people who called him just to tell him that they are praying for me morning, noon and night. I can’t tell you what that does for me. Just to know people are taking the time to pray for us. To care. There are so many suffering, and everyone has their own struggles, so we are just completely humbled that you are taking time from your day to ask the Lord for my healing. We are eternally grateful. Please know that!

This journey is obviously not something I would have chosen to walk through. Many times I’ve cried out to God and asked Him to take this cup from me. If there was any other way for Him to accomplish His will besides THIS. But. I am learning through this process that He is faithful. He is good. He is constant. His love for us knows no bounds. I’ve always known and believed that God is good. That He loves us and is for us. But He is proving these things to me in a new, tangible way. Despite my circumstances, my prognosis, He is not any less good or any less in control. He is nearer than He’s ever been to me.

He knows all our days, and has a plan for each one of us. For whatever reason, this is part of His plan for me.I can trust that it's ultimately for my good!

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. You will never, ever know how much your support, prayers and encouragement means.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Meredith and Vic are fighting! Treatment has begun!

We Starkville girls can't help but enjoy the Bulldog fever. A friend gave Meredith a signed Dak Prescott jersey, and she wore it yesterday for her first treatment.

What do Meredith and Dak have in common? I'm calling it right now - they're both going undefeated this season.

Yesterday was a difficult but successful day. The doctors took 25 vials of blood before they even started the medicine, so Meredith's arms are pretty sore. She did get both the nivulomab and the lurulomab yesterday; originally we thought she would just get the PD1 (nivulomab). The best news is that Meredith did not experience any side effects during the infusion!! She's feeling some minor side effects today - a rash across her face and stomach as well as some joint pain in her knees that makes walking uncomfortable but doable. These are both common reactions to this treatment.

The one major side effect that they watch for is inflammation in her organs. This would be asymptomatic, so they will be taking blood to test for that each week. If the doctors see any sign of inflammation in any of her organs, this would postpone or stop the treatment.

There is much to be thankful for this week - finally treatment has begun! There are no signs of serious side effects in the first 24 hours, and Meredith has a wonderful nurse who will be administering the treatments each time. Meredith said she's feeling pretty well today, so we will pray that continues! Also requesting prayer that her blood counts show no sign of organ inflammation and that her body would respond properly to the treatment.

Meredith and Vic are en route from Boston and will return to Boston next Monday for more blood work. Because of the regulations surrounding the clinical trial, all the tests must be done there by the trial doctors. It's difficult to travel every week such a long way just to have blood drawn, but Meredith and Vic are geared up for the fight and will do whatever necessary to beat this thing!

Thank you for your continued prayers. Now we wait to see what God will do.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Treatment Plan

It's official: Meredith did qualify for the clinical trial. She and Vic leave on Sunday for Boston and she will have her first treatment on Monday. She will travel to Boston every week for the first month of treatment, then she will go every other week after that. Treatment could last up to 2 years. She will be taking the PD1 drug Nivulomab and the anti-KIR drug Lurulomab. Doctors are very exited about this combination therapy, and we are praying that Meredith will handle the drugs with ease. There are a wide range of possible side effects, but there is no way to know how Meredith will respond until she actually starts taking the medication.

Thank you again so much for all of your wonderful support. Please continue to keep Meredith and Vic in your prayers as they have a lot of traveling in store and for Meredith's health as she fights the good fight!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Update from Boston- Waiting to Qualify

Hello from Boston! Vic and I are in the airport and I'm updating from my phone so this will be brief. Thank you all for the prayers and support. I cannot tell you how special the 5K event was to us- what an amazing send-off! It deserves it's own blog post, so I'll write about that experience soon.

As Emily wrote on Monday, we were THRILLED to receive the call that a trial spot has opened. This trial involved a PD1 and anti-KIR drug, and though it's only in phase 1 trials, my doctors are excited about the response patients are having. We are so thankful to God for this answered prayer.

We arrived in Boston early yesterday to complete the screening process to determine eligibility for the trial. I did bloodwork, chest x-ray, EKG, another brain MRI and CT of chest, abdomen and pelvis. In order for me to qualify for this trial I'll need the brain scan to be clear (again) and the tumor in my lungs that was previously biopsied to measure 10mm by 10mm. It was nearly that size two months ago, so my doctor feels I will meet these qualifications. We should know soon!

Assuming I qualify, they have scheduled my first treatment for next Friday at noon. It should take a few hours for the injection, so they told us to plan to be there all day. I will fly to Boston every other week for treatment, and once a week for monitoring during my first month.

Again, we could not walk through this without the amazing support of all of you praying and helping us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!! God bless you! Emily or I will post an update when we get the news of my scans.

For now, we are ready to board this plane and get back to our girls whom we miss more than words can say. HUGE thank you to our parents who have kept our babies safe and happy MANY nights since my diagnosis. Madeleine and Charlotte have adjusted amazingly well to our new "normal." God has been so kind to us. I couldn't do this trial and travel if I thought for one second my girls wouldn't be well cared for. Thank you Lord for grandparents! Being away from the kids has been the hardest part of this ordeal, but God has given us grace and strength to deal with our heartache. We are relieved to at least have some sort of schedule to follow, and we can finally get settled in Starkville.

We are encouraged, hopeful and thankful. Thank you for walking through this with us. We are truly humbled by your kindness.

All of our love and thanks,
Vic and Meredith

Monday, October 6, 2014

She got a spot in a clinical trial!!

Remember how I said earlier that Meredith wasn't able to get into a trial in Boston? Well, the doctor that she saw there just called her a few minutes ago to tell her that they've extended one extra spot specifically for her. It is the trial that was their number one choice (PD1 drug with an anti KIR). Is our God good???

I can only believe that is the grace of God in response to all of the prayers that have been sent up for Meredith. We are SO grateful to God that this is happening and so grateful to all of you who have been praying fervently for this to happen. Meredith and I were discussing this morning how God knit her together in the womb and He knew exactly what kind of medicinal combination her body would respond to. If He chooses to heal her through medicine or simply with a wave of his hand, Meredith and Vic finally felt today that they had done everything in their power to get Meredith the best treatment available. They finally felt a peace about where they were with treatment options. Then the doctor called.

We are so THANKFUL! Meredith and Vic will be flying to back to Boston right away to go through the obligatory screening process (scans and blood work). I don't know exactly when she will begin the treatment, but we will know in the next day or two!! The doctor also said the patients who are taking this drug combination right now are experiencing very little side effects and she should be fine to fly to Boston for treatment then fly home the next day. Another wonderful piece of news!!

Praise God!!!

Boston update

Meredith was not able to get into a trial in Boston. The doctor there was very kind and spent a lot of time with them going over every treatment option available. He is recommending that she start with an older treatment called Interleukin. It can be a harsh treatment and not a lot of patients respond to it; however, those that do respond seem to respond very strongly. Meredith and Vic are still prayerfully considering treatment options and plan to begin treatment by the end of the month.

The Interleukin treatment has been shown to produce durable remission (nobody will say "cure")in the patients who do respond, so Meredith and Vic pan to discuss this with their doctor at Vanderbilt this week. If he agrees, this is the path they are leaning toward at this point. While it can be harsh during the treatment, it doesn't produce any long term side effects like the yervoy AND it wouldn't exclude her from any trials. So if it doesn't work, she could still be eligible for a PD1 trial.

Please continue to pray as they are nearing a decision regarding treatment. I'll post an update when that decision has been made.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Team Mere bracelets

Ok I'm sorry!! The bracelet purchase option has been removed from the 5K link because they are almost gone! Another order has been placed, and those bracelets will be shipped to Mississippi soon. Once they are available, I'll post info on how to get one!

Mere and Vic are anxiously waiting in the doctor's office at Boston Mass General. Will post an update if any decisions are made today. If you've got a minute, and I bet you do, would you say a prayer for them right now?

Thank you!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Treatment Update

Meredith and Vic are traveling today to Boston, where they have an appointment tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 central time at Boston Mass General to discuss a few trial options. They have three trials that are going on right now, so once they meet with this doctor, Meredith will be in their system and can possibly get into one of their spots. One of the trials has one spot open (I think it is still open), and this particular trial is their top choice. There are also spots open in the other two trials, but considering the side effects and uncertainty surrounding the drug combinations of those two trials, Meredith and Vic aren't sure if either of those will be the best route for them to take. If they decide to go ahead with one of those trials in Boston, she can start treatment there right away. Please pray for clear direction for Meredith and Vic, especially tomorrow as they discuss options with this doctor in Boston. Hopefully, there will still be one spot left in the trial they want!!

They also still have plans to visit Johns Hopkins and Sloan Kettering later this month. In order to join a clinical trial, you must first be a patient of the hospital where the trial is being conducted. So they have narrowed down their list to a few hospitals with the most promising trials and are trying to get Meredith's name on each hospital registry in the next few weeks.

Meredith and Vic are still struggling with the time constraint of this disease progression, so they have also started the insurance process at Vanderbilt for yervoy treatments. If Meredith isn't able to get into a trial within the next couple of weeks, they have decided to go ahead and start taking yervoy at Vanderbilt.

After the appointment in Boston tomorrow, Meredith and Vic are flying to Texas to participate in the Fear Nothing 5K on Sunday. They travel back to MS early next week, so please keep them in your prayers as they have a lot of traveling to do! I'm wearing my Team Meredith bracelet as I know lots of you are, and you can order them at the 5K link. I'll post it one more time below because someone just text me yesterday asking where to get a bracelet.

Don't forget to email Liz AFTER you finish check out to ask her to mail the bracelet to you.

Thank you as always for your prayers!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Waiting on Trial / Your Questions Answered

Hi everyone. Sorry we haven't posted an update because - as you might have guessed - we have been waiting for news! But the doctor from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center called Meredith this morning. The three trial phases for Bristol Meyers new PD1 drug Nivolumab have closed BUT they are about to open an extended access program at Sloan Kettering for this drug, and the doctor said that he might be able to get Meredith into that program!! No guarantees until Meredith goes for a screening, but we are excited at this possibility.

Nivolumab is comparable to the new drug Pembro that was just released by Merck. My (very limited) understanding is that it works in much the same way, and while there is no long term research published because these drugs are so new, the researchers are very excited at the initial results of these PD1 drugs in combination with immunotherapy drugs (yervoy). Bear with me, I'm not a scientist. I only know as much as Google tells me.

Again, there is not a 100% guarantee that Mere will qualify to participate in the extended access program. PLEASE PRAY that she will get into this program and SOON. As anxious as I am, Meredith and Vic are 100x more anxious to begin treatment with the best possible option.

One of the doctors that Meredith has seen had suggested that she go ahead and begin treatment (yervoy) and another doctor has recommended waiting to see if she can get into a trial somewhere. Meredith and Vic are still looking into other trials and waiting to hear back from other doctors regarding any possible openings where Meredith can get the yervoy in conjunction with a newer drug (pembro or nivolumab). It is a VERY DIFFICULT place to be for them - trying to decide if they should keep waiting in hopes that she can get into a trial (which they feel is their best treatment option) or if they should go ahead with the option that is open to them now, even if they feel that it may be less effective. Please continue to pray that God would make clear to them which path is the right path and to give them peace during this agonizing waiting period.

A lot of you have been asking about other things regarding insurance and travel/medical expenses, and several of you mentioned that you were having trouble posting comments on here. A good contact email is, but I will attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions here:

Meredith and Vic do have insurance. No idea how much it covers and probably won't know until she starts treatment somewhere. Do these trials and extended access programs cost money or do the dug companies cover the cost as part of their research? If it isn't paid for by the drug companies, will insurance cover a trial drug treatment? Someone else will have to answer those questions because I have no idea, and Meredith didn't know either.

Right now, their only need is PRAYER. For peace, for clear direction, for a spot to open in a trial, for their properties to sell in Alpine or that they can liquidate some of their other assets.

For those in the west Texas area, you can still sign up for the 5K here:

The same link now has an option to purchase a Team Meredith bracelet - even if you are not participating in the run, you can order a bracelet and someone can mail it to you. IMPORTANT: If you are out of town and want the bracelet mailed to you, you MUST email Liz at after you place your order to let her know you want the bracelet mailed to you. 100% of the profits from these bracelets are going to Vic and Meredith's medical fund.

The medical fund has been set up at Fort Davis State Bank in Alpine, Texas. Donations can be sent there

to the attention of Lizeth Ryan
Fort Davis State Bank
PO Box 2021
Alpine, TX 79831

Please just indicate that it is for Meredith Horn's medical fund. Locals can also make donations at the bank at 1102 E Holland Ave in Alpine. You can reach Lizeth Ryan with any questions at 432-837-1888.

Meredith does have a skymiles account. If they decide to start the yervoy treatments, they will be driving back and forth to Vanderbilt. If a trial opens in New York or elsewhere, then they will be buying plane tickets.

They have an appointment at Johns Hopkins on Oct 14 just to see if there are any trials open there. She will see the doctor at Sloan Kettering in NY on Oct 23 to be screened for the extended access program, so they do have two trips planned for next month. They will continue to knock on (or BEAT LOUDLY on) every door that might open to a trial or extended access program as they feel this is their best option for treatment. However, time is of the essence. Thank you for continuing to pray!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Update from Meredith....

Dear friends:

How do I begin to thank you for standing with us in this battle? God has been so kind to us, as evidenced by all of you, praying, fasting, giving. Each and every one of your prayers, thoughts, messages, letters, gifts and calls have been precious to us – it has sustained us these past few weeks. We are completely blown away by your overwhelming support and encouragement.

The past few weeks we have been getting settled in Mississippi while we wait, wait, wait on the best treatment opportunity. We’ve been visiting with several wonderful doctors, and they all recommend we wait a little longer on a trial where we can take the PD-1 drug in conjunction with another immunotherapy drug. When taking the PD-1 in conjunction with another drug, as opposed to taking them in sequence, twice as many people respond to the therapy. So, as you can imagine, these trials stay full, and if a spot does open, there are many people clamoring for that spot.

Our doctor at Vanderbilt has found a possible trial opening at Sloan Kettering in New York. They are calling us today to set up a consultation to see if we meet the qualifications for the trial. Believe me when I say that NO ONE is more ready to start treatment than I am. The waiting is agony! But, we trust our doctors, and they have all said that my disease appears to be growing slowly, and we should wait, even if it takes several weeks, to try to get into a trial. And so we wait! But while we wait, we are pursing other trial options and beating on every door of opportunity.

We will hear about this trial TODAY, so look for another update this evening, and please pray with us that they will have a spot for us.

This month has been a roller coaster of emotions, but we are holding up well. In the midst of this awful situation, there is much to be thankful for. We are still thanking the Lord for a clear brain scan. Huge praise. (Thank you all for praying!!!!) We are thankful for medical research - there were no viable treatment options for my disease just a few short years ago, and now there are some promising therapies! We are thankful that He has given us friends and a support system like you, who are standing in the gap for us. Believing for my healing, and praying for our strength when we are too overwhelmed and weak to believe and pray for ourselves.

Another huge praise is that I am still feeling well. That’s the craziest part of this disease. It can kill you within a matter of months, yet, if you saw me today, you’d never know I had this battle raging within me. I am SO thankful that for the most part, I still feel well. I can still get up every day and play with my children, cook dinner, enjoy my family. I’m so thankful for that.

Right now, keeping the fear at bay is my biggest challenge. A friend sent me an article last week written by a lady who survived thyroid cancer, and she said something that really struck me. “Cancer is not terminal. Life is terminal.” Is that not so true? Life is terminal. There is no way to describe what it’s like to be faced with your mortality in terms of months. Months. Not years. But the truth is, all of our days are numbered and each day is a gift. Whether we have days, months or years to live, it’s all a gift. It’s all grace.

As hard as this is to walk through (and y’all it’s SO HARD), I know that God has a plan and purpose in it. In all the pain, the grief, the doubt… He has a plan that is meant for my good. He is certainly bigger than this battle, and that is where we anchor our hope. And hope does not disappoint!

We have a long, hard road ahead. But we can face it knowing that He is with us every step of the way. He promises that He will never leave or forsake us. His mercies are new every morning. He hears every prayer and every plea. And oh how he loves us.

We thank you again for the continued prayers and support. We covet them!

I can’t wait to see our Texas friends at the Fear Nothing 5K in Alpine October 5. I hope to be well enough to run (jog) it with all of our awesome friends who are running. It will be a great weekend!

Love you all,

A passage that has helped me this month: Psalm 20[a] For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. 3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.[b] 4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 5 May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests. 6 Now this I know: The LORD gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 9 LORD, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fear Nothing 5K

Time to sweat it out for Mere! For those of you in the Alpine area (and those of you willing to travel!), some of Meredith's friends have organized a 5K to help raise money for her medical expenses.

Please visit the link above where you can sign up to run, walk or crawl to the finish line. It's on Sunday, October 5, in Alpine, TX. Meredith and Vic will be there to participate in the event and are looking forward to visiting with as many of you as possible while they are there.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Appointment at Vanderbilt

Meredith and Vic had a great meeting with another doctor at Vanderbilt on Friday. He was very encouraging in that her cancer seems to be very slow growing, and he seemed to think that researchers are getting close to finding a cure for melanoma! That news alone made my day. This doctor knew of another trial going on in Boston, and he should let them know by Wednesday if Meredith can get into that study. The Boston trial is studying Pembro along with another new immunotherapy drug that I don't know the name of.

For those of you who've been following, Meredith's tumor did test positive for the BRAF gene, but the doctor at Vanderbilt recommended they wait before trying any BRAF inhibitors as those can be accompanied by a host of unpleasant side effects. For now the priority is getting into a trial where she can get the combination of Pembro and and an immunotherapy drug. Second option is to just start the yervoy if she can't do a trial.

Just wanted to update everyone that Meredith and Vic are doing well and remain encouraged by this news and by all of the support you are pouring out on them. As always, we are very grateful!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Brain scan clear!!!

Meredith just got the final report from the radiologist who read her MRI results. Her brain is clear and cancer free!!! We are so grateful for all who prayed and especially grateful to God for such wonderful news!

We had a fantastic service at our church yesterday, and I know all of my family members who were in attendance came away feeling so encouraged. We appreciate all of you who were a part of that. God is strengthening our faith and helping us to trust in Him each day.

Meredith and Vic are on their way home to Mississippi where they will stay for at least 12 weeks while Meredith receives treatment. They will make decisions early this week regarding where she will get treatment, and of course we will continue to keep you updated here. Today we hope you will celebrate with us and take some time to thank the Lord for this wonderful news.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Preliminary results promising!

We didn't get official results today from MRI, but the radiologist who initially glanced over the scans said there were NO LARGE MASSES on her brain. Praise the Lord! We are grateful as always for all of your prayers and covet your continued prayers as we await the final results to be sure there aren't any small spots hiding anywhere in there. We hope to hear some good news early next week, but we are very pleased with this news and very hopeful that we will receive more great news soon.

Several people have asked about the FDA's approval of Keytruda (pembrolizumab - some of you may have hear us discussing "pembro" - this is the same drug. I'll try to stay with the name Keytruda but may forget and say pembro) which happened yesterday, well ahead of the Oct 28 deadline we were expecting. This is another reason to celebrate.

The biopsy from the largest of Mere's three lung spots was sent to the Mayo clinic to be tested for the BRAF gene; those results will affect treatment slightly. I'm still learning about all of this, but what I understand is that there is about a 40-50% chance it will test positive for BRAF, which means it is likely to shrink with treatment of BRAF inhibiting drugs. She will still very likely start the Yervoy treatment next week, possibly with a BRAF inhibitor depending on test results.

Here's the catch with keytruda: It has been approved only for patients who aren't responding to other drugs. She has to finish 12 weeks of treatment on Yervoy before she can begin the Keytruda. The Keytruda is a very promising drug which is actually the same one being studied in the clinical trial we were hoping Meredith would get into. A spot may still open for her to join the study, which would be ideal because in this study, patients are taking the keytruda along with the yervoy. So if she gets into the study, she won't have to go through 12 weeks of yervoy first - she would get the keytruda immediately and simultaneously with the yervoy. Many people believe the combination of the two is most effective.

Meredith said she feels like there is an army behind her, fighting for her. She said she is overwhelmed and humbled by your outpouring of support so once again THANK YOU! She will be posting here soon.

Now we wait for MRI results

Thank you to all who were fasting and praying this morning! We so appreciate all the encouragement we have received even just this morning! I've just heard from Meredith that she is finished with her MRI. We have no idea how long it will take to get results, but I will definitely post here as soon as we get the good news!

In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil

Listening to this while I pray for Mere this morning!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Treatment Plan

Thank you again so much for your prayers!! Still our biggest request is for Meredith's MRI to be clean. The MRI is scheduled for Friday Sept 5 at 10 am. For so many reasons, we need this to come back all clear. Selfishly, I'll also request prayer that we get results back SOON as it always seems to take a few days for what seems like results that should be read right away - but maybe I'm just impatient.

There are still a few ifs/whens to be determined regarding exactly which kind of medicine Meredith will be taking and where she will get it. There is a very promising drug still in trial stages but soon to be approved by the FDA. They are testing it at UCLA, but currently no spots are available for Meredith. There is a possibility that a spot may open up at the end of this week, but Meredith's brain scan must be clear in order for her to be eligible to participate. Again, this clinical trial is the only way to get this new medicine until the FDA approves it (which will hopefully happen this fall). Again, PLEASE PRAY for MRI to be all clear on Friday.

Even if she doesn't get into this clinical trial with the new drug, there is another drug available now that has had success in slowing the growth of metastatic melanoma. It is called Yervoy. Several people have asked about chemotherapy, but that is not really effective against melanoma and not an option for Meredith. From what I understand, the yervoy has a pretty low occurrence of miserable side effects, so that is a plus! The yervoy can also be taken in conjunction with the new drug that will hopefully be approved this fall.

Until yervoy was approved three years ago, there was no drug effectively treating melanoma, so we are thankful for new developments! The prognosis for metastatic melanoma is not good - doctors say 14 months on average. We know statistics apply to the masses and not to individuals, and the doctors are encouraged that her masses have been slow to grow and she is still feeling very well. We also know that the Maker of heaven and earth holds Meredith in His hands, and there is no bigger comfort than that. He doesn't care about statistics and can do anything He wants.

Starting next week, Meredith will go every three weeks for treatment. She will go either to UCLA (she will definitely go there if she can get into the clinical trial) or possibly somewhere closer to family in Mississippi to get yervoy treatments. It is an IV drug, so she can go get a treatment in a day and then return home after that. After four treatments (12 weeks), she will have another scan to see how she is responding to the medicine. The doctors hope that this medicine will shrink the existing spots and prevent any new spots from occurring. Wouldn't that be a wonderful report to have at Thanksgiving??

For now, please continue to pray. Most pressing issues:

1. Clean brain scan!! MRI Friday at 10 am.
2. For Meredith to get into clinical trial
3. For her body to respond to treatment

Again, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your prayers! We will update again whenever we have MRI results.

urgent prayer request

Meredith saw her doctor this morning, and I will post a full update later today, but there are two urgent needs for prayer that we wanted to go ahead and put out there:
1. Clean brain scan. Meredith will have MRI tomorrow and we are praying that the melanoma hasn't spread there.
2. That she can get into a clinical trial study at UCLA . There is a promising new drug being tested at UCLA but there aren't any spots available. There is one person who is in line ahead of her who is waiting on results from his scan. If his scans are clear, Meredith may be able to get his spot in the study.

Will post full update later.  Thank you for your continued prayers!!!!

"We feel the prayers and the comfort that can only come from Christ"

This is what Meredith sent to me via text yesterday. "We feel the prayers and comfort that can only come from Christ."

Wow. The outpouring of love and support has been amazing! Thank you all so much for the calls, texts, emails and comments. I spoke with Meredith yesterday, and she said she has been so encouraged and overwhelmed by all of you who have reached out to her and other members of our family. We feel your prayers and are very grateful to be surrounded by such a wonderful community of believers who are lifting up Meredith in prayer daily. THANK YOU!!!

Meredith and Vic will see her doctor today, and I will post an update as soon as I hear from them.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What we know so far

Hello friends and family! We are so grateful for the many of you who are praying for Meredith. Any time an update on her situation is available, I will be posting it here. We certainly don't mind the phone calls and texts, but we thought this would be the easiest way to keep everyone posted on any new info as it becomes available. In fact, Meredith has mentioned how encouraging all of the calls and texts have been, so keep it up! If you'd like her contact info, just leave a comment, and we will get it to you.

Here is what we know right now: the melanoma has metastasized to her lungs. There are three spots on her lungs, the largest of which was biopsied on Wednesday. The other two were too small to biopsy. The report came back that it was cancer on Friday, and Meredith will see her oncologist in LA on Wednesday, Sept 3. They will discuss treatment options at that time; they are assuming all three spots are cancer. Until then, Meredith has requested prayer in two specific areas:

1. Pray that the cancer has not spread anywhere else. The scans from the neck down look good other than her lung spots. She will probably have an MRI soon to check her brain.
2. Pray that they can sell a couple of properties in Alpine, TX. They have two houses currently on the market, and if they could sell at least one of them, they would like to move closer to home while Mere undergoes treatment.

Of course we are praying that God will intervene once again and heal her. I was on the beach this morning feeling a little sick with worry as the news is still so fresh. As I looked out into the water I was reminded of all the life that exists in the deep waters. God is not only the Creator but also the Sustainer of all things. There is nothing that escapes his knowledge or care. I had just been off the phone with Meredith who had asked me to pray that the cancer had not spread to her brain. I hadn't even thought of that as a possibility, and I was feeling heavy with worry again. I felt Him ask, "Can you trust me with her still?" If He is aware of all of the microscopic life forms that man can never even imagine, and if He provides each day for them, how much more does He care for us?

It helps me to remember that He sees the end from the beginning. He's not nervous. He's weaving us all as smaller parts into his larger plan. In our limited understanding, we may never know in this world why things like this happen. I don't think we have to have an answer as to why. I think sometimes God just wants us to remember that HE has all the answers, and He is Good. And that's all that really matters. So can we trust Him with Meredith? I decided that I will.

I'll post an update on Wednesday as soon as I hear from her.