A letter from Chief McElroy

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Everyone,

It is with great admiration that I would like to announce the return to full duty of Fire Engineer Kevin Corbett. As of September 22nd, Kevin will be released by his Dr.’s at the Norris Center. Kevin and his family’s journey has been an inspirational one to all of us. Kevin’s love for his career was an instrumental part of his recovery and we are so happy to have him back.

Welcome back Kevin.

Regards,

Pat

Victorious in the battle.   Thank you, God.   Enough said.

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May 2015 updates

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A long day in LA….but these LA visits are now fewer and further in between and I am so thankful!

Kevin saw his hematologist and oncologist today following up on his current status and his recovery.  It was really all great news.  His tumor markers (measured with blood tests) were all within normal range.  His blood counts are still recovering from transplant, but continuing to trend in the right direction.  He had his chest scanned…but there was some mistake on the orders and his abdomen and pelvis were not scanned today.  But his chest scan showed his lung tumors to have continued to decrease in number and size since his last scan earlier this year.  AWESOME news!

The only negative news has to do with an injection he has to take daily because of his elevated clot risk.  He hates it….and basically was told it is the only/best option for him right now and he may have to continue for 6 months. He is not happy.   Pray for him to have peace with this necessary evil so he doesn’t dread that time every day.

He was given the all clear to do as much as he physically can do and just continue to regain his strength and stimina.  He will get the other scan in a few weeks and then see the surgeon…..followed by a  recheck of all things in August.  

Life is getting back to ‘normal’. It is a new normal and we are still figuring it out….but God has been good and we are embracing figuring it out.  I started a new job last week and Kevin is working modified duty right now.  So life is starting to be filled with less doctor appointments and more regular daily activities. 

And he gets to enjoy life again.

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Thank you all for your amazing support through this journey….I pray for your health to be protected and full of God’s blessings!

~Lisa

One Year “Anniversary”

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It’s not an anniversary I would like to celebrate.  The anniversary of the beginning of this nightmare of a year.  The first day Kevin’s cancer was confirmed.  The day we ‘owned’ the dreaded words, testicular cancer.

I can not believe it’s been a year.  In some ways, it seems like longer.  I have trouble remembering what life was like before this storm.  In other ways, it seems like only yesterday.  Time is weird like that. This year has been a test for our family.  But, by the grace of God, we have survived it.  And dare I say even thrived a bit.  There have been 100 days as an inpatient in the hospital, countless doctors appointments, thousands of blood draws, 9 rounds of chemotherapy, 3 stem cell transplants, 2 surgeries and a pulmonary embolism ( not necessarily in that order!)

My children have spent 100 days this year without their parents at home.  I have been by Kevin’s side almost every single day.  Almost 30% of the year.  I can’t imagine what that was like for them.  But they have been amazing.  Staying focused on school, keeping their grades up, excelling in all they do despite the major disruption to their lives.

Kevin is recovering well.  He is a pillar of strength.  Each step in the treatment and recovery process he does with the end goal of getting back to work.  Getting back to his other family.  The family that has supported us and loved us through this ordeal.  We are forever grateful and no words can accurately express how much this has meant to us.  To each of you reading this, your prayers, visits, trips to costco, good thoughts, gifts of service, meals, rides for kids, building bicycles, and more…..we are forever thankful.  THANK YOU!  We never would have made it through this without you.

This past week, Kevin has had the privilege of getting back in his uniform.  It was great to see him up and moving and exciting to hear his passion as he had the privilege of providing support instead of the receiving it.

At this moment in time, Kevin is done with active treatment. He is recovering from the trauma his body has been through this past year.  He will be watched closely and monitored to ensure that the cancer is dead.  The large tumor and involved lymph nodes have all been removed and after the last chemo treatments all the tissue was necrotic (dead).  He still has ‘stuff’ in his lungs.  It is likely that it is ‘dead stuff’ ….aka scar tissue and that is our hope.  Kevin will have scans and blood work next checked at the end of April.  Until then, he is working on getting stronger and excited to be working modified duty and be connected again with his fire family.

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Our motto has been Keep Calm and Kick Cancer’s Ass….Kevin has done this all year!

We believe that God does answer prayers.  We don’t understand why he allows us to go through the hard things.  But we do know that he is faithful.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

With Love and Gratitude,

~Lisa

 

Praise the Lord – Good News

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It’s like a breath of fresh air.  Literally, like I can breath a little deeper and see a little clearer.  Lately, I have to admit I’ve been starting to suffocate.  Gasping for air.  Trusting….but even through the trust knowing I can’t know what’s next and feeling a little helpless.  This journey is all a bit overwhelming.

But today.  Today was a good day. Praise the Lord.

We saw Kevin’s surgeon today for a follow up.  He again told us he was so happy with how the surgery went.  He admitted he (the dr.) needed pain killers for several days after the tedious 12 hour surgery.  But it went very well.

Then he told us the pathology of the tumor/masses/lymph nodes that were removed.   And here is the best news we’ve heard in close to one year.  Everything came back as fibrosis, or DEAD/SCAR TISSUE.  There was no active cancer in any of the retroperitoneal area.  Did you hear that?  It was all dead.  These areas had a complete response to the chemotherapy.  I do believe in miracles.  At the beginning of this journey people would ask me if there was anything they could do, and my standard response was give me a miracle.  So I know lots of you prayed that for me.  THANK YOU.

There are still some questions, and we’re not completely out of the woods yet.  But definitely feeling a huge victory today.  There is still lots of ‘stuff’ in his lungs.  Doctor said there is 70% chance that what is in the lungs will be same as what was already removed.  So basically we watch and monitor his blood and his chest and hope things either shrink or stay the same.

In the meantime, Kevin is on the road to recovery.  He gets a little stronger everyday.  Due to the removal of the lymph nodes and the section of the inferior vena cava, he continues to have a ton of swelling and fluid accumulation in his legs and his abdomen.  This is all to be expected after this type of surgery (though we didn’t know that until now!) and it should continue to improve some each day.  He continues to experience quite a lot of pain, but is getting stronger and stronger each day.   The road to recovery is still long, but we can see the light.  And it’s looking beautiful!

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Kevin is home

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It’s been a long day.  Discharge is always a pain…and today was no different.

Kevin is happy to be home…in lots of pain and will be working on his recovery.  Right now his pain is still very bad so he hasn’t been even turning his phone on.  If you want to get a hold of him…you can leave a message or give me a call.

Recovery day 2

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Sitting up in a chair

Hello from Kevin.  Yesterday he got up in a chair for a bit.  Took everything he had to get there…. but he did it.   Quite an accomplishment considering the 12 hour surgery the day before.

He is in great spirits and doing everything he needs to with the attitude of this is one step closer to getting him back to big red.

Doctors came in this morning and are working to get him in to a regular room and out of icu today.   There are some medications that he needs to be off of first, but the plan is to try to get him moved by the afternoon. 

His pain is being managed pretty well most of the time.  Thank you for all of your continued support and prayers for his recovery. 

Recovering well

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When Dennis and I finally got to see Kevin last night he was not intubated and was awake when we got to the ICU.  He was kept in the ICU to keep a close eye on him since his blood pressure was low due to the removal of the portion of the inferior vena cava.

He was in lots and lots of pain and extremely thirsty but otherwise doing great.  I guess during the almost 12 hour surgery they had his arms splayed out straight on the table and his arms were hurting almost as much as his incision because they were so stiff.   His arms feel much better this morning but the rest of him in still in significant pain. 

We got a few hours of sleep and  he got cleaned up this morning.  He is waiting on the doctors rounding and hopes to get moved to a regular room today.  He is in good spirits  but is in more pain than he was expecting. 

Surgery update

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6:30pm…..what a day.  Kevin and I left the house at 3:30am…and I left him in the OR at 7:15am…..and finally he is out of surgery.

Dr. said things were incredibly complicated….as he expected…but that all went well. He was able to remove the mass and a portion of the vena cava as expected.   He will be in recovery and sounds like spending the night in the icu.  Since he previously had a chemotherapy medication called bleomycin they don’t want to  give him oxygen, so they may keep him intubated overnight. 

Dr. also said that they biopsied the spine but when looking closely at it they didn’t feel like it was involved with the tumor.  He said it appeared that the mass was up against it but they were able to scrape it off and it wasn’t infiltrated in the spine.

A few more hours before I can see him and he won’t wake up until tomorrow.

I just want to say thank you from our whole family for all of your prayer support.  We are so thankful for your love and support.  I will keep you posted as I know more.

With gratitude,
Lisa

The Wait Is Over….Surgery Time

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Hey….seems like a long time since I’ve written.  We’ve been enjoying being home and spending the holidays with the family and Kevin has been recovering his strength since his last rounds of chemotherapy.

Merry Christmas from the Corbett's

Merry Christmas from the Corbett’s

Last Tuesday, we saw Dr. Daneshmand who is going to be Kevin’s surgeon.  He said we were all clear for surgery and that we would hear from the scheduler by the end of the week to get a date for surgery.  He said it would be in the next few weeks.

Finally got the phone call from the scheduler today. A cancellation just came up and they had space to do Kevin’s surgery ON MONDAY!  Like in 3 days.  I spent the morning meal planning a grocery shopping for next week’s meals…and just as I finished, found out….surgery is on Monday.

I’ve explained it in some detail before, but in case you want a refresher.  The surgery is called RPLND (retro-peritoneal lymph node dissection),  The goal will be to remove all the existing tumor/scar tissue from his body.  They will be removing all the lymph nodes and a portion of his inferior vena cava as well as possibly a portion of one of the vertebrae that previously showed a lesion.  The surgery is quite extensive and will take a minimum of 6 hours.  Once the surgery is complete the mass will be sent to the lab for pathology.  When the results of the pathology come back, we will know more about what will come next in Kevin’s treatment plan.  The timing caught us a bit off guard, but we are both excited to get the next thing checked off the list and keep things moving along so hopefully we can all get back to our regularly scheduled programming sooner rather than later.

Today, we stand on this verse and we ask that you pray for Kevin’s healing, for peace for our entire family and for God’s expert guidance for the surgeon and other medical professionals working with Kevin on Monday morning.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

—Deuteronomy 31:6

Christmas is coming

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It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Well,  Courtney doesn’t think so since our weather is still warm and beautiful and we don’t have snow, or a need for heavy sweaters, beanies or gloves….but seeing all the Christmas lights and the few decorations we’ve had the time to put up still makes me happy.

In case you haven’t seen, Kevin was released from USC Norris Cancer Center on Saturday (12/6). 10419438_10204643074538972_9069532778481568346_n

It was a fantastic day!  Kevin has been an inpatient in a hospital for 95 days this year.  Thankfully, not all of those days were in a row….but I can tell you that this many days in a hospital certainly takes it’s toll on a person, both physically and mentally.

This last stay was over Thanksgiving, which was really challenging for Kevin to be in the hospital on this holiday, but we got to break up the day a bit.  The kids were able to visit a few times throughout the day, we were so blessed to be taken in by the Macho family.  They have allowed me a place to stay, do laundry, shower and just relax a bit outside of the hospital ever since Kevin has been receiving care at USC.  They were so gracious and took the kids and I in for the thanksgiving holiday and included us in their fun game of flag football and the meal time festivities.  The kids and I came to their house on Wednesday and were able to be back and forth to the hospital through the weekend.

You might be wondering, what next?

Over the course of the next few weeks, Kevin will be having some imaging repeated (CT scan and MRI) to see what everything looks like.  We are pretty confident that Kevin will need to have a surgery called RPLND.  This will remove the lymph nodes and the remaining mass in the retroperitoneal cavity.  Kevin’s will have imaging done soon and then follow up appointment with the surgeon is January 20th, so he will have some time to recover from this high dose chemotherapy regimen before he has surgery.  There may be other procedures, or surgeries that will take place after the RPLND before he could be cleared to go back to work, but so far, we only know that RPLND surgery will be next if necessary.

Kevin and I are working on his physical recovery by going for a walk every day.  We are trying to increase the distance a little bit every time and add some body weight exercises to the mix to strengthen his body as much as possible. Be is determined to get back to work as soon as possible!

We know that your prayers are working as we feel peace in this storm. We appreciate all of your support and are looking forward to the time when this is all behind us.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

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