Science & Medicine

Alan Caruthers at MDCC for SCT

Alan with Laura and Sammy

Alan Caruthers has already been through one crisis this year. His myelofibrosis worsened resulting in a greatly enlarged spleen. Complications from his splenectomy at MD Anderson Cancer Center were life threatening. Tomorrow, he starts chemo in preparation for the only cure available to us: stem cell transplant. To help us keep him and his family in mind during this dangerous and hopeful time, MPNforum asked if he would like to put together some journal of these days. He tried, but his pain and fatigue and concerns over his young family have proven overwhelming for now.

To help those of us who have not yet met Alan, we’ve enlisted the aid of Bonnie Evans whose blog included an April visit to Alan at MDCC.

“I checked Joe into the Radiology Lab and answered the usual questionnaire for him. Joe would be there for hours with prepping for the exam by drinking the dreaded enhanced fortified “milk shakes.” Joe knew that I wanted to go see one of our Myelofibrosis friends, Alan Caruthers, who had his massive 38 cm spleen removed three weeks ago. Alan was only supposed to be in the hospital for a week. Joe was concerned about me getting upset when I saw Alan. So what, if I get upset, I will get over it but Alan needed to know that people cared about him and his dear caregiver wife, Laura.

I headed back across the street and up to the fifth floor in the purple wing where Alan was. Before I went up the elevator, I stopped by the gift shop to get a little something. I bought them a multi-colored Tiffany Nightlight that had the word HOPE on it. During out previous stay I had purchased one for Joe and me since I was so fond of it. I have it located in our guest bathroom downstairs. We all needed HOPE for a cure. I also bought one of those small Whitman Chocolate candy boxes since we all know that chocolate makes one feel better. Right?

I lightly tapped on Alan’s door and opened it. He had a big smile when he saw me and told me to come in even though he was consulting with one of his doctors. His coloring looked good. He still has all his hair and nicely trimmed beard. Unfortunately, Laura had gone shopping since she needed some time alone and give herself some TLC. Good for Laura! Laura has spent the entire three weeks staying with Alan and sleeping in the same room as he.

Alan stated that Laura slept pretty well but he had a very difficult time sleeping because of high anxiety and fear. He had come close to dying several times in the last three weeks. His internal organs that had been smashed by his massive 20 pound spleen had trouble working. He has massive amounts of fluid buildup in his abdomen where the spleen used to be. The medical staff had to insert a drainage tube and the amount of fluid that drained out was massive. He has a feeding tube since he could not hold down food. He said that he was so sick. Today was the first day that he was allowed to drink clear fluids and he had eaten the best Jell-O ever.

We were able to laugh and pray together thanking God for Alan still being here, thanking God for MDACC and their amazing compassionate staff and brilliant doctors. We prayed for Alan to be healed well enough to go home at the end of the week if he continued to improve. We prayed for Laura and her health and wellbeing. Laura had pictures of their newly handsome adopted son and family members on the wall as well as messages of HOPE, FAITH and LOVE. I gave him our gifts.

How appropriate was the night light with the word HOPE on it! God works in so many ways that shows his amazing love of us all. Both Alan and Laura miss their son so much. He is being well cared for by Laura’s Mom back home inWacobut they talk with each other every day. I told Alan that he has been in the prayers and thoughts of everyone in the MPD/MPN.”


*Alan maintains a page

* Credit: Photograph taken inCrawford,Texas by Julie Burleson

© Zhenya Senyak, Bonnie Evans and, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zhenya Senyak, Bonnie Evans and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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