Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15th 2010

Today mom started the second cycle of chemotherapy. Everything went well and mom is back at home trying to regain her energy. Mom had an appointment with Dr. Litton at 11 this morning. Dr. Litton talked to her about capping the bile tube at the end of this chemo cycle to see if the bile is draining effectively through the bile duct.

Dr. Litton seems to think that the chemotherapy has been shrinking the tumors in the bile duct and the bile is draining correctly because recently mom hasn't been having bile drain into her bag. We are hoping that this is true and the tumors are shrinking, but we won't know for a little while longer.

After she met with Dr. Litton, she received the chemo treatment and returned home around 5 PM. She has been resting and has been feeling much better than the past few weeks. We are happy about how mom is feeling. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Past Weekend

On Monday November 1st, mom took her temperature and it was about 100.5. The doctor told her that anytime it was over 100.4 she needed to call him immediately. Dad called Doctor Litton and he had her start on a antibiotic immediately. Mom thought the fever was gone, but it was just being masked by the Lora tab she was taking for pain. The next few days mom was gradually getting worse, but was managing ok.

On Friday around 6 PM, mom took her temperature and it was around 101.6. Dad called Doctor Litton and he told her to go to the emergency room immediately. When she got there they took her blood pressure and it was 74/49. That is really low and the doctors were very concerned. They immediately started antibiotics and fluid intravenously. They were concerned there was an infection in mom's body and wanted to get it resolved before they sent her home. Mom was released on Monday around 1 PM.

She is doing much better now. She was scheduled for Chemotherapy on Monday, but the doctor wanted her to fully recover before they gave her another treatment. She is scheduled for her next treatment on Monday the 15th.

Right now mom has been struggling with her immune system and will not be able to receive visitors for the time being. Hopefully she will start feeling better and will be able to visit with all of you. I'm sure she would love to! Thank you for all your notes, cards, and prayers. Mom really appreciates all of the love that has been sent.

Halloween 2010

We had a great Halloween! Mom has been feeling pretty well and we got to spend some time all together as a family. We even got mom carving pumpkins. It was also fun to see all the babies dressed in their Halloween costumes. Maybe we can get mom to dress up next year!

Jane Catherine Brown

On October 28th 2010, a new member of the Sorenson Family arrived. Cate had a little girl and she was born at 2:22 PM. Jane weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces and was 21 inches long. Spencer and Cate named little Jane after mom. Mom's full name is Catherine Jane Sorenson. What a great name!!

She is a very cute baby and we are so excited to have a new addition to our family. Soon we will have two more with Misa having a baby boy in February and Anna is having a baby in April. We are excited!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

After The Second Treatment

I went and visited my mom last night and she was doing really well. She was at the hospital from 11:30 AM to about 6 PM yesterday. Mom received a bunch of fluid which really makes her feel better. After she received fluid they gave her the two chemo drugs. As of now, she hasn't really had many symptoms which is great. Hopefully that continues.

Mom will get a break this next Monday. She will always get the third week off on a four week cycle. Mom may go in Monday to receive some fluid if she is not feeling well and not drinking enough. The doctors also gave her a prescription for Lortab to help with her back pain.

We are very happy that mom has been feeling as good as she has. Thanks so much for all your love and support. The next post will probably be from mom, so stay tuned...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Day Before the Next Treatment

Sorry I didn't post an update this week. Mom had a fairly good week when factoring in that we were expecting much worse. She has felt tired, a little sick to her stomach, pain in her back, and no energy. Overall, it was a real positive week.

We are hoping that the Chemo isn't cumulative and the symptoms aren't much worse this next week. Mom will be going in to get her second treatment around 11 tommorrow and we are hoping that mom will have as good of a week as this last one.

I'll let you all know how it goes tomorrow and I'll have mom write a little something this next week letting you all know how she is feeling.

Monday, October 18, 2010

First Day of Chemotherapy

Today, October 18th, mom had her first dosage of chemotherapy. She was very nervous going in because she didn't know how her body would respond. The chemo took about four hours to administer and everything went surprisingly well. Mom is feeling just fine and seems to still have a lot of energy. The doctor told her to not expect to feel this well for long. Mom should start feeling a little more tired and nauseous in the next few days as her cells start to die. We are just hoping that it won't effect her too much.

Next Monday she will get another dosage of chemotherapy. I will let you know how she is feeling in a few days. Hopefully I'll have some good news. Until then...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 15th 2010

Yesterday, October 15th, mom had a portacath (port) placed in the left side of her chest. This power port is where they will insert the chemotherapy. The port allows for intravenous access and the medication will be distributed through the blood vessels and circulate through her body. The procedure went really well. After the procedure, mom was feeling tired and a little sore, but today she is feeling much better.

We are all hoping that mom will be feeling strong with a lot of energy before she starts chemotherapy Monday morning. Please pray for mom that her body will react well to the chemo and that everything will run smoothly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 12th 2010

On Tuesday, October 12, Mom and Dad met with Dr. Litton at the Cancer Center. Dr. Litton is a partner of Dr. Nibley, the medical oncologist we met with previously. This was their first meeting with the doctors since additional biopsies were taken. Dr. Litton confirmed that Mom does have cancer and that they will proceed with the chemotherapy treatments that had already been explained to us.

Mom and Dad will go to a informational class on chemotherapy on Wednesday, October 13. As we explained in earlier posts, Mom will receive the chemotherapy drugs by IV. To avoid the necessity of inserting a needle each time she has treatment, she will have a port put into her chest on Friday, October 15 where they will inject the drugs. Mom will then have her first chemotherapy treatment on Monday, October 18.

As we explained previously, one drug will take about two hours to infuse, the other drug will take about one hour. The doctor explained that Mom likely will not lose her hair, but may be nauseous. This course of chemotherapy is not as debilitating as other courses of chemotherapy.

The treatments will be once a week for two weeks and then she will have one week off. After three cycles of treatment (nine weeks), additional tests will be run to determine how the cancer is reacting to the chemotherapy.

Mom is still upbeat. I do not think anyone would be excited for chemotherapy, but it will be good to start actively fighting against the cancer.
Thanks again for all your cards, gestures of love, and prayers in this time of need! Mom is truely grateful and loves you all!

The Past Few Weeks

Sorry it has been such a long time without an update. I'll try to post something at least a couple times a week.

Mom is doing well. She has been keeping her days busy with Birthdays, spending time with the grandkids, going on drives and seeing the beautiful autumn leaves, and many other fun activities. We have been in limbo for the past week or so, not knowing what will happen next. Mom did receive a call from a physicians assistant letting her know that they did in fact find some cancer in the last biopsy and they will discuss further action in an appointment with Dr. Litton on October 12th. We are now just waiting and praying for the best.

This last week Mom has spent some time in the hospital because the bile tube was pulled out 3 to 4 inches and stopped functioning. The tube has been fixed and is functioning correctly. She will need to get the tube replaced every 2 to 3 weeks. Not a very fun process, but mom is willing to do whatever it takes to get better.

Hopefully soon I'll get mom on here and let her write a post. She would love to let you all know first hand exactly how she is feeling and how grateful she is for all your friendships and your prayers. Until next time...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Mom is doing very well. A trademark of our mother’s life has been extreme optimism coupled with a strong faith in our Heavenly Father. We welcome prayers on her and our family’s behalf. We also invite you to stay positive because as mom was telling us after meeting with the doctors, she truly believes that a positive attitude will make the treatment she is about to face go a lot better. Otherwise, with the help of our great dad, mom’s five kids and five in-laws, and a great sister, mom’s other needs are being met and she appreciates all the offers of help that have been made.


On Tuesday, September 28, 2010, a consultation was scheduled with the Intermountain Medical Center’s Cancer Center. Mom, with dad, her children and in-laws, and sister Jean met with a series of doctors concerning her test results and condition. Prior to meeting with the doctors, we were informed that a medical oncologist (Dr. William Nibley), a radiation oncologist (Dr. Jeffrey Lee), and two surgical oncologists (Dr. Ott and Dr. Tanya Bowles) met to review mom’s case, to diagnose her condition, and to determine the best course of action.

We first met with Dr. Nibley, the medical oncologist. He informed us that mom likely suffers from a condition called sclerosing cholangitis. Sclerosing cholangitis refers to swelling (inflammation), scarring and destruction of the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. The doctor explained that sclerosing cholangitis is a condition that is common in individuals who have had crohn’s disease and/or ulcerative colitis, which mom has.

He then explained that sclerosing cholangitis can lead to the development of cancerous cells and a condition known as cholangiocarcinoma. This is what the doctors believe mom has. Specifically, mom has masses in her gall bladder and a mass in the liver. There is also substantially disruption of the bile ducts.

The doctors then explained that the biopsy tests to date have proved inconclusive, meaning additional biopsies still need to be taken before we can confirm that this is, in fact, cholangiocarcinoma. However, we were told that additional biopsies would likely confirm that it is cancer and that the chances of it being something else are very rare.

Dr. Nibley explained that because of the location of the masses in the gall bladder, surgery was not an option at this time due to the high probability of cancer spreading in other parts of the body as a result of the surgery. He has therefore, recommended a course of chemotherapy (assuming the biopsy proves this is cholangiocarcinoma).

Dr. Nibley said the course of chemotherapy he is recommending is based on recent studies that have shown the following course of drugs to be effective. Mom’s chemotherapy will consist of the drug’s cisplaten and gemcitabine. These drugs will be given to mom by IV once a week for two out of every three weeks. The cisplaten will take approximately 2 hours to be given and the gemcitabine will take another hour. Dr. Nibley explained that this course of chemotherapy will not result in mom losing her hair. It will make her tired, but hopefully will not make her too nauseous.

The chemotherapy will, however, result in a decrease in her immune system. Therefore, if people are sick, they should avoid mom, but normal personal interaction does not need to be avoided. However, anyone who meets with mom should wash their hands before doing so.

The hope is that the chemotherapy will reduce the size of the masses and help mom avoid the negative side effects of the cancer. After mom is on the chemotherapy for two months, there will be a check to see how the cancer is reacting to the chemotherapy. And, it should take four months before the doctors can give us an idea of how successful the chemotherapy has been.

For those who do not know, as many of us did not, cancer can spread microscopically throughout a person’s body. The benefit of the chemotherapy is that it will hopefully get to cancer wherever it is in the body.

After meeting with Dr. Nibley, we met with Dr. Lee, the radiation oncologist. He informed us that he agrees with Dr. Nibley’s assessment that we should begin treating this cancer with chemotherapy. He explained how radiation may be used in the future, but agreed that it would not be beneficial at this time.

We then met with Dr. Bowles. She discussed the biopsy, which will be conducted by needle to confirm this is cancer. She also discussed a more invasive procedure in the event this needle biopsy was not successful. Finally, she explained that surgery in the future has not been ruled out. However, this will largely depend on the effect the chemotherapy has on my mom’s cancer.

We finally met with a social worker who discussed with the family some of the emotions we may experience in the upcoming months. We also met with a dietician who explained how diet can help mom.


As many of you who will read this blog know, our mom and dad, Cathy and Jay, are crafters. For the past few years, they have sold decorative gourds at the Salt Lake City Farmers Market and the annual Swiss Days Festival in Midway, Utah. This year, mom and dad decided to just sell their gourds at Swiss Days. They worked very hard to prepare for Swiss Days and it was a big success.

After Swiss Days, mom was tired. She thought it was because she was recovering from Swiss Days. After days had passed without feeling better, Grace, Cate, and others who saw mom commented that her skin was turning yellow. After the yellow tint to her skin worsened and she began to itch, she was convinced that she should see a doctor.

A close family friend, who is a doctor, recommended that my mom go to see Dr. Casey Owens. Dr. Owens is a member of my parents’ ward. Dr. Owens’ practice group would not typically see my mom on short notice, but after my dad got a hold of Dr. Owens’, he graciously told my mom he would see her. It should be noted that Dr. Owens’ care has been tremendous and has served as a great comfort to our parents.

Dr. Owens confirmed that it looked like my mom had jaundice and scheduled her for some blood tests and a MRI. Dr. Owens thought everything was probably ok, but wanted to find the source of the jaundice.

On Friday, September 17, 2010, after the tests and the MRI, Dr. Owens called my parents and asked them to come to his home. It was at this time that Dr. Owens informed my mom and dad that there were masses in the gall bladder, bile ducts, and liver. Dr. Owens explained to my parents that it has not been confirmed, but that this possibly and likely was cancerous.

The first step after this meeting was to get the bile ducts open to avoid any further complications as a result of the jaundice. The next week began with two separate procedures to open the bile ducts. Two procedures were necessary because the first one was not completely successful. Once the bile ducts were open, mom could start draining the bile from her system.

Because so much bile was in her system, she was put on a strong medication that made her nauseous. This medication was to help her avoid any further complications with the bile in her system.

After the bile ducts were opened, biopsies were taken on Friday, September 24, 2010.