Saturday, June 29, 2019

Jaan at camp

There is a photo of him today, and it makes me laugh.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kyiv and art camp

Our Kyiv trip went well. Travel was easy (for me. Will was hot all the time and didn't sleep, but he was okay.) Inpatient and outpatient infusions are a little different, but not hard to figure out. We were at the clinic for about four hours. They do a physical and blood work first, wait for the results, then the infusion. I didn't know it beforehand, but they also put allergy medicine into my IV this time, and that hit me like a tranquilliser dart. I thought it was plain fluid to get started like last time, and I couldn't understand why I fell asleep pretty much at the first drop. I woke up when they came to switch to Keytruda and went back to sleep. Then I slept in the taxi to our friends' home afterwards--but I could tell that shouldn't have been a very sleepy ride--and I took a nice nap in bed once we got there. That wore off soon, though, and there weren't any problems.

My anaemia has gone down from "2nd level," to 1st, so I don't have to take the gross liquid three times a day anymore. I also don't have to go for blood tests halfway this time. I do now have 1st level liver toxicity, though. The doctor added pills to help with that, and we need to pray those liver numbers go down before next time. My pain levels have also been lower the past few days, which has been wonderful, but it can fluctuate wildly, so keep praying. Please remember, we won't know if this Keytruda is working until after the fourth time.

Thank you so much to everyone who is praying for us and actually making it possible for me to get this treatment!

While we were away, our kids have been having a wonderful time. The art school has been sending a constant stream of photos and even videos. That was especially nice when we were so far away! Here are just a few highlights:

(Uh-huh. And the one with the face here is his great friend.)

Unfortunately Jaan doesn't get into the photos much. Running the sound board isn't very photographical. This year there are a few children with autism at camp, and he has been helping in their groups, too, though, so maybe we'll see more of him soon.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Boring update and the week ahead

This week has been nice and quiet. Nothing unusual happened. It's hot; hotter than where my parents live in Florida, and that can be really hot if you're out and about here, because in Florida there's air conditioning.

Bogdan has been keeping track of days with circles on our white board. He filled in today's circle grey, because it was just a regular (good) day. Tomorrow's is black, because we're leaving, and he's sad about that. But after that, the next circle is connected to a drawing of a boy with a huge smile, holding a paint brush by a blob of paint: art camp!

Yes, we're gearing up to go to Kyiv for my next Keytruda infusion at the cancer clinic, and the timing is great, because all our kids will be involved in art camp here. It's a day camp, but it goes morning until evening and includes all three meals, so all they have to do at home is sleep. Jaan will be running the sound system and taking care of technical stuff. Raia is a counselor for the little kids. Asya and Bogdan will be happy campers.

Tomorrow Will and I will travel. Monday we'll be at the clinic. I don't have to be hospitalized this time, but they don't want me to leave Kyiv right away, so we'll spend the night and next day with friends there. Tuesday evening we'll get on a train to be home Wednesday morning. Again, we have regular tickets for the midnight train, but Will wants to exchange them for first class on the earlier train, like last time, if possible.

Thank you again for all your support and prayers!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

This past week

Monday: I think it was a good, quiet day. It's already hard to remember. In the evening--one week since the Keytruda infusion--I noticed that my feet were itching a little.

Tuesday: I woke up with a terribly itchy rash covering my feet and starting on my hands. We wrote back and forth with my doctor in Kyiv, sent her pictures, and got a list of medicines. Will went out to buy them. I took the pills, put on the cream, and enjoyed visiting with friends for a few hours. By evening the rash was completely gone. I am so thankful for an accessible doctor and medicine that works!

Wednesday: As the doctor had planned back when we were in Kyiv, we had blood work done for the halfway point between infusions. We sent her the results, and she was pleased. My iron levels are going up. I'm still anaemic, but getting better.

Thursday: Our landlady is here from Italy (staying out front with the other family), and she had the windows and doors replaced everywhere in the house where they were still the old wooden kind. Bogdan was fascinated and "helped" the workers almost all day long. They were actually really patient with all the kids and got everything done by late evening.

Friday: Raia's birthday! (And cleanup from the aftermath of the windows and doors.) Four of Raia's friends came over, Will grilled chicken, and we had a great time celebrating.

Today: Rest, continue cleaning up, ministry at church for Jaan and Raia, errands for Will, a wedding....

Monday, June 10, 2019

First camp

(Will and our friends added an update on the GoFundMe page. Thank you!!!)

Camp season has started. All of last week Jaan and Raia helped with a day camp that our church put on for a nearby school. This was the first time something like this has happened: the school was required to put on a camp, so they asked the church to help. The school fed the kids, the church did everything else. There were games and crafts and trampolines and Bible lessons and more. It sounds like it all went really well, and they're already planning for next year, with two schools! (Raia helped make the photo props below.)

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Home again

It's so good to be here!

I am completely overwhelmed by and grateful for all the love and support that so many people are sending us. I don't even know how to say thank you.

So far, I seem to be handling the first treatment quite well. I am VERY tired and kind of weak, but that's all. Now we pray that the medicine will work.

We do have so many people that we need to communicate with, but that might be slow in coming. If I'm lying down, I fall asleep, and staying upright can be a little challenging. So, thank you for your patience.

And, again, thank you to everyone!!!

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Update & GoFundMe announcement!

Hi folks, Will here. There have been quite a few requests that we make known what kind of costs we’ll be facing as we go ahead with treatment of Phyllis’ cancer. As she’s currently tied up with IV’s in her arm, I get to write the latest update.
Yesterday we consulted with the chemotherapist at a world-class private clinic in Kiev. Her recommendation (together with a board of cancer specialists that studied Phyllis’ medical records to date) was that we proceed with immunotherapy. This is a cutting-edge treatment, and it’s how metastatic (subcutaneous) melanoma would be treated in the US & western Europe.

That said, it’s rather expensive. The overall treatment may cost less than in the States, but the actual immunotherapy medicine is imported and the prices are pretty much set. We knew that if we decided to fight this cancer, we’d need a lot of prayer, and a lot of help financially. While we have made a practice of not fund-raising since we first moved to E.Europe in 2001, we decided this is the exception to that rule.

We definitely need help, many of you have expressed a desire to do so, and we want to let you know how that can be done. A close friend of Phyllis’ has set up a GoFundMe account with a brief description of our situation and easy options to contribute:

(The GoFundMe account IS now working! Our team of experts straightened things out, and again, we apologize very much for the confusion.)

Or, checks can be made out to:

Grace Bible Church,
8820 Idlewild Rd,
Charlotte, NC 28227

(Just please add a note that the check is for Will & Phyllis Hunsucker
Contributions through GBC are tax deductible and deposited directly to our bank account.)

We are thankful for all of you, friends and family near and far, whose lives have impacted ours, whose friendship has meant so much, even long-distance, and we will be thankful for any and all contributions. Phyllis lives a life of love and selfless service of others, she has impacted countless lives through her different activities and ministries, and we want to make it possible for anyone who so desires to be a part of our fight with cancer even as we're taking the first steps here.