Thursday, November 20, 2014

Radiation, Hockey, and Fertility OH MY!


First off, Josh finished his 6 weeks of radiation, we even got to keep the mask! This crazy looking contraption was what he wore every single radiation session. When he walked out of the appointment all I could think of was it reminded me of a deer head to hang on the wall, haha. We met with his Neuro Oncologist to discuss what's next. He told us he wanted to start Chemo as soon as possible, so on December 9th Josh will recieve his first round of Chemotherapy. He will be doing the pill form, so he will do five days of medication and then has the rest of the month off. They have told us minimal side effects, nothing to crazy but let's be real, it's chemotherapy so it's not going to be a walk in the park. Luckily it's only for five days. Shortly after his first round is completed we will be driving down to Florida to spend the holidays with our families, something both of us are extremely excited for. PLUS we get to see our pup, Archie, which literally makes us burst at the seams with excitement.

 Secondly, we have officially become hockey fans! To our luck, the place where we live (which is full of Wounded Warriors) was offering free executive suite tickets last Tuesday. Being two people from Florida, we have never experienced a hockey game. We went with low expectations, mainly just those of hoping to see a huge fight. I love sports, any team, any sport..I'll watch it. Josh however has no desire for them. I remember by the second period I looked over at him and he was completely mesmerized by it, he LOVED it! Last Friday we went to the event coordinator at our building to see if there were more tickets. Unfortunately there were not but as we were walking out of the office, someone from the USO offered us tickets for a game that night RIGHT in front of the rink. Of course we accepted, we even went out and bought some shirts so we didn't stick out as much this time! We were so close that you could hear the skaters skating on the ice. You could see their facial expressions and even here them cuss out other players. We also saw our first fight! It's safe to say that we made it a point to tell his liaison that any tickets that come up, we would love to have them!

Last and most important, we were approved for freezing of sperm! TMI I know, but I figured it would be rude to not share ALL of the good news! As I said in my last blog post, making my husband a father has been my goal since day one. Thanks to my mom for actually asking the doctor, we decided to go ahead and freeze his sperm before he started Chemotherapy. Last week we got the approval of payment from Operation Second Chance, who footed our bill of freezing and storing the sperm. It's a one shot chance since he starts chemo soon. Since Josh has never had any fertility test done so we were extremely nervous about the outcome. I mean honestly, how often do you even think about how your 27 year old husband could be infertile?! So he did the required blood work (the picture shows his awesome camo bandage afterwards) and we waited to hear what to do next. We got the call last Thursday that our appointment was set up for this past Monday to go to a sperm bank in Virginia. I'll spare the details, but he did it! We had to wait a few days for them to run the test to even see if we had a shot at freezing sperm. Which, little fun fact, did you guys know that you can freeze sperm for a very long time?! I'm talking like, 10 years and on! The lab tech told us that he has seen sperm that is 27 years old, live and active! Crazy stuff, huh? Anyways, back to us. Next step was to wait to hear back from the clinic to see if he even was able to freeze sperm. The past three days have been agonizing, to say the least. We were told to just wait and they would call with the results. By day three, I couldn't take it anymore and I basically forced Josh to call to check in on the results. Turns out, no news is actually good news! Josh came out normal, with the exception of a few percentages off to do insemination as the result of radiation. They recommend IVF for a better chance of us getting pregnant. I'm elated that the results came back normal and that there is a chance for us to have a child together. We will be waiting though, at least until mid-next year. I don't need myself throwing up from pregnancy and Josh throwing up from Chemo, haha.

This was at the sperm clinic, haha!

We also celebrated his 2 months of being smoke free! I am so proud of him!

So for now, we are just enjoying each day. We are taking weekly trips to Washington DC and riding the metro like real city folk! We had a two week visit from Josh's Mom, which was really great. It was nice to get a break from medical appointments and just enjoy family. Thanks to all that have checked in on us and to those who continue to show your support!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Genetic Testing and Love!

10 years.

We celebrated our 10 year "dating" anniversary this past May. For those who know the story, you can skim past this part. For those who don't, let me tell you about my favorite love story.

Our story isn't a whirl wind romance. There was no sparks flying and I didn't see fire works when we kissed. Ours was real. It was full of ups, downs, and all the crazy things in between. We met when I was fourteen and he was sixteen. We have known each other practically our entire lives, we just never really hung out until high school. We had different friends, different interest, and to be completely honest, Josh was the class clown while I was the quiet girl in the corner more concerned with her grades than boys. We had taken a band trip to Williamsburg Virginia, and that was where we finally got to hang out with each other (mainly because Josh was interested in all of my friends EXCEPT for me, but that's ancient history now!) Immediately I was drawn to Josh, like most people are when they meet him. He's always there for a quick joke or a piece of useless knowledge but that's what drew me into him. We started dating on May 20th, 2004. Like I said, it was no world wind romance. We broke up, got back together, broke up again, swore we would never get back together, and on and on. A couple years into the relationship I severely doubted us as a couple. We broke up weeks before his senior prom, however he still asked me to go with him. It was that night that I completely fell head over heels in love with him and I knew he was the man I was destined to marry. Life happened, he joined the Navy, I graduated high school and immediately enrolled into college to get my degree. Life changed, he moved, I stayed in Palm Bay. We spent days, weeks. months apart, but I knew deep down in my soul that this was the man I was meant to be with. Fast forward to a few months ago. We celebrated our 10 year "dating" anniversary. We didn't do anything special, dinner at our favorite restaurant followed by a quiet night at home watching a movie.

10 years.

We have never been the couple to rush into anything. We got engaged in 2007, but didn't get married until 2011. We didn't move into with each other until 2012, when we moved to Sicily together. So having a family has always been something of an idea for later on. We talk about it all the time. We plan things out and we get excited when we see a new born baby, just sitting in awe of what our life could be like with a little Hearndon. We were actually supposed to be moving to Virginia around this time, November 26 to be exact. We had planned to get pregnant shortly after. We were ready. Unfortunately God apparently had different plans. Josh's diagnoses has definitely put the baby making on hold, When we got the news that it was brain cancer and that they wanted to do genetic testing on him, we DEFINITELY put the baby making on hold. I hate seeing what my husband is going through and I am literally sick to my stomach at the thought of my future children going through the same thing.

They did genetic testing on Josh. They drew two vials of blood and those tiny tubes determine our entire future. They tested 29 genes and the testing would take four weeks to produce results. So today, with one phone call, our life settled into place. Josh tested negative! Though he's still has a rough battle ahead, the possibility of having a child really make the future look bright. So what does this mean?! Well, for us it means that we will talk to a fertility specialist as soon as possible. We would like to freeze some sperm before he starts Chemo. Josh's entire world revolves around having a child and being a father, so I am willing to do absolutely anything in my power to make my amazing husband a father.

Josh completed his fourth week of radiation last week. He is doing great, kicking ass and taking names. We meet tomorrow with the Neuro Oncologist to see what's going on from here. Tentative date to end radiation is next Monday, November 10th, the day before Veterans day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bald is beautiful!

Eight years ago Josh joined the Navy.
I remember after he graduated, he came home to Florida with his freshly shaven head and I told him "wow, you look like a cancer patient!" Flash forward 8 years and the same image was standing in my shower, rubbing his freshly shaven head only this time he actually is a cancer patient.When Josh started radiation all the doctors kept saying "and how do you feel about hair loss" (like he had any choice) and "well you know you're going to lose your hair" (again, like he had a choice). The first two weeks were great, we assumed Josh's hair was just to thick to fall out. Yeah he would experience some thinning and possibly some patches missing but he wouldn't be seeing it come out in clumps (we are naive with somethings, haha) Even up until Monday, his hair was thinning yes, but still present.

This morning we met with the radiologist. He examined Josh and said "Wow, I'm seeing some patches of hair missing on the top of your head." Still in denial, we went about our day. Josh has been wearing beanies, one reason is his scar, the other is that it's freezing here. He kept taking it on and off today, that is when I noticed the blanket of hair on his face. He was sitting in the chair, he rubbed his head and when he removed his hand from his hair, his hand was completely covered. My husband has always been the "rip the band aid off fast" kind of guy. He doesn't like to wallow in pain, he'd rather just have things done and over with. That is why tonight we decided to shave his head. He is well aware that chemo will make it fall out, so why not get used to the baldness now? (see, somethings we're not naive about!) So we sat in our shower and I shaved his head. To quote my dad "God only made so many beautiful heads, the rest he covered with hair." My husband definitely gives off a Lex Luther vibe..or Mr. Clean...or Patrick Stewart? Whatever vibe he gives off, he is still my handsome husband..but with no hair!

Second Week Down!

Second Week, DONE!


I have mentioned before our experiences with seizures. No two are ever the same and what only is a few minutes seems like an eternity for him to come out of them. What many don't know, and what I didn't know until last Wednesday, was that Josh was experiencing them on a daily basis. It was almost like dry heaving, he would get the feeling he was going to throw up so he would go to the bathroom and stand over the toilet expecting to yawn in technicolor. To his disappointment (it happened so frequently that he got to the point of actually wanting to throw up, just to get it over with) it never happened. We were told that he would feel nauseous with the radiation, but this was happening 4-5 times a day and was getting old. Last weekend he developed what I could only describe was "face drooping." The right side of his mouth with twinge up with his right eye, he would ramble on (usually something military related) that would eventually ending with extreme exhaustion. Every time it happened, it seemed to get progressively worse. Last Wednesday we made an appointment to meet with a Neurologist. He told us that Josh was in fact having seizures. They were considered "mini" because it wasn't a full blown one, which is being controlled by Keppra. So he upped his dosage and put him back on steroids (yay). Since then he's had two, but knock on wood, they haven't happened in a few days.

To lift this post to a more happier note, Josh hit his one month mark of not smoking (yay!) AND he made it to his second week of radiation! To quit smoking was something that was suggested. But as always, Josh is stubborn and even though it's ALWAYS suggested, he never quit. The man that always swore that quitting would be "to hard" has actually made it through quite easily. The first week he hated it and was prescribed Nicorette gum (which he hates), it helped. Now he is down to half a piece of gum and today he was actually disgusted by the smell of cigarettes! I am an extremely proud wife, he did something that he doubted for so long that he couldn't do!

To honor his success, we got milk shakes from McDonalds! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Story


Summer time, when our only concern was which beach we were going to that weekend. We lived in Italy, Sicily to be exact. We have lived here for two years, immersing ourselves in the Italian culture and honestly eating way to much pasta.  

The date, the 29th to be exact, is a number that will forever be with me. We had just returned home from a Friday night dinner with some friends. We took the dog on a walk and got ready for bed. Around 11:30 at night I was awoken to my husband jolting straight up out of bed. He looked at me, directly in the eye and then his head started rolling to the side. If anyone knows our relationship you know that Josh likes to kid with me. I thought he was making fun of me for one of the many times I had awoken to saying there were spiders all over me. It was a split second for me to realize that he wasn't kidding and something was seriously wrong. I came to and grabbed him just in time to lay him down for his first seizure. What was only a few minutes, felt like an eternity for him to come to. I called 911, he was rushed to the hospital. After he was deemed okay, we went home. We resumed our life as usual, hanging out with friends, spending time with our dog, normal things. That night I had my first break down. I cried "I don't want to go to sleep, I'm afraid you'll have another seizure." To which my loving husband replied "I don't know if I will or not, but I can't control it..let's go to bed." Great. Around 10:00 pm, I woke up to my husband laying on his stomach as a result of yet, another seizure. Again, he was rushed to the hospital, but this time he wouldn't be returning to our home. He was sent out to an Italian hospital, which for lack of better words was a complete shit hole. He received awful care and was treated in a hospital that I could only say was one that should have been condemned years ago. He spent a week there, literally only waiting on an MRI. He finally received one and they told us that the found a lesion on his brain and they wanted to a biopsy to find out what it was. After witnessing the type of care he had received the past week, I opted not do it there and instead we would fly to the states. 

When we landed in Germany. 

Josh was medically evacuated out of Sicily to Ramstein, Germany on September 5th. I landed in Germany on the 6th. During that time he was just monitored at the hospital awaiting our MAC flight out to Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. On September 7th we made the 9 hour flight back to the states. We were over joyed with anticipation of being back on US soil. Back to family, friends, and modern medicine! On September 8th my parents arrived, which was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. For the past two weeks I have had to handle everything, now I could leave Josh with my dad and allow my mom to take charge and do what mothers do best make decisions and handle situations. 

He shaved his head for the biopsy!

Josh making his debut for the center fold of Brain Surgery Monthly

Doctors were in and out of our room. There was always a constant flood of people. Social workers. Case managers. Nurses. Doctors. Everyone was constantly checking in on us and making sure we were okay. On September 11th, Josh under went a brain biopsy to see what the growth was in his brain. They took twelve tissue samples and left him with a lovely scar on his forehead. We were told that it would take two weeks for pathology reports to come back. My biggest concern? Make sure these two weeks were the best two weeks for him. We went to Washington DC. We went shopping and bought over priced, fancy, cupcakes. We moved into our apartment on base, which we had fun decorating and adding our own touches to make it more like home. 


September 29th. Exactly one month after his first seizure we got the diagnosis. My husband, my 27 year old husband, who has served our country for 8 years, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, who loves life, who can always crack a joke whenever needed (appropriate timing or not) who is kind to everyone and friends with strangers was diagnosed with stage 2 Gliomatosis Cerebri or in laymen terms, brain cancer. I felt my world come crashing down on me. The room got smaller and smaller, I couldn't focus on anything other than reaching for my husband's hand and holding on for dear life. We have had things thrown at us, as life tends to do. We have survived months apart, three different deployments and countless bumps in the road but, this was no bump. This was a sink hole sucking us in, I was just waiting for it to spit us out. 

That day to me is still a blur. I know we walked back to the apartment and I cried in my fathers arms for a good ten minutes like a child. It was like a dream I couldn't wake up from, I was on complete auto pilot the rest of the day. I went to bed thinking "how did we get here. what plan does God have for us that He would give us such terrible news?" I rolled over and looked at my husband. I wanted nothing more than to take it all away. In that moment he grabbed my hand and I knew that I had no other choice than to buck up and help him through this. This was a test to our marriage and our faith. It was a test that though will be a long and tiring one, will only make us stronger. 

So he has started radiation. He goes Monday through Friday and is only off on federal holidays and the weekend. So far it has done nothing more than just make him tired. 

First week of radiation: DONE!

We have received an out pour of love and support from family and friends. I have created this blog mainly to keep everyone updated on what is going on but also a therapy for myself. I am in a constant state needing to express my thoughts and feelings so this will allow me to do so. Don't worry, not everything will be depressing or medical related. Josh and I have a good sense of humor about this whole thing and we are facing it head on with a good attitude and a bunch of laughs!